The Modern Jalapeno Popper


written February 11, 2006

Neil Young said in a recent issue of Rolling Stone that writing is all about being receptive. A song, he explained, can appear to him fully-formed, if only he is patient. In that way he receives songs more than writes them. If he is stuck for a lyric or stanza it is because he’s not open enough. Who am I to argue?

Umm… Umm…

It will serve me best – as in my mind- to think of this Navy cruise as an adventure. There are only subtle differences between a modern frigate and the ancient raiding vessels of my Nordic for bearers. The first would be that we know exactly where we are going. Less chance of contracting a disease, yes, but a shame nonetheless. It also the jars the senses to be going East to discover anything that does not include the Cape of Good Hope. And Vikings didn’t have jalapeño poppers for the midnight meal or Playstation 2. They may not have even hadPong. There may be few real adventures left in the world, aside from the Amazon Basin (get there before it goes!) and the Marianas Trench. Is flying solo around the world, ala Steve Forbes, an adventure when all you encounter is 80 hours of Cumulus cloud excitement?

Perhaps that is why we are more and more turning inward, to man, as the personalization of our writing in the last hundred years will attest to. The main theme used to be was “man vs. nature” and “man vs. man,” but nature as a story line is fading away as “man vs. self” is gaining prominence. Is this an adventure? This feels like a long, blind road trip in a Reagan-era mobile camper. I always thought the mobile camper types were faking the adventure.

The skies this morning were clear and blue as we charged head-long into the sun.

It would be smart of me to get my fill of fruits and veggies before they all rot.

Does today have a name?

     *     *     *     *

This is not an SOS. I am not firing flares in the distance. I often like to think of titles to my writings before I even begin, as a gauge to how I am feeling that evening. In an instant I thought of “Help,” but its reasoning is reassuring. Think of it as B.H. and A.H. (Before Help and After Help). Before his song for assistance John Lennon wrote mostly of Sweet-N-Low Love, teenage pledges of helium hearts. It wasn’t until “Help”that he turned inside and wrote of himself.

In the next several weeks I am going to have a lot to say, even when I am gasping at air for something to fill the page. But even when I have nothing to say I will be Helping as deep as I can to root it out…

Some days will flood by like half never happened, and others will double over onto themselves just for the fun of it. February will be a thousand years, but I will then again,I get plenty of reading in. March will rebel against its name and standstill at odd times when it thinks I’m not looking. I should promise myself to see the sun at least once a day, before I think the Earth is ash-gray tin.

I am the Navy’s favorite voodoo doll.

*     *     *     *

I have always wanted to see Europe, but not this way. I watched many this morning pile onto the ship with their last-moment bundles, hangers loaded with colorful polos and football jerseys. I strictly believe then when you visit a new place you are there to experience the locale as authentically as possible, to understand the people, the place, and the history. Because of this it is important to blend into the background to whatever degree as possible. This means not announcing our arrival as Americans, Hey, we’re from the Land of Democracy, show us to your alcohol bar! I’m sure there will be someone on board who not shoot like a missile for Der Hooterzen.

But before Germany we are heading for Scotland. Everything I know about Scotland comes from one of three sources: Braveheart, Trainspotting and Star Trek‘s Mr. Scott. Mel Gibson portrayed the 14th-century warrior William Wallace, who took a shat in the general direction in of my (and millions of others’) distant grandfather, King Edward, making a royal arse out of him all of all history to see. Legend has it Wallace’s last word was a heroic cry for freedom as he faced death- but as Gibson is Australian and freedom is trademarked, packaged and sold with a”Made in the USA” label, this event can be ignored completely.

According to Trainspotting,babies crawl on ceilings and people swim in toilet bowls, but then again Ewan McGregor is actually Scottish. Besides, we must be sensitive to the customs of foreign societies. As you can see, I couldn’t understand a thing they were saying.

James Doohan may have been a real Scot, yet his accent was fabricated for real, but he played the hell out the bagpipes as the deceased Spock was shot out of theEnterprise. That’s good enough for me.

But the Highlanders (wait—thought of another thing I know!) must wait. In the last moments before leaving Virginia I downloaded several maps of our points of interest, so I can compare the few inches we are apart on them. Hopefully I will get a festival celebrating Hans Christian Anderson.

I will try to balance my writing responsibilities, but will probably end up borrowing your technique of the random mass-mailing to everyone else. At least on the first night I should send real feelings to the rest- they’d appreciate that, I think.

Somewhere, far out in cosmos is a tiny satellite blaring the Devil’s music through Heaven. In our search for ET aliens and not Alien aliens, a song was selected to advance the notion into the galaxy that Terra Firma homes some semblance of thought. That song: “Johnny B. Goode.”

Tonight I feel very much like that old satellite, tumbling and turning into pasts unknown,every inch further from a home, without Hans Christian Anderson’s bread crumbs to mark my return. Dolphins would probably eat it anyway.

Rock on.

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