Radio Show Tonight (3/3/2017)

Tune in to Blogtalkradio.com tonight at 10:30pm. and search for The Uncommon Shaman, starring me.  I’ll be talking about quitting Facebook.  I’d like to give you a link, but WordPress won’t let me for some reason.  You can cut and paste this into your browser:

http://tobtr.com/s/9860367

And since you were kind enough to stop by, here’s a pithy comment:  Have you noticed how important it is to people to have someone to blame?  The Republicans, the Democrats, the Muslims, the Christians, Trump, whomever?  Doesn’t help us identify or solve the problem, but GOD-DAMMIT, we MUST know who’s RESPONSIBLE!

Peace,

Mud Toe

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Mud Toe Gold: “I’m Batman…No, Wait, I Take That Back”

Originally published 9/2/2013:

Adam West’s Batman was my favorite TV hero when I was growing up.  True, he was replaced by Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock when I became a teen, but the Caped Crusader was king of my single-digit years.  What I liked about him most was that he was unwavering – he never had a moment’s doubt.  Plagued by doubt as I was, even at that early age, I found his example inspiring.  Corny as it sounds, “What Would Batman Do?” got me through many a prepubescent crisis.

The Batman of my adulthood, or perhaps I should say the “Batmen,” because they are now legion, are more complex. suiting my developing and expanding consciousness.  I do not care so much who wears the cowl.  Micheal Keaton is probably my favorite, but only because his interpretation of Bruce Wayne is so understated.  A Gotham resident would never, ever, ever put Micheal Keaton’s Bruce Wayne together with Batman.  This accentuates the division of the character, Bruce vs. Batman, which spoke volumes to me as I struggled with addictions, waking each morning trying to figure out if I was really the nice guy I showed to the world or the narcissistic asshole I let out to play in the evenings.

This whole line of thought was inspired last night by one of the guys I work with in my new job at the group home.  He struck up a conversation about comic books, we found we were both Batman fans, and he asked if I wanted to watch “The Dark Knight Rises” with him.  While I had embraced the first generation of Batman movies, I’d avoided the Christopher Nolan / Christian Bale second wave simply because I was afraid of being disappointed.  Then my brother forced me to watch “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight” with him, and I’ll admit to having been intrigued.  They take the psychological aspects to a whole new level, and I was anxious to see how these issues would be resolved in Part III.   However, my driving force was removed when my brother boycotted the last film due to the presence of Ann Hathaway. (He has a blacklist.  Keanu Reeves and Catherine Zeta-Jones are on it, too).

As you all know, I have a very difficult time doing new things on my own, so it looked as if the Dark Knight would be dead to me forever, at least on film.  But when my client suggested we watch the latest film together, I didn’t feel that I could refuse, since I’m trying to build rapport and all that stuff.

Mud Toe’s Capsule Review: It was okay.

Things I Liked:  (1) the ending, which of course I can’t tell you anything about.  I will say that they leave Mr. Wayne’s fate in doubt in a way that’s entirely plausible.  He might be dead, he might be alive, either way would make sense.  (2) There’s a twist near the end, which of course I also can’t tell you anything about.  I will say that I didn’t see it coming, and I should have because they set it up earlier in the movie.  (3) There is no purity in this movie.  Everybody does something bad at some point.  This makes them easier for me to relate to them.

Things I Didn’t Like: (1) It’s way, way too long and convoluted.  Too many characters, too much going on.  The story they wanted to tell would’ve been better as a mini-series on HBO.  (2) Needs more Morgan Freeman.  I don’t want the movie to be longer, so give some of the other people’s stuff to him.  He’s a lot better than them, anyway.  (3) The chases and fight scenes are too long, have too little light, and are difficult to follow.  Or perhaps they’re too difficult to follow because I get bored after about fifteen minutes of it.

Okay, now that I’ve got that off my chest, how do I feel about the movies now, and more importantly, how do I feel about The Batman?  Well, Batman will always be my guy – no changing that.  I can’t put myself into the shoes of any other superhero.  Particularly I feel the lack of appreciation of my worth and talents from most of the people around me, making my life a never ending struggle again creeping bitterness and darkness of the soul.  And there is also the realization that material riches can never buy back my peace of mind.  But as far as putting on the Bat Suit and fighting for justice, I think I’ll just stay at my word processor.  I sure don’t want to give Bane chance to break MY back.

*****  Copyright 2013 by Mud Toe Sasquatch – all rights reserved

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Mud.Toe.Blog 1.12.17 – “The Big Man” (a work in progress)

Hey, folks!  Thanks for coming.  There a few seats still left down front, and we’re letting the kids sit here in front of the podium.  I promise I’ll watch my language.

Boy, that barbecue sure smells good, doesn’t it?  Can I have a round of applause for the lovely Miss Valerie, and all the kitchen help here at St. John’s mission?  Man, they outdo themselves every year, don’t they?  I wish I’d had them wait to start cooking until I was done talking, ’cause nobody’s going to be listening to me!  I promise I won’t take long, but I always like to start things off with the story of The Big Man.  He’s the reason we’re all here, after all.  Well, Miss Valerie would be here anyway, but we’ll get to that.  But to tell you about The Big Man, I got to remind you of a little about me.

Here is what most people know about me:  51 and 0.  That’s right, undefeated in the ring for fifteen years, a record like no other heavyweight ever had.  And brother, I’ll tell you, I had everything that goes with it, too:  money, fame, and loads of other stuff I won’t say in front of these kids.  What I didn’t get was respect.  You see, there wasn’t anybody fighting then who was near as good as me.  I didn’t have no George Foreman or Joe Frazier, like Ali had, so everybody wondered if I was really that good.  Barney Nilson from World Sports Network always said how it was a shame that I couldn’t get in a time machine and go fight Joe Louis or Jack Dempsey, so I could get a fair test, and that was a nice thing to say.  But Phil Drake from The Pugilist magazine really loved to stick the knife in me.  He always called me TECHNICALLY the best heavyweight who ever lived.  Can you believe that?  TECHNICALLY?  Sometimes, I wanted to get him in the ring and give him about five minutes of TECHNICALLY.  But that’s wouldn’t prove nothing, would it, kids?

The thing is, I started to get bored.  My fighting was getting sloppy, and I was afraid that sometime in the ring I wouldn’t be paying attention, and some damn bum would get in a lucky shot and put me on the canvas, and then I wouldn’t even have TECHNICALLY anymore.  So I decided to hang ‘em up.  Took my undefeated record and rode into the sunset.  Did some commentating, made a few action movies, did all those things that retired athletes do.  But you know what else I did?  I kept in shape.  For real, I mean.  I worked out and sparred secretly, not letting anybody know, but keeping myself ready, until that guy, that bad man who nobody wanted to fight, that dude that could help me take that TECHNICALLY off my name, would come down from heaven and answer my prayers.  And you know what?  He did exactly that!

The Big Man came down from a snowy mountain in some country in Asia that I still can’t pronounce the name of to this day.  Six feet ten inches tall, and a wingspan you couldn’t believe, straight knockin’ dudes out left and right.  Then that slimeball promoter Jefferson Carter got ahold of that freak of nature brought him to the states, and started carving a path to the championship belt for him.  In just two years, The Big Man put together a string of nineteen first round knockouts.  Six of those poor bastards spent more than a week in the hospital  (Oops, sorry about the language – I promise I’ll be more careful).  The point is, everybody in the whole damn sport was freaking out about the dude.  He was going to destroy boxing.  Every record in the book was about to be a joke.  No one could stop him.

No one ‘cept me, of course!

They all said I was crazy.  I was forty-one years old, and I hadn’t fought for five years, and I was going to put myself in the way of that human H-bomb?  I was a dead man!  That’s what they all thought, anyway, and it was fine with me.  I needed them to not believe in me.  I needed them to think I was through, finished, kaput, as old Father Fred used to say.  That’s how I was going to take a big old rubber eraser to the TECHNICALLY.

To be continued on Monday…

*** Copyright 2017 by Mud Toe Sasquatch – all rights reserved

 

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Mud.Toe.Blog 1.11.17 – “The Takei Way”

During the late unpleasantness, I distracted myself from the news by imagining who among our 320 million citizens might be better POTUS candidates than the ones who had been foisted on us.  I found myself chuckling so much that I felt I had to share, so I began posting to my Facebook page, sometimes several times a day as the cataclysm approached.  Here was my system:

(1) Select someone who was reasonably well known within pop culture, and whom one would not normally associate with politics.  It could be a real person or a fictional character, living or dead.

(2) Create a joke political slogan, either by reproducing or twisting a quote, or by proposing the qualities that would make the person a good (or at least interesting) POTUS.

Here are a few of my favorites:

WINSTON WOLFE (from “Pulp Fiction”)— He thinks fast, he talks fast, and he needs us to act fast if we want to get out of this.

KOLCHAK THE NIGHT STALKER (70′s TV series) — Expert in identifying evil entities and sending them back from whence the came, in less than 60 minutes per week. Also, great to watch with popcorn.

EMPEROR PALPATINE — for a stable and secure society (the line is from Episode III, so a lot of you probably don’t know it).

CHUCK BARRIS —because, if we’re going to pick a game-show host to be President, let’s pick one with a sense of humor.

CHAIRMAN KAGA (from “Iron Chef”) — If memory serves me right, there was never a war or a recession in his Kitchen Stadium.  Allez cuisine!

One day, while searching for this amusement, the name of George Takei occurred to me.  Of course!  thought I.  Perhaps the single most popular person on the Internet.  How could I have missed him?  The only other thing I needed was a punchline.  I thought about it.  And thought about it.  And thought about.

Then I realized that there was no punchline.

I would totally vote for George Takei.  Without hesitation.  He’s in a different universe from Donald and Hillary, and even Bernie.  He succeeded against the greatest odds imaginable, at least in a “civilized” country, and is a man of empathy and compassion.  He has worked tirelessly for social causes.  And, perhaps most important in our sad and sorry society, he is a star.  He could easily negate Trump’s fame advantage, and nearly everyone has a positive opinion of him.

The only fly in the ointment is George’s age.  By the time of the next POTUS election, he’ll be eighty-four.  And we’ve seen what the Presidency does to a man, even a much younger man.  I wouldn’t wish this on George.

But there is another possibility.  What if he ran for the Senate in 2018?  That gets him into the government two full years earlier, and he can be a beacon to attract other, quality individuals to Washington.  The incumbent is Diane Feinstein, who is three years older than he is, and might be retiring.  In any case, there would be no net gain for the Democrats if Takei is elected (presuming he ran as a Dem).  And so, George, this is what you must do:

MOVE TO A RED STATE, AND RUN FOR THE SENATE THERE!  Idaho has nice vistas.  There are places in Texas that are mostly civilized (Austin, for example), and in Florida, where the average age is 94, you’d be just a young whippersnapper!  Take up the mantle of America, George Takei!  It is your destiny!!!    Full ahead, warp factor nine!!!  Okay, sorry about that last one — I couldn’t stop myself.

*** Copyright 2017 by Mud Toe Sasquatch — all rights reserved

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Mud.Toe.Blog 1.10.17 “Fragments”

When I can’t think of anything to write about, I put down a bunch of fragments, things I might write about, but haven’t received the full package of inspiration for yet.  Sometimes, one of the ideas turns into a blog entry right then and there.  Other times, they show up as full blog entries over the next few days.  Still other times, they become nothing.  But here’s the latest batch, for better or for worse.  Only rule for tonight is “no politics.”

- They’re tearing down another crack house in my neighborhood.  There are two others they ought to tear down, because they’re safety hazards.  Both have caught fire and would probably fall down if you gave them a good shove.  At least they haven’t come after Sam’s Food, an old corner store on Sullivant and Avondale.  It’s a beautiful brick building, over a hundred years old.  I think I wrote about it here once.  I’ll have to look it up, maybe bring it back for Mud Toe Gold on Sunday.

-  How does the group feel about the three point shot?  I believe it has outlived it’s usefulness.  I remember back in the eighties when the “experts” were afraid Mark Price and World B. Free were going to destroy the sport with their 3 or 4 per game.  Didn’t Stef Curry make 18 recently?  The idea was to open up play inside, to keep defenders from collapsing on the big man.  But now, nobody even tries to work the ball inside anymore.  Why work like hell to get a 3 ft shot, when you can just bomb away from behind the line, and the shot is worth 50% more?  It’s not the game I fell in love with when I was a kid.

-  College players who leave school early for the pros should have to pay back their school for their scholarships.  Just seems like a no-brainer to me.  You wouldn’t have to pay if you stay the whole four years, or if you earn your degree early (it happens – Bernie Kosar left school a year early because he was finished).  Not quite sure what to do if there’s a red-shirt year mixed in there.  I’ll have to think about that for a while.

- Remembering the great Lyle Alzado, and his famous Sports Illustrated commercial, where he tells the announcer to give a bunch of free gifts to anyone who subscribes.  I looked for it on YouTube tonight, but could only find the ill-advised sequel.  It’s easy to forget that services like YouTube, Hulu, and Netflix aren’t true archives, or even libraries.  YouTube is especially random, because almost everything on there that’s not user-generated is stolen.  We need a Memory Alpha, as they called it in Star Trek, a place where all of the media from antiquity resides, and is accessible to anyone with an Internet connection.  Media would be entered in the archive when everyone having a financial interest in it had either died, or signed off on its inclusion.  Sorry, Sports Illustrated, NBC, and Walt Disney, but corporations would no longer be permitted to charge a toll to see the work of dead artists.

- I had a Skype conversation with my daughter and my granddaughter tonight.  It was a lot of fun, but we had technical issues – we could never see each other at the same time.  Sometimes I could see them, and sometimes they could see me, but never at the same time (we could always hear each other).  I don’t want to jump to conclusions, but I can’t remember ever having these problems with Skype before they were bought by Microsoft.  I mean, I would never attribute negative motives to the company that drove Netscape out of business, or stole Windows from Apple and then ruined it, because that would just be rude.

That’s all for now.

*** Copyright 2017 by Mud Toe Sasquatch === all rights reserved

 

 

 

 

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Mud Toe Blog 1.9.17 – “Streep”

I always tell myself that I’m not going to be upset anymore when someone breaks their social media ties with me over something I posted.  I have a big mouth (or big fingers, or a big keyboard maybe), but I do my best not to be dismissive or to make fun of the opinions of others.  I don’t always succeed, but I’ve been getting better at focusing my comments on my own opinions, and not allowing douchebaggery to leak through.

And yet, I lost friends over one comment I’d make about the Washington Redskins name debate.  A former lover broke all ties with me over my failure to vote in a governor election that the incumbent won by about 80 points (well, to be fair, she was probably more mad at me for posting a public prayer to Spirit, forgiving people who had publicly wronged me, although she wasn’t the only one, and I didn’t use her name).  The lady who ran a local shadowcasting group, and who had expressed some admiration with my writing, disappeared from my list shortly after I wrote that the Dems didn’t really understand why they’d lost the POTUS election, and they needed to stop whining and get to work recapturing the hearts and minds of the people.  OK, too soon maybe, but I’ve never been sentimental.

I’ve adopted a few rules that keep me out trouble, if and when I can remember to follow them.  The biggest one is to avoid jumping on someone else’s thread.  My experience is that when someone makes a political or religious post, they are not interested in having a discussion so much as being agreed with.  If I have something to say, I post it myself, briefly, and with only the amount of cynicism necessary to satisfy my soul.   And mostly, my friends who might disagree will give me a pass, after posting a long, long lecture pointing up the error of my ways.  Just lately, I’ve found that I’ve adjusted to these strange, new times, and I can just be in the moment, without having to set the world to rights.

Then came the Golden Globe awards.

Full disclosure:  I am a big admirer of Meryl Streep’s.  I don’t disagree with anything she said, and Mr. Trump’s reaction to it was just dumb.  That said, I feel that, just like the “Hamilton” dude some weeks ago, Ms. Streep was out of line.  And as soon as my liberal friends stop screaming, I’ll tell you why.

It is true, she had the pulpit, and I’m sure she was told she could do whatever she wanted with it.  But it was not her pulpit, the Golden Globes was not her event, and NBC was not her network.  By making their platform her own, she called down on them any little piece of trouble she might bring to the party.  I’ve already seen a meme pointing out that Ms. Streep is a big supporter of well-known fugitive from justice Roman Polanski, a fact that has nothing to do with any of the issues Ms. Streep raised, but is now part of the discussion nonetheless. Unlike most of us, Ms. Streep doesn’t have to wait for the camera to find her — she can have the pulpit any time she wants it.  If she wants to speak out on current events, it would be far more appropriate to create her own time and space, and then the collateral damage would descend only on her.

Ms.  Streep is being praised for “making a difference.”  I posit that she likely made no difference at all — those who dislike Mr. Trump probably still dislike him, and those who like Mr. Trump are probably burning their VHS copies of “The Devil Wears Prada” as we speak.  I would suggest that, if she really wants to make a difference, she invest some money in finding a candidate with moderate positions who has some appeal in a red state, and convincing him/her to run for the Senate in 2018.  Or, if she likes being at the podium so much, maybe she should run herself.  Of course, she’d have to come up with some spin on that whole Polanski thing.

Now, if I do say so myself, I have taken a reasoned, non-hysterical position.  If you just can’t stand that, then I guess you need to go now, because it’s all I know how to do.

*** Copyright 2017 by Mud Toe Sasquatch – all rights reserved

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Mud Toe Gold – article previously posted in January, 2014

The Ultimate Test of Cerebral Fitness (1/20/14)

Posted on January 20, 2014 by mudtoe

The authorities labeled me as “smart” very early in my life, forever cancelling any chance I’d had for a normal childhood.  Being smart, I was expected to do and like certain things, in much the same way as a boy who grows to seven feet in height is expected to be a basketball player, whether he really wants to or not.

The game prescribed for me was chess, and I never really liked it.  Now, I’m not talking about messing around with friends and relatives in the den or in the car or under the trees in the backyard.  I’m talking about SERIOUS chess with people who are SERIOUS ABOUT chess.  Even at that young age, I had hoped that maybe people who were “Smart, Like Me” would be like me in other ways, for example, not competitive.  How wrong I was!  My chess peers saw the game not only as a measure of relative intelligence, but also as a gauge of one’s value as a human being.

Of course, chess is not a fair measure of intelligence – it’s all about pattern recognition, patience, and experience, but don’t try telling the chessters that.  Theirs is a universe bounded by the game, and nothing else matters.  Man, thought I, this is really what I’m supposed to be?  I’d rather wander around town with my camera, watch ballgames, and chase girls.  Why was I not offered that option?

My career as a competitive chess player started when I was thirteen, and lasted for four months.  I was politely asked to leave by my coach and the team captain, who acted as if they were concerned that I might slit my wrist upon hearing the news.  I spent the rest of the day at the park, and I can’t remember ever feeling better in my life.

The main reason they wanted me out was not that I was so bad – it was because I didn’t have the proper “competitive attitude,” or that’s what they said.  A look at my match record gives some insight into this:  I had zero wins, one loss, and seventeen draws.  You see, I’m an Aquarius, and I’m easily bored.  I’d start off well, then lose focus and start making mistakes.  But I had learned to recognize and exploit the patterns related to earning a draw once I could not longer win.  So I did it.   I though it was fair, but the coaches, my opponents, and even my teammates hated me for it.  It got to where I hated going to practice.  I was ecstatic to be released, and as I watched the Little Leaguers in the park that day, I swore that chess would never again be part of my life.

Over the 35 years from then until now, I’ve done pretty well in that regard.  But quite recently, I found myself fulfilling a social obligation with a casual acquaintance I’ll call Simon.  I won’t take up time with the details – I’ll just tell you that I was going to be with him for three hours and there was no way out.

Simon wanted to play chess.

Well, it won’t be so bad, thought I.  I actually won the first couple of games.  But then, my focus waned.  I started to think about other places I might be just then, and I started making mistakes.  Then I was forced into going for a draw, and then another one.  It was kind of cool that I still remembered that stuff, but all I could think of was how much I didn’t like to play chess and how much I didn’t want to be playing chess.  Then Simon scored a win, and his bray of triumph was almost more than I could stand.  I excused myself to visit the restroom and get some water.

We’d only been playing for one hour – two hours left to go, and I’d already been seconds from clobbering poor Simon in the jaw.  These days, I have the maturity and insight to realize it’s about me and not him, but I still have to figure out effective ways to intervene myself.  What would I do?

I realized one thing that was bothering we was the rapid pace Simon had set – we’d gotten through six complete games in just one hour.  What if I could slow it down, and in so doing give my mind something to do that didn’t have anything to do with the chess game?  So when I returned, I kept an eye on the clock on the wall, and made sure I took two full minutes before each move.  Then I calculated how many more moves there would be in two hours, and how many more games there were likely to be, and estimated all manner of game play milestones, updating those estimates as we played on.

I thought Simon might complain about my slow pace, but he never did, so I pushed the time up to three minutes.  I furrowed my brow and pretended to be deep in thought.  Sometimes I’d reach toward the board, then pretend to change my mind and draw my hand back.  And often, I’d just sigh, shake my head, and look at Simon, as if his prowess had confounded me totally.

Before long, Simon and I were singing along to the songs he was playing on Spotify, joking about each other’s singing, and having a grand time.  I stayed fifteen extra minutes to finish our last game.  In the car on the way home, I thought, I actually had a good time.  How the hell did that happen?

For years I thought that I hated chess, but as it turns out, it was really the feeling of being trapped within the expectations of others that was making me squirm.  As I struggle to find a livelihood that utilizes my talents and soothes my soul, I often find myself feeling trapped in this way.  At least now I know that I’m clever enough to find a way out.

And there is nothing wrong with a draw, nothing at all.  I will never tease my soccer friends again.

***** Copyright 2014 by Mud Toe Sasquatch – all rights reserved

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Mud Toe Media – weekly schedule as of 1/7/2017

Monday – Thursday:  ”Mud Toe Blog” daily entries on Mudtoesasquatch.com

Friday: “The Uncommon Shaman” radio show, at 10:30pm on Blogtalkradio.com.

Saturday: Open day for meditation and reflection

Sunday: “Mud Toe Gold” – another look at a classic Mud Toe blog

Mud Toe observes all US holidays, and typically does not work on his birthday.

 

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Mud Toe Blog 1.5.17 – “My Little Candle”

I was working on a list of things I’ve never done or experienced:  seeing the movie “Avatar,” or being stung by a bee, or breaking a bone.  I was about to write that I’d never made a piece of art that was appreciated by anyone other than my parents, but as I wrote it out, it occurred to me that it wasn’t true.  Allow me to tell you the story.

For a few years during my extreme youth, I lived in the northeast suburbs of Columbus.  Not long ago, I found myself in the area, and decided to have a walk (or drive) down memory lane.  I found my house, still in rather good shape forty years later, and the tree we’d planted in the front yard one arbor day had made respectable progress skyward.  I found most of my old friends’ houses, and the place where I went to Cub Scout meetings.  Locating my old school was a bit more difficult, because I didn’t know the address, and could only go by my ancient memories of walking there, day in and day out.  But in due course, I found it, and I selected the most unobtrusive parking spot I could find (one does not wish to appear to be child molester, does one?) outside the side door.  Inside and to the left, if things hadn’t changed, was the gym.  Straight back was the “pod,” a big open classroom space that was popular at the time.  To the right was the activity room, the nursing station, the library, and the office.  And, of course, the big display case, where the students’ artistic wares were shown to the world.  This was what I was interested in.

We didn’t have an art room.  Art classes were in the activity room, which also served as the music room, meeting room for the teachers, and the cafeteria.  Like most things, I wasn’t any damn good at art, but unlike my other areas of shortcoming, I don’t remember anyone making fun of me because of it.  Perhaps that was because our art teacher, Mrs. Aldis, was so sweet.  We all loved her, and we all wanted to please her, but I alone was certain I would marry her someday.  No matter if we were working with clay, or watercolors, or wood blocks, or those sheets of copper that you scratched stuff on, she always had the highest praise for me, and for all of us.  But I was sure she liked me best.

One day, she brought in some paraffin so we could pour candles.  Of course, she did all the real work, but we each still claimed credit for our creations.  Each of us was to bring in a glass jar to use for our candle container.  I waited until the last minute, and all mom had available were my brother’s baby food jars, so I was experiencing severe container envy.

My turn with the wax came.  Mrs. Aldis said, “Pick your color!”  I said, “I’m not sure…blue maybe.”  So she started pouring the blue, and I said, “Wait, no I don’t like that.  Can I have yellow instead?”

She frowned just a bit and said,  ”Well, I think the wax will stick to the sides if we try to pour it out.  But, if we wait a few minutes, we could pour the yellow on top of the blue, and you’d have both!  Wouldn’t that be great!”

Her enthusiasm was contagious.  I happily waited for the yellow to come around, and as she poured the first splash, I said, “Stop!  Let’s go green next!”

“Aha!” she laughed, “Just like a layer cake!  I like the way you think!”  I don’t think I’ve ever been happier in my life, at least up to that point.  By the end of the class, I had eight color layers in that tiny jar.  ”Brilliant,” she said, holding up so the class could see.  Then, she turned back to me and said, “You know, I think this belongs in the display case.  Is that okay with you?”

Was it okay with me????  It was the crowning achievement of my young life!  From then on, I couldn’t pass by the spot without stopping and admiring my work.  This canceled out the fact that I couldn’t throw any kind of ball, or do a flip on the trampoline.  I mattered!  Here was irrefutable proof!

At the end of the school year, I didn’t realize I would be going up to the Middle School the next year, so I never asked for the candle back, so there it stayed.  I thought of it often, thought.  But that was forty years ago.  Mrs. Aldis had to be long gone, retired, maybe even dead (most of my old teachers are).  All the art in that case had long since been cleared away, of course, and put on a storage shelf someplace, or probably thrown out.  There was no reason, none at all, for me to believe that my little candle could still be there after all this time.  Still, I sat in the car, fighting the urge to go in that door and look.  When school let out for the day, I thought it unwise to hang around.  But I thought about that candle, and that wonderful time, all the way home.

Maybe I should write them a letter.

*** Copyright 2017 by Mud Toe Sasquatch – all rights reserved

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Mud Toe Blog 1.4.17 – “Camera”

When I grew up, I wanted to direct the TV news. There was a technical school, not a half an hour from where I lived, where I could learn how to run a TV camera and a mixing board. I could live at home, and I wouldn’t even have to give up my girlfriend. And, when I was done, I’d go to the big city, get a job at a big TV station, and work my way up. I’d do important stuff, I’d get to speak to schoolkids and ladies groups all the time, I’d win Emmys, and maybe I’d even get to be in a local car commercial or two. I didn’t even think about the big time — local TV news was what I really, really wanted.

But in the fall of ’82, I took the ACTs and SATs, and I posted great big numbers. So the principal and the guidance counselors and my teachers asked me breathlessly, “What do you want to be?” I told them about the camera thing, and they said, “Oh, no, no, no, no, no! That’s much to trivial for someone like you! You need to do something great! You need to be a lawyer or a doctor, not just some guy behind a camera!”

Before long, my big test numbers attracted mail from colleges. With numbers like mine, they said, I could probably go to their school for free, study just about anything, and bestride the academic world like a colossus. I must say, I loved the attention. And if I went to tech school first, the big scholarship offers probably wouldn’t be there for me later, which as kind of dumb, since I wasn’t going to be LESS smart at 20 or 25 than I was at 18. That’s what’s funny — who really knows what they want to do with the rest of their lives when they’re still a teenager? Still, we are expected to decide, and as fall faded into winter, my resolve weakened.

If I did go for the college dream, what would it look like? One thinks about the Ivy League schools first, I guess, and I did hear from them. Something I had hoped for in my college experience, though, was to find more people who were like me, more or less ordinary people with big memory and a talent for figuring things out, and when I thought “Ivy League,” I didn’t think that. Instead, I pictured hyper-competitive “chosen ones” who would just as soon slit your throat (metaphorically) as look at you. Then, there were the military academies. My family was acquainted with our state senator, so a nomination may have been possible for me, but there is a certain element of danger involved in taking a military education. Desert Storm happened in what would have been the last year of my hitch. I have nothing but respect for those who join the military, and if I was ever called upon to go, I would not be among those flocking to the border — I would do my duty. But as long as it’s still up to me, I think I’ll pass.

In another intriguing possibility, my family opened up discussions with my mother’s cousin, who was a newspaper editor in California. If I established residency with him, then I could go to a California school for free, and apply my scholarship money to other expenses. I’d had mail from USC and UCLA, and I could almost smell the margaritas and suntan lotion.

Then there was this little tiny private school in Terre Haute, Indiana, called Rose Hulman Institute of Technology. They sent me more mail than anyone else, and it was in the form of little comic books, describing what it was like to attend their school. I liked the idea of a small school, where I wouldn’t get lost, and it was also all male, which (I imagined) would make it easier to stay true to my sweetheart.

In the end, however, I stayed close to home and enrolled at Ohio State. My mentors were a bit disappointed that I didn’t go for the gusto, but were happy that I was going to a four-year college and studying to be an engineer, and not just a lowly technician. I can’t say that I regret my decision, because I’ve gone to some interesting places and met a lot of great people, but it’s become a dead end for me. At over 50 years old, I’ve been out of work for four and half years, and my education has actually become an impediment to my finding work.

But you know what? I still think about that camera, and that TV news floor. I don’t know how I would I would ever pay for the training, but I’ve certainly got the time. Is it too late for this faded superstar to recapture his dream?

*** Copyright 2017 by Mud Toe Sasquatch – all rights reserved

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