Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Letchworth in Spring

The other day we traveled to Letchworth State Park, a stunning place where the Genesee River flows through a massive, deep canyon and over three cliffs on its way north to Lake Ontario. It was a stunning, perfect day to be in one of the most beautiful places I know.

Here's what Letchworth looks like in spring.

Canyon at Letchworth #letchworthstatepark #geneseeriver #nature #hiking #trees

Middle Falls at #letchworthstatepark. Water is high and muddy! Lots of mist in the air, and the falls' roar is much louder. #waterfall #nature #hiking #trees #river

Rainbow in the mist #letchworthstatepark #waterfall

Letchworth canyon, looking north #letchworthstatepark #ilovenewyork #geneseeriver #nature #hiking #trees

Upper falls #letchworthstatepark #ilovenewyork #geneseeriver #nature #hiking #waterfall

Wolf Creek, Letchworth #letchworthstatepark #ilovenewyork #geneseeriver #wolfcreek #nature #hiking #trees #stream #runningwater

The Wife, the Dee-oh-gee, and me #Cane #dogsofinstagram #greyhound #greyhoundsofinstagram #letchworthstatepark #ilovenewyork #geneseeriver #nature #hiking #waterfall #overalls #dungarees #biboveralls #pointerbrand #overallsarelife #hickorystripe

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Tone Poem Tuesday

It's interesting how many of the great composers push others out of the limelight, isn't it? If not for Antonin Dvorak, likely the greatest of Czech composers, the music of Bedrich Smetana might be better known today. Dvorak's work is always more refined and frequently touched by genius, where Smetana's is earthier, maybe just a bit less memorably melodic, and occasionally awkward. That doesn't make it bad, though--not by a longshot. Here is one of the tone poems from Smetana's symphonic cycle Ma Vlast (My Country), "From Bohemia's Woods and Fields."

Monday, May 27, 2019

Larry Havers, and other Memorial Day thoughts

An annual reposting of some things pertaining to Memorial Day. First, a remembrance of a soldier I never knew.

Fifteen years ago I wrote the following on Memorial Day, and I wanted to revisit it. It's about the Vietnam Veteran whose name I remember, despite the fact that I had no relation to him and clearly never knew him, because he was killed four years before I was born.

Memorial Day, for all its solemnity, has for me always been something of a distant holiday, because no one close to me has ever fallen in war, and in fact I have to look pretty far for relatives who have even served in wartime. Both of my grandfathers fought in World War I, but both had been dead for years when I was born. I know that an uncle of mine served during World War II, but I also know that he saw no action (not to belittle his service, but Memorial Day is generally set aside to remember those who paid the "last full price of devotion"). My father-in-law served in Viet Nam, but my own father did not (he had college deferments for the first half of the war, and was above draft age during the second). So there is little in my family history to personalize Memorial Day; for me, it really is a day to remember "all the men and women who have died in service to the United States".

One personal remembrance, though, does creep up for me each Memorial Day. It has nothing at all to do with my family; in fact, I have no connection with the young man in question.

When I was in grade school, during the fall and spring, when the weather was nice, we would have gym class outdoors, at the athletic field. On good days we'd play softball or flag football or soccer; on not-so-good days we'd run around the quarter-mile track. But the walk to the athletic field involved crossing the street in front of the school and walking a tenth of a mile or so down the street, past the town cemetery. I remember that at the corner of the cemetery we passed, behind the wrought-iron fence, the grave of a man named Larry Havers was visible. His stone was decorated with a photograph of him, in military uniform. I don't recall what branch in which he served, nor do I recall his date-of-birth as given on the stone, but I do recall the year of his death: 1967. I even think the stone specified the specific battle in which he was killed in action, but I'm not sure about that, either.

That's what I remember each Memorial Day: the grave of a man I never knew, who died four years before I was born in a place across the world to which I doubt I'll ever go. And in the absence of anyone from my own family, Mr. Havers's name will probably be the one I look for if I ever visit that memorial in Washington. I hope his family wouldn't mind.

I looked online and found these images, first of Mr. Havers's obituary and then of Mr. Havers himself. The things you remember. I wonder what kind of man he was. He has been gone for more than half a century. His name is not forgotten.

Mr. Havers's service information can be found on the Virtual Vietnam Wall here. He was born 14 October 1946 and died 29 October 1967, in Thua Thien.

Next, my annual repost for Memorial Day.

Tomb of Unknown Soldier

Know, all who see these lines,
That this man, by his appetite for honor,
By his steadfastness,
By his love for his country,
By his courage,
Was one of the miracles of the God.

-- Guy Gavriel Kay

"The Green Field of France", by Eric Bogle

Well, how do you do, young Willie McBride,
Do you mind if I sit down here by your graveside?
And rest for awhile 'neath the warm summer sun,
I've been walking all day, and I'm nearly done.
I see by your gravestone you were only 19
When you joined the great fallen in 1916,
I hope you died quick and I hope you died clean
Or, Willie McBride, was it slow and obscene?

Did they Beat the drum slowly, did they play the fife lowly?
Did they sound the death-march as they lowered you down?
Did the band play The Last Post in chorus?
Did the pipes play the Flowers of the Forest?

Did you leave a wife or a sweetheart behind
In some faithful heart is your memory enshrined?
And, though you died back in 1916,
To that faithful heart are you forever 19?
Or are you a stranger without even a name,
Enshrined then, forever, behind a glass pane,
In an old photograph, torn and tattered and stained,
And faded to yellow in a brown leather frame?

Did they Beat the drum slowly, did they play the fife lowly?
Did they sound the death-march as they lowered you down?
Did the band play The Last Post in chorus?
Did the pipes play the Flowers of the Forest?

The sun's shining down on these green fields of France;
The warm wind blows gently, and the red poppies dance.
The trenches have vanished long under the plow;
No gas and no barbed wire, no guns firing now.
But here in this graveyard that's still No Man's Land
The countless white crosses in stand mute in the sand
To man's blind indifference to his fellow man,
And a whole generation who were butchered and damned.

Did they Beat the drum slowly, did they play the fife lowly?
Did they sound the death-march as they lowered you down?
Did the band play The Last Post in chorus?
Did the pipes play the Flowers of the Forest?

And I can't help but wonder, no Willie McBride,
Do all those who lie here know why they died?
Did they really believe when they answered the call,
Did they really believe that this war would end wars?
Well the sorrow, the suffering, the glory, the pain
The killing and dying, was all done in vain,
For young Willie McBride, it all happened again,
And again, and again, and again, and again.

Did they Beat the drum slowly, did they play the fife lowly?
Did they sound the death-march as they lowered you down?
Did the band play The Last Post in chorus?
Did the pipes play the Flowers of the Forest?

Friday, May 24, 2019

Bad Joke Friday

How about another Star Trek joke, with a different franchise altogether thrown in just for good measure?

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Something for Thursday

Yup, the usual. Very busy at work and also very busy at home, what with editing books and other things! I finished manuscript markups on The Savior Worlds, but now I'm finishing up the manuscript markups on Deliverance, Eh? (not the actual title), which is my supernatural thriller about a kayaking expedition in the Alaskan wilds that goes wildly, horribly wrong. Also in the last few weeks we've had our wedding anniversary, a trip to Rochester for the Lilac Festival, and my appearance as part of the Geekiverse team at Nickel City Con! (Post about that coming up on the Official Site.)

Why all this writing activity? Because I want to get back to my original goal of having a book a year ready for release, at least for the next few years. That means that I had to get a nice backlog of manuscripts together, so I can start polishing them off, one by one. Right now there are five of them:

1. The Savior Worlds, being Book IV of The Song of Forgotten Stars.
2. Deliverance, Eh? (not the actual title), being the above-mentioned supernatural thriller.
3. Through the Pale Door, the second John Lazarus novel
4. Orion's Huntress, the first installment in a new series of space operas
5. Lighthouse Boy (not the actual title) Part I, first half of a fantasy duology

That's a lot of writing waiting to be processed and released into the wild, I can tell you!

But anyway, back to the song challenge. This one's a bit heavy: A Song That Makes Me Think About Life. Well then! Here are a few of those.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Tone Poem Tuesday

Film music today: a symphonic suite comprising the music of Joe Hisaishi, written for the great Hayao Miyazaki film Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. Hisaishi is one of my favorite composers, and this suite is representative of why.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Bad Joke Friday

I need to find more of these, because apparently more exist. If you're not up on your Star Trek: The Next Generation lore, there was a two-part episode where Captain Picard was sent on a special mission and replaced by Captain Jellico (Ronny Cox), who was a very strict, by-the-book kind of captain. Everybody hated him, but by the end he did manage to win over some respect from the crew by the time Picard returned.

But someone has decided to use screenshots from that episode to have Captain Jellico telling bad jokes, like this. I love it!

Something for Thursday (Friday Edition)

So yesterday I was asked (well, I was asked to do this before yesterday, but yesterday was the day) to work not at The Store but rather to fill in for a guy who was on vacation at another location of The Store. Fine...except that The Other Store is in Niagara Falls, NY, and Casa Jaquandor is about 35 miles south of NF, NY. So I had a 45-minute commute, and then an 8-hour shift, and then a return-home commute that took an hour and twenty minutes because of road construction on I-190 through downtown Buffalo. (Couldn't I have taken I-290 around Buffalo? Sure...but it's under construction! And so's the Skyway out of downtown! Huzzah!) So by the time I got home, walked doggos, cooked dinner, showered, walked doggos again, all I wanted to do was drink rum and do some edits on The Savior Worlds.

So here's today's entry into our ongoing song prompt thing, A Song From The Year I Was Born. Ready for some way-back hits from 1971? Here we go!

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Tone Poem Tuesday

William Grant Still, who lived from 1895 to 1978, is one of the most prominent and important African-American composers. He was prolific, writing five symphonies and eight operas in addition to an impressive array of other works. His is an important voice from the time when jazz was emerging and when the American musical vernacular was starting to move beyond its European-dominated roots.

This suite, the Danzas de Panama, is a chamber work that is heard here performed by full string orchestra. The suite of four selections uses folk source material from Panama, and Still creates the appropriate air of folk dance here, albeit combined with the traditional sounds of the Western orchestra.

Here is Danzas de Panama by William Grant Still.

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Something for Thursday

So, time to get back to our on-again, off-again song challenge! If my reckoning is correct, we're up to A Song I'd Sing With Someone In A Karaoke Duet. Well, I'm honestly not likely to ever sing karaoke in any foreseeable future, but if I did...well, this category vexed me a bit which is why I'm actually so late today with this post. Only one song really leaps to mind for me as one that might get me up to the microphone (and a bit of alcohol infused into my system would also be necessary), and it's this one, from Grease. Am I sure? Yes I'm sure! Yes I'm sure down deep inside!