IT'S JUST ANOTHER DAY

A blog about a life awakened and rejuvenated around Western New York.


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TRYING TO CUT THE MUSTARD PLAYING CATCH-UP

I’m a poet mostly. I dabble in musical composition and short fiction. Screenplays and scripts for stage become the rage on occasion. And juggling all those balls is an eventual losing proposition.

Getting the word out (or multitude of words out) is akin to reaching into the haystack without a glove. Sooner or later, you’re going to get stuck. And on more than one happenstance. Chances are you fall far enough behind that you give up the ghost and recoup, starting somewhere in the middle.

So I fiddle around with my muse, choosing to saturate my poetry places with pieces of verse and curse the day I discovered like sounding words. Time constraints (and those of a more physical nature) have handcuffed me somewhat, keeping the glut of work I am apt to pen to a manageable minimum.

As of this moment, I think I am at par with the rest of the jackbooted poets, at least on the sites I have chosen to frequent. Keeping up with the Jones and Whitmans and Wordsworths takes some effort. I relish the opportunity, cutting the mustard playing catch-up and being dog tired.

I think it’s lunch time. I just made myself hungry!


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THE LONGEST DAY

Today marks the 69th anniversary of the horrifically bloody battle at Normandy, France.

The Battle of Normandy was waged during World War II in the summer of 1944, between the Allied nations and German forces occupying Western Europe. 69 years later, the Normandy Invasion, (D-Day), remains the largest seaborne invasion in history, involving nearly three million troops crossing the English Channel from England to Normandy in occupied France.

Marines approach Omaha Beach

There were twelve Allied nations that provided fighting units who participated in the invasion. These included Australia, Canada, Belgium, France, Czechoslovakia, Greece, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Operation Overlord was the codename for the Allied invasion of northwest Europe. The establishment of a secure foothold, was known as Operation Neptune. Operation Neptune began on D-Day (June 6, 1944) and ended on June 30, when the Allies had established a strong hold on Normandy. Operation Overlord also began on D-Day, and continued until Allied forces crossed the River Seine.

Click on the above photo for a video about D-Day.

There were several classic Hollywood films about this historic event.

The Longest Day” (1962)

Saving Private Ryan” (1998)

“The Big Red One”  (1980)

“D-Day: The Sixth of June” (1956)

“The Americanization of Emily” (1964)

Also notable was the 10 part HBO series, “Band of Brothers”

 

We honor and pay tribute to the brave service men and women who served with distinction and courage.


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TIME FLEES

It’s been a week since I last posted. You see, I’ve been distracted, but I’ll go back and fill in with thoughts or profiles or attractions. I had done so well, and then it hit me squarely between the eyes.

My oldest daughter is getting married tomorrow. The past week was filled with preparations, last minute changes, fittings and gatherings and a whole mess of panic as it ebbed and flowed. But sitting here now I still find no relief.

The girls are off doing girly things (nails and the last blasts of tanning) before the rehearsal. And I find myself as Steve Martin did at the beginning of “Father of the Bride”; lost in a chronology leading to this day. Twenty seven years passes quickly when you aren’t paying attention.

We’ve spent a lot of time together the past few days. Family meals at a full table were reminiscent of days past. Conversations and melancholy rambles and getting on each others nerves occasionally. (Old habits die hard). Evenings were special, as we watched every “wedding” related movie in our DVD library. Looking back at it, I think we’re ready to begin this new phase. It will be different for sure.

As you get older, the phrase “Time Flees” takes special meaning. But for one day, I am willing it to stand still.

I can hear God laughing now.


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BEING FOR THE BENEFIT OF… ROY HOBBS

cropped-robert-redford-in-the-natural.jpg

Iris Gaines: You know, I believe we have two lives.
Roy Hobbs: How… what do you mean?
Iris Gaines: The life we learn with and the life we live with after that.

                             ~ Dialogue from “The Natural”

Movies if well made, stand the test of time. In this Baseball classic based on Bernard Malamud’s novel, “The Natural”, the hero Roy Hobbs steps out of a self-imposed obscurity to become the best ball player in the game. The lessons learned in a lifetime of learning gave Hobbs the basis for a new future after baseball.

The stadium and other venues around Western New York, became the backdrop for many of the scenes in the movie, The Natural.

With big names like Robert Redford, Glenn Close, Robert Duvall, Kim Bassinger and Darren McGavin setting up shop here, Buffalo took on an almost surreal sense. Seeing familiar sites portrayed as clearly as day on the big screen, gave Buffalonians (auto-correct wants to change this to Babylonians) another sense. It gave them a sense of pride.

War Memorial Stadium (the “Rockpile”) became Knight’s Field, home of the fictitious New York Knights. The original home of the Buffalo Bills of the AFL, and long-time home of the Buffalo Bison Baseball club, the “Rockpile” took on legendary status here (as did the Memorial Auditorium, “The Aud”, where the Buffalo Sabres – ‘NHL’ and the Los Angeles Clippers (as the Buffalo Braves ‘NBA’) had their beginnings.)

The “Hotel Ellicott” in the movie changed the function of the Ellicott Square Building. ESB is an office complex which at the time it was built hailed as the largest office building in the world. The site also claimed the first dedicated movie theater known to exist. It was named for Joseph Ellicott, the purveyor who planned the then Village of Buffalo.

My favorite building in the area, the Buffalo Central Terminal stood in for the Chicago Train Station, with interior scenes captured there.

The candy shop where Roy Hobbs and his girl Iris meet while the Knights are in Chicago, is in reality The Parkside Candy Shoppe keeping its name and function, although losing its location on Main Street in Buffalo.

Buffalo’s All-High Stadium doubled as Chicago’s Wrigley Field during the filming of “The Natural”.

The NYC Maternity Hospital that Roy Hobbs was taken to was “portrayed” by the Buffalo Psychiatric Center. The center currently is not open to the public. Crazy, right?

Other memorable scenes in the film include: South Dayton, New York as the Water stop / Carnival where Roy strikes out “The Whammer” on three pitches as the Hobbs Family farm found its location in Stafford, New York.

***

Other films had their origins in and around Buffalo, but not to the scope of “The Natural”. It shined a bright light on the city and people of Buffalo and the surrounding area.

For more in-depth descriptions of these locales,
visit FORGOTTEN BUFFALO


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MAY THE FOURTH (BE WITH YOU)…

VaderBall

The perfect day for a geek like me. I would’ve thought I’d have outgrown the awkwardness by now, but I’ve come to accept it as part of my charm. May the 4th.

I’ve always had a fascination with space travel and exploration. I wanted to be an astronaut when I was a kid  and I had come to sort of realize my dream; I had been a life long space-cadet.  This obsession with science fiction/space movies became the basis of the first stage play I had written, “Taking Up Space”. A lesson learned; reality scores major points!

Star Wars Day at the ball park, a tailor made promotion with the local heroes (Buffalo Bisons) uniforms done up in a Star Wars motif. Always a hit with the kids and spaced out adults alike. It doesn’t disappoint; it makes for a great night for all involved. Never underestimate the power of the dark side of the fourth!

May the Fourth be with you!


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A TRADITIONAL GUY…

I’m that guy… well sort of. I guess you can call my “traditional”, set in my ways, and I won’t debate you on it. I come by my stubbornness honestly. I come from a long line of “traditional” folk.

And I’ve come to find a lot of my routine stemming from my ethnicity. Tracing as far back as I can (without breaking any laws) my Polish pureness keeps me tethered to the rites and commitments handed down. Holidays are truly celebrations, each with their own nuances and idiosyncrasies. Our Christmases and Easters rooted in Polish tradition, are truly memorable.

There’s a phrase that had been floated around the house growing up in Lackawanna, New York (suburb of Buffalo). Big meals were labeled by my father, as my mother “cooking for a Polish wedding”. And that brings me to a whole new, but equally flashy set of traditions. As we near the wedding of our oldest daughter soon, we begin to get ‘traditional”.

But here’s the rub. Generations tend to go off script, and the ethnic celebrations scare the hell out of my girls. “Dad, you’re not going to do that ‘Polish’ thing at my wedding, are you?” “That Polish thing!” Flashbacks to our own nuptials brings scene of this vividly to mind. The Oczepiny Ceremony! That “Polish thing”!

In a nutshell, the Oczepiny is the “unveiling of the bride”. It signifies she is no longer a single young woman or bride. Now she is a wife. Her veil is removed and a small cap replaces it. Songs are sung by the families and then “Daddy’s little girl” dances with her father. And just so he’s not feeling left out, the husband is adorned with a hat of his own. The tradition has the hat decorated with objects that remind him of his responsibilities. Baby dolls and coins, rolling pins and fruit. There is one catch. Did I mention the hat is usually quite bawdy, to signify his virility? (In case you question the fruit!) So as I construct the hat (being that traditional guy) I’m of a mixed mind. This is my daughter’s husband after all.

And my biggest quandary is how do I tastefully incorporate these two lemons and the banana?

Strike up the band, Tevye! Tradition, Tradition! TRADITION!


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BLUE SKIES…

Chance to squint at a sky so blue that it hurts your eyes just to look at it. …”
~ Burt Lancaster as Dr. Archibald Graham from “Field of Dreams”

Blue skies. Incredibly blue. This second day of May in Buffalo plays out this way. Certainly, it made it very hard to not feel a “sick day” coming on and just enjoy it. I caught glimpses through the overhead windows at the shop. Basking in the radiance as I wander past the gaping garage door, a random distraction that needed no excuse to occur.

The Buffalo Baseball Bisons (no other sports team in the city carries the nickname anymore, but you grow up hearing things, they become legend!) play in the evening, but how perfect would the horizon look from third baseline seats. I’d even forgo the “dog and a beer” (I’m not a communist, I just need to watch myself) for the chance to view that sky from such a prestigious perch.

Not a cloud. Just the blueness of blue! And faint stripes of airplane vapor trails wafting to obliteration on the odd occasion. You’ve seen this scene on Hawaiian travel brochures, and Myrtle Beach flyers. But this is Buffalo. The Fran Ciel Ice Cream stand is open for business, they’re playing ball at Coca-Cola Field and it does truly NOT suck. Skies so blue…

My eyes hurt!