Friday, December 28, 2007

adventures in the underworld

Nine year old Andrew sends in his second story
Adventures in the Underworld

The six crab like creatures stood in the fading light, drawing nearer, and I stood on the shore transfixed as one struck by lightning. It was a small matter of time before I gathered my wits. I ran with these creatures very near behind me, and then saw some kind of pit, or well, with rungs attached for a way of descending. Seeing this I climbed down, knowing the monstrous creatures behind me were much too large to fit through. As I descended, I was increasingly aware of a growing heat emitting from the depth.

I considered going back, but I knew certain death awaited me if I chose to. So I kept climbing down into the blackness, and the heat that, as I descended yet farther, cast a reddish light upon the walls. At last I reached the bottom, and I felt very tired and fatigued. I threw myself on the ground and slept as the day wore away.

I woke the next morning and felt very much refreshed. A loud booming sound echoed in what appeared to be a neighboring hall. My own was built in the likeness of a vast cathedral without windows or anything else in it, save a small table in a desolate corner. On this were the remains of a half-eaten meal, of what I cannot say, but I ate it readily and with haste.

At the north end of the hall, I found what I had least expected: a door that appeared to be wrought of bronze and several great chests of another metal that was very brittle. I found this out when I pried one open with an iron bar that tapered to a fine edge. I had found it on a great rubbish heap near the chests. They were filled with a coarse black stuff that possessed a strong magic, as I would soon find out.

I easily forced open the door and found myself in yet another vast hall, not unlike the room I had just left. But this hall was occupied by a number of shadowy figures, and they were evidently unaware of my presence. They were eating the thing I had seen on the table in the room where I entered.

I stealthily drew nearer, and I perceived that they were also eating another strange food that seemed to be a kind of vegetable. I wanted to get a closer view. I developed a contrivance that would prove very effective for my escape.

I found a pebble under the door, and threw it to the north end of the hall. The creatures looked suspiciously in that direction and walked to the noise. I walked in complete silence up to the table and tried some of the strange food. It had a sort of bitter taste, and I immediately disliked it.

I thought I could make the creatures scatter into the neighboring halls, for by what I had heard on my entrance there were many halls, each possessing its own shape and size. I took some boiling water, of which there was a cauldron of upon the table, and with it I mixed some of the black powder in the hall. When the mixture was ready, I crept up to the creatures who were already seated at the table again, and then out of the shadows I jumped and spilled it’s boiling contents on the table. It worked as effectively as I had hoped, and the creatures scattered off in all directions, bumping into each other while plates crashed to the floor. Before I knew it, not a single form remained.

I sighed in relief and slowly made my way to the room with the distinct shaft built into the wall and table on which I had eaten my first meal in this strange new land. I wanted to return home and turned to the ladder, but to my great horror, the rungs had vanished! I ran about the hall in despair, thinking all was lost, and hurling the black coarse powder in all directions.

I happened to throw some powder on the shaft and as it fell to the ground, a tiny speck alighted in a crevice between the stones. Suddenly, the nearly invisible dot began to glow, brighter and brighter, until a blinding light shone throughout the room. Then there was a blast and all was dark.

I woke up within the next hour, and to my delight the rungs were now plainly visible in the ill-lit room. I climbed them with more gracefulness and swiftness this time, and I was delighted when I finally reached the top, blinking in the warm sunlight and filling my lungs with the fresh spring air. I ran away from the place with haste, and was very glad when I reached my own home. But what now inhabited the little cottage filled me with a burning fury and a terrible fear.

It was a large beast, in the likeness of a dragon, and very small innumerable teeth. It was a dangerous creature, and loathsome to behold. Surely it must be the fabled Creature of Destruction that in those same legends had destroyed many a ship at sea and the many humble dwelling-places such as my own. And indeed it was, for the marks of destruction were over my home, and there were signs of my wife and children having left in a great hurry.

I seized my pocket-knife and slashed at the thick hide, but the creature took only slight notice of my presence, and very little blood was drawn. So I fled, following the footsteps of my departed family. The creature laid waste the doorway and wall, using it’s powerful wings for short distances. I turned round and ran between its legs, tripping it up even as it ran. Then I turned round and went to find my family.

They were in a small grove of trees when I made my discovery, and they were equally as glad to see me as I was them. The children squealed with delight and jumped up to run about me in circles and danced for joy. I took up every one in my arms in turn, and then it was time to settle down to sleep. The next day we returned to our cottage. We found a great heap of rubble in its place and my wife shook her head in disappointment and muttered, “it is hopeless.” But the next day we began work on a new dwelling.

Day after day we labored, and it was finally finished. Unfortunately a very bad thing happened then. I should have known that the very youngest of my children had hardly hammered the main post in. The whole structure was very precarious, and as we stared at it in admiration, a soft breeze began to blow, and I thought I saw the structure tilt ever so slightly, and then again, and then yet farther, until I knew something was dangerously wrong. As the wind picked up, the structure tilted even faster, making terrible creaking and groaning noises. We saw the newly established cottage tumble into yet another pile of wreckage before our eyes and we ourselves groaned to see our second home smashed to the ground. The children began crying.

But after several more failed attempts, we finally re-constructed our home, and settled down. I never saw the monster again but he still lives on in our legends and myths. As soon as we were properly settled into the new home, we all sat around the fire and the younger of my children snuggled up close to me as I told the story of my adventures.

I am an old man now, too old to live with my wife and children, for they have all long since passed away. But sometimes I dream of the adventure I had, right from the beginning, and of my wife, children, friends, and everyone I knew when I was younger. I dream of the wonderful times I have had in my life. I have lived an exceptionally long time, one hundred and twenty-five years, if I am correct. Most of all I dream of my family, and of my adventures in the underworld. I now began to write my diary, for I have seen enormous wonders. Whenever I read it, I will remember it all.

The End

Friday, December 21, 2007

man in black video jukebox

"Hello, I'm Johnny Cash" is the way the Man in Black began his concerts. Over a 50 year career he had many hits including Ring of Fire and I Walk the Line . As a testament to his popularity he sold over 90 million albums during his lifetime.

Just before Johnny Cash died in 2003 he wrote and performed what I think is one of his best songs - Hurt

Thursday, December 20, 2007

harry chapin video jukebox

My wife and I saw Harry Chapin perform at the Circle Star theater in Redwood City,CA, in the late seventies. This theater in the round had a rotating stage which made it great for seeing the performance from any viewpoint. I remember Harry was about 45 minutes late for the performance when suddenly he ran down the aisle in tattered jeans and guitar in tow. He hopped on the stage, sat down on a bar stool and said "I'm sorry I'm late, but now I'm gonna sing my &#! for you"! And he did! He gave a high-energy performance that covered his hit songs like Taxi,and Cat's in the Cradle to some of his lesser known songs like Mr. Tanner and A Better Place to Be. Of special note was the band's performance of Life is a Circle on the rotating stage.

Sadly, Harry Chapin died in a car crash in 1981. His music and his advocacy for fighting world hunger is missed.

weird al parodies video jukebox

Weird Al Yankovic has the uncanny ability to create a parody of a song that frequently achieves greater popularity than the original song itself. For example, I'll bet not many of you have heard the rapper song Ridin' Dirty but I'll bet most of you have heard of Weird Al's parody White and Nerdy

In this video jukebox I have Weird Al's parody in the left column and the original in the right column. Watch both and decide which one you like better.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

land's end, san francisco

San Francisco really is at land's end. Beyond the Pacific horizon it is about 2500 miles to the tiny specks that are the Hawaiian Islands. Beyond these islands it is another 3000 miles to the Asian land mass.

I took these photos recently in the Land's End Western part of the city ,Ghirardelli Square, and the maritime national historical park.

I've never lived in the city but have visited it often when I lived and worked in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. It truly is a world class city and should be on anyone's list of places to see before you die.

Monday, December 17, 2007

steven wright video jukebox

I firmly believe some people's brains are just wired differently. Consider the
strange case of Steven Wright ...

amazing grace video jukebox

Some great musicians sing Amazing Grace. My favorite is Judy Collins, but Lee Ann Rimes also gives a great contemporary performance. And how about the Blind Boys from Alabama singing Amazing Grace to the tune of House of the Rising sun or Amazing Grace in the Cherokee language?

kristin andreassen video jukebox

Kristin Andreassen is a very versatile musician. She sings, clogs, writes and plays instruments in both the Uncle Earl and Sometymes Why bands.

Two of the songs she sings that I especially like are Crayola from her new Kiss Me Hello CD and Bony on the Isle of St. Helena from the Uncle Earl Waterloo,Tennessee CD.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

tree frog on tree man

I took this photo of an unusually decorated tree along side West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz, California.

The tree frog critter was created by Adam Bowman -- a very clever javascript programmer.

old tyme murals of oroville

The city of Oroville in the Northern California has a rich mining history. To depict that era many gold mining murals have been painted on older buildings in the downtown area.

I recently took some photos of these murals which are really fine paintings in their own right. Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

an evening walk around kelly ridge

Kelley Ridge is a pleasant neighborhood in the Northern California Sierra foothills.

On a recent evening walk I captured a few photos that give a flavor of the area.

Monday, December 03, 2007

the folk art of e.t. wickham

In the 1950's and 60's along Buck Smith Road in Palmyra, Tennessee,USA my Grandfather created a folk art world of larger than life concrete statues of politicians, Indian chiefs,religious figures, war heroes and others. After his death in 1970 the statues were vandalized and little remains of them today, but I have undertaken with the help of old family photos to recreate this art world on the web. I invite you to take a virtual tour of these statues at Wickham Stone Park