Being a collection of doggerel, verse, stories, politics, historical essays, satire, poetry, jokes, pictures and whatever else I damn well please on a variety of interesting (or otherwise) subjects.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Care

Today's historic signing of the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" brought to mind a story from my youth that I hadn't thought of for many years. I enlisted in the Air Force in 1971 when I was 18, and joined thousands of my contemporaries undergoing the joys of Basic Military Training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. I won't go into great detail about the experience, although I have many stories on tap from this period of my life. Perhaps I will inflict some of these on a future occasion. Mainly I wanted to mention the person who was my best friend during "Basic."

Roger was what is called a "Dorm Chief," for my flight, (A "flight" is the smallest unit in the AF, analogous to a platoon in the Army) which just means that he's the person that your TI (Training Instructor) designates as being in charge of the flight. He sets up the Dorm Guard schedules and other administrivia that the TI would rather not mess with. He also tends to get yelled at about the stuff that everybody else does wrong. The TI's generally assigned someone with some military background (such as High School ROTC or Military School attendance) or someone a little older than the average dewy-cheeked youth to this job. Roger fit the latter pattern. He was in his early twenties, I guess. Kind of a quiet, thoughtful guy. I liked him quite a lot.

There's not a lot of opportunity for wild parties during Basic Training, so the trainee's social life consists largely of the "bull session," conversations at meal times, hanging out at the rec area during base liberty periods, and other such exciting pastimes. So Roger and I never had anything notable in the way of revelry, just quiet conversations mostly. We were both musicians, so we would go to the rec center where they had guitars and keyboards and such that we would fool around on.

A few weeks into my stint at Lackland, I came down with a case of tonsillitis, which, in case you don't know, is a rather serious matter for an adult, and spent more than a week in the hospital. Upon my release, I walked back to my squadron feeling much better but still pretty weak in the legs. I was surprised to find Roger manning the barracks door as Dorm Guard. (The Dorm Chief, naturally, didn't pull Dorm Guard duty) I asked him what was up and he said he'd been feeling stressed out and had bombed out on the Dorm Chief gig. He was looking kind of stressed, frankly.

It was not long after my return that we were talking and he said he had wanted to tell me something. The way he said it frightened me a little because he seemed so serious and I was afraid he was going to tell me he was sick or in trouble or something. What he told me was that he was homosexual. ("gay" was not a term that was in common use at the time) Truthfully, I was so relieved that I think I smiled and said something like "Is that all?" This is not to say that I wasn't surprised. Nor can I take credit for any prior suspicion that he was gay. (What they now call "gaydar" is something I've never had any talent for.) Truthfully, I was gob-smacked by the revelation. I was a pretty naive 18 year old and had never known anyone who was openly homosexual, but, in an environment where neither one of us had been within 50 feet of a female for several weeks, it just didn't seem to matter much.

I wasn't sure at the time why he felt he needed to tell me this, but, after nearly 40 years, I think I now have it figured out. I will probably never understand the pressures faced by someone who is forced to pretend to be someone they are not, and I think he felt like he needed to tell the truth to someone. If I have analyzed his motivation correctly, I'm glad that he felt like he could trust me with the truth.

So on this historic day, when freedom in the United States has taken yet another step forward, here's to you, Roger, wherever you are.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Too late?

Cannot believe what I see,
All I have wished for will be,
All our race proud and free.

---Donovan Leitch

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fridge Magnet Messaging

I received some unfortunate news today about the health of a good friend, and, while I was attempting to absorb it, my good wife approached me with several small "honey-does," which, I'm sure, seemed important to her at the time. As a result, I'm afraid I was a bit short with her, suggesting forcefully that she might enjoy biting me in an unusual location. I apologized a few minutes later but expected that the event might be one of those that comes back to haunt you at a later time. Instead, I found this pegged to the refrigerator right next to the dispenser of my drug-of-choice (coffeepot) where I couldn't miss it.

Sometimes marriage can surprise even an old hand like me at how nice it is.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Parent Company Trap

Is Fox News evil or stupid for not mentioning that Alwaleed bin Talal is News Corp.'s largest shareholder? Jon Stewart reports, you decide.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The Parent Company Trap
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Once Upon a Time in America: Cockey's Song

A wonderful theme from a great movie. Ulrich Herkenhoff on the pipes of pan, directed by composer Ennio Morricone. From a 2004 concert in Munich.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Beach Dragon Wrestling

In a fad now largely neglected, much like goldfish swallowing or phone booth packing, beach-going maidens in the 1950s were fond of tormenting these unsuspecting harmless creatures when they encountered them near the water.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Odin's Eye

Odin's Eye

Odin had one eye.
It was said, and some believe,
That Odin gave his eye for wisdom.
That's what they said, for wisdom.
We, like Odin, can have what we want,
Can be what we wish,
But all acquisitions have their price.
We pay for our desires, noble and base,
And, having bought,
The price we have paid shows on us.
Like Odin's missing eye.

-- Mark A. Clark

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Far star child to dark earth came

Far star child to dark earth came

In glitter darkling mistiness, wrapped in silent rain,
In fearful trembling emptiness, concealing ancient pain,
A driver of the universe guides his mighty plane.
Far star child to dark earth came.

A traveler in search of truth climbs a rocky path,
Where an ancient place of worship reeks of innocence and wrath,
And the image of humanity hangs bleeding in a frame.
Far star child to dark earth came.

Within each man of honesty, lurks the insincere.
Inside the man of courage hides the dark sharp blade of fear.
Faithful doubters, truthful liars, leaders spreading blame.
Far star child to dark earth came.

Neon plastic hideaway, a refuge from the storm,
Enfolded in its gentle arms, the traveler is warm,
Studying the images projecting the mundane.
Far star child to dark earth came.

The student loves his subject like the craftsman loves his task.
In spirit born of far away, the questions he must ask,
But to find the noble savages all have gone insane.
Far star child to dark earth came.

--- Mark A. Clark

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Happiness Runs

Happiness Runs

Little pebble upon the sand
Now you're lying here in my hand,
How many years have you been here?

Little human upon the sand
From where I'm lying here in your hand,
You to me are but a passing breeze.

The sun will always shine where you stand,
Depending in which land you may find yourself.
Now you have my blessing, go your way.

Happiness runs in a circular motion
Thought is like a little boat upon the sea.
Everybody is a part of everything anyway,
You can have everything if you let yourself be.

--- Donovan Leitch

Monday, June 21, 2010

He & She

She: Have you seen my glasses?

He: Sorry, I haven't seen them.

She: Huh?

He: I haven't seen them.

She: I can't hear you.

He: No! I haven't seen them.

She: Why are you always shouting at me??!!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Secret Tears

Secret Tears

We lived together, you and I,
Like strangers, who could never share,
Who never could together cry.
Why were we so ashamed to care?
My mother dead - you with no wife.
Sharing pain was never our way.
An old Crosby tune brought your pain to life,
And you turned from me as it began to play.
"I'll be seeing you in all the old familiar places,
That this heart of mine embraces, all day through."

I pass behind you, remaining discreet,
As you stare out the front door, through the screen,
Feigning an unwarranted interest in the street,
Your moist eyes focused on something unseen,
Some moment past, with my mother, your wife,
Some summer evening of passion and play.
Silent, you weep as Bing sings your life.
"I'll be seeing you in every lovely summer's day,
In everything that's light and gay,
I'll always think of you that way."

Even now, from a distance of thirty odd years,
I see you still standing in that same place.
Silently keeping your secret tears,
Turned from me as they wet your face.
And ghostly and faint, I can still hear,
Distant, but clearly, the final refrain,
Of that maudlin tune from a bygone year,
That filled your heart with such wrenching pain.
"I'll find you in the mornin' sun, and when the night is new,
I'll be looking at the moon, but I'll be seeing you."

(Quoted passages excerpted from "I'll Be Seeing You" by Irving Kahal and Sammy Fain, 1944)

Mark A. Clark, 2000

Monday, May 31, 2010

Sometimes, when I'm bored...

Sometimes, when I'm bored, I go to a blog written in the Turkish language and let google translate it into English as ersatz "beat" poetry. Here's an example from the
tari eluch blog:

I do not have the beauty of life as well. Blood ourselves. Do not let your eyes like that despite everything,''balderdash''clauses. I do not have the beauty of life as well. Just nice to have our side of the people we love. If there is, of course. If Nanay. Then go throw yourself down atakuleden.

Fortunately my favorite specimen is a little man. Sometimes drool, and out of work and love of crap I've been turned into a butterfly, or even why I'm willing to be keko this specimen of human being there.
Anyway, without much love pıtırcığı my blog and fill in the appropriate user manual would like to vah'larla ah'larla.

Some languages translate well, but Turkish is apparently not one of them. I can rarely get even the vaguest idea what she's talking about. She posts some interesting pictures though, so I close my eyes and imagine the room dense with cigarette smoke and the walls vibrating to the sound of bongo drums and I read the translation.

Some folks are easily entertained, I guess...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Nick Vujicic

If I ever get to feeling sorry for myself, I'll come back and watch this again:

Monday, May 10, 2010

No Time for Talkin' Left

When will the lovers heed the Master's cry?
The bell has rung; the time has come to start.
No time for talkin' left, it's do or die!

Together we provide the means whereby,
The plan of God reveals its holy art.
When will the lovers heed the Master's cry?

Our mighty task, then, no one can deny,
For each of us must take his chosen part,
No time for talkin' left, it's do or die!

This errant mankind soon must need apply,
All that this vital wisdom may impart,
When will the lovers heed the Master's cry?

And thus, His sweet defenders' task, thereby,
Unfurled, is written bold on history's chart.
No time for talkin' left, it's do or die!

At last the time has come for us to fly,
Unseal the holy tablet of your heart.
When will the lovers heed the Master's cry?
No time for talkin' left, it's do or die!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Journey

The Journey

Down a long and dusty road at dawn,
An old man, scalp shining in the morning sun,
Is walking, slow, but steady, toward me.
As we pass, he pauses and looks me up and down.
I stop as well and ask him at last, "Where goest thou, friend?"
He smiles and looks at me in a most unusual way,
As if I were a good friend he hadn't seen in a long time.

He then replies in a deep melodious voice,
That somehow reminds me of someone I once knew,
"I, brother, am bound for the same destination as you."
"How so?" say I, "I travel west while you go east."
"How think you that we could arrive at the same place?"
Privately, I wonder if, walking hatless in the sun,
He has cooked his poor brain through his hairless pate.

"Ah," he replies with glee, as if revealing,
The solution to some arduous puzzle to me alone,
"You have hit upon the eternal mystery of it.
That however a trail may turn,
Whichever direction you may go,
No matter what it is you carry along,
All roads lead up the mountain to the summit."

"You speak of death, my friend." I say quietly,
"For I can see, that, though I feel the chill of autumn,
Plainly, thou art in the depths of the winter of thy life."
"And is death, after all, not the destination,
That those who are mortal must come to, at last,
The culmination at which we all shall arrive,
No matter what our direction or path?"
"You've understood nothing." he says, speaking softly,
"Death has no meaning for such as are we.
The path that we follow leads here and hereafter,
Through the same rich valley that was promised of old."
"The glory," he says, "is not in arriving.
Heaven lies not at the end of your path.
Heaven's the journey! Just walk it, and see."

And, having said this, the old man continues,
Walking eastward, toward the rising sun.
And as he walks, he seems to have gained,
A somewhat more sprightly spring to his step.
And I, after a moment, again turn westward,
And, following my previous chosen path,
Yet, I join the old man on his journey.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Ski Texas!

Pictures taken with my blackberry of my back yard through the living room window this morning. We had 12.5 inches of snow, an all time record for 24 hours.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Your First Amendment in action!

More examples follow...

Go Morans!

Grandma got run over by an oriental...
(Actually, I'd be tempted to think this was a joke, if they didn't look so damned sincere)



No pubic option for this lady.

At last, a reasoned argument!

... and I'm watching you too, cider!

This guy's hard to argue with.

I'm pretty sure God doesn't hate anyone...
I, on the other hand... oh yeah!

So all you "good people" better watch out!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

and in the end...

... the love you take ...
... is equal to the love ...
... you make.

This rang true the first time I heard it, and, as the end approaches, makes even more sense today.

Yeah, mine either