Poetry Tuesday: The Fort of Rathangan

It’s World Poetry Day! And it falls on Poetry Tuesday! What are the odds? (Approx. 1 out of 7, taking leap year into account.)

Here’s an anonymous Irish work about non-permanence a thousand years before Shelley’s Ozymondius.

The fort over against the oak wood
Once it was Bruidge’s, it was Cathal’s,
It was Aed’s, it was Ailill’s,
It was Conaing’s, it was Cuiline’s,
And it was Maelduin’s;
The fort remains after each in his turn–
And the kings asleep in the ground.



Poetry Tuesday: On the Viking Raids

Anonymous from 9th century Ireland.

Since tonight the wind is high,
The sea’s white mane a fury.
I need not fear the hordes of Hell
Coursing the Irish Channel.


Poetry Tuesday: In Praise of a Sword

Full title: In praise of a sword given him by his prince, by Colman mac Lenini, 6th or 7th century Ireland.

Blackbirds to a swan,
Feathers to hard iron,
Rock hags to a siren,
All lords to my lord.
Jackdaws to a hawk,
Cackling to a choir,
Sparks to a bonfire,
All swords to my sword.


Travel Thursday: Kiss My Blarney

In honor of my friend Christiane’s birthday, and the fact that she was just in Ireland, and that she’s the one who recorded the song that shares its title with this blog entry, here’s the story of what happened on my first trip to Ireland, and why I was okay with not kissing the Blarney Stone.
It being my first time in Ireland, I was on a bus tour with about a dozen other Americans, most quite a bit older, though there was one obnoxious college guy as well. In addition to the bus driver, we had a gorgeous local blonde named Yvonne as tour guide.
About a week into the tour we were heading for Blarney in the pouring rain. During the entire trip the obnoxious college guy had been hitting on Yvonne and not getting her hints to leave her alone, or simply ignoring them. Some of the older people were clearly embarrassed for him, but no one said anything as he struck out again and again, to the point where you could see Yvonne clearly hated him but wasn’t about to risk losing her job.
So once at Blarney we’re told the rain is falling too hard for us to get off the bus, let alone walk the stone steps into the castle, then up to the top where the stone was located. As everyone tried not to look too disappointed, College Boy goes over to Yvonne and tells her, “Since it looks like I’ll never kiss the stone, and I’m sure you have, you can kiss me so that it’ll be like I did kiss the Blarney Stone.”
With the sweetest innocent smile as well as a thick brogue—thicker than usual—she cooed, “I’ve never actually kissed the Blarney Stone, but I have sat on it. . .”
There was a pause, and then the driver guffawed so loudly everyone else got into it too. Looking like she’d won the lottery, Yvonne took her seat at the front while College Boy stood there stunned, almost falling when the bus lurched into action. Grumpily he made his way to the back of the bus; I heard him mutter “Lesbo bitch!” as he stalked by, to which I said, “The fact she doesn’t want you doesn’t mean she’s gay, it just means she has great taste.”
The story would have been good enough had it ended there, but that night at our hotel I ran into Yvonne in the corridor, after we’d all changed into dry clothes and were going down to dinner. After I told her what a great comeback she’d delivered, she smiled and invited me to eat with her. When dinner was over she led me to her room, and. . .
We pick up as I’m leaving her room the next morning, still putting my shirt on, when I run into College Boy, who knows damn well which room this was. Again he’s stunned as I walk by him to my room, murmuring, “Told ya she has great taste. . .”


Travel Thursday: Rusty from Scotland and Ireland

Because I’ve been to Scotland and Ireland so many times, I didn’t notice much new, so I don’t have much of a travelogue, in that sense. This is mostly gonna be, like the Chicago one minus a president, snippets of conversations and musings on why humans are still the stupidest species on the planet, except for all the other ones.
{By the way, this blog was written under the spirit of Silverberg’s Law of Conservation of Research: Once you’ve done your research, never publish one book on the subject when you can publish more than one. . .}

We start with a headache in the security line at the airport. I’ve often banged my head against the wall of bureaucratic stupidity as regards to airport profiling, especially in the misguided belief that people who pay cash for one-way tickets are more likely to be terrorists.
Since 9/11, all hijackers are considered to be suicide terrorists; none of this “take me to Cuba” stuff is believed anymore. So if a terrorist is willing to sacrifice his life to bring down a plane, why would he bother paying for one-way? Who would save money when you’re about to kill yourself? Same with paying cash; for someone in such deep cover in the United States or Europe, they had to have a false identity, and with it comes credit cards. Again, why bother saving a false identity if you were about to die?
Okay, at least the flight itself was no big deal, and I actually slept a little. But like the last few times, things happened at Heathrow. Not like the time I had to scramble to catch a plane in Amsterdam because of a terrorist scare, but. . .
Normally it’s an 8 hour difference to Great Britain, but because we just had daylight saving time change, it’s only 7, which I didn’t realize until I barely caught my connecting from London to Edinburgh. Urgh!
Although I do have to say I was entertained by a “starlet”-type chick waiting for the same flight. Ever try this on a blonde? Especially one with an intelligence level somewhere between lawyer and coffeepot?
“Can you grab me a water bottle?”
“Sure. Diet or regular?”
“Uh. . .”
After that she started ranting about how prudish her rich boyfriend was. “I like to run around half naked. Is that wrong?”
“Depends on which half.”
That one flew right over her head too, and the rant continued to how her boyfriend never listens to what she says. . . kinda what she was doing to me, of course. {I know I shouldn’t have teased the animals, but I had to entertain myself somehow. . .}
“If he loved you, he’d listen to you.”
“He loves me!”
“If he respected you, he’d listen to you.”
She tried to rebuff that one as well, but her brain wouldn’t move. After that she got a bit quiet, like she knew I was having fun at her expense {that self-awareness was shocking in itself}, until she said, “You think I’m stupid because I have big boobs.”
“No, I think you’re stupid because you wear so much makeup when you know no man looks at anything but your big boobs.”
Hey, not like I was gonna see her later on, so why not be honest? And I’m really mad at the first asshole who called her beautiful. . . that would be a version of the truth called a lie. . .

You know, I think I understand the Scottish accent BETTER with a fever. There’s something surreal about wandering around in Edinburgh taking photos and wondering if what you just shot is what you think you just shot. . .
Not that I got much help in the medical department, especially the guy who said infections weren’t a big deal. “After all, what did cavemen do when they got an infection?”
Uh, they DIED.

Never imagined getting into a religious/philosophical argument with a fundamental Muslim in Scotland, but it happened. He was going on and on about how horrible it was that women weren’t completely clothed, then he tried to say there were parallels in the Western world, because there were parts women had to cover here as well.
“The parts of the body covered in the Western world are those parts men and women have different. But when you insist on covering shoulders, arms, legs, that both men and women have. . .”
Seems like a simple thing, but he didn’t bother arguing; guess he didn’t figure anyone would call him on it. Oh well. . .

One of my all-time fave musicians, Beverley Craven, has a new CD out, as I saw in a local store, and she describes part of her band thusly: “Gary, without doubt the best looking keyboard player. . . in the band.” Sounds like something Genevieve would say. . .

Someone a long time ago said the song “Stairway to Heaven” is like an orgasm: starts of slow and easy, builds up little by little before that big explosive final climax. But as I was listening to it, walking along a big street with cars zooming by. . . after enjoying the guitar solo as always, going through the climax, getting to the end. . . I realized there was no cuddling. It just ends with a final wail about the stairway. Not even fun in the shower. . . definitely no pizza. sigh.
And speaking of showers, of course it rained most of my time here, which is one thing when it’s 50 degrees in El Lay, but quite another when it’s 30. One girl who walked into the hotel at the same time I did was all giddy and “wheee!” about being all wet–no umbrella, no raincoat–and smiled at me. “Isn’t this SO much fun?”
“This is NOT fun. I’ve had fun before. This is not it.”
Someday I might learn to go along with things and. . . well, who knows what might happen? My relationship with this girl ended right then and there, on a not-happy note from her side.
Whereas the next night, a woman I’d met–at least I thought she was a woman when I first met her, as compared to GIRL–did something so incredibly stupid that I can’t even tell you what it was. It was so bad I actually couldn’t make fun of her. . . not much, anyway. Even she deadpanned it by saying, “What a shitty day.”
“Hey, you’re still alive.”
“Is that infamous bright side?”
“More like things can always get worse. . . or, you know, usually.”
“Gee, thanks for that!”
“Hey, I for one am glad you did it. Makes all the stupid things I’ve ever done or ever will do seem logical in comparison.”
Once again, if I learn to stay quiet. . .

But on the more fun side, the next morning as I was going for my walk I passed by a cop mounted on a horse. The horse’s legs were white, so somebody had painted red and gold rings to make them look like athletic tube socks. Awesome.
That was also the day I got taken to some expensive grill, where the guy in the white hat–NOT a good guy–wouldn’t listen when I told him I didn’t want any sauce on the steak. I don’t care how rich I get: I want a cook, not a chef! Though I did manage to poke some fun at the stuffed shirt paying for the whole thing. I don’t know why he bothered, but he tried to convince us he wasn’t all about money by saying, as if he’d thought of the quote all by himself, “I would not exchange my leisure hours for all the wealth in the world!”
Giving me such an easy opening. . . “I would exchange a quarter of my leisure hours for a quarter of the wealth in the world.”
From there came a big argument, as if to prove the Scottish mindset when it comes to money is true after all, about how a human’s most primal drive is to own things. If he was trying to put himself in the same circles as Freud and Maslow and Adler and such, not that that’s heady company to begin with, he was in for a big surprise. After all, human’s primary drive is basically food and shelter, some kind of security. Then you get Freud saying it’s sex–or that’s just men–and the others talking about Will to Power and such, but it quickly got boring, with my only contribution being, “There’s no such thing as ownership, just control. Ownership is a temporary illusion.”
They didn’t like that.

The next day found me walking along Loch Ness. This time I decided NOT to look for Nessie, and therefore might see her/him/it, but that didn’t happen either; the monster saw through my fiendish ploy. Still, it was a much needed relief from the urban landscape. In a lot of ways, especially noisewise, Edinburgh is a lot like El Lay, and therefore the trail to Inverness can feel like Big Bear or Arrowhead. Walking along the lake, on the side that doesn’t have the highway, the silence is deafening. But not just that: the visual noise is drowned out as well. No billboards. . . it’s hard to explain if you haven’t experienced it yourself. Kinda like the difference between spreading whipped cream on a girl’s boobs and explaining how to spread whipped cream on a girl’s boobs. . .
Yeah, like a fart in a hurricane {And if you don’t get that one, don’t bother to ask}.

Don’t remember exactly what made me think of this–and I hesitate trying to figure it out now–but back in college I gave a porn tape to a friend on his eighteenth birthday. The guy had been so enthused he went straight home to play it, only to call me immediately after. “Dude, you gave me the wrong tape! This is ‘The Little Mermaid!’”
“That’s the right one.” Click.

Missed seeing one of my fave bands, Wolfstone, in concert by a couple of weeks. Haven’t seen them since that time at the Portland Zoo. . . but that’s another story. . . they’re so incredibly high energy, even the elephants were dancing. . .

In Ireland there’s a small town known only because an Obama ancestor came from there. Some local boys hit it big with a Youtube video called “There’s no one as Irish as Barack Obama.” It got them a record deal, but the label insisted that they ditch their band’s longtime name: Hardy Drew and the Nancy Boys.
I know I went a long way for that, but how is that not the funniest band name ever?

As the car passed a convent (or I think they, and Shakespeare, call them nunneries), and considering I’d been reading one of my favorite authors on this trip, David Gerrold, I remembered one of the jokes he likes to tell:
Somewhere in Ireland, a mother superior is at her desk in the convent when two leprechauns suddenly pop out of thin air and stand on her desk. One of them, the smaller one, is trying to contain his laughter while the bigger one glares at him, then asks, “Mother Superior, do you have any nuns in your convent that are my size?”
Fearing the worst, she answers, “No, there are no nuns of your size here.”
That makes the smaller leprechaun burst into laughter. The bigger one smacks him, then asks, “And Mother Superior, do you know of any nuns in the whole of Ireland who are my size?”
“No, I am sure there are no nuns of your size in Ireland.”
This time the smaller leprechaun falls to the desk, he’s laughing so hard. The bigger one kicks him, then says, “And Mother Superior, have you heard of any nuns in all of Catholicism that are my size?”
“I have traveled all over the world and I have neither seen nor heard of any nun of your size.”
Finally the little leprechaun can’t hold back anymore and he hoots, “I told ya, I told ya! Ya fucked a penguin!”
I’ll give ya a little time to recover from that. . .

While staying a night in a farmhouse in Ireland. . . it was well past midnight and I was sitting on the balcony, cruising the internet while breathing in the fresh air. With one window I was checking out my usual websites and e-mails, but I had another window open to listen to Leah West’s website player.
So just as I look up at what I think is a shooting star, Leah sings,
“If I could get the moon to land
Here in the palm of my hand
First I’d round up all the stars
Then I’d go and lasso Mars
And Venus too
And Jupiter. . .
And Saturn with its pretty rings . .”
After all, who doesn’t love an astronomical love song. . .?

And while reading one of David Gerrold’s books while driving through the Irish countryside–I wasn’t driving, of course–I happened to look up at a field of cattle just as I got to the part in the book that says: A cow doesn’t have a life. It has lunch.

I have a new hobby: writing limericks! Yes, I got the idea in Limerick, Ireland. Wrote 3 in 20 minutes as soon as it occurred to me.
Limerick #1
Always when traveling in Eire
You must have knowledge of building a fire
Even if you’re a fan of the rain
It will cost you a surfeit of pain
If your best friend isn’t a dryer!
Don’t worry, I’ll spare ya the rest. And I just realized I coulda used that on the gal in rainy Scotland.
Now I want to write a love song–not just a limerick–called “Sweaty for your Love,” then a sequel, “Sweaty FROM your Love.”

No, Jimi, I did not go to Blarney. . . or I guess that’s better for the song, right?

People always overreact or call me a liar after I answer their question: where have you been in the world? I do so hate being called a liar, though I do realize why most people do it: they’re so used to lying themselves that they can’t accept someone who doesn’t, because as long as they think “Everyone does it!” it makes them feel okay about doing it. But once that illusion is shattered. . .
That conversation basically ended with her yelling, “Don’t pretend you’re not like every other guy!”
“About as much as you’re like every other bimbo.”
“Fuck you!”
“You have neither the looks nor the money.”
My fault; you really can’t argue with someone that stupid.

At least on the flight back I had a fun conversation, based on something in the last of the four-part (so far, hopefully) David Gerrold series I was reading: “A baby makes a noise and gets a warm tit in its face. This life lesson is so profound we spend the rest of our lives searching for the right noises to get more.”
Have fun thinking about that for a while. . .