Category Archives: Misc

Nazi Germany and Gun Control

I hear it over and over again, things that suggest Hitler had outlawed gun ownership in Nazi Germany and that this is the reason he was able to do the evil things he did. The citizens of Germany were unarmed, so they had no means to stop him. That’s the belief anyway.

It’s not true.

To be fair, there was a time when I thought gun ownership was outlawed in Nazi Germany too, but then I looked into it. I found out that gun laws in Nazi Germany were very lax. Citizens of Germany were encouraged by the government to own guns.  Just about every German citizen was a legal gun owner.

It’s true that the Jewish and other minorities were not allowed to own guns, but they were not considered to be German citizens. Hitler had their citizenships revoked.

In discussions on the subject, some people have said that German citizens who opposed the government were not permitted to own guns. That’s also true, but if you were a German citizen at the time and you expressed disagreement with the government, you were likely to be in trouble anyway.

Remembering Fuzzball

1I woke up this morning thinking about Fuzzball, the cat I had years ago. As the story goes, Fuzzball had been hanging around the woodpile at my mom and dad’s house and probably sleeping under the outdoor woodstove for warmth. It was my mom’s dog, Daisy, who discovered her in the woodpile.

My mom and dad took her in and kept her for a few months. They never had an official name for her, but I called her Fuzzball whenever I’d see her at my mom and dad’s house. When my mom told me they were thinking about getting rid of Fuzzball, I decided to take her.

So, I was thinking about Fuzzball this morning. Remembering how the first night I had her, after I’d turned off all the lights and went to bed, I heard her meowing. I guess she thought I’d left her there alone. I called to her and she stopped meowing at once. She climbed into the bed a minute later, curled up against my leg and stayed there.

I had Fuzzball for a couple years. In September 2009, she got sick and died. She was the first pet I’d had since I moved out of my mom and dad’s house in, I think, February 2001.

I found myself wishing I still had some of the pictures I’d taken of her, and then I remembered Flickr.com. I hadn’t used Flickr in ages, wasn’t even sure it still existed. I checked, it’s still there, and I was relieved that the login and password I entered worked. I have two pages of pictures on Flickr, of different things that I’ll be posting over the next few days. But today is Fuzzball’s day.

These first eight pictures were taken the day I brought her home. She’d been hiding for a while, but eventually she came out, poked around the house and finally settled on the living room chair.

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Okay, that was the first day. The rest of these were taken over the couple years I’d had her.

One of the first things I did was buy her some toys. She immediately attacked the orange mouse.

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And more pictures….

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What do I blog about today?

I recently decided I would get writing into a blog entry every day, to keep up a presence on my website. But I’ve been quiet the last couple days. I guess I ran out of topics. There’s probably another movie I could review and I got two other guns I can review, and I can probably review a book I read a while back. But I don’t really feel like writing a review right now.

How are things going for me? I’ve been quite productive lately. Besides blogging more regularly, I’ve been cleaning up the novel I finished back in March. It’s looking good so far. I’m pretty happy with it. There’s just a lot of the usual typos that need to be corrected, some grammar errors that need to be set straight and just a few things that need to be  rewritten. But otherwise, I like how the story is going.

So far 110 pages out of 394 are cleaned up. All other writing projects are set aside until this novel is ready to send out.

Been deer hunting a bit. Not as much as I’d like to, but a bit. It’s archery season and I’ve been using my crossbow. My dad got a trail camera and put it out by my hunting shack. The  pictures show that several deer have been poking around my shack, including bucks. But they’re usually only there at night or in the morning and I can’t get over to my mom and dad’s house in the morning very often. So, I just hope they start coming around in the afternoon.

Luci, a.k.a. The Best Dog Ever

Photo-0014So, it’s past time I wrote blog entry about my dog, Luci, who is also known as The Best Dog Ever. I’m not kidding, Luci is the best dog ever.

I admit, I lost track of her age. Was she seven when I got her, or was she six? I guess she’s ten or eleven now. I probably got her birth year on a paper somewhere, but it’d take a lot of digging to find it and I’m not ready to do that.

Anyway, my Aunt Rosie was moving to Texas to live with my cousins Irene and Chuckie. Because they already had dogs at the house in Texas, Rosie felt it was best to find Luci a new home. Since I had just moved into this house and have a fenced backyard, Rosie thought I would want Luci.

I did. We’ve had family dogs all my life, but since I moved out of my mom and dad’s house when I was twenty-three I haven’t had a dog before Luci. I think it was December 2011 when Rosie gave Luci to me. So, that would be almost four years ago.

Luci is a very smart dog. She understands commands very well. And if I ask her a yes or no question, sometimes she’ll actually say yes. It’s a sniffing sound, but it sure sounds like yes and I think that is what she’s saying. I don’t know if Aunt Rosie taught her to do that or not, but it’s Luci’s response to yes or no questions so often that I think she probably was taught to do that.

She’s a small dog, but she has a big bark. Whenever anyone sets foot in my yard, Luci’s at the window (or the gate, if she’s outside) going “HALT! WHO GOES THERE? INDENTIFY YOURSELF AT ONCE! I AM RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS TERRITORY! DO NOT UNDERMINE MY AUTHORITY!”

She’s a great watchdog, but she’s also very sweet and loves people. And she’s very loyal. When I’m at my desk at night, Luci’s lying in her bed beside my desk.

But for a small dog, she really sheds. A lot.

Confidence and Lack of It

Sometimes I feel pretty confident. I’m all upbeat, not so shy. Not worrying about much. Feeling great. Not afraid to be funny, not afraid to strike up conversations and I hold my head up high without thinking about it.

I like being that way. But far too often it will fade and I tend to look down a lot, unable to make eye contact with anyone. I just can’t seem to will my head up or to really talk.

Though I feel pretty good today, this issue has been on my mind for a few days now.

For example, recently I was on one of my up-days. I walked into the store on the corner to buy beer. I’ve been going to this store for years. I’ve gotten to know the owner and the owner has gotten to know me. And it was him at the register that day and I struck up a brief conversation as I was paying for my beer. About the scores of the Michigan game. I didn’t actually see the game that day, but I saw some highlights later and it showed that the score was 27-0, but I wasn’t sure if that was the final score or not and I didn’t see or hear what the final score was.

So, I asked the owner what the final score was and he told me it was 38-0. Anyway, the point is, that’s how I am on my up-days. More able to hold my head up, to talk to people, and not be so nervous. I wish I had more days like that, but it’s just not so.

Like a few days later, I’m at the store again and it’s the owner at the register again. But this time, for some reason, I’m all nervous and looking down, unable to will myself to look up and make eye contact, nor do I say much. I want to, but I’m just overwhelmed with anxiety.

There are far too many days like that. I hope I don’t come across as rude when I’m in that state.

Well, that’s just what was on my mind today.

Turkey!

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So, at my mom and dad’s house today, I walked around to the backyard and saw this. I got excited, dug my cellphone from my pocket as quickly as I could, before they noticed me and took off. I took the picture, went back inside to tell my dad, and he tells me they are the turkey decoys he bought.

Sheesh.

Breathe Me and the Six Feet Under Finale, and what it means to me

I loved the HBO series Six Feet Under, but I had missed the last couple seasons. I didn’t see this video until a friend posted about it on Facebook a couple of months ago. Breathe Me quickly became one of my favorite songs, and the video, it’s one of the most powerful I’ve ever seen.

I’ve watched it many times, taking in the music and the video each time. For me, it makes me think about what’s really important, what I need from life before it’s too late. There is someone I love very much, who I wish I could be with again, but I don’t expect we’ll ever get back together. The idea of living the rest of my life without her is kind of frightening.

I wanted to embed the video here, but it looks like the owner of the video has that option disabled, so I’ll just put in the link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNwARV9tPUw

And Buddy turned six this month.

Photo-0029That’s right. My cat, Buddy, he’s six years old. I don’t know if I’m one of those people who keeps track of the ages of their pets, but I got Buddy’s age pinned down. I’ve been living on my own since I was twenty-three  and I’ve only had three pets in all that time.

I got Buddy in September 2009 when he was still a kitten. I remember how small he was. But he quickly grew into the big purring monster that he is now. I mean he’s huge and quite heavy. He weighs more than my dog. Though he lies around the house a lot, he’s healthy and happy. He’s the best cat ever.

He ended up getting the name Buddy because when I first got him, I didn’t know what name to give him. I was just calling him buddy because I didn’t know what else to call him. After a couple weeks of that nonsense, I realized Buddy should be his name. It fit. He likes it.

Buddy”s my buddy. Though it looks like he was annoyed with me taking his picture this morning.

An Interview with W.P. Kinsella

W.P. Kinsella is the author of Shoeless Joe, the novel that the 1989 movie Field of Dreams is based on. He has written several other novels and short stories, many of them having to do with baseball, First Nations people and magic. “The Essential W.P. Kinsella” was released from Tachyon Publications in March and contains some of Kinsella’s best stories, including the short story Shoeless Joe Jackson Comes to Iowa, which was the seed for the novel Shoeless Joe.

Kinsella celebrated his 80th birthday on the 25th of May.

 

Interview conducted February 22, 2015.

Rob Darnell: Much of your work has to do with baseball. Do you closely follow the sport? What teams do you root for?

W.P. Kinsella: Not anymore. Loosely follow the Blue Jays. After the strike, I lost interest. In reality, neither players nor owners care in the least about the fans. The greed of both factions has destroyed baseball’s credibility, at least for the present.

RD: Are there any MLB players at all that you feel are not caught up in the greed?

WPK: As long as they are forced to belong to the Players Union, no. My hero will be the guy who tells the Union to get lost.

RD: MLB politics aside, do you still agree that the game is beautiful?

WPK: Yes.

RD: Are there college, minor league or independent teams that you pay any attention to?

WPK: No. Have never been a minor league fan.

RD: Did you play baseball when you were a kid? If you did, what positions did you prefer to play? And how well did you hit?

WPK: No. Played a little softball, but there was nowhere on the field it was safe for me to be.

RD: When did your interest in baseball start and what sparked the interest? What inspired you to mix baseball and magic together?

WPK: My dad talked a good game. A child got only the World Series on the radio.

RD: What is the best World Series you can think of and what made it great?

WPK: 1946, if my memory is correct. Harry “The Cat” Brecheen went against the Red Sox in Game 7. I stayed home to listen, practically had my head inside the radio.

RD: What is your fondest baseball memory?

WPK: Seeing Bob Forsch pitch a no hitter against Montreal.

RD: Both, Harry Brecheen and Bob Forsch, played for the St. Louis Cardinals. You have fond memories of both of them. Does that mean you were once a Cardinal fan? If yes, why are the Cardinals not your team anymore and when did your love for them die?

WPK: I became exclusively an American League fan when they instituted the DH rule, and will remain so until the National League moves out of the dark ages.

RD: Over the years you’ve seen many players come and go. Who are the players that you admired the most? And what was it about them that made them admirable?

WPK: Yogi Berra, Bill Lee, they were irreverent, poked fun at the stodgy owners and managers. Curt Flood, of course, was in a class by himself, a true hero.

RD: In the early years, you had to listen to the games on the radio. Do you remember the first game you saw on TV? Was there any difficulty in making the transition from radio to TV? Was it more enjoyable to watch than listen to the games?

WPK: Guess about 1954. Until Color TV came along, BW TV was too muddy to be enjoyable.

RD: What was the first professional baseball game you had been to? And how old were you? Can you describe the experience?

WPK: Edmonton Vs Calgary, 1946, age 10. First Major League game was San Francisco Vs L.A. Don Drysdale Vs Juan Marichal. Drysdale won. Didn’t realize how lucky I was.

RD: Have you been to many MLB games? What professional baseball parks have you been to?

WPK: At one time I’d been to every park except Baltimore and Houston, but can’t even keep track of who plays where these days.

RD: In your opinion, who is the greatest baseball player of all time?

WPK: It is hard to compare the eras, but Joe Jackson and Ty Cobb from the past, Sandy Koufax and Roger Clements from the present.

RD: Do you like any other sports, such as football, basketball or hockey? If so, what are your teams?

WPK: I’m a big fan of curling, follow all the major world events. Watch all four Tennis majors. Basketball is the worst sport. They need to raise the basket at least two feet.

RD: You and Ray have the same last name. Is there more that the two of you have in common? Does Ray Kinsella mirror much of yourself?

WPK: Ray is named for a Salinger short story character, but he mirrors some of my thoughts and experiences era 1980.

RD: I’m a Detroit Tiger fan, so I want to know, what does the voice in Ray Kinsella’s cornfield have to say about the chances of the Tigers winning the World Series this year?

WPK: Slim and slimmer.

RD: What do you say about Kevin Costner’s portrayal of Ray Kinsella?

WPK: Couldn’t be better.

RD: You were happy with Field of Dreams. What about the other film and TV adaptations of your work?

WPK: Pretty pitiful. I was lucky to get one good adaptation. Field of Dreams the Musical is lurking in the wings. Hope it will provide my daughters with a ton of money someday.

RD: You’re also known for writing about First Nations people. What sparked your interest in that area?

WPK: Found a good voice and took advantage of it. Each of my specialties was like a prospector discovering a vein of gold. I worked each until the vein was exhausted.

RD: In 2010, you said that the state of the book industry was such that you would not be able to break in if you were just starting out. It’s 2015 now. In your opinion, is the situation better or worse than it was five years ago?

WPK: I think it is worse for a mid-list author such as myself. You either have to sell like Stephen King or go with the small presses where there is no money. I was lucky to have been in the right place and time for many years.

RD: What would improve the situation for mid-list writers?

WPK: Less greed on the part of both publishers and chain booksellers. It is easier for them to publish and sell only blockbusters and leave the real work to small presses.

RD: Though you are a mid-list writer, has your writing made you a comfortable living? Would you say the larger portion of your income came from your novel sales or your short story sales?

WPK: In the 70s and 80s, I made a good living. Have managed my funds carefully, will never have to go out and cadge quarters from the tourists. My main income came from failed movie and TV options.

RD: I read somewhere that you were reading books when you were five years old. What are some of your childhood favorites?

WPK: Discovered W. Somerset Maugham in about 5th grade. Didn’t understand the plots, but loved the descriptions.

RD: And for that matter, what are some of the best books you’ve read over the years?

WPK: The Great Gatsby, the finest novel ever written. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, Anne Tyler, In Watermelon Sugar, Richard Brautigan, What The Crow Said, Robert Kroetsch.

RD: Outside of baseball and reading, what are some of your fondest childhood memories?

WPK: Uneventful, though isolated childhood. Good, kind, stable parents.

RD: You’re a tournament Scrabble player. What is your highest achievement in the game? And how long have you been playing?

WPK: I’ve played tournaments for about 20 years. My daughter, Erin, who lives with me, also travels to tournaments. While I’m not a top division player, I’ve won a number of tournaments. Won Portland one year at about 19/3.

RD: You’re going to be 80 on May 25th. Do you have anything special planned for your birthday?

WPK: Going to a Scrabble tournament in Edmonton in May, so will celebrate with family there. My agent, Carolyn Swayze, is planning a “surprise” party on the actual day.

RD: This last question is from your novel Shoeless Joe. If you could do anything you wanted to do–if you could take time and turn it in your hands like rubbing up a new baseball; if you could stop somewhere in time, and in the silence and mystery and calm of that situation you could have a wish…?

WPK: I lost my wife Barbara to cancer two years ago. I would give whatever time I have left to spend one more day with her.