Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas San Diego, Ca. March 2012

Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas San Diego, Ca. March 2012
Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas at Luche Libre Taco Shop in San Diego, March 2012

Saturday, November 30, 2013

At Least Stand Out Of Range

       And thin skin
Not quite the ideal pairing
If one is going to strut
      In the spotlight
One had better be tough
Always ready for a fight
Or learn to be very 
With the hearing

Friday, November 29, 2013

Tripping Through The Rye

                                                    The Majestic Angry Larry

Read a little article about three short stories that J.D. Salinger wrote, without the intention of publication, being leaked via the Internet (They had been kept in a vault at the Princeton University Library) and immediately all I could think was "Damn, I need to find and download those."

It's no secret I am a huge fan of J.D. Salinger's work. Like a ton of adolescents I first fell in love with the content of his novel Catcher in the Rye while in junior high school, and of course, I had to subsequently track down everything else he wrote and devour all that, too.

Salinger was a remarkable writer and when I discovered that he was of Lithuanian, German, Irish & Scottish descent as I am (My family has a bit of Norwegian in the mix too, but that's neither here nor there), I decided, at the age of 14, that meant I should become like him and write a great American novel.

That hasn't happened...yet. It's been put on the backburner alongside actor, artist, poet, cartoonist, and songwriter.

However, in the intervening years I have managed to pick up on a number of habits and character traits that Salinger was known for. Writing daily, being interested in a wide variety of philosophies, and repeatedly watching my favorite movies. for example. 

I can only hope that I don't become a paranoid recluse. That's a path I just can't envision as anything but a downward spiral. I like people too much to be a recluse of any stripe, but especially a paranoid one.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Like An Improvisational Tragic-Comic Workshop

You can be grateful for what you have, what you don't have, or both. The world is both a wonderful and a dreadful place, so take your pick. Some people love their lives, some people absolutely fear getting out of bed every single morning. There are those who wish they had more hours in the day, there are those who cannot wait until the day is over. The cruelty and the misery, the compassion and the happiness. You can or you can't. Some say it's a choice, others argue it's predetermined. Did you make it happen or did you happen into it? Was it due to concerted effort or was it a chance accident? Is it what you are born with or what you do with it that makes the difference? 

A Random list of some of the happiest, most grateful people I have ever met:

A woman whose mother came to this country in trunk of a car. A couple that won 7 million dollars in the lottery. A man who has no left arm. A man with limited vision. A woman with the voice of an angel. A teenager who has been battling cancer since she was 11. A woman who was widowed with two children when she was 27. A boy who spent the first 7 months of his life in the hospital. A boy whose father jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge 6 weeks after he was born. A man who took over a family business and doubled it's profits. Two sisters who fly to Las Vegas every Thursday and return every Sunday with thousands of dollars in small bills to deposit in their bank accounts. A woman who is currently living in a shelter. A man with a part time job that barely covers rent and cheap vodka. A 26 year-old with lupus. A 78 year-old that still hits the gym 6 days a week. A woman with three healthy children and a loving husband. A Vietnam Veteran who still refuses to ever discuss the year 1966. A disbarred lawyer who sells real estate. A roofer who has helped build 73 homes with Habitat for Humanity over the past 14 years. A woman who sends care packages to deployed soldiers in Afghanistan. A woman who has attempted suicide repeatedly. A woman who loves music and sings in a church choir even though she is an atheist. A man who has not seen his three grown children in 17 years. A man with no known living relatives. A recovering meth addict who has 6 cats. A couple that lost their home to foreclosure 4 years ago. 

All of those people are generally in high spirits whenever I see them. Some for obvious reasons, some not so much. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

"Suddenly, The Dull, Heavy Snoring Of A Passed-Out Drunk Rang Out"

If you're going to write a novel and you want it to be a hit, you have to come up with a great opener, a sentence that grabs the reader by the throat and forces them to stay attentive to everything else that follows.

Or so I've been told. I've read a very large number of books, at least a couple thousand, and for the life of me I really can't remember a single one of them having an opener even close to the aforementioned.

That could be me though - I have a tendency to give a book a chapter or two to make an impression before I decide it's worth reading or not (I'm willing to bet I've started at least another thousand books I never finished, simply because they could not hold my interest after a few chapters).

I have read a lot of great sentences in many a book, by the famous (Kerouac's "telephone poles became toothpicks" and the not so famous, such as W.G. Van Tassel Sutphen's "Well, the catastrophe, when it came to be measured up, turned out to be a comparatively trifling affair.") and most of them have been found deep into the story. It's very rare indeed to find the best line of a novel on the first page.

Of course, that would save a lot of time spent reading. To be able to open a book, read the best line that the author could come up with right there on the first page...well, it would free up a lot of time for other activities...or more reading.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Canadian Maple Leaf Rag*

Nobody here looking for a fight
Nobody here wanting anything
But a good time
Nobody here takin' life too seriously
Nobody here cryin' in his beer
Nobody here drownin' sorrows
Nobody here hiding from the truth
Nobody here afraid of tomorrow
Everybody here
Feelin' good to be alive
Everybody here
Making every minute count
Everybody here
Present and accounted for
Everybody here
Glad to be here

*In honor of Nathan the Canadian

Cat On A Cold Plastic Roof

Goals, goals, goals. Yesterday a friend o' mine asked why I set so many of them, which caught me off guard as I somewhat assume that everybody on the planet understands the importance of goal setting, especially anyone over thirty-five,

Assuming anything about anybody is bad, I know, but there are a few things that are so simple I just assume their importance is universally understood.

I did not have goal-setting hammered into me as child - it's one of those things I wish I had been taught, wish I had been forced to develop the habit of doing, wish I had been shown the importance of knowing how to do, and do properly.

Goal-setting was something I had to stumble upon, and it didn't happen until I was in my mid thirties (which is why I believe anyone over the age of 35 should be aware of it, I suppose).

There are people who, at a very young age were taught to set goals, explained the importance of goal-setting, and shown how to go about setting rational goals and then accomplishing them. I envy those people.

Goal-setting is the secret to accomplishment, except it's not a secret, it's just a truth. If you want to accomplish something, anything, simply write out your goal and then write out what it will take to get there (again, within reason - if you're 5'2", weighing 135 lbs, and have little to no upper-body strength, don't make taking the World's Strongest Man title from Brian Shaw your goal).

For example, say you want to write a novel. Write that down, just write down "I want to write a novel". See how easy that was?

Now comes the hard part. While writing a novel requires certain skills which can be acquired/learned, it also requires something that you pretty much have to be born with, which is imagination. Not all of us were born with Stephen King's ability to craft an engaging tale, so if coming up with a story to relate around a campfire is a challenge for you, maybe you should reassess your goal.

However, if you do have the ability to spin a yarn, and perhaps you paid attention in English, and have a fairly good grasp of story structure/character and plot development/vocabulary and grammar, then you only need to write out the steps you need to follow to write a novel - which in this day and age is made even easier because story writing software is available that will pretty much take you by the hand and lead you from start to finish.

There is only one small catch. Story writing software, and all the education in the world, will not give you two of the vital ingredients necessary for accomplishing whatever goals you have established for yourself.

Discipline, and focus.

You have to develop the discipline to work every single day towards your goal, and you have to stay focused on the goal.

That's the rub, right there. That's where the conversation ended up when, after that friend o' mine asked why I set so many goals, he followed that up with "And why don't you accomplish half of them?"

Discipline and focus. I need to develop much more of both. I can be disciplined enough to research what it takes to accomplish anything, and have started countless endeavors...but staying focused? Staying focused and being disciplined enough to finish what I started? 

I'm working on it.  

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Reason Drowns In The Rough Seas Of Desire

Just for a fleeting moment the desire for a paella 
Like those served in Denia 
                            Nearly overwhelmed me
            Nothing worse than a craving
            For something absolutely unattainable 
            At the moment
Is a cruel, cruel mistress
Make you do anything, everything
                            To obtain
Hobbes it was who expressed that thought
"Fundamental motivation for all human action"
            Whether to satisfy an appetite
            Or the heart
            Desire will make you want to sell your
Which is why I envy those who have
Found a way to make it through life without

The Left-Handed Serbian On The Grassy Knoll Was Paid By The Cubans Under Soviet Orders...With Help From The Mob

People really do believe what they desperately want to believe, and nothing proves that better than conspiracy theories.

For all intents and purposes, today is pretty much conspiracy day here in the U.S. - today is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy by...well, that's where the mess gets muddled, charlatans make their money, and journalist get something to do.

As far as I've been able to ascertain after extensive research (by which I mean I spent at least a half-hour on Google), there are at least 35 to 40 conspiracy theories regarding the Kennedy assassination (The theory's have a lot of overlap, so it's difficult to determine if some of them are actually stand alone conspiracy theories or just variations on the theme).

Which means, of course, that there are at least 34 to 39 conspiracy theories about the Kennedy assassination that are complete and utter nonsense, fabrications, figments of someone's imagination, bald faced lies...

Because logically, only one of them can be right. 

Me, I'm a Sherlock Holmes fan, and as such, I tend to believe the simplest, easiest explanation is almost always the correct one.

Which means, in the case of the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, one Lee Harvey Oswald, perched at a window on the 6th floor of a school book depository in Dallas, Texas, was the one solely responsible for the deed.

Stating that in public will generally get me looks of disbelief and more than a few snide comments about being gullible, swallowing what the government is feeding me, etc, etc.

And to which I reply..show me the proof otherwise. Show me the notes Oswald, an egomaniac and a man who kept a fairly regular accounting of his actions in a well known diary, made that indicate he acted other than alone. Show me even the slimmest credible thread that connects any government (or extra-government) agency with the assassination...just show it to me.

For over thirty years I've had an interest in this subject, and for over thirty years I've examined very intently every conspiracy theory that has made it's way in front of a microphone or a cameraman. Each and everyone of them has been found lacking, most of them glaringly so.

Note to conspiracy creators: It is a good idea to check your theories for anachronistic mistakes before submitting your work - lends you a bit more credibility.

For the past 50 years there have been millions of words written that carefully dissect that fateful afternoon in Dallas, and attempt to show how impossible it was for one gunman to get off 3 shots using that particular rifle in such a small time frame and so on.

The theories that open with that conjecture are the ones that are the easiest to discount as they reveal the writer's inexperience with weapons of any sort, and especially not with the Carcano rifle Oswald used. If you ever have the chance to use a bolt action rifle on a range (as I have) go ahead and try to get off three quick shots (it's actually pretty tempting to try it - there's something oddly challenging about trying to see how quickly you can fire multiple shots from a bolt action rifle). 

That people are still making money from conspiracy theories surrounding the Kennedy assassination is a little sad. P.T. Barnum was spot on with his assessment of human psychology though - give the people what they want to believe and they'll line up to buy it.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Cleanin' Out My Closet

It snowed today...which meant it was a perfect day for winter closet clean-out. See, about this time of the year it becomes obvious that I either need more closets...or I need to weed out the closets I have and donate the overflow to the AmVets thrift shop.

It's a far tougher task than you would think. I love my clothes, especially my shirts. They are as close as I get to having jewelry. Deciding what to keep and what to vote off the island is not easy. 

Several people have chimed in with suggestions as to how to determine whether or not a garment is worth keeping. I've heard everything from facing the hanger the opposite way when I rehang a shirt to putting a piece of tape on the hanger with the date I last wore the shirt written on it.

Well, the thing is...the age of a shirt or how often I wear it is not the issue for me. I have shirts over 5 years old that I haven't worn but two or three times, but the times I did wear those shirts I had either a particularly good time or something good occurred.

Yeah, I know, I'm a nutter.

Still, I did manage to select 41 shirts that no longer had any appeal, and after folding them all up, I toted them off the the AmVets on Alameda.

Look at that. Just look at all that extra space I now have...for more shirts.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Specific Aspects Of Her Personality That Made Her Desirable Were What Made Life With Her Unbearable

There came a point when he just couldn't stand 
To be called "Hon" 
                     Not one more time
                     His friends had taken to calling him 
                     So frequent was her use of that endearment
          And all those notes she left for him
          In his pockets, briefcase and wallet
                                 Words that spoke of affection
                                 And undying devotion
                                 Swearing a lifetime of
                                 Positively creeped him out
The last straw was the insistence of a portrait
The two of them in matching sweaters
             The photo studio was surprisingly busy
             Two by two the couples smiled 
             Sitting side by side
             He started planning his exit then
     On the morning of the 16th
     As she buttered the toast
                     He cleared his throat and spoke
                     "I think we need to spend some time apart"                                              She looked at him sharply and said
                     It wasn't the fight he had prepared for
On the 18th he took possession of his own apartment
Rolled out a sleeping bag to sleep on the floor
                 The bed would not be delivered 
                 Until Monday, with the sofa
                 So he counted to himself the reasons
                 Until he fell asleep
    At the end of the month he called her
    Left a rambling message of regret
                                             She listened to it once
                                             Pressed "5" to delete
                                             She didn't miss him
                                             At all
                                             Like she thought she would
He spent seemingly endless days wishing 
That he could find a way to put things back
                      As they were
                      He hadn't anticipated missing
                      The notes and photos and being 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Being Present At The Birth Of A Bar Joke

 The The
The Last Supper (Sketch for an altarpiece) 1997, 245cm X 245cm, oil on canvas, artist unknown, seen in the airport at Keflavik, Iceland, Jan1998

There I was, sitting at the bar in Jose O'Shea's. A man takes the barstool to the left of me, orders a drink in a distinctive accent. I introduce myself and ask where he's from. His name is Mark and he's from London. We converse a bit, then another man sits down on my right. He also possesses a distinctive accent. Introductions...his name is Trevor, born in Australia, raised in London, currently living in Poland. 

It's just a few moments later that a man sits a barstool over from Trevor and proceeds to order a beer in an accent similar to Mark and Trevor's. Introductions. His name is Richard, born and raised in north Britain, has lived in South Africa for a few decades now.

None of these three men know each other - two of them arrived in Denver this very afternoon. All of them are here on business.

What are the odds that three men who all spent their early years on a small island just west of continental Europe would years later sit down at a bar together in the heart of the American Midwest? 

The probabilities have got to be fairly astronomical.

I don't really have a punchline for this, and it's not much of a joke - it could be, if only one of them had walked in the bar nude, carrying a penguin. Damn.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Life Is Like A Box Of Chainsaws

Bored and in need of a good time
So the headline read
Said something along the lines of being tired of the games
Tired of coming home to a cold and empty house
Tired of fake and shallow people
And tired of spending evenings playing with the dogs
Don't waste my time or yours
If you can't handle curves 
(but I'm working on it...)
Be in shape, drug and disease free
Financially stable/secure
Don't be clingy or jealous
As my child's parent is still important to me
Be down to earth, laid back, no baggage, and outgoing
Friendship first
Like movies, music, dancing, bedroom fun
Not down for FWB, NSA, or one night stands
Looks are not important
Age is just a number
Please be attractive, clean and employed
Full head of hair and teeth
Sofisticated (sophisticated?)
I kno my worth (know?)
Be able to hold a decent convo...
Your pic gets mine

Sunday, November 17, 2013

An Oil Painting From 2006

           Racing Sloop With Red Jib, oil on canvas 40" X 50", Chris Bakunas 2006

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Scare Myself Better Than She Ever Could

              In all the time I knew her
              Which was considerable
              I can't recall ever sitting down for a drink
              And opening up

                                     I think I was afraid to ask her                                         Questions
                                     Especially about her apprehensions
                                     I didn't want answers that would                                   Scare me away
                                     I didn't want her to turn into
                                     Someone I wouldn't know

Didn't want to know she'd been hurt
Didn't want to know she'd been abused
Didn't want to know how much she hated
Didn't want to know how much she used

So I pretended everything that went wrong
Went wrong by my hand
So much easier
Than dealin' with the truth

Friday, November 15, 2013

More Photographs My Father Left Behind

Yesterday I told of how I had come into possession of a box of my late father's photographs, and I posted a number of photographs that my father had taken, both for his own enjoyment and in his official capacity as a US Navy photographer. Here are a few more, the majority now in color, that he took in the late 1960's.

                                 Japanese vista, taken by Robert A. Long Japan 1969 

                            Hikers along Mount Fuji, taken by Robert A. Long Japan 1969

                 Sunset from the summit of Mount Fuji, taken by Robert A. Long Japan 1969

                                  Japanese fishermen, taken by Robert A. Long Japan 1969 

                       Japanese Fishermen at work, taken by Robert A. Long Japan 1969 

                                Japanese Inn, taken by Robert A. Long Japan 1969

I really like the ones taken in Japan, as it's easy to see where I get my penchant for hiking and taking landscape photographs.

            On the flight deck off the coast of Japan, taken by Robert A. Long Japan 1969

      Navy helicopter touching down on the flight deck, taken by Robert A. Long Japan 1969

These two from the flightdeck of a US Navy aircraft carrier are not only of historic interest, they are also well composed.

                     Japanese-American child, taken by Robert A. Long, Japan 1969    

                       Japanese-American child, taken by Robert A. Long Japan 1969 

Okay, here is where the box of photographs got interesting for me. The two photos above are of several taken of a young Japanese-American girl. There is nothing written on the back of the photographs to indicate who the girl is or why the picture was taken, but the girl...looks very much like my sisters did at that age.

It is in no way a stretch to imagine my 4 (confirmed 4, could be 5) times married father having a child with a woman in Japan. He had a bunch of kids (6 with my Mom alone, his first wife), and was not known for his, uhm, regard for birth control.

On another post I may place all of the photographs I have of this young girl alongside photos of my siblings at around the same age, It will be...thought provoking...

            Photograph of Robert A. Long, taken by unknown photographer, 1969, location unknown

This was the second photograph of my father that I ever saw. He looks to be a Petty Officer 2nd Class from what I can see of the rating badge on his left sleeve. The armband on his right sleeve identifies him as an official US Navy photographer. 

My younger brother Tom resembles my father closely, especially in stature.

             My father's 2nd wife with their(?) son, taken by Robert A. Long, location unknown, 1969

 My father's pregnant 2nd wife with unk. persons, taken by Robert A. Long, location unknown, Dec 1969

The two photographs above are of the family my father started with his second wife. I have no idea who they are other than that, or where the pictures may have been taken. 

I do know, however, that the seascape hanging above the fireplace is a Robert Wood print. 

                Photograph of Robert A. Long, photographer unknown, location unknown, 1970

This is the third photograph of my father I have ever seen. My younger brother could use this picture for his driver's license.

                  My uncle, Donald Long, taken by Robert A. Long, location unknown, Dec 1969

This last picture of my Uncle Don I post only because of how much I resemble him in build/stature. I even used to comb my hair like that - when I had enough hair to comb, that is.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Photographs My Father Left Behind

My father was a photographer while serving in the US Navy. I know this because the only item of note that he left behind when he bailed on the family was a duffle bag full of photographs and photographic equipment.

However, I have no idea what happened to that duffle bag or it's contents. Recently though I was made the recipient of a small box that contained a large number of my father's photographs, and a number of 8mm movies. I do not have an 8mm projector for the films, so I will probably have to get them transferred to a digital format by a service.

I decided to scan and post a few of his photographs. He had a bit of talent as a photographer, and some of the photos are historically interesting, at least to me. 

               The Mission at San Juan Capistrano, California, taken by Robert A. Long, 1953

        My Grandmother and Great-Grandfather, taken by Robert A. Long, S.F., Ca. 1954

According to family lore, they are standing in front of the restaurant my grandmother owned with her third husband in San Francisco, Ca.

Photograph of my maternal Grandfather, taken by Robert A. Long, location and date unknown

I state that the location and date this photograph was taken is unknown because there was nothing other than the identity of the subject written on the back of the photo. As he is wearing a suit very similar to the one in the previous picture though, I am going to venture a guess that it was taken in the same area and around the same time.

                                      Japanese child, taken by Robert A. Long April 1956

                      Japanese woman mending fishing nets, taken by Robert A. Long, April 1956 

                                 Japanese Fishermen, taken by Robert A. Long April 1956

                Aircraft Carrier docking in Tokyo Harbor, taken by Robert A. Long April 1956

Japanese women greeting a US Navy aircraft carrier, taken by Robert A. Long April 1956

                         Cart on a street in Japan, taken by Robert A. Long April 1956

          US Marines helicopter over Japan, taken by Robert A. Long date unknown

My father made several stops in Japan while serving in the US Navy, and apparently he was enamored with the country, as he took several hundred photographs of the countryside and the people over a twenty-year career.

   US Navy cameramen, taken by Robert A. Long date unknown (Naval Air Station Alameda)

                         Scuba gear, taken by Robert A. Long, date and location unknown

  A plane full of paratroopers (demo team), taken by Robert A. Long, date and location unknown

          US Naval Officer's official portrait, taken by Robert A. Long, date and location unknown

               US Naval Officer's portrait, taken by Robert A. Long, date and location unknown
I worked with a number of Air Force photographers while in the USAF and I know the majority of their time was allotted for official portraits. The two above by my father are typical for officers of high rank. Can you just imagine the direction given to the officer standing with the pipe in his hand? "Sir, if you could just glance stage left with a look of annoyance on your face, that'd be great."

  Pillings at Belmont Shores, taken by Robert A. Long, Long Beach, Ca 1958 

    Entertainment at a nightclub in California, taken by Robert A. Long, date and location unknown

    Late night street scene in a California town, taken by Robert A. Long, date and location unknown

The last three photographs are either in or around Long Beach, Ca., but only the first one actually has the location written on it. There is a street sign (visible with a 10X jeweler's loupe on the original photograph) that reads Ocean Way in the last photo - the only Ocean Way I can find in Southern California is in Santa Monica, but I can find nothing else to corroborate the location so it's anyone's guess.

I will post more photographs taken by my father tomorrow, including more from Japan (taken in the late '60's). 

The ones from Japan, btw, feature several of a small Japanese child who has obvious Caucasian features. Hmmm....

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Elephants In Every Room

                            CRB in the Burrell Collection sculpture garden, Glasgow Scotland

There are people who grow up 
          With an elephant in the room
There are people who grow up
          In a room full of elephants
                                                         Dealing with elephants
                Whether one or a hundred 
                Can be tricky 

Don't want to ignore them
         But don't want to indulge them either
Careful when you approach them
         They can be as deadly as a man-eating tiger

                                  Some people, they learn to love
                 Their elephants
                 Some people, they learn to hate them

Whatever the case may be
         An elephant that isn't properly addressed
Soon becomes unsatisfied with just one room
         And eventually takes over the whole house