Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Largest Library in the World

Anyone who has known me knows that I have always loved to spend time in libraries.  My employees used to joke about it.  I'd say I had to leave the job site in order to do an estimate, or a touch-up from an old job.  They knew that might be true, but that afterward  I'd be in the library for an hour or two.

Now, and for several years ongoing, the largest library in the world is right here on the internet.  I can research virtually any subject instantly.  It can be distracting.  Today I have wanted to write *something* for my blog, but something else is constantly interfering, trying to lead me astray.  Where's my discipline?

And then, even if I find the discipline to try to sit quietly and collect my thoughts, what if don't remember what I was so urgently, or even eloquently, remembering in my mind the other day, while I was working on a job somewhere, or driving.  Yes, I still take notes, but you know what I discovered in my decades of trying to learn to be a writer?  I discovered that being a writer wasn't the most important thing in my life.  Oh, I had some successes.  I have had some things published.  And I know I could have tried harder.  Go ahead and guilt me.  "Guilt, the gift that keeps on giving," a friend once said. 

I used to try to write at least a short letter, via email or posted on a conference, every day, but I have gotten away from it the past six weeks or so.  I have been so utterly caught up in the writings, interviews and videos of David Wilcock.  And the books and the website of Whitley Strieber.  I'm reading at as fast a pace as last summer when I plowed through the works of Jim Marrs.  One of these days I'm going to have a little more coherency in my thinking again.  I'm going to be able to reflect more clearly and patiently.

It hasn't helped that the weather has brought us the worst heat in several decades, for many weeks in a row.  Finally last week it cooled, and I could do some physical work again for more than an hour or two in the early morning.  I need that physical work to cool my brain.

I have to admit I'm a little nuts over David Wilcock, he is so optimistic without being a pollyanna.  I know he's nuts, but I have always been attracted to the crazy ones -- "crazy wisdom!"  He prophesies a golden age beginning very soon -- not without severe trials and turmoil, which we certainly see in the world right now.  I have glimpsed it myself.  I have seen it in the scholarship, in the numbers of great books being written, stunning revisions of history -- as with Graham Hancock, for just one example.  And in many wonderful biographies that have been coming out for many years now.  There is a great one, out for a few years now, on the life of Edgar Cayce, America's "sleeping prophet," as just one example.

It is in the science, the physics, biology, and chemistry of life.  Awesome discoveries have been compiled by David Wilcock, the nature of DNA, the existence of the "time-space" continuum alongside the one we are mostly familiar with (and limited by), the "space-time" continuum. 

Well, one of these days time and space will arrive for me to communicate more on these and other momentous, "paradigm shifting" (as they say) subjects.  Great times are here!  It is important to see at least some of the big picture!

But now my wife has come home from her wanderings and getting ready for me to help with the family cookout.  And, before she gets me, I simply must find out whatever became of "Rhinegold, the dry beer/Extra dry-flavored treat/It's not bitter, not sweet/Won't you try extra dry Rhinegold beer!"  Only the internet can tell me.  If I'm even spelling the name correctly.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Finding One's Tools

It all started with Dad's tool box: it was a treasure chest of toys for his sons!  Why use a rock for busting caps when a hammer is so much more cool?  "Who's been into my tool box again?"  Uh oh, forgot to put it back.  Guilty looks around the breakfast table on Saturday morning.  Poor Dad, I had my own place and a family and I was still going back, borrowing tools, and not returning them.

I never owned many of my own tools until I started doing odd jobs, and it wasn't until my Uncle Alvin cleaned out his basement workshop and gave me whatever didn't go in the yardsale, that I came into a few half decent power tools: a small drill/driver, a workshop jigsaw, what else?  It was so long ago when I held a 9 to 5 job that left me spare time to work in my basement workshop where I made some rudimentary furniture.  Some of these items are still in service today, in my daughter's home.

Later on we moved to a large apartment and I had a porch where I put up pegboards with hooks where I could spread out all my beautiful tools and admire them, together with various charts, plans for furniture and sheds, etc.  Alas, that was the last time I had much predictable spare time for over 30 years.  I started my own business and, except when I finagled time for learning the art of writing, and occasionally a hobby such as family ancestry, it was like working three jobs.

We moved to a new community halfway across the country and it was a small house.  I had to start up a business all over again.  It was enough work to try to keep the van organized, to keep all the tools and supplies in order so you could find what you needed for the particular job at hand.  Usually if you were busy at all (contractors don't say hello to each other, they ask "busy?") you're tired at the end of a job and you throw all the tools into as many milk crates and 5-gallon buckets as you need, thinking you'll sort them out later.  And the day comes when you have to -- or go broke getting ten copies of everything.

Still the day comes when you cannot for the life of you find a simple goddam flat head screwdriver.  I always used to have such a nice selection, each one poking into his own hole, minding his own business.  Or an exacto knife, or putty knife, or tape measure.  How simple can it get, Lord?  Now don't tell me.  I already looked at the place I remembered it last.

When I had a big business (big for me meant 6 or 7 up to 12 or so employees), we had one man take every Friday afternoon to put the van back in order.  Later, the van and the old station wagon we used to transport employees to the job site.  Every helper was supposed to be responsible for his or her own tool bucket.  Of course, pockets get emptied out at night and putty knives and exacto knives start getting lined up on dresser tops.  So, explain to me, why, when you are constantly buying and handing out these things, plus storing extras in various places so that you don't have to run all the way from Montauk Point to Commack just to get one stupid screwdriver -- well, of course I'm exaggerating -- but why can't you find what you need when you need it?

So the dread day finally comes when you must absolutely dump all those crates and 5-gallon buckets out onto the driveway and at least do some sorting.  What do you find?  Bundles of putty knives, bundles of dusting brushes.  What are they doing all huddled together like groups of sheep against the fence in the pasture corners?  Do they secretly migrate together in some fantastic, phantasmagoric psychic Tool-Land?  I never could figure it out.  Yesterday I couldn't buy a small flathead screwdriver: now I have five of 'em.

Many's the time I'll simply improvise, for lack of a tool.  I still can't find my angle-finder.  It's in one of these 5-gallon buckets somewhere in storage.  I spent a couple of hours searching for it, no luck.  I did find the two-foot level that I couldn't find last week.

Now that I've been semi-retired for a couple years, there are 5-gallon buckets waiting for me out there in the storage shed, waiting a long time.  Maybe I'll have time to go through them and treasure the jobs and the people each tool will remind me of.

New Post

Computer frustrations: I cannot seem to move past the "error message" when I edited my profile here.  Help! was no help at all.  Oh well, maybe my daughter can help me later.  The blogger software seems to want a photo but offers no simple way to enter one from my documents page....

So I shall probably lose my wonderful, warm, witty and enlightening entries on my profile page!  Alas, I shall have to do it all over again!  I am accepting this fact of life a heckuva lot better than I ever used to.

The incident has temporarily destroyed my peace, however.  My beautiful peace from which I had every good intention of typewriting out long, long streams of ultimate wisdom, interwoven with engaging, witty, heartwarming little tales from my bounteous past.  Forget about the past!  Be in the NOW!  Move on!  Yeah, but....

Reminds me of a kid back in the sixth grade, whom Mr. Cadwallader nicknamed the "yeah-but."  Rhymes with rabbit.  Every time teacher would answer a question from him, he would start another question with "yeah, but...."  Maybe everyone has a "yeah-but" phase of their life, where they hear a truth, and they have to go "yeah-but."  There seem to be some who do this their whole lives. Good listeners will grow quiet and try to stay quiet for a while, or later, try to get back to that place of hearing that truth.  For truth is a food, it is manna from Heaven.  Some truth may come your way, from that "still small voice," if you can hear it -- right in the midst of a fierce emotional debate.  In fact, the emotions seem to be necessary to enliven the ears, especially the inner ear.

"Well, my truth, Mr. Simcrack, or whatever your name is -- my truth is my back is killing me, and I have to go to work anyway today.  Have you got anything for that?" 

I can appreciate that, I fought back pain for twenty years, and it still can bother me at times.  I hate taking pain relievers like ibuprofen, although they will work if you don't take them every day. 

This is a hard lesson, maybe one of life's hardest.  Maybe, just maybe, your guardian angel, or some force that you do not yet recognize in life, for good or ill -- and however you care to define it for yourself -- is trying to show you a larger picture.  Physical pain is a MEANS to an end, not an end in itself.  Physical pain LIMITS what we can do with our body.

I always found it helpful to think of the four bodies: physical, emotional, mental or intellectual, and, finally, the spiritual.  "First the natural, then the spiritual," Dan Wright always preached.  So, if the physical body is limited, a purpose of that (for nothing happens without a purpose, whether we like or accept that or not), then that might be happening so the emotional body has a better chance to discover itself, or the mental body, and then, finally, the spiritual body.

The final limitation on the physical is old age.  We can fight it off, we can forestall it-- Jack LaLane is a recent prime example of one who finally had to succumb, in his nineties, after several decades of physical fitness regimes and great positive thinking.  When you die, will you have some sort of a spiritual body prepared for yourself?  The religions say that this work is done for you.  For instance, Christianity says Jesus "saves" you.  I don't know.  I was "saved" for a couple of weeks when I was about 13 years old, so maybe I am saved this way. 

Maybe you can find salvation in good works.  I remember a story of Richard Nixon crying out in anguish to his Secretary of State: would he be remembered for his good works, after he died?  Since his presidency was ending in a state of disgrace, at least in man's eyes.  I cannot apologize for Mr. Nixon, but surely God's eyes encompass a heckuva  greater scope than man's.  Many a greater man than Nixon came to the end of his life in a state of despair, and one in particular in the 20th Century, one whom many including myself have regarded as a great teacher of mankind -- the writer D.H. Lawrence.  Not only did he seem to die in despair, but he lived much of life in financial hardship and the physical limitations and suffering of tuberculosis.

Well, I get tired of all this talk about suffering and meaning.  I'm going outside in a while and do some carpentry.  What a country, what times!  Here there is a nuclear plant with ongoing explosions in Japan, and a flooding reactor in Nebraska that has been damaged by a fire.  Someone said, what a change in the media.  At the time of Three Mile Island in 1979, if I have that date right, there were minute by minute updates in the news. Today there is little but denial concerning any major story.

"So, what the "f" are you gonna do about it, Silax Gimcrack?"  

I'm going to continue to stay near to the current of anger and rebellion that has always been alive in the body of this American experiment.  I find it by living in a real community that was started by a living, modern day prophet, even if he is now departed.  I find it by living with people I love, even if most of them are not very sophisticated politically (they say the same about me, that I'm just a misguided liberal).  But we keep talking about it.  No one is going to change, but we can talk.  And others can be enlivened by that process.  It is not some dull, dried up intellectual debate, but a living part of our life together.  We can talk because there is an underlying respect and love that has been tested by years of work and community life together.

Just as with physical pain limiting the physical body, so the more difficult and painful emotions of fear, anger, grief, desire for vengeance, etc., limit and temper the emotional body.  No one wants to see a political leader cry, but, as a dear friend told me the other day, his favorite three words in the New Testament are "...and Jesus wept."  Sometimes it seems to me that's all a person could do in the face of these calamities of today.  Collectively we are doing it to ourselves.  We are bringing these natural disasters of Mother Nature on ourselves in order to experience the painful emotions that will eventually, God willing, give rise to a great new intellectual body of thought, and a collective spiritual body, a common Soul of Humanity.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Arguing with God, the Corruption of Leadership, Is There Hope?

Uh oh, I don't have any wisdom in me after all.  Where did it evaporate to?  Wait!  I have the wisdom to know not to worry about wisdom's returning.  I know there is a place I can get to.  It requires work to get there.  Some meditate, some practice yoga and/or martial arts, I just prefer to go about the business of living.  There are always jobs to do.  I could pick up the weed-eater right now and go weed eat around the community center and the kids' play yard.  I've done that before, I'll do it again.  I'm feeling a little guilty that I haven't done much for others lately.  I don't think I need to feel guilty, not by my age after working for other people for 50 years.

So, I'll hang with this writing job a bit longer today.  Human nature is so funny.  I know there are great things inside me that need saying, that will be said, God willing.  I know there are great things that need hearing, by me and by many.  Life is really very simple, too simple for most.  We make the simple things so complicated.  I have to laugh when I fail three or four times at the simplest plumbing repair.  It's because, not just plumbing, but the expert construction trades in general -- I just don't do them everyday.  Shortcuts, necessary steps, whatever, tend to be forgotten.  Or I'm thinking about a song I wrote, an essay I'm planning, and the thoughts get in the way of the work.

Usually, though, I'll get into a job, and thoughts come.  Then it's a question of whether the job can be laid aside for a while, so that I can at least jot down a few notes.  Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

I'm working with my emotions lately.  I found an old song I had set aside, it brought up too much pain for me.  Emotional pain takes a lot of energy.  But if there were no pain, life would be an unceasing stream of joy.  What would that be like?  Reminds me of a sign in the old school in my community: "If everyone here were just like me/ I wonder what this place would be."

What of another possibility?  That we could live with a lower level of emotion?  This is indeed what most seem to choose.  Our leaders, politicians, journalists, ministers, seem to choose to try to reason with us.  The age we live in is still called "the age of reason" by many scholars.  "We hold these truths to be self-evident...."  Some have argued that the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution represent the greatest flowering of the human reason.  If only we could get back to that spirit that motivated those documents....

But reason and thinking with only low levels of emotion becomes dry and stale.  Where is our fresh manna?  We have to have some truth here, not just clinging to old truths, political, religious, personal.  If we let them go, will they return?  Perhaps if we get desperate enough, we'll have to risk an old truth.

Some people seem to live at a continual high emotional level, always mad at the government, someone who cheated them, someone who "dissed" them.  Others tend to be fearful, and certainly there is much to be fearful about.

Hallelujah, the plumbing repair seems to have taken!  I'll check it every few hours.

* * * * * * *

O.K., yes, I have returned.  I have been busy, in the writing side of my life, with the New Cafe, which has been undergoing a revolution.  A combination of old and new leadership has emerged after some months of chaos, and that is how it should be.  Some few remain bitter, but we'll live with them.  After all, we enjoy a bitter taste in our food to balance the sweet, do we not?  That makes it more of a full-spectrum community.  It gets dull when you're just preaching or listening to the choir.

I'm reading a book that has been on my shelf for several years:  Frank McCourt, "Teacher Man."  It is very well written and inspiring, about his 30 years as a teacher in the schools of New York City.  Frank is the author of "Angela's Ashes," which became a worldwide bestseller in 1996.  "'Tis" was his second effort, and did not move me as much, for whatever reasons, as his first and third books.  I'm just halfway through "Teacher" so I won't say more til I'm done.  But how enjoyable to discover another great book, and to rediscover this truly great man!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Review of "Poetry" at Amazon

See my review of the South Korean film, "Poetry", at  I have written several other reviews there, also.


Friday, June 3, 2011


"There's nothing to writing, all you do is sit down and open a vein."  I was mistakenly attributing this quote to Ring Lardner, Jr., but now I am told that the writer Red Smith coined the phrase.

At its best, writing is a kind of a creative suicide, and it's not surprising to me that many great and many very good writers have ended their own lives.  And some have embraced a kind of living death, as writer Henry Miller describes in his Time of the Assassins, the best book written, I believe, about the creative struggle of the artist..  Now I am not espousing suicide here, just trying to be realistic.  The best writing leads to a death of the little self, is another way of saying it, but that doesn't quite capture the pain of the struggle.

It's not just about writing, it's about creating.  I always felt I would become a better writer when and if I ever found a creative community to live in.  I was correct, though in a way I never could have imagined.  Amazingly enough, the community I found had existed for over 30 years when I finally discovered it, and it was only 4 and half hours from my home at the time.  Little by little I surrendered my old community and friends, my marriage, my business.  I leaped into the unknown.  Not everyone can do that, thank God, this poor world is insecure enough without more of my type jangling everyone's nerves.  My poor wife to whom I was forever announcing changes.  "We're moving to Chicago, we'll live over a laundromat and I'll work at the 7-11, we'll meet new people and we'll be poor again!"  No wonder we had to divorce.

Does there ever come a time when we artists can move into that creative realm, work for a time, and leave it quietly to be resumed another day?  With the faith that that wonderful place we had just found, could be discovered again?  I mean, can we do this without driving everyone around us crazy with our intensity, our obsessiveness, etc.?

I once read that Mel Lyman, when he was engaged in a good piece of writing, learned to just simply put it down just when it got flowing really well.  Why would any artist in his or her right mind do such a thing?  I have thought about this for many years.  It seems to me that that energy that we tap into in those times is not "our" energy, not even "our" thoughts.  It is something from out of this sorry world, if it's any good at all.  Anything else is just practice, and I'm not talking about that.  This is just practice, what I'm doing right now.

The writer Michael Ventura once wrote that the day after he wrote a good essay, he felt like he'd been hit by a truck.

Something else that Henry Miller wrote, whatever you do as a real creation, you have to give it away freely.  It is a free gift to your fellow man, if it is anything at all.  Making a living as a writer, or artist of any kind, is something else again.  So there is definitely a "vow of poverty" involved here, whether we recognize it or not.  Miller never had a checking account until his fifties.  By that time he was no longer writing so much as he was painting.  "To Paint Is To Love Again," is the title of a book he wrote about that transition.

I'll revisit this subject.  This is all I have time for today.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

To Be Continued!

I lost a week, my bad.  I plead too much going on, too much confusion.  I will return, I promise!