Beatbox

“Beatbox.” I’d never heard the term before. Until. . . .

Let me back up. When I go to the local fitness center, I usually hop on the recumbent bike for a half hour or 45 minutes. When I do this, I listen to TED Talks (see posts of 2/5/17 and 12/29/16), language lessons or famous speeches and sermons. So last Friday, I perched on the bike, noodled my Iphone onto the TED channel and began scanning the offerings I’d not seen. One of the “most popular” was “The Orchestra in my Mouth” by an Aussie from Brisbane named Tom Thum. 34 million views. Soooo. . . .

I had no idea what to expect. But it soon became apparent. Tom Thum is a “beatboxer.” He uses his voice to replicate all manner of sound, beat, instrument, and amplitude. Over the years, I’ve used my voice to make various sounds (I’m sure most guys have too) but Mr. Thum’s offering was very different. Verrrry . . . .

I am sure you will enjoy spending 11 minutes to watch this video. When you’re through, I want you to practice Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” It may take a lot of practice. See https://www.ted.com/talks/tom_thum_the_orchestra_in_my_mouth#t-651460 To make a living out of making different noises with your mouth? My kinda job. After all. I’m a lawyer. . . . .

The 1000 Pound Man

(A repeat from October 20, 2013)

The heaviest person in the world weighs 1,076 pounds. He is about 5 feet 8 inches “tall.” The regulation National Hockey League goal is 6 feet by 4 feet.   You see where I’m going?? 

I have long felt that the Chicago Blackhawks could win the Stanley Cup every year by simply recruiting the largest people in the world to be the goalies.  You upholster them in padding, mask and protective gear, give them a stick and stuff them into the goal and let them take a nap. Every shot on goal would simply bounce off the goalie. Defense would become a thing of the past. The goalie would go into the history books and the Blackhawks would win the Stanley Cup every year.

The only “hitch” would be that other teams might start recruiting similarly-endowed goalies.  Games would typically end 0 to 0.  Shootouts in overtime could go on for years . . . .

Man Cave

My home was built in 1938 by a man named Henry Selinger. Henry was a violinist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and a music director for WGN-Radio. Shortly after moving in, he built a room over the garage in which to play and practice the violin. The room is all pine and acoustically perfect. When the Selingers moved out, the Weiss family moved in. And then around 1987 – the Petersens.

The room over the garage was originally a rehearsal room for Mr. Selinger. It later became a bedroom for a young boy. This young lad had a BB gun and if you look carefully at the walls and ceiling, you can see it is dotted with BB’s. All over. . . . .

The room became my office, my safe house, refuge. . . . my man cave. There is a door to an small outdoor porch (which I rarely use) and a bees’ nest in one corner above the boards. I leave them alone and they leave me alone. I have left the BB’s as they are (they add character), as well as a University of Michigan “M” decal on the window which adjoins an American flag. And then in the corner – out of sight of prying parents – there is scratched prominently in the wood “RW + DM.”

I learned that Mr. Selinger also bought and sold violins. At one point he owned at least one Stradivarius and a Guarneri. Thus – when I am noodling on my guitar, I sometimes think that Stradivarius and Guarneri also sang in this room. Ahhhh to have been a fly on the wall. . . . .

Chocolate in the Night

I’m usually the first one up & at ’em in the morning. I make the coffee, get the newspapers off the driveway and make my breakfast (usually cereal and fruit). I turn on “Squawk Box” and switch between it and the “Today” show. Donna makes her appearance somewhere in mid-afternoon. . . . . YES I’m kidding. Anyway, a few mornings ago, she came downstairs and lamented that she’d been awake for a few hours. “It must’ve been that chocolate I had last night.”

Chocolate for dessert. Ugh. . . . .I did observe that neither of us can eat chocolate at night without eye-opening consequence at night. Caffeine and all that. Soooo while sitting at the kitchen table – sipping my 4th cup of java – I penned a song – which I (yes) sang. It is to the tune of “Strangers in the Night.”

Chocolate in the Night – Keeps my eyes open 

When I douse the light – I just try copin’ 

I just start to read – Until the clock strikes four.

I just took a bite – then an another

I tried with all my might – Thought of my mother

But it didn’t work – I took another piece.

Chocolate in the night – It’s an addiction

It really is a fright – it’s not a fiction

Everywhere I go – Rain, heat, frost or snow

I will grab a candy bar – a Hersheys’ kiss or chocolate star. . . .

You get my drift. . . . .

So this guy. . . .

So this guy goes to the doctor.  He’s nervous and fidgeting.  The doctor says “do you smoke?”   The guy responds “yeah – four packs a day.”  The doctor responds “well, if you don’t quit smoking, you’re going to be dead in five years.”  The guy says “But Doc – I’m nervous.  I gotta have something to keep me calm.”  The doctor thought for a moment “why don’t you chew toothpicks?” 

So the guy quit smoking and started chewing toothpicks.  Three boxes of toothpicks a day.  He died five years later.  Dutch elm disease. . . .

A Golf Trip (continued)

When I learned that Afghanistan and North Korea each have only one golf course in the entire country, my eyes narrowed and I thought – I wonder how many other countries have only one golf course? Well, fasten your seat belts because I may have devised a truly extraordinary golf trip. . . .

Some folks have a bucket list that includes visiting all seven continents, or every country in Europe, or every major league ball park in the United States. How about a golfing trip to every country where there is only one golf course? According to the R&A Golf Around the World – 2019 directory – there are 47 countries in the world that have only one course. 28 of these courses are confined to 9 holes. These one course countries include Sudan, Algeria, Chad, Niger, Mali, Iran, the Falkland Islands, Guyana and even Haiti. The newest country to join the “One Course Club” is Turkmenistan which in 2018 opened a Jack Nicklaus designed course — Ashgabat Golf Club.

I think it would be interesting to arrange a trip – to check out a few of these courses. While we’re at it, we can always travel to Mongolia where there are four golf courses. And then of course Nepal has six of them. The best is Chaudhary Industrial Village in the Nawalparasi District. It is a private club. There is one par 5 where you have to hit over Mt. Everest. And there are no carts. . . . .

Ready for a Golf Trip?

How about a golf trip for the ages?

There is only one golf course in Afghanistan — Kabul Golf Club. The course was opened in 1967, closed in 1978 and reopened in 2004. It is – to my knowledge – still open though I’m not sure how much traffic they are getting. The website doesn’t offer much (see http://www.kabulgolfclub.org/ ). But if you Google the term, there are dozens of neat photos! The Taliban have banned sporting events so not much is known about the Club’s current status.

Kabul Golf Club is a 9 hole course. The “greens” are actually brown or black due to their composition (sand and oil – to keep the sand from blowing). There is no irrigation system and fairways are mainly sand. In 2010, there was a charity tournament that brought out 44 golfers – each paying a $100 fee to play this hard-scrabble course 7 miles from downtown Kabul.

For those golfers looking for a challenge, none could be more daunting. First we need visa permits and entrance authorizations to travel to Afghanistan. There are still flights into Kabul on Turkish Air. While we are at it, we can cross the border into Pakistan where (believe it or not) there are 48 private golf clubs! The Pakistan Golf Federation oversees the golf community in Pakistan. Pakistani courses can actually be quite lush. A link to some of the better courses is https://www.golfpass.com/travel-advisor/course-directory/8485-pakistan/

The trip can conclude with a 9 hour flight from Islamabad to Shenyang and several train and bus trips to North Korea’s only golf course — Pyongyang Golf Course (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyongyang_Golf_Course ). The back tees are 6200 meters (6780 yards). This is the course where Kim Jong-il scored a birdie or better on each hole and had 5 holes in one — all in one round! The course restaurant is said to be the best in North Korea. That said, I think we still may have to bring our own clubs. And food. And tents. . . . .

Just Call Me Solomon

[A repeat from December 21, 2017] In my post of April 2, 2017, I discussed the gift of colorful and quirky “Happy Socks” that my granddaughters gave me last Christmas.  I have more than a dozen pair and I now wear them every day.  But as in all cases, the past is prologue. . . .   

My granddaughters had a sleepover at our house earlier this week.  I got dressed and then called out the door offering Eve and Elin the option of selecting the Happy Socks that I would wear to work.  The two of them (ages 3 and 6) bolted in, pulled open my sock drawer and began perusing the choices.  Each held up a different pair.  And insisted that I wear “their” pair.  I asked that they confer (something like the U.S. Congress) to come up with one pair that I ought wear.  No deal.  Each wanted me to wear “their” pair. . . . .

Please understand that I am not as dumb as I look.  So we reached a compromise.  For the first time in my life — I agreed to wear two highly different colorful socks to work.   My granddaughters looked at each other like – he really is as dumb as he looks.  And squealed.  Each peeled off one sock and handed it to me.  I sat down and put them on.   The good news is that I told no one else about my wardrobe issue.  No one looked at my feet.  And no one (that I could tell) noticed during the day.  I arrived home unscathed from my Solomonic decision.   That said – I tossed the two socks down the laundry chute for washing.  And I will await their delivery — to reunite them with their rightful partner. . . . .   

I Don’t Like Anybody Very Much

“They’re Rioting in Africa” – also called “The Merry Minuet” – was written by Tom Lehrer in 1958. It was first sung that year by Ellie Stone. It was later recorded by Harry Belafonte in a performance at The Greek Theatre in Washington. And it was popularized by the Kingston Trio in the early 1960’s (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCTdfo6T-u8 ). Great tune – which I remember well.

In less than 2 minutes, the Kingston Trio has summarized the state of our world, most countries, many towns, families and even friendships. And it sums up the attitude of many otherwise intelligent people – about anyone who disagrees with them on any issue, topic, subject or political affiliation. If you are on the wrong side of someone’s cause celebre, you may be thrown under the bus. And the door will be slammed shut. Isn’t that just ducky?

This is no longer funny. It is serious. And it is painfully sad. Can we do anything about this troubling situation? You can. I know you can. So can I.

What nature doesn’t do to us – will be done by our fellow man. . . . .

Brothers

Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity.  It is like the precious ointment upon the head . . . . and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion . . . .”  Psalm 133

In July 2015, I posted on attending the 100th anniversary of the Gamma Alpha Beta fraternity at Augustana College.   Many of the brothers from my era showed up.  We have remained a close-knit group since graduation.  On this September 11, 2021, we had a GAB golf outing – with about 50 brothers from across classes.

I wasn’t destined for college (see post of October 13, 2013).  My future was to work (assistant plumber) after high school.  Frankly, it’s a fluke that I even applied (after h.s. graduation) and got in to “college.”  And that I came to know my brothers. 

There are amazing memories and stories (most of which are gladly remembered — and a few that shall not be repeated).  One I personally relish is the dark night when my entire pledge class was corralled by police and taken off to jail (it was nothing serious).  One quick-witted pledge escaped detention by launching himself over a window well and clambering up onto a fire escape.   Yeah.  That was me. . . . 

The GAB’s won the Homecoming Sing with the ballad I sang to Lauren every night when she was little — “Oh Shenendoah.”   It was that song I picked for the Father-Daughter dance at her wedding (see post of August 14, 2011).  We had tears in our eyes as the music played.  It’s interesting how when you meet old friends, you pick up where you left off.    It’s as if time stands still and you’re back being 19 years old again.  In my brain, I’m still 19.  Now if only my body would cooperate . . . . .