Time--2017 A to Z Theme

My theme for the 2017 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge is "Time". The posts will be more philosophical, contemplative, and even autobiographical than instructional. No time management tips planned, but you never know with A to Z.

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...


Friday, May 26, 2017

The Big Magic Show of Life

         Maybe this blog post will be committing a grave breach of trust to the magic profession, but I never took any official magician's code swearing to keep secrecy.  Besides what I'm going to reveal is something that was obvious to whatever audience member was looking at it--that is if anyone actually saw it.  However this is not so much a story about a great magician's performance of a specific trick as it is an allegory. 

Tarot card from the Rider-Waite tarot deck, al...
Tarot card from the Rider-Waite tarot deck, also known as the Rider-Waite-Smith deck. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Masters of Deception and Misdirection

        Years ago I went to see a stage production of a famous magician who was on tour with his wife and a sizable cast of performers and stage crew.  Prior to seeing the show a magician friend of mine told me to watch one particular aspect of an illusion which would blatantly expose how the trick was done right in plain sight of the audience.  The trick featured the vanishing of a large cage with a large duck in it.   When the time came for the vanishing duck routine, I carefully watched as I had been instructed.

         A farm setting appeared on stage complete with bales of hay and farm implements.  The magician and his wife introduced the duck and put it in an ornate cage.  All around were dancers dressed in straw hats and overalls circling and leaping about in a frenzied choreographed routine as lively hoedown music was played by a live orchestra.  As the dancers pranced and whirled about, the magician placed the duck cage into another box.  Suddenly one of the dancers stage left took a spectacular fall throwing the other dancers into a confused panic.  The magician and his wife displayed alarm as they moved to see if the dancer was okay.  Fortunately, the dancer leaped back up dusting himself off and signaled in a comic way that all was okay.  The audience breathed a collective sigh of relief.  Without too much of a break in the action, the magician quickly collapsed the box surrounding the cage, but the cage with the duck had vanished!

      Though it was difficult for me not to be distracted by the dancer's spill and the confusion that ensued, I instead kept my eyes on the box covering the duck cage.  Simultaneous with the dancer's fall, I saw the duck cage yanked off  stage right by a rope that had been attached to it.  The cage slid quickly across the stage into the wings. Right there for all to see.  But so much was happening on the stage that it would be unlikely that anyone would notice unless they were specifically looking like I was doing.

         Performance magic is about confusion and distraction. It can also be about subtle misdirection. There are magicians all around us in our everyday lives.  They are on television or they are people we encounter in the course of the day.  Sometimes there is so much going on that we miss little details in life.  Those details usually can explain everything, but they can be so mundane.  It's so much more entertaining to watch the spectacle of all that is going on and to believe that the magic is real.  Or if not magic, then conspiracies or some other fanciful explanation to all that goes on.

         What mystifies you most about the world?    How do you feel when you've been fooled and don't know how the trick was done?   Is magic more apt to evoke a smile from you or a pouty scowl?


Monday, May 22, 2017

The Cigar of Vengeance (#BOTB Results)

        It always seems a bit weird to try to hurt someone else by hurting ourselves.   But sometimes what hurts us seems to hurt so good.

Have a Cigar
Have a Cigar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Cigar of Vengeance

        In my previous post I told the story about how my mother got revenge on my father by smoking a cigar.  The irony to the story is that my father wouldn't have known that she was smoking the cigar at the time and likely never knew it happened.  My mother was angry at my father and did something that she knew he wouldn't have liked even though he had no idea that she was doing it.  Unless she told him later, it's likely that my father never knew that my mother had smoked that cigar.

         Years later I asked my mother about the incident.  She told me that my father had gone to Las Vegas with a friend of his who she didn't like because she thought he was a bad influence.  Besides, my mother didn't like the idea of being left at home with two young children when he was out having a fun trip.  They were both fairly young at the time having been only married about five years.  Bottom line though is that she was jealous.

          When my parents were still dating my mother was a cigarette smoker.  My father abhorred that practice and made it clear that he would not marry my mother as long as she was a cigarette smoker.  She quit and they got married.  When the Las Vegas incident came about, my mother found a cigar that had been given to my father in celebration of a baby's birth.   To her, smoking that cigar would have pissed my father off though it was not an act that she wanted to blatantly flaunt in front of him.  So I guess she smoked it in some sort of clandestine retribution for his leaving.

           In some ways this does seem a bit odd, but many years later it was something to which I could somewhat relate.  Perhaps taking after my father, I entered adulthood with an abhorrence of tobacco smoke.  Many of my friends smoked and though I tolerated it, I hated it and often let my feelings be known.  Then I met my first wife who was--at least in my view--a rather heavy smoker.  I begrudgingly accepted her habit because, well, because I loved her.  But her smoking was often a source of contention between us.

          Eventually there were so many differences between us that we parted ways--an idea that was more hers than mine.  Strangely, and perhaps not so coincidentally, one of her best friends had split with her husband shortly before our split.  They also had the problem of her being a smoker and her husband being an anti-smoker like myself.  After my wife and I split, I moved in with this guy and to my shock I discovered that he had taken up the habit of smoking.  Soon I too was smoking right along with him, acquiring a two pack a day habit in the process.  I guess our vengeance on our exes was taking up the vice that we disliked most about them.

          Sometimes smoking that big old fat smelly cigar of vengeance is just what it takes to prove a point.   What that point is I don't really know.   I'm not sure about my old roommate, but I took my cigarette habit into my next marriage to another woman who smoked and we both remained heavy smokers for a couple years into our marriage until she became pregnant and we both quit. Both of us quit cold turkey and that was it.  At least until another bout of vengeance reared it's ugly butt.  But that's another story for another day.  So have a cigar, cigarette, or whatever it is you're smoking.

Battle of the Bands Results

       My vote in this Battle between two versions of "Have a Cigar" by Pink Floyd goes to the disco psychedelic take by Little Virgin Experience.  Even though I'm a big fan of acoustic versions of big rock songs, the drive of the pulsating rhythm of Little Virgin captured my heart and I'm almost always a sucker for psychedelic music.   Acoustic jams take me back to the days when my friends would gather with their instruments and play a song into oblivion.  Fun, but no cigar after about fifteen minutes of riffing on the same song.

       The voters had a different opinion as they bestowed an early lead on Atlantis Becoming keeping them in an ever rapidly growing lead to which Little Virgin could never catch up with.  The outcome was very decisive giving the acoustic jam boys a victory in this Battle.

Final Vote Tally

Atlantis Becoming              20 votes

Little Virgin Experience      8 votes

Next Battle of the Bands on Thursday June 1st

       I'll likely have one or two posts prior to the June 1st Battle, but that Thursday Battle is a cinch to happen.  This upcoming Battle will begin my summer posting schedule and the song I'll be choosing will be a older popular standard that is about a beginning.   And though the song might be old, I'll be using versions by more contemporary artists that all of you should know.  These performances might even surprise some of you.  Stay tuned!

        Have you ever tried to get revenge on someone by doing something that was harmful to yourself?   Have you ever been a smoker?    What was it that caused you to first start a bad habit?        


Monday, May 15, 2017

Have A Cigar (#BOTB)

          There's nothing like a big fat cigar to bring folks together.  Cigar smoke is guaranteed to put everyone in a celebratory mood.  Or some kind of a mood.

1890s caricature of athletic bloomers
1890s caricature of athletic bloomers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Have A Cigar, Mom!

         The A to Z Reflections have been delivered on many sites and I'm offering a hearty congratulations and a big fat cigar to all of you who finished the 2017 Blogging from A to Z Challenge.   And while I'm at it let me wish all you mothers a belated Happy Mother's Day and hand you a big ol' cigar as well.

         A cigar for mothers you might ask?   Some of you might think of cigars as kind of nasty and nothing that any mother should be smoking.   I've never been a cigar smoker although on a few occasions I've tried smoking a stogie when one has been given to me.  I don't think I've ever finished one, but I probably wasn't smoking them like they're meant to be smoked.  They are kind of nasty in my opinion, but maybe they are an acquired taste.

         When I think of cigars I'll think back on the time when my mother was smoking a cigar.  This would been around 1955 or so when I was about four or five years old.  My younger sister and I were both quite concerned when we found my mother very upset and crying because my father had left on a trip to Las Vegas with a friend of his.  We kids began crying along with my mother because we were worried about her and afraid that my father was gone for good.

          My mother's tears turned to anger and later we found my mother doing something that baffled us and at the same time amused us greatly--she was smoking a cigar.  Our fears vanished in a cloud of smoke so to speak.  My sister and I giggled with glee at the spectacle of our mother smoking a cigar.  Soon my mother was laughing too.  Her anger hadn't completely gone away, but she softened at our giggles and began blowing smoke rings.  Her skill at blowing the rings amazed us and she played her cigar smoking role with all she had to give.  It was one of those funny life moments that has stuck with me ever since.

Battle of the Bands

          Battle of the Bands is the blogging event started by Far Away Series and now hosted by StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands.   This event happens twice each month on the 1st and 15th.   The premise is simple:  Listen to the songs presented below and then in the comments vote for your favorite and tell us why you liked it.  Then visit the links listed near the bottom of this post for more Battle action.

Have A Cigar

         From Pink Floyd's 1975 album Wish You Were Here, "Have A Cigar" has many cover versions.  You can listen to the original here if interested, but please don't vote on this version since I won't count it in my final tally.  No voting for Ron Paul either.

          Instead I'm offering the following two contrasting versions:

Atlantis Becoming  "Have A Cigar"    (2012)

         First we have an acoustic version by a Cincinnati, Ohio rock band.

Little Virgin Experience  "Have A Cigar"  (2014)

        Next a band from Crete performing their psychedelic disco take in the style of the 1979 cover as originally released by the band Rosebud.

Time To Vote!

o you have a preference between these two choices?   Hopefully you have an opinion of some kind. Which version do you like the best?  Do you prefer the acoustic sound of Atlantis Becoming?  Or would you rather rock out to the beat of Little Virgin Experience?     You don't have to know about music to have an opinion since it all comes down to your own personal taste.

        Please vote on your favorite by letting us know your choice in the comment section and tell us why you prefer the version you chose. Then after you've finished here, please visit the other blogs listed below who may or may not be participating this time around. And if you've put up your own BOTB contest let us know that as well so we can vote on yours.

Here are some other places where you might find BOTB posts:

 StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands



'Curious as a Cathy'

Sound of One Hand Typing

The Doglady's Den 

Angel's Bark  

Jingle, Jangle, Jungle 

Winner of this Battle Announced on Monday May 22nd

         The BOTB results post will be my next post so that gives us all week to vote on this Battle, but please don't tarry and vote now if you can.  I'll be tallying the votes in the upcoming weekend.  

           Have you ever smoked a cigar?  Did you ever know anyone to smoke a cigar as an expression of anger?   Anyone know how the tradition of handing out cigars at the birth of a baby got started?