Friday, April 26, 2013

An Alien Encounter Over Rio

As with all things in Rio that evening, it was magic

I clearly remember the night of April 25, 2010. I had finished the dishes and put away the food. It was nearly 11:00. I went out on the veranda of a house in Jardim Botanica.  Often I went out to breathe in the cooler air and watch the stars and planets, which seemed much closer in Rio.

The heavenly sights always stirred me in a way as to make me sleepy. On that particular night the moon was 93% full gibbeous and the huge lights shone over Christo's shoulders and washed across the Corcavado. But on this night, two red lights blinked above against the clear black sky.

 These new brighter lights were much the same in scale and distance of Venus. I had to crane my neck. They were certainly not aircraft. They were stationary, not darting around or zooming here and there. But they blinked.

 Below these lights I saw a new array of blinking white lights going in a circle under the initial blinking red lights. Then they began to whirl around like a sparkler in a fireworks display. I called to my girlfriend to come out to the veranda. She had lived in the house for nearly 30 years and often star watched from here. She confirmed what I was seeing and she broke out laughing and calling her friends on the phone.

Just then the lights began to criss-cross and turn more rapidly in a circle. This was followed by three more blue\white lights appearing below the red lights. The earlier white lights now blinked furiously. Then this display was followed by stationary white lights appearing one …two…three…four…five….all the way down to nine… at the end of a chain. The entire formation was in a straight line and neither moved laterally nor vertically. By now it was evident we were watching something beyond human.

We stood on the veranda breathless and enchanted, in awe and aware of something marvelous. We dared not take our eyes away. At 11:10, the white light on the very bottom of the cosmic necklace went dark. Then one by one each of the white lights slowly went dark from bottom to top. The white circling fireworks stopped. Each of the rapidly blinking red and white lights went out, and finally only two, the original red lights remained. Then they, too, went dark. Then it was over.

Later we scoured the Internet to see if there were any other sightings around Rio -- and there are hundreds of new UFOs captured on film each week in Brazil -- but nothing similar to what we had encountered.

We looked for news reports. We had seen something inexplicable, and the impact was eerie. We needed confirmation. Over the next week there was a meteor shower from the Pleiades but this display was feckless, distant and cold compared to what we had seen. Helicopters flying over at night seemed rather puny to what we had seen.

Ironically, it was the same week that Stephen Hawking’s documentary on alien life appeared on television. He discounted the idea that we will one day make contact with aliens. He said that a superior life form would simply not recognize us as anything but inferior life forms. Or worse, they might think we were a food source.

Also, that day, Arthur C. Clark was quoted in a documentary as saying that making contact with aliens would be made more difficult for us because their advanced technology would be so superior that we could not possibly perceive their advanced technology as anything "indistinguishable from magic".

 And magic it was.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

What Silence Is: A Poem

This is a poem I wrote about what silence is.  This was my way of contributing to poetry as art in a tribute to John Cage, called Silent Series, story number fifty-six. 

Silence is simply the beat between the words. Drum roll. beat, cymbals.

Squeak! Squeak! Squeak!

I have written other poetry, often in small reading circles. Bur one night I decided to read this poem in a small café on Commercialized Drive, where it was cool to be hip and hot enough that evening to melt plastic. I opened a window to let the air out.

A poetry lady asked me if I was a poet. I said I’d be in the wrong place if I wasn’t.  Anyway, her calling me a poet sounded too much like a job.

This night, the poets mostly read about people who lived under bridges. I doubted if any of them ever had themselves and I suspect they drove there in nice cars.

In the middle of the reading some anti-war people came into the restaurant and took over the room. They said there was a scheduling problem. There was some friction: Poets versus anti-war types.  After a lot of talk, both sides pulled back from the brink. The poets would lend the microphone and amplifier to the anti-war guys. The anti-war people said: “Okay, we’ll let you read for another half-hour, but you have to read anti-war poetry.”  The poetry lady agreed to donate some money to the anti-war cause, while the anti-war people agreed to be quiet during the reading. The poets even bought the anti-war people beer and bought some anti-war t-shirts for sale. The anti-war people shared the food they brought to the rally. The moment was calm, but robbed of its irony.

I was up to read next. The poetry lady asked me: “Do you have any anti-war poems? I said: “Yes, all my poems are anti-war.”

I sat down at the microphone and read the Cage poem. The anti-war people in the audience were not amused.  I explained. “It’s war between the sexes,” I said vacating the stage.

I had overstayed my welcome. 

 I walked to the bus stop under a full moon. A young man in torn jeans limped on one crutch across the street, shouting at someone who owed him money. I missed my bus and began walking, enjoying the moonlight, happy to be the silence.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Three Dot Journalism Is Alive

TEN DAYS of good weather have really thrown me off stride. The things that I was jazzed up about eight months ago have receded with the rain clouds and grey skies. I am listening to more birds and less to mind chatter.

IT'S THE BEGINNING of the baseball season and after 10 games the Oakland A's (see Moneyball) are off to a great start (8-2). I will also watch the Dominican Blue Jays (In Canada they are called the Toronto Blue Jays). This vaunted super team is supposed to be the best money can buy but the team has tripped over its own bats this  week just trying to get out of the dugout. They are 3-6 and falling.

I WAS INVITED to participate in the opening anniversary game to celebrate the 46th year of a weekly softball game in Berkeley. I wrote a short history of the guys who began playing at UC Berkeley in 1967. I joined them in 1974 and played for six seasons before being traded. In all my days I could never hit Lewis Dolinsky, a founder of the team. He always beat me in tennis and got me to ground out in softball. I was easy prey so he had it fixed I would never be selected to his team. He had a menacingly slow and jerky delivery. Today, Lewis has left the mound and devotes his time to writing about each game. He's covered virtually every game at Monclair Park in Berkeley and other fields, since the beginning. There must be hundreds of us waiting for his e-mail to arrive. This past Saturday, he writes: Michael hit a home run on  the second pitch of the 2013 opener, and his squad led 15-0 in the third inning. The M's eventually won 18-9. The hitters were clearly ahead of the pitchers. In addition to his homer, Michael had a triple and two singles. Gary, starting his 98th season, had two doubles and a single. In six plate appearances, Ian tripled twice, doubled twice and singled twice. But since he failed to hit for the cycle, he will be required to take extra batting practice. Casey led the Andys with a homer, a triple and a single. Big Jeff made the play of the game, a running over-the-should catch in center field. The field was not wonderful after rain on Friday and a bit more on Saturday, but the grounds crew did fine work and then the legendary Mike O'Connor threw out the first pitch. Attendance was 10 geese and a raccoon. The raccoon was limping. That's a tough way to start the season. 
 Next Saturday at Montclair: Batting practice at 11:30, Game at noon.

KUDOS TO THE EmotionBeats for keeping it real:You sometimes think you want to disappear.. But all you really want is to be found...

BIG LOSERS OF the Week: The CEO of the Royal Bank of Canada gets caught lying over the firing of Canadian IT workers while hiring non-documented workers from Asia. The capitalists are circling the wagons as other Canadian banks are similarly listed as suspects in international drug smuggling and slavery. Wasn't retail banking good enough for your profits?

CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER Stephan Pipeline is still planning to hire un-documented Chinese workers to build his personal oil reserve on native land in British Columbia's wilderness without resolving land claims. Next, he will build a wall around himself.

I INVITE YOU TO check out my fan page: La Demoiselle, a script I wrote about a young woman who was abandoned on an island for being a witch in the 1500s. Become a friend and "like".

SPEAKING ABOUT rough justice: Christy Clark, BC's Liberal Premier, is so unpopular that a first-time politician could realistically take her riding in the May provincial election. Despite being more than 20 points behind in the polls Clark spent $11 million on a gala event this past weekend promoting B.C. to East Indian "Bollywood" filmmakers and producers to film here in B.C. At the same time, Clark is telling B.C.'s beleaguered filmmakers that her government will not increase much needed tax subsidies to help keep the province's film community competitive. Say what?!...