Monday, August 14, 2017

Apocalypticism: How was your week?

It is difficult for Don's Basement to keep up. In the last week, we had to deal with the North Korean nuclear crisis and Venezuela.

Waiting out the whole North Korea thing
Working out Venezuela
Venezuela went away pretty quickly but North Korea lingered on until Monday morning when the  Chinese stock markets, Hang Seng (Hong Kong) gained 1.36% and the Shanghai Composite rose 0.90% and the US Markets were similarly upbeat.

Now it seems the problem is that we all hate each other. If this doesn't get resolved by next week, I may have to get a yard sign.

I do allow other emotions like fear, envy, and greed.

Still, last week was stressful in that "it's the end of the world as we know it." kind of way. I wanted to address as best I could by stringing together funny movie or TV clips.

I am not alone in mocking a possible apocalypse.

Wait Wait Don't Tell Me's first joke from Bill Kurtis, "Before the Apocalypse starts, let me be your last Bill and Testament."

Still, I had to take extra Valiums to get to sleep last week.

Thanks for reading and watching Don's Basement. 

Have a nice day!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Master Class: Retirement

It has been nearly 3 months since my retirement (or whatever). I felt the time was right to start giving back and sharing some of the wisdom I have gleaned.

My Master Class will teach you all you need to know about retirement. I have been inspired by the likes of Werner Herzog, Shonda Rhimes, Hans Zimmer, Jane Goodall, Steve Martin, David Mamet(well I used to be until he went on Rush Limbaugh's radio show), Aaron Sorkin, Frank Gehry, and the late Harvey Korman and Slim Pickens.

Retirement is a state of mind. Often that state is Florida or Arizona. For me, it has been primarily my basement.
Don's Basement (artist's rendition) 

There are a few areas regarding retirement that I have not covered: financial independence, health care, developing or pursuing interests, impact on friends and family, psychological or emotional issues regarding work, leisure or relationships.

That stuff is important too and I wish you good luck with all of that.

A special shout out to my blog subscribers, readers, family members, and the occasional stray person who comes upon the Don's Basement by accident. Thank you for reading and tuning in.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Vision Statement for Don's Basement: It's Okay

After resuming my post(s) as Chief Content Provider for Don's Basement, I have faced many internal and external challenges. 

Should I continue to post every week? How about every day? 

How about staying on Twitter (@donsbasement1) all day?

My challenge to you is to liken the Trump White House to books and classical tales
The Hustler. With George C. Scott as Trump and Paul Newman as America.

Or writing about interesting stuff like this?

Real Life Mise-en-scène                          

Day I went to Kinko's in my bathroom slippers
Wild Life Photography

Red Slider Photogr

I felt there was a need to begin to craft a Vision Statement and brought in some experts to assist me. Here is a summary of our initial discussions. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Scare-a-Mooch or 72 seconds of Bohemian Rhapsody

I've spent a lot of time online this week. Today's posting is a combination of images I've seen with the song that has been in the back of my mind since the appointment of Anthony Scaramucci as White House communications director.
Scramucci with Bush, Underwood, and Romney 
Anthony Scarmucci as I have learned in the past few days is a really smart guy who made a lot of money on Wall Street, raised money for Democrats and Republicans, has been on TV, is good looking and articulate.

Wayne, Phil, Allan and Garth

This version of  Bohemian Rhapsody  (for those who want the real life) written in 1975 by Freddie Mercury has been viewed 395,888,760 times.  And has been commented on 173,980 times. The song is an integral part of Wayne's World, a 1992 comedy film.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Mount Rushmore of Poets: Who would you carve on the Big Rock?

In a continuing effort to build the Don's Basement brand (db™) I partnered with Amazon, a company based in Seattle to create an author's page.  One of the options is to share video of "interviews, book trailers, and book signing videos." 

In April of 2015, Jennifer Dotson, the founder of Highland Park Poetry, interviewed me for the program 'Poetry Today. '

The interview runs for 29 minutes and 17 seconds and relates to the Poetry Pentathlon sponsored by Highland Park Poetry and which I won in 2014. In today's 'instant this/instant that world', 29 minutes is just too much of me!

I know, hard to believe. But it's true. I decided instead to take one of the poems that I read for the Pentathlon and create a video.

Poetry Pentathlon Chalice 
'The Mount Rushmore of' a concept used to immortalize the greats of any particular field of endeavor.

WrestlingThe Undertaker, "Stone Cold Steve Austin, John Cena and Hulk Hogan

Comedy: Groucho Marx, George Carlin, Richard Pryor, and Lenny Bruce
Country Music: The Highwaymen: Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferon.

The Mount Rushmore of Poets has been addressed as well. On the web site Genius, there is a thread also from 2014, on which community members posts their Mount Rushmore of poets.

(Sample comments from anonymous posters)

"I’m taking Eliot, Whitman, Frost, and Cummings. How about y'all?"

"Dante, Shakespeare, Pound and Beckett for me."

"Basho, Eliot, Rimbaud, Byron."

"My personal four-poet pantheon is found in Walt Whitman, Wallace Stevens, Emily Dickinson, and William Carlos Williams.

But since I don’t think they’re the types who would appreciate being carved into a big rock, I’ll say my Mt. Rushmore has Virgil, Dante, Shakespeare, and Milton."

"Objectively, I’d put up Milton, Dante, Virgil, Chaucer. (because Shakespeare will get mentioned to death)

A more personal list: Cummings, Tennyson, Yeats, Donne."

Here is my Mount Rushmore of Poets.  Basement readers....who would you carve on the big rock?

Monday, July 10, 2017

What do we know about Wisconsin?

Full disclosure. I am prejudiced about Wisconsin. Here are my reasons:

A. There were many people from Wisconsin where I used to work. Among them were my Nemesis who worked in marketing and my boss who didn't seem to work at all. As it turned out my Nemesis got fired about 3 weeks before I did.  Neither of them will be invited to my next event whatever it may be.

B. When I worked on commission, I often made sales calls to Wisconsin companies and they would never buy from me. They would give me the appointment and I would drive up there and they would be very nice but never buy anything.

C: The Packers or more specifically their fans.

D. Acrophobia: Fear of farmers.

And yet Peggy and I went to Wisconsin over the 4th of July to visit a friend. A friend, I hasten to add who moved from Illinois to Wisconsin voluntarily.

Leaving Illinois is definitely a thing....The state lost 114,144 residents in the last year.

Don's Basement (db™) would like to report on Wisconsin.

This is from the official government Wisconsin State Government Website

This video is the longest 1:35 of your life. It explains the newly redesigned site. If you are like Dunbar in Catch 22 and want to fill your life with unpleasant and boring activities so that life will seem longer, this video is for you.

“Well, maybe it is true,” Clevinger conceded unwillingly in a subdued tone. Maybe a long life does have to be filled with many unpleasant conditions if it’s to seem long. But in that event, who wants one?”

“I do,” Dunbar told him.

“Why?” Clevinger asked.

“What else is there?”

What else does Wisconsin have to offer?

1. Sausages: (No video, they just stood there for hours.)

2. Bagpipes:

3. Mascots (With Security)

4. Drummers Drumming

5. Fireworks

As it turns out, whilst in Wisconsin I was reading So It Goes, a biography of Kurt Vonnegut by Charles L. Shields.  And a not particularly flattering one at that. I read about Vonnegut's struggles to write "Slaughterhouse- 5 or the Children's Crusade."  

In what was his first best-selling novel, Vonnegut inserts himself into the narration of the is a portion of his introduction.

I would hate to tell you what this lousy little book cost me in money and anxiety and time. When I got home from the Second World War twenty-three years ago, I thought it would be easy for me to write about the destruction of Dresden, since all I would have to do would be to report what I had seen. And I thought, too, that it would be a masterpiece or at least make me a lot of money, since the subject was so big.

But not many words about Dresden came from my mind then - not enough of them to make a book, anyway. And not many words come now, either, when I have become an old fart with his memories and his Pall Malls, with his sons full grown.

I think of how useless the Dresden part of my memory has been, and yet how tempting Dresden has been to write about, and I am reminded of the famous limerick:

"There was a young man from Stamboul,

Who soliloquized thus to his tool:

"You took all my wealth

and you ruined my health,

and now you won't pee, you old fool."

And I'm reminded, too, of the song that goes:

My name is Yon Yonson,

I work in Wisconsin,

I work in a lumbermill there.

The people I meet when I walk down the street,

They say, "What's your name?"

And I say,
"My name is Yon Yonson,
I work in Wisconsin..."

And so on to infinity.

Monday, July 3, 2017

New York, yeah and Brooklyn too

There is a serious gap in reviews and contemplation of New York City. According to Wikipedia a mere 1936 films have been made about New York , 603 TV shows set in New York, and one book worth reading, "The Mermaid of Brooklyn. "
I just spend a week there and thought it was wonderfully diverse, easy to maneuver, and full of possibilities. 

Frank Bruni did not feel so generous about last week. He began his July 2 column thusly; 

Hieronymus Bosch painted a torture chamber where mutant beasts snacked on human flesh. Dante conjured fire, ice and a devil with three faces. If either man lived in New York City today, he’d know better. Hell is the subway at rush hour.
42nd Street Station (photo taken with an IPHONE)

And as it turned out, there was a derailment on the "A" train on June 27. That was one day after Peggy and I took our grandchildren up to the Cloisters. 

In order to set the record straight, I made a movie about New York in 5 acts. I think it pretty much covers everything. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Independence Day: A Celebration of Grady

Whitman Mayo ((November 15, 1930 – May 22, 2001) is best known for playing "Grady Demond Wilson" on the classic sit com, "Sanford and Son." Grady is one of Fred Sanford's (Redd Foxx) best friends. 

On this blog ,I have previously referred to Grady. (Don's Basement, September 3, 2014). As db fans no doubt recall, that post is entitled "When Jerry met Hef, " and refers to the Grateful Dead appearing on Playboy After Dark.

When describing the habitués on the Playboy After Dark set, I wrote the following. 

The Dead playing Playboy after Dark is one of those Don Shearn paradoxes. Like the Buddy Love versus Grady personality divide. 

Buddy Love wants to be the center of attention. The most charming and yet in many ways the most obnoxious guy in the room. 

Grady likes peaceful things. Like watching television. Hanging around with Fred Sanford. 

Jerry Lewis as "Buddy Love."

Whitman Mayo as "Grady"

Prior to retirement (AKA, being laid off, sacked, fired or liberated), I often said to Peggy that Grady would be met retirement role model. Hanging out with friends, doing a little drinking, watching TV and then hanging out some more.

After my last post failed to bring down President Trump, I decided to retreat into my inner Grady. And being so close to Independence Day, I am exercising my new found freedom to do pretty much what I want.

Here are some Grady quotations.

"Sanford and Son: The Family Man (#4.25)" (1975)
Mr. DeVoord: [Looking at the painting, a black professor turns to his white wife] It's tasteless. It's the worst combination of colors I've ever seen. 
Grady Wilson: You should be used to that. 

"Sanford and Son: The Defiant One (#6.15)" (1977)
Grady Wilson: [Serving supper to the Sanfords] We'll start the evening off with my famous Russian cocktail. Vodka and prune juice. 
Lamont Sanford: [Spits out drink] Vodka and prune juice? 
Grady Wilson: Yeah, yeah. I call that my Trotsky. 

Lamont Sanford: [Lamont and Grady in the kitchen. Lamont explaining why the policemen can't stop eating so much of Grady's salad) Now just about everybody knows that one of the main side effects of using marijuana is the hungries or the munchies. 
Grady Wilson: Weren't they in "The Wizard of Oz"? 
Lamont Sanford: That was the Munchkins! 
Grady Wilson: Oooh, yeah. Didn't you just love that picture? 
Lamont Sanford: Grady, would you knock it off? This is no time for that. 
Grady Wilson: There was Dorothy and Toto and the Wicked Witch of the Watts. 

I have created a tribute video to Grady. It is taken from youtube clips and is copyright protected. In the very off hand chance that this post makes any money, I will contribute it to something appropriate. 
Before watching video, ask yourself "WWGD."

Monday, June 19, 2017

Flag Day 2017: A Day (nearly without Trump)

June 14 was Donald Trump's 71st birthday. It was also the 240 birthday of the United State adoption of the Stars and Stripes. I celebrated by "tuning out" any coverage of the President.

The "tune him out" concept did not begin with me.

2011: GLAAD  posted a story about Rosie O'Donnell NOT staying at Trump Chicago.

From 2011 GlAAD POST
Jeffrey Roberts Balloon Pigs over Trump Chicago
2016: Maria NYC started on online petition aimed at CNN, MSNBC, CBS, NBC, and ABC to "Tune Out Trump."  Her call to action: Let's commit, from now on, to turn off our TVs, or change the channel every time any of the news media, begins to broadcast Donald Trump. 

Despite the excellent analysis (albeit questionable syntax)  regarding then candidate Trump , "It is dangerous because this man is running for the most powerful job in the world, and only by poisoning minds, by dividing us, is how he'll conquer, come election day, the petition only garnered 78 signatures.

2017: Author/Blogger Cyndi MacMillan suggested 50 movies to watch instead of the Inauguration.
My favorite of her choices. The Birdcage.

My twist to the campaign was to contrast Flag Day with Donald Trump's birthday.

While I had the concept several months ago, I did not have a very advanced campaign to ignore the President and honor the flag.

The campaign consisted of the following:

A Twitter Hashtag on December 5, 2016
A FACEBOOK Post on June 13, 2013

FACEBOOK friends. Tomorrow is June 14. Flag Day and the birthday of Donald Trump. I am going to tune him out tomorrow. No New York Times. No NPR. No MSNBC. Or Rush or Hannity. My fondest wish is that next year at this time he will not be the president.
I am sorry for the late warning but anyone who posts something about the President may possibly get a demerit.
Good luck and Happy Flag Day. By the way, the which we are commemorating was adopted by the fledgling United States in 1777. 240 years ago on June 14.

I did not issue any demerits for Trump  FACEBOOK postings because of the last minute nature of my request. 
However, I did get a push notification  (Washington Post report on possible obstruction case) on my phone from a certain actor/playwright in Michigan. But she gets a pass because she went to kindergarten with me.

Here is what I had to do avoid in order to accomplish "tune him out" day:

The Gym: Their TVs are set to CNN, Morning Joe, and CNBC (but not Fox News)
The Chicago Tribune or the New York Times (online).
Chris Mathews on MSNBC
Talking to any of my friends or relatives.

Here is how I honor the Flag:

Here is how I started my day:

Monday, June 12, 2017

"This is never easy." Why Don is always in the basement.

Thursday, May 11 turned out to be a momentous day.  For me anyway. Around 11:00, the HR person came to my office and asked me to come with her. That in itself seemed a little weird in that normally, she called or sent me an e-mail. Normally it pertained to someone's tardiness (not mine) or some issue with annual leave or sick time (sometimes mine).

This time it ended a 16 year association with my employer. I walked into the back conference room which has a long table with seating for at least 20 people. The president and CFO of the company sat together across from me and asked me to sit down. The HR person sat at the head of the table.

Clearly this did not look good.

The president said, "this is never easy."

That is the corporate equivalent of a parent saying, "this is going to hurt me, more than it's going to hurt you."

The HR person handed me a document which is confidential so I can't tell you anything about it. I will tell you that the title of the document is "General Release and Separation Agreement." In other words, scram.

I suggested that there could be a better way to sever this long standing relationship other than loading my personal possessions into a Banker's Box® and leaving forever.
These are the personal items that I took. 

This suggestion did not carry any weight whatsoever. This meeting did not include negotiation. Take the paper. See a lawyer if you'd like and get back to us with a signed agreement or don't.

Just don't come back. And give your phone to the IT person who will reset to its original setting and thereby deleting all contacts, pictures, notes or whatever else I had stored on that.

Confidentially and all.

I did insist on taking these paintings by Peggy Shearn. 

"So What"

"So What" is a painting based on phrase used by therapist that I saw 4 years ago. I was dreading the 2013 Housewares Show. Never a big fan of McCormick Place.

"Homage to Miro" (Currently on loan)

It has now been a month since the events of May 11. Long enough so that my friends and family have heard enough about it but not so long that I don't harbor a nagging question.

How did I not see it coming?

Several days after the event, I received a package with the balance of my "personal effects." Here is a video of what I had left behind.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Things I found while editing a Nanowrimo novel.

Nanowrimo is an organization that promotes writing a novel during the month of November. I have written four of these Nanowrimos.

"Chicago Sundries"

"Untitled Book about China" (Not to be confused with my unproduced screenplay, "Beijing Driving Academy.")


"The Five Books of Krinsky" (which is available on Amazon.)

The Five Books is not doing all that well statistically.

On the other hand, it has an average 5 star review and sells for 2.99.

I am revising EE which I hope will be a cross between Kurt Vonnegut and "The Hunger Games." Especially "The Hunger Games." So remind me not to kill off my main characters in Book 1.

In the course of editing, I found a poem by Ben Jonson.  He was a contemporary of Shakespeare and probably hated Shakespeare's guts.

Here is a quote attributed to him. "I remember the players have often mentioned it as an honor to Shakespeare, that in his writing, whatsoever he penned, he never blotted out a line. My answer hath been, "Would he had blotted a thousand".

While majoring in Comparative Literature of the University of California, I studied Ben Jonson. If Shakespeare is Michael Jordan than who is Ben Jonson.  Maybe Clyde Drexler. A Hall of Fame player, NBA and Olympian champion (on the Dream Team) no one talks about Clyde the Glide any more. 

So to, with Ben Jonson.                            
Ben Jonson
Clyde Drexler
This is the Ben Jonson poem I found in "EE."

My Picture Left in Scotland

I now think Love is rather deaf than blind,
    For else it could not be
               That she,
    Whom I adore so much, should so slight me
And cast my love behind.
I'm sure my language to her was as sweet,
       And every close did meet
       In sentence of as subtle feet,
       As hath the youngest He
That sits in shadow of Apollo's tree.

       O, but my conscious fears,
               That fly my thoughts between,
               Tell me that she hath seen
       My hundred of gray hairs,
       Told seven and forty years
    Read so much waste, as she cannot embrace
    My mountain belly and my rocky face;
And all these through her eyes have stopp'd her ears.

What my character concluded from this poem, "Or in other words, I was too fat and old for her."