Friday, September 29, 2006

the vagabond I love

traveling dusty roads to nowhere
under skys ev'ry shade of blue

spaghetti made of your shoestrings
warming palms at crackling embers
alighting like fireflies

quiet stream
slipping over polished rocks
foot falling into soft sandy bottom

aiming for the bright moon
rising above the black pine tree line

huddled in the chill with nothing to share
except the whole wide world

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

At the edge of a Mars' Crater

On the Rim of Victoria Crater

NASA's Mars rover Opportunity reached the rim of "Victoria Crater" in Mars' Meridiani Planum region with a 26-meter (85-foot) drive during the rover's 951st Martian day, or sol (Sept. 26, 2006). After the drive, the rover's navigation camera took the three exposures combined into this view of the crater's interior. This crater has been the mission's long-term destination for the past 21 Earth months.

A half mile in the distance one can see about 20 percent of the far side of the crater framed by the rocky cliffs in the foreground to the left and right of the image. The rim of the crater is composed of alternating promontories, rocky points towering approximately 70 meters (230 feet) above the crater floor, and recessed alcoves. The bottom of the crater is covered by sand that has been shaped into ripples by the Martian wind.

The position at the end of the sol 951 drive is about six meters from the lip of an alcove called "Duck Bay." The rover team planned a drive for sol 952 that would move a few more meters forward, plus more imaging of the near and far walls of the crater.

Victoria Crater is about five times wider than "Endurance Crater," which Opportunity spent six months examining in 2004, and about 40 times wider than "Eagle Crater," where Opportunity first landed. This view is presented as a cylindrical projection with geometric seam correction.

Image and text credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Lights Across the Sky

this was the first story I wrote about Mayberry, about 5 years ago now....

I couldn't sleep and I didn't care. What a day! Fishing and camping with Andy, Opie, Barney, and Gomer. As I looked out from our camp just above the north slope, I had a clear view of the night sky, and even though there was a setting moon shining from behind the pines, I could see the Pleiades straight up, and to the Southeast I could see the belt of Orion, and further east the brightest star, Sirius. Always in the same order in the black sky - always faithful - like the friends that surround me in camp.

I looked over and I could see by the light of the white moon that Opie was still clutching his new fishing pole, sound asleep next to his pa, the orator of our nightly ghost story, The Bats of The Old Cave. All of us are still wearing our hats and I just broke out in goosebumps thinking of it again. Ope was so proud that the fish he caught fed us all - of course, it was mixed with the chicken sandwichs and chocolate cake that Aunt Bee stashed in our gear.

Next to them, Barney was motionless, on his back, sleeping bag pulled up under his chin, and his mouth open. Bless his heart. You know, I believe that's the first time I've ever seen him still(I wonder if the clock in his stomach is still?). On the other side of the glowing red and violet embers of the old campfire I could see Gomer was still awake. An owl hooted twice and Gome echoed back, and it seemed to please and fascinate him. He saw that I, too, was still awake.

"Hey, Al?" he whispered.

"Yeah, Gome?" I said quietly. Barney snorted and turned on his left side. Out somewhere beyond the other side of the lake a train rumbled by in a low comforting tone.

Gomer sat up. "Great time, huh?" The tall, aykward fellow with a bright smile and a heart the size of both Carolinas stretched and yawned.

I looked at Opie next to his pa. "Gome," I said, "I'm having the best time of my life."

Every once in awhile, if you're lucky, you will find yourself in a state of pure and illuminating happiness. For me it's Mayberry. I looked up at the big sky, gazed at a star pattern, layed back and stretched, and drifted away in no time.


These 'your pre-approved!' credit card offers that I find stuffed in my mailbox almost everyday, along with the spam misspelling a loan approval I find in my 'bulk' e-mail, with a link to a site probably manned by a little foreign man in a basement that speaks like Andy Kaufman's Latka, reminded me of one of the silly joys of my childhood when my parents would get letters in the mail addressed 'occupant.'

I'd ask if I could have them and, yes, of course I could. I'd fill out the long applications for who knows what with crazy made-up names and goofy addresses and just laugh hysterically. My mom would look in on me and I'd try to stiffle my juvenile hysterics. And I'd get her to laugh to tears when I used to paste photos onto typing paper cut from newspapers and create fake news items.

It's been all downhill since then. I've never feared the blank page. There's no dread. I absolutely love to write.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Milk-Eyed Mender

Joanna Newsom plays the harp and is a wonderful lyricist. Usually when you think of the harp you think of an angel. By no means is her voice that of an angel. Far from it: it balances between fragile and somewhat grating. But I don't care. Her 2004 cd, The Milk-Eyed Mender, is like a rare jeweled specimen that you want to turn over in your hands and never release.

All I know is she mends something in my soul.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Last Rose of Summer

'Tis the last rose of summer, left blooming all alone
All her lovely companions are faded and gone.
No flower of her kindred, no rose bud is nigh
To reflect back her blushes and give sigh for sigh.

I'll not leave thee, thou lone one! to pine on the stem
Since the lovely are sleeping, go sleep thou with them
'Thus kindly I scatter thy leaves o'er the bed
Where thy mates of the garden lie scentless and dead.

So soon may I follow, when friendships decay
And from love's shining circle the gems drop away
When true hearts lie wither'd and fond ones are flown
Oh! who would inhabit this bleak world alone!

...Thomas Moore (1779 - 1852)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Best Years of Our Lives

My mind was drifting today. Maybe my soul too. You know how sometimes you'll ponder something, then that thought will drift onwards off track? Then you can't remember how you got there? Where I wound up was thinking of this great movie, The Best Years of Our Lives, from 1946. Perhaps Hollywood's finest movie ever about returning servicemen from WWII and their re-adjustment to coming home. Beautifully acted by a cast including Fredric March and Myrna Loy. And Harold Russell, a double amputee, received 2 Oscars, a Best Supporting and one for being an inspiration to all returning veterans.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

hobo signs

If you're going to travel with me along the
dusty road you'd better learn some hobo signs.
Then we'll get along just fine.

Monday, September 11, 2006


Was a tough day to get through. Tears came while watching memorials on tv. The falling stone all over again. But, it's a disaster that happened to us all in a way ,and I still marvel at the first responders, the courage of those on Flight 93, and the courage of the survivors to go on.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Bob Dylan

Great Bob Dylan song and video.

Scarlett is just beautiful.

Saturday, September 9, 2006

what's your hurry?

Slow down. Take it easy. What IS your hurry?
Marilyn napping on the set of The Misfits.
My favorite hobby as a vagabond.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

say goodnight, Katie

My top 10 Katie Couric sign-off suggestions.
Well, she did ask for some help didn't she?

10 More power to ya.
9 And that's the fake but accurate news, Dan. Goodnight!
8 I'm hanging up on you now!
7 Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow.
6 Good night, Katie. [A cigar smoking Walter Cronkite shuffles onto the set and tells her to say this a la George Burns]
5 [says nothing. whistles as she files her nails]
4 That's all folks!
3 What ev-er
2 Nevermind
1 Good night and may God bless. (Thanks, Red)

Sunday, September 3, 2006

unfinished comic strip

A forgotten item from my sketchbook is this comic strip I wrote in 2002 and drawn by my friend in Paris, Hervé. I'd intended to have the heroine, Winona Ryder, and her trusted sidekick, B.J.Ork (yeah, you guessed it - Bjork), delve into a violent case involving this priceless pearl sought after by foes they'd chase through Britain, France, and Argentina.
It remains a bit too wordy I think, but my plan was to include more action in future chapters. But the plan fizzled out as Hervé had other projects to work on as a brilliant cartoonist. Who knows...maybe one day we'll finish it..

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All original designs and text created by the author of this blog, Phil L., are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike3.0 License. All other materials remain the property of their respective owners and/or creators, unless of course they are part of the public domain.