Grounded

Those of you who have followed Filosofa’s Word for more than a year may remember a series of posts that I re-blogged by justascottishgirl, a young woman from Scotland who, in late 2015 to mid-2016 took time from her own life to volunteer helping refugees on the Greek Isle of Kos. Her tales were often heartbreaking, but I was so impressed with what she and others were doing – giving of themselves for the cause of humanity – that I shared her story a few times in March 2016. She eventually returned to Scotland, but has now moved to the Greek Isle of Kos. She has started a new blog, titled From Greece With Love, and shares her very astute thoughts on not just the refugee crisis, but the terrible inhumane incidents taking place around the globe. I am sharing, with her permission, the first post on her new blog where she starts with a question: How does one stay grounded with all the terrible things happening around the world? She concludes with: “Stand together, show love where you find hate and don’t let fear win.” Just A Scottish Girl is an excellent writer, thinker, and humanitarian extraordinaire, and this post is well worth the read. Please take a few moments to read her words, for they reflect what most of us are thinking in these troubled times. Thank you, Scottish Girl, for all you do, for your beautiful heart, and for permission to share your thoughts and words.

From Greece With Love

All through life when times get tough, when things start to run away with us or when things start to get too much we often hear the advice “stay grounded.” We are told to “keep our feet on the ground” to balance us, to remind of something solid, something steady that can help bring us down from those dizzying heights that challenging times can take us to. But what happens when that safety net fails, when you can no longer trust the earth to keep you steady?

Recently I experienced a rather nasty earthquake which has left this question playing on my mind. When we live in a world of such uncertainty, how exactly do we stay grounded when we can’t even trust the ground we walk on?

But this idea of losing trust in your surroundings goes further than a shift in tectonic plates, for me personally anyway. Over…

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New White House H.R. Director …

melania-2Allow me to introduce the new White House Director of Human Resources … Melania Trump!  Yes, folks, Melania is now in charge, it would appear of decisions regarding employees of this administration.

mira ricardelMira Ricardel is a deputy national security advisor who has served in a number of positions during her career.  Earlier in the Trump administration, she served as a Special Assistant to the President and Associate Director in the Office of Presidential Personnel, and then Under Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration. Earlier in her career, she served as a foreign policy advisor to U.S. Senator Bob Dole and held higher-level positions in the U.S. Department of Defense during the Presidency of George W. Bush. On April 23, 2018, new U.S. National Security Advisor John R. Bolton named her as his incoming deputy. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Melania wants her fired.  But why???

Who knows?  It is said that when Melania wasted spent taxpayer money to travel to the African continent last month, the two women quarreled – some say over the seating arrangement on the plane, while others have differing explanations.  According to the Wall Street Journal, Melania, without evidence, believes that Ms. Ricardel was behind some of the negative stories about her.  Oh yes … silly me … I forgot that Melania is “the most bullied person in the world” or some such nonsense.

She also reportedly clashes with US Secretary of Defense James Mattis over “staffing decisions and policy differences”.  WHOA … wait just a minute there … Melania isn’t the policy-maker here!  We The People did not elect Melania!  Well, in truth, we didn’t elect her husband, either, but at least his name was on the ballot … I did not see Melania’s anywhere, did you?  But to the point … why would she even be putting her two-cents worth in on policy issues???  She’s a former nude model and as far as I know does not hold a degree in political science or foreign policy!  But then … neither does her husband. Oh, my head!!!

So … yesterday, Melania’s ‘office’ (why does she need an ‘office’ when she doesn’t do a damn thing?) released the following statement …

“It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that she [Ricardel] no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House.”

I dislike John Bolton … immensely, in fact.  But, if there are issues with Ms. Ricardel, they are Bolton’s to work out, to decide on a course of action, not Donald Trump’s and most assuredly not Melania’s.  Has anybody in this administration ever heard the term “chain of command”?  And firing a member of the National Security Council because the prez’ wife didn’t like the seating arrangements on an airplane???  What the heck kind of Banana Republic has this nation turned into???

It was hard enough trying to keep up with one blathering, ignorant, narcissistic fool in the White House, but now we have at least two to worry about?  Where is ‘due process’?  Where is ‘chain of command’?  Where is … where is democracy?  Where is the idea that we elect people with the expectation that they will act in the best interest of the nation and its people?  Instead, we have a whiny bitch married to an incompetent president and between them they are calling all the shots.  What could possibly go wrong?

♫ Right Here Waiting For You ♫

Singer and songwriter Richard Marx wrote this song on the road as a love letter to his wife, actress Cynthia Rhodes.

“I wrote the song for my wife Cynthia who was in South Africa shooting for a film. We were not married then and I wanted to meet her because I had not seen her for a few months. But my visa application was rejected and when I came back I wrote this song which was more of a letter from me to her. It was the fastest song I wrote, in barely 20 minutes. And this was the time when there was no Skype and Social networking so I had to ship the track to her. The song was very personal and was not intended to go public. But my friends pursued me to record it.”

A bit about Richard Marx … His father wrote TV jingles for chocolate bars and peanut butter, and Richard made his professional debut singing on some of his dad’s commercials. When he was 18, Marx left his hometown of Chicago and headed to LA, where another commercial-minded musician, Lionel Richie, took the young singer-songwriter under this wing. After a 5-year apprenticeship in which he sang harmonies on several of Richie’s hits had some of his compositions recorded by artists such as Kenny Rogers and Chicago, Marx finally landed his own recording contract. And he was poised for stardom: Marx’s self-titled 1987 debut album yielded four top-10 hits, including the #1 song Hold On To The Nights.

Marx originally pitched the song to Barbra Streisand. But she had a few issues with his lyrics. “She called and said, ‘I love this music, this melody is gorgeous, but if I’m going to record it, I’m going to need you to rewrite the lyrics because I’m not going to be right here waiting for anybody,'”  I’m rather glad he kept the song … and the lyrics.

Right Here Waiting for You
Richard Marx

Oceans apart day after day
And I slowly go insane
I hear your voice on the line
But it doesn’t stop the pain

If I see you next to never
How can we say forever

Wherever you go
Whatever you do
I will be right here waiting for you
Whatever it takes
Or how my heart breaks
I will be right here waiting for you

I took for granted, all the times
That I thought would last somehow
I hear the laughter, I taste the tears
But I can’t get near you now

Oh, can’t you see it baby
You’ve got me going crazy

Wherever you go
Whatever you do
I will be right here waiting for you
Whatever it takes
Or how my heart breaks
I will be right here waiting for you

I wonder how we can survive
This romance
But in the end if I’m with you
I’ll take the chance

Oh, can’t you see it baby
You’ve got me going crazy

Wherever you go
Whatever you do
I will be right here waiting for you
Whatever it takes
Or how my heart breaks
I will be right here waiting for you
Waiting for you

Songwriters: Richard Marx
Right Here Waiting for You lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, BMG Rights Management

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Note to readers:  rawgod tells me that he is only able to play about half the videos I post.  Is anybody else having an issue with viewing the videos?  Please let me know if you are, and I will look into it.  Thanks!

Good People Doing Good Things — Firefighters And Other Heroes

As of this writing, Tuesday afternoon, 44 people are confirmed dead and another 200+ missing in the deadliest fires in California’s history.  More than 7,000 homes and businesses have been destroyed, and that number, as well as the death toll, is certain to rise.  More than 8,000 firefighters have been on the job since Thursday, and the end is not yet in sight.  Today’s ‘good people’ post is dedicated to these men and women, as well as others who have been good Samaritans, have helped people in the face of this terrible tragedy.  Gronda … get your tissues …


firefightersNow, I can’t bring you any personal tales of heroism from or about firefighters just yet, for these guys don’t have time to tell their stories right now … there’s still a lot of fire that needs fighting and they are working past the point of exhaustion, sleeping an hour or two, then going back at it like … well, like fighting fire.  No need for personal stories … these men and women are heroes.  They are trying to save lives, property and land, even pets. firefighter rescues catAt last count, at least 36 of the firefighters themselves had lost everything they own to the fires.  They have seen their town, their kids’ schools, their doctors’ offices, banks and neighbors’ homes turned to rubble, and yet they keep going back into that fiery inferno toting up to 75 pounds of gear and equipment.  For hours, and hours with no relief.  I give them the highest five I can muster.  Since I don’t have their individual stories to tell just now, I am bringing some of them to you in pictures.FF1FF2FF3FF4ff5.pngFF6ff7.pngFF8A firefighter drags a hose as he battles the Camp Fire in Paradise


And then there were other heroes …

Allyn Pierce is an ICU nurse at Adventist Health in Paradise.  He and other co-workers first made several trips to help evacuate patients to safety, but after the patients were all safely evacuated, he and his two colleagues were heading to safety when suddenly they found themselves gridlocked in traffic, unable to move, with fire surrounding them on all sides.  This is the view from inside his truck …View from Pierce's carFlames licked at the side of his truck, and as Allyn watched other cars catch fire, he thought his was next. He even recorded a message for his family, “Just in case this doesn’t work out, I want you to know I really tried to make it out.” 

Out of the smoke, there appeared a bulldozer that cleared a small space, but instead of going forward to safety … Allyn, who had already resigned himself to possibly dying, turned around and headed back into Paradise to see if he could help others!  Back at the hospital, he found that many of the townspeople had gone there seeking help, safety … refuge. Pierce's triage centerSo, he gathered a crew … doctors, nurses, police, paramedics … anyone willing to lend a hand, and they set up a triage center about 100 yards from the burning hospital where they did the best they could for people while waiting … for what?  Eventually, firefighters arrived and were able to clear a path and escort those at the triage center to safety.  Allyn’s only casualty was his truck … it melted.Pierce's truckBut the story doesn’t end here.  Pierce would later find out that he had lost his home to the fire.  After his story was told on an ABC News affiliate station, he was writing about his experience on Facebook when there was a comment from @toyotausa:

“We are humbled you’d risk your life and Toyota Tundra to drive people to safety.  Don’t worry about your truck, we’re honoured to get you a new one.”


Paradise Unified School District middle school was about to fall victim to the Camp Fire on Thursday.  The children were already at school when science teacher Mark Kessler heard propane tanks nearby exploding due to the excessive heat and he knew it was time to evacuate.  But how to get the hundreds of children out quickly and to safety?

Teachers, aides and bus drivers went into action, loading children into their own vehicles, buses, whatever vehicle was available.  A sheriff’s deputy directed them to the nearby town of Chico and told them to cram as many as they could into each vehicle and “seatbelt laws don’t apply”.  Even though the town of Chico was typically about a 20-minute drive, on this day it would take them several hours, plowing through smoke, burning debris, and flames on gridlocked country roads.  According to Kessler …

“There were trees burning on the side of the road. The smoke was so thick you couldn’t see. We had very traumatized teachers who were certain they were going to die in the car with their students.”

All of these people had homes and families in jeopardy from the fire, but instead of seeing to their own, they saw to these young students, brought them to safety and by Friday morning had re-united all with their parents.  How very brave and dedicated these men and women were.


I have no doubt that from the ashes will emerge hundreds of stories of extraordinary courage, acts of bravery … it is these that we should remember when the world shows us its darker side … these are the real people, the humanitarians who, when the chips are down, put others before themselves.  These are the people doing the good things, while others sit back and find fault. Thank you again to the men and women who are fighting so long and hard to save lives, homes and property.

♫ Scarborough Fair ♫

In the last week or so, daughter Chris who is a lover of all things British, discovered a new television show to love called “Rosemary & Thyme”.  It’s fairly interesting, actually, about two middle-aged British women playing detective and solving murders every week.  I jokingly refer to the title of the show as “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme”, ala the song Scarborough Fair by Simon and Garfunkel.  And as payback for my humour, I have had this song looping through my head for two days now, so in a ritual of exorcism, I am sharing it here with you!

Scarborough is a small town on the coast of England. The “Scarborough Fair” was a popular gathering in Medieval times, attracting traders and entertainers from all over the country. The fair lasted 45 days and started every August 15th. In the 1600s, mineral waters were found in Scarborough and it became a resort town. Today, Scarborough is a quiet town with a rich history.

In Medieval England, this became a popular folk song as Bards would sing it when they traveled from town to town. The author of the song is unknown, and many different versions exist. The traditional version has many more lyrics.  Paul Simon learned about this song when he was on tour in England, where he heard a version by a popular folk singer named Martin Carthy. When Carthy heard Simon & Garfunkel’s rendition, he accused Simon of stealing his arrangement. Carthy and Simon did not speak until 2000, when Simon asked Carthy to perform this with him at a show in London. Carthy put his differences aside and did the show.

The lyrics are about a man trying to attain his true love. In Medieval times, the herbs mentioned in the song represented virtues that were important to the lyrics. Parsley was comfort, sage was strength, rosemary was love, and thyme was courage.

Scarborough Fair
Simon & Garfunkel

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Remember me to one who lives there
For once she was a true love of mine

Have her make me a cambric shirt
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Without no seam nor fine needle work
And then she’ll be a true love of mine

Tell her to weave it in a sycamore wood lane
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
And gather it all with a basket of flowers
And then she’ll be a true love of mine

Have her wash it in yonder dry well
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
where water ne’er sprung nor drop of rain fell
And then she’ll be a true love of mine

Have her find me an acre of land
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Between the sea foam and over the sand
And then she’ll be a true love of mine

Plow the land with the horn of a lamb
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Then sow some seeds from north of the dam
And then she’ll be a true love of mine

Tell her to reap it with a sickle of leather
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
And gather it all in a bunch of heather
And then she’ll be a true love of mine

If she tells me she can’t, I’ll reply
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Let me know that at least she will try
And then she’ll be a true love of mine

Love imposes impossible tasks
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Though not more than any heart asks
And I must know she’s a true love of mine

Dear, when thou has finished thy task
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Come to me, my hand for to ask
For thou then art a true love of mine

Songwriters: Arthur Garfunkel / Paul Simon
Scarborough Fair lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group

A Shared Opinion …

There are a number of opinion writers who I read regularly, and Charles Blow of the New York Times is one.  His column on Sunday struck a chord, for much of what he says mirrors my own thoughts very closely, especially when he says, “I would love nothing more than to write about other things, worthy things, more intellectually stimulating things. But for more than two years, I have written almost exclusively about Donald Trump.”  I initially intended to only provide a few snippets from this column, but after I studied and pondered it a bit, I decided to share the entire column after all.  Give it a read … I think you’ll be able to relate to much of what he says …

You Have a Right to Weariness

The struggle for goodness and decency is an eternal struggle, not a seasonal one.

Charles BlowBy Charles M. Blow, Opinion Columnist

Do we have a right to weariness in an era of animus? More precisely, can we afford it, or is exhaustion a luxury reserved for those whose wealth, privilege and status insulate them from the losses the rest of us could suffer? Does patriotic defense of country require perpetual, obsessive vigilance, or is it permissible to retreat occasionally for one’s own mental and spiritual health?

These are questions I ask myself regularly, and ones that are frequently asked of me, if not in those exact words. People are trying to figure out the proper posture to take in a world riven by deceit and corruption, a world in which the leadership of the country represents an assault on decency.

This is a conundrum, I must confess.

I, as much as anyone else, feel trapped by our current predicament. I would love nothing more than to write about other things, worthy things, more intellectually stimulating things. But for more than two years, I have written almost exclusively about Donald Trump.

I feel compelled by what I view as history, fundamental and consequential, playing out right before me with nothing short of the life of the republic at stake. And yet, at a certain point, words begin to fail, or the obvious has already been stated. Once you have pointed out that Trump is a liar, you can then note only that he is telling more lies. The same goes for his racism, bullying, anti-intellectualism, corruption and grift.

At some point, it becomes clear that the abnormal, outrageous and unacceptable have become a constant, and even the rolling boil of righteous folk’s indignation reduces to a simmer.

People often ask me, “When will it end? What can we do to get him out of there?”

My answer always is, “I doubt it will end soon, and there’s very little anyone can do to change that.”

I hate to bear that message, but it is the only one I can deliver if I wish to be honest rather than popular.

As much as there was to celebrate last week, with liberals winning control of the House of Representatives, and doing so with such a diverse slate of candidates, it was also clear that Republican control of the Senate means that any hope of removing Trump via impeachment has shrunk to nearly nothing. Even if the House impeaches Trump, the Senate remains highly unlikely to remove him.

Democrats are even debating how far they can take oversight in the House without turning off people politically.

The only hope is that the Robert Mueller investigation may deliver something so damning that some Senate Republicans view it as unacceptable. But there is no evidence as of yet that anything would sway them.

Trump is taking steps to severely hamper Mueller’s efforts. Last week, he fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions and installed Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general. The F.B.I. is currently investigating corruption at a company where Mr. Whitaker sat on the advisory board.

At this point, it may be more prudent to view what comes from the Mueller probe as fodder for the 2020 presidential campaign. It may not pave the way for an impeachment conviction by the Senate, but could well pave the way for an electoral “impeachment.”

It is very likely that we are stuck with Trump until the 2020 election, and even then the Democrats can take nothing for granted if they wish to defeat him.

That is the root of people’s distress. How can Republicans in Congress abide this behavior and use it for political positioning? How can so many of our neighbors condone open hostility to minorities, the press and the truth?

Or maybe the questions are for us. How could we not have registered fully just how hostile a substantial portion of America is to inclusion and equality? How could we not have registered the full depths of American racism and misogyny? How could we not remember that American progress has always been like a dance with a disagreeable partner, stumbling backward as well as moving forward?

I remember calling my mother when Trump was elected, and she was not nearly as distraught as I thought she’d be. Her stated reason: We’ve been through worse. She is an elderly black woman from the South. Her sense of history and heartbreak are long and fraught.

Recently, I’ve delved even more deeply into this line of thinking, reading about how black people positioned themselves during both Reconstruction and Jim Crow, when the political structures were largely arrayed against them.

I wanted to know how they survived and made progress against open hostility. The recurring themes are to never lose hope in the ultimate victory of righteousness; to focus your fire on the things you are most able to change; and to realize that change is neither quick nor permanent.

The struggle for goodness and decency is an eternal struggle, not a seasonal one.

Don’t beat yourself up if you need to tune out every now and then and take a mental health break. There is no shame in it. This is a forever fight. Once you have recharged, reapply your armor and rejoin the fight with even more vigor.

That white privilege thing

Our good friend Keith wrote this post nearly three weeks ago. I intended to re-blog it at the time, and as seems to happen more and more with me these days, I got side-tracked and it fell by the wayside. No matter, for his words are timeless … they were as true 100 years ago as they are today, and I suspect will still need to be heard in another century. Thank you, Keith, for this post, for reminding me of it, and for your generous permission to share.

musingsofanoldfart

Usually when Dr. Phil comes on, I leave the room. Seeing people yell at each other is not therapeutic for me. Yesterday, my wife said you need to see this one as it was an interesting group discussion on race relations and white privilege.

In one powerful, illustrating exercise, young adults of both genders and several races, religions, sexual preferences, and countries of origin stepped forward or backward based on answers to a series of questions. At the end of about thirty or so questions, white people tended to be at the front of the room, while other races tended to be at the back.

As a now 60 year-old white man, I can pretty much go anywhere I want without repercussions. And, I need not have to worry for my life when I am stopped by the police or state patrol. A black man in his Sunday best has…

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Shame On You, Donald Trump …

Once again, I find myself wanting to apologize for our ignorant, crude, ignominious, arrogant, brash, narcissistic so-called ‘president’ after he made a fool of not only himself, but of us all, when he was mistakenly allowed to travel to the EU over the weekend.  To all my friends & family across the pond … please forgive us for sending him, for we knew not what we were doing.

The occasion, for any who may not know, was to honour those who died in World War I on the 100th anniversary of the end of that war.  It was a solemn occasion, a time to set aside differences and come together to remember …

Trump started his trail of terror before even leaving Air Force One, when he tweeted an attempted insult toward Emmanuel Macron, President (in good standing) of France.  But it got worse.  His alleged purpose for traveling to Paris on Friday was to attend ceremonies marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.  The reality, as is always the case with Trump, was something else altogether, but that was his stated purpose.  But guess what?  It rained.Trump-rain-WWIIt rained.  Trump was afraid of a little bit of water.  I’ve often said I don’t think he bathes regularly, and this proves it!  All the other leaders who had gathered in Paris for the occasion attended …Prince Harry rainAngela Merkel braved the elements, as did Justin Trudeau, Emmanuel Macron, Britain’s Prince Harry, Spain’s King Felipe VI … even Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Russia’s Vladimir Putin found time to attend, despite the rain.  Trump later claimed that the only reason he didn’t attend was that his motorcade would have disrupted roads.  SO WALK, YOU F***ING MORON!!!

General John Kelly and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff General Joe Dunford attended instead – apparently they didn’t need a ‘motorcade’. France WWI Centennial

Representative Don Beyer of Virginia hit the nail on the head:

“Millions died to protect the free world during WWI, and Trump can’t be bothered to honor their memories. Instead, he’s chosen to sit in a hotel and live-tweet Fox News. Just imagine if President Obama sat out a Veterans Day ceremony because of the rain …”

Just imagine, indeed.  But then, President Obama was … well, you know … African-American, and thus his every move was placed under a strong microscope and picked apart like the Christmas turkey.  Trump, on the other hand, is ugly white with layers of fat, acne, and a bad toupee, so he can do no wrong!  (Yeah, I’m pissed – what tipped you off?)

“It’s incredible that a president would travel to France for this significant anniversary — and then remain in his hotel room watching TV rather than pay in person his respects to the Americans who gave their lives in France for the victory gained 100 years ago tomorrow.” – David Frum, former speechwriter for President George W. Bush

Even Winston Churchill’s grandson, British Conservative MP Nicholas Soames, joined in the rebuke, saying, “They died with their face to the foe and that pathetic inadequate @realDonaldTrump couldn’t even defy the weather to pay his respects to The Fallen,” and adding that Trump is “not fit to represent his great country.”

“President@realDonaldTrump a no-show because of raindrops? Those veterans the president didn’t bother to honor fought in the rain, in the mud, in the snow — & many died in trenches for the cause of freedom. Rain didn’t stop them & it shouldn’t have stopped an American president.” – John Kerry, Vietnam War veteran and former Secretary of State

Macron-MerkelHowever, the best rebuke came from none other than French President Emmanuel Macron in this one sentence that is bound to become iconic …

“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism by saying ‘our interests first, who cares about the others’, we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what makes it great and what is essential: its moral values.”

Ooooohhhh … good one, Mr. Macron!!!  And then he went on …

“I do defend my country. I do believe that we have a strong identity. But I’m a strong believer in cooperation between the different peoples, and I’m a strong believer of the fact that this cooperation is good for everybody, where the nationalists are sometimes much more based on a unilateral approach and the law of the strongest, which is not my case.”

But at the end of the day, Trump did manage to find time for one world leader … his ol’ buddy …trump-putinPerhaps this, then, was his sole reason for spending millions of taxpayer dollars to travel abroad for the weekend?  Or perhaps it was to seek a relief from the heat of last week’s mid-term elections?  Either way, he once again wasted huge amounts of our money in order to do nothing more than embarrass us.  Shame on you, Donald Trump … Shame on you.

♫ Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me ♫

Elton John has had a few hits that I didn’t care for, but for the most part I find Elton’s work strikes some chord in me and makes me either tap my feet or sit down and cry.  Either way, it’s all good.

This song’s lyrics were, as were most of Elton’s songs, written by Bernie Taupin, who said …

“My only recollections of this is that we wanted to write something big. I mean, big in that dramatic Spectory (as in Phil Spector) style, like ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.’ Hopefully being powerful without being pompous. I’m not sure that with this in mind it made me fashion the lyrics any differently. Although, in retrospect, they do seem to have a slightly more Brill Building flair to them, so it’s entirely possible that I did.

Of course, I always seem to have to revert to a crib sheet to check these things, as I just seem to have a really bad memory of my own work. In fact, it makes me think of a situation that I found myself in a few years ago watching some TV with some friends of mine. There was a game show on where one of the categories happened to be my lyrics. And there were, I believe, five questions, and four of them I got wrong.”

This was extremely difficult and frustrating to record. Elton was not satisfied with any of his vocal takes, and the producer Gus Dudgeon had fits trying to mix all the voices and instruments that went into this. In Philip Norman’s book Sir Elton: The Definitive Biography, Dudgeon said, “When Elton recorded this track, he was in a filthy mood. On some takes, he’d scream it, on others he’d mumble it, or he’d just stand there, staring at the control room. Eventually, he flung off his headphones and said, “Okay, let’s hear what we got.” When Gus played it for him, Elton said, “That’s a load of crap. You can send it to Engelbert Humperdinck, and if he doesn’t like it, you can give it to Lulu as a demo.” My, my … it’s a wonder it ever got recorded.

I am putting up two versions.  The first is the original by Elton.  In 1991 there was a George Michael concert in London on March 25, which was Elton’s 44th birthday. Elton appeared as a surprise guest at the show and the two did a duet, which was a #1 hit in both the US and UK.  I am not as fond of the duet as I am the original, but I must admit there is an energy, a camaraderie, that is great.  Since it was such a big hit, I thought I would offer both and you can watch whichever you wish … or both.  And so, without further ado …

And the duet …

Don’t Let the Sun Go Down
Elton John (and George Michael)

I can’t light no more of your darkness
All my pictures seem to fade to black and white
I’m growing tired and time stands still before me
Frozen here on the ladder of my life

It’s much too late to save myself from falling
I took a chance and changed your way of life
But you misread my meaning when I met you
Closed the door and left me blinded by the light

Don’t let the sun go down on me
Although I search myself, it’s always someone else I see
I’d just allow a fragment of your life to wander free, oh
But losing everything is like the sun going down on me

I can’t find
Oh, the right romantic line
But see me once and see the way I feel
Don’t discard me, baby don’t
Just because you think I mean, you harm
(Just because you think I mean you harm, oh)
But these cuts I have (cuts I have)
They need love (they need love, they need love)
To help them heal

Oh, don’t let the sun go down on me
Although I search myself, it’s always someone else I see
I’d just allow a fragment of your life to wander free, oh
‘Cause losing everything is like the sun going down on me
Don’t let the sun go down on me
Although I search myself, it’s always someone else that I see, yeah
I’d just allow a fragment of your life to wander free baby, oh
‘Cause losing everything is like the sun going down on me

Songwriters: Bernie Taupin / Elton John
Don’t Let the Sun Go Down lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Jolly Monday … I Think …

Hello friends … Monday again, eh?  I apologize for last Monday, but neither Jolly nor I were feeling very … jolly … with all the news that was bombarding our senses.  Frankly, I considered skipping out again today, but … no, I just couldn’t do that to my friends, for I don’t want you to miss your weekly dose of humour.  So tell me, how was your weekend?  Mine was c-c-c-cold, so I stayed indoors except for a very quick trip to the grocery yesterday afternoon.  I sent the girls off shopping without me … perhaps not the brightest thing, for when they returned I was handed a receipt for $300 of clothes Chris put on my account!  Ah well … she got a promotion at work and no longer wears scrubs, so she’s having to build a wardrobe of business casual.  Now grab a cuppa coffee or tea and lets find something to put a smile on our faces, shall we?


Diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks …

pumpkin-1.png Everyone’s seen a boat race or two, even if only in the movies, but in the town of Lohmar, Germany, they have a bit of a different twist … pumpkin races!  That’s right … participants race the 35 meters across Krewelshofer Lake in hollowed out gourds. pumpkin-2.jpgGrown specially for the race, the pumpkins must weigh at least 250 kilograms (550 pounds) and, to minimize the risk of capsizing, more for heavier participants.  The fastest racers in six categories get €200 ($230) in prize money, or €300 if they paddled in their own pumpkins – enough to buy a boat for next year, I am told, although I haven’t seen any boats for that price in years!  Watch …


Yuck  🤢

You’ve heard of the fruit, durian, right?  They grow on Durian trees found in tropical forests, are ovoid in shape, usually 6-12 inches long and 5-6 inches wide, with a yellow or yellowish-green rind and creamy white flesh inside.  Sounds fairly innocuous, right?  But don’t let this innocent-looking fruit fool you.

durian

Just last week, a shipment of durians caused the delay of a flight in Indonesia when passengers refused to fly with the shipment of fruit, leading the airline to delay the flight for an hour so the durian could be unloaded. And in April, the durian necessitated the evacuation of 500 students and teachers from a university in Melbourne, Australia!  What is it about this poor, maligned fruit?

It stinks.

According to an article in the Smithsonian, it is said to smell like “turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock”.  🤢durians.jpg“Even with the husk intact, the notorious Asian fruit has such a potent stench that it’s banned on the Singapore Rapid Mass Transit.  A small minority, though, love the smell and taste of the fruit. Anthony Bourdain calls it ‘indescribable, something you will either love or despise…Your breath will smell as if you’d been French-kissing your dead grandmother.’”  🤢

I have seen these in the grocery but never tried them.  Now, I’m fairly certain I will not be bringing one home!durian-sign


A dream or a nightmare?

Now, you all know I like critters … all sorts of critters.  I don’t even mind snakes or spiders … they have their code of conduct and as long as we understand and respect that, we can live in perfect harmony.  Mostly.  But, as much as I love critters, I cannot imagine sharing my home with more than 400 snakes, alligators and such things as tarantulas.  But then, I’m not Philippe Gillet.Philippe Gillet, 67 year-old Frenchman who lives with more than 400 reptiles and tamed alligators, gives chicken to his alligator Ali in his living room in Coueron near NantesMeet Philippe Gillet, 67-years-old, is a reptile enthusiast having more than 400 phobia-inducing animals, including rattlesnakes, tarantulas and lizards in his home in western France near the city of Nantes.Philippe Gillet, 67 year-old Frenchman who lives with more than 400 reptiles and tamed alligators, gives chicken to his alligators Ali and Gator in his living room in Coueron near NantesGillet says the two alligators, named Ali and Gator, were rescued from a leather farm but most of the animals are pets that outstayed their welcome elsewhere and have been abandoned or donated.Philippe Gillet, 67 year-old Frenchman who lives with more than 400 reptiles and tamed alligators, feeds his Northern caiman lizard in his house in Coueron near NantesGillet feeds his Northern caiman lizard in his house in Coueron near Nantes. He says he has all the necessary permits to keep and transport the animals for roadshows which he runs to raise awareness about reptiles.Philippe Gillet, 67 year-old Frenchman who lives with more than 400 reptiles and tamed alligators, looks at his Cuvier's dwarf caiman in his house in Coueron near NantesThe 67-year-old has taken two decades to amass his collection of ‘creepy crawlies’, which also includes a Cuvier’s dwarf caiman — a small crocodile.Philippe Gillet, 67 year-old Frenchman who lives with more than 400 reptiles and tamed alligators, looks at his black cobra in his living room in Coueron near NantesGillet also has a black cobra amongst his collection, which he keeps in his living room.Philippe Gillet, 67 year-old Frenchman who lives with more than 400 reptiles and tamed alligators, looks at a tarantula in his house in Coueron near NantesHe insists the locals do not mind their unusual neighbours and regularly pop in for coffee. I wonder if you would like a tarantula for company while sipping on your coffee?Philippe Gillet, 67 year-old Frenchman who lives with more than 400 reptiles and tamed alligators, poses with a python in his house in Coueron near NantesExplaining why he shares his house with his ‘pets’, he says, “I think it’s unfair to treat these animals the way we do because we don’t understand them. We don’t understand them, we hate them, we think they’re horrible. But when we get to know them, you can call them over, tell them to come and eat something for example.”Philippe Gillet, 67 year-old Frenchman who lives with more than 400 reptiles and tamed alligators, gives a banana to his iguana in his garden in Coueron near NantesGillet feeds his pet iguana in the garden. He says his cobra lives on the coffee table, his 50-kg tortoise roams the garden and one alligator sleeps in his bed, while the other keeps watch at the door.

I am in awe of this man, and he seems to get on well with his menagerie!  But no thanks … 6 kitties is enough to keep me on my toes!


jollyAnd I’m afraid that’s all I’ve got up my sleeve for today, folks … I think I’m still trying to recuperate from last week, and am yet just a bit out of sorts.  Many of us are out of sorts these days, both here in the U.S. and across the big pond, so give somebody a smile today, maybe even a hug, okay?  Keep safe and have a great week!  Love ‘n hugs from Filosofa and Jolly!