Speaking of war stories, I forgot to mention that Friday night around the Cedar Creek campfire was dominated by two-fisted he-man tales of Navy life aboard carriers, destroyers and on shore leave. As it turned out, three of our ersatz Civil War grunts spent time in the modern U.S. Navy. (A fourth ambled over to take part in the conversation from the adjacent company street when he heard the word "carrier.") So I got to hear about guys getting sucked into jet intakes, falling off ships, drunkenness and the tedium of life at sea. It was quite amusing.
I remember walking home from high school one day, wondering what I was going to do with the rest of my life after I graduated. The thought occurred to me that perhaps a life at sea with the Navy might be something I'd like - I don't know where that idea came from. And these days, with my life almost irrevocably patterned out for me, it still occurs to me that this would have been a viable option. But all of my Navy friends assure me that it is mostly drudgery and petty harassment enlivened occasionally with moments of terror. So... who's to say?
I watched about half of a dud quasi-film noir last night, "The Big Bluff" (1955). As it seemed to be more of a romance with noirish overtones I quit watching. Sometimes there are compelling reasons why films fall into the public domain and wind up on the Internet Archive...
So - I went downstairs and watched the 45 minute live concert footage of Pink Floyd playing their epic (there is no other way to describe it) "Dark Side of the Moon" Lp at Earl's Court, London, in 1994. I have it on VHS. It's available on DVD as "Pulse." It is sensational. I have never heard Floyd sound better and the light show is colossal; definitive arena rock. David Gilmour gets more groovy tones out of a Stratocaster than just about anyone in The Biz save Jimi Hendrix.
Whenever I hear the beginning organ chords and guitar notes from the song "Us and Them" from Dark Side of the Moon I always think about my very first morning in Marine Corps boot camp. That was October 1974, 36 years ago. We had been rousted out of our racks at some ungodly hour of the morning and "marched" (we didn't know how to march yet so we kind of mobbed over) to the mess hall. It was cloudy and dull, and chilly. We had just had our hair shaved off at the barber's the night before and so my head felt every wisp of breeze. It was quiet, and I was standing at attention holding a compartmented metal tray in a strange, institutional-looking place in a long, single file line, waiting to enter the chow hall with a hundred or so other recruits - a forlorn scene. It was then that the song became irrevocably imprinted in my head: "God only knows/It's not what we would choose/To do, to do..." But I did choose to do it.
Before I left, a customer - a former Navy guy - at my Mom's cafe took a drag off his cigarette and predicted that at some point in boot camp I would regret my decision and be very sorry I enlisted. That never really happened; I kept my eye on the target and knew that some day I would graduate and would have achieved something that would have importance for the rest of my life. But that morning, standing in that line with that minor key tune in my head, was the closest I came to regrets in my entire four year stint.
Confrontational as I can be, I am a bit sorry I never had the opportunity to meet these people who made predictions about my future... Aboard my first duty station in 29 Palms, CA, we got a "welcome aboard" briefing from a crusty sergeant major. He lectured us about the various sins and errors that the typical eighteen year-old Marine private or PFC makes, and, at one point, asked us to raise our hands if we thought we'd never get drunk and drive. I raised mine; there were perhaps five others in the room who did so. "Oh yeah?" he said, looking at us belligerently, "I'd like to see you again in five years!" Oh yeah? I'd like to see him in 35!
I see somebody fired upon the National Marine Corps Museum over the weekend. Too bad the museum couldn't return fire...
I have a piano lesson tonight; my teacher is bound to be displeased with my performance of a minuet I was tasked to learn. I dislike it and just sort of avoided playing it whenever I sat down on the bench. I have two more baroque pieces in this book I'm going through; I think we're going to skip those and move ahead into the classical era pieces. Baroque music, to me, is musical wallpaper, and I dislike playing it even more than listening to it. My other piece is a three pager in modern style I have become somewhat proficient with.
My blog entry of yesterday, asserting the supremacy of the Beatles, has caused a bit of a fuss over on Facebook. Hey, the truth hurts.