Allergic to Beer?

Woe is me!

I am forced to conclude that I am allergic to something in beer. I love beer, especially Czech beer, but it hates me.

Last night, I had four glasses of beer with a friend. This morning, I am dizzy, throbbing headache, my right eye is swollen up and my sinuses too and I have a sore throat on that side too. In short, I feel pretty crappy to say the least. I have been getting this sort of reaction to most beers this last few years but this time is the worst. If I drink wine, whiskey or anything else, I am fine so it really is beer.

My father suffered the same fate. The older he got the more beer seemed to dislike him. A pint of Fosters Lager was about all he could manage in the end without a similar sort of reaction.

So I am afraid that I must now stop drinking beer. Aging is such an insult.

 

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Talent

Talent. It is a strange thing. Some people ooze it without effort while others strive for it. A talent is a gift and it is a shame when a talent isn’t used.

I purchased a guitar for my eldest son Paul when he was quite small. He picked at it and strummed it as small kids do and then it gathered dust. I did try to teach him some chords but he seemed to have little interest. He took up violin in school and actually became quite good at it. He did study music as well.

One long hot Houston summer, I came home from work to discover Paul playing my electric guitar. Hours and hours on end in his room he strummed and played. after a few days, he could already play solos I could not. He asked for lessons and so I took him to a local guitar teacher for beginners. Within a couple of weeks, he was well past that teacher and so we found another. This one kept him going for about 6-months and then he was done too. We needed a real guitar virtuoso – a shredder who knew the theory and we found one in the shape of Joel Gregoire.

Within a few months of lessons from Joel, Paul was playing beyond anything I had ever witnessed. He had been playing a few months and was already capable of intricate and complex and fast (was he ever fast) compositions. Of course, he loved music like Opeth and other guitar-oriented metal and progressive rock bands and tried to emulate them. He entered a national competition and although very nervous and shy, he won the local round! He hit a few bum notes but otherwise wowed everyone present.

He started composing too and we went in to a local studio and came out with Flight of the Mongoose. Flight of the Mongoose was a hit with the music community being download thousands of times. He worked with Joel to record a couple of other tracks as well. He spent a summer at the Berkeley School of Music in Boston. If I had been him, I would have been in bands, playing live and looking for fame and fortune. But not Paul. He wasn’t good enough you see and couldn’t seem to understand that it is the little imperfections that make music interesting.

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His talent went to waste through college. When he emerged again, his musical taste had changed and so when he picked up the guitar again he chose to emulate the Gypsy Jazz players he so admired. Again, he recorded little bits and pieces but that search for perfection seems to always haunt him.

These days he has a job and he is busy. He is already looking at 30. He is the best guitarist I have ever seen or heard (other than Joel Gregoire). But other than for this sneaky post and one or two book promo videos I made using his guitar as a background, that seems destined to be a secret. Its a shame I think. I would have given my left leg to play like he does…

Oh, don’t get me started on his hockey and American Football talents either……

What it taught me as a father is that, while you can encourage your kids to develop their talents, you cannot live life through them. They want different things and have different needs and in the end, it is their life.

(Click the links to listen and download)

Here are a couple of book promotion videos I made using some of Paul’s more recent work as music.

Time

Time – He’s waiting in the wings
He speaks of senseless things
His script is you and me boys

I have been spending some time moving photos to the iMAC where they can be properly backed up. We have accumulated over 15,000 photos in 9-years and I am not done yet. The work is tedious as it involves copying directories from various machines to storage sticks and then uploading them into iPhoto on the iMAC. Of course, there are many duplicates and things are all mixed up so de-duping is the next step and then organizing into albums that make sense could take me the rest of my life.

Back in Houston, there are thousands of photos somewhere documenting the first 46-years of my life. I have a handful of those here but would dearly like to know that they aren’t rotting in a box somewhere in storage or even worse, discarded like so much trash. I guess, because of the number of devices capable of taking photos, the number of photos we take is increasing more or less exponentially. My entire 6-year student career probably produced 200 photos printed on paper and stored in those envelopes. The last 6-years has probably produced 10,000 photos and short videos. Many extremely precious.

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Going through photos is interesting. Events that seem like they happened yesterday turn out to have taken place 8-years ago? Where did the time go? Do I have enough left to waste sat here trying to organize the photos or even look at them? Right now, if I looked at every photo on my iMAC for just 5 seconds it would take 1.2 whole days!

The sniper in the brain, regurgitating drain
Incestuous and vain,
and many other last names
I look at my watch it say 9:25 and I think
“Oh God I’m still alive”

(Time lyrics copyright David Bowie)

Lady

She gently brushes my graying face
With her sweet and airy breath
Her musky fragrance pervades
The hallowed space around me
I have plumbed her depths
And I have drank her deeply
Yet, still she is a mystery to me

anima

She gave me life and sustenance
She washed away my pain with her tears
Her embrace is like eternity
She is beneath me and above me
She is always all around me
I breathe in her fragrance deeply
I am hers utterly, completely

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Within me and without me
The divine waters ebb and flow
She is my soul. She is my Goddess
She is Life and she will be my death
She is the Grail that I have sought
She is the beginning and the end
She is this life that I have wrought

sheela

She gave me will to use or abuse
A gift from the Lady in the Lake
She waited patiently as I grew away
Wizened, she peeled away the years
And upon my return, I found an unspoiled maiden
Who took me back and lead me on
We danced together back to the one…
And eternity

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Japan and Birmingham

I play a lot of music during the day as I work in my home office. It never ceases to amaze me the power of music. In particular, its power to evoke memories and trigger mood and emotional responses. If I want to meditate, I simply go to youtube these days and select a nice suitable piece of music and I am off to other spheres…..

Today, I played some Japan. It has been a long time since I did and I was immediately transported back to Birmingham and 1979. My best friend at college – Steve – introduced me to Japan one afternoon at his flat. We were playing Dungeons and Dragons and he put one of their albums on. I loved the music and the deep rumbling of David Sylvian’s voice. I immediately went out and bought that record – and the next and the next. I devoured Japan music. Now, I listen and I am back in that room all of those years ago……. that is the power of music. 35-years on but ‘Nightporter’ sends me back in time every time.

I also went to see Japan. In Glasgow while doing my Ph.D. Perhaps they were an acquired taste but I could get no one to go with me and so I went alone. Amazing evening. Given it was a sell out at the Glasgow Apollo I have to wonder why none of my friends wanted to go? The music of Japan accompanied me to Nova Scotia and periodically through my life. I still adore David Sylvian’s voice and have two of his solo efforts too.

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It makes me wonder. What music will I associate with now? In a few years time, will I be transported back to my office in our apartment here in Brno by the sound of some artist or song? I guess I will.

Here is some David Sylvian to float to –

 

 

Lifelines

Lifelines
In indelible ink
Or the tattoo on my navel
Lifelines
Seared across my open palm
Experienced by the ladle

Snapped shut, my eyes
Drift across
Dreamy inner scenes
A life in perspective
Seeking a new directive

A sure beginning
A waning middle
And uncertain end
Simple sensational synapses
Reliable renewables relapses

I act but did I intend?
I hope and I depend
That the light at the end of my tunnel
Is relief and not further trouble

I got my opinions
And I got my views
Imagination aplenty
Creating cryptic critical crises
With dependable dull devices

Lifelines
In my biological genes
In the redness of my blood
Lifelines
Is it really pre-ordained
Or am I truly self-sustained?

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I was Troubled. Now I am Astonished.

The other day I was participating in a discussion on Facebook. The theme of the topic was the supermarkets here in Brno and one person posted a very long tirade about empty shelves. I was amazed. Empty shelves? Where? When? This was such an opposite to my experience with Brno supermarkets that I responded rather too quickly. I said something like – you must live in a parallel universe…..

Of course, he took this as insulting, not knowing me. I think probably anyone would. But I actually meant it. It wasn’t an insult but an observational analysis that, as I grow older I more and more believe may be true. We all live in our own realities and we reflect back what we expect. It’s not quite that simple of course, but in a nutshell he sees the empty shelves of his own making and I see the full shelves of my making. It’s the glass half empty or half full thing isn’t it. Who would have thought I would be the half full person!?

You see people caught up in their self-constrained belief systems torturing themselves and those around them, whereas others live life full of expectation and optimism. You see people willingly being negative and walking around creating the little cloud above them. Of course, the Matrix is full of influencers and motivators that play on, feed, and drive these realities. The world is really more like that Star Trek episode where they land on a planet and are fed back what they expected, than it is like the Matrix.

It might be simple to manage if it were just me or you, but the real fun comes in how we interact and how our little realities impinge upon others. Your problems become mine and so on – if I let them. We create our own realities, but are influenced by the collective drivers (fear, sex, wealth, love, hate etc.) and, at the same time, interact with the realities of those around us. Surround yourself with happy people….. trust me. It’s the way to go.

How we create that reality is as much about our upbringing, cultural origins and so on – the collective we are a part of – as anything else. To see the world differently, we have to escape that collective for another and another and another, until suddenly it becomes clear…. I am having my creativity dictated to me. It is then that we look inwards for the truth. We get glimpses of that truth and what we see is truly shocking. Rather than purposeful, willful beings creating a meaningful reality, we are robots, slaves or sheep (pick your term) working to help others create their reality!

To get to this point, we have to go through some personal pain because we have to reject so many things that we once accepted, nay believed, to be the truth. Stripping away the chains of bondage and layers of control is painful both to us and to those around us; who just don’t get it and who see their comfortable reality threatened by ours. We end up alone, apart and isolated. But then we understand that we have to interact. We have to replace the collective drivers for everyone else as well as ourselves. The only way to do that is to interact, experience life, have compassion, be grateful and step forward in self-mastery. A very difficult if not impossible mandate.

Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds. When he finds, he will become troubled. When he becomes troubled, he will be astonished, and he will rule over the All.”

“If those who lead you say to you, ‘See, the kingdom is in the sky,’ then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty.”

“Recognize what is in your sight, and that which is hidden from you will become plain to you . For there is nothing hidden which will not become manifest.”

His disciples questioned him and said to him, “Do you want us to fast? How shall we pray? Shall we give alms? What diet shall we observe?” Jesus said, “Do not tell lies, and do not do what you hate, for all things are plain in the sight of heaven. For nothing hidden will not become manifest, and nothing covered will remain without being uncovered.”

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Gospel of Thomas source – The Gnostic Society Library