Monthly Archives: March 2013

“Mr Bojangles” released by Sammy Davis Jr

I knew a man, Bojangles, and he’d dance for you,
in worn out shoes.
With silver hair, a ragged shirt, and baggy pants,
He would do the old soft shoe.
He could jump so high, jump so high
And then he’d lightly touched down.

I met him in a cell in New Orleans, I was…
Well, I was down and out.
He looked to me to be the very eyes of age,
As he spoke right out.
Talked of life, lord, that man talked of life.
Laughed, slapped his leg a step.

He said his name was “Bojangles” then he danced a lick,
Right across the cell.
He grabbed his pants, took a better stance, jumped up high,
That’s when he clicked his heels.
Then he’d let go a laugh, lord, he’d let go a laugh,
Shook back his clothes all around.

That was Mr. Bojangles,
Mr. Bojangles,
Mr. Bojangles,
Lord, he could dance.

He told me the other times, he worked with minstrel shows,
Throughout the South.
He spoke with tears of 15 years how his dog and he,
They used to travel about.
But his dog up and died, dog up and died,
And after 20 years he still grieves.

He said “I dance now at every chance in honky tonks
For my drinks and tips.
But most of time I spend behind these county bars
You see son, I drinks a bit.”
Then he shook his head, lord, when he shook his head
I could swear, I heard someone say “Please, please, please…”

Mr. Bojangles,
Mr. Bojangles,
Mr. Bojangles,
Come back and dance, dance, please, dance,
Come on and dance now.

Oh Mr. Bojangles,
Mr. Bojangles,
Mr. Bojangles,
Dance.

Come back and dance,
Mr. Bojangles.

 

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“A Mad Look At Fairy Tales” by Sergio Aragonés ~~Geppetto’s Dream~~

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30 March 2013 · 7:42 am

Excerpt from “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee ~~Mad Dog~~

picture-ToKillAMockingbirdI thought mad dogs foamed at the mouth, galloped, leaped and lunged at throats, and I thought they did it in August. Had Tim Johnson behaved thus, I would have been less frightened.
Nothing is more deadly than a deserted, waiting street. The trees were still, the mockingbirds were silent, the carpenters at Miss Maudie’s house had vanished. I heard Mr Tate sniff, then blow his nose. I saw him shift his gun to the crook of his arm. I saw Miss Stephanie Crawford’s face framed in the glass window of her front door. Miss Maudie appeared and stood beside her. Atticus put his foot on the rung of a chair and rubbed his hand slowly down the side of his thigh.
‘There he is,’ he said softly.
Tim Johnson came into sight, walking dazedly in the inner rim of the curve parallel to the Radley house.
‘Look at him,’ whispered Jem. ‘Mr Heck said they walked in a straight line. He can’t even stay in the road.’
‘He looks more sick than anything,’ I said.
‘Let anything get in front of him and he’ll come straight at it.’
Mr Tate put his hand to his forehead and leaned forward.
‘He’s got it all right, Mr Finch.’
Tim Johnson was advancing at a snail’s pace, but he was not playing or sniffing at foliage: he seemed dedicated to one course and motivated by an invisible force that was inching him towards us. We could see him shiver like a horse shedding flies; his jaw opened and shut; he was alist, but he was being pulled gradually towards us.
‘He’s lookin’ for a place to die,’ said Jem.
Mr Tate turned around. ‘He’s far from dead, Jem, he hasn’t got started yet.’
Tim Johnson reached the side-street that ran in front of the Radley Place, and what remained of his poor mind made him pause and seem to consider which road he would take. He made a few hesitant steps and stopped in front of the Radley gate; then he tried to turn around, but was having difficulty.
Atticus said, ‘He’s within range, Heck. You better get him now before he goes down the side street – Lord knows who’s around the corner. Go inside, Cal.’
Calpurnia opened the screen door, latched it behind her, then unlatched it and held on to the hook. She tried to block Jem and me with her body, but we looked out from beneath her arms.
‘Take him, Mr Finch,’ Mr Tate handed the rifle to Atticus; Jem and I nearly fainted.
‘Don’t waste time, Heck,’ said Atticus, ‘Go on.’
‘Mr Finch, this is a one-shot job.’
Atticus shook his head vehemently: ‘Don’t just stand there, Heck! He won’t wait all day for you – ’
‘For God’s sake, Mr Finch, look where he is! Miss and you’ll go straight into the Radley house! I can’t shoot that well and you know it!’
‘I haven’t shot a gun in thirty years – ’
Mr Tate almost threw the rifle at Atticus. ‘I’d feel mighty comfortable if you did now,’ he said.
In a fog, Jem and I watched our father take the gun and walk out into the middle of the street. He walked quickly, but I thought he moved like an underwater swimmer; time had slowed to a nauseating crawl.
When Atticus raised his glasses Calpurnia murmured, ‘Sweet Jesus help him,’ and put her hands to her cheeks.
Atticus pushed his glasses to his forehead; they slipped down, and he dropped them in the street. In the silence, I heard them crack. Atticus rubbed his eyes and chin; we saw him blink hard.
In front of the Radley gate, Tim Johnson had made up what was left of his mind. He had finally turned himself around, to pursue his original course up our street. He made two steps forward, then stopped and raised his head. We saw his body go rigid.
With movements so swift they seemed simultaneous, Atticus’s hand yanked a ball-tipped lever as he brought the gun to his shoulder.
The rifle cracked. Tim Johnson leaped, flopped over and crumpled on the sidewalk in a brown-and-white heap. He didn’t know what hit him.
Mr Tate jumped off the porch and ran to the Radley Place. He stopped in front of the dog, squatted, turned around and tapped his finger on his forehead above his left eye. ‘You were a little to the right, Mr Finch,’ he called.
‘Always was,’ answered Atticus. ‘If I had my ‘druthers I’d take a shotgun.’
He stooped and picked up his glasses, ground the broken lenses to powder under his heel, and went to Mr Tate and stood looking down at Tim Johnson.
Doors opened one by one, and the neighbourhood slowly came alive. Miss Maudie walked down the steps with Miss Stephanie Crawford.
Jem was paralysed. I pinched him to get him moving, but when Atticus saw us coming he called. ‘Stay where you are.’
When Mr Tate and Atticus returned to the yard, Mr Tate was smiling. ‘I’ll have Zeebo collect him,’ he said. You haven’t forgot much, Mr Finch. They say it never leaves you.’
Atticus was silent.
‘Atticus?’ said Jem.
‘Yes?’
‘Nothin’.’
‘I saw that, One-Shot Finch!’
Atticus wheeled around and faced Miss Maudie. They looked at one another without saying anything, and Atticus got into the sheriff’s car. ‘Come here,’ he said to Jem. ‘Don’t you go near that dog, you understand? Don’t go near him, he’s just as dangerous dead as alive.’
‘Yes, sir,’ said Jem. ‘Atticus – ’
‘What, son?’
‘Nothing.’
‘What’s the matter with you, boy, can’t you talk?’ said Mr Tate, grinning at Jem. ‘Didn’t you know your daddy’s – ’
‘Hush, Heck,’ said Atticus, ‘let’s go back to town.’
When they drove away, Jem and I went to Miss Stephanie’s front steps. We sat waiting for Zeebo to arrive in the garbage truck.
Jem sat in numb confusion, and Miss Stephanie said, ‘Uh, uh, uh, who’da thought of a mad dog in February? Maybe he wadn’t mad, maybe he was just crazy. I’d hate to see Harry Johnson’s face when he gets in from the Mobile run and finds Atticus Finch’s shot his dog. Bet he was just full of fleas from somewhere – ’
Miss Maudie said Miss Stephanie’d be singing a different tune if Tim Johnson was still coming up the street, that they’d find out soon enough, they’d send his head to Montgomery.
Jem became vaguely articulate: ‘’d you see him, Scout? ’d you see him just standin’ there? . . . ’n’ all of a sudden he just relaxed all over, an’ it looked like that gun was part of him . . . an’ he did it so quick, like . . . I hafta aim for ten minutes ‘fore I can hit somethin’ . . .’
Miss Maudie grinned wickedly. ‘Well now, Miss Jean Louise,’ she said, ‘still think your father can’t do anything? Still ashamed of him?’
‘Nome,’ I said meekly.
‘Forgot to tell you the other day that besides playing the Jew’s Harp, Atticus Finch was the deadliest shot in Maycomb County in his time.’
‘Dead shot . . .’ echoed Jem.
‘That’s what I said, Jem Finch. Guess you’ll change your tune now. The very idea, didn’t you know his nickname was Ol’ One-Shot when he was a boy? Why, down at the Landing when he was coming up, if he shot fifteen times and hit fourteen doves he’d complain about wasting ammunition.
‘He never said anything about that,’ Jem muttered.
‘Never said anything about it, did he?’
‘No ma’am.’
‘Wonder why he never goes huntin’ now,’ I said.
‘Maybe I can tell you,’ said Miss Maudie. ‘If your father’s anything, he’s civilized in his heart. Marksmanship’s a gift of God, a talent – oh, you have to practise to make it perfect, but shootin’s different from playing the piano or the like. I think maybe he put his gun down when he realized that God had given him an unfair advantage over most living things. I guess he decided he wouldn’t shoot till he had to, and he had to today.’

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Excerpt from “Chickenhawk” by Robert Mason ~~Overloaded~~

picture-Chickenhawk-MasonWe had been assigned to fly a single-ship mission to haul a load of high-explosive rockets from Pleiku to a Special Forces camp about thirty miles south. The rockets, 2500 pounds of them, were the type used on our helicopter gunships. We often placed caches of them near the action to cut the wasted time of return flights.

They loaded Reacher’s ship while it was shut down. We were parked on the apron next to the PSP runway and across from the latrine at the Turkey Farm. The rockets were packed so tightly that Reacher and the gunner were pushed out of the pockets and barely had room to sit. I doubted that the load could be lifted, but Leese said it would be a cinch.
Leese, as was his practice, let me do all the flying. I liked that.
‘Let’s go,’ he ordered.
The starter motor screamed. The turbine whined familiarly and the rotors blurred above the cabin.
When all gauges showed green, I slowly raised the collective to pull the Huey into a hover. No go. I pulled in full power, but the Huey just sat there shuddering. We stirred up a lot of wind, but we didn’t get one inch off the ground.
‘You’ll have to make a running takeoff,’ Leese said.
If a helicopter can’t hover because of an overloaded condition like this, it can be made light on the skids with the collective and then urged forward with the cyclic so that it slides across the ground on its skids. If it can slide along the ground long enough, it will take off like an airplane, even though it can’t hover.
It is not graceful. I skidded and scraped along the runway to the takeoff position at the field. The noise of the skid plates scraping against the steel runway chattered and growled through the ship.
I radioed for clearance and ground slowly down the runway. The tugging of the skids against the corrugations of the runway made the ship rock back and forth. We moved about a hundred feet at a slow walk.
The idea is to get going fast enough for the rotors to start swinging through undisturbed air rather than in their own turbulent downwash. When the whole rotor system is spinning in clean air, it suddenly lifts very strongly – translational lift.
So I was skidding and bumping along the runway, trying to get the beast to translational-lift speed. It felt like the Huey was disintegrating with all the noise and shaking, but Leese smiled confidently from the left seat. ‘No problem.’
With about a third of the runway left, the overloaded and suffering Huey finally got to flight speed and struggled into the air. Reacher cheered his baby from the back.
We wanted to climb to 3000 feet, but during the thirty-mile flight I got no higher than half that altitude. As we lumbered along, I realized we were so heavily loaded than an autorotation would be a lot rougher than anyone would like when carrying more than a ton of high explosives.
The one factor that was actually improving as we labored along was that we were burning a bunch of fuel. The ship would be lighter for the running landing I was prepared to make at our destination.
At the camp we were going to, the commander had left the job of picking the landing spot to a sergeant especially schooled in the workings of the aviation branch. However, this sergeant was not around, so the job of picking the spot had passed to his assistant, who, although he looked like he knew what he was doing, didn’t.
We made a long, very gentle descent toward the camp.
I spotted the assistant. He had his arms held high, indicating the grassy strip near the forward edge of the camp. It looked as though the spot he was pointing to was just outside the stretched-out coil of concertina-wire fence that ran between the perimeter of the camp and the nearby trees. There was enough room to land, so I didn’t question his judgement.
As I got closer, lower, and slower, I brought in the power. It would take all we had just to cushion the impact.
I crossed the small wall of trees that ringed the camp, and flared. I was six feet over the grass outside the fence when I heard a panicky voice in my earphones.
‘Don’t land there!’ the voice screamed. ‘That’s a minefield!’
‘Minefield!’ Even Leese was impressed.
If Leese was impressed, I was petrified. The Huey was mushing inexorably toward the ground. I was too low to extend my landing beyond the fence. I pulled the collective to my armpit and waited for the noise. The Huey, God bless it, came to a shuddering, engine-wrenching hover just inches from the ground. The low-rpm warning siren blared in my ears, and for a few horrible seconds I wondered if it could hold the hover. The engine was bogging down with the strain. I had to reduce the power or lose it, so I reduced the collective a bit to let the ship drift down closer and give the turbine a chance to wind up a little. When the skids almost touched the grass, the siren stopped and the rpm slowly returned. When it finally stabilized, I hauled it slowly back up to about six inches above the minefield.
Reacher’s illegal tune-up had just saved us, but we still had a problem. The four-foot fence in front of us was too high to get over, and the trees behind us blocked any retreat.
‘Well, at least we can stay off the ground,’ said Leese.
We were, from my point of view, 2500 pounds of high explosive tearing at the air to stay away from the high explosives under us.
We could just stay there, hanging, until we got lighter, but there was the problem of getting shot at near the edge of the camp, and neither of us knew how long the Huey – even Reacher’s Huey – could grind away like this at full power. And we couldn’t dump the cargo.
I pulled in more power, and the Huey climbed another foot, but when it got that much farther out of the ground cushion, the engine strained and the ship settled back down toward the grass. I tried it a few more times and discovered that while it settled back down from the climb, I could milk a few more rpm out of the engine. In this way, I figured I could use the little extra power gained on the way down to pull it a little higher on the next try. I did this over and over, floating a little higher each time.
This technique, and the fact that we were getting lighter by burning fuel, finally allowed me to get the skids fence-high. But when I tried to cross the fence from the top of a bounce, the Huey sank too fast. By moving forward, I had moved out of the ground cushion.
What now? I had Reacher look behind us. He said there was another row of concertina wire about fifty feet behind us. I hadn’t even noticed that. My hope was that by backing up a little, I could get some room for a forward run to clear the hurdle. So I backed up as far as Reacher could clear me, and went for it. No good. I was within a foot of making it, but I had to flare to a stop before I tangled up in the wire. I drifted backward to resume my low hover over the mines.
Leese said, ‘Try a right-pedal turn.’
Perfect. That’s why Leese had lived to fly through two wars. He understood his machines. The pedals control the anti-torque rotor, the tail rotor. Turning to the right – with the torque – would make more power available to the main rotors.
So I backed up again. Instead of charging straight ahead, I hovered parallel to the fence for a few feet and then banked hard right toward it. It worked! This was the extra boost I needed to clear the trap.
I kept turning as I crossed the fence and landed sideways on the other side. Drenched with sweat, I felt as though I had just flown the Atlantic with my arms.
‘Not bad,’ said Leese as we landed on the safe side of the concertina wire. ‘Now, I hope this has taught you a lesson.’ His voice was calm.
‘Lesson?’ I said weakly. ‘What lesson?’
‘Never trust a grunt,’ he said.

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“Koala” by Emily, aged 11

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29 March 2013 · 12:31 am

Excerpt from “Random Harvest” by James Hilton ~~Reunited~~

picture-RandomHarvest-HiltonBut as we neared the post-office I caught sight of something that to me was most significant of all – a small brown two-seater car. I walked over to it; a man saw me examining the licence. “If you’re looking for the tall gentleman,” he came over to say, “I think he took a walk up the hill.”
I turned to Mrs. Rainier. “CHARLES?” was all she whispered.
“Might be. It meets the Club porter’s description and it was hired from a London firm.”
We turned off the main road by a path crossing an open field towards the hill; as we were climbing the chime of three quarters came up to us, blown faint by the breeze. The slope was too steep for much talk, but when we came within a few yards of the ridge she halted to gain breath, gazing down over the village.
“Looks as if it has never changed.”
“I don’t suppose it has, much, in a thousand years.”
“That makes twenty seem only yesterday.”
“If we meet him, what are you going to say?”
“I don’t know. I can’t know – before I see him.”
“He’ll wonder why on earth we have come HERE, of all places.”
“Then we’ll ask him why on earth HE’S here. Perhaps we’ll both have to pretend we came to look at the five counties.”
She resumed the climb, and in another moment we could see that the summit dipped again to a further summit, perhaps higher, and that in the hollow between lay a little pond. There was a man lying beside it with arms outstretched, as if he had flung himself there after the climb. He did not move as we approached, but presently we saw smoke curling from a cigarette between his fingers.
“He’s not asleep,” I said. “He’s just resting.”
I saw her eyes and the way her lips trembled; something suddenly occurred to me. “By the way, how did you know there were FIVE counties?”
But she didn’t answer; already she was rushing down the slope. He saw her in time to rise to his feet; she stopped then, several yards away, and for a few seconds both were staring at each other, hard and still and silent. Then he whispered something I couldn’t hear; but I knew in a flash that the gap was closed, that the random years were at an end, that the past and the future would join. She knew this too, for she ran into his arms calling out: “Oh, Smithy – Smithy – it may not be too late!”

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Excerpt from “1788” by Watkin Tench ~~Arrival~~

picture-1788-WatkinTenchOn the morning of the 20th, by ten o’clock, the whole of the fleet had cast anchor in Botany Bay, where to our mutual satisfaction we found the governor and the first division of transports. On inquiry we heard that the Supply had arrived on the 18th and the transports only the preceding day.
Thus, after a passage of exactly thirty-six weeks from Portsmouth, we happily effected our arduous undertaking with such a train of unexampled blessings as hardly ever attended a fleet in a like predicament. Of 212 marines we lost only one; and of 775 convicts put on board in England, but twenty-four perished in our route. To what cause are we to attribute this unhoped for success? I wish I could answer to the liberal manner in which government supplied the expedition. But when the reader is told that some of the necessary articles allowed to ships on a common passage to the West Indies were withheld from us; that portable soup, wheat, and pickled vegetables were not allowed, and that an inadequate quantity of essence of malt was the only antiscorbutic supplied, his surprise will redouble at the result of the voyage. For it must be remembered that the people thus sent out were not a ship’s company starting with every advantage of health and good living which a state of freedom produces, but the major part a miserable set of convicts, emaciated from confinement and in want of clothes and almost every conveniency to render so long a passage tolerable. I beg leave, however, to say that the provisions served on board were good and of a much superior quality to those usually supplied by contract. They were furnished by Messrs Richards and Thorn of Tower Street, London.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We had scarcely bid each other welcome on our arrival when an expedition up the bay was undertaken by the governor and lieutenant-governor, in order to explore the nature of the country and fix on a spot to begin our operations upon. None, however, which could be deemed very eligible being discovered, His Excellency proceeded in a boat to examine the opening to which Mr Cook had given the name of Port Jackson, on an idea that a shelter for shipping within it might be found. The boat returned on the evening of the 23rd with such an account of the harbour and advantages attending the place that it was determined the evacuation of Botany Bay should commence the next morning.

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