gargoyle not from pottery barn

It wasn’t a squirrel. It was a gargoyle, I could tell the difference easily. I fell in love with it immediately. What a concept. Who would have thought of placing a gargoyle at the edge of a roof about thirty feet above a suburban lawn? Perhaps a gargoyle would think to do so. More likely the gargoyle would do so without thinking. What thought was required? Just do it. It’s the natural thing. Which is probably why our gargoyle looked so naturally positioned.

Source: Flickr Creative Commons


He is not of clay or plaster, we have learned. And we have named him Vesparo, not knowing his real name or if even he has one. He answers to Vesparo and he eats the handbills, circulars and advertisements left on our porch and lawn. To our knowledge he does not eat those who leave the handbills, circulars and advertisements left on our lawn. Vesparo is close to the family of geckos who congregate on our porch ceiling. They get on well, joking and playing games into the early morning.
So, when I tell everyone we have a gargoyle on the roof of our house in our quiet suburban neighborhood, how nice, they must think, for this time of year, all hallows and all that. But, no. This is the real thing. I don’t think he’s going anywhere. We love him, Vesparo. He is real. He is very much alive, as are, as far as we know, all of the children who live on our street and in our neighborhood.

A-Rod, a strike-out before the strike

Somebody had shelled out some big bucks for this family outing. It wasn’t me. I never is. It was probably Grampa and step-Grandma. It’s what they do. It’s amazing and wonderful, so generous, so memorable.
The Ballpark in Arlington was new. No scuffs on the polished pavement floors, no bumps or chips along the glistening walls, no hinges squeaking in the stadium seats so clean they might as well have been sanitized for our protection.  I remember entering the stadium through a glorious corner gate that is probably architecturally aligned with first base. St. Peter comes to mind. But memory enhances visual associations with emotional experiences, good, bad, and to all extremes. So please understand this is in my head coming out here through the tips of my fingers, hardly virtual at this point, what once was real, actual, walking and breathing a physical experience.
Lot’s of air. That is, not many people where there yet. No worries about breathing the same breaths as everyone else. The game wasn’t for another couple of hours. My wife, our three children, and I followed our hosts into the elevator that opened to a nearby TGIFriday’s. Something about bold stripes, checkered tiles, and new furniture begs to be soiled, tried, tempted, tested as if on a shakedown cruise. Whatever is in the way will be tripped over. Whatever is slippery will be slipped on. Whatever sharp edges of new chairs will catch fabric and rip a hole in it will catch fabric and rip a hole in it. Full of nicely broiled burger and accompanying fries such a burger commands, the men’s room visit took some pressure off and broke my heart.
My favorite one-hundred-percent-cotton Hawaiian-print shirt I had purchased oh-so-many-years earlier at the Banana Republic at the Dallas Galleria (when they offered such apparel) had been torn. The new bench I had been sitting on, I concluded, snagged it, ripped it, exposed the pleasant rounding of my back (my white undershirt, anyway) from seam to seam. Heck, I blamed it on the bench. Truth is I had worn the shirt so much it could have torn with sneeze, so thin was that section of cloth. My favorite shirt was ruined. (For the record, had I known people were associating me with Jimmy Buffet because of that shirt, it’s brightly printed parrot, it would have not been my favorite shirt. I do not show my allegiance to any style of music through apparel. That’s why these days I were all black.) Most embarrassing was the thought that I had been wandering around with my torn shirt for who knows how long. Probably not long. No one looked at me funny or anything. So, I wasn’t too worried about it until I had to walk back out into the restaurant. That was the closest I think I’ve ever come to that dream where you’re walking around naked or in your underwear. Anyway, I made my way to the manager, made my case, and he happily gave me a polo-type shirt from the gift shop as a replacement. It was yellow, that shirt.
I think the Rangers were playing the Mariners. The seats were excellent, a dozen or so rows back from the Texas dugout and a bit toward home. This was probably the best view of all players who bat right handed. This was fine-America. Splendid America. Best seats at a baseball game at a new stadium. What else: a new shirt; stuffed with burger-and-fries; with the beautiful young wife and our three young children, and the grandparents and an uncle and aunt and or cousin or two or three. Like I said, somebody had shelled out some bucks for this outing.
People began leaving about halfway through the game. I couldn’t understand it. But I hadn’t been paying attention to the game as much as to the experience of being with everyone, and the event itself. Mariners were winning. A Ranger had just struck out and was returning to the dugout. The stadium countenance changed. The mass of departing souls slowed, some even returned as all hushed, gasped, then applauded. The only thing that had happened was A-Rod had trotted to home plate. He was already a superstar, but not yet the superstar he would become. I was amazed at how absolutely natural he held the bat, how humble he seemed, embarrassed even, at the attention, as though genuinely afraid who would not live up to whatever was expected. And so the pitch. I watched through the binoculars as the young player swinged a swing with such power that the ball would have done anything other than what it did if the bat had connected solidly. The ball went straight up, back, over and down. A scuffle ensued a few rows ahead. A happy bald guy with a gut as round as the ball itself raised his fist to smattering applause isolated to the area just below us where everyone could see his prize.
A-Rod, still at bat. My father informed us that he had been having trouble hitting lately. That it was because he must feel guilty. He received about $20 thousand per game. Someone with A-Rods upbringing would have difficulty reconciling such earnings with the earnings of those back home whom he surely must think more worthy or some other grounds, if not baseball. The next pitch brought another swing of what must have wielded stunning power, so effortlessly. Nothing happened. I marveled at how a player could handle a piece of would so elegantly and gracefully, such an iconic tool, so powerfully, so effortlessly. Nothing happened. Did I mention that? So effortlessly. All that power. No effort. Nothing happened. Wait a minute. Nothing happened. No effort. It looked like no effort because, hey, he was using no effort. He wasn’t even trying. He was just going through the motions. I was pissed! I wanted to walk right down there and chew him out. Did I have to be restrained? I don’t remember. Five years later, my bold-and-cocky years, I most assuredly would have to have been restrained if at all possible. I remember thinking that had I forked over all the money and effort to make this thing happen with a family, the hundreds of dollars spent on tickets, the logistics, the fine seats… if I had paid for it I would have been in A-Rod’s face. How dare he not even try. How dare he make as much money by striking out during one game.. as much money as I would make that year! Oh, excuse me… the whole league was due to go on strike in a couple of days. Oink. Oink. Pigs. All of them. Alllll, of, them.
We left. I remember the highlight of the game was on the way home. It wasn’t our journey home. It was at the game. Right where we were sitting. An extremely scantily clad lady made her way down the aisle as close to the dugout as she could get before security caught up with her. She passed right by the seat where I sat. Her adventure took up a good minute of the radio announcer’s workday. Who was that woman? What did she say? Was she chewing them out for not trying?
I told this story to a nice lady I met today at the 7-eleven during my daily Big Gulp run. I had just dropped my wife off at her part time job, ducked in to this place on the way home. The routine. I always get a refill. It’s cheaper. And so this lady was kind of in my way as I was reaching for a cup lid. Something inside reached up and made me say to her: “I really want to see a good movie day. I don’t know what it is about today. And I probably won’t go see one because I’m too busy right now and…”  “They have some good one’s over at the Angelica right now,”she interrupted me. Knew where I was going. She started naming them, the movies. Told me she was going out to the new ballpark in Arlington, the Cowboy Stadium. That’s when I launched into the story above. “Was that the time that woman tried to make it to the dugout?” I was stunned. “Yeah, but by then we were on our way home. We heard it on the radio.” “That wasn’t one of my better moments,” she said. “Here, let me get your Big Gulp for you.”

ideas worth remembering are usually forgotten

Yes, yes. This is only another idea, and idea in itself about ideas. What’s the big idea? What is a big idea? What’s so big about a big idea that offers little or nothing in return.

I carry around a notebook and pen. Sometimes I remember to write down a thing or two that occurs to me. I’ll write down anything that comes to mind that seems like it isn’t the kind of thing that comes to mind, usually. I got the idea to start doing this when I would review things I had thought of that I didn’t think I had usually thought of, an occurrence or two, like: notions; quips; word play; inventions; fresh etymological possibilities; allusions; melodies; techniques; character enhancements; plot elements, and on and on. If I’m lucky I remember to write them down. I can write them down if I remember to bring the notebook and pen. Maybe I should just text myself. Yeah, that would work. And here, I’ve already written it down. But isn’t writing something down in longhand part of the process of fleshing out the idea?

Ten or fifteen years ago I was interested in film. I wrote films as invited, some would say commissioned. Had never thought of writing for the medium until an old friend, a producer with a couple of movies to his credit that presented some respectable if not downright famous-name actors. I embraced the challenge, learned all I could, cranked out a bunch of junk and perhaps some enjoyable nuggets here and there. Even made a bit of money.

Mostly importantly, I discovered story structure, plot control and all that kind of thing I had never worried about as a poet, a journalist, or as a stream-of-consciousness narrative writer. This changed my life. No it didn’t Okay, it did. Just not as much as it should have. I didn’t allow it. Didn’t even encourage it. As a rule I do not follow rules. This, and other paradoxes, has set my trusty compass off any true direction by more than a few degrees. The long and short of my journey is that I must go around the world quite a few times before I arrive at my ultimate goal. Sorry.
No shortage of ideas here. The more disparate are the elements of a problem, the more creative the solution. That’s all there is to it.

of grace and beauty

Notice that vessels of all kinds that require constant attention and maintenance, careful systems monitoring on the part of a pilot to bring out the best performance… these vessels all sport vast control panels. Captains refer to their ships using feminine pronouns. They are things of grace and beauty. What ever happened to the love a captain should have for his ship? Is this a romance lost on our day? He must love her. Only if he truly loves the vessel that carries him to all points on earth, that keeps him afloat through all storms and calms, that is an oasis in times of doldrums, a cradling shelter for the weary traveler… only if he is willing to care for her with all his heart and energy to the point that exceeds the willingness of all others aware of that ship, only then is he worthy to command her and her crew to go places and do things never imagined.
This is an exquisite metaphor for relationships, and doesn’t seem as though it would popular today as the male would seem the dominant partner. But such dominance has never been the case in the shared purposes of this partnership.
Women were thought to bring bad luck when they came aboard a ship. Superstition had it that the ship became jealous of the other lady, (notice I say the other lady with emphasis on ‘other’ as if I really mean it!) especially if the lady was the captain’s wife. This makes perfect sense when you consider how the flesh-and-blood woman would distract the captain from his duties to see that the ship was cared for to as high a degree as ever: impossible if attempting ensure his spousal unit comfort.”You love your smelly old ship more than you love me,” the wife would whine. A loud creaking sound would come from below decks as if the smelly old ship acknowledged the perfumed witch of a captain’s wife, echoing her point of view. This is what would happen:  Checklists would get hurried through, knots would be left untied, gear would not get stowed, rowdiness would go unchecked… next thing you would know she’d be taking on water and the rudder would be jammed. The ship could do nothing but go in circles while she and all aboard her sank.

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