Monthly Archives: May 2010

The Pied Piper of Hameln

Rest Day Read (SR-28)
The Pied Piper of Hameln versions collected by D.L. Ashliman
“In the year 1284 after the birth of Christ
From Hameln were led away
One hundred thirty children, born at this place
Led away by a piper into a mountain. “

We all know the fairy tale of the Pied Piper, don’t we? I thought I did, that is for sure. But then I ran across this excellent collection of folklore put together by Professor D.L. Ashliman. If you have time this holiday weekend, sit down and look through the collection. From Robert Browning’s old English poem to short versions from around the globe. Very entertaining stuff.
But, two things come to mind now, as an adult, when I go back to the Pied Piper tale.
1. You can’t trust politicians at their word for as far as you can throw them. Never, never ever.
2. Probably something that never really poked its way into your reality as a young reader of fairy tales, many (okay, most) of these old cautionary fairy tales are seriously sinister and dark. Kids being kidnapped and thrown in an oven by a witch. Sweet Granny disemboweled by a wolf whose sole purpose is to kill a small girl dressed in red. And how about this one; Hate your step daughter because a mirror says she is more beautiful than you? Why not just hire a woodsman to chop out her heart with an axe. Huh? Rumpelstiltskin. Man, I ain’t even going there.
Finally, the quoted passage above is reportedly taken from the wall of the Hameln, Germany town hall, according to a Jacob and Wilhem Grimm version of the story. I know it is probably not the easiest thing to chisel a passage like this into a wall, but can it be any less emotionally invested? Talk about concise, journalistic style…just the facts, mam.

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Forever Young

Rest Day Read (SR-27)

Forever Young lyrics by Bob Dylan

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

Bob Dylan’s 69th birthday. Yes, it’s true. Almost 70 and still on tour, currently in Europe. Forever Young is a great song. (Pepsi used it in a commercial, so then it must be great…right?).  I have a Bob Dylan story, well kind of a Bob Dylan story. He was actually there when this happened, so that counts in my book. Back in the summer of 1985/1986 (I can’t really remember for sure without using Google because I am also getting up there in years), I worked “crowd control”, a.k.a security, at Sandstone Amphitheater in KCK.
One of my favorite shows ever was Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers opening up and playing back-up behind the headliner, Bob Dylan. It was as good as you could imagine. At Sandstone there was a section of ~3000 reserved seats right off the stage, which was set at the bottom of a big grassy hill. There was a fence around the reserved area, then the general admission folks, all 10,000+ of them, would sit on the grass hill. It was beautiful. But the GA people on the hill could not, I repeat, could not get past the fence and “crowd control” into the reserved area. Every show had GA people hanging out at the gates of the fence always trying to get past to the shrine of the stage. I had been cursed, spit on, offered bribes and threatened for not allowing GA folks to cross the line. Guess where I “got” to work for the Bob Dylan show…
So, I am working, getting the usual amount of caca from the crowd and the Bob Dylan’s set starts. Things quiet down a bit, but I notice this character standing right at the GA side of the gate who had sifted his way through the throng. He was skin and bones, scraggly, long, gray hair, dressed in ragged jeans and sleeveless white T-shirt. He was old, looked maybe sixty, but the obvious roughness to his life could have easily added 20 years to that face. I wondered how he afforded the ticket to get in, but that was and still is a great mystery. I sauntered over to where he was watching the show, the stage lights illuminated the joy on his face, transfixed on the man onstage.
Between songs, I say, “Like Dylan?”
“Oh, yeah, man.”
“Seen him before, then?” I asked, figuring he had probably seen Dylan dozens of times.
“Never. Only time. Always wanted to, but…you know, never had.”
I sat there a minute. Here we had 3000 reserved seat people, 2990 of them probably really don’t give a mouse’s behind about Bob Dylan. They got free tickets or just wanted to check it out or needed something to do that night. Then you got this one guy, who probably sold a kidney or something to get this one moment added to his life.
“Hey, mister. When I count three, climb through the fence here and calmly walk to that guy in the blue shirt down at front stage.”
“One, two” I moved right in front of him to cover his escape. He realizes what I told him and smiles. “three!” The little guy shoots through the fence and almost skips on air down to the front stage. I signal to the guy working front stage and he allows the old guy to stand there and watch the show.
He looked happy and content the last time I saw him down by the stage. Well worth all the crap I then received from the other yahoos standing at the gate trying to jump to the promised land. Perfect.  Forever Young.

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For Real, Invisibility Cloaks?

Rest Day Read (SR-26)
Metamaterial Revolution: The New Science of Making Anything Disappear.
by Fred Hapgood, Discover Magazine March 10, 2009
“The goal at hand, changing how objects interact with light, seemed at first blush to be routine; people had been manipulating visible light with mirrors and lenses and prisms nearly forever. But Zhang, a materials scientist then at the University of California at Los Angeles, knew those applications were limited. Based overwhelmingly on a single material, glass, the technologies were restricted by the laws of optics described in standard physics texts. The engineers in the room hoped to smash through those barriers with materials and technologies never conceived of before. The proposals included crafting what amounts to an array of billions of tiny relays; in essence, the relays would capture light and send it back out. Depending on the specific design of the array, the light would be bent, reflected, or skewed in different ways.”

Yep people, this means invisibility. Definitely a ways down the road and depending on the ironing out of some technical glitches, but amazing technology, to say the least. As my one-of-a-kind Grandpa Bosley would say when presented with such modern inventions as the cordless phone, heart pacemakers, cruise control, car air conditioning and microwave ovens, “Well, I’ll be damned”.


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Atlantis, OV-104, We Salute You!

Thank you, Atlantis, for the 25 years of service. Thank you for the 32 missions, the 200  astronauts safely transported and the myriad of valuable scientific equipment delivered, which includes the recent Hubble Telescope upgrades.

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Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel

Rest Day Read (SR-25)

Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host –
by the Divine Power of God –
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.


When you are a stocky, quiet, lineman type of kid in a fairly large Catholic family with wonderful parents who have picture plaques on the wall for each of the namesake saints of their children, and your name-sake saint is St. Michael and you read this prayer as a youngster and see the picture of St. Michael spearing the serpent into hell, it does truly have a profound effect on one’s approach and outlook on life.  Life is a battle, a constant struggle to do the right thing in God’s eyes.  There is always good and there is always evil.  Each of us must fight the battles with the shining spiritual example of St. Michael to lead us.

Pope Leo XIII wrote the prayer in 1884, after seeing a vision of  Satan choosing the 20th century as his century to attempt a corruption of the church.  There are influences of St. Michael in many heroic figures of modern film, literature and comic books. Good vs. evil.  One chooses to fight or one chooses to give in. Think about it.

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The Creative Process in Action: Moby on NPR

Rest Day Read (SR-24)
The Creative Process
Moby: One Song, Two Days, Three Versions
from NPR’s Project Song by Bob Boilen
“I kicked off the songwriting process by showing them a series of photographs and words…Moby and Scarr are both drawn to an image of a man in the woods wearing a trenchcoat. There is a brown suitcase on the earthen floor beside him, and his head looks like a glowing storm cloud.
Next, I gave them a series of words to chose from. Moby picks the word “flight”. Scarr chooses “Sunday”, which Moby calls “the most depressing day of the week”.
Not long after, Moby puts the card with the word “Sunday” printed on it, along with the photograph, on a nearby chair. He picks up the bass guitar and immediately starts playing a riff in the key of E. Turns out, this hastily played baseline would become the bedrock for their new song.
Just six hours later, the first of three versions of “Gone to Sleep” was recorded.”

The creative process has always intrigued me. Creativity is vital to excellence. Creativity separates, it is the cream which rises to the top. I have always been interested in what makes greatness, in particular, Malcolm Gladwells writings on the subject. The great trainers I follow, Crossfit, Gym Jones, Dan John, Mike Rutherford, Coach Rod Cole, CrossFit Kids, Marty Gallagher, Mark Rippetoe and Dr. Lon Kilgore, just to name a few, are all very creative in their expertise and approach to their craft. The great football coaches I idolized, Hank Stram, Vince Lombardi, Mike Ditka, Bill Belchick, Mary Schottenheimer, Urban Meyer, Bill Snyder all use their creativity to innovate and dominate the sport. The beauty of what they all do is truly an art form.
This article, audio file and video of Moby creating a song from a photo and word on the NPR program Project Song shows the creative process at its best. Moby is completely in the zone, absolutely, completely focused on his purpose, as he and partner Kelli Scarr attack the creation of the piece. It is pretty cool stuff. Listen, watch, learn and enjoy.
Makes one wonder just what exactly it is in the small percentage of differences in the genetic code between Homo sapiens, that allows for such variety and creativity in our species.

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My American Idol Lesson

I better premise this by stating the following: I hate American Idol.  Hate what is does, what it stands for, the way it has manipulated an entire creative industry is beyond forgiveness.  My offspring watch it.  I hear and see bits and pieces, so I get what the show is about.  (Wait!  I did watch the Far Away Idol on Shrek 2 and thought that was pretty damn entertaining, does that count?)  But, I digress.  What I rant about today is a lesson I learned from American Idol or more accurately, from Simon Cowell.  I know so little about these people I had to Google his name to make sure I spelled it correctly.

I heard him in an interview on the radio several years back and was thoroughly impressed with his answer to one particular question.  So impressed, that I incorporated his idea into the way I would prepare and evaluate everything from my training, to my stories, to athletes, to music,  to books,  to shows, to movies, etc.  The interviewer basically asked him why, since he seemed like such a normal fellow in person, he was such an ass on the show.  His answered floored me.  He said he wasn’t trying to be mean, but he felt he was his responsibility to do the job that the singer’s parents should have done well before the point of making a spectacle of themselves on national television.  Simon Cowell gave them an honest evaluation of their talent.  An honest evaluation based on his expertise honed over many years in the recording industry.

What lesson did I learn from that?  Well, I learned, and am still trying to learn, to be an honest evaluator.  The trick, I think,  is to be honest, not cruel.  Whatever it is we choose to do in life, we need to strive to constantly get better.  And sometimes that involves a little kick in the buttocks to wake us up.  Yep, I will tell you from nine years of coaching, your kids, your players, your students, your own self,  will get pissed off sometimes.  NOBODY likes to be told of their weakness, but the weaknesses will always be there, whether someone tells you or not.  Just remember, be honest, not cruel.  Constructive, not destructive.   Pushing people to get better is a talent and an art.  The best coaches, teachers, trainers, agents and obnoxious, nationally televised  recording industry executives all do it, and do it well.

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The Pollen Post No. 6: Pollen Victorious

I Surrender!

Pollen, I concede to your millions of years of evolutionary supremacy.  In Paul’s words, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.”  But now I bow in surrender to you.   I wave the white flag.  It is over, the AC is turned on.  You win.

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