Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2018

Archive for the category “Nonfiction”

Where Can I Get Some 3000 Year Old Pants?

 

MY BACK IS UP AGAINST THE WALL. It is the Christmas Season and everyone will be in a cheerful mood and dressed for the occasion. You know – family and all that. I am being given subtle signals that I will need to dress more like a mature man. A man who isn’t still dressing like he did in 1969.

And I hate going out shopping for clothing. Going into a store and having to deal with some clerk who asks me the one question I really hate to answer: “What is your size?”

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A View From The Corner

 

WHO NEEDS TELEVISION? Who needs movies? Who needs any form of traditional entertainment when you’ve got people walking around? Every day, free of charge, there is a non-stop parade of the Human Animal passing by in all its variety. I almost said, “Passing by in all its Glory,” but Glory is rare in humanity. Variety is a better word to describe the people I see every day.

People Watching is more fun than Movies or TV. With the actors on the screen, who are always good looking and mouthing someone else’s words, they are following a Director’s commands. Their moves are predictable and rarely surprising. However, the folks wandering in front of my astigmatic eyeballs are anything but predictable and continue to surprise me on a daily basis.

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Throwback Thursday -From Dec. 2015 -“The Worst Show I was Ever In”

Throwback Thursday!!

 

AH, THE THEATER. A place where magic can happen. bad-acting-death-sceneA place where the Muses join to bring light, sound, and poetry together.

Unfortunately, it is also a place where disasters can happen. A place where the gremlins join to bring darkness, silence, and confusion together. When that takes place you can send audiences away into the night feeling lost, numb, and regretting the cost of both dinner and tickets.

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Finger Lickin’ Good

 

I JUST READ THE DARNDEST THING – a restaurant review that made me lose my appetite.

Straight from the home town of Godzilla and Hello Kitty comes a story that, under other circumstances would probably reconvene the courtrooms of Nuremberg. (Under 40? Look it up.)

The restaurant named “Resoto Ototo No Shoky Ryohin” has opened its doors in Tokyo and somehow gotten all of the usual permits and government approval to become the first eatery in the world to legally serve (Brace Yourself) Human meat. The name of the restaurant translates into English as “Edible Brother.”

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I’m Not Good At Shopping

BLACK FRIDAY HAS PASSED and the Christmas Shopping Season has begun for most people. I try to hold off until December. I don’t like to do all of that while I’m still dealing with the effects of all that turkey.

“SUI” – Shopping Under the Influence SUI – it also sounds like somebody is calling the hogs. Disturbingly appropriate.

Like gazillions of other people I have started doing most of my Christmas shopping online. It’s easy. It’s economical – no driving all over town. And I can do while sitting there in my underwear. That is something I would never do while at the Mall – again. (Just kidding there)

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A Reblog: “Why Reading Aloud Made Cuban Cigars Great”

Today I have the pleasure of reblogging a most fascinating posting about the joys and impact of reading aloud.

New post on “A Teacher’s Reflections”

Why Reading Aloud Made Cuban Cigars Great

by Jennie

While reading aloud is my passion and what I do- because it makes a marked difference in learning- I always write about reading aloud to children.

Well, there’s more.  Adults.  The proof of reading aloud making a difference is in the high quality of Cuban cigars.  It’s a great story, one of my favorites.

Reading aloud never gets old.  It weathers time and generations.  For adults, when we are read to, we listen, think and feel.  And, we have to stretch our brain.  When we only hear the words it sharpens our mind, and our performance is much better.

The Cuban cigar industry understood this.  That’s why they make the finest cigars.

They have la lectura, who reads aloud for up to four hours to the factory workers, from the daily news to Shakespeare to current books.  This is both brilliant and common sense; the workers are entertained, happy and productive.

Jim Trelease writes about this in his million-copy bestseller book, The Read-Aloud Handbook.  He is a master writer and has it nailed on reading aloud.  Here is an excerpt from the chapter about the history of reading aloud and its proof:

Then there is the history of the reader-aloud in the labor force.  When the cigar industry blossomed in the mid-1800’s, supposedly the best tobacco came from Cuba (although much of the industry later moved to Tampa, Florida area).  These cigars were hand-rolled by workers who became artisans in the delicate craft, producing hundreds of perfectly rolled specimens daily.  Artistic as it may have been, it was still repetitious labor done in stifling factories.  To break the monotony, workers hit upon the idea of having someone read aloud to them while they worked, known in the trade as ‘la lectura’.

The reader usually sat on an elevated platform or podium in the middle of the room and read aloud for four hours, covering newspapers, classics, and even Shakespeare.

As labor became more organized in the United States, the readings kept workers informed of progressive ideas throughout the world  as well as entertained.  When factory owners realized the enlightening impact of the readings, they tried to stop them but met stiff resistance from the workers, each of whom was paying the readers as much as twenty-five cents per week out of pocket.

The daily readings added to the workers’ intellect and general awareness while civilizing the atmosphere of the workplace.  By the 1930’s, however, with cigar sales slumping due to the Great Depression and unions growing restive with mechanization on the horizon, the owners declared that the reader-aloud had to go.  Protest strikes followed but to no avail, and eventually readers were replaced by radio.  But not in Cuba.

The Cuban novelist Miguel Barnet reports, “Today, all over Cuba, this tradition is alive and well.  Readers are in all the factories, from Santiago to Havana to Pinar del Rio.  The readings have specific timetables and generally begin with the headlines of the day’s newspapers.  After reading the newspaper, the readers take a break and then begin reading the unfinished book from the day before.  Most are women.”

Used by permission of the author, Jim Trelease, 2013, The Read-Aloud Handbook (Penguin)

No wonder Cuban cigars are among the finest.  This story is one of my favorites and illustrates the effect reading aloud has on people.  Thank goodness I get to do this multiple times every day with children.

Jennie

Thank You, Jennie for your work and your delightful outlook on the world.

John

Life Happens On The Road

 

BACK TO TEXAS – FOR THE TIME BEING. We have been home for Thanksgiving, but we will be lining up for flights heading south again for Christmas.

Ho. Ho. Ho.

As anyone over the age of 12 can tell you, family trips are no vacation. That’s just a law of Nature. Not that I don’t enjoy seeing and being with the fine members of the family. It is that “grown-up matters are the primary function of such trips. Life.

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Throwback Thursday from Nov. 2014 – The Morning After The Day Before

Throwback Thursday 

The Morning After The Day Before

A lot of people are calling today “Black Friday,” a piece of accounting slang indicating cornish hen dinnerthat today is the day when their sales ledgers go from Red Ink to Black Ink. Many retail concerns realize the majority of their sales for the year in the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. What a way to live.

For me today is “The Morning After the Day Before.” It really doesn’t have a color. Everything is shrouded in an L-Tryptophan cloud. Rather than go battle the hordes of shoppers at The Mall I am spending this day fighting the urge to go back to bed or to catch a nap standing up as I wait for my coffee.

If I were to go shopping I’m sure that I would come home with – stuff. I don’t need any more stuff. My wife doesn’t need any more stuff. We really don’t need half of the stuff we have right now.

I’m just glad that I don’t have a “Bed, Bath And Beyond” store nearby. Whenever I go into that store I become enraptured by all of the “Beyond” stuff. It is like finding myself trapped inside every Infomercial extant on TV. I see piles of microwave cooking gizmos and various adhesives (in a selection of colors) that would enable me to drill holes in my boat without fear. But I don’t have a boat.

In a way it all takes me back and makes me feel young again. Strolling through a “Bed, Bath And Beyond” is like preparing to furnish a college dorm room with a wide range of stuff prohibited by the school in addition to things your mother insists that you actually need.

No, today is the day when I sit quietly in a stupor and let other people move the economy forward. I’m just not capable of being a cog in the commercial engine – tomorrow maybe, but not today. Today I am content to be little more than organic matter in size 10 shoes. I can and will respond to basic stimuli, but little more. Cogent thought and critical thinking will have to wait until the fog lifts. My wife has confirmed that I am quasi-capable of forming simple sentences aloud, but she doesn’t think I’ll be going much beyond that until Sunday. It sounds like today may be the perfect day for me to ensconce myself in ‘The Rip Van Winkle Memorial Chair’ and stumble through Netflix. Oh, look! Six thousand movies I’ve never heard of.

I’ll get back to you tomorrow.

Blowing In The Wind

I DON’T KNOW WHY, BUT DINNERTIME CONVERSATIONS can sure get weird. The other night as the family was scarfing down some basic Comfort Food the flow of the conversation took a definite turn to the unusual.

“If you get cremated what do you want done with your ashes?

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Apple Valley, We have A Problem

IF ANY OF YOU KNOW A GUY NAMED MIKE HUGHES please do your best to convince him to either see a Doctor or buy a lot of insurance. If you don’t know a guy named Mike Hughes just consider yourself lucky.

A limousine driver by day the Mike Hughes I’m talking about lives in the idyllic sounding town of Apple Valley, California, but he has his head in the clouds – rather low clouds. If he is not really lucky he might be leaving it there even if his feet are on the solid ground.

You see… I don’t know quite how to phrase this without sounding like I’m… like I’m Mike Hughes. Mike has a plan to launch himself in a steam powered “rocket” up into the sky in order to prove, once and for all, that the Earth is flat. I think you can see now why I am skeptical about standing too close to Mr. Hughes.

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Throwback Thursday from Nov. 2015 – A Day For Thanksgiving

Throwback Thursday from Nov. 2015

A Day For Thanksgiving

Today is a day set aside for the giving of thanks. Thanks for all sorts of things.

For some of us those thanks are mighty and great, but for others they are small and personal. Both are equally valid.

Take this day to be with your friends and family.


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“Picture If You Will…”

THE EARTH IS A BUSY and often confusing planet and sometimes things just look out of place to me. It’s kind of like when you rearrange your furniture. Until you get used to the new configuration you’re likely to stub your toe on that chair that wasn’t sitting there last week. A few of these oddities came to mind recently.

We attended a funeral recently and as we were at the cemetery for the graveside service I looked down. There in the grass by several headstones was a golf ball. A golf ball? That just seemed to be terribly out of place. True, there was a hole nearby, but…

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I May Just Skip Lunch

THERE ARE DAYS WHEN I WONDER why I get on to the internet at all. I am eternally hopeful that I will find something interesting and/or enlightening. I know that out there in the cyberworld there is something that will make me want to jump for joy and break into my happy dance. I want to be educated, inspired, entertained and feel that I am connecting with the finest fibers of the universe singing of the wisdom of humanity – and then, before I have even had my first sip of coffee, I run into this.

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You Are Getting Sleepy

I CAN AND WILL CONTINUE TO SLEEP just about anywhere. I can sleep on airplanes. I can sleep on a crowded bus. I even fell asleep on stage one time. I’m good at sleeping.

As I write this we are down in Texas once again. Family business brings us to the Corpus Christi area for the fifth month in a row and Christmas will send us south once again. This means a lot of sleeping in strange beds and some strange sleeping.

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We’re Goin’ To The HEB

WE CONTINUE TO BE DEEP IN THE…no, it’s not the heart. We’re down further than that. …Deep in the Pancreas of Texas. The weather is pleasantly warm once again and, Thank God, pretty much mosquito free.

We are staying in the old family home which is right across the street from the “Bonecrusher Arena” – the football field of Sinton High School. There was a game there last Friday night. The hometown boys lost 54 – 0. “Bonecrusher Arena,” indeed. At least they are showing improvement. The week before they lost 60 – 0.

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Throwback Thursday from Nov. 2015 – There Is Music In The Air

Throwback Thursday from Nov. 2015 –

There Is Music In The Air

SOMETIMES I THINK THAT HEARSAY IS BETTER than actually being a witness to something. A couple of nights ago was one of those times.

Now, I want to put a Caveat, with a capital C, in play here. The following anecdote was told to me by one of the notorious Usual Suspects. For that reason alone I take it all with a fifty pound salt lick. A grain of salt is just not enough.

Let me begin.

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The Choices Are Almost Endless, Unfortunately

WHENEVER I AM DRIVING AROUND TOWN lately I’m seeing something that makes me wonder a bit. Not a lot, just a bit. What I’m seeing are those stick figure decals on the rear windows of cars. In the beginning these decals or stickers were showing just your basic nuclear family: Mommy, Daddy, and a couple of kids.

It didn’t take long before someone added the family dog to the lineup. After that the floodgates were opened. More kids, Granny and Grandpa. If there had been a divorce the decal would show a space with a Vacancy sign.

I spent most of a quarter hour doing extensive research into this and about all I learned was that some people have incredibly bad taste.

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They Look Familiar. We Must Be Related

THERE ARE ONLY TWO TIMES when families get together en masse – weddings and funerals. Nobody got married this week. After the departed is laid to rest everyone gathers together and tells stories. They also try to figure out who are those little ones who have grown so tall since the last gathering.

There are always new babies to look at and questions asked about anyone who isn’t there. There is also someone trying to explain how and who is related to whom.

“Hiram over there is your third Cousin, twice removed, and married to Lulubelle who is actually the sister in-law to your Aunt Fedora Mae. Got it?”

“But who is that man sitting over there by the potato chips?”

“I don’t know. I thought he came with you.”

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I Didn’t Pack For This

GREETINGS, YET AGAIN, FROM TEXAS. South Texas where for the last two days it has been colder than it has been back in Terre Haute (That’s French for “Ay, Caramba, hace mucho frio!”) I did not plan on this. I did not pack for this. I do not like this. The solution is: Go to Wally World and buy a sweatshirt or twelve.

I also did not pack so as to be properly dressed for a funeral. An uncle passed away suddenly a couple of days ago so we have extended our stay. Considering that my suitcase has nothing but Levis and Hawaiian shirts a more extensive shopping foray is in order. Wally World just ain’t gonna cut it.

All I really need are a pair of decent slacks and a shirt that doesn’t have palm trees on it. That and doesn’t cost too much.

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I’m Sure About The Letter “E.”

WELL, THIS CERTAINLY WAS A BUSY MORNING. Coffee and conversation at 6:30 AM, and a Doctor’s appointment at 9:00 AM. My dance card was filled.

Most of the conversation segment of my morning was about my impending Doctor’s appointment. How exciting.

The appointment was with an “Ophthalmologist.” That is a word meaning: “Not a guy working at the Mall.” I was going to see him for a very good reason – my vision is starting to suck. Not all of it, just the part from about 2 ft. out to about 15 ft. Closer in and farther away I am seeing as well as a 71 year old Geezer with Astigmatism can be expected to see. I can find my way around town without a dog.

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