Sunday, August 5, 2018

Warrior

Warrior.

It is my current word of choice, my current theme, if you will, for life, and the people, warriors, I have met or know.

The American Heritage dictionary has two definitions for 'warrior.' The first is "one who is engaged in or experienced in battle." Google says "a brave or experienced soldier or fighter." Basically, a warrior fights battles. The second definition encompasses a wider spectrum: "One who is engaged aggressively or energetically in an activity, cause, or conflict." These definitions fit well. Many of us know a warrior or two.

My last few poems that I have written have had the word 'warrior' in them. The first was for a seventeen year old student fighting cancer. It has been an ongoing battle. Katie, the Warrior, was written back in the spring. She is doing well and currently cancer free.

 Another young woman had battled an illness and was waiting to be cleared to go swim in a lake. In mid-July, her wish was granted. I sent her Jump in the Lake.

In between those two events, I was thinking about all the things that young people face today. I know I was not concerned with as much when I was in high school; it could have been because there was less to deal with or because I was just clueless. Either way, The Warrior, is the third poem that I tapped out at my keyboard.

Looking back, I should have used "warrior" for the verse I added for Duane in Helmet to the Stone, a high school classmate who died from cancer this summer.

And warrior theme continues. I was binge watching America's Got Talent recap of Golden Tickets for 2018, and one young lady did a cover to Demi Lovato's "Warrior." Great song, great performance.

And if I'm going to touch on rock and roll songs and the warrior theme, I cannot leave out the classic Pat Benatar's "I am the Warrior." Always loved that song.

Warrior carries connotations of not giving up, passionate beliefs, and strength. And as shown above does not have to be a soldier in a war. It is much bigger. It is a human "energetically" facing challenges and making the world a better place.

Yes. Simply put, the word is "warrior."

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Reboot of Tarzan

Yes, this is a reboot and redesign of a blog I had originally named Tarzan: Surviving the 21st Century Jungle. I had a subtitle of "half naked and out on a limb." Although the title has changed to be a little more universal, the concept is the same.

It is a jungle out there. It is complex out there. As written for Tarzan, "The jungle we are in includes relationships, home repair, movies, family (wife and kids), work and whatever other denizens of the jungle lurk about." So, jungle is a good symbol for a complex world.

Tarzan, however, is not a good symbol for Sura. I am not some muscular lord of the jungle that can swing on vines easily and save people from the lions. I say this good-humorously, poking fun at my somewhat older self. (Note last post titel 'High Five Fifty'. This post could have been 'Fifty-five done hit me.') That being said, maybe I am a little wiser. Maybe I will be able to offer more insights.

Just to flashback on why I considered Tarzan as a title. Being a fan, "I have concluded that he is a good role model. Tarzan was a renaissance man who could read, write and speak well and could hunt, track and live in the jungle. He was a naturalist, environmentalist, philosopher, and lord of two worlds. He understood danger, family, code, honor, right and wrong, nature, man, good and bad, power, humility and nobility."

So, maybe that should be something of a mission statement. But let's add words like together, sharing, and humor. I think that will up our survivability rate.

So let's see where this adventure in writing takes us. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

High Five Fifty

Blink.

Wait, I 'm fifty? Whoa, I am fifty.

So did I hit fifty or did fifty hit me?

I would say that if one has been negligent and is sitting at fifty going where the hell did life go, then fifty hit him. But if at fifty, one is sitting around a bonfire with a cold drink, say a Crown and Coke, and has friends sitting with him, and has two good kids and a fun and spirited wife, then he hit fifty. He was living life and working hard and playing well with others so the journey had been good.

I am the latter of the two. I hit fifty, a milestone. And life is good.

Other milestones have come this summer. My son will be heading off into the college world, and my daughter will be entering the high school building (8th grade is in our high school) where I trek among curriculum, students and chaos. Heidi and I also celebrated 23 years of marriage. Good milestones on my journey. Yet, with them, I have many more to milestones to reach.

At the age of fifty, I have been in the classroom 19 years. I have had a good career, but I am not done yet. I still get excited about the beginning of the school year. I revel in the text, emails and posts I get from students. I received a ton of birthday wishes on Facebook. I was blessed with some personal notes of how I had made an impact on students' lives. One of the fun parts is the students who harass me about 2001: A Space Odyssey that we watched in my SciFi class. I get an occasional note about a recently seen reference to the movie (Muhaha). And over the summer, visits from students were rejuvenating to what I do. I love my job!

The writing? I am still engaged. Paul, my best friend and co-author, are in a final hard-copy edit of our book, Cry of the Eagle. It will be done soon. My blogs? I am struggling there a bit. As you may note, I have not been to Tarzan in a long time. I still crank out a poem or two. Did one for Brenda's retirement, my son's graduation, and one for Grace. As some may know, I give out personalized collections of poems to students at graduation time called Wordz.. What is cool is how many former students I see tell me they still have their copy. Plus, I have been playing on Twitter with short poems of 140 characters, a bit of a challenge. All part of playing with words.

And today, I am at my computer writing. I have work to do, some bills to pay and a messed up basement, but I am writing. I am enjoying putting these words on this post.

So, I would have to say. I did not hit fifty, nor did fifty hit me. It was more of a high five. A sign that things are good, but still still have more to do.

High Five! After all, it is a jungle out there.


Friday, January 27, 2012

Exercise (from 2010)


"P-zing!" The button shot off the waist of my pants, rocketed across the room, ricocheted off a vase and careened off the skull of the dozing cat. In the spastic flurry of pain and surprise, the cat did a double rollover and then laid in a semi-conscious state meowing pitifully. My increasing waistline almost killed. I now knew I had a problem.

After self-analysis, a shirtless fifteen minutes in front of the bathroom mirror sucking it in and then jiggling my belly which included whistling while making my belly-button appear as a tiny mouth, I decided that I needed to change my diet and exercise plan. Being that I have been known to close down a buffet, I took a look at my diet and concluded that my caloric intake suited my active lifestyle of teaching, coaching, marriage and children. After all, a busy sports car like myself burns up fuel. So that left exercise.

So, the first thing I did was sit up. After I caught my breath, I thought some Internet research would be the way to go. Yet, this led to the question, which -inizer device should I purchase. There was a abdominizer, the bunninizer, the flabanizer, the glutomaxinizer and something called a full womanizer; it sounded like something that would hurt, so I stayed away from it. All these devices "targeted" specialized muscles and would build a better body for 20 minutes a day. Reflecting back to my minutes in front of the mirror, I seemed that I would have to buy seven different devices and then work out 140 minutes a day. That seemed a bit extreme.

This was going to take some time. I decided to get a bag a chips and a large glass of cola while I searched for one of those complete gym set ups. I had not even started on the French onion dip when I had a heart attack. The darn things were expensive. I could exercise on my own without spending any money. All I had to do was recall what I did in gym class back in high school.

There were sit ups, pull ups, jumping jacks, windmills and toe touches. There were all those running games and dodge-ball. I could get some of the red rubber balls and have my kids chuck them at me. Of course, I would need a cup. I had too many days where a flying ball or sports apparatus interrupted my breathing pattern by hitting me in the groin. I wonder how many calories I could burn when I "walk it off."

So, now I have a plan of the regular, day to day, no cost program from the old school day gym class. The next step is to find my gym shoes and the tube socks that went up to just below my knees with the colored strips. If I get up early, I can get to the sporting goods store and find a spot right by the front door. I hate walking from the back of any parking lot.

And as of 2012, I have gotten to the sporting good store several times to buy athletic shoes! Don't say congratulations. I keep buying them for my growing athletic kids. My plan is still not doing so well.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Man Caves


            Saturday. Labor Day weekend. Storming, rainy day passing through. On the couch watching Tarzan’s Hidden Jungle (1955) and thinking about man caves.
            I have heard the expression for a few years now, and I even have a partially developed man cave in league with the basement family room. What I did not realize was that man caves has gone beyond being an expression.
DIY Network airs Man Caves, Sundays at 8pm. It is a thirty minute show in the vein of Trading Spaces, Yard Crashers and other home design shows, but, as the title suggests, it involves taking a room and other spaces and turning them into a space for the man of the house. Most of the converted rooms are basements, and they are turned into football or baseball themed rooms. These rooms revolve around sports paraphernalia, large screen television and a sports bar. There are some pretty cool looking layouts.
And as I researched on the Internet, I found websites dedicated to the concept, or should I say, reality, of the man cave. The “official” Man Cave site was mancavesite.org, followed by oddee.com, mybadpad.com and BroBible.com. All these sites had sections and photographs dedicated to that man space. These rooms are quite colorful and sturdy.
Now, the words man cave may have been a recent combination, but man caves have been around for a while. The Art of Manliness website has a historical perspective of “14 Famous Man Rooms.” Authors Brett and Kate McKay take us into the rooms of Mark Twain, Teddy Roosevelt, Earnest Hemingway and other men of history. There are some awesome photos with the article.
All man caves center around themes of guy stuff and activities where a man can be a man. The colors are bolder. The furniture is more rugged. The d├ęcor are, but not limited to, cars, sports, and/or hunting mostly. Man caves are not a He-Man’s Woman Haters Club where Spanky and the boys said, “No Girls Allowed.” They are a place where most men hang out with their friends. As mentioned above, man caves have some common elements with large television screens and bars, but must also include seating for friends and refrigeration for cold beverages.
My man cave, more of an alcove, includes things that are more my individual focus of being a science fiction and fantasy fan. Yes, Star Wars is featured, but a charcoal drawing of Worf is included and two paintings: the Dungeons and Dragons box cover of the early 80s and the 80s book cover of Thuvia, Maid of Mars. My friend, Scott, has a Batman collection that dominates his man cave. I guess we have Geek Caves.
Anyway, the only thing really new about man caves is the current expression itself; they have been around, well, since the man needed some space of his own back when Neanderthals first hunted, have evolved into “bachelor pads” and will continue way into the future (see Captain Kirk’s or Captain Malcolm Reynolds’ rooms).
Speaking of man caves and watching Tarzan, check out his place, a man cave in a tree. For him, it was a jungle out there.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Guy Kind of Show


The Deadliest Warrior television show has started season three with a head to head match up between George Washington and Napoleon Bonaparte. “Two Great Leaders Enter. One Leaves,” says Spike TV’s Deadliest Warrior web page.

Christopher, my son, is into military history and had been bouncing around on the cable network for entertaining and instructional shows about military tactics and events for years. Last year, he told me about The Deadliest Warrior and how they would match up the Ming Warrior against the Musketeer, or the Spartan versus the Ninja. This reminded me of boyhood conversation about comic book heroes if Superman went against Batman. Of course, in later years, the conversations were about Star Wars versus Star Trek, and Predator versus Alien (Predator, of course). I also witnessed a conversation of Darth Vader going toe to toe with Gandolf.

It’s a part of a guy conversations. Matching up opponents to see who would fair.

Now, let’s throw in some guys with the resources and knowledge to investigate these questions. Richard “Mack” Machowicz, Geoff Desmoulin, and Dr. Armand Dorian are the primary hosts for the season. All are experts in their field. Machowicz is a combat expert (former Navy SEAL) with a long resume'. His job is to analyze the effectiveness of weapons. He also hosts a show called future Weapons. Geoff Desmoulin is a biomedical engineer. He sets up the testing situation to see what damage can be done with whatever particular weapon. And Dr. Armand Dorian assesses the damage after the experiment is complete.

Also, these three guys are guys. When the cannon ball hits and the text dummies splatter, you see these guys yelling “O-oh!” But get this, so am I. With controlled firing situations, there is blood spatter and destruction of the text dummies that simulate wounds. The science of war is being tested.
The show also brings in experts who demonstrate, explain and teach the hosts about the weapon or warfare of whoever is being analyzed. There is some good-natured ribbing between the experts as they show how their warrior is the best. It is quite interesting how weapons are made, and their use and effectiveness are explained. Furthermore, with Washington and Bonaparte, there was discussion of battle strategy, supply issues, moral and leadership. These were figured into what the show called an X factor.

At the end of the show they run computer simulations based on all the factors they have studied, witnesses and discussed. Then, the computer spits out a ratio. While they run the results, they do a re-enactment of how the battle would go if the two should meet. Weapons and tactics are demonstrated. Washington and Bonaparte came out really close.

The show is entertaining and educational, which is a great combination for a guy show that also has the “did you see that?” factor. If you are curious, stop by Spike TV, 10pm on Wednesdays. Next up in the duel is Joan of Arc versus William the Conqueror.

The Deadliest Warrior shows that it has been a jungle out there for a long time.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

2010 Barbaric Yawp of the Year

Being that a yawp is a “loud, harsh cry,” and that Tarzan had his loud cry resound over the jungle, and that Walt Whitman wrote, “I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world, and being that this is my blog, I have created the Barbaric Yawp of the Year. This award recognizes a person’s yawp (voice, work, actions, life), and how it was heard “over the roofs of the world” (affect on others).



But first a few things as to the why. I like award shows that recognize the accomplishments of the past year. I like Time magazine’s Person of the Year. I like those American Film Institute’s Top 100 Lists. I like heroes and heroic stories of literature and of real life.  And I like those moments where the time is taken to say “Thank you.” So it boils down to, I like recognizing those people, movies, books, stories, pictures and moments that show excellence, heroism, courage and humanity that inspire us to achieve more.

For example, I give a Barbaric Yawp to the movie Dead Poets Society that illustrates the barbaric yawp. I give another Yawp to To Kill A Mockingbird for it is a great work of literature and gave us the noble and courageous Atticus Finch who was also named American Film Institute’s number one movie hero. I give a Barbaric Yawp to veterans and soldiers. I give a Barbaric Yawp to my brothers and sisters for they each have earned one through their lives and individual stories. I give a Barbaric Yawp to the student who stood in front of the tanks in Tiananmen Square, the fireman who cradled the body of a two year child after the Oklahoma City Bombing, the “Man in the Water” from the Air Florida plane crash in DC, and to New York firemen who’s first day on the job was 9/11. The list of Barbaric Yawps is long and overdue, and I will share more of these stories later.

Anyway, now to the 2010 Barbaric Yawp of Year.

Rob Kunik.

It will be almost a year since we lost Rob. His influence on students, peers and family was and is still present. He was a good teacher, husband and friend. His yawp was heard by many. He challenged students with reading diverse text. He stubbornly held them to high standards. He loved his kids and family passionately. He fueled dreams and caused laughter. He had the courage to confront. He was a man of books and sports, a good example of a renaissance man, a Tarzan. His yawp was heard over the rooftops of the world. I would say more, but knowing Rob, he wouldn’t want me to prattle on.

The yawp that some of his students return to him is, “O Captain, My Captain.” Yeah, he liked Whitman and was a fan of Dead Poets Society. So, stand on a desk and give a yell.

It’s a jungle out there.