Monthly Archives: December 2012

“Sunday Morning Coming Down” released by Johnny Cash

Well, I woke up Sunday morning

With no way to hold my head that didn’t hurt.

And the beer I had for breakfast wasn’t bad,

So I had one more for dessert.

Then I fumbled in my closet through my clothes

And found my cleanest dirty shirt.

Then I washed my face and combed my hair

And stumbled down the stairs to meet the day.

 

I’d smoked my mind the night before

With cigarettes and songs I’d been picking.

But I lit my first and watched a small kid

Playing with a can that he was kicking.

Then I walked across the street

And caught the Sunday smell of someone frying chicken.

And Lord, it took me back to something that I’d lost

Somewhere, somehow along the way.

 

On a Sunday morning sidewalk,

I’m wishing, Lord, that I was stoned.

‘Cause there’s something in a Sunday

That makes a body feel alone.

And there’s nothing short a’ dying

That’s half as lonesome as the sound

Of the sleeping city sidewalk

And Sunday morning coming down.

 

In the park I saw a daddy

With a laughing little girl that he was swinging.

And I stopped beside a Sunday school

And listened to the songs they were singing.

Then I headed down the street,

And somewhere far away a lonely bell was ringing,

And it echoed through the canyon

Like the disappearing dreams of yesterday.

 

On a Sunday morning sidewalk,

I’m wishing, Lord, that I was stoned.

‘Cause there’s something in a Sunday

That makes a body feel alone.

And there’s nothing short a’ dying

That’s half as lonesome as the sound

Of the sleeping city sidewalk

And Sunday morning coming down.

picture-SundayMorningComingDown-JohnnyCash

1 Comment

Filed under Lyrics

Excerpt from “New Guinea Recollections” by C.A.W. Monckton ~~Meat-tea~~

picture-NewGuineaRecollections-CAWMoncktonA few nights passed. The normal life of the Station went on, barring that my escort still slept under the house, and the tomahawk bloodhounds slunk into the plantation and gardens after dark and vanished before dawn. Then came a dark night, with the South East Trade howling against the building; and my escort, curled up in blankets on the verandah all round the house, cursed the wind to which they were exposed, and the sorcerers who caused their discomfort.

A launch, the Balmain, had come in with a mail, and the skipper-owner had dined with us, remaining till about one in the morning, when he left accompanied by two of his native crew and an escort of constabulary whom I had sent to see him safe on board. At about two, Oelrichs and I were still talking, when Toku, who was up waiting on us, said, “Paitoto is here.” Paitoto came in and was given a smoke, and then I asked:

“Are your men in the grounds on this wild night?”

“Yes; good night to catch sorcerers. We have found the concealed track by which they leave.”

“Why did you not let me know, you old scoundrel?”

“Did not want you or Boka Bada or the constabulary trampling about and letting them know we had found the bolt-hole.”

At about three, Oelrichs and I were just turning in, leaving old Paitoto still sitting smoking, when over the noise of the wind there came a horrible scream, and then silence. Out on the verandah we went, but could see or hear nothing other than the howling of the wind. Old Paitoto was rubbing his hands together and chuckling to himself; the constabulary were standing up and laughing. Oelrichs and I went to bed.

In the morning Toku woke me up. Barigi was there. He said, “The sorcerers have departed, also Paitoto and Sauwa and Ikinim and all their men. I woke Missi Oelrichs, and he gave me the key of the store. I have given Paitoto a case of tobacco, sixty pounds of ship’s biscuits, five pounds of tea and sixty pounds of sugar. He is having a tea-party in his village to-night for the men who have been chasing sorcerers.”

I went with Oelrichs into the garden, with practically every man and woman of the Station following us. Soon we discovered – in two different places – dark stains on the ground at which the ants were very busy. Then Toku took us to what had been a concealed path into the scrub, now exposed and trampled. Here again were dark stains and busy ants.

“Oelrichs,” I remarked, “the bloodhounds got the lot, four of them, two in the plantation and two as they bolted.”

“What have they done with the bodies?” asked Oelrichs.

“I don’t know, and I don’t want to know; I don’t even know there are any bodies, and I have not seen a sorcerer. By the way you gave Paitoto sugar, biscuits and tea, for a tea-party he is giving.”

“Yes, I did.”

“Well,” said I, “I have a sort of idea that Paitoto’s party will be what is known in certain circles as a meat-tea.”

“Good God! You don’t mean that!”

“I do. We can’t interfere. We don’t even know that Paitoto bagged four sorcerers; there is no one reported to us as missing. In the district the police were all in barracks, or at my house, or on duty as gaol guards, or sentries. Paitoto himself was with us until dawn.”

Afterwards I gathered (but of course there was no evidence) that the scream we fancied we had heard was let out by a sorcerer, who suddenly was tomahawked through the shoulder, and was ungentlemanly enough to make a fuss before he was finished. The other three, two in flight, and the other within a few yards of the first, were killed before they knew what was happening. This of course was all mere rumour.

On this particular night, it was rumoured, the sorcerers carried very short-hafted clubs, the stone heads being of the cassowary-egg type and not the cutting disc or pineapple pattern; a club designed to kill or stun without mutilating – more a burglar’s implement than a warrior’s. In their bags, among the charms and bones, etc., were a number of sharp-edged obsidian splinters used as knives.

I remarked to Oelrichs afterwards, “I have not the slightest doubt that it was you, and you only, they were after. You are unusually big and fair, in fact a fine figure of a man; possibly your beauty, size and strength had been exaggerated to them. They wanted your head, or some other portion of your anatomy, for some foul purpose of their own, what we shall never know now. Anyhow, I don’t think you will be worried by alien sorcerers for quite a long time.”

1 Comment

Filed under Literature, Non-Fiction

Excerpt from “A Rumor Of War” by Philip Caputo ~~Officer of the Dead~~

picture-ARumorOfWar-PhilipCaputoThe smell was not unbearable; several hours would pass before it got that bad. It was, however, strong enough to prevent these men at the end of the line from lingering, as those at the front of the line had done, thus depriving them of the chance to look at the corpses long enough to become accustomed to the sight of blood. They just gave the bodies a brief glance, then moved quickly from the trailer and the growing stench.

The procession ended. Kazmarack and another clerk, Corporal Stasek, hitched up the trailer and drove off toward Danang.  Anderson left for a staff conference that had been called in preparation for General Thompson’s visit. Ten minutes later, he came lumbering back into the tent, his red jowly face pouring sweat.

“Mister Caputo, we’ve got to get those bodies back here so he can show them to the general when he briefs him,” Anderson said.

“Stasek and Kazmarack are gone, sir. They’re probably in Danang by now.”

“I know they’re gone. I want you to find somebody who can handle a jeep. Tell him to catch up with those two and have them bring those bodies back here ASAP.”

“Captain, I don’t really believe we are doing this.”

“Just get moving.” He turned and walked off with quick, jerky little steps.

I managed to find a driver who knew the route and told him what to do. I returned to the tent, where, in the spirit of the madness in which I was taking part, I made up a new title for myself. I wrote it on a piece of cardboard and tacked the cardboard to my desk. It read:

2LT. P.J.CAPUTO. OFFICER IN CHARGE OF THE DEAD.

… The briefing started. Stasek and Kazmarack returned about a quarter of an hour later, both looking overwrought.

“Lieutenant, sir,” Stasek said, “what the hell’s going on? We had those VC buried …”

I told them what was going on and asked where the bodies were.

“Outside, sir.” Stasek started to laugh in the slightly hysterical way a man does when what he really wants to do is scream. “Christ, we had to pull them out of where we buried them. One of the VC’s guts spilled out of him. Then I pulled at another one and his leg started to come off. They were just coming apart.”

“Okay, that’s enough,” I said. “Sorry about all this. Just stand by for now, but you’ll have to bring the bodies when the briefing’s over.

“Yes, sir. If that general’s going to look at those bodies, we’d better hose the trailer down.

… Kazmarack and another marine had connected a hose to a water carrier and were filling the trailer.

…Stasek squatted, reached underneath the trailer, and unscrewed the plug in the bottom. He pulled his hand back quickly when the water poured out in a heavy, red stream speckled with bits of white stuff. “Jesus Christ,” Stasek said, “look at it all.”

When the briefing ended, General Thompson, Colonel Wheeler, and the other officers came out of the tent. I saluted smartly as they walked past me toward my freshly washed corpses. I thought of them as mine; they were the dead and I was the officer in charge of the dead. A rivulet of blood-colored water flowed from under the trailer and soaked into the dust. The brass stepped over it carefully, to avoid ruining the shine on their boots. Someone pointed out the bodies and told the General that they were the VC that had been killed in the morning. He glanced at them, said something to the colonel, then continued on to the LZ, where his helicopter waited.

I spent the rest of the afternoon puttering over some meaningless paperwork. When I walked into the mess for the evening meal, Chaplain Ryerson, and the medical officer, Milsovic, stopped eating and looked at me. Putting my tray on the plywood table, I sat down. The chaplain, who was as thin and cheerless as the doctor was heavyset and jolly, slid along the bench to sit across from me.

“The doctor tells me we lost another marine today,” he said leaning forward slightly. He sounded accusatory, as if in recording it, I had been responsible for the boy’s death.

“Yes, sir. We did.”

“I just hope these boys are dying for a good reason, lieutenant. What do you think?”

“All due respect, chaplain, but we’re not supposed to talk shop in the mess. Anyway, I don’t want to talk about casualties. I’ve had enough of that today.”

“Shop or no shop, I just hope these boys aren’t getting killed because some officer wants a promotion.”

“I wouldn’t know about that.”

“What do you mean, you wouldn’t know about that? You saw that show that was put on for the General today, didn’t you?”

“Yes, sir. But right now, I’d like to finish chow. Maybe you ought to talk to the Old Man about it. What do you expect me to do?”

“Maybe you could explain what we’re doing over here. You’ve been a platoon commander. When we got here, we were just supposed to defend the airfield for a while and then go back to Okinawa. Now we’re in the war to stay and nobody has been able to explain to me what we’re doing. I’m no tactician, but the way it looks to me, we send men out on an operation, they kill a few VC, or the VC kill them, and then we pull out and the VC come right back in. So we’re back where we started. That’s the way it looks to me. I think these boys are getting killed for nothing.”

I held up my hands. “Chaplain, what do you want me to say? Maybe you’re right. I don’t know, I’m just a second lieutenant. Anyway, it’s not that bad a war. We’ve taken only eighty-four casualties since the end of April, and only twelve of those have been KIA. Hell, in World War Two an outfit like this would take eighty-four casualties in five minutes.”

“What’s that supposed to mean? This isn’t World War Two.”

“What I mean is that twelve KIAs in two months isn’t bad.”

Ryerson’s face reddened and his voice got strident. “That’s twelve wrecked homes. Twelve wrecked homes, lieutenant.” He pointed a finger at me. “Twelve KIA is pretty bad for the families of those dead marines.” I didn’t say anything. My food was getting cold in the tray. A few senior officers had turned around, to see what the chaplain’s outburst was all about.

“The doctor here and I think in terms of human suffering, not statistics,” Ryerson said, pressing his point. “That’s something you infantry types seem to forget.”

I thought of Sergeant Sullivan then and remembered how deeply his death had affected the “infantry types” in C Company.

“Well, good for you and the doctor,” I said. “You’re real humanitarians. Do you think I liked doing what I did today? Do you think I get a big fucking kick out if it, sky pilot?”

“Now hold on, mister …”

“Hey, Phil,” Milsovic said. “Watch that dago temper of yours. The chaplain didn’t mean anything personal.”

I cooled off, apologized to Ryerson, and finished eating.

3 Comments

Filed under Literature, Military, Non-Fiction

Excerpt from “Selling Your Father’s Bones” by Brian Schofield ~~Tuekakas~~

picture-SellingYourFathersBones-BrianSchofieldTuekakas, despairing of his efforts to make peace between competing faiths, had indeed torn up his Bible in 1863, and imposed strict rules of traditional worship, language and practice on his people. Protected by the natural isolation of their valley and the ample unclaimed land that still lay beyond their borders, the Wallowa band of the Nez Perce were now among the last Native peoples within the United States whose lifestyles remained largely unsullied by colonial influence. Tuekakas fiercely protected their independence, marking the boundaries of his homelands by building a line of cairns running over Minam Summit, refusing the offers of free government beef that were clearly intended to undercut the band’s hunter-gatherer lifestyle, and destroying the equipment of any speculators or surveyors who wandered in from the increasingly populated Grande Ronde Valley in search of unclaimed grazing land. His position was clear: ‘Inside is the home of my people – the white man may take the land outside. Inside this boundary all our people were born. It circles around the grave of our fathers, and we will never give up these graves for any man.’

But Tuekakas was growing frail, his sight now so weak that a Nez Perce boy was assigned to share his saddle, acting as his eyes. His sons would soon have to lead the band – the gregarious and vigorous Ollokot, revered as a hunter and warrior, and the more thoughtful Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekht, a name approximately anglicised to Thunder Rolling over the Mountains. Having accompanied his father to many councils and meetings, Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekht, just thirty-one, had developed an impressive ability to handle the eccentricities of white people, one reason why he would soon acquire nationwide fame; another, in the rapidly simplifying world of the mass media, was that he had a second, recognizable and pronounceable name. He had adopted his father’s baptized title, and had come to be known as Joseph.

Tuekakas died in August 1871. His son Joseph would later eloquently describe his final moments in a famous passage that, while possibly unreliable in translation, is piercingly clear in sentiment:

Soon after this my father sent for me. I saw he was dying. I took his hand in mine. He said, ‘My son, my body is returning to my mother earth, and my spirit is going to see the Great Spirit Chief. When I am gone, think of your country. You are the chief of these people. They look to you to guide them. Always remember that your father never sold his country. You must stop your ears whenever you are asked to sign a treaty selling your home. A few more years and white men will be all around you. They have their eyes on this land. My son, never forget my dying words. This country holds your father’s body. Never sell the bones of your father and mother.’

I pressed my father’s hand and told him that I would protect his grave with my life. My father smiled and passed away to the spirit land. I buried him in the beautiful valley of winding waters. I love that land more than all the rest of the world. A man who would not love his father’s grave is worse than a wild animal.

1 Comment

Filed under Literature, Non-Fiction

“Down On His Luck” by Frederick McCubbin

picture-DownOnHisLuck-McCubbin

“McCubbin in his present picture, ‘Down on His Luck’ has left all his former work far behind, and raises expectation in no ordinary degree as to what he will yet accomplish. The scene represents a forest glade, with the evening shadows gradually stealing over the trees, and causing them, as they recede into the forest, to be enshrouded in faint grey mist. In the foreground is a human figure seated on the ground, after the style of a bushman, and yet conveying the idea that he has once been far different. The face tells of hardships keen and blighting in their influence, but there is a nonchalant and slightly cynical expression, which proclaims the absence of all self pity … McCubbin’s picture is thoroughly Australian in spirit.”

Table Talk magazine, 26 April 1889

1 Comment

Filed under Art

“What’s Up?” released by 4 Non Blondes

Twenty-five years I’m alive here still

Trying to get up that great big hill of hope

For a destination

 

I realized quickly when I knew I should

That the world was made up of this brotherhood of man

For whatever that means

 

And so I cry sometimes

When I’m lying in bed Just to get it all out

What’s in my head

And I, I am feeling a little peculiar.

 

And so I wake in the morning

And I step outside

And I take a deep breath and I get real high

And I scream from the top of my lungs

What’s going on?

 

And I say: HEY! yeah yeaaah, HEY yeah yea

I said hey, what’s going on?

 

And I say: HEY! yeah yeaaah, HEY yeah yea

I said hey, what’s going on?

 

ooh, ooh ooooooooooooooooh

ooh, ooh ooooooooooooooooh

 

and I try, oh my god do I try

I try all the time, in this institution

 

And I pray, oh my god do I pray

I pray all sanctity

For a revolution.

 

And so I cry sometimes

When I’m lying bed

Just to get it all out

What’s in my head

And I, I am feeling a little peculiar

 

And so I wake in the morning

And I step outside

And I take a deep breath and I get real high

And I scream from the top of my lungs

What’s going on?

 

And I say, hey hey hey hey

I said hey, what’s going on?

 

And I say, hey hey hey hey

I said hey, what’s going on?

 

And I say, hey hey hey hey

I said hey, what’s going on?

 

And I say, hey hey hey hey

I said hey, what’s going on?

 

ooh, ooh ooooooooooooooooh ooooooooooooooooh

 

Twenty-five years I’m alive here still

Trying to get up that great big hill of hope

for a destination

mmh mh

picture-WhatsUp_4NonBlondes

1 Comment

Filed under Lyrics

Excerpt from “Les Misérables” by Victor Hugo ~~Sewer~~

picture-LesMiserables_SewerHe set out on his way once more.

However, although he had not left his life in the fontis, he seemed to have left his strength behind him there. That supreme effort had exhausted him. His lassitude was now such that he was obliged to pause for breath every three or four steps, and lean against the wall. Once he was forced to seat himself on the banquette in order to alter Marius’ position, and he thought that he should have to remain there. But if his vigor was dead, his energy was not. He rose again.

He walked on desperately, almost fast, proceeded thus for a hundred paces, almost without drawing breath, and suddenly came in contact with the wall. He had reached an elbow of the sewer, and, arriving at the turn with head bent down, he had struck the wall. He raised his eyes, and at the extremity of the vault, far, very far away in front of him, he perceived a light. This time it was not that terrible light; it was good, white light. It was daylight. Jean Valjean saw the outlet.

A damned soul, who, in the midst of the furnace, should suddenly perceive the outlet of Gehenna, would experience what Jean Valjean felt. It would fly wildly with the stumps of its burned wings towards that radiant portal. Jean Valjean was no longer conscious of fatigue, he no longer felt Marius’ weight, he found his legs once more of steel, he ran rather than walked. As he approached, the outlet became more and more distinctly defined. It was a pointed arch, lower than the vault, which gradually narrowed, and narrower than the gallery, which closed in as the vault grew lower. The tunnel ended like the interior of a funnel; a faulty construction, imitated from the wickets of penitentiaries, logical in a prison, illogical in a sewer, and which has since been corrected.

Jean Valjean reached the outlet.

There he halted.

It certainly was the outlet, but he could not get out.

The arch was closed by a heavy grating, and the grating, which, to all appearance, rarely swung on its rusty hinges, was clamped to its stone jamb by a thick lock, which, red with rust, seemed like an enormous brick. The keyhole could be seen, and the robust latch, deeply sunk in the iron staple. The door was plainly double-locked. It was one of those prison locks which old Paris was so fond of lavishing.

Beyond the grating was the open air, the river, the daylight, the shore, very narrow but sufficient for escape. The distant quays, Paris, that gulf in which one so easily hides oneself, the broad horizon, liberty. On the right, down stream, the bridge of Jena was discernible, on the left, upstream, the bridge of the Invalides; the place would have been a propitious one in which to await the night and to escape. It was one of the most solitary points in Paris; the shore which faces the Grand-Caillou. Flies were entering and emerging through the bars of the grating.

It might have been half-past eight o’clock in the evening. The day was declining.

Jean Valjean laid Marius down along the wall, on the dry portion of the vaulting, then he went to the grating and clenched both fists round the bars; the shock which he gave it was frenzied, but it did not move. The grating did not stir. Jean Valjean seized the bars one after the other, in the hope that he might be able to tear away the least solid, and to make of it a lever wherewith to raise the door or to break the lock. Not a bar stirred. The teeth of a tiger are not more firmly fixed in their sockets. No lever; no prying possible. The obstacle was invincible. There was no means of opening the gate.

 
Another Excerpt from Les Misérables ~~Silver~~
Another Excerpt from Les Misérables ~~Cosette~~
Another Excerpt from Les Misérables ~~Court~~
Another Excerpt from Les Misérables ~~Grave~~
Another Excerpt from Les Misérables ~~Smitten~~

3 Comments

Filed under Fiction, Literature