Posts Tagged ‘heroes’

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 56: The Value of Altruism

September 19, 2014

“Before the names Theodore, Eleanor, and Franklin were indelibly etched into the American consciousness and the course of human history was forever changed by their individual endeavors, a prominent family made a point of teaching the value of altruism, the power of perseverance, and the virtue of helping out one’s fellow man.”

Ken Burns’ The Roosevelts: an Intimate History

TR
I’ve been enthralled, watching Ken Burns’ “The Roosevelts: an Intimate History” on PBS. TR has been one of my heroes for years; and the above drawing does not really do him justice. I will probably try it again at a later date.

While I hate to admit it, I don’t always ‘hit the bull’s eye” when I create drawings. This one is my first pencil drawing in the last month; maybe less. I’ve been working digitally since then. If I don’t draw regularly, I get rusty. I’m working on a new set of illustrations for a children’s book; so it’s time to get the ‘oil’ back into the joints…

Theodore Roosevelt was a complex man; from a complex family. Born with severe asthma, doctors didn’t expect him to live past his fourth year. His father, Theodore Sr., was unwilling to allow this to happen. As an infant he carried Theodore night after night, so that TR could sleep vertically and breathe more easily. His father drove him through the streets of Manhattan at night, at high speed, to force air into his lungs. When TR was a boy, his father encouraged him to work out in a gymnasium in his home; forcing his chest to expand. When, as President, he was shot in the chest by a would-be assassin, his doctor stated that he’d never seen a man with chest so well developed. The bullet was lodged less than one-quarter inch from his heart as TR gave an hour-long speech to a hushed crowd. He had checked to see that his lung wasn’t punctured; the rest was simply ‘leaking’ that needed to get plugged, when appropriate…

One historian states that if TR was a child today, he’d probably be given Ritalin, and would become a terrific car salesman, and we’d never hear from him. TR was a flawed man; many of his beliefs conflict with 21st Century ideals. The irony is that he set the stage for many of our 21st Century beliefs. He was an imperialist; he earnestly believed that America had a place on the world stage; comparable to the British, French and Spanish Empires, that still existed in his time. He read 1-3 books per day. He could recite from those books, 5 years later. As a college student he became an expert on the Naval War of 1812. He had immersed himself in world literature, and developed the belief that Warfare was the place where man achieved Glory. The histories of war are always written by the winner. As World War I killed his youngest son, and severely injured his other sons, he learned about the personal cost of War to the families of the soldiers. He learned that War is not Glory.

Theodore Roosevelt Sr. taught his son that those who were privileged in society had the obligation to use their wealth for the benefit of those who were not as fortunate. The wealthy should invest themselves in the Arts and Sciences, since society does not realize the value of the Arts and Sciences to society. TR became one of the foremost Naturalists of his time. TR changed the face of politics in America. Politicians in the 19th Century were considered a class of society with which a Gentleman did not spend time; TR had decided he wanted to belong among the Governing class of people. He believed that the virtue of helping out one’s fellow man was a ‘divine calling’ for a person of privilege.

TR’s cousin Franklin idolized him; and wanted to emulate TR as much as possible. TR could easily have served three or more terms as President; he chose to make a promise to the American public he later regretted–after his election to what was substantially a second term in office, he promised he would not run again for another term. George Washington served two terms in office; it was considered ‘improper’ to serve more terms than the nation’s founder. After one term served by his hand-picked successor, TR decided to enter Presidential politics once again, splitting the Republican vote with his Bull Moose/Progressive party, awarding the Presidency to Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat. While TR became a ‘persona non Gratia’ in the Republican Party in 1912, there was talk of TR running again as a Republican in 1920; the year in which he died; an old man who had never fully recovered from a near-death foolish expedition in South America.

The Roosevelt name became one of the most revered and most hated names in American politics. I am now benefiting, in a new way, from Franklin’s belief in the virtue of helping out one’s fellow man, in that I now am a recipient of Social Security Income. The American people owe Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment Compensation, Minimum Wage/Maximum hours and dozens of other benefits to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. A huge portion of the American landscape exists today as a tribute to the Roosevelt Presidencies.

I am still figuring out what a ‘semi-retired’ life as a partially-disabled person looks like. I owe too many people too much money for me to stop working; but I can now be more selective in the work I take on. Travel is difficult; my lack of sensory nerves in my mouth make ‘culinary experiences’ somewhat lost on me. One of my sons is a Sous Chef, a maker of what I understand are outstanding dishes. Sadly, to me, it is simply ‘food’. His skills are wasted on my appetite.

This is not the ‘retirement’ I imagined, when I bothered to imagine. However, it’s the hand I’ve been dealt; and I have a choice as to how I live out this life.

and the monstrous creatures of whales

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 53: The Nothing

July 22, 2014

I’m addicted to movies; I have been for nearly as long as I can remember. My two favorite places to be, when I was a child, were the family cabin in the foothills of Mount Hood; and the movie theater. While I devoured books, I also loved to see the illustrations come to life on the silver screen. I became an illustrator because I was born at the end of the Golden Age of Illustration, when ‘adult’ books came with illustrations. The works of Robert Louis Stevenson, Jules Verne, Howard Pyle, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Illustrators like N.C. Wyeth, Frederick Remington, and countless others. My hope was to join that fraternity of illustrators who brought the Classics to life. I’ve come close, in that I illustrated a Korean version of a Sherlock Holmes story, “A Scandal in Bohemia.” I hoped for others; the company went out of business.

Scandal_P21Watson, Holmes, and “The Woman,” Irene Adler

 Our granddaughter visited us from Colorado, for close to a month. We haven’t been around her for that length of time since she was 3 years old; she’ll be 12 soon. Among the movies that was watched was the 1980’s classic, The NeverEnding Story. I have always been touched by the dialog at the end of the film:

G’mork: Foolish boy. Don’t you know anything about Fantasia? It’s the world of human fantasy. Every part, every creature of it, is a piece of the dreams and hopes of mankind. Therefore, it has no boundaries.
Atreyu: But why is Fantasia dying, then?
G’mork: Because people have begun to lose their hopes and forget their dreams. So the Nothing grows stronger.
Atreyu: What is the Nothing?
G’mork: It’s the emptiness that’s left. It’s like a despair, destroying this world. And I have been trying to help it.
Atreyu: But why?
G’mork: Because people who have no hopes are easy to control; and whoever has the control… has the power!
Atreyu: Who are you, really?
G’mork: I am the servant of the power behind the Nothing. I was sent to kill the only one who could have stopped the Nothing…

We suffer the attacks of The Nothing—the killer of hopes and dreams. My neurological challenges are an example of the Nothing. The Nothing is nearly everywhere one looks; and one has to make a special effort to see that The Nothing hasn’t killed off all of the hopes and dreams. The high school girl who invented a flashlight powered by the heat of one’s hand…towers in the desert that will one day be filled with water, sucked out of the air…the earth is also teeming with dreams that can come true, if they are allowed to flourish.

One of our most treasured National Monuments stands in New York Harbor:

Liberty“Mother of Exiles.”

I am the son and grandson of immigrants to this country. My mother was born in Norway, my paternal grandmother’s parents were still speaking Swedish when they baptized their daughter here in Portland. My paternal grandfather’s line goes back to Nottingham, England, back in the 1600′s.

Being a son of the American Legion, and all of the God and Country messages that go with that heritage, I grew up respecting that statue in New York harbor; welcoming those who came from Europe, Africa, and lands to the East. Some, more welcome than others…

Those who keep track of such statistics report that there are over 50 Million refugees on this planet, the largest number since World War II. Half of these refugees are children, many of whom will end up in the human trafficking “industry”. Thousands of these children are reaching our border from Central America; that portion of the Americas that our government has been screwing with for decades, helping to overthrow democratically-elected governments that weren’t to ‘our’ liking…As with all of our “Wars On…” we have created problems, rather than solving them.

I was discussing this with a friend last week, who mentioned the importance of protecting our borders; and how when our country can’t even feed our own people, we can’t afford to feed refugees.

It isn’t that our country can’t feed our citizens; the reality is that those with the power to do so WON’T do what it takes to feed our citizens, to create jobs that will enable the populace to thrive. The Stock Market is at all-time highs; Robert Downey Jr. ["Iron Man"] is the highest paid actor in Hollywood, earning $75 Million/year to make comic book movies.

There are close to 400 Billionaires in the US. #100 owns around $4 Billion. Each of these individuals could donate/collaborate/invest $1 Billion [I hear that it's possible to get by on $3 Billion], and create a $100 Billion fund from which new companies could be created; companies that would create something like the WPA and CCC, and rebuild our country’s infrastructure. The problem isn’t lack of money, the problem is lack of WILL.

I have trouble with the concept that this country of immigrants is just too selfish to open its doors to refugee children; children who didn’t volunteer to be born into the slums, ghettos and gang-infested countries of this continent. Gangs that were trained in American jails before they were deported. The selfishness isn’t on the part of the people; the selfishness is that of those who have the power to create positive change, but don’t have the guts to do it.

There are those who mention the concept of “pitchforks and torches” as a way to facilitate change. I can’t think of any way in which pitchforks will actually work. Homeland Security now has its own arsenal.

Ashes of Hiroshima

 

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 48: That Old Man

March 22, 2014

I’ve always enjoyed Science Fiction. Granted, I’m more inclined toward ‘cowboys in space’ than I am toward the many other genres within science fiction. Science fiction is one place where morality and philosophy can be discussed without some of the claptrap that religion often brings to the table. I think the ability to analyze ‘who I am’ is probably the most significant aspect of being a human being, Created in the image of the Creator [Lost some attention right there].

I’m also a big fan of Stargate SG-1. The episode I watched tonight deals with the issue of war crimes and redemption. Teal’c, the ‘bad guy’ turned ‘good guy’ [and in my opinion, the hero of the series], stands trial for the murder of the father of a boy grown into manhood. At the end, after all of the dust has settled, and the SG-1 team helps take out the bad guys, Teal’c turns himself over to his accuser to be executed.
“I am the Jaffa who killed your father.”
“No, you are mistaken. That Jaffa is dead; he was killed by you.”

MALCHUS 2.5Malchus’ Ear [detail]

I created this image some years ago, inspired by part of the Easter Story, a part that is somewhat underplayed. The part about Jesus choosing to die, as opposed to being betrayed by Judas. When the Roman guards come to arrest Jesus, a servant named Malchus is attacked by Peter, using the sword that Jesus told him to bring. The more famous part is ‘those who live by the sword shall die by the sword;’ overlooking the idea that this apparently was planned; or at least, not a surprise.
Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? Mt 26:53
Jesus wasn’t worried about a few Legionnaires.
I’ve always wondered about the ear… The Gospels teach that Jesus healed Malchus. So, did He ‘glue’ the ear back on; create a new ear; or somehow reverse time, as far as the ear is concerned? We don’t know. My favorite mental image is of Malchus’ mantlepiece and this shriveled, mushroom-looking thing lying on a special cloth or plate. The ear that was lopped off. Maybe an ear ring in his new ear…
Peter was no doubt confused about the whole thing. Why was he supposed to bring a sword if he was going to get chewed out for using it?
When did Jesus know that he had more than twelve legions of angels at His beck and call? The whole time? That night in the Garden?
There are apocryphal stories of the boy Jesus molding birds out of mud, and watching them fly away…

………………………..

Through the Creator’s Grace we have the ability to become a new creation. To become a new person.  Some would say that it’s because of evolutionary development, psychology, or the power of positive thinking, or any of a number of explanations; and I suppose those explanations are accurate in terms of the means by which redemption takes place.
I look back at the last 40+ years of my life, and the guy I was in my first years of college. I try to imagine what my life would have been like if not for the ‘simple’ decision as to what I was going to choose as my major; once I found out that ‘my plan’ didn’t exist at Oregon State. At the time I didn’t realize how momentous a decision that was; it was simply choosing how I wanted to spend the next 4 years of my life. A couple years later I discovered that the number was really 5… It’s only from the perspective of 40 years that I see how my life could have been entirely different.

I look at my adult kids, wonderful people, and I can see who I would be, if not for an encounter with Brad. Brad opened a door into the world of Grace, which led to another door, and innumerable doors that followed. I made a decision to change my life, and become the person I wanted to be, rather than the person I was being led into becoming.
Because Life has a way of making us take a left turn when we’d planned on going right, ‘the person I wanted to be’ is not the person I’ve become. A person for whom the Creator is more important than I could ever have believed; and a person who realizes that what I believe is a Mystery… I will continue exploring the Mystery and probably never get closer, in this life.

Joni Mitchell is singing Judy Collins’ “Both Sides Now,” as I type.  I don’t really believe in “random” music selection. Joni is probably in her 50′s at this time. An adult voice singing a song I listened to a lot in college, when the song was new.
The apostle Paul talks a lot about ‘shedding the old man,’ and becoming a new person.
The ‘old man’ that I was has been replaced by this old man…

Mikey avatar 3

 

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 43:

January 20, 2014

valley of the shadow
A friend of mine was describing the images that came to mind as he read the 23rd Psalm–”The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…surely Goodness and Mercy shall follow me all of the days of my life…” He described angels watching over him. This is the image that came to my mind, as he described his image.

I have always been partial to “fear not and behold!” angels as opposed to the Hallmark kind. If one reads the descriptions in the older parts of Scripture, one doesn’t find Clarence Oddbody nor the cute little angels found at Christmastime. I’ve always figured that angels must be fearsome to behold, since fear seems to be the first reaction the angels have to deal with.

For much of the 40 years that I have been following the Creator I’ve heard this continual subtext–that good things will happen to the Believer who is following the Creator closely; that trouble will stay away. This hasn’t necessarily been the overt text, but it has been the subtext, and I’ve always found it confusing. 1] it isn’t Scriptural–if nothing else, Scripture assures the Believer that there will be trouble; 2] I’ve been battling chronic pain for half of my life–something like 30 of my 60+ years.

I’ve never been very religious; just can’t force myself into that mold.  Part of me has found this notion to blame; but then I read the Book of Job–the oldest part of the Bible, which basically says that being religious has nothing to do with a life that pleases the Creator [it seems that serious acknowledgement is central to a faith that pleases the Creator]. “shit happens” seems to be the best explanation as to why bad things happen to good, and not-so-g00d people. It’s a part of Life.

I’ve also come to believe that there is a part of Life that is much harder to figure out. The Apostle Paul writes that we are like players on a stage, performing for an unseen audience. Physicists postulate that there are 11 dimensions, rather than the four we know about [length, width, height and time]; I have come to the conclusion that if there are 11 dimensions, then one of these dimensions is a dimension of the Spirit; or that the correct number is at least 12.

There has been so much of my life that has pointed me to the Creator; events that have happened to me, or to my family, that have been so personal that I can’ t prove them to anyone. There is no proof; and at the same time, there is little room for doubt.  Mostly in the context of a middle-class [and sliding], non-adventurous life. Not much drama; nothing from which to make an interesting movie. Crises, an ample number of them; from which we mostly survived fairly well, although not cheaply.

Through all of my life I have felt that I was in the presence of unseen Presences; formidable angels seem to qualify. Amidst the crises, there is much that happens on filmed stories that have never happened to us. Burglaries with minimal damage; car wrecks without death; accidents without death; deadly illness that hasn’t. There are unseen wolves that have been held back by Guardians we cannot see. Perhaps.

pilgrim col

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 32: Why Do You Do What You Do?

July 28, 2013

fisheye

Freelancing is an *Interesting* way to earn a living…

I do a lot of trolling on Craigslist, responding to ads from many parts of the country. Earlier in the week, I responded to an ad, which came back with a followup. The agent would put my art on display [somewhere in California--I'm in Oregon], and charge $200/week for space rental. For a print priced at $1000, she would receive $120 commission, and I would earn $80. I’m not really sure where the remaining $600 [after the first week] would go, but my guess it goes to ‘rental’. My response: “Seriously? Good luck with that.”

I responded to an ad for video editing; a gig that theoretically would provide $1000/month or more. For me, $12000+ per year is a fairly tempting gig.  My impression is that most of the videos will be ads for herbal products that promise to produce longer sex lives and shorter waistlines. It appears that they would be posted on websites that scream, ‘TRASH’. I received a ‘short list’ email late last night requesting a 15 second video on The Gettysburg Address, in a style consistent with an herbal product ad. I sent back a question as to how soon they need this clip.

As is my norm with any new project that sparks my interest, I downloaded a bunch of material on the Gettysburg address, mostly videos to insert into this non-commercial, not-to-be-redistributed, clip. I have the video fairly clear in my brain, at least for the starting point. Most projects take off on their own, somewhere in the process.

I received a response: they would prefer to have the clip midday tomorrow.

Today is Sunday. While I’m not strict about Keeping the Sabbath Holy, I do understand the concept that The Creator was instructing a society that had been enslaved for hundreds of years, to take a day off each week to remember what is important. I sleep most of Sunday afternoon, after our church service, which  starts about the time I normally wake up. Sunday afternoon/ evening I watch a movie; meaning I actually watch the movie without having it as background entertainment. Frequently it’s a foreign language movie where I need to read the subtitles. Today was “Lions for Lambs”– a very good film with an excellent cast: Redford, Streep, Cruise and Derek Luke. One of the themes of the film is ‘why do you do what you do?’

I have a house to design this week and a movie poster to draw. Plus whatever comes along during the week. Lincoln’s Address at Gettysburg was less than 3 minutes in length, following some politician’s speech that lasted two hours. I couldn’t do justice to the Address in less than 4 minutes, and for that four minutes I would probably spend much of the night working, to get it to the agent by midday tomorrow. Of course, it would only be 15 seconds worth of the 4 minute clip. Which 15 seconds of the Address is the most important?

Working all night on a clip that would never be seen, in order to get a gig where I would be creating ads I would NEVER watch. I hate commercials…

“Somebody has to do it.”

Why?

This is one of the reasons I do what I do:

Wonder

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 30: The Strange World of the Future

June 14, 2013

Pulp-O-Mizer_Cover_ImageMy gratitude to the folks at http://thrilling-tales.webomator.com/derange-o-lab/pulp-o-mizer/pulp-o-mizer.html  for  an enjoyable experience in creating pulp illustrations.

There is a seemingly never ending list of things I would like to explore, creatively, if I wasn’t concerned about earning a living. Finishing the illustrated stories I started 15-20 years ago; Steampunk, 3-D, special effects…. sigh

I grew up reading Tom Swift Jr. [Tom Swift Jr. and His Space Solartron], Tom Swift [my parent’s generation: Tom Swift and His Electric Locomotive], Tom Corbett, Space Cadet and Doc Savage [sort of a combination of Tarzan, Indiana Jones and Major Samantha Carter]. I used to have a large collection of all of the above; my guess is that they bought groceries in leaner times. Had I waited, or been better informed, they would have bought a lot more groceries… But I still have a few copies on the shelf. Heroes who used their brains more than muscles, and rarely fired lethal weapons. I still remember my favorite ‘toy soldiers’–curiously a mechanic and a ditch digger, one orange, one blue… I also grew up reading Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury and several others from ‘the Golden Age of Science Fiction’

When I thought about it, I wanted to create images like the above… The stick figure drawings that covered endless sheets of paper were drawings like the above, in my mind… and yet I haven’t really drawn many sci-images over the years. Not sure why. Too caught up with earning a living, I suppose, too caught up with the dramas in this time period to live in the future.

I’m recovering from my third ‘neuropathic episode’ in four years, almost exactly two years apart, which is really weird.  This one wasn’t as dramatic–I didn’t lose as many sensory nerves as I’ve experienced in the past. Probably because there are fewer to lose.  However, I had a day of a potential future I hadn’t seen before–one where changing the DVD was a major effort…drawing was out of the question– and the realization that I’m grateful for what I still have. So I’m re-calibrating myself to another ‘new normal’.

I’ve been drafting steadily for two months now; a very long time in my current life. Not getting paid a lot for it, but after nearly 50 years of drafting, I consider it as getting paid to watch DVDs. I’m on my second repetition of the Stargate chronicles, with a few other shows interspersed. I’ve always been a fan of ‘westerns in space’.

A couple of weeks ago we were in Fort Collins, Colorado, for the graduations of my daughter and my son-in-law: my daughter’s second Bachelor’s, my son-in-law’s first Associate’s. Amidst the celebration was a visit to the Holiday Twin Drive-in in Fort Collins, where we saw this:

startrek

…A digital re-creation; my little camera in the back of the pickup wasn’t of good enough quality to record the images in the dark. Watching Star Trek, under the Big Dipper, with shooting stars, was one of those amazing experiences that one can’t really comprehend. I do have to see the movie again–there were a few too many distractions…

I watched William Shatner’s “The Captains” this evening. A documentary about the 6 Captains in the Star Trek franchise. Classically trained actors, none of them type-cast, each of whom brought their own distinction to the role of “Captain”… and the tremendous cost that the casts paid during the 12-16 hour days of production for much of the years. I lapsed back into my ‘vulcan’ mode–[I immediately idolized Spock when he appeared on TV--the alien trapped among humans--I've always had trouble understanding human behavior]–watching thousands of fans at Star Trek conventions. I can’t imagine going to one, or why I would.

I think I may start drawing again this weekend. With a pencil. It’s been months. There’s a face on my drafting table that’s beckoning me, and I think my shoulder and neck muscles may be rested enough to draw again…

Chronicles in Ordinary Time 8: Making a difference

October 31, 2011

    For my nephew, the late Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer John F. Seidman. He and his crew of CG-1705 perished in a collision with a Marine Helicopter two years ago. A memorial service was held today in Sacramento, with the dedication of  memorial statue created in their honor.
http://www.d11.uscgnews.com/go/doc/823/1228847/

    Making a difference.
I think that’s what many, perhaps most, of us want to do with our lives. In the vast scheme of things, we want to leave a footprint that someone will find in the future. Someone will know that we were here.
Some of us live in, and for, our children. We will be remembered in our children.
Some of us live for a cause or a goal. To be successful at something or with something.
Some of us grow up believing that we were accidents, and have no purpose whatsoever. There are a zillion parents out there who either can’t conceive a child, or bring a child to term, or lose a child to accident or illness, shortly after they are born. I know a young couple who dearly want a child, but can’t bring a child into this world until two years after a kidney transplant; which isn’t ready to occur. I don’t know the numbers, but my understanding is that, globally, the odds of being born aren’t all that high.
I don’t believe that anyone born is an accident. I believe that we are each unique creations, the work of a loving Creator. As I write these words, I’m thinking of all the arguments against that last statement. “How could a loving God…” fill in the blank. I think, if we could have a two-way conversation with Jesus today, He might reply with a societal answer. “How could a loving society allow…” Not unlike Stephen Colbert commented a year or so ago:
http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/368914/december-16-2010/jesus-is-a-liberal-democrat

Our pastor told the story of Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, who took over the courtroom of a judge in 1937 or thereabouts. One of the cases was the trial of a grandmother who stole a loaf of bread to feed her grandchildren. The Mayor allowed that he needed to follow the Law, so he fined the woman $10; and then paid the fine himself. However, he did not end there; in addition, he fined everyone in the courtroom $0.50, for living in a society that would allow conditions to exist, where a grandmother had to steal bread for her grandchildren. The Mayor sent the grandmother home with $47.50.

All of those who serve in the military, the police, are charged to serve the public; too often at the cost of their lives. Too often, in these times, this concept seems to have gotten lost.

Make a difference.


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