Long lost to time, music returns…

The time was somewhere in the early 1990’s, 92 or 93. I was a young impressionable 13 year old. My mother was a die hard music fan. She purchased an album every week from the mid 50’s to about 1998. She amassed a huge collection. One day, at the store, she bought a cassette “Crystal New Age” was what I remembered the title as.  It was probably the last cassette we ever bought, transitioning to CD’s shortly thereafter. She did not care for the music (too instrumental- whatever that means), and gave it to me to listen to.

I was of the habit to listen to music at night, in complete darkness as I drifted to sleep. That Cassette was amazing in that I could never sleep to it. It was catchy, relaxing and invigorating at the same time. I only had that tape for maybe 3 weeks, and I listened to it every night for those weeks. It became my favorite tape. Sadly, It was destroyed by the family pet one afternoon and was disposed of. We returned to the store to see if another copy was available, but it was not. I, although disappointed, moved on.

 In time, I forgot the whole title, and could never recall the composer. Every now and then I would think of that Tape, and do a search. “Crystal New Age Music early 1990’s anything that would give me a lead. Sadly it never turned up a clue.

 Tonight I was browsing some music, and I heard something Called “The Light”. I did not recognize the song, but I could detect something familiar in it. I found it came from “The Silent Path”, and a man named Robert Haig Coxon. I thought back to that Tape from 20 years ago. Could it be?

 Well. You can guess the ending of the tale as I am sitting here writing to you! I found an old CD of that same tape “Crystal New Age: The Music Experience (Listener’s Choice Vol. 11)” was apparently the title I should have been searching for.

I do not know what coincidence of the universe led me across you, but I am glad that it happened. Hello again, after 20 years! I’ve missed you.

 Michael Ponte

Tonight I wrote this email to a man who’s music spoke to my soul 20 years ago.

91cAIqqI6JL._SL1404_R-3025495-1312285954

The Pink Canadian cover was far superior to my American proto-photoshop version. Seeing it was like finding a long lost friend though.  I do not know why it connected as strongly as it did, but that’s why music is so special. The particular arrangement of a few chords? The type of synthesizers he used in 1991? I hear this, particularly track #3 “Soft Surf”, and #11 “Inner Garden” and its like I am transported somewhere else. Not just the early 90’s, but somewhere beyond time, a place our soul remembers.

April 29th, 2013- a rough day becomes a GREAT day.

Similarly themed movies released in same year, or close.

I discussed this phenomena during my look back at all the films I have seen in the theater. Often times, there are 2 movies being produced concurrently, that deal with the same subject- 2 asteroid movies, 2 volcano movies etc. Some kind redditor made a listing of 29 of these incidences. A couple are spaced apart by a few years (Taken and Stolen for example) and I would consider that a bit of a stretch. The rest are solid though. Enjoy!

 

http://imgur.com/a/J5j6L

 

Mad Men returns!

I am a bit busy with family matters, but I thought I would chime in, BRIEFLY, with some thoughts on the new season of Mad Men.

mad-men-season-6-key-art-amc

Don Draper is in a bad BAD place. No doubts about it. The premiere episode was focused almost entirely on death. From the Heart Attack opening to the broken ticker, to Don’s apparent suicidal subconscious, this episode laid some heavy things on Winter 1967. The next episode was another shocker as we delved deeper into Don’s newest mistress, and saw Pete Campbell’s marriage begin to fall apart. This season seems to mark a major turning point in what this show is, and where these characters are headed. I can’t help but think this is leading to the death of Don Draper, or at least Don shedding the phony name and becoming Dick Whitman again.

We have watched as Don lived a lie for years. He is not Don Draper. That is a phony personage. That poster for the season really says a lot. The bright Gray suited Don heading towards Madison Ave, and the Dark suited side, without briefcase, looking concerned- looking over his shoulder, walking AWAY. One Way, and he is against it. The Police are there…could he finally be caught for what he did? Who is the woman he is holding hands with? This season should be remarkable.

Crazy stuff!!

05MADMEN-articleLarge

told you it would be brief.

You gotta be kidding me…

We planned to head to Boston for Patriots Day events, possibly stopping by the Marathon.

We decided to sleep in that morning.

603717_10201142579311727_1747673395_n

The whole world knows of the bombings during the marathon this week. It has dominated the news channels like nothing since maybe 9/11, around here at least. On Thursday night, the photos of the suspects were made public. I went to sleep hoping they are found. I awoke to discover an alarming connection.

 

Dzhokar Tsarnaev, the younger of the suspected bombers was on the run. Following a happenstance event where they were spotted, which led to the murder of a poor police officer, the Tsarnaev brothers went on the run from the police. As I was slumbering down in Swansea, an epic firefight was unfolding in Watertown. Buckets of bullets flew through normally quiet neighborhoods. The suspects threw hand fashioned bombs at pursuing police. It is a miracle more cops, or innocent bystanders, weren’t hurt. The chase came to a stop, Tamerlan, the older brother/ occasional boxer/ suspected brains behind the operation was dead due to bullets and a possible explosion due to his own bombs (details to follow I am sure). Dzhokar ran away on foot…

Early this morning, I awaken to visit the necessary. I don’t have to be anywhere for several hours, so I reach for my phone/alarm clock to get a couple more hours of sleep. My News App had gone insane overnight, with Breaking news reports filling the screen. I read them, and am amazed and horrified at the spectacle of Watertown. I let me wife know whats happening and we turn on the news. They bombers are now identified, no longer “Black Hat, and White Hat”. The younger appears to be a college student at Umass Amherst. I then get an email/text message/ and voicemail from my college (from which I am trying to graduate this year).

Classes are cancelled.

At this point, I did not make the connection. I continued watching the news. Then another message comes…

Mandatory Campus Evacuation.

At this time, the news confirms that he is not a student at Amherst…

My blood runs cold. Sure enough, Dzhokar Tsarnaev is a student, one of my peers, at Umass Dartmouth. My fellow students start blowing gaskets on facebook. More message follow of evacuation plans and what to do if you are a resident and not a commuter. The maniac had a dorm on Campus.

Shocked does not begin to describe how I felt. If I thought I was close to these events because of my Boston connections this week, or being a Massachusetts resident, a New Englander, or an American, nothing compared to realizing this murderer was someone I could have walked past 100 times over the last couple years. I might have eaten in the same room as this person.

Shocked.

I went to work, and monitored the radio closely, Wifey was listening to Police Scanners for the REAL story. We heard that Police, National Guard, Homeland Security, FBI had the Campus on lockdown. a couple of helicopters had landed on the quad.

524637_10151414977929331_781596216_n

Then it happened.

I was on my lunch break, and a loud rumble could be heard. We all rushed outside and saw 6 Blackhawk Helicopters flying in formation over Somerset, MA- heading west towards UMass. Oh my. Seeing these machines fly overhead, with my own eyes, drove home that this was actually real. This is not some distant event, but something that will have a bearing, although short term, on my life.

This will dominate the final weeks of the semester. It will be front and center at commencement. This guy was one of us.

That scares the hell out of me.

 

Today was a real shitty day. Please pardon my french.

I awoke this morning around 8am, still basking in the afterglow of a wonderful Sunday afternoon in Boston for a Red Sox game. I sat at my computer, had some breakfast and then studied for an exam on Tuesday morning. My wife arose from bed around 10:30, today is a holiday in Massachusetts, and we puttered around for a little bit, laundry, dishes etc.

I decided to do a few things this afternoon.

1: Go to Tax office to pick up some documents to be mailed.
2: Mail documents to Department of Revenue (Tax day, yay)
3: Visit my Uncle in the hospital- recovering from routine hip surgery.
4: Get some lunch

One, Two

We left the house and went to the office, got the documents and headed to the post office. We arrive at a BUSTLING post office and get in line. While waiting, we figure we will sign the documents and prepare them for mailing. (we should have done this at tax office). Surprise- every damn pen in our local Post Office is DRY! Serously. We leave, go back to the house, grab pen, and sign. We then return to Post and mail the papers. 1 and 2 done, but annoyingly so.

Three

We head to St. Anne’s Hospital to visit my uncle Billy, who had some hip work done the other day. Sadly, he was REALLY out of it due to the exertion of the surgery on a disabled 63 year old, and some sedatives. He smiled his giant smile when he saw me and then kept going in and out of consciousness due to a stressful morning of tests. We hugged and kissed him goodbye and left him to get some sleep. We left a bit bummed that he was so drugged and unlikely to remember our visit.

Four

We head across the street to my favorite restaurant in the area for some lunch. It is closed. Great. We then drive across town to another favorite. They are now closed on Monday and Tuesday. Awesome. We finally go to the local supermarket and buy some food to cook into lunch. More time wasted.

The afternoon arrives and as we settle, the horrible news out of Boston arrives. See my previous post for my feelings, which are angry, sad, and a whole slew of confusion. After a few mind numbing hours of the tragedy, we have some dinner and start playing some video games. Not 10 minutes into gaming my phone rings….

There were complications with my Uncle at the hospital. Shortly after we left, he began to exhibit signs that something was very wrong. They rushed him to the ICU. He was stabilized, but after a few hours began to worsen. They began emergency procedures on him but were unsuccessful. He passed away around 7pm.

History

When I was a little boy, we had the whole family in one house.

My Grandparents (Paternal)..(I was ‘He-Man’ lol)

scan0016

My Parents (I was an idiot as a kid)

scan0002

My brother and I (flanking my pal Nick)

scan0001

and my Uncle Billy (barefoot after doing some yard work no doubt. he loved it)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Billy was mentally disabled, but extremely high functioning. He loved gardening and yardwork- his profession on weekend with my grandfather. They would grow champion sized Pumpkins in the backyard. (I am the large pumpkin on the left)

scan0021

 

I recall a moment, around age 11, when my Grandfather sat us down following the death of my Grandmother. He said (I paraphrase) “Someday I am going to die. I don’t want Billy to be sent to a mental hospital or nursing home.”  (his conception of these places were the old school ideas that Mental hospital equals hell on earth). “This is as much his house as it is yours. He never goes in a home. He will be here until he dies” End of story.

Uncle, Dad, and Vuvu (grandfather)

My Grandfather died about 2 years later. My father followed him 3 years after that. My mother became custodian of my father’s brother. It was challenging, but we were family, and we made it work. As time went on, my mother’s health began to seriously decline. I, about 22, began to pick up the slack. I cleaned the house and took care of groceries. I took my Uncle out to eat, and to his Dr visits. In 2005, my mom passed away. The burden was now fully on my wife and I.

I kept things together pretty strongly for a while. Then in 2010, the situation deteriorated. My Uncle began to slow down physically. Little was thought of it, as we figured it was just aging. The Dr visits were normal. Then he began to need help getting dressed, bathing, and using stairs. The doctor said it was due to an inactive lifestyle. We began Physical Therapy, another multiple times a week commitment. He showed improvement, but he still needed help with basic necessities. Luckily he could still use the bathroom…until he couldn’t. We attempted to solve this by getting one of those toilet seats that are raised with the handlebars. It worked like a charm. He was hobbled, needed supervised baths, and help with stairs, and needed a walker, but he was still in the house, and was happy. He loved the dogs too!

IMG_0249

Then he started to slide, almost imperceptibly. Over the Summer of 2010, he slowly needed more and more help. A neighbor noticed his condition and actually reported us to social services. They did a full investigation and found no fault and actually said that we were taking decent care of him considering his condition. It was around this point that they helped me realize that he needed assistance from outside. They made me realize that he was starting to deteriorate beyond our abilities to care for him. Remembering my promise to my Grandfather, I insisted we do everything we could to keep him home, the only home he’d ever known.

A few months of more Dr visits began in the fall of 2010. We got him on the Meals on Wheel program, and started the process to get him involved in an adult day-care program. One night in December 2010, I came home to find him on the floor crawling to me. He had woken up, fallen down, and been unable to get up. His head was badly cut. I called 9-11, and they took him to the hospital and patched him up. They sent him home the next day. To better monitor him, we moved him onto our floor of the house (he lived downstairs previously). As he sat with us, we realized he had no appetite. This man could eat more than me. By next morning, there was obviously something seriously wrong with him. We returned him to the hospital and they did some exams. They released him again, but this time to a long term rehab facility. He was not in the rehab 15 minutes when they realized that he was still seriously ill. Back to the hospital!

They did a more thorough exam and discovered a sever abdominal obstruction- what turned out to be a 20 pound tumor. Yeah.

After I had calmed my litigious mind, we began to examine options. By this point, a few hours later, he had lost consciousness and was in rough shape. They gave me the choice- ease his suffering and let nature take his course, put him on machines to survive, or treat the infections taking hold and give him a fighting chance to beat it himself. I went with door #3.

At first, it looked like I was only prolonging his pain, until the 3rd day. He woke up, started to normalize and crave food. He beat 85-15 odds stabilized. They then gave me another option: Due to his condition (mentally) do we want to leave the tumor alone and let nature do its work, or shall we operate and run the risk of colostomy bags, and other nastiness that he might not be able to mentally handle. This was a tough one, but I decided that if the man wanted to live THIS badly, I could not take away another shot, they operated. Incredibly, he beat the odds and they removed the entire tumor without the need for colostomy. His lymph nodes were also later cleared. He beat it.

Now some time had passed and his mending was moving along at the rehab, but was facing life in a wheelchair due to deterioration  I faced a choice- renovate his downstairs area to be handicapped accessible (covered by his SSI stuff) or look for a group home. I was still REALLY against a group home placing. The old promise kept popping up in my head. I was invited to visit a local group home not too far from the house. It was eye opening. This place had everything he needed: wheelchair access, pulley systems to aid him in enter/leaving bed, and a hundred other conveniences that I could not give him- including 24 hour supervision. He would also be going to a wonderful Adult Day care. The decision made itself.

In Fall 2011, Billy entered the Group Home. He loved it very quickly.

IMG_1544

He had pretty nurses helping him, made friends with some of the other residents, some close friends, and enjoyed the day care, which he thought of as “school” immensely. I had broken my promise, and felt like a million bucks because of it.

My wife Tatum on his birthday 2012

The next 19 months were awesome for him. He went out every day, had excursions to Baseball games at Fenway, King Richard’s Faire (Medieval faire) and went out to Cape Cod. He was living a more active life that I was. I could never have provided him with that much activity.

He had a nice Hawaiian themed birthday Party 2 weeks ago, and spent a weekend at the Cape. I and the case managers decided that it was time to deal with a persistent hip problem. He went in late last week for the surgery and all was well. He was preparing to go to rehab for a few weeks to recuperate. I actually made a few phone calls this afternoon setting that up. He was that good…until he wasn’t.

I am feeling some guilt at having agreed to the surgery for him, but it was his call. The doctors explained to him what it was all about using skeleton models and he said “ok”. I was still consulted due to his condition, but it seemed the right call to make. The Case manager and the group home staff were devastated to even call and give condolences, I found myself reassuring them. He had complications and was not strong enough to survive the treatment necessary to save his life. It is horrible and sad, but I find a lot of strength in the knowledge that the last year and a half were some of the best of his life. He went out a champ, and that’s not too shabby.

 

IMG_1543

RIP Billy

IMG_1539

Boston….4-15-2013

IMG_3981

24 hours ago, I was coming home from a day in Boston. We spent a chilly, but fun, day on Boylston St. /Massachusetts Ave. area  and caught the Afternoon Red Sox game. It was a fun day.

IMG_3991

Today, during the Boston Marathon, one of the most important events in the city, on Patriots Day, our holiday commemorating the start of the Revolution in Lexington and Concord Mass., an act of horror unfolded.

Boston-Bomb

2 bombs were set off at the finish line of the Marathon. Over 100 were injured, at least 2 dead at this writing. I was just there. It is a place of fun, and one of my favorite spots on this Earth to go for a good meal and a ballgame with my beloved Red Sox. That has been sullied.

58102_455964281153514_1545513217_n

May justice fall on those responsible, and may God have mercy on them, for I will have a hard time giving them any.

EDIT:

Just learned that the final mile of the Marathon was dedicated to the victims of the Newtown shooting. Parents of some of the murdered children were guests of the Marathon, and were sitting in the Grandstand right in front of the bombs. So sad.

Edit 2:

One of the fatalities was an 8 year old…

Dallas: A Call to Arms & Love and Family

Season 2, episodes 12 and 13

Dallas-Season-2-banner

Dallas begins its move towards the finale with two back to back episodes.

Ewing Energies is under seige. They owe 200 million dollars to the bank for its oil investments and 1 billion to the State for their rig explosion. Their wells are shut down and they have no way to raise the money. With no other options, they decide to focus all of their energy on JR’s final master plan.

First is getting Cliff’s daughter, Pamela Barnes, on their side by telling her that Cliff was responsible for the explosion that killed her unborn babies. She initially angry because she thought it was just another Ewing plot. After hearing her father discuss his joy at taking over Ewing Energies, she realizes it is all true. She is onboard.

Emma’s drug problems escalate as her mom finds the pills. A B-plot that I hope ties into the larger story relatively soon.

Christopher continues his search for his mother- Pam. She is part owner of Barnes Global, and a potential ally against Cliff. There is no sign of her to be found anywhere in the world. Christopher decides to have her declared dead to access her shares. Christopher finds his mother, possibly, in Zurich and heads out to check it out.

 

In episode 13, the battle continues as Pamela and John Ross dig into Cliff’s business dealings. Pamela asks her father for shares in the business, and gets them. Bobby discovers this, and talks to John Ross, realizing that they can use  these shares against Cliff.

Emma’s drug problems escalate as her erratic behavior is noticed by her mom. Things come to a head when Emma gets stoned and crashes her car. She is unhurt, but  is arrested regardless. The story continues to exist only to keep Anne and Emma in the story. Anne refuses to bail her out of prison until she agrees to rehab.

Drew’s involvement in the explosion is discovered. He leaves a confession, grabs a gun, and heads out. Finding the note, the Ewings get Harris Ryland’s lieutenant Roy Vickers arrested and a manhunt begins to find Drew. As Drew is missing, there is no real evidence to tie Ryland’s man to the bomb, so he is released, and promptly vanishes. Drew contacts Elena who gives him a phone and money to escape. he instead will use them to take down Vickers and Ryland.

John Ross finds a way to make sure Pamela’s 1/3 share of Barnes Global is under Ewing control…by marrying her at the end of the episode!

In the final moments, Cliff Barnes takes possession of Ewing Energies, something Bobby is ok with, as he knows from JR’s advice, that Barnes will slip up.

 

A great couple of episodes sets us up for next week’s finale! All I await is word on season 3.