Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Prague streetcar dream

Prague streetcar dream

About 5 days ago I had a very vivid dream set in Prague, in the Czech Republic. It starts out with me riding on a streetcar going north within Prague.The number on the tram was 81.From the beginning the dream did not feel like a dream. It felt like I was indeed riding on a streetcar in Prague.

All the details unfolded just as in waking life; the sound of acceleration, of the doors opening, moving from stop to stop. I was talking to a friend. I had somehow set aside a coat, a wool cap and a dark file folder containing all sorts of papers, like resumes, and transcripts etc. I got off at a stop, in this conversation with a friend, forgetting to grab these items before getting off.

Somehow I begin running up the route , trying to reboard. and thanks to street lights, and scheduled stops, I finally catch up with it , and reboard the same car. I somehow communicated with an attendant what I was looking for and underneath the seats, at the very back of this two segment tram, I find the folder. Then I walk grabbing bars and over head bars , to the front and find my coat, buried under a pile of coats, with the cap tucked in a pocket.

At this point, having no wish to keep going further north I get off at the first chance I can. Upon disembarking I find I am in a far northern part of Prague, I had never been in before. Across the street I note , there is no discernible stop for an 81 tram going south. I begin walking around to try to get some sense of where I am. I walk east on a broad avenue.For a while the south side of this street has multi story buidings lining it. But then there is a gap through which I see a view.

I see that there is a wide valley between this part of Prague, and further south, with a east-west highway and train track running parallel to the street I am on. Meanwhile, as all this is unfolding it is turning from mid-afternoon to late afternoon. The sun is moving across the sky, and the quality of light in the air changes as it does as time goes by, in any sunny day.

On the north side of the street I notice an Art Museum. I go over to it just to check it out. This street is hilly so the yard has a concrete wall, so that at the high part of the block it comes to street level, but at the low part it is higher than ones head. This means, the property the Museum is on is level of course. There is little grass, growing in some of the cracks on the concrete wall. Little details like this have me experiencing this not as a dream, but as really walking around in Prague.

Next I head back up to where I got off, and then head west. I come to a street that has more residential type housing. There is a what looks like a small school or Art institute. I run into a young Czech woman on the walkway entrance and say Good Day, and also Wie Gehts. She doesn't speak English or German, so this sally gets nowhere, but she points to the building so I go inside and meet a young Czech man named Lada who speaks English. He has a 13 year old son who asks me how long I was on 81 before I got off. "Was it 12 or 15 minutes? After further explanation they drop what they are doing, we go out to a square, and they get on a different street car that takes us all to another square, where they point out a stop for #81 going south.I thank them profusely, and then after a time get on a southbound #81. Finally I arrive in a familar part of Prague. I get off, and somehow I have left my coat on the tram again. Yikes!

At this point I began leaving the dream, and found myself in my bed.

What struck me about this dream was its essential undreamlike nature. Colors and details were as precise and as vivid as moving around in Prague in waking life. When I woke up I felt like I had been in Prague for the last few hours, rather than in a dream.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Beyond the Sky and the Earth: A Journey into Bhutan

Red Chiles at the Thimphu market

I just finished reading - - Beyond the Sky and the Earth: A Journey into Bhutan by Jamie Zeppa. I stumbled across it at our local library, not really expecting them to have much about Bhutan.

Here is a short review from over at

"As a teacher of English literature, Jamie Zeppa would understand how the story of her journey into Bhutan could be fit into the convenient box of "coming-of-age romance," a romance with a landscape, a people, a religion, and a dark, irresistible student. An innocent, young Catholic woman from a Canadian mining town who had "never been anywhere," Zeppa signed up for a two-year stint teaching in a remote corner of the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. Despite the initial shock of material privation and such minor inconveniences as giardia, boils, and leeches, Zeppa felt herself growing into the vast spaces of simplicity that opened up beyond the clutter of modern life. Alongside her burgeoning enchantment, a parallel realization that all was not right in Shangri-La arose, especially after her transfer to a college campus charged with the politics of ethnic division. Still she maintained her center by devouring the library's Buddhist tracts and persevering in an increasingly fruitful meditation practice. When the time came for her to leave, she had undergone a personal transformation and found herself caught between two worlds that were incompatible and mutually incomprehensible. Zeppa's candid, witty account is a spiritual memoir, a travel diary, and, more than anything, a romance that retraces the vicissitudes of ineluctable passion."

I really enjoyed her descriptions of the lansdcapes of Bhutan; the mists, and the way clouds obscure and reveal the mountains and hillsides. She sees aspects of Bhutan with a sweet sensitivity. The book is especially good in her descriptions of life in Eastern Bhutan, the Pemagatshel region down near the southern border with India.

The author was working in Bhutan from 1988 thru to late 1992. Back then World University Service of Canada had Canadians teaching English in Bhutan all throughout the different regions of the country for 2 year stints.
Reading of the different accounts of her co-workers life there in really, really out of the way places in rural Bhutan, reminded me of my Peace Corps experiences, and of my short 21 days in Bhutan. Made me very envious for the experience. Punakha monastery still remains probably the most peaceful place I have ever visited on this earth.

I recommend this book highly for those interested in Bhutan. I notice some of the Amazon customer reviewers gave the author a hard time for falling in love with one of her students. However , the student was in his 'twenties' when their affair began, and love works in mysterious ways. They did end up getting married. They , 'the reviewers', just show off their late 90s political correctness to the max, but it seems inhuman and heartless to me.

The book is well written, and the author is quite honest, though it did run out of steam the last few chapters.

Here is a great quote from the book, though it does not list what Buddhist text she found this in:

And if you hit upon the idea that this or
that country is safe, prosperous, or
fortunate, give it up, my friend. . . for you
ought to know that the world is ablaze with
the fires of some faults or others. There is
certain to be some suffering . . . and a
wholly fortunate country does not exist
anywhere. Whether it be excessive cold or
heat, sickness or danger, something always
afflects people everywhere; no safe refuge
can thus be found in the world.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Ceramic Tile painting by Fernando Andriacci

Magical art from Oaxaca, Mexico

My friend Greg was recently down in Oaxaca, Mexico, and sent me a link to
a whole bunch of photos taken while down there. This photo is of a ceramic tile painting done by Fernando Andriacci. Wild and whimsical stuff.
There is a link for his art at: Oaxaca Mexico Art.
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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Shine on Syd

It is obvious
may I say, oh baby, that it is found on another plane?

"The poppy birds way swing twigs coffee brands around.
Brandish her wand with a feathery tongue.
My head kissed the ground
I was half the way down, treading the sand,
please... Please, please lift the hand
I'm only a person with Eskimo chain
I tattooed my brain all the way...

Won't you miss me?
Wouldn't you miss me at all? - - from Dark Globe by Syd Barrett

I heard yesterday that Syd Barrett, who just turned 60, on July 6th had left his mortal coil. Now he belongs to the ages. I , in a certain way was helped by his music; I remember listening to his double album Barrett , and the Madcap Laughs, a lot in the period 1976 thru 1977, as I tried to adjust to Houston after 4 years in Austin.

I mean, I think anyone who has gone to the edge, or tripped out can appreciate some of Syd's songs, and his lyrics were poetry, of the British eccentric sort. Of course anyone who lived through the 1970s must have heard Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. It is one of the longest selling albums of all time. But, A Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Barrett, and ' The Madcaps laughs' were never all that well known, though they attained 'cult' status.

I have noticed there have been tributes to Syd all over the Web, while television, has fairly ignored his passing. I would imagine the BBC in England probably did better. In todays Zeitgest, it is as if it is impossible to talk about LSD, Barretts life, and career, his descent into incoherence on TV. At any rate doing a Google news search I did find a fairly good tribute by Richard Jinman. here are a few excerpts from:

The second death of a boy genius

"There are, or rather were, two Syd Barretts. The first, the one the fans prefer to remember, was a young, handsome, prodigiously gifted musician from an English university town who formed a group called Pink Floyd in 1965 and quickly became the undisputed leader of Britain's nascent psychedelic rock scene. It was a part he seemed born to play. Wearing the silk and velvet robes of London's hippy aristocracy, a Fender Telecaster slung around his slender shoulders, he wrote the Floyd's two early hit singles, Arnold Layne and See Emily Play.

The other Syd Barrett was a balding, slightly corpulent man who lived in the basement of his mother's Cambridge house, devoting himself to gardening and painting. This was the post-Floyd Barrett, the man who was ousted from the band in 1968 after he fried his brain on LSD and became so erratic his bandmates - the former architecture students who would go on to define 1970s rock with albums such as Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here - believed he had slipped beyond their help. This Barrett managed to record two shambolically brilliant solo albums ( The Madcap Laughs and Barrett) full of off-kilter, whimsical and distinctively English songs with titles such as Effervescing Elephant, Baby Lemonade and Terrapin. After that, silence. Barrett turned his back on music, London and the world."

Here are other small statements which I add to this post at this point: Meanwhile, David Gilmour said: "We are very sad to say that Roger Keith Barrett - Syd - has passed away."Do find time today to play some of Syd's songs and to remember him as the madcap genius who made us all smile with his wonderfully eccentric songs about bikes, gnomes and scarecrows. "His career was painfully short, yet he touched more people than he could ever know."

And Roger Waters said," He leaves behind a body of work that is both very touching and very deep. It will shine on forever."
Elsewhere, David Bowie commented: "I can't tell you how sad I feel. The few times I saw him perform in London at UFO and the Marquee clubs during the '60s will forever be etched in my mind. "He was so charismatic and such a startlingly original songwriter. Also, along with Anthony Newley, he was the first guy I'd heard to sing pop or rock with a British accent. "His impact on my thinking was enormous. A major regret is that I never got to know him. A diamond indeed."

"A few weeks ago former bandmate Roger Waters dedicated a song to Barrett at the Hyde Park Calling festival in London, 25,000 people from every conceivable background knew every word to the chorus of 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond' - a fitting coda to the life of a flawed but much admired genius.

And this: " Barrett's death makes him a mystery to the end. Unlike the other mad geniuses of the psychedelic era - Brian Wilson, Roky Erickson and Love's Arthur Lee - Barrett never came back from the edge."

One of the things I learn from Mr. Barrett and his poetry, is his courage in showing such human vulnerability, in being so authentic, just before he went silent for good. I sometimes wonder if for the rest of his time on earth,from say 1973 until he died, he lived in a time at right angles to the sense of time our Western world moves along in. Those 2 albums of his were so uncommercial, in a way an antithesis of much that was popular then or now.

I always really liked Golden Hair:
GOLDEN HAIR (These lyrics are originally from "Chamber Music" by James Joyce (1907)

Lean out your window, golden hair
I heard you singing in the midnight air
my book is closed, I read no more
watching the fire dance, on the floor
I've left my book, I've left my room
For I heard you singing through the gloom
singing and singing, a merry air
lean out the window, golden hair...

The corporate media will frame his life in a certain slamdunk, I told you so, tale of artist gone to ruin way. But they will never explore his songs very much, because they are too human, plaintitive, but whimsical, edgy, but not catchy enough to ever be able to push some product. And those who appreciate his music will go on listening to it.

May he rest in peace, a tormented soul, but a poetic soul, who pushed the boundaries , and took on the steel rail for a while. The Crazy Diamond is gone. May he shine on in new realms. Though this post is way long I will add some more lyrics:

She took a long cold look at me and smiled
and gazed all over my arm she loves to see me get down to ground
she hasn't time just to be with me
her face between all she means to be to be extreme, just to be extreme
a broken pier on the wavy sea
she wonders why for all she wants to see...
But I got up and I stomped around and hid the piece
where the trees touch the ground...

The end of truth that lay out the time
spent lazing here on a painting dream
a mile or more in a foreign clime
to see farther inside of me.
And looking high up into the sky
I breathe as the water streams over me...
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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Godzilla vs. Megalon

Meeting of Minds

I note with interest that the next Rhino release of Mystery Science Theater 3000, is going to contain - - - Godzilla vs. Megalon.
Here is the announcement at Satellite News:

We now have definitive word about The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Volume 10! Gonna be a good one! Episodes are:

Well , Godzilla vs. Megalon, at least , the MYST3K version has long been one of my favorites.
Here is an synopsis, for the uninitiated, or those that have missed seeing this cultural artifact:

"In the film, the undersea civilization Seatopia has been heavily affected by nuclear testing conducted by the surface nations of the world. Naturally upset by this, they unleash their civilization's protector, Megalon, to the surface to destroy those who would — unknowingly or not — destroy them. Agents of Seatopia attempt to steal the newly-constructed super-robot Jet Jaguar, which can apparently be used to guide and direct Megalon. They also capture the robot's inventor, Goro Ibuki, his kid brother Rokuro and their friend Hiroshi Jinkawa. After Jet Jaguar is used by the Seatopians to lure Megalon to Tokyo, Goro manages to regain control, and sends Jet Jaguar to Monster Island to bring Godzilla back to fight Megalon. An extended fight scene then takes place, with Godzilla and Jet Jaguar, the latter newly giant-sized and self-directed, fighting Megalon and Gigan in the hills outside Tokyo. The film ends with Megalon and Gigan defeated, Godzilla returning to Monster Island, and Jet Jaguar returning to his previous, human-sized state."

Okay, okay with this post I may have jumped the shark, or the Gigan so to speak, but I continue to collect Mystery Science Theater 3K episodes, and am a die hard fan. The Godzilla vs. Megalon episode is a total hoot, plus you get tag team wrestling of Godzilla and Jet Jaguar versus Megalon and Gigan.

The scene where Megalon is summoned up from the depths of Hades by the High Priest of Seatopia is priceless, priceless! A moment for the ages.
JP sez, check it out.

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