Thursday, September 29, 2016



Seldom can anything cause such fury and rage, such strife and disharmony!

Am I talking about politics?

Hell, no. I'm talking about opera. Opera aficionados are some of the most fiercely opinionated people on earth.

I got into a riff with a guy on YouTube over the great Immolation Scene from Wagner's Gotterdammerung - - or God Damn a Rung, as they call it in Texas.

For all of you opera virgins, I'll try to explain. Composer Richard Wagner wrote Der Ring des Nebelungen (The Ring of the Nibelungen), known as the Ring Cycle. It consists of four operas (which he preferred to call "Music Dramas"). The final opera in this series is Gotterdammerung (Twilight of the Gods). The Immolation Scene is the intensely dramatic finale of Gotterdammerung.
Siegfried is dead - killed by Hagen. Brunnhilde, (our heroine) lights a funeral pyre for Siegfried, gives the Ring back to the Rheinmaidens, and then leaps into the lake of fire.

Are you still confused?
I thought so. Heck, so am I.

 Lake of Fire

I know you're on the edge of your seats waiting to hear what happened between me and the guy on YouTube.

This particular dude is one of those armchair critics who loves to leave caustic comments on YouTube videos. This time around, he targeted soprano Gwyneth Jones and her interpretation of the Immolation Scene. After verbally ripping her performance to shreds, he concluded that she has minimal vocal skills and her voice is extremely wobbly. Wobbly! He said she can't compare to Kirsten Flagstad.

Okay, that did it. My boxing gloves are on and I'm ready to rumble. 

                    Gwyneth Jones                     Kirsten Flagstad

First off, I don't like comparisons. It is completely futile to compare musicians, artists, singers, dancers - especially from different eras. Each has their own special style and talent.

Despite the widely held opinion that Kirsten Flagstad was the greatest Wagnerian singer in history, I've always had big doubts. Opera purists desperately hang onto archaic Flagstad recordings that were made in the 1920's (she was born in 1895) and gush at the perfection of her tone.

Here's a flash: she wasn't the definitive Brunnhilde and her singing wasn't always perfect.
You want wobbly, Bucko?
I heard a 1952 recording of Flagstad singing the Immolation Scene and her voice was as wobbly as the chassis on a '34 Chevy. Of course, she was in her 50's then, but maybe she should have quit while she was ahead.

I'm being intentionally cruel. That's part of the fun.

Gwenyth Jones was superb in Gotterdammerung and has always been one of my favorite Brunnhildes.

There. Do I feel better? Hell, yes.  

 Siegfried and Brunnhilde

Kirsten Flagstad and Brigit Nilsson had Big Powerful operatic voices and are considered (by most) to be the definitive interpreters of Wagner.

In my opinion, power isn't everything. I like emotion. And the role of Brunnhilde affords ample opportunities for emotion. As well as power.

I've carefully studied many singer's interpretations of Brunnhilde and it truly is impossible to choose.

Of Flagstad and Nilsson, I prefer Nilsson. 

I've always loved Gwyneth Jones as Brunnhilde - she's smooth and appealing in the role.

Astrid Varnay has a super vocal interpretation.
Anne Evans has superb emotion. 

Jones, Varnay, Evans, and Nilsson are my favorites.

Hildegard Behrens is worthy of mention, but her Brunnhilde voice lacks sufficient strength.
And we can't overlook Marta Fuchs, Waltraud Meier....and maybe Debra Voigt.

Does anybody have a favorite Brunnhilde?
And don't you dare tell me Bette Midler.   

 The stereotypical operatic Brunnhilde - a 400 lb. Viking with a spear, shield, and brass boobs.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


This one is hot!

I dislike political posts because I think they taint my blog. That's why I often (but not always) delete them. My purpose here is to (hopefully) entertain you with glimpses of my life - - not to push any political agendas on you. That's for the media to do.

I've said it before and will repeat it again: I've never voted in my entire life. Perhaps that makes me a hypocrite but I don't care. Politics do interest me, however, and sometimes I can't resist voicing my opinion.

The recent political "debate" - last Monday night between Hillary and Donald - was the most outrageously hyped media event of the year. The breathlessly maniacal buildup to it was nauseating. What will happen? Who will win??

First of all, the description "debate" is bogus. It wasn't a debate at all. It was a tawdry political Superbowl. A dog and pony show. There hasn't been a real presidential debate since Kennedy and Nixon. Or, perhaps, Lincoln-Douglas in 1858. 
Everything nowadays in the U.S. is cheap hokum.

And we already knew beforehand who would win the "debate" and we know who will win the presidency. Hillary. Here in American, the people never elect the president. The news media does it for them.  
The media is behind Hillary 100% and the zombie plebeians rely solely on the biased news reports to make their voting decisions.

Donald Trump?
I'll tell it like it is, even though the truth will infuriate many people. 
It's an old American bias that germinated in the 1960's during the rampant era of promoting rights for women and minorities. White men - and especially successful white men - were labeled as the evil root of every problem known to mankind.
They were demoted to the bottom of the totem pole - -despised and vilified. Especially in politics. And specifically if they were conservative.

It's happened to Donald Trump. He was considered a great guy - before he got into politics.
Now he's a greedy, shrewd, dishonest, loud-mouthed, moronic buffoon - - not to mention a racist and a bigot. According to the news media.

Let's get to the "debate".

 Lester Holt

The "moderator" Lester Holt wasn't biased at all, was he?
He interrupted Hillary Clinton seven (7) times. 
He interrupted Donald Trump and kept him from talking forty-one (41) times.
You be the judge.

In my humble opinion, Hillary talked incessantly for ninety minutes, with Trump hardly getting a word in edgewise. The supposed "time limits" for speaking seemed to be disregarded.

Trump was uncharacteristically reserved and polite (and presidential, I might add). Undoubtedly this was solely because if he did anything else he would have been crucified by the media and labeled a bully for picking on a poor defenseless woman.

  Hillary - who rested up for a month and memorized all the usual talking points -
appeared in her bright red power outfit and was plied with enough drugs to get her through the 90 minutes without coughing, falling, fainting, or having a bizarre seizure episode.

The "debate" was, in essence, a open forum for Hillary to trash Trump. She had no agenda, nothing new to offer or say. Her sole objective was to rip her opponent to shreds. And she looked very non-presidential while doing it.
She was shrill, shrewish, desperately aggressive, and typically unlikeable - - with a frozen, robotic smile that was much more alarming than it was winning. 

Trump remained annoyingly passive and irritatingly reserved. He had ample opportunities to cream Hillary (no sexual implications are intended) and used none of them. He merely sat there and let his over-wrought opponent rant and rage.

It's ironically amazing that Hillary could remember every detail of Donald Trump's career, but couldn't remember a thing at the Benghazi hearings or the FBI inquest concerning her vanished email.

I wrote that in bold type because it pisses the hell out of me. Selective memory, indeed.           

You want Trump to show us his tax returns, Babe?

Well, why don't you show us the 30,000 classified emails that you deleted on your basement server.

Or the smartphones that were smashed with a hammer.

Or the hard drives that you wiped clean with Bleach Bit.   

Here comes the X-rated part. Look out, I'm on a roll! 

You wanna bash Trump for calling Miss Universe Alicia Machado "Miss Piggy"?
Here's a Big Flash:

  Here's Alicia Machado before she was Miss Universe. And if you want to see her hard-core porno videos (and I mean hard core) you can find them online.

Did you know that in 1998 Alicia Machado drove the getaway car for her boyfriend after he MURDERED someone? And that she threatened to have the trial judge killed??

This babe is no shrinking violet. I think calling her Miss Piggy was kind.

Machado is now campaigning for Hillary.
Yup, you heard me right.

And Hillary has nerve enough to call Trump a chauvinist and abuser of women???

Hillary is the woman who hung onto her philandering husband's coat tails for dear life....and called the accusations  a "RIGHT WING CONSPIRACY".

She stood by her man while he flashed his uncontrollable willie in front of any woman who he thought would suck it.

She proudly stood by her man while he was getting blow jobs in the Oval Office of the White House by an intern thirty (30) years his junior.

 Hillary has no right to trash others until she takes a good look in the mirror. This lying fraud is not fit to be president, nor was her perverted husband.  

My work is done here.   

Monday, September 26, 2016


If you saw the isolated place where I live you'd wonder why I chose to be here. If you knew how creepy it is at night, you'd give me big points for bravery.

The first few weeks were the most intimidating. I wasn't used to the penetrating darkness, or the unnerving forest sounds. Or the fact that any semblance of human assistance was far away.

I'm alone. With my cats. And my rampantly acute imagination. The long, inhospitable hours between dusk and dawn are filled with the unholy possibilities of marauding murders, restless ghosts, and inhuman abstractions in search of vulnerability.

As a child, my imagination was delicious. It is even more so now - with the sophisticated additions of adulthood.

So what am I getting at? Hell if I know. I was merely exercising my mediocre way with words.

Oh, yea. A spooky night. 

After existing nearly two years in this place (I moved here in November, 2014) I am completely used to it. The lonely, isolated nighttime hours never bother me. I occasionally venture outside at night. I leave the shades up on my windows. I have even been known to leave a door unlocked now and then.
Insanity prevails here - - not bravery.

But - despite my feigned fearlessness - there are times when raw reality hits me and I'm afraid. Only momentarily, but afraid nevertheless.  
Last night was spooky.

I was writing in bed, working on my nearly-completed children's book. It was a warm, clear, quiet, completely calm night. 

Just before midnight the lights began to flicker. Then they blinked Off. Power failure.
Everything went black. And when I say black, I mean pitch black. Words can hardly express the profound depth of darkness in this remote place. I was completely unprepared. 

As if on cue (I am not exaggerating), a pack of coyotes started hooting and howling and wandered up the slope to my house. They surrounded the place and seemingly taunted me with their eerie inhuman yelps and jeers.

It was really unnerving. I wasn't dressed. Couldn't find my boots. Couldn't find a flashlight. As I groped and wandered around, bashing into things and doing a bad Helen Keller imitation, my imagination was in overdrive.

What could have caused a power failure tonight? There were no storms, no wind. No nothing. My mind suddenly conjured visions of In Cold Blood....and Helter Skelter. What if the wires were deliberately cut - and murderous maniacs were outside, intent on getting in?  

I finally found the flashlight and managed to put on some clothes. I lit two candles in the kitchen, put batteries in a transistor radio, and grabbed my cell phone.

The coyotes eventually left but I still heard weird noises near the back porch - which is nearly on the edge of the forest. 

Abandoning fear, I took my flashlight and gun (hell yes - I'm armed) and went outside. The darkness was beyond black - no moon, no nothing. The first thing I ran into was a big spider web (a repeat of what I did the other day). 
With flashlight, pistol, and remnants of the web I pushed through damp, waist-high weeds and circled the house. Nothing. All was quiet except for the usual owl hooting in a nearby tree.

Back in the house, my fears evaporated completely...but new apprehensions arose. I remembered that I had lots of food in the fridge and freezer - enough for two weeks. It would perish if the power didn't return.

I called the after-hours number for the local power company. No answer.
I said to hell with everything! and went to bed. 
Kept my window wide open and laid there  watching the bright stars. My cat Bosco climbed onto my chest and we both went to sleep.

I woke up around 8:00 this morning and the power was still off. I called the power company again and ....just as a recorded message put me on "hold" - - the power came back on!!

It was amazing and I rejoiced. 

I took a helluva long time to tell a story about absolutely nothing, but that's one of my talents....and charms. 


Saturday, September 24, 2016


After editing this post several times, I still hate it. It's far too long and not nearly as funny as I initially thought. Against my better judgement, I won't delete it.

I finally finished the children's book that I was writing. After I breathed multiple sighs of relief and satisfaction, I suddenly decided that I want to add a few more things to it. So, my writing continues.....

What's the title of the book, Jon?

I'm not at liberty to reveal that. Besides, I haven't yet come up with a title.

It's no secret that you hate children, Jon. So why write a book for them?

A clarification is in order. I don't exactly hate children. I intensely dislike them.
This is a new and exciting genre for me. It tests my limits and challenges what's left of my mind. Besides, I was surprised to discover that writing for kids is a lot of fun. 
Which just goes to show how desperately boring and unfulfilling my pathetic life has become. 

So, tell us what the book is about?

The book is a delicious collection of scary poems that encompass the mystery, danger, and perils of the night. 


Yea, it's a word. Spellcheck assured me.

Do you think scary poems will be suitable for young readers, Jonathan?

Here's a flash, Kemo Sabe: 
kids don't scare easily nowadays. Gone is the sanitized era of Leave It to Beaver and Mouseketeers. Today's little buckaroos have iPads when they're three, cell phones when they're six, and raw sex when they're ten.

My intention is to instill some good old-fashioned imagination into them. And hopefully scare the jeeters out of the little boogers.

End of imaginary interview.

I'm actually already almost considering a second book. Even more morbid than the first. In truth, I'm still a child at heart - which, in itself is a rather frightening thought.

Anyone who loves kids will probably change their mind after a trip to Walmart. Ear-piercing juvenile screams penetrate every corner of the store, completely ignored by the accompanying parents. Are these parents simply so used to the screams that they've become immuned to them? Or do they sadistically enjoy sharing their misery with others?

Even kids who don't scream have a tendency to be annoying.

Recent Example:
I'm in Walmart, standing in the 20 Item or Less checkout line. The woman ahead of me has at least three hundred items in her shopping cart. I didn't see it at first because her ample ass was blocking the view.

Actually her ass is beyond ample.
Let me put it this way: half a dozen Cub Scouts could easily jump on the back of her ass and hitch a ride home and she'd never know it.

The woman is not only ample. She's also dirty. The sweat shirt she's wearing looks like it hasn't been washed since Peter, Paul, and Mary were singing Blowin' in the Wind.

As she mambos her way through the two-foot-wide aisle, I notice that - -besides the 300 items - - there's a child sitting in the shopping cart.

The grimy, chocolate-covered kid is sucking on a rapidly melting Hershey Bar, while greenish shades of snot dribble from his nose into the chocolate.
And he's staring at me. 

That's one of the unnerving things about kids and cats: when they stare  you never know what the hell they're thinking. 

Most unnerving of all is that the kid doesn't blink. I've been standing in this frickin' line for twenty minutes and the kid has been staring at me totally blinkless all the while.
He's like a Stepford kid or maybe a Children of the Corn offspring.

I'm beginning to feel a little uncomfortable and my emotions get the better of me.
Is there something wrong with the way I look?
Naw. An impossibility.

Does he think I resemble his father? Or grandfather? (heck, he's probably never seen his father).

My thoughts start screaming in my head.
What's the matter, you miniature booger despenser - - Haven't you ever seen an aging faux cowboy before?
And while you're at it, get Mambo Mama to wipe your nose.

Then it hits me: I realize it's probably my cowboy hat. A left-over token from Texas. You don't see many cowboy hats here in the Tennessee boonies.
The kid thinks I'm a cool hombre.

Heartwarming incidents like this always inspire me to write for children.

But why the heck doesn't he ever blink??


Thursday, September 22, 2016



    Photo by Jon

The first day of autumn - my favorite time of year has officially begun. I'm delighted. Even though it's hot. Hotter than a jalapeno burrito in Hades (I just made that up).

It's 90 degrees today (that's Fahrenheit, for those of you in the Belgian Congo). This is the kind of hot autumn weather I thought I escaped when I left California. And Texas. It has followed me here to the wilds of Tennessee.

But relief is in sight! Cooler weather is predicted by next week. And in another month or so I'll be bitching about the cold.


Actually, these are perfectly glorious days. The shadows are longer. Dusk comes soon - especially in the secluded huddle of these looming forests and cozy hills. Nature is surging with frantic activity. There's a surplus of birds, squirrels, 'possums, deer, and other critters. And insects.

Bees, wasps, butterflies, dragonflies, spiders. Every kind of spider you could imagine, and many you wouldn't want to imagine. I stepped outside this morning to savor the first day of fall and was immediately snared in a gigantic spider web. It wasn't merely big - it had H.G.Wells proportions. 

I was forced to go inside - wash my face, arms, and chest (I had ventured outside shirtless). Then I shampooed my mustache. No lie. 

When I summoned enough courage to venture out again, I brought my El Cheapo camera to capture the day for posterity. Here's a much smaller web that glistened with dampness in the morning light.

 And here's my cat Bosco surveying the situation (the web is north of his head)

 My back yard is on the edge of a forest and it takes awhile for the morning sun to emerge from the trees.

And as the sun was emerging, the now-half Harvest Moon was lingering in the west. This looks very similar to a daytime moon photo I took a few weeks ago.

My car can be seen in the lower right corner of this photo (below).
I have no doubt the excitement is overwhelming you.
I'll give you time to catch your breath.

If you want real excitement, you should have been here the other night. I had thrown a few dirty clothes into the washing machine over a week ago and forgot about them. 

Late one night I suddenly remembered them. I lifted the lid of the washer to peek inside. The clothes were there BUT - out of the corner of my eye - one of the socks moved! Slightly.
Or was it merely my imagination? 

I slammed the lid shut...and didn't really want to look again.  I'd never seen clothes moving by themselves in a washer before. Hell, they couldn't be that dirty....
I armed myself with a flashlight and lifted the lid again. I poked the sock. It moved again!

I quickly removed all the clothes in the washer except the sock. Then...I cautiously lifted the sock...
and there was a tiny mouse!!

Holy Shee-it! How the hell did it get in there??  
I didn't really want to know, but I surmised that it got in through the agitator mechanism.

"Agitator" - not a student protester, but rather the intricate part of a washing machine of which I know nothing about.

In a rare and merciful act of kindness, I took the mouse outside far from the house and tossed him near the cow field.

There were mouse droppings on the clothes that were in the washer. I threw them all in the trash: two socks, a pair of underwear, an old flannel shirt.
Then I thoroughly scrubbed the interior of the washing machine with bleach and other disinfectants.

Lesson learned? I'll never leave dirty clothes in a washer again. Not unless I wash them.

And where the hell are my three cats when I need them?
Probably sleeping.
Here's my eldest cat Scratch this afternoon:

 My critter worries aren't over. I still hear animals scampering over my roof every night. And it sure ain't Santa with his reindeer.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


I'm used to hearing cows - they're my nearest neighbors. There's a meadow adjacent to my property where ungulates congregate (I just threw ungulates in to impress you).

Also, far beyond the trees in front of my mountain shack, there are more places where cows congregate. I've never seen these cows, but I can frequently hear their distant moos.

I like the sound of mooing cows around me. It sure as hell beats the agony of screaming children and all the other annoyances of neighbors.

 The cow meadow adjacent to my property. I took this photo last fall.

The other day, one particular cow sounded unusually close. It wasn't on my property, but it wasn't as distant as they usually sound. I didn't pay much attention - until after sunset. It was still persistently mooing, obviously in the same place. I went outside and tried to discern the exact location, but it was too dark with too many tree clutters to see anything.

As the night progressed, so did my anxiety. The moos were unnervingly loud and urgent, sometimes sounding more like a moose than a cow. Despite my Sissy City Boy mentality, I knew the creature was in trouble.

I went to bed and tried to read, but the persistent moos coming from my window were extremely upsetting. My rampant imagination pictured a cow stuck in a hole, or with a broken leg, or half-eaten by coyotes.

My only consolation was that it didn't really sound like it was in pain. It sounded frustrated. Perhaps it got outside a fence and couldn't get back in? 

By 4:00 a.m. it started getting foggy. I got dressed and went outside. That's when it began pouring rain. There was no way I could go out in a foggy downpour, in the dark middle of nowhere, with a painful back, to look for a cow.

And if I found the cow, what could I do? Bring it home and give it a blanket and a cup of cocoa? There are no neighbors around to talk to.

There is a narrow one-way road that goes past the front of my property (far from my house). The cow sounded like it was near the road. Perhaps after dawn somebody would drive by and see it.

Then I realized that it was Sunday and the prospect of any traffic was remote.

This story is getting far too long and I'm in it like quicksand. Be patient while I try to pull myself out.

I remembered that a few miles up the road somewhere is a little church. A congregation meets there on Sunday. Someone is bound to hear and/or see the cow.

My intuition proved to be right. Sometime around 10:00 a.m. I saw an animal truck going by. I don't know what they're called. I'm a displaced musician, not a farmer.
It was a truck that transports animals.

Shortly after that, the cow stopped mooing. I can only surmise that the poor animal was rescued and brought back home. 

Okay, it took me a helluva long time to tell this pointless story - but you've got to give me some slack. I live in the unexciting wilderness. A cow in distress is a big deal - worthy of a blog entry.

Now you know why I so often write about my exciting Hollywood past.
Once - in my flamboyant youth - Rock Hudson was smiling at me..... 
Now, I'm smiling at cows in neighboring is an ironic piss.

Which reminds me - - I have another critter story which I'll tell next time. This one scared the shit out of me.