he who is known as sefton

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Location: Susquehanna Depot, Pennsylvania, United States

Well, if you got here via the bi-chromatic Universe and "Dez", thanks. Their being available means they can be rented out, so to say, to vendors. For example, they'd be great in promoting pastries. Kids love cookies, so do adults. As for that ascending numeral three, it came about by way of ignorance. More than once, I'd see that same numeral with wings or a halo or both even on this or that pickup truck. And, dumb me, I'd think they were like golden horse shoes or four-leaf clovers ... good luck charms. It wasn't until later, I found out those threes are meant to commemorate one posthumously charismatic NASCAR driver. To inspire all those signs of grief, that guy might've had the makings for ... well, that's likely better left to the intuition of NASCAR votaries.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Community Veterans' Service Board in Susquehanna Depot

Thanks to new eyes, I've revised the article that appears in this slot.

I'm chagrined with myself, and for good reason. Really, it's a family thing for us Stellas. Well, so I thought. For years, I've walked past the Community Veterans' Service Board, without noticing something was out of kilter. By the way, the service board, which is a memorial, is located at the intersection of Main and Exchange streets in Susquehanna. On broad and tall white panels, one can read the names of local residents, who served in this nation's military, during various wars. What struck me as being out of kilter was the absence of one name.

During the last few months of the First World War, my father served his newly adopted country as a soldier in a then allied country, specifically, France. His name is absent. Funny thing, I never noticed this, until very recently. Well, this presented me with a problem. It's one thing to request the addition of my father's name to the board. It's another to ensure its being properly inscribed.

Around town, my father was known as "Patsy", which is the expected nickname for a "Pasquale". To my ear and eye, it just wouldn't be proper to have my father listed as "Stella, Patsy". And I know for a fact he never cared too much for "Pasquale". Whenever our priest recited the names of donors to, say, improvements in the Laurel Athletic Club hall, I would hear "Mister and Misses P Stella".

For a second, I thought, maybe, "Stella, P" might do. And then, I thought "c'mon". Then, I recalled he was occasionally called "Pasqual", his given name without the "e" ending. According to what I can recall, my father seemed to consider that acceptable.

Deciding on "Stella, Pasqual", I went to see about getting his name added, and properly inscribed. And so, I spoke with a member of the committee, responsible for erecting the Community Veterans' Service Board. Well, I got enlightened. Shortly after that, I wrote, and then published a FIRST draft. And that led to a second enlightenment.

Come to find out, the draft board, with which my father was listed, was in Illinois. I also learned a couple other facts about my father. While in Illinois, he worked in a piano factory, and a few steel mills. The veteran's bonus he used to open his tap room came by way of the Illinois bureaucracy. Some of the money was used to purchase equipment to refrigerate beer.

At the time, he was on lay-off from the Erie Railroad. When World War II came around, he got re-called as a "fire cleaner". For years afterwards, he held down two jobs, one with the railroad and the other with the tap room, later referred to as a tavern.

As best as I can recall, my father never expressed any negative feelings towards any particular group of people, with one exception and that, reasonably enough, being the Women's Christian Temperance Union. And to my recollection, that he did so only once, during a casual conversation that touched on his helping with repair work on a church steeple.

Incidentially, I'm throwing this in for no particular reason. Still, I think it matters. One of my brother Louie's sons expressed an interest in opening a restaurant. In response, I told him something like so: "If you open a book store, you open a business. If you open a restaurant, you MARRY a business." Well, dear Reader, make of that, whatever suits your fancy.

I knew before the second enlightenment about the veteran's bonus and the refrigeration equipment. But the information about Illinois was completely new to me. What was also completely new was the likelihood of his membership in the Veterans of Foreign Wars. I say "likelihood" because it's highly doubtful that organization's beaureaucracy would send its magazine to non-members, who were regular people as my father was.

That reminds me. I was informed by a trustworthy source the American Legion is meticulous about membership qualifications. It is normal protocol for membership committees to ask for the opportunity to examine such documentation as discharge papers.

Due to attention to similar protocol, it would take some three years of effort to get that service board erected. During that time, members of the committee, volunteers from the local American Legion and Lions' Club, here in my home town in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, perspired bullets in gathering names, and in validating of same. Come to find, not only is my father's name absent, but so that of some one hundred others.

Oh, yes, I was told more names will have to be added, because of second Bush's second Iraq invasion and subsequent occupation. Chances are, I thought to myself, adding those names will require an additional broad and tall white panel. Anyway, during my enlightenment, I asked about having my father's name, "Stella, Pasqual", put in a file for reference, whenever that memorial gets refurbished. Aaay, "refurbished" was the best term that came to mind.

By the way, I do hope that's what happened, when I mentioned that the name of my brother, "Stella, Mark J", is likewise missing. During the Korean conflict, he served as a soldier in that unfortunate country.

Here's where I admit to being even more chagrined with myself. My brother, "Stella, Louis C", was serving, as a marine, likewise in Korea during that conflict. Just as the name of "Mark J" is missing under the KOREA rubric, so is that of "Louis C". In that regard, there's a difference between the two. Under the WORLD WAR II rubric and along with his twin brother Angelo, "Lewis C" is listed.

For quite a while there, I thought that my brother Louie's given name had been misspelled ... well, mistakes happen, ya'know. Just to remind the reader, earlier in this piece, I mention a first and then a second enlightenment. During my second enlightenment, I found out that Louie's first given name was "Luigi".

I am positive I know what impelled him to replace "Luigi" with "Lewis", and then "Louis". More than once, I got teased because my surname is "Stella". I remember some jackass, who outweighed me by some 60 pounds, would pester me for "Stella d'Oro" cookies, after warbling "Stella by Starlight" ... gotta admit, she had a pretty decent singing voice.

Come to find out, my brother "Mark J", whose nickname is "Joe" was known as "Luigi". To enlist in the Marine Corps, he "borrowed" a birth certificate. How it came about, I don't know. And more than likely, I'm not supposed to know how it did come about. After a year and quite some time short of his contracted enlistment, that particular Luigi was discharged under honorable conditions. Known later as Lewis, the other Luigi, who had served with his twin brother Angelo on the U.S.S MACON, got discharged from the Navy

Frankly, I doubt that, after the service board gets refurbished, there will appear under the WORLD WAR II rubric something like "Stella, Mark J as Stella, Luigi C".

Well, I knew my family's story contained some odd details, But I had no idea until recently.

Funny thing about that brother with the three given names, he was intensely proud of having served in the Marine Corps. So much so, he was an active member of some group for marine veterans. At his viewing, a contingent of that group fired several shots in memoriam.

Yes and yes again, I was irked about the absence of the names of my father and brothers, under the appropriate rubrics, from the service board. But that's now in the past. Due to my second enlightenment, I am contenting myself with this article. Somewhere, so I've been told, and forever, this article will be floating around in the galaxy that is known as the Internet. I suppose I should count this as a success.

So, maybe, the names I want on that service board, under the appropriate rubrics, will be forever absent. So (?) what! We Stellas are resilient. We'll get by

In the previous draft that followed my first enlightenment, I mention that, even with so many names missing, getting that service board erected was eminently laudable. And so, I concluded that previous draft with a list of names of members of the committee, justifiably credited with getting the service board erected. Maybe, I should repeat the list. But I won't. My second enlightenment gave me new eyes.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

In a mood, similar to that which infuses the text above the line of green asterisks, I should like to animadvert to what I recently witnessed on some 24/7-news cable channel. I guess the proper term for what got broadcast was "video opportunity".

Wood'ja (?) buh-leave! A crowd of military service personnel had gathered for a pep talk, to be delivered by, of all people, Vice President Dick Cheney. As he went to the podium, the crowd cheered and applauded.

Anyway, my teevee screen showed the vice president striding past a row of people, decked out in military regalia. The one exception in civvies was an armless and legless man. In an attempt to participate in the applause, he mimicked clapping with his stumps. The display was, in my considered opinion, grotesquely ludicrous.

Oh, alright (!) already, call me "imaginatively sensitive", if you must. Whatever the case, somehow within earshot of my mind, I heard that amputee cry out,

"Look at me! Look at me! Please! I need attention. Please!"

Had the vice president halted in his progress towards the podium, and exchanged words with that unfortunate, I think I would've gasped ... maybe, even feared for the end of the world. Truth be told and in fairness to our Vice President, I don't think that former president Bill "I feel you pain" Clinton would've halted. Again, truth be told but in fairness to the former president, he'd be way far more likely to do so than vee pee "little dickey sunshine".

More than true enough, I am still just a tad irked by the absence of my father's and brothers' names from the Community Veterans' Service Board. Lots of things irk me, but very few impel me to grouse.

Lemme tell'ya true, rarely have I ever felt such dismay for the plight of another human being as that evoked by that of that amputee.

For the love of God, somebody should've halted, and said something like,

"In compliance with your government's policies, you stood in harm's way. Your doing so cost you and yours dearly. My saying 'your nation is grateful' would be grotesquely ludicrous. But let me say this, 'Whatever good can extracted from the fiasco, in which you and so many others lost so much, I will do my best to extract. That much, you're owed'."

.... aaaay, you, whyz.ache.err, you realize you're living in the 21st century, right? Likely enough, something like that would have to happen before the lens of a teevee camera ... aaay, I doubt there's any other way that could happen.
ya'wanna know what's cheering me, as I write the piece. Get a little closer to the monitor, and I'll enlighten you.

I'll be the first to admit to being disappointed over Karl Rove's apparent avoidance of indictment ... ah, slimily slipping off the hook, so to say. Likely enough, the bushie cronies heaved a heavy sigh of relief, because only that "scooter" guy got indicted. Well, I got sour news for them.

The man, who had assembled the evidence that put that "scooter guy" squarely in legal cross-hairs, is after much bigger game. What's more, he ain't no jackass in the manner of a "Kenny Boy" Starr, who tried to bring down then President Bill "I feel your pain" Clinton with invented evidence. No and no again, the man, who nailed "scooter" is neither coward nor fool.

According to certain news reports, just before this man, Special Prosecutor Patrick "Cap'n Ahab" Fitzgerald, handed scooter the latter's well earned and richly deserved indictment, he had met with Rove's attorney. Something tells me a deal was cut. I'm willing to wager my five doughnuts to somebody's three that Karl "slime" Rove squealed. ... ya'know, I wouldn't be surprised if I were to learn that, in the dead of the night, slime and his attorney and Cap'n Ahab sat down for a deposition.

... ya'know, I look forward to hearing the right wing squeal. Of course, that segment of our political spectrum will attribute all sorts of evil motives to Cap'n Ahab.

gee ... the truth told with evil intent beats all the lies you can invent. Incidentally, I'm quoting Samuel Leghorn Clemens, better known as Mark Twain.

One might wonder what could be making Cap'n Ahab run. Oh, well, maybe, he bears emotional scars, inflicted when he was five years. When five-year-old girls were giving parties for their friends, supposedly, a look-out was stationed to prevent his crashing.

Here's a remark for the bushies to chew on, after they get their butts kicked out the White House. It is only prudent for fraternity social chairmen to eschew being sought for whale oil by an "Asperger's syndrome".


.he who is known as sefton

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Monday, October 24, 2005

progress costs!

To begin grappling with this topic in the manner that's expected of a wild-eyed iconoclast, I'm invoking the right of the living. I demand the aid due me from a decades-dead heroin addict, who signature tune has been rubbing, raw and right, embedded commonplace sensibilities. ... eYep, some folks, I can well conjecture, have been put off by the large mouthful that subsumes those two preceding - rather piquant, dare one say - sentences. Who (?) can blame them!

Likely enough, their disposition limits their expository consumption to material with the consistency of bite-size snappy sentences, thickly dusted with sweetener. ... aaaay, there's nothing wrong with that. If I had friends, I'd likely enough have a few such people as dear friends. .... aaay, it takes all kinds to make a world.

All the preceding now flashing on the dear Reader's monitor, lemme now eye.dee the put-upon heroin addict, namely, Billie Holliday. According to rumor, on the way to her grave, she was both proud of and dismayed with her name's being forever enclosed within those brackets, certain to follow STRANGE FRUIT.

Its lyrics unmistakably allude to societal transaction, upon which current federal law enforcement frowns. At one time, the transaction in question had its defenders. Allegedly, it ensured glorious harmony between "the two races". Almost like clockwork, a mob of caucasian citizens would lynch colleague citizens of that other race, mostly men, but on occasion women and "uppity" adolescents. For several generations, it seemed efficacious in ensuring the alleged harmony.

At this point, I should like to insert a note about what I once read in regard to my Mediterranean heritage. Supposedly, I have stored deep within "racial memory" au Jung the following adage. And I quote, "There is no progress without price." In compliance with my American acculturation, I'm now presenting for your edification, dear Reader, a snappier version, specifically, "progress costs".

I can remember watching on television, some years before the advent of satellite, a docudrama about the life of Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King junior. In one scene, the actor portraying the good reverend doctor complains, or depending on one's point of view - whines, bitterly about the apparent need for "human sacrifice". Here's the underlying message I got from that scene. Most certainly, the good reverend accepted that he had been, somehow, called to be in the forefront in the struggle for civil rights.

At bottom, the struggle entailed extinguishing habits that had flourished during the time lynching was both tolerated, and even defended. However, he was far from eager to die for the struggle's sake, as if the lynchings weren't already more than sacrifice enough. It's a defensible inference that the actual good reverend would consider as a reasonably valid point the comment, "progress costs".

Into this essay, there comes a man, whom, whatever the government, its authorities found a bit much. In the essay titled "religion as elephant", he's introduced as Avram Beilitzsyn. Nowadays, I have sneaking hunch that wasn't the name his mama gave him. Even so, he was the most thoroughly spiritual human being I've ever met. Except for those all-night gap sessions, fueled by six-packs of Coors, he made the average papal candidate look like a moral slacker. Oh, what a character he was!

Back in the last century's 30s, he went to Russia to help lay the foundation for a grand and glorious global civilization. To keep his ass out of the gulag, he had to sneak across the Finnish border. Later on, in this country, a few years before the onset of World War II, he tried to distribute a book that predicted the Holocaust. Being the thoroughly spiritual man that he was, he made, in hindsight, a rash prediction in STEPPING STONES. The remnants of European Jewry would find succor and welcome in the land their God had promised Abraham.

Ah, truth be told, I now suspect Avram believed that the classically Arabic Koran was much closer in spirit to his Hebrew Old Testament than the koinonia Greek New Testament. By the way, he could read all three languages. So, why shouldn't the Arabs welcome back home (?) their siblings through the fatherhood of their common patriarch! Didn't happen, did it?

I was privileged to read one of the few copies that escaped being burned by the United States Postal Service. Maybe, that unfortunate turn of events could've been avoided, had Avram regarded with a cooler eye and a more jaundiced eye the genius that was Wilhelm Reich.

... ah, just among you and me and the lamp post, Avram's prose made D H Lawrence and Henry Miller look like potty-mouth third graders. ... aaaay, you, whyz.ache.err, try to remember, back in the last century's 50s, "Banned in Boston" was a big deal. So, try to imagine what commonplace attitudes were like, twenty years earlier.

Years and years later, when Avram and I were conversing toward the end of some of our all-night gap sessions, he would wax sarcastic, even sardonic, with regard to the burning of his book. He was lucky, he would asseverate vehemently, he had been deprived of free room and board that been provided Dr Reich in Lewisburg Penitentiary. Incidentally, that's where Dr Reich, the rather controversial herald of "orgone"prison, died ... "love and work and knowledge are the wellsprings of life, shouldn't they also guide same?"

Anyway, so Avram was given to hypothesize, had he been allowed to distribute STEPPING STONES, maybe, just maybe, the conflict between Jew and Arab in the Middle East could've been avoided. Instead of prowling around in helicopters that are armed with air-to-ground missiles, Jews would be conducting seminars in the eschatology of existentialism. Instead of fabricating bombs that occasionally detonate inexpediently, Arabs would be designing public edifices, even more splendorous than the Alhambra. Instead of cowering in their basement, Christians would be managing guided-tour companies.

Oh, what a magnificent dreamer he was! Just as there are synagogues and mosques in Rome, churches and mosques in Jerusalem, soon ... so he was sure ... there would be synagogues and churches in Mecca.

+ + + + euwwww, the horror! the horror! The thought of Reverend Dobson or Falwell or Robertson, or horror beyond horror, all three preaching in Mecca gives me the heebie jeebies. aaay, c'mon, whyz.ache.err, as if relations between the so-called West and the Islamic world weren't rocky enough already. + + + + + + + + +

Here's where I insert my personal viewpoint in my recounting this dear old man's fondest hope. Besides being adiaphorestic, I'm also cynical. Now that I think about, years later, why Avram ever bothered with me is still a mystery. Oh, well, lemme resume. I've never been to Mecca ... understand? I don't qualify. And yet, I'm willing to bet five doughnuts to somebody's three.

The wager being, well within the precinct of that holy city, tucked away out of sight of those pilgrims bound by religious duty to visit there, a McDonald's pit-stop is catering to Mecca's permanent residents. .... aaay, c'mon, Muslims, who live in Mecca, have as much right to scomp Big Macs as Muslims, who live in Cairo.

Wood'jah (?) buh-leave! The presence of McDonald's in Cairo had something to do with ... oh, never mind!

Dear Reader, let us you and I try to suppose that Avram's fondest hope and most cherished prediction had been realized. Oh, yeah, a comment from the teevee series BABYLON 5 just popped into mind. Predictions that come true are prophecy, those that don't are metaphor.

Oh, well, lemme resume. Instead of being immersed in conflict that is not only bloody but also scandalous, the Middle East rather overflows with the milk and honey of peace and prosperity, and a divinely countenanced comity that one should expect to find among the progeny of a common patriarch. And then, this pops up.

... progress costs! ....

I for one surmise that a scholar's case could be made that women's liberation in the Middle East was kicked off by the United Nations' partition of Palestine in 1947.

... progress costs! ....

Here, I'm going way out on a limb. And I'm doing so with only the thinnest justification. While surfing around the Internet, I came upon an article that deals with the difficulties young American Muslims are encountering, as they try to practice their faith. Lackadaisical me, I merely skimmed the article.

So, for no valid reason I can even imagine, I'm inferring what could be, indeed has to be, conflict between those young Muslims and their parents. It's not so much that young Muslims, born and brought up in this country, are rejecting Islam. It's more like they feel they're being urged to comply with an "Islam for then and there". In accordance with their American acculturation, they would much prefer an "Islam for here and now".

Chances are, those poor parents go into a rage, when they hear their children quote a story that's often been successfully used to proselytize Islam ... "not much difference, mine's just a little newer ... ". ... eYep, so I contend, that's just one of the repercussions stemming from the aforementioned conflict. And there are more, certain to follow.

... progress costs! ....

In other pieces, published elsewhere, I've advocated baptizing those so-called Islamic militants, who are intent on obliterating McDonald's, with the sobriquet "bedbug". I did so for various reasons, chief among them, to ridicule "bedbug" misogyny. I'm beginning to surmise that the management of McDonald's won't have to lift a finer to fumigate those bedbugs. With each passing day, they're become more assuredly known as foolhardy crackpots in the service of a psychotic manifestation of an "Islam for then and there".

... progress costs! ....

Some of my numerous devoted fans may well be wondering why I've refrained from devoting time and space to other more, say, "spectacular" consequences of the failure of Islam to seize a once-in-a-millennium opportunity. Truth be told, it's a good guess those topics are already being tackled by others with more imposing academic credentials.

If I may, I should like to conclude this piece with a comment about progress costing only a little romance. For about a year, this country's East Coast communicated the West Coast, and vice versa, via Pony Express. Conveying a couple saddlebags filled with missives, a young man, usually, would ride a horse to a relay station. There, the rider would swap his exhausted horse for a fresh mount, and continue with the delivery.

For about a year, dime novels by the dozens entertained the unwashed but literate masses with tales, tall and true, about the intrepid riders of the Pony Express. And then, it happened. The dots and dashes of the telegraph began traversing the country ... bye bye Pony Express.


.he who is known as sefton

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

CRYSTAL STAR - segment 03

In this segment, I'm publishing pages 21 through 30 in Scene 2, along with specific suggestions, regarding how the play should be staged, and performed. As readers encounter the following segments, they shall be reminded about how the text is being published. In the following segment, a few succeeding pages in the original are published. And in the segment after that, a few pages that succeed those are published, and so forth for the rest.

Copyright (c) 1978 by Albert A.M. Stella

Scene 2 - page 21

Rabbi: No, I could not endure it. I had to do something to drown my mind. To that end, I occupied myself life a fanatic with religious study to deaden the agony.

Volumna: Couldn’t you have had your doctor prescribe something like a tranquilizer?

Rabbi: How could a physician, no matter how astute, scribble a prescription for loss and emptiness?

Volumna: Well, isn’t time supposed to heal such pain?

Rabbi: Perhaps, I am weaker than other men. Time brought me no such relief. Each time my daughter looked into my eyes, I would once again experience my loss. And love for her, my wife’s gift for me, would deepen.

Joachim: How was that possible? Doch, you must thrill to the crack of the whip.

Rabbl: A man like you would know about whips. ***(A little bravado.)*** But how could you guess? I endured lashes that would have cut you into ribbons.

Volumna: How could you have live through something like that?

Rabbi: I lived through it because I had given my whole soul, my whole heart, my entire will over to the Study of Our Holy Literature.

Joachim: What is it that you want to tell us? You survived miraculously a beating because you read so much Hebrew theology?

Volumna: You are a brute. Stop teasing the rabbi.

Scene 2 - page 22

Joachim: This rabbi is an old fool. No fools deserve to be teased more than old fools.

Rabbi: God may have a special regard for fools, young as well as old. On occasion, he even teases his fools.

Joachim: Old Jew, let us cease this senseless talk. Tonight, you get seven hundred West German marks.

Rabbi: Doch, you must feel the hoc breath of the hounds on your neck.

Joachim: How would you like to feel the cold steel of my blade on your neck.

Rabbi Joachim, are you fool enough to believe you can frighten me?

Volumna: Please, Rabbi Gottesmann, don’t challenge him to try.

Rabbi: ***(Gently Chiding.)***Fraulein Volumna X Cliothal, you must learn to remain cool and collected in the presence of unearthly evil.

Joachim: Tell me, old man, how did you learn that? Did you take a correspondence course from your Polish educational extension service?

Rabbi: I learned after a few years of my intense concentration on those Holy Words. Every so often, I would receive a vision.

Joachim: Stale chicken soup!

Volumna: Why the hell won’t you shut up?

Scene 2 - page 23

Rabbi: Late at night, after I had found a passage that interested me, sometimes a vision would come to me. My body would melt like wax, my blood would boil my brain, and my heart would freeze.

Volumna: You poor, old dear.

Joachim: ***(Traces a small circle near his right temple. This old Jew’s nuts.)***

Rabbi: In the morning, I would find myself on the floor and my little daughter in sleep huddled against me. Her little night dress would be moist with my perspiration.

Volumna: Oh, ***(Comes the dawn.)*** When you were talking about those lashes, you were ALLUDING to your visions. ***(She just learned a new word today.)***

Joachim: You must be very good to riddles.

Volumna: But, Rabbi Gottesmann, wouldn’t it have been more sensible, if you had cut down on your studying?

Rabbi: To the world at large, that is the sensible thing to do.

Volumna: And yet you continue. For how long?

Rabbi: Longer than I care to remember.

Volumna: Do you still have visions?

Rabbi: Do you know any old men who have visions?

Volumna: Then when did you stop having these visions?

Scene 2 - page 24

Rabbi: I remember, ***(Dreamy monologue.)*** I remember the very first day I met Helushka. She seemed like such an ordinary girl. Her family sent her over to watch my daughter while I handled some other affairs. ***(Drifts into silence.)***

Volumna: ***(Fifteen second wait.)*** What did she have to do with these visions?

Rabbi: That night, after I had sent Helushka home and saw to my little daughter in her bed, I plunged myself deep into study once more. That night, I had a vision once more, and never another since. ***(Still in the dream.)***

Volumn: What did you see in your visions?

Rabbi: ***(Still in the dream.)*** Look at this man. Look at his life. There you will have to find your answer.

Volumna: That is one weird answer. What did that girl have to do with your visions? Did she do anything to make them stop coming to you?

Rabbi: ***(Quick wake-up.)*** What she did? Not what she did, Volumna, but what she had.

Joachim: Old man, what did she have? ***(Quick to pounce, if there’s a wrong answer.)***

Rabbi: An inner spirit radiant with the truth of Our Faith. The sanctity of her struck me with awe. So much so, that except for letters to individuals, I never wrote ever after.

Scene 2 - page 24

Volumna: Obviously, you loved her spiritually.

Rabbi: What do you think?

Joachim: I think you are a pitiful, old man, deluded by halucinations.

Rabbi: For a man such as you that would be the only thing to think. But, if what I experienced had happened to you, yes, even a Calihula such as you, you would … you would…

Joachim: I would do what, old man? I would cease to be a heartless monster automaton that revels in torture and bloodshed.

Rabbi: Did you enjoy the murder of that girl? You shed her blood twice.

Volumna: ***(Shocked.)*** Twice?

Joachim: ***(Quick to reply.)*** I did not kill that girl.


Rabbi: You shed her blood.

*********(MORE SILENCE)************

Volumna: Did you really and truly shed her blood?

Joachim: ***(Stage whisper.)*** Ja.

Volumna: Do you remember the circumstances? Do you recall the day?

Joachim: ***(Softly)*** Ja.

Volumna: What kind of day was it?

Scene 2 - page 26

Joachim: ***(More Volumne.)*** A crisp, autumn day.

To the director and producer, see next section for special instructions.

Just as a reminder—absolutely no German accents in the English dialogue, unless native to the actors.

Before you take a look at the way the stage should be set up, you should know this. This play was written around the distinction of two conceptual worlds. In one world, the vast majority of us live the best years of our lives. To be pseudo-erudite, one may use this term “dream/memory/fantasy” to describe it. A better and more judicious term is “the fog”.

Poets describe the other world as that composed of underarm deordorants, job applications and yield signs.

All who live exist in this world. How many of us, however, care to live in it?

Later on in the play, you may get the idea there’s an attempt to save on actors. That is not so. The intent is, rather, to show the audience that the fog can seep into the other world. Sometimes, the results aren’t always pleasant.


First off, you’ll have to get your ideas for lighting, from the body of the script and the lay-out of the theatre.

As for the stage, it should be split into a third and two/thirds. The one third (see drawing #1, which is located at the bottom of this post) will be the kitchen where the good rabbi holds court. The two/thirds will be for the weeds, where the fog pervades.

The woods surface is elevated about a foot (30 cms.) above the of the kitchen. Some thin, gauze curtain, if feasible, should separate the kitchen from the woods. You should have some red lighting for the woods so that the audience can understand this. What happens in the kitchen is “actual”, in the woods, “memory time”.

Here are the basics on Joachim’s hide-away drape. When the rabbi opens the door to let the two cops in, Joachim will go behind the drape. And, when the cops open the door to go out, Joachim will come out from behind. The door should be open wide and long enough so that Joachim can do it, without being seen by the audience.

Incidentally, his formal name is pronounced YO-AH_Kim; and his pet name, YA-chin.

Scene 2 - page 29

(See Drawing #2, which is found at the top of this post.)

Here is pretty much how the drape should look. That writing is Greek for “Know Thyself!”

Colors are optional.

The drape should not hang all the way to the floor. Rather than functioning as the wall, it covers a hole in the wall.

With the third scene, singing begins. The song Poem lyrics are contained in the appendix at the back of the script.

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Sunday, October 09, 2005

religion as elephant

This little Jewish guy swaggers up to the boss of a logging crew, and asks for a job as a lumber jack. The boss looks him up and down, before asking whether he's had any experience. In turn, the little Jewish guy looks his prospective employer up and down, and then says "Twenty years in the Sahara forest."

"You mean the Sahara DESERT."

The little Jewish guy grins. "NOW, it's a desert."

Here, I'm asking you, dear Reader, to exercise a little imagination. Let's consider all the trees that were felled in making a desert of the Sahara forest. Now, let's suppose all those trees had been converted into paper. Somebody might joke that would've been just enough paper to print all the books that delve into religion ... gotta admit that makes for one hell'uva lot of reading material.

Well, when we consider there's a myriad of opinions about each of the myriad of religions in the world, surely, we have to concede the possibility of all sorts of opinions about religion in general. And this leads me to my second anecdote, which comes to us by way of the Indian subcontinent.

Every Wednesday afternoon, several blind men gather for tea in a little ... oh, let's say ... cantina. There, they talk about all sorts of matters. One afternoon, the subject was elephants. Usually, the discussion is lively. In India, blind men are noted for having strong opinions they defend fiercely. This time, however, they were at a loss, because none of them had ever encountered an elephant.

Fortunately for the blind men, there was a kindly mahout at a nearby table. Learning about their lack of experience, he offered to take them to the elephant, over which he was in charge. Once the blind men got to the elephant, each began examining for himself what the beast might be like.

One grabbed the trunk, and assumed the elephant was like a rope. Another grabbed a tusk, and assumed the elephant was like a spear. Another felt along an ear ... so the elephant was like a fan. Another ran his hands up and down a leg, and assumed the elephant was like a column. Another bumped into the side of the elephant, and exclaimed, "Such a wall!" Yet another took hold of the tail, and assumed fly swatter.

Oh, by the way, the mahout was in charge of a male elephant. So, let's just let it go about what might've been assumed the elephant was like.

Back at the cantina, the blind men began discussing what each was sure the elephant was like. Yes, it was a lively discussion. None were wrong, but all were far from right.

By way of comparison, the variety of the opinions the blind men had about the elephant is, in my considered opinion, much like the variety of opinions people have about religion.

If I may, I should like to begin this next segment with a comment about how religion was regarded by the various strata of Roman society. Yes, I'm referring to the Rome we see in the movies with togas and gladiators and centurions. The various religions were regarded as equally true by the common people, as equally false by the philosophers, and equally useful by the Roman magistrates.

That's one take on the various religions. Here's another. Some people delve into religion in much the same way, say, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt delved into philately. I think I read somewhere he liked collecting stamps that dealt with various aspects of the navies of various nations. Oh, alright (!) already, so in this essay, I have a thing about "various". So (!), what?

In revealing the following third way of regarding religion, I will take my sweet ever-loving time. I was traveling from the East coast to the other via bus. My trip was in segments. At the end of one segment, I would transfer to another bus to start on the next segment.

During one horribly long three--hour segment, which so far as time is absolutely reckoned was actually the shortest, I had to endure purgatory on earth. I had the misfortune to be seated, cheek by jowl, next to a woman, whose personal hygiene left much to be desired. She had a face like a foot, and a presence like snot. The kid, whom she thrice breast fed, was ugly enough to pass for the missing link. And twice, I had to bear up under the privilege of witnessing, in close quarters, urgent diaper change ... and I do mean "urgent".

During those three hours, I was glad I was traveling on a completely empty stomach. When I got off the bus to transfer to another, bidding a very relieved adieu to "foot face" and "missing link", I successfully resisted the urge to kiss the ground. Several hours would have to pass, before I could continue travel by bus. So, I was stuck at a bus station in a jerkwater town, way out in God's country. I was there long enough to recover enough from my involuntary acquaintance with my erstwhile seat peer for the onset of hunger pangs. My stomach was completely empty ... remember?

Within sight of the bus station, there was a diner, and I was in grave need of comfort food. It was morning, and I was in the mood for corned beef hash with eggs, sunny-side up and gooey, and coffee, rich in caffeine. As I was enjoying my repast, several elderly gentlemen were seated at a nearby table. They were talking loudly enough to impose involuntary eavesdropping.

Wood'ja (?) buh-leave!

They were arguing over how many match sticks were in a match box. I didn't quite catch all the fine and relevant details. Even so, I got irritated enough to break in with some unsought advice.

"Look," I said, "here's the scientific method. You go to the store, you buy three boxes of the brand of match sticks you're grousing about. Then, you count the match sticks in each box, add up all three counts, and then divide by three to get the average. What could be simpler? It's the scientific method, ya'know."

I got informed in a frosty manner the elderly gentlemen were talking about a particular match box, a unique match box, and not just any ole match box.

"Okay, then," I said, "open that match box, dump the match sticks on the table, and count them. What could be simpler?"

None of them had that specific match box in his possession.

"For the love of God, somebody go get that stupid match box!"

None of them knew where it was located.

Here's the kicker. None of them knew whether the match box in question even existed.

In our universities, those so-called groves of academe, there are hell-bent-for- leather scholars starting out on a career path towards a doctorate in medieval European history. If they're shrewd enough, they chuckle dutifully, when their professor lectures them about that era's theologians. Those divines knew everything there was to know about God, except whether the Deity existed.

eYep, take my word for it. I pondered time and again all the above for quite a while. Finally, I arrived at the conclusion that I'm adiaphorestic. I am theologically indifferent. In the interest of devoting time and space to other more relevant concerns, I'm sparing the reader elucidation.

Now, there enters this essay a man, whom, whatever the government, its authorities found a bit much. In several other website, I mention one Avram Beilitzsyn. What a character (!) he was. For about four weeks, before I left Oregon State University for Christmas in Pennsylvania, I eagerly basked in his intellectual brilliance. From what I could tell, he was more deeply educated than, I venture to say, 99.9% (ninety-nine and nine tenths percent) of that university's instructional staff. In addition, he was more comprehensively educated. To boot, Avram was even more elegantly educated.

Up in years and past expected retirement age, he had to earn his daily bread as a car wash ape. For years, long after he skipped out, two months in arrears on his rent, I'd be chagrined, whenever I thought about how cruelly he was abused by fortune and men's eyes.

Coming to think of it, I used to harbor ill will towards the United States Postal Service. Its agents burned copies of his book. Had he been allowed to distribute STEPPING STONE, maybe, just maybe, two major world faiths would've been spared confrontation, not only bloody but also scandalous. But that's a story for another time.

Thanks to Avram, I acquired another take on religion. Again, dear Reader, I'm calling for an exercise in imagination.

A choir master settles in a new town, and decides to establish his own choir. After a bit, he recruits a number of people, who are eager to sing in his choir. The choir master is dismayed, when he discovers all of his lyrical aspirants sing in the exact same register, and even have the exact same timbre. When it comes to this or that choral piece, all that sameness can produce a nice effect. Unfortunately, it makes for a dull choir.

If a choir is to be lively, different voices are required, like say, altos, basses, baritones, sopranos, mezzo-sopranos, and whatever else. Okay, now get ready for a huge ... aaaay, I mean bone-rattling ... leap of imagination.

Maybe, just maybe, God considers all the earth's various religions as voices in a celestial chorus. So, if God wants a lively chorus, who (?) among us cares to tell the Almighty no!

There's no doubt in my mind that Avram was a thoroughly spiritual man. In the parlance of his coreligionists, he was a "mensch". I said "comprehensively educated" ... did I not? He could read his Old Testament in the original Hebrew, the New Testament in the original koinoina Greek, and the Koran in the original classical Arabic. I used to tease him ... mercilessly I might add ... about what I nowadays call his NATIONAL TREASURE take on religion in general.

By way of simile, each religion is a box that contains a clue, necessary for a successful scavenger hunt of a theological nature. So, it just might be that Judaism contains a clue. Christianity contains another clue. Islam contains still another ... oh, and let's not forget the Hindu persuasion, or even voodoo ... ya'know, there's a lot of fun to be had in speculation about what those clues could be like.

eYep, I owe quite a bit to that "mensch". Even though I'm adiaphorestic, occasionally, I fall to temptation. I'll indulge in the guilty pleasure of speculation about ethereal stuff. It was Avram, who convinced me that it takes a miracle for God to communicate with creation, specifically, us human beings. Back then, I must've been a tad too susceptible to prankishness. I would twit Avram, that poor guy, by saying something like:

"gee whiz, if whenever God communicated with us AND ... this is a big "and", mind you ... we understood the message perfectly, then we would be angels. Angels, we ain't. We're simply mere human beings. Maybe, God had deliberately created us in such a way that we can never understand the Deity's messages perfectly."

Take my word for it. Over the years, since I last spoke with Avram, I would return time and again to ponder why he ever bothered with me. To me, it's still a mystery.

In regard to that stuff about God's communicating with us, one should hope that it involves a loving Deity. The Deity I have in mind makes allowances for us, in much the same way we make allowances for dear children, who are none too bright.


. he who is known as sefton


oh, alright (!) already, I'll admit it. I'm a case-hardened couch potato. What's worse, I'm in danger of carparal tunnel syndrome from the way I work my channel wand. Every so often, I come across some religious program, where some cleric of some faith or other is delivering a homily. Occasionally, some cleric illustrates a point by quoting some sort of holy writ. Agree or no, I'm inclined to accord that cleric a modicum of respect. Whenever I hear a cleric of whatever faith PROVE a point by quoting holy writ, the hair on the nape of my neck rises.

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