I Swoon, Therefore I Am

This past weekend we spent on a quick visit to Durango to catch grandson Aiden in his high school’s performance of the musical “Anastasia.” It is a reworking of that durable romantic notion that somehow one person survived the massacre of the Romanov family in 1918. It’s been pretty conclusively proven that no one did survive, so we can be done with that now, I hope. Even the Russian Communists finally admitted to the slaughter, although apparently there is still some finger-pointing going on as to who was ultimately to blame in the whole nasty episode.

But the show was thoroughly enjoyable.

We chose to take the less hazardous route to Durango, passing through the towns of Rico, Dolores, and Mancos. Lovely drive … all canyons and mountains and clearwater streams … and the wildlife sighting was also very good en route. The roadkill sighting, while considerably less inspirational, included a cow.

But it was the Steller’s Jay which stole the show. We saw them everywhere. A beautiful bird, flashing an iridescent blue in the sunshine as they flew by.

These creatures are not rare, but we saw sooo many on this trip, almost to the exclusion of other bird species.




Watched the Netflix production of All Quiet On The Western Front last night. Since it was a story taking place in the trenches of World War I, it was grim and bloody, with no happy ending for anyone. But as a film, it is that well done.

Way way back in the mists of time my Grandfather Jacobson took a small boy (moi) to the movies at the Time Theater in Kenyon MN. Going to movies with him was not a common occurrence, and making it even more rare was that Grandma Jacobson went along. Afterward I remember her talking about the last movie that she’d attended before that night, and it was the original production of All Quiet On The Western Front. She shook her head in telling her story, saying that the film had not been quiet at all.

Later when I was a college freshman I found a used copy of the book by Erich Maria Remarque that had been the basis for the film. It impressed me enough that I sought and found a used copy of another of his books, Three Comrades.

I should mention here that although both books had a strong effect on me, I was at a supremely impressionable stage of life, and could often be brought to epiphanies by the Burma-Shave signs along the highways of Minnesota. Also, I read these two books at a time when I was supposed to be reading about chicken raising and other sorts of animal husbandry, which no doubt contributed to my washing out of pre-veterinary medicine school.

But if you want to take a long good look at the glories of war, this is an excellent way to do it. I don’t know how we keep forgetting the madness that war really is. The flags fly, the martial music plays, the old men come out and clap on the back the young people whose bodies and minds are about to be sacrificed. One solution is offered in this clip from the original version of All Quiet … , from 1930.

War always represents abject failure. Failure of diplomacy and failure of memory. Failure to realize how small and crowded our planet is, how intertwined our lives are with those of people ten thousands of miles away who we have never met and never will. Mankind to date has operated on the principle that if I want something and you have it I must take it from you, no matter the cost. In this system, there have to be winners and losers.

There is a different game to be played, one where we all win. Recognizing that our personal best future lies in that world where all boats rise. It sounds trite and soft and not martial at all. But we’ve been doing the alternative for all of our existence and the suffering never stops. What’s to lose by trying something new?

War, by Edwin Starr



Earlier this week Mimi Parker passed away. She was drummer and vocalist with the unique rock group Low. They made slow and thoughtful music by lowering tempos and egos. I was introduced to Low’s music several years ago by daughter Kari and became an instant fan. At certain moments in life, it is just the thing.


Here are three of their songs, featuring the vocals of Ms. Parker.

Especially Me, by Low
To Our Knees, by Low
Laser Beam, by Low


It is only relatively recently that I realized how many people are out there who can be told the earth is flat and whose response is “Everyone knows that.” If you had told me this before the 2016 election I wouldn’t have believed you. I would have probably laid it off to a streak of pessimism that I hadn’t noticed in you previously.

But here we are in some version of la-la land where half the folks out there on our streets actively seek out nonsense to use as their credo. It appears that you can tell them almost anything you want as long as it isn’t true and they will clap and ask for more. In fact, the more preposterous, the better.

  • Landing on the moon was faked? Everyone knows that.
  • Democrats have a chain of pedophilic pizza parlors? Everyone knows that.
  • An entire election involving more than 100 million people was stolen, in an age where an amorous couple can’t even have a proper affair in a rented shed without the world finding out about it? Everyone knows that.

There are moments when I quite get a case of the vapors thinking about this situation. At such times I look ’round me and honestly, can you ever find a fainting couch when you need it?

I haven’t a single friend or acquaintance who owns one. Even as vaporous a man as myself has no such couch in their home. One has to lie on a futon, or a sofa, or some other make-do piece of furniture whenever a swoon is in the offing.

I’m pretty sure that it is all a plot. That there is a cabal of right-wing furniture makers in North Carolina who decided that the way to sap the strength of the political left is to sell them futons impregnated with hormones that weaken their resolve and cause them to lose the ability to balance their checkbooks and make other important decisions. So when you go shopping for living room furnishings be sure to check the tag. On safe sofas they contain the secret symbol.

I know that this sounds far-fetched, but “Q” told me himself that it was all true just the other day. And if you can’t trust “Q,” well, I just don’t know.


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