Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Quintessential Quality 10/14/09

Friday, July 25, 2008

Monday, May 5, 2008
1:33:00 AM EDT

Quintessential Quality

There are glimpses of heaven to us in every act, or thought, or word, that raises us above ourselves.

Robert Quillan

If you want to know the truth about something you did in the past, ask 3 separate people who were there. You will get 3 different versions and none of them will match your own.


Fearsome Fact 10/14/09

Saturday, July 12, 2008
12:15:00 AM EDT

Fearsome Fact

Creative minds have always been known to survive any kind of bad training.

Anna Freud


Don't put your daughter on the stage, Mrs. Worthington,
Don't put your daughter on the stage,
Though they said at the school of acting
She was lovely as Peer Gynt,
I'm afraid on the whole
An ingnue role
Would emphasize her squint,
She's a big girl, and though her teeth are fairly good
She's not the type I ever would
Be eager to engage,
No more buts,
Mrs. Worthington,
Mrs. Worthington,
Don't put your daughter on the stage.

Noel Coward

I don't think there is any enterprise that has more phonies in it than show business (except perhaps politics). I have seen and, unfortunately, had to work with a lot of "actors" and "directors" who didn't know what they were doing. I think I will address the question of good directors and idiotic directors on another day. Now I'll discuss the poor creatures who think they know how to be actors, but don't.

It seems so easy. Someone goes to see a play or a film and says "What's the big deal. I can do that." They start imagining themselves in front of a cheering audience or up on the silver screen, bigger than life. So they get into an amateur production somewhere and come out with some if the most egregious bad acting; artificial, rubber stamp, cliched nonsense. Their friends all tell them how good they were and they're convinced. Or maybe they have a favorite actor. Then they come out doing a bad impression of Marlon Brando or Katherine Hepburn.

Maybe they are really serious about it and go to an acting school. Some of the biggest and most dangerous charlatans in the business are acting teachers. A lot of them haven't been actors themselves, or if so, not for very long. Usually what they are are directors. I always tell youngsters, if they ask me, to study with an actor not a director for the simple reason that if you want to learn to play the clarinet, do you study with a clarinetist or a conductor? What they learn from a director is only how to deal with that director.

I've seen kids come to New York with some moronic theory about acting from some Drama School somewhere and face the misery of having to have that theory beaten out of them by the brass knuckles reality of professional theatre.

I did a show in Florida years ago, All the members of the cast were seasoned professional, of all ages, except the girl, who was a recent graduate from some big fancy Academy of the Arts somewhere in the South. This girl didn't know anything. She had no idea at all what we do as actors, but she thought she did. One of the other actors in the show said to me, on the sly, that she should go to that school and ask for her money back.

There was an acting teacher in New York who said to his students not to audition for anything or do any acting work at all, but to study with him for three years, do what he said and at the end they would be ready to be actors. I hope he was arrested. There was another teacher who said that if he got an acting job he would be away from the class and that he hoped his students would do the same. He was a very popular, very good teacher. Some of his students are famous.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Wise Words 10/13/09

Wise Words

Sunday, May 11, 2008
Wise Words

"Money spent on getting mad or getting even is money wasted."

Richard Wagner
What this world really needs is a War On Vengeance.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Great Grievance 10/12/09

Sunday, July 13, 2008
12:13:00 AM EDT

Great Grievance

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?

Kahlil Gibran

I have a friend, David, who's a potter. I watched him work one day. I saw him brutally cut off a chunk of clay, thump it on the table and then throw it on a wheel. Then, while it was spinning within an inch of it's life he wet his hands and started strangling it. He forced it out of it's natural shape and then, as if that wasn't enough, he stuck his thumbs in it and then his fingers and carved it even more into something round, Then he poked and scraped down into it's innards with some fiendish instruments, covered it all over with some sticky stuff and tucked into an oven that was hotter than hell. When it finally came out it was a beautiful, delicate, gentle bowl asking to be filled with the elixir of life.

I don't know about you, but I have been cut and thumped by the meanness of life, thrown on the wheel and spun into confusion, strangled with poverty, pushed and squeezed with hard work until I was rebuilt and reformed, poked and scraped by lies and betrayals, glazed over with tears and baked in the oven of hellish experiences. And when they finally took me out I had a joyous smile on my face

DB - The Vagabond.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Daring Do 10/11/09

Daring Do

Thursday, July 10, 2008
12:38:00 AM EDT

D's Daring Do

Greatness is a road leading towards the unknown.

Charles deGaulle

Star Trek
The bear went over the mountain to see what he could see.

Those who are given the opportunity and freedom to follow a line of study as far as it can take them are blessed with the possibility of discovering areas of unrevealed knowledge and understanding. It is what no one has ever encountered before, where no one has ver been. Mathematicians, astronomers, physicists, those practicing on the esoteric edges of science, anthropologists, architects, composers of music and, yes, also poets, when engaged to their utmost, may reach the end of the traveled path, step into an unknown territory of discovery, put down a marker for the future and try to describe what they find.

I don't know much about science, but I know something about art. The first and every time I see "The Piano Lesson" by Matisse I am taken gently by the hand and led into a world of painting I know nothing about.

I have heard Beethoven's "Grosse Fugue" for string quartet many times and it is still a mystery. What was it that Beethoven saw in his deafness and what was he trying to tell us about it?

On what obscure mountain top was Shakespeare when he wrote "The mightiest space in fortune nature brings to join like likes and kiss like native things."? And what was he saying when he wrote to lead us there "Impossible be strange attempts to those who weight their pains in sense and do suppose what hath been cannot be." ?

The air is thin and hard to breathe, the way is treacherous and the terrain frustratingly difficult to describe but though we may be standing on the shoulders of the great ones who went before us the experience of our own genius can only be won by moving off of the shoulders and placing a foot carefully but steadily down onto a step we cannot see.

DB - Vagabond Journeys

Friday, October 9, 2009

Tested Truth 10/09/09

Saturday, July 26, 2008
12:09:49 AM EDT

Tested Truth

The whole worth of a kind deed,
is in the love that inspires it.

The Talmud



It happened like this. When no guards were watching I snuck around to the back of the castle where I found a door leading down to the lower levels of the AOL prison. I opened the door and entered. Immediately I came upon another flight of steps going down into the darkness. Lucky for me I had brought my Bic to flick, and my mouse. I came next upon an iron gate which was fortunately not locked. I pried it open and entered a tunnel with cobwebs everywhere, bats flying around and slimy things crawling all over my feet. I kicked them away and kept walking.

Up ahead I could see some sort of a cavern with flickering lights. Just before entering it there was a moat, with crocodiles. There were evidently well fed, probably with chunks of disgraced tech support workers, because they didn't bother to move as I stepped on a couple to get into the cavern. There I was met by some troll-like creatures. They were very nasty and vicious. But a few sharp stabs with my mouse and they scattered, whimpering like the cowards they were. Presently I came upon a door with a sign over it saying "Abandon hope all ye who enter here." I figured that this must be the right door. I knew it would only open with the proper password. But I had cleverly overheard one of the guards talking with another guard just the day before and he mentioned the password. So I stood in front of the door and spoke it loud and clear. "GEEKS" Slowly the door began to rumble and tremble. I heard the unmistakable sound of stone on stone and the creaking of rusty hinges exposing a dark, dank, airless cavern. I flicked my Bic and there they were, languishing, pathetic and at the point of death. I recognized them, every one, my deleted journal entries. A few were tucked into various cells and pens. Some were missing, but not many.

When they saw me they began to revive. Some even had the strength to come over to me and hug me. The rest struggled to their feet and obeyed my command: "Come on, guys. Let's split this scene."

So they followed me through the forbidden door, across the cavern where the trolls were still trembling from my mouse attack, over the dopey crocodiles, down the cobweb and bat infested tunnel, kicking slimy things as they went, through the iron gate, up the steps, through the back door and up the cellar stairs to the broad daylight of GOOGOOLAND.

Once back in Vagabond Journeys they completely revived, even the wounded ones, (except for 20 I couldn't find, who, I guess, have gone to journal heaven, alas). Then they all started behaving like a litter of puppies. Everyone wanted to be on top. It was quite a struggle but, even though they are not in any recognizable order, I did manage to find homes for all of them somewhere in the journal.

Whew! What a day.

Db - The Vagabond

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Untimely Understanding 10/07/09

12:15:51 AM EDT

Untimely Understanding

Time is but a ship that bears thee, not thy home.


Oh God! methinks it were a happy life,
To be no better than homely swain;
To sit upon a hill, as I do now,
To carve out dials quaintly, point to point,
Thereby to see the minutes how they run,
How many make the hour full complete;
How many hours bring about the day;
How many days will finish up the year;
How many years a mortal man may live.
When this is done, then to divide the times:
So many hours must I tend my flock;
So many hours must I take my rest;
So many hours must I contemplate;
So many hours must I sport myself;
So many days my ewes have been with young;
So many weeks ere the poor fools will ean;
So many years ere I shall shear the fleece:
So minutes, hours, days, months, and years,
Pass'd over to the end they were created,
Would bring white hairs unto a quiet grave.


Time is a mortal measurement, a human idea. We measure it by space, how long it takes something to go from one place to another in comparison with how long it takes another object to do the same. The universe does not concern itself with time.

Why shouldn't the church bell ring 13? Because we have determined that a day is 2 sets of 12, 7 of those make a week and 52 of those make a year. But it's inaccurate, which is why we have to have the paradox of a leap year now and then. Why doesn't the earth revolve around the sun according to the nice neat pattern we have determined for it? Because the solar system does not concern itself with time.

People look through crystal telescopes at what they say is the past, stars which no longer exist but are only now announcing their light to us, because they were so many billion light years away, also a human measurement. Another person looks through a crystal ball at what he says is the future and what he sees is a projection of the unconscious thoughts that already exist in his mind.

The philosopher Hans Jonas was fond of citing the Psalmist's prayer "Teach us to number our days, that we may get a heart of wisdom." That statement implies that the information is already known. The obverse side suggests that Jonas wanted to know how many hours of daylight he had to accomplish what he wanted to do in life. The reverse side may suggest that he wanted to know when the moment would be that he would surrender his "white hairs unto a quiet grave."

I have a seed I picked up off a grassy field with some tall trees in it. The seed is about the size of a golf ball, A botanist I know looked at it, told me what kind of a tree it came from and then explained that everything about that tree was already contained in the seed. The seed knows how tall the tree will grow, what it will look like, haw many branches it will have, how many twigs, how many leaves it will put out and how long it will live. The future of the tree already exists in the present seed.

So we can measure water levels, pollen counts, wind chill factors, topical storm categories and measure out our lives "in coffee spoons" (T. S. Eliot) or by any other means only to find that nature is (benignly or malevolently) indifferent and uninterested in our efforts. The sun and the earth identify themselves to each other, The moon talks to the ocean, the flowers listen to the sun. The ground welcomes the rain when it comes. And we, with our rulers, scales and "dials," are simply eavesdroppers in this cosmic conversation.

DB - Vagabonf Journeys

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Vital Voyage 10/06/09

12:12:09 AM EDT

Vital Voyage

Morality without a sense of paradox is mean.

Friedrich Von Schlegel


I have always loved paradoxes, those things that can't be but are, the wrong way of doing something that somehow works, the unchangeable fact that sometimes changes, the sign that reads "this lane must turn right" over a sign that reads "no turns." Finding my lost journal entries after having been assured with no doubt by the experts and authorities that it was impossible and that they were gone for good.

One of the first paradoxes I remember was of an actress who was auditioning for a musical. She sang an upbeat number and was quite good. The director asked if she had a sad ballad. So quietly, very slowly and with an innocent pleading quality in her voice she sang "Take me out to the ball game," (this was a girl who never has a date) "take me out with the crowd," (she just wanted to be with people) "buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks," (it was heart rending) "I don't care if I never come back," (bless her).

I used to do summer theatre in Provincetown, Massachusetts, which is out at the end of Cape Cod. Provincetown is many things. There's an artists community, a gay community, some old time Yankees and the hundreds of tourists who visit every summer. But what it actually is year round is a Portuguese-American fishing village.

One summer I had a unit in a motel owned by a very nice couple. She took care of the motel and he was co-owner of a fishing boat. It was early summer and time for the Blessing of the Fleet. He invited me to come out on his boat for it, which I was eager to do. We circled around the bay with all the boats in a parade. When we approached the pier there was the Bishop of Fall River or New Bedford (I never knew which) and the local priest. The Provincetown priest was named Duarte and people used to call him Our Father Duarte in Heaven. While the Bishop said the prayer, Father Duarte flung the holy water on us. Then we all went out to the ocean for a while.

But the most paradoxical blessing I ever saw was a video of the Blessing of the Fleet on Kodiak Island, Alaska. It being Alaska, the clergy were of the Russian Orthodox branch of Christianity. The Bishop and local Priest were there, bearded, and in colorful robes. People were holding banners and icons and everyone had big smiles. They were having a joyous time. But there was a steep drop from where the priests were to the boats below, a bit too far to fling the water. So while the Bishop was saying the prayers the priest had a white plastic squeeze bottle in his hand with black letters that read HOLY WATER. I thought it was a hoot. Squirt the captain in the face if you have to but get the blessed water on the boat!

DB - The Vagabond

Monday, October 5, 2009

Wise Wayfaring 10/05/09

12:06:20 AM EDT

Wise Wafaring

Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker.

Thomas Watson


"Nothing Ventured Nothing Gained"
You Can't Learn To Swim By Standing On The Diving Board

I spent too many hours of my life being a dope. Part of growing up is having those humbling moments when you realize you don't know as much as you thought you did. And when you finally come face to face with your own ignorance is the moment you either give up or start to get smart.

Any adventure, whether physical or mental, means leaving where you are and going someplace else. For a thinker it means discarding old worn out ideas. I have no patience with the "tried and true" and I get mental claustrophobia whenever I hear it spoken or see it written. The friendship that underlies small talk is sterling and should not be overlooked or forgotten about. It's the safe, soft and cozy mentality that I abjure. It's the rusty thinking that no longer rings when you thump on it that is so uncomfortable to me.

Because I have seen people slowly sink into inanity who don't want to challenge the way they have been thinking or taught to think, and jump into a whirlpool of uncertainty, I want to come and shake their houses. Not to do harm, but to let people know that there is so much more in their mental world than they have any awareness of. Because at one point in my life I began to discover and open doors to rooms in my house I had never opened, I want to encourage people to find their own secret doors. And because I was willing to step into a jungle of knowledge I had never known about and feel my way along, I want to invite people to do the same, whichever way they turn. To follow the road less traveled is one thing, but to travel where there is no road is the best. The discoveries you make and the destinations you reach are completely your own. Is it risky business?

DB - Vagabond Journeys

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Xenophilic Xray 10/04/09

12:19:09 AM EDT

Xenophilic Xray

You should examine yourself daily. If you find faults, you should correct them. When you find none, you should try even harder.

Xi Zhi

How clean is your shed? How well do you know yourself? Have you discovered enough about yourself that you are trying to change? Are you willing to dig deeper?

Years ago I read this story about Booker T. Washington. After he became a freed slave, he wanted to get an education. The woman who was in charge of the school asked him first to clean out a one room shed. He entered the shed, pulled some things out that didn't belong there and straightened things up a bit.

When the woman came to inspect it she was not satisfied with what he had done. So he went back in and pulled more things out. He found a snake living in there. So he dropped a rock on it's head, killing it. He took that out and thought he was finished.

But when the woman came back she was still not pleased. So this time he was determined to satisfy her. He took everything out. In the process he discovered a window that was covered up. When he uncovered it light came in and he could see all the dirt, cobwebs and other junk. He realized that his problem had been that he had never in his life seen a clean shed. He got a broom and completely swept it clean and replaced the things in an orderly fashion.

This time, when the woman came she was happy with the job and Booker went to school.

How clean is my shed?

DB - The Vagabond

Saturday, October 3, 2009

October 3, 2009

Believe in what you are doing.

Try harder.

Don't give up.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Zeroing Zone 10/01/09

Thursday, July 31, 2008
12:11:25 AM EDT

Zeroing Zone

Flow with whatever is happening and let your mind be free. Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate.

Here's your exercise for the day.

Get a piece of paper and a pen or pencil. Not a small piece, a good sized note pad will do. I'll wait here while you do that.

Ready? Good. Now beginning at the top, leave a space and then draw a solid line from the center of the top down to the center of the bottom of the page. Next draw a line from the upper left hand corner, again leaving a space, down to the right hand corner, bisecting the line you just drew. Now this is the tricky part. Draw a line from the upper right hand corner, leaving a space, down to the bottom left hand corner, but making sure that it crosses the other two lines at exactly the place where they meet. Got it?

Okay. Now next to the place where those three lines meet draw an arrow pointing to it.

Now on top of the center line write the word ME, on top of one of the other lines write the words MY LIFE, and on top of the third line write the words MY CAREER. Your career is whatever you do that puts something good into the world: a lifetime enterprise, a job, a family a garden, etc.

What you have here is three roads, so somewhere on the page, but not near the arrow, write VIA, the word for road.

And since there are three of them, somewhere else on the page write the word for three, TRI.

Now next to the arrow put them together and write the word TRIVIA.

Every single thing you do, no matter how insignificant it may seem, every moment you spend, including the reading of this sentence, is important to you, your life and your career, all three. It's vital.

It's trivia - the crossing of three roads.

DB - The Vagabond

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Anger Articulation 9/30/09

Originally posted August 1, 2005
12:00:42 AM EDT

Anger Articulation

The weaker the argument the stronger the words.

American proverb
I don't have the words, weak or strong, to describe the misery I went through today.

There are very few things that I will admit that I hate. One of them is noise. I love music. I HATE noise.

I live in a three story house with five apartments. I am the only tenant on the top floor. Last week there was a heavy rain storm and some of the apartments in the back had leaks. I had no leak. A workman came to inspect my leak. I told him I didn't have one but he came in and looked anyway. That's when he told me about the leaks in the other apartments. Then he said they would have to replace the roof.

This morning at 8 a.m. I was awakened by my walls shaking and loud thumping right above my head. They were replacing my roof, even though I had no leak. The roof over me is not shared by any of the other apartments. The roof worked. So they fixed it.

Thumping, banging, scraping, drilling and hammering right over my head and the shaking walls continued non-stop from 8 until 6 p.m. As a result I am in a toxic, battery acid mood.

I just want gentle sounds. I want peace and quiet in my home. Is that too much to ask for?


Monday, September 28, 2009

Celestial Craving 9/28/09

Sunday, August 3, 2008
12:03:12 AM EDT

Celestial Craving

We shall find peace.
We shall hear the angels.
We shall see the sky sparkling with diamonds.

Anton Chekhov

Actors have a bad reputation. The world thinks we are basically ignorant. There are some good reasons for that opinion. For one thing, look at the shenanigans of your average movie star as reported in the media. For another thing, some actors are ignorant about many things. It's not that they are stupid. They're just lazy about anything but their own self-involvement. They will mispronounce a word on stage rather than take the trouble to look it up. I have known actors who just seemed to be oblivious to the world around them.

It was Autumn some years ago. I was doing a show in Pennsylvania. During down times I did a whole series of drawings of autumn leaves. Most of them are gone now. When I finished one I taped it up to the wall outside of my room in the company house. The other actors in the house passed that wall every day. One day one of them asked me what I used to get the leaves to stay on the paper. Why would they automatically assume they were real leaves and not drawings when a close look would identify them? Oblivion. And why would they assume that since I was an actor I couldn't know how to draw?

You answer that. I can't.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Basic Bibliography 9/27/09

12:51:30 AM EDT

Basic Bibliography

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.

Francis Bacon

Even before I ever came across this quote, I used to say that I don't read books, I eat them. I have many books that I've had a long time. I may never finish with some of them because I keep going back over them, rereading parts. Every time I do that I discover more brilliance in the writing and gain a greater grasp of the ideas.

I have sometimes found a book that I needed when I needed it just by walking into a bookstore and looking. I was once hired to do a public reading of John Milton's "A Paradise Lost." I didn't know the work but I went into the wonderful but gone Coliseum bookstore in NYC, went to the poetry section and there it was. A large paperback, the only one on the shelf. That sort of experience has happened to me often. But I have to tell you about my favorite book.

It was the summer of 1957. I had just graduated from high school and was about to enter college in the Boston area. I found myself one day in Harvard Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts. I went into a bookstore and I saw a book on the shelf that said it was the complete works of William Shakespeare. Normally Shakespeare's works come in a huge tome the size of a major dictionary. But this was small, slender and compact. I didn't believe it was the complete works until I opened it and read the table of contents. All the plays were there and all the poems including the sonnets. It was the only one like it on the shelf. The pages were full of words and very thin. There were no margins. There were only a few pages of notes and glossary in the back, plus an index of songs. I bought it, brought it home and wrote my name in it. I didn't realize at the time how prophetic that purchase was. It was another year before I knew I was an actor. But I started to read the plays and roles that I would be doing some day. The magic, the music, the inspiration, the greatness, the depth, the colors, the light, the lightness, the humor, the compassion, the understanding, the simple, the extraordinary, the pleasure, the wisdom, the universe all contained within this small book I held in my hand, cannot be put into words,

I cherish that book above all things. It has been with me for 52 years. It has gone with me wherever I've gone in my vagabond journeys. I will never part with it. I have never seen another copy like it. I have repaired it so many times it looks like a hunk of junk from the outside. No one else could possibly know the love that is showered on it. It's sitting on my table across the room from me right now. It still has the price written in it from the store, 6.50, (those were the days). It gets opened and read from almost every day.
That book and my bible are my desert island books. Even if I were to go blind (heaven forbid) I would never part with it. Beyond Shakespeare there is nothing on Earth but the songs of angels.

But this rough magic
I here abjure; and, when I have requir'd
Some heavenly music, - which even now I do, -
To work mine end upon their senses that
This airy charm is for, I'll break my staff,
Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,
And deeper than did ever plummet sound,
I'll drown my book.

DB - Vagabond Journeys

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Endearing Energy 9/26/09

12:08:01 AM EDT

Endearing Energy

Love is a better master than duty.


There's a line in an Arthur Miller play which says "What difference does it make what you do if you can't do the work you love. It's a luxury. Most people never get near it." I suppose that's true. I am grateful that I ws able to spend most of my life doing the work I love. I'm sad that I had to retire early from it due to physical problems for which I have no insurance. I know of actors 20 years older than I who are still working. But, at least, I had close to 50 years of being an entertainer and that is something I applaud. And did I love it?

Behind all the glamour of movies and the excitement of live theatre there are hours of drudgery and tedious work. Rehearsals can sometimes be a major drag on one's energy and positive spirit. They are usually frustrating and annoying. I know an actress who says that after every rehearsal she's "grumpy."

Then there is the process of memorizing lines. There are few things more frustrating. You work for hours and hours trying to get the right words learned in their proper order. When you finally go to bed you know the speech perfectly. When you wake up in the morning you can hardly remember any of it. You have to get the words in your head so well that you don't have to think about them and you can think about the thoughts behind them instead. If I hadn't done it so often for so many years I would have a hard time believing that it was possible. Tedious repetition is the only way I can do it.

Three times in my career I was applauded in rehearsal by the other actors on the stage. Once was in a play called The Apple Cart by Shaw. My character had a very long speech in the last act, several pages long. We had a week to prepare this play and by Thursday afternoon I still didn't know it. But I had set myself a goal of learning a certain number of pages every day no matter what. As it was in the latter part of the play those pages came up for learning on Thursday evening. Several pots of coffee and many hours later I went to sleep (for about 2 hours). When I awoke I went through it once more. We didn't rehearse that scene until Friday afternoon. But when the scene came I said the speech perfectly and everyone was stunned. Spontaneous applause broke out. And did I love it?

It was frequently about difficult scripts, bad directors, actors who didn't know what they were doing or uncomfortable theatres. Performing is almost always a collaborative event. But when the combination is right, the play is a good one, the director is inspired and the actors are all together, it's "magic time," And did I love it?

I can honestly tell you that there were tines when I came off the stage after a performance saying to myself "I love this. I love this more than life itself."

DB - Vagabond Journeys

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Furry Faction 9/24/09

12:10:58 AM EDT

Furry Faction

A gentleman can live through anything.

William Faulkner

Up in northern New Hampshire there are a group of peaks in the White Mountain National Forest called the Presidential Range, the mountains are named after U.S. Presidents. The highest one is Mt. Washington at 6,288 feet, True, it's not as tall as some Western mountains but it's the tallest in the Northeast.

It's in a town called Bretton Woods, a sparsely inhabited place. But there is a big vacation hotel in town, The Mount Washington Hotel, which has restaurants, a night club, lots of activities and many, many rooms. In one of the rooms there is a big oblong table with easy chairs around it, each one with a name plate on the back. I sat in the chair labeled "Winston Churchill." It was the room where the famous Bretton Woods conference took place that created the International Monetary Fund.

The Mountain also has buildings on the summit. The Mount Washington Observatory monitors something about the weather, I'm not sure what. But they do record the wind velocity, in fact the highest wind ever recorded was up there in 1944 at 231 miles per hour. That was the same year Churchill and his 43 buddies were sitting around in the cozy comfort of their hotel.

There is also a radio and TV transmitting facility for a station in Poland Spring, Maine, home of the famous Poland Spring water. Poland Spring also has a big hotel where the rich used to come, relax, socialize and drink the water (and other things). That hotel is closed now and houses the studios of the radio and TV station. I was an announcer at that radio station for one disastrously unpleasant season. Poland Spring is nowhere near Mt. Washington but they beam the signal from the top of the building via a microwave to the summit of the mountain where the transmitter picks it up, translates it and send it out allover northern New England, parts of sountern New England, Canada, New York State "and all the ships at sea."

There are two broadcasts directly from the mountain. When I worked for the small, local, family owned station in the Mt. Washington Valley I would call up there every morning and talk to one of the weather researchers on the air. The way I did that was to dial 3 numbers which gave me the Bretton Woods operator, a real person. I told her who I was and that I wanted to talk to the mountain, She dialed the number and someone who was expecting the call and ready to talk would answer. It was usually a guy named Al. And there was a stationary camera there for the TV News broadcast out of Poland Spring. Another weatherman type would be sitting at the desk in a white shirt and bow tie when the camera went on. He would give his report about conditions on the mountain in a very serious manner and when he finished he would flash a big smile.

There was also a tourist are on the summit. Yes I said "tourist." There were three ways of getting up there. You could drive. There was a road. You could drive up, park your car and purchase a bumper sticker that said "This car climbed Mt. Washington." You could also take the train if you wished. A cog railway went up and down. I never did that. Then, of course, you could walk up. There were several trails that went up and down. That's how I got there one summer day. But I resisted buying a T shirt that read "This body climbed Mt. Washington."

There is also an annual bicycle race up to the top. They say the last 20 feet are the worst.

The people who work up there do it in shifts. I'm not sure how they get up and down in the winter but for anyone to spend a whole winter up there is enough to drive a crazy man sane.

A few hardy, he man, macho types will attempt to climb it in the winter and some make it, but the forest service is always ready to jump on their snowmobiles and go rescue people, which it does an a fairly regular basis.

There is one resident who never leaves the mountain top however. Like in any good conglomeration of people who live and work together, there is the cat. The cat knows enough to come in when the wind is blowing and generally doesn't go out at all in the dead of winter. But when the good weather comes he is the King of the Mountain.

DB - The Vagabond

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Grounded Greatness 9/23/09

12:05:54 AM EDT

Grounded Greatness

The beginning of wisdom is to desire it.

Solomon Ibn Gabirol

Today I read some upsetting journals. After checking in with my regular journal friends, I decided to go exploring and read some blogs and their comments that I haven't read before. I was appalled at what I found. So many people are sending out harsh and uninformed opinions about our government, our politicians, our society, the media, the celebrities and each other. Some of the journals were written by people who seemed to have left intelligent, sensitive comments in other people's journals, but when I went to their own I found venom. I was stunned to see to what extent a person can set aside any degree of integrity and self-respect in order to express ignorant words of murderous mentality and ethical squalor. As I went from one to the other I finally felt as if I was following a path of moral contagion and I turned back.

I'm not ignorant to the world of hatred and bigotry on all levels of society. I just didn't expect to find it where I did. A fellow announces himself a good guy with a pleasant face and then writes poison. I hope someone tells him to get his feet off the soap box and back on the ground where real life is.

Information is easy to come by. We can Google almost anything and get more information than we want. Putting the information together and making sense out of it is a learning experience. That's how we gain knowledge. Next comes understanding which is only gained by asking a lot of questions and answering them. Anyone can learn facts and figures. Understanding must be strived for.

Wisdom is another matter. We must really want it to get it. It is difficult, sometimes scary and it's very easy to leave it there and walk away. But once we gain any wisdom about anything we know how valuable it is. We can't help but search for it when we need to and want to. Wisdom is made of ideas, ideas which are chewed, swallowed and digested. And wisdom is made of hard fought and hard won life experience. It is NOT made of opinions.

One must tread carefully through the Internet Jungle.

DB - The Vagabond

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Lasting Life 9/23/09

12:01:57 AM EDT

Lasting Life

Even the fear of death is nothing
compared with the fear of not having lived
authentically and fully.

Frances Lappe


How do we authenticate a life? What yardstick do we use to measure a life's worth? What map do we have to chart a life, even a short one, that is lived to the fullest? I'm such a humanitarian that I believe the only way we can take the dimensions of anyone's life is in how it affects, directly or indirectly, other people.

There have always been a few people in my life that I look up to and think about whenever I am involved in any project or activity. Even if they never know about it. I want to make sure they would be pleased if they did.

About ten years ago I worked on this play about two old vaudevillians who flee the city in retirement and live in a cabin in the woods. When neighbors come to call who recognize them, they ask the two old guys to do one of their routines. So they do. (I'm the one on the right.)

The other actor, E, and I got along great on the stage. We were a real two man team. But backstage he was a bit of a problem. He was one who liked to criticize, and make jokes at other people's expense. Sometimes I was the butt of his jokes, but I refused to let it bother me. Instead I treated him with equality and equanimity.

Because there was a song and dance number in the show, we had a choreographer. One day in rehearsal during a ten minute break, instead of going outside as I usually did, I took a seat in the house directly in front of him. He leaned over and said "I really am impressed by what you are doing and I admire the way you are with E. You treat him with respect. You're a good man D."

I turned, smiled and thanked him. Then i went out to the park in back, sat by myself on a bench and wept.

Why did I weep? Because something occurred to me right then that I had never realized before. No one had ever called me "a good man" in my entire life. They said I was a good actor, or a good announcer or I did a good job. But never that plain, genuine recognition. I had to wait until I was 60 before somebody actually told me I was a good man. I will never forget that choreographer and that moment. It brings on a tear just now, thinking about it.

If you know someone who is a good person, tell them so. And be honest about it.

DB - The Vagabond

Monday, September 21, 2009

Jovial Jobber 9/21/09

Sunday, August 10, 2008
12:04:26 AM EDT

Jovial Jabber

The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak in public,

George Jessel


I stopped briefly in my career to give some seminars in public speaking. My clients were all people in the business world. I asked them to prepare a 3 minute speech for the first afternoon. Most of them thought they couldn't speak for 3 minutes. But they did.

The two biggest problems I faced with them were A. the feeling that they didn't have enough of interest to say and B stage fright.

I taught them how to prepare a script and to read it while still keeping eye contact with the listeners. I had them prepare a talk and deliver it from memory. I taught them how to speak extemporaneously, which means speaking from notes. And I taught them how to ad lib.

I taught them Aristotle's system of rhetoric: logos, pathos and ethos. That is basically the what, the how and the why. Logos is what you have to say. Pathos is your opinion or feeling about what you have to say. Ethos is that which gives you the right and authority to say it.

I showed them that stage fright resulted from paying more attention to the impression they were making on the listeners than on the words and ideas they were speaking.

By the third day of the seminar they were speaking like fast flowing rivers.

To get them used to ad libbing and speaking without fear I came up with a fiendish system. There were 30 people in the room. I divided them into an A team and a B team. I gave them all index cards and told them to write down a subject in just a word or two, or three (my vacation, books, the Statue of Liberty, etc, whatever they thought of). I set up two boxes, marked A and B, collected the cards and put them in their respective boxes. Then I had each one of the speakers in turn come up, remove a card from the other team's box, read it to themselves and start talking. Nobody thought they could do that either. But once they got started I couldn't shut them up.

I met a lot of interesting people and learned a lot of things about the business world I didn't know.

DB - The Vagabond

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Kindly Knocks 9/20/09

12:03:01 AM EDT

Kindly Knocks

Person to person, moment to moment,
as we love, we change the world.

Samahria Kaufman


Let me never be ridiculous or pathetic. Let me never become a complete failure. Let the meager offerings of my slim talents dwell fruitfully in the hearts and minds of all who saw me, heard me or read me. Let me graciously accept a career cut short by sickness. Let me bear my illnesses with patience and hope. Let me have the persistence to get out of debt and the wisdom to never become a debtor again. Let me not succumb to the utterness of my sorrow. Let my love bring joy to those I love. Let my friendship be a banner to those who still think about me and let it bring peace to those who don't. Let me never cease to rejoice over the success and happiness of others and weep for the failures, even of those who hate me. Let my kind thoughts bless the enemies I refuse to hate. Let my regrets turn to ashes and let the wounds heal and the scars fade from those I have harmed. Let me be reunited with the strangers who should be close to me. Let me not give up on people, even those who have given up on me. Let me not be grieved at my dwindling audience or my dimming eyesight. Let me find my way from nowhere to somewhere and from nothing to something. Let me know more clearly the true nature of things. Let me never lose a sense of humor about the trials of my life. Let me not be a victim of anger or depression. Let me not be discouraged by all the many things that go wrong in my life. Let me breathe sweetness and speak goodness. Let me learn to treat each new day with expectations of good and each new night with determination to do better. Let my goals be pure and let me walk proudly through the jungle of distractions. Let not pain and sadness overcome me. Let my thoughts be cleaned of cruelty and violence and let nothing kill the poetry in my heart. Let me be forgiven for my foolishness and my ignorance. Let me claim my self-respect even where I'm not respected. Let me live and take care of myself. Let me dwell benignly in my loneliness. And let there be peace in my life.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Original Orientation 9/19/09

Friday, August 15, 2008
12:04:10 AM EDT

Original Orientation

There are voyages of self-discovery to find out what you can do and what you've forgotten to do.

Pat Oliphant


When I was 6 years old I told stories. We lived next to a park. There were wild areas in the park where trees, shrubs and bushes grew. One day a friend and I were playing there. He held up a strange piece of wood and asked me what i thought it was. I made up a story about it. He showed me other things and I made up stories about each of them. He must have done some word of mouth because the next weekend there were a lot of kids there all wanting to hear stories. I don't remember any of them but they were about Martians, people who lived underground, magic wands, etc.

A few years later we moved to a place that had a hammock in the back yard. Sometimes, after school, a couple of sisters would come over, sit in the hammock with me and ask for stories. They told me what they wanted to hear about and I would make up a story on the spot.

As a teenager I had a job as a life guard at an indoor pool watching some elementary school kids splash around. We came and left by the school bus. One day as we were getting on the bus to go back, the bus driver, a very nice guy, said to me that he had a splitting headache and that he hoped it would be a quiet ride. Since I was the last one on the bus I had to sit way at the back. The ride was anything but quiet. There was the usual screaming and yelling from a bunch of energized youngsters. So I began to tell a ghost story. Within a few minutes every kid on the bus was quiet and listening. I knew how the story would end, but I had to make sure it lasted until the bus was back at school. When we got there the kids all got off politely. The driver said "Thanks buddy. I owe you."

I worked with an actress named Diane. I lost track of her, but a few years later I read in the paper that she had been appointed the city story teller. I happened to see her on the subway one day and asked her about it. She said that she had gone to England to study and her acting teacher had told her that more than an actor she was a story teller. So she came back, got hired by the city and spent her career telling stories to people in the parks and community centers.

All actors are story tellers, I guess. At least we take other people's stories and make events out of them.

So now, retired, in my late 60's, what do I do? The same thing I did when I was 6. I tell stories.

Sometimes, in some ways, life does make some sort of sense.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Precious Pursuits 9/18/09

12:04:43 AM EDT

Precious Pursuits

Lead, follow, or get out of the way.

Thomas Paine

Ode To The Monkey Wrencher

When I was in the 5th grade my homeroom teacher was Mr. O' Conner, the school's science teacher (remember that). One day he asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. I was very interested in Astronomy at the time and said I wanted to be the first man on the moon. He said that I was being stupid because man could never go to the moon.

You want to do what? You want to build a pyramid in the desert? Forget it. It can't be done
What are those things? Beans? What are they for? Food? You don't expect me to eat that stuff do you? Don't grow those. Use the land for grazing cattle. Feed your beans to the pigs. If people are dying of starvation, let them. It's their own damn fault.

There is no other way to the spices, Mr. Columbus. That's a proven fact. Others have tried it and never came back. You and your ships will be lost at sea just like the rest.

You can't sail around the earth, Mr. Magellan, because the earth is flat. The Bible even says so. It refers to the four corners of the earth. Now it wouldn't have corners on it if it was round, would it? Stay home.

Don't translate the Bible into English, Your Majesty. If you do that people are going to start reading it for themselves and they'll stop going to church to hear the priest explainit to them.

What are you talking about Mr. Adams? We are Englishmen. If we try to separate ourselves from the benevolent British throne we won't survive.

Emancipate the slaves? You've got to be kidding, Mr. Lincoln. Everyone know that the Negros aren't intelligent enough to take care of themselves. They'll be all over the country taking up jobs. And if they try to educate themselves, God forbid, they'll be taking up space in the schools that the white boys should have. They're better off where they are.

Give women the vote?!! That one really makes me laugh, Miss Anthony. If women had the vote they'd be electing themselves to Congress. The first thing you know they'd be knitting and making doilies and gossiping with each other instead of tending to the business of the county. No, no. Let them stay in the kitchen where they belong.

I don't care how much pointless investigating you've done, Mr. Freud, you're only trying to find excuses for people's behavior and letting them get away with it. Face it. There is no subconscious mind. What you see is what you get.

Now what are you boys up to? You're trying to build a machine that flies? That's a crazy idea. If God had meant us to fly He would have given us wings. Go fly a kite and then go back to making bicycles.

It's a cute idea Mr. Ford but it will never replace the horse and carriage. Besides, Doctors have proven that the human body can't travel any faster than 8 miles an hour without destroying its inner organs.

You want to build a rocket ship to fly to the moon? What for? So we can walk on it? Don't be daft. Man can never go to the moon. Mr. O'Connor told me so. You've been seeing too many science fiction movies.

Now what are you doing? Oh, trying to chart a human genetic code are you? What a waste of time and money. There is no such thing. We are what we eat.

You, over there, what's that? A what? A wheel? What does it do? It goes around? Great. So what? What use is it? To move things? Come on. Leave that hunk of junk alone and go hitch up that wildebeest if you want to move something.

Thank you Mr. O'Conner.

DB - The Vagabond

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Quit Question 9/17/09

12:06:36 AM EDT

Quit Question

An apology might help,
but you can change you life without one.

Robin Quivers

None of us should ever be tailgated by regrets and bad memories. It is not in my nature not to forgive people who have done me wrong. It just isn't. I can be competitive, but I don't go looking for revenge. Vengeance is one of those mortal sins that many people feel they have a moral right to. It's what starts wars and keeps them going. Though forgiving my enemies is often difficult, it is easy compared to the effort of forgiving myself.

How can I wipe out the effect on me of the memories of all the stupid, cruel and thoughtless things I've done. Don't look back, the wizards say. But how can I help it when something will trigger a memory that suddenly attacks me like a mosquito. I can slap a mosquito., but not a regret.

In every regret there's a lesson. But there is also a fear. If I am placed in a similar circumstance will I do the same thing again? Was it just an accident that made that thing happen, or is it a trait.

It's very troublesome that I can't go back and apologize to the people I hurt. And that makes it very difficult to shake off the regret. I can only hope that those people understand in some way that I was on a detour from a particular journey of my own, and not out to get them, as I understand that those who hurt me were, no doubt, responding to something in themselves that had little to do with me. A bully may get the better of me, but I know he will immediately go looking for someone else to get the better of.

I think the only solution is to chew upon and digest the lessons that come from my bad and regretful behavior and to shine a light on myself to observe the motivations that made me act that way, and replace them with better ones. That means understanding myself.

I think I've already done that to some extent. And you knew what? It's not so bad.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Slanted Sight 9/16/09

12:02:12 AM EDT

Slanted Sight

Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep insight
can be winnowed from deep nonsense.

Carl Sagan

Some time ago I began to learn how to develop a healthy skepticism about almost everything. I'm not an absolute skeptic, no one can be. If I was I would question my own existence and therefore lose my ability to be skeptical. That's the snake swallowing it's own tail. But I began to notice how gullible people seem to be about important things.

An actor appears on a television commercial wearing a lab coat and talking about some new medicine and some people will believe he's really a doctor and will rush off to buy it. Someone else puts on a round collar, stands up and delivers a sermon and therefore he must be divinely inspired. You can find this kind of nonsense everywhere: teachers, mechanics, politicians, car salesmen, real estate and insurance agents, friends and members of your own family.

The problem is that there is usually some truth in there somewhere if you can only tell the difference. "Winnow all my folly and you'll find a grain or two of truth among the chaff." W. S. Gilbert. The winnower usually knows what he's looking for, but what happens when the nonsense is very deep and the difference between it and wisdom is vague? What happens when we are confronted with borderline cases?

That's when good reasonable skepticism is needed. One must read not only between the lines but behind the lines as well. An actor has to know the motivation behind his character's speech and behavior in order to portray him effectively. So it is with observing others' speech and behavior. People frequently don't mean what they say nor say what they mean, even if they think they do.

And then there's making assumptions. If A, B and C come together as a group, and A and B are both true, does that mean that C is automatically true? And is the set (A+B+C) true if it's two thirds true? What makes it even more complicated is that there is a difference between something being "false" and it being "not true." But, as my friend Paula once said: "Only a mother can figure that one out."

DB - The Vagabond

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tactical Test 9/15/09

Thursday, August 21, 2008
12:03:20 AM EDT

Tactical Test

Who can protest and does not,
is an accomplice to the act.

The Talmud

I am fortunate to live in a country where protests are legal. If my government does something wrong, or doesn't do something right (what! oh, no! never!) thousands of people will come out to protest, and it usually gets some results. But a protest can also be small and individual.

I was called upon to take over a role with 2 days notice. I had to take a long bus ride to get to the job. By the time I reached my destination I knew half the role.

I was put up at a company house with a family; parents and two sons. He was a teacher on vacation, she was an actress in the show, the older son was college age, the younger one was in his mid teens. Upon my arrival the younger boy set to work helping me to learn the rest of the script. And he was tireless. He made sure I knew the whole part word perfect. He was so generous with his time that I wanted to do something nice to repay him, but he said he didn't want anything. However, I got my chance.

I noticed that the older boy did not like his younger brother and would put him down at any available moment.

About a week later, on a dark night (which means a night in which there is no performance) we all enjoyed an al fresco supper in the back yard. We set up a table and the five of us sat around and ate.

After supper the conversation turned to current events and politics. People expressed various opinions and questions. When the younger boy spoke up his brother said "Oh you. What do you know about anything?"

"Well, I've read some articles, and..."

"Oh, swell. You read an article and now I suppose you think you're an authority on everything?"

"No, but...."

This harangue kept up.

What puzzled me was why one parent or the other didn't step in to put a stop to it. I wasn't in that family and didn't know the story so it wasn't any of my business. But it was happening in public, and since I was "the public" I finally got tired of listening to it, and if the namby parents weren't going to protest, I was.

I don't remember the exact words, but it went something like this:

"You two guys are brothers, right?"

"Yes. Unfortunately." the older one said.

"Well, when I first got here, your brother was a great help to me. He knuckled right down and helped me learn the role and stayed with me until I knew the whole play. And for that I admire and respect him very much. And I don't want to sit at this table and listen to you insult him. FIND A DIFFERENT TOPIC!"

There was a silence while everyone looked at him. Shortly after he got up and left the table. His parents and I talked about something else.

I don't understand why nobody told this creep to shut up long before I had to.

I thought that maybe his younger brother would grow up, get some power and knock his sibling on to some other backyard someday. But probably not, He was too nice a guy.

DB - Vagabond Journeys

Monday, September 14, 2009

Underground Understanding

Friday, August 22, 2008
12:03:27 AM EDT

Underground Understanding

A wise man can see more from the bottom of a well
than a fool can from a mountain top.

You may have heard the story of the mule in the pit. A farmer hears one of his mules howling and discovers that the mule has fallen into a deep pit. It's too high for the mule to climb out and he's too heavy to lift out. So the farmer decides that since he was going to fill up the pit anyway he might as well do it and bury the stupid mule. So he takes his shovel and starts flinging dirt down on top of the mule who shakes it off and stands on it, howling away. After a while the crying stops because the "stupid mule" has figured out that every shovel full of dirt that's thrown down on him which he shakes off and stands on is getting him closer and closer to the top of the pit. Eventually he's high enough to just walk out.

I met a guy in New Hampshire who said he wanted to go for a hike up one of the small mountains and asked me if I would like to go along. Being a hiker myself I agreed. During the hike I did what I usually do, I stopped along the way to investigate and admire things. I was curious about the strange plants, the different ways some trees were growing, the unusual rock formations, what the birds and chipmunks were up to. At one point we came upon a small waterfall. I wanted to look at it, put my hands in and splash some water on my face. But my companion was impatient and anxious to get to the summit.

When we got there I thought we would sit for a while and enjoy the wonderful view of the valley and surrounding mountains. But he wanted to turn around and go back down. It was then I realized that his one and only reason for climbing the mountain was for exercise. He had no interest in learning anything about the mountain or what could be seen from the summit.

db -The Vagabond

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Vast Viewing 9/12/09

Saturday, August 23, 2008
12:04:42 AM EDT

Vast Viewing

A man is infinitely more complicated than his thought.

Paul Valery

Two of the biggest errors we can make are mistaking an effect for a cause and judging the reality of something only on the basis of what we can see of it.

I think there are at least three levels of conscious thought: observing, calculating beyond what one can observe and interpreting a moral, metaphysical or spiritual meaning behind that calculation.

In college I took a class in Geology. That class took field trips and one day we went to a beach area where the teacher showed us an outcropping of metamorphosed (baked) sedimentary rock. Later we took the bus to a completely different location, and in the backyard of a house there was another outcropping of the very same rock.

What we learned is that if it was a tunnel instead of rock we could follow it all the way down into the deep parts of the ground until it eventually came up out onto the beach. That rock had once lay flat on the surface, but due to geologic activity had been bent into waves, and then covered over. As erosion took place the upper arc of that wave had disappeared. But since it was harder than the earth around it an outcropping of the rock was left. Again if we could have followed it up into what is now empty space another chunk of it could be found in some unknown location in the western part of the state.

One must know not only what the rock is made of but also calculate the angle of descent and ascent in order to describe the geological history of that area.

There are many ways we use to uncover and observe unconscious, or subconscious thought, For many years no one knew about any type of mentality other than the surface, exoteric one. When the subconscious mind was discovered it seemed like such a mysterious thing. Since then much attention and observation has been made of it, digging down underneath to observe how it affects life. Calculating what and where it is by observation of what the conscious mind is doing.

But I am interested in looking the other way. What about the upper arc of this wave of mentality, a super conscious mind, not observable because it has no abiding place in our earthbound consciousness, but can be known by its effects? What if we carry superconsciousness with us as we do subconsiousiousness? And what if that superconsciousness is the cause of things that appear so mysterious and super natural, like love, kindness, intuition, enlightenment, prophecy, and many other grand capabilities we haven't discovered yet. And why shouldn't Psychology turn its microscope in the other direction, and seriously begin to view and understand this strange, vast untapped ore of mentality?

There are those who investigate things like parapsychology, ESP, spiritualism, and other unusual occurrences, but mostly from the theory of there being abnormal causes. But what if those causes are in turn really effects of a different cause unknown and hence mistaken and misunderstood? What if there is nothing abnormal at all? What if superconsciousness is something that we carry with us all the time, ready to enhance our lives with capabilities and experiences above what we can consciously know?

What do you think?

DB - Vagabond Journeys

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Xenophilic Xylograph 9/10/09

Monday, August 25, 2008
12:02:05 AM EDT

Xenophilic Xylograph

When you locate good in yourself,
approve of it with determination.

Xun Zi

This event happened many years age when I was doing a season of summer theatre. The theatre was located near a beach and there was a pier with two buildings on it. One building had a wooden staircase that led from the pier up to a porch, and inside was the rehearsal area. The rehearsal went from 10 until noon. I wasn't involved in it that morning so I was sitting on the pier with my script.

Our Technical Director, Bill, came out of the shop with 4 large planks of fresh lumber, went back inside and came back out with a hand saw, a claw hammer, a saw horse, a bucket of nails and a ruler. I asked him what he was doing and he said he was going to replace the stairs. I figured that it would be a day's work.

I didn't know the dimensions of those planks of wood, but they were thick and long. Because a power tool would have disturbed the rehearsal he took a hand saw and, after ha had measured everything, he cut 10 identical grooves in both of the larger boards. They were so perfectly cut that when he reached the corner of each one the triangular piece just fell out onto the pier. He also cut the corners off of each board. I kept wondering when his arm was going to fall off.

Then he set them aside and measured the thinner planks and cut 10 identical pieces from them. The he stretched out the two larger planks parallel and braced them against the building. He took the smaller pieces he had just cut and with the hammer and some nails from the bucket, he attached each plank neatly into the grooves of the large boards. He then lifted the whole thing up and braced it against the porch.

He climbed the old staircase with the hammer and the bucket. He pried the old staircase loose and let it fall on the pier below. He then pulled over the new one and with large nails attached it to the porch.

He picked up the hammer and bucket and ran down the stairs. He put the tools away and took the old staircase into the shop to dismantle it.

I was amazed I said that I couldn't believe what he had just done. He said that there was nothing to it, and then said "I'm a good carpenter." I agreed.

In a moment or so the rehearsal stopped and the actors came tromping down a brand new staircase on the way to their break. Nobody knew how it got there, but I did. There was nothing to it.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Yammering Yoke 9/08/09

Tuesday, August 26, 2008
12:15:29 AM EDT

Yammering Yoke

To succeed without being vain is easy to say but hard to practice.



One of the silliest remarks I've ever heard, and I have heard it often, is "I'm a perfectionist." It is usually mouthed by someone with a tinge of false humility covering up a sense of superiority, as if no one else around had the interest, desire or ability to try to achieve some degree of excellence tending toward the perfect. And worse,, sometimes the person who makes the remark will prove their perfectionism by pointing out others' lack of it. That's the poor relative of covering one's own mistakes by putting the focus on someone else's.

I worked with an actress one time who had this attitude about herself. She had some degree of celebrity. She wasn't the leading actor but she had a large supporting role. As with some whose reputation is slightly above those around her, she thought everyone would be coming to see her, not the play, nor anyone else in it.

It frequently happens that when a performer with a "name" comes to work in a company of "unknowns" they expect that they will be deferred to and that people will stand in awe of their knowledge and artistry. At some point along the way they have to face the facts. Everyone sweats under hot lights and the make up.

What was particularly bothersome about this person was that she stuck her nose and her fingers into other people's work. She tried to arrange the scenes and performances to suit herself. When she was challenged about it she would say in a haughty voice, "Well, I'm a perfectionist, you see." You can imagine the resentment that caused.

And just what was her definition of that vague, gossamer, impossible to attain thing known as perfection? That still remains a mystery.

DB - The Vagabond

Monday, September 7, 2009

Zeal Zone 9/08/09

Wednesday, August 27, 2008
12:05:20 AM EDT

Zeal Zone

Friends are the greatest labor and the greatest reward.

Jason Zebehazy

After all these years I still wear my heart on my sleeve, and I guess I always will. And, in spite of hard knocks and some street wisdom, I've always been too innocent. But I have grown to feel disgusted at the professed friendships that turned out to be clay footed and hollow. It seems that while I was a working actor I was of some value to certain people. But now that I'm retired I'm considered worthless. And so, in my senior years, I've developed a benign suspicion and skepticism when friendship, love and affection are offered to me.

I know a guy who used to email me on almost a daily basis and he ended every letter by saying "I love you, good buddy." Then, one day he disappeared. I wrote to him several times trying to find out what was wrong. I never got an answer. And so it was with a few other of my "close friends."

I'm not bitter about it. My philosophy is never give up on people. If one of them should reappear in my life, even without an apology (which wouldn't be necessary) or an explanation, I could gladly revive the friendship because of the affection I have for them. It is not in my nature not to forgive people who have done me wrong.

Forgiving friends is not so hard. Forgiving enemies is harder but not impossible. There is a couple in this land that maligned me to myself and their family and probably to others, with some nasty name calling and lies. No reason given. All communications between us has broken off. I doubt if we could ever be friends again. But their morbid behavior has not harmed the love I had and still have for that family.

There are four actors who have simply disappeared without a trace of an explanation leaving behind a trail of memorials of how much they said they cared for me.

On the other hand, there are people who I know are true friends. Whether they show up once a week on my computer screen or in my mail box or once a year, I have no doubts about them. Most of them have been around for a long time.

Those are the friendships I work at. To have the freedom and right to labor for such friendships when called upon is one of the great rewards in this life.

DB = The Vagabond

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Ancient Affection

Thursday, August 28, 2008
12:09:12 AM EDT

Ancient Affection

When an old man dies, a library burns down.

African proverb


One of the most remarkable people I ever knew was my grandmother, Charlotte Cole. I was only 14 when she died, but I remember as a child, literally sitting at her knee and listening to her talk.

She talked about growing up in the Shenandoah Valley in the late 19th Century where she was taught to sing, dance. act and play the piano.

When she married she and my grandfather moved to Pawnee City, Nebraska to pioneer the land. She spoke of her life as a farmer/rancher's wife, of the other pioneers around, of the men and women of the local Indian tribe, of riding on the back of an ox to go to market because there was no seat in the ox cart. She spoke of the tornados that would rip through a person's home taking the pictures off the wall but leave the wall standing, of the sod house they lived in, where she bore two sons and a daughter. She talked of her sons, one, a successful businessman who, when he was a teenager bought a piglet for 50 cents and a year later sold it for 50 dollars, and the other an important baseball coach and trainer.

When my grandfather died, she took my mother and hit the road with a traveling theatre company. She taught my talented mother the rudiments of entertainment and they worked as a song and dance sister act. She talked of the dangers and hardships of traveling out west in the early 20th Century and of the strong theatre people who helped and protected each other. She recalled performing in places where the men in the audience would come in armed. She talked about the time the two of them barely escaped being kidnapped by men who would seize girls and force them into prostitution. They were called "white slavers" in those days. She told of performers being stranded in far-off places, because the unscrupulous producers would take the money and leave.

When she got to New York City she went to work as an actress in silent movies when they were being made in Astoria and Long Island City. She lived, with her trunk, in a NYC hotel room until she died. That trunk contained all the bits and pieces of an adventurous career. She let me poke around in it and look at the things in there, and she would talk about them.

She knew many people. She knew opera singers, comedians, politicians and prize fighters. She had an engaging, infecting sense of humor. She even found something amusing about her own passing. She was a fiery Christian.

It wasn't until I became an adult that I realized how valuable all that information was. I wish I had taken notes or had had a tape recorder. The library that was my grandmother exists now only in the shreds of my meager memory. I am the only one left of my family who knew her and I was the only one who listened to her.

DB - Vagabond Journeys

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Careful Chiseling 9/05/09

Saturday, August 30, 2008
12:04:02 AM EDT
Careful Chiseling

Man cannot remake himself without suffering,
for he is both the marble and the sculptor.

Alexis Carrel

"And a little child shall lead them."

It is said of Michelangelo that he claimed to see the statue within the block of marble and just chiseled away everything else until he revealed the pure work of art inside. I think it may be the other way around for the real human being.

It is heartbreaking to see a child's hopes broken and it's expectations closed up. Why? Because the child is still at the point of innocence about the world. People will say "Well, that's all part of growing up. That's life. C'est la vie."

But who really knows what la vie is? There are more books than you and all your friends and neighbors can read in a lifetime trying to explain it. Biologists with their diastole and systole can only go so far and simple phrases like Life is God don't hold one's interest for very long.

Life seems to be a conglomeration of things that keep getting added on from the moment we are conscious of our first hope being dashed, until we are surrounded and made up of all the ills, fears, angers, hatreds, failures and regrets as well as the thrills, successes and realizations of our days. But what did we lose along the way in this process of "growing up"? How many of us remember the joy of our first cupcake or our first balloon?

If there is a paradise to be found it may be that it can only be gained by remaking ourselves in the image of the pure, innocent being we were made to be, with hammer and chisel in hand to chip away, in sorrow and hard effort, all the accumulated dross that makes us think we are wise and adult, until we finally reach the pure, innocent self inside.

DB - Vagabond Journeys

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Determining Delight

Sunday, August 31, 2008
12:05:03 AM EDT

Determining Delight

A happy person is not a person
in a certain set of circumstances,
but rather a person
with a certain set of attitudes.

Hugh Downs
September is upon us, and that means all the quotes are from that rank amateur philosopher and silly dabbler in esoteric doings known as DB - The Vagabond.

September is the month I clean out my shelves and empty out my boxes to see what I've gathered over the past year or so in thoughts, ideas and impressions. I carefully go through the dusty bits and pieces to come up with 30 wisps of wisdom, sprinkles of spirituality, simple sayings and dollops of delight for your reading pleasure. So pay careful attention. On October 1st the WILL BE a test.
All of the quotes are original, but they come from the eccentric brain of a reader of strange books, of a man who spent his working life glamorizing ideas and changing them into entertaining events while at the same time stumbling through a troubled life, amassing a catalogue of lesson learning errors, and occasionally coming upon a rare place in the mental forest where no one who left any trace had ever seemed to be before me.
As I wrote to someone today, I consider myself blessed to have a sense of humor which allows me to enjoy the absurdities and ironies of life and which erases the need for any sort of cynicism.
It is my wish that you all enjoy a month of Vagabondisms Come October the great philosophers will return.

DB - The Vagabond

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Emerging Enlightenment

Monday, September 1, 2008

Emerging Enlightenment 9/01/08

In order to understand what it means to be awake,
we must first wake up.

DB - The Vagabond


It is indeed an odd thing that most of us spend a major portion of our lives somewhere between asleep and alert. Just as it is usually a gradual process from one to the other, so is it to becoming truly aware of the world around us and the people in it as well as the person inside

There is no excuse for people going through their whole lives unknowledgeable about new ideas and their importance to the world, and yet so many people do. It is also not reasonable for one to live his life without ever becoming acquainted with himself. But far too many people do that.

We live in a world of products, both tangible and intangible. We consume the products or let them consume us and give no thought to the originating mentality behind any of them. But it is becoming aware of that mentality that is the first step in truly waking up. Everything has a language and is talking to us at every moment, but we, blissfully or not, pay no attention. Why don't we listen? Why don't we look? Why do we keep missing the point?

Years ago, in a shop, I saw a little black plastic box with a toggle switch on the top. The switch was labeled "on" and "off." It was pointing to "off." If you flicked it to "on" the box shook, the lid opened and an emaciated plastic arm came out, flicked the switch to "off," fell back into the box and the lid closed. I was delighted at the message of it. I vowed that I was coming back to that shop to buy it. When i came back the box was there, but now it was a bank. You put a coin in the slot, the arm came out, and grabbed the coin. The whole point of the original box had been lost on people. Instead it was "Gee. That would make a cool bank."

I've been reading a lot about Leviathan, that creature mentioned several times in the Bible. Modern, but mostly Medieval theologians, argue one way or the other about whether it was a whale, a crocodile or some as yet to be discovered sea creature, and eventually agree that it stands for the devil. But they stop at that as if it was enough. None of them go on to explain what they mean by the devil.

I'm waiting. But, so far the best explanation I've read is that the devil is the ignorant, stuck human way of thinking and doing things and messing them up. That will have to do until someone looks behind the face of Satan and understands the idea underneath the mask.

The music of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, etc contains great ideas. When I was a classical music announcer I used to try to discuss some of those ideas. Almost no one, including my employers, understood what I was talking about. Even now most of those announcing concern themselves with how old Mozart was when he wrote something, when Beethoven went deaf and who Liszt was sleeping with. None of which has anything to do with the music. The late string quartets of Beethoven and the Piano Concertos of Mozart describe the world we live in and the world beyond what we know of it.

If I can convince one person to really look behind a rose, listen to its song and tell me what it says, my life will mean something.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Griping Gnashers

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Griping Gnashers

Every act of terrorism is an act of revenge.
What we really need,
if we are going to survive,
is a War On Vengeance.

DB - The Vagabond


I saw a conversation with a woman who ostentatiously displayed a cross around her neck and proclaimsd that she was a Christian, very religious and believed in an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, Her questioner asked if she understood that an eye for an eye was an old testament ethic, Mosaic law, which Moses later abated, that historians point out it was an improvement over the common practice of visiting ten fold revenge on wrong doers, and that it was totally refuted in the New Testament. She said she never heard that.

I though: My God. It's bad news for Christianity. and all religions as a matter of fact, when people can go about announcing their faith, even to the point of displaying symbols of it, congregating, worshipping and fellowshiping, without knowing the principles their religion is based on.

All the world's great religions inveigh against vengeance, and yet most people, most religious people, seem to think they have a divine right to exact revenge on those who have hurt them and do it under the benign euphemisms of "settling the score," "creating a level playing field" and "gaining closure." But there is no closure. Vengeance creates wars and keeps them going.

Some will say that if you let someone get away with something without punishing them, they will do it again. Preventing them from doing it again is not the same as visiting pain and torment on them for doing it the first time. Our prisons are full of people many of whom are 2nd and 3rd offenders. The punishment has not deterred them.

Wanting to take revenge on someone and actually doing it are different things, but they are allied. A first major step toward an ethical life is to recognize that the desire is just as bad as the act. Christianity stresses the idea that even the motivation to do something should be aligned with the principle of love for one's neighbor and forgiveness of one's enemies. So do Judaism and Islam. I've read the books.

How on earth can those for whom revenge is a way of life be convinced of it's erroneousness when it seems endemic to the human passions? How to convince people to turn from a superficial reading of their sacred texts and hasty interpretations of them that do nothing more than justify the behavior of their own mortal personalities? How to convince people to stop missing the point?

Some folks think I am atheistic or irreligious. People have tried very hard to convince me to became part of their own religious persuasion, one way or another. A man stopped his car, ran over to me, handed me a religious leaflet, got back in his car and drove off. I once got a letter from a listener saying that he was very concerned for my immortal soul. No explanation was given. Someone, whose thinking isn't any clearer than mine, is always trying to correct my thinking. My answer is that even though I can recognize in myself the motivation to "get even," my faith and sense of humor have transformed my nature to the point where there is nothing in me that cannot forgive those who have done me wrong. Those who have not yet reached that point may laugh at the idea, but it is a true, tested and measurable condition,

"Let there be peace in the world, and let it begin with me."

DB - The Vagabond

Friday, August 28, 2009

Hidden Harvest

+Thursday, September 4, 2008
12:15:19 AM EDT

Hidden Harvest

The beauties that we know, an amazing sunset, the taste of ripe fruit, the warm breeze of a Spring day, a painting by Van Gogh, the music of Mozart; these things are not complete. They are merely hints of the real beauty that is.

DB - The Vagabond


Years ago there was a BBC TV program called "The Long Search." In it a British anthropologist went all around the world interviewing devout people of all the world's religions. He was attempting to discover what made a person religious and what kept them in a permanent state of faith.

I remember many of those interviews, but the one that stands out to me the most was with a Hindu gentleman. He was saying that Hinduism was a very non-materialistic religion. The interviewer asked how he could say that when all around them there were idols. The Hindu agreed that there are idols but he explained that he looked on them as so many fingers pointing to an invisible world of Spirit. He said that one could spend a lifetime looking at the finger until one day he begins to look at where the finger is pointing.

I was in rehearsal for a play and having a difficult time with my role. The character seemed to be so challenging and argumentative with the other characters, and I was portraying him with a heavy hand (as usual) which I knew was wrong. One day, during a break, the director, who was a very incisive and gifted director in his idiosyncratic way, walked past me, tapped me on the shoulder and said "Prometheus, my boy." and walked on. That set my head spinning and sent me to the dictionary. Prometheus, the mythical hero who stole fire from Zeus and gave it to humanity. Thinking about that legend helped me to understand my role, not as an angry, unharmonious debater but as the one voice of reason who could enlighten the scene. That changed my approach to the role and it worked.

I can tell from some of the comments and emails I get in response to the things I write, that there are people capable of and who do often look behind the veil, see the unseeable and examine the unexaminable. As I said in my last entry there are people whose thinking is not all that clear, who are trying to correct my thinking. Prometheus was punished by being chained to a rock by Zeus for a long time. When I come upon the rock that says "There are certain things we are not supposed to know" or that says "It's just an apple. Don't try to read anything else into it." that is the very rock I refuse to be chained to.

The veil of the temple has been spilt in two, the sanctum sanctorum is open for all, not just the high priest. We are capable of knowing the unknowable, of completing the sunset, of handling the fire, as long as we stop staring at the finger and begin looking to where it points.

DB - Vagabond Journeys

Monday, August 17, 2009

Infinite Improvement

Friday, September 5, 2008
12:01:59 AM EDT
Infinite Improvement

Actors are those who give themselves notes
long after the show has closed.

DB - The Vagabond


Q. How many actors does it take to change a light bulb?
A. 50. One to change the bulb and 49 to say "I could have done that better."

There are some scripts and productions that are hopeless and are just as well forgotten about. They come under the category of "I-wish-I-hadn't-done-that." I could name a few, but they are better left buried.

But then there are plays from the recent and not so recent past that still intrigue me. I'll be lying in bed preparing to go to sleep and a scene or a moment from some play I once did will suddenly pop into my mind and I'll start going over it again, finding ways to do it better. I often wonder why I didn't think of something that is clear to me now. But then I realize that in the stress and rush to get the show rehearsed and open many things fell along the way that can only be picked up later - much later.

It's a shame that I can't go back and do it again, but the scenery has been torn down, the actors have all gone their ways and the show will never happen again. It's in the can, as they say. That doesn't stop me from giving myself notes about it however, as to how to improve it.

It's even more graphically true about sections I've saved to use as audition pieces. When I go through them now I find that I always do them better than I did when I did the play. I have one scene from The Merchant Of Venice which I did in the late 50s. I can't believe I got away with what I did, or didn't do, when I originally performed the play.

Once I went to see a play I had done and watched another actor play the role I had played (an actor who may be reading this right now). I have to admit, he played it better than I did. So let him change the light bulb. He's doing just fine.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Knuckle Knowledge

Sunday, September 7, 2008
12:02:54 AM EDT

Knuckle Knowledge

One is never relieved from proving one's grit.

DB - The Vagabond
This is a long one, so put the kettle on if you're going to read it.

Tremont Mountain

Tremont is part of the White Mountain National Forest which stretches from Maine into New Hampshire. There are two ways to hike to the summit. One is a straight up trail off of one highway. The other is a network of trails beginning at a different highway. One day in late October I decided to take the long way up, through the network of interesting trails.

I studied the map and trail guide and calculated that it would take me 4 hours to reach the summit. So I began at 10 a. m. I parked my car in a parking area just off the highway and locked it. I took my trusty walking staff and my back pack. In the pack I had a towel, a canteen of water, a plastic container for my sandwich and a banana. a flashlight, toilet paper, the trail guide, cigarettes and wooden matches.

At first there was an easy half mile walk to the brook which needed to be forded. A pebbly walk from the brook took me to a long, wide straight trail which led along the side of the brook, but then veered onto a spur trail that wandered through the woods to an old logging road beside a pond. After a while on that it came upon a gravel road which seems to have been put in for construction which never took place. On the other side of it was the trail that began the ascent up the mountain. It was a long winding, twisting trail through the forest and up the side of Tremont. It was well traveled, it seemed, but not well marked. The surface of the trail was mainly roots and rocks. It went along the ledge of a cliff, down into a small valley and eventually up through thicktrees to the summit. Easy to describe, but it took a lot of effort to do.

When I got to the summit I received a shock. As the timber line is only a few feet below the summit, I had not seen the sky in an hour or so. When I stepped out on to the peak I saw that the sun was a lot further along in the sky than I had expected. Since I didn't have a watch with me, I didn't know what time it was, but I knew it was later than I assumed it would be and I was going to have to descend the mountain mostly in the dark. But I wasn't really ready for just how dark it was going to be.

I quickly ate my sandwich and banana, tossing the banana skin (biodegradable - good litter), said to the mountain top that I would be back some day and started down.

The first hour was okay, but when I emerged out of the small valley the sun set and it became pitch dark, no moon, nothing. I got out my flashlight and proceeded.

The one thing I knew for certain was that no matter what I had to stay on the trail. I fell into a slow, quiet panic. All the roots and rocks I had stepped on as I came up now seemed to wriggle and squirm under my feet. I don't know if it was moths or small birds flying by me but I sometimes heard something like whispering close to my head. and also the sounds of foot steps in the woods next to me.

There was a strong temptation to just start down the slope of the mountain, but I knew that if I did that I wouldn't know where I was when I cam out and it might take days to find my car. And maybe I wouldn't come out at all but end up in a swamp or a briar patch. And there were cliffs I could accidentally step off in the dark.

So with flashlight in hand I poked along slowly, trying not to stumble and fall, trying to stay on the trail. Occasionally I would see a trail marker, which was encouraging, but mostly it was keeping my eyes on the ground and feeling with my feet. Now and then I would step off the trail, but somehow I knew it immediately and would step back to where I knew it was, and search for the next step. It was a matter of feeling the ground with my feet, intuition and some invisible guidance. Once I stopped to tie my boot and after I had moved on for a minute I realized I had left my staff back there, so I went back and got it. One learns to keep what one has. It was a valuable possession.

At one point the trail even ascended again for a short distance. That was confusing to me.

I didn't know how late it was, but I knew I shouldn't try to bed down for the night and wait until dawn. It was October, cold, and I wasn't dressed warmly enough to get through the night without suffering from exposure to the cold.

After many, many hours of finding my way through the thick forest and uncertain trail, I made it down off Tremont to the gravel road.

I knew that if I walked that road it would eventually take me to a tertiary road which would eventually take me to the highway which would eventually take me back to my car. But I could tell from the map that it would probably take me until mid day to do that. So I decided to continue on the way I had come.

I crossed the gravel road and entered the old logging road that eventually went along the side of the pond. I knew that the Appalachian Mountain Club had posted a sign marking the end of the spur trail and I was looking for it. After about an hour I saw it. But at that exact moment there was the loud sound of something throwing a large rock into the pond, right next to me. I knew there were no gorillas in New Hampshire so the first thing I thought of was that it was obviously Sasquatch, Big Foot, and I expected that at any moment I was going to be picked up by some big, smelly, hairy thing and slammed against a tree.

I didn't shine my flashlight over to see what sort of a beast it was. I just turned on to the spur trail and kept moving, slowly, over the roots and rocks. As far as I know, I wasn't followed.

But then, after another hour or so, I came upon a large tree that had fallen directly across the trail. I didn't remember that tree during the ascent, and it wasn't something that had recently happened, but it was quite obviously there and I must have gone around it. I knew I was on the trail, so I put my back pack down to mark it so that I could always return to that spot, and walked all around that tree searching for where the trail came out on the other side. I think I walked around that tree 3 times looking for the trail when, accidentally, my flash light picked up a trail marker that was off to the side. It was a red ribbon tied high up on a tree. Obviously this trail was used by cross country skiers in the winter and it was one of their markings. But it meant that the trail went of to the right and the tree simply lay along side of it. That's why I hadn't remembered it.

So i followed the trail out to the wide easy trail that went along beside the brook. After another hour or so I came out to the pebble area leading to the brook. I turned off the flashlight and let the sound of the brook lead me to the edge of it. I sat down to rest before I forded the brook, took out my cigarettes and matches. When I struck a match I was amazed to see, for an instant, 180 degrees around me, eyes. Big eyes, little eyes, round eyes, slanted eyes, squinty eyes. It seemed that all the creatures in the woods had come out to see what this was that was stomping through their bushes. Immediately there was the sound of scurrying as they all left the scene. I chuckled because I got the impression that I probably had company every step of the way.

I finished the cigarette, pushed it into the ground (more good litter, non-filter, very degradable) and forded the brook. My staff was very helpful for doing that. With it I could feel the rocks at the bottom that I could step on.

I dried off my feet with my towel and made the last half mile to my car. When I unlocked it and opened the door the light from inside flooded the parking area. It was a welcome sight. When i got in the car the clock on the dash board said 2 a. m. It had taken me 16 hours.

The next day I called my friend Ernie, who knows about these things, and asked him what made that loud noise at the pond that frightened me so much. He said it was probably a beaver. They slap their tails in the water to frighten off their enemies. I am here to tell you it's very effective.

A week later I took the other trail up to Tremonet. It was a tough straight up the hill trail, but it was shorter. When i got to the summit I got to enjoy the view that I had to miss the first time. On my way up I noticed frost forming on the brown and amber leaves that had fallen from the trees and I knew it would soon be hunting season, there would be no more hiking until the spring.

I never returned to Tremont Mountain after that. Why should I? I had proven my grit.

DB - Vagabond Journeys