Tough Art

Time and time again Alf and I marvel at people who are immensely talented and yet shy away from their gifts. We know of several with writing gifts who never put pen to paper. Others who have a terrific fashion sense and keep it all to themselves. And there are those who do pursue their artistic callings with courage and conviction, but with little support from friends and loved ones. In fact, they’re often told to get a real job. What is it about art that garners less respect than other professions like business or engineering? Heck, there’s more respect for the G-Man (garbage collector) than a painter.

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We live in a day of practicality. Does the job make money? Will it sustain you and a spouse and children? Will it give you a house, a car and a yearly vacation? Or will you have to eat out of a paper bag full of moldy veggies?

Being an artist is not for the fainthearted. It wasn’t easy living for Van Gogh and his generation nor is it any easier for people today. But one thing is different. Anybody with an ounce of skill is posting like mad on social media in the hope of getting noticed. Consequently there’s a lot of bad art out there. There’s also some good stuff. The serious artist, however avoids it all in favor of a website with class.

It’s like commercial fiction. The serious literary types look down their erudite noses at the fabulously successful writers who make millions with their popular, badly written novels. Secretly they probably wish they could make that kind of money, but they wouldn’t dare try. It would be beneath them.

So what’s an artist to do? I say keep at it, no matter how difficult the task. Post away. Talk it up. Send it out. You never know what door will open.

Calvin says, “I’m so glad I’m only talented in one thing – food. What’s for dinner?”

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Caffeinated Technology

After all the mayhem over the elections, the city has finally returned to normal, whatever that means.

It is after all the hub for all things techie. Protests and riots don’t run in the same circles as coding and programming. The relative quiet has returned people to work.

Every morning I walk past Dolby, Twitter, Uber, and Square. Groups of back-packed techies, mostly young men, rush into the buildings to complete another round of focused futuristic thinking.  photo199

Later in the day packs of them take a break from their screens and go roaming Market Street in search of their favorite caffeinated drinks. They laugh and talk over each other with their latest, exciting ideas. They speak in another language, one only known to them. Market Street, once a dilapidated part of town, has sprouted more coffee shops and eateries than a downtown mall, all meant to lure them in to spend money. The idea is not to eat too far away from your computer, but to stay as close as you can to your office, with a group of work friends in toe so you never have to leave the building or each other.

While this means my technical future is in good hands, what is it doing to the health and future of these kids? They have no social skills, they don’t know how to talk to a woman, and they’re not prepared to handle the shocks of life. They’re inside a matrix they can’t see and have no thought of breaking out. This is life. Some of these companies have playrooms, lounge areas, entertainment, and cafeterias so their workforce doesn’t need to go out to breathe oxygen or get a real life.

I ask myself, what would these people do if there wasn’t such a thing as a computer industry? I’m not sure I have an answer, but one thing I do know, they’d have a chance to join the human race.

Calvin says, “In the beagle kingdom we’re not all the same. There are some who hate hunting and stay back reading recipes for foul smelling foods.”  beagle

 

 

 

Oy!

“Are people on suicide watch where you are?” my friend asked me today, one day after the election. “Me? I stayed up all night drinking champagne.”

My colleagues at work are in a somber mood. Nobody dares talk about the election results fearing they will offend others or they are so depressed they don’t want to burst into tears and look silly. img_4349

I guess it comes down to this: everyone likes to win and in this case, they didn’t.

I’ve also noticed that people are afraid of what life will be like come January 20. In my opinion that’s attributing a lot of power to someone who’s never been in office before. What, as soon as he steps into the oval office he’s going to ruin everything? What if our new president turns out to be one of the best we’ve ever had? Nobody has offered that as a possibility. He stands the same chance of being reasonably good as a seasoned politico, perhaps better.  And why wouldn’t he? After all, aren’t we a country of new opportunities for everyone?

Calvin says, “Not this guy. He doesn’t even own a dog.”  beagle

 

 

 

Wow

September 21 was World Gratitude Day. I completely missed it. Probably because I was grumbling. It’s my default mode.

Alf and I were on vacation in Ashland, Oregon at the Shakespeare Festival that week. One night we saw Sully, the Clint Eastwood movie. I can say I was grateful I wasn’t on that heart-stopping flight. You forgot it was Tom Hanks. He was Captain Chesley Sullenberger making life decisions in that pilot’s seat and you were right there next to him.

I was grateful to have seen the best Hamlet and Richard II ever. They rivaled anything you’d see on Broadway. fullsizerender-28

On the drive home we came to a snarl of traffic on the highway. “Now what?” Alf said. “Probably an accident,” the know-it-all in me said.  As we inched closer we noticed a full grown deer splayed dead blocking the four lanes. The lines of cars sat there with engines idling. “Now what?” Alf said again. This time I didn’t have a response.

Suddenly a car closest to the dead animal veered off to the right. The driver, a tall, strong muscled man, got out, his wife too, and he ran across the highway and grabbed the 120 pound animal by the front legs and dragged it to the left side of the road and left it there in a heap. Then he ran back to his car and got in. Nobody honked thank you. Nobody waved. Nothing. In a flash the traffic started up again and began rushing past the deer without any thought to what just happened. Stunning.

I was thankful for that man who took the initiative in front of oncoming traffic. Fortunately the drivers in the front lines acted as a blockade otherwise who knows what carnage could have transpired with man and beast.

Calvin says, “How gutless of the driver that killed him to drive off like that leaving others to pick up the mess. If this had happened in the woods, my tribe of beagles would have surrounded the beast and howled for help.”  beagle

I Did It

I didn’t think I’d do it, but I did.

I watched the Super Bowl.

These things impressed me:

Every seat was filled with a fan. 70,000 of them.

The maturity of the Bronco team. They played well.

The Panthers bounced around like puppies. Give them another five years.

The half-time, minus Beyoncé, was cool. I didn’t cringe for a minuteHalf-time.

I thought the colorful ending was tastefully done.

And when it was over, there were no dead bodies to pick up.

I consider that a successful Super Bowl.

Now let’s get back to real life.

Calvin says, “My favorite commercial was those wiener dogs. A clever idea for those runts.”  beagle

 

 

Two in One

Alf and I made our semi-annual trek to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival last week. I was craving the fall colors, the rushing creek, and rain, lots of rain. To my disappointment, everything looked dry and dusty, as if it had come out of grandma’s attic for airing, and too much like drought-intolerant California. Even the theaters had the air conditioning on. In October. Shakespeare would have stopped writing and gone to the Black Sheep for more pints.

Ashland’s city leadership is a protective bunch of environmentalists and zoning Pharisees. Over the years they’ve been very careful who builds what and where. They give out building permits sparingly, but lately, it seems to me, they’ve been imbibing at the Black Sheep too many times themselves, and loosened their grip. So there’s a condo boom in town for rich retirees coming from California who want a little bit of city with their Shakespeare setting.

There’s an Ashland we discovered on the other side of the city. It’s on rolling hills with horses and sheep dotting the landscape giving it a pastoral look. Some of the properties have vineyards that wrap around the houses like scarves. The homes are large and impressive affording views of the city and the majestic tree-studded Mt. Ashland, which in winter with its snow hat on must be a glorious sight.

We sawAdo Much Ado About Nothing, a hilarious romp with a lot of word sparing set in today’s society. While I applaud the effort OSF is making to hire actors of different ethnic backgrounds, the actor who played Claudio needed some help. When he first came on stage and delivered his first line he sounded like he had eaten a mouthful of tortillas and he never really swallowed them during the rest of the story. The other play was a Chinese classic that defied clarity. It was two plays in rehearsal on the same stage, which eventually morphed into one love story. It took dogged determination to stay in your seat to the very end because nothing really made a whole lot of sense during the first act. In case you don’t want to see it when it comes to town, it’s called, Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land. It’s been a raging hit in China since forever.

Calvin says, “They forgot to throw a dog into the Chinese mix. Hey, they had everything else including an actor in a wheelchair, why not a dog? He could have howled his way through both stories.”beagle

Foreign Policy

While the Warriors played their championship win this week, I noticed an interesting cultural phenomena on my street Tuesday night.

My Indian neighbors – those who have come to the US for the tech jobs – were hooting and hollering like the best of us over the game.

Their voices flowed out of their open windows and crossed the street to my house.

The American assimilation had begun.

One family has two children, a white Lab, and a Volvo. They’ve already been seduced.  white lab

Another family has a daughter in the elementary school around the corner. I often hear her arguing with her mother in perfect kid-lingo, sounding like a typical spoiled American child, while her mother answers her in her language.

I grew up in foreign countries.

I know what it’s like to be on foreign soil, eating different food, hearing another language all day long.

It’s exhausting.

So a basketball game makes a lot of sense.

There’s no need for subtitles.

A basket is a basket.

A foul is a foul.

And a shouting coach needs no interpretation in any language.

I remember going to bullfights.

I would always cheer for the bull.

Calvin says, “You would. You prefer animals to people anyway.” beagle