Thursday, July 30, 2009

Harry Potter and My Dad

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows went on sale the same day that my Mom called me earlier to tell me that the doctors didn't think my Dad was going to make it much longer. It was a Friday. I had just come back from a work related trip from Houston. I was supposed to go to work Friday and the plan was than my vacation was going to start and I was heading up to Memphis to visit my Mom and Dad. My Dad was in the hospital, but I think I was expecting him to get better. Everyday I talked to my Mom and I knew he was not doing good. He forgot things, he didn't know who my Mom was at times, other times he thought he was somewhere else, doing things besides lying in a hospital bed. It was only later that I learned the cancer had traveled to his brain. But I refused to believe that he was not going to get better. I figured I'd come up for the week, he'd get better and maybe leave the hospital soon.

I knew the final volume of Harry Potter was going on sale that night at midnight. I was trying to decide if I was going to buy it before I headed north or wait till I arrived there. My plan was that after work I'd get a few hours sleep and than leave around three in the morning to drive up. That's how I almost always did it. I liked driving late at night, with little traffic on the road.

That morning, around ten I got a call from my Mom. She was crying. Now if you knew my Mom you would know how strong she is, so if she was crying I knew something was bad. She told me that the doctors didn't think my Dad was going to last much longer. He had slipped into a coma. I told her I would leave right away. Than I called work. I was fine, I asked for another manager and when Don came on the phone I found I could barely get the words out.

Afterwards I hung up and called my brother at his work. The previous week my brother and I had a fight, I'm not going to go into what it was about, we rarely argue as adults, but this one was big and at the time I was not talking to him. I really think it could have went on for awhile and perhaps seriously rendered our relationship. But none of that mattered now. I told him what was going on and he said he'd meet me at my house and we'd drive up together.

Somehow I didn't think too much about Harry Potter at that time.

It's a six hour and a little to spare to get to Memphis from my house. We took my brother's truck, Buffy in the rear seat and the two of us talking on the way up. We talked a lot about family, my Dad, my Mom, my Sister and we laughed a lot on the way up. There were a lot of good memories.

We dropped Buffy off at my Moms and headed to the hospital. It was in Cornith Mississippi, about an hours drive from my Moms. When we got to the hospital I was surprised to see how many people were in my Dad's room. This was late at night, after nine and the room was filled with my Aunts and Uncles and cousins, all from my Mom's side of the family. They were all that lived here, my Dad's sister lived in New Jersey. I think my Dad would have been really surprised, he was always one of those people that never realized what an impact his life had on others.

After a few hours my brother and I decided to head back to my Moms. We were picking up my niece and nephew who were flying in early tomorrow and my Mom wanted us to stop at Walmart (one of the only places that was open all night) and pick up a few things. They already had a crew of people that were staying the night, so we decided to head back.

We got to Walmart like five minutes after midnight. We saw a crowd of people going into the store and wondered what was going on. Than I remembered. Harry Potter was just going on sale. We went in and did our shopping and than both my brother and I got a copy of the book.

My father held on till the middle of the following week. In between the time spent with him, I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. After he died and inbetween making arrangements and being with my Mom and the rest of the family I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

It was reassuring. It was like visiting an old friend. The message of the book, the importance of love, was so important. It's hard to describe what reading that book meant at that time. This book will always have an important meaning in my life. I'm not going to say it made that week easier, but it was a crutch that helped me walk through that week.

When I finally got to the last book in my quest to re-read all of Harry Potter I opened the book and out fell one of those cards from the funeral home announcing my Dad's burial. I had forgotten I had put it in there. I stared at it for a few minutes, gazing at the picture of my Dad on the front, remembering his laughter and than I started to read the book.
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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix

Ok, just finished Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix and now moving onto The Half Blood Prince. It's very relaxing to be able to enter into the world of Harry Potter and just move from one story to the next. Reading one after the other it's like one big story.
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Friday, July 24, 2009

Old School Fridays: My Theme Song

Once again I have to apologize for not doing these on a regular basis. Last time I thought I was back to a normal Friday posting but it didn't quite make it. I really like this meme and always plan to do it but something seems to come along to derail that plan. Well, I'm back this week and we'll see how next week goes.

This week's subject is "My Theme Song." I think if anything I can be very hard headed when I believe I'm right and will stand my ground no matter what. So I present Tom Petty singing "I Won't Back Down."

Thursday, July 23, 2009

San Diego Comic Con

The biggest comic convention of the season started today and I'm not there. I haven't been in about six years. I remember the first one I went to back in the eighties and what I thought was a big con now seems so small. It seems though that the whole premise of the convention, comics, are taking a back seat to Hollywood. Entertainment Weekly had their comic con issue and not one article was about comic books. But there still is a lot of comic books and comic book related stuff at the convention. I was reading that 2,000 fans of Twilight camped overnight to be sure to get in for the panel on their favorite book and movie.

The first San Diego Con I went to was short on Hollywood spectacle but I did see a few. I remember seeing David Carradine walking around and looking at comics, he wasn't there as a guest, he was there as a fan.

Sigh...lots of fun.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Twenty Years Ago Today....

I still get goose bumps just watching this video. I'm ten years old again, sitting on the living floor while there's a whole bunch of people gathered around watching the tv. Words like making history are thrown around easily, but that day those three men made history like few have ever did.

Today there should be a base on the moon. More than 24 men should have touched foot to that barren world. We did something that was close to impossible and than we didn't know what to do next. We basically stopped.

To those who question why I ask if you would have voiced the same questions to Christopher Columbus in 1492. Horace Greely said "Go West Young Man" and thousands did. Thomas Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark exploring, spreading our country towards another ocean.

To survive mankind needs to explore, to reach out for the unreachable, to venture forth....
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A True Hero

I can't say it any better, go check it out here and read about a true hero.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Most Trusted Man In The Country Dies

U.S.Image via Wikipedia

Walter Cronkite died earlier today.

In today's world where journalists are just as distrusted as the people they write about it might be hard to believe that once most of this country thought of Walter Cronkite as the most trusted man in the country. When he decided that the Vietnam War was not worth fighting President Johnson knew he had lost the country's belief in the war. "If I lost Walter I've lost middle American" was Johnson's quote.

I don't think there is anyone in the news business that holds the same place as he once did.

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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

One reason I haven't been posting much lately is that I've been busy reading. I'm just getting ready to start the fourth Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It's been a lot of fun reading the books all in a row. When you stack each book up next to each other you can see how each one seemed to be bigger than the previous one.

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Greg Allman In Rolling Stone

I meant to post this back when it first came out but I forgot. The last issue of Rolling Stone (the new one is a tribute to Michael Jackson) has some very interesting articles in it, if you can get over the fact that the cover feature is the Jonas Brothers. (Actually they're not that bad.) First is a very enlightening article about Goldman-Sachs and their role in the present economic slump. And there's an article that Vinnie will no doubt be interested in, if he hasn't already seen it, about Greg Allman.

I think the new format has given the Stone a new lease on life.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Re-Reading Harry Potter

The acclaimed cover for Harry Potter and the P...Image via Wikipedia

I've decided that I'm going to re-read Harry Potter. I'm going to start with the first book and read them all, one right after the other. When I first read them of course I had to wait for each one to be published, so a lot of time passed inbetween reading each book. I want to read them all at once, so to speak, and experience them as one long story. I had to go out and buy the first two books, when I started looking for the books around my house I found the last five, but could not find those first two for anything. I think I loaned them out. Anyways I went out and bought the first two books today and am going to start tonight.

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Paul McCartney on Letterman

Paul McCartney, inducted in 1988 with the Beat...Image via Wikipedia

This Wednesday night Paul McCartney returns to the Ed Sullivan theater where he made history years ago with a few other friends. He appears this Wednesday on the David Letterman show.
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Quit and Get on the Cover of Time

Sarah Palin on Alaska HDTVImage by via Flickr

Sarah Palin resigns as Governor of Alaska and she makes it on the cover of Time Magazine! One reason she quits is because she doesn't want to be a lame duck governor. One, I guess she figures that she can't win a second term in her own home state and two, does that mean if she was President and was in her second term she would quit because she was a lame duck president? Can this woman get any dumber?
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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

A Personal Milestone

This Sunday I turn 50.

Throughout your life there are certain birthdays that are supposed to be special. A sort of milestone that marks your place in life as you travel towards the end. But it's never been that way with me. Birthdays were never that important to me. Yes, I enjoy people fussing over me and giving me presents, but I never felt like they represented any special significance just because of certain numbers. You know the numbers, 21, 30, 40...those numbers that are supposed to make you pause and take reflection in your life.

To me they were just one more birthday. Another number. I guess I never looked at those growing numbers with the alarm that some people do, maybe because I never thought about how old I am. This is either going to sound cliche or like I'm already experiencing a mid life crisis, but it really is neither, but I never acted my age. I don't mean I was one of those older guys that try to be twenty years younger than they are and act like an idiot.

I don't think I look my age (and that's not really due to anything on my part except for inheriting good genes from my parents) and I don't act my age. Lots of what other people my age think as important I'm not that interested in. I still want to discover new things, I want to hear a new sound that thrills me, read a new book that makes me question life, watch a movie or tv show that makes me weep.

I've tried to live my life with the understanding that the feelings of others are just as important as mine.

I've lived my life I hope with as much truth as I could. I'm not going to claim that I've never hurt anyone or lied. I've tried not to, but sometimes things happen that you wish you could undo later. I've done somethings I wish I could redo, but nothing that I'm ashamed of.

I don't drink. I don't do drugs. In fact I've never done either. Ok, I take it back. Once in my wild younger years I drank a beer. Didn't agree with me. Now while I don't drink or do drugs I don't think others should necessarily follow my example. In fact I lean more towards legalization of drugs, our war on drugs has been lost years ago. And it's not that I feel some higher power is telling me not to do either. It's just a decision I made years ago and have followed through. It works for me, it doesn't work for everyone.

I don't curse. I have had friends try to get me to swear, just to hear me say a swear word. I just don't. Now I know I'm starting to sound like some sort of prude or religious nut, but really I'm not. I just made some decisions that I wanted to follow. I'm not a prude. In fact I favor letting people do what they want with each other as long as it doesn't hurt others. And as far as a religious nut, that I'm definitely not.

Mark Twain said "If one truly believes there is an all-powerful Diety, and one looks around at the condtion of the universe, one is led inesapably to the conclusion that God is a malign thug." I guess I don't have to say much more about my religious beliefs.

Why am I going into such lengths about all this? Because for once I'm finding myself thinking about a number as I approach my fifitieth birthday. Odds are that once I hit this Sunday I'm on the downhill side of my life. Except for my Dad who died because of smoking both sides of my parents family live long lives, into their ninties. But even if I follow that path I'm still looking at less years than I've already lived.

Am I satsified with my life? Of course not completely. There are still lots of things I want to do. Am I where I thought I'd be back when I hit that first milestone birthday of 21? No. I was thinking I'd be writing for a living now, but all our dreams don't come true. I've tried to live the life I've made as completely as I can and still have not given up on my dreams. Am I happy with my life? Yes I would say so. Like I said, there are things I wish had turned out differently, some things I wished had happened that haven't, but you play the hand you're dealt and I've enjoyed the past years.

Still with this birthday coming I've found myself pausing and wondering.

Maybe this is what a mid life crisis feels like.
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Sunday, July 05, 2009

Allen Klein Dies

Picture is Copyright AP

Everyone blames Yoko Ono for the break up of the Beatles, but I think if anyone outside the group itself is to blame it's probably Allen Klein. Klein was a manager hired by John Lennon and than agreed to by George and Ringo, but fiercely opposed to by Paul McCartney. This had more to do with their eventual split than anything Yoko did.

Klein started his career as an accountant. His first major act was Sam Cooke, who he managed to get Sam Cooke the rights to all his future recordings. Later he bought out Andrew Long Oldham, the manager of the Rolling Stones, to become the Stones manager. Within a few years the Stones fired him, but he managed to retain the copyrights to the majority of their songs recorded before 1971.

He started a company, ABKCO (Allen and Betty Klein Company) that ended up owning the copyrights to thousands of popular songs, from the Stones to the Animals, Herman's Hermits, Chubby Checker and many others.

Klein died July 4 in New York City of Alzheimer's Disease.

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Karl Malden R.I.P.

Cropped screenshot of Karl Malden from the tra...Image via Wikipedia

Evidently Karl Malden had died today. He was 97 years old and died of natural causes at his home. I remember him more for the television show from the seventies The Streets of San Francisco, which also started a young Michael Douglas. There also was his tv commercial for American Express...."Don't leave home without it." The commercial grew out of his role from the police show. More recently he guest starred in an episode of The West Wing as President Bartlet's priest.

Besides tv he was an accomplished movie actor, playing roles in movies such as A Streetcar Named Desire and Patton.

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