Friday, September 06, 2013

Flash Gordon - The Opera

Into the cruel and very gaudy world of Ming the Monstrous and his very pretty but spoiled daughter comes the announcement that the wise have detected a new star coming to the planet. Its arrival had been predicted in the ancient days as the time of the end of the Ming Dynasty. Ming is very upset but does not want to admit that he knew for years that his destiny was not to be emperor of the entire galaxy. He just wanted it for his children. He and Mrs Ming, Edna, had no children of their own. They adopted several times but had great misfortune in chosing the next generation. What does it mean to conquer a world and enslave the masses when your kids shame you and seldom come to visit.

"A truly formed temptress is never merely pretty.  I hate it when Daddy says that.  He is jsut so jealous of so many things."

How can a truly terrible monstorous tyrant get any respect when you insist on calling him
Ming looked for the chance to do something that was not the expected thing.  He had moments of fevered dreams when he was just a guy in a very badly written paperback novel.  In the morning he would sit in his vast expanse of bed and hope that this would be the beginning of a better day.  But before he could get out half his wish they would be coming through the satin covered doors with the cheer, the ablutions,  the morning robes and the announcement that a crowd of eager suppliants were murmuring at the gate.
The sound was expected but somehow in recent times the murmur seemed to be more of grumbling and whining.  Perhaps they were not really happy being beneath the the weighty foot of the destroyer of all hope.
He now could nto image who thought he would enjoy that title.  Perhaps the fool has been punished and no longer urging slogans of despair and triumph'

The arrival of the aliens is a great event for the people of the planet.  They had never seen such a large craft.  Most of their works are arches and temples.  The great works of the civilization were all destroyed before they were alive.  The tales of the former times are only half believed by the children of the court and the young of the green valley know that such things had only come about through the labor of their people

One daughter survived and she is dearly loved but had a few problems with compassion, empathy, patience and kindness. Her temper is unprejudiced. she hate all, high, low and in between.

An opera has a number of scenes and acts. some cast members are part of a chorus and have no solos. A few will have a vignette in which they will do plot exposition. A few will have small parts in trios and quartets. they will be the dramatic enforcement of assent and denial.

Discuss the sets and the back story of minor characters.

The members of the court who are the chorus are also the workers in the valley where Ming has his private life.
The two worlds are contrasts of the same voices.  In the court the chorus is cold and accurate.  The same voices in the village are warm and moving.  The contrast shows the two worlds of the empire.

To the court Ming is the rumored god of the underworld.  He means death but no actual death is known.  The rumors of his ways is inaccurate.  When he banishes a member of the court he is liberating them to live in the peaceful farm valley. 
It is Mings secret desire that all of the city would eventually become part of the world of his youth's ideal.

The Ming is ironic.  He plays at being the ogre.  The man is telling a scary story to the children of his life.

Ming has a mirror that determines just how terrible he is at the moment.  The mirror is not easily intimidated.  The best reactions come when Ming is accompanied by someone who needs to be impressed or awed.  It is a bargain that Ming and the mirror have made.  Ming will say that if the mirror fails to satisfy his need for being horrible there is always the family heirloom, the polished bronze of the worst witch ever.  The worst witch ever does not have a name.  The witch is presumed dead but no one is willing to talk about soemthing that may suddenly show up in a dream.

Life took a slight curve and a bump when Ming knew that he would not have an heir.  The predictions of dynasty were more glitter than fine metal.

The time away from the court was cherished time for Ming but for his daughter  it held no great memory.  She was not sure she wanted to return to the simple life of  the village and the ordinary people.

She looked forward to the unfolding of the mystery and the predictions of the elders in the caves of the fog and shadow.

The first talk of the arrival of the  creatures from the stars allowed her to watch the reactions of the others in the court.  Some were sure that the change would mean the advancement of their positions.  She does not tell anyone of her new opinions. 

The people of the cave and the people of the court are unknowns to most of the people but the daughter has been following their activities.  She sees that they are not always accurate in their advice and not always responsible in their decisions.  She is keeping a list of those who have made comments.

The first person who approaches her with suspcions that have the feeling of truth will become her ally.  She will be surprised when it turns out that they are the new arrivals.  The woman from the space ship and the Doctor who has also intrigued her father will be the ones she choses to trust.

I really do not see the reality of the court of Ming as being art deco or of being a place of excess.  The set is more the dream of a man who is aware of comfort and power but also of a man who is not assured of his place in the world.  He is more the man behind the curtain than the war lord who sweeps across the land with fury and vengance.

Flash Gordon has had to live a life of the very handsome man, the athlete, the son of the dignified family, a heritage and a predetermined path for great success.
His interior life has been one of great anxiety and dread.  He realizes that he has no self determination.  He is living the life others want of him

List of characters from the movie

Flash Gordon

 Flash Gordon 
 Dale Arden 
 Emperor Ming the Merciless 
 Dr. Hans Zarkov 
 Princess Aura 
 Prince Barin 
 Prince Vultan 
 General Klytus 
 General Kala 
 Airline Pilot 
 Man at air field 
 Colonel of Battle Control Room 
 Ming's Officer 
 Lieutenant of Ming's Air Force 
 Prince Thun 
 Princess Aura's pet, Fellini 

But that is the movie and this is something else.  Those missing from the opera are now in the chorus.  Some tempraments do not need rewarding. 
 (The Airline Pilot is now a gardener in the third row.  He, can you imagine, wanted a dressing room and a position for that hair stylist  he was involved with during the first weeks of rehearsal.)

It was difficult for the members of the court to stand around day after day and listen to the story of the past and the promise of the future.  You did not need to be interested but you did need to appear to be enthralled.  Ming's thought of himself was that everything he said and thought was worthy of becoming the thought of the least of his minions.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Zen From Ten to Life

The Prince sat under the tree for many years.  He had been given a life sentence and it was only after he had sat and meditated that he realized the great prison is the mind.
The prison is carried within and the exterior is only the fashioned illusion of chain and wall.

Prison reform will not come from those who believe in prison.  Reform will come when the wall of belief melts away.  

Two men look out from prison bars.

Iron bars do not a prison make.

Bread and water is the feast for some.

And then there were none  becomes  in Zen there is nothing.

Read this line twice. 
 Nothing is real.  
Nothing you can talk about.

Musing but not amused.  The thoughts bubble up from a still dark depth of water and light.  The sound of some distant hum prevents a total silence.  Not a noise but a reminder of the movement of air in a space of trees and shrubs that has not a green sound but a shade of blue and yellow not yet mixed sound.

A prison of the mind is the beginning of the prison of the soul.  
Tyrants need prisons for the processes of law are not available to them.  
The process of law seeks justice and not the revenge and use of strict power.  The possibility of justice for all remains an unfulfilled ideal.  And yet, if practiced and achieved would save the world from so many other needs. 
The use of handguns would become obsolete in a world of justice for much of the misuse of weapons comes from the frustrations of those who feel needs for vengence.  Inequality is the garden of violence.

Start with some sort of open mind. If a thousand years of practice has not yet illustrated that imprisonment and isolation do not work than maybe other means and methods need to be considered.
If an idea proves to be harmful and ineffectual over a long time and if the idea is continued to be modified with little or not improvement perhaps it is time to reconsider the original concept.
We came upon a few ideas in the late 16th century that flew in the face of the ideas of previous forms of rule.  The king was often abandoned either by a revolution or he was given a shortened form of an old life.  
The idea had bounce around for many years that perhaps some men are just not a god given answer to the problems of the world.  
Yet for the longest times some insisted they were the big answer.  There were so many of them over time that they began to keep lists of these unfortunate misguided dunces.  Lists were continued for times and after they disappeard for a few eons they would be revived in written records and became the next big thing.
The first hope and joy soon degenerated into bitterness and long rants of "I told you this would never work" sort of things.
But when things came push to shove things went to push and shove on muddy fields of battle and we found we dicovered ways to reward the winner and punish the loser.  The world is so ready for some new idea.  But at the same time we hold onto really loser forms.

And now we are up to our lower vertebrates in the treasured muck of archaic traditions.  Where is that broom we so dearly need? 
Stand back while I give the order. 


Isolation on a ship in olden times demanded a survival discipline under a captain and a series of duty figures made the voyage possible and for many the only way to maintain the direction and schedule of the ship. Most ships routinely completed the voyage.

The ancient monastery was a crowded and highly productive life style. For the many it was a moment to moment use of ritual and duty.

The place was not comfortable.

We seem to find that what has not worked may work if we only complain about it long enough. Jails, prisons, detention centers, dungeons, balls and chains all seem to have no real effect except to provide employment of the guard, the wardens, the badge carriers and the manufacturers of iron bars, chains, balls, locks and other clanging edifices.

We have everything we need to create a fair and just world however we allow current conditions to be dominated by archaic traditions.

A prison was once the other option for execution.

Some famous people were in prison for long years and developed as good citizens. E the First of England was a Tower guest. And eventually she went on to be a model citizen of her age.

Value of each being starts with the recognition that many traditional forms of society were based upon a class system that is archaic. Democracy that is based upon eligibility and national identity is false. Democracy transcends regulation and restrictions.

Life and time are so interconnected that the cost of each will be determined by the use of one to find the value of the other. To say that a person must pay a high price for error is to put a great cost to mistakes.

Allow the blank wall be painted with a tiny rectangle of warm light. The person seated on the floor would have the eye level moment of focus. This small sign would be of a single candle flame. It would not flicker and it would not be warm to the touch but the viewer would see it come to life and glow and become the vision of all dreams.

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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The History of a Heresy

Perhaps you will see this differently if you hear of the man's early experience with a visit to an aged nun who tells him a story of her early life.

The man was in high school and his family was close friends with a priest in a small town.  The priest took the young man to a small retreat house near a cloistered convent.

The priest went to the convent each month to get the hosts he used in his religious service.  The cloistered nun prepared these wafers and the transaction was filled with ritual and restraint.

The priest showed the boy the silver container that held the small communion wafers.  He allowed the boy to carry the covered bowl.  He had another cylinder that held the month's supply of the larger hosts that the priest used in his Mass ritual.

The boy attended this duty with proper awe and quiet.

The priest noticed that the usual nun was not there in the room when he accepted the delivery.

He explained to the boy that the nun was his great aunt and that she had been in the cloister for more than sixty years.

He said that she was now in a retreat house while she is being treated for some of the illnesses of the aged.

The old woman was watchful and almost silent, her voice was more the hiss of wind through a cracked window pane.  The words were slow in her speaking.  Each sound had air and whispering.  Her reply to questions were slow yes and coughed no.  The sound did not go up and down.  Her word would come after moments of thought and hesitancy.
Her eyes moved between him and the priest.  Her hands made small gestures with the turning at the wrist and the fingers taking the shape of someone touching but not grasping an invisible shape.

Our Lady of Travels

At a seance in the mid-forties a voice startled a group around a table by telling about a possible future. At the time the whole thing seemed so far fetched that they dismissed what they heard.
Only years later when what they heard began to occur. They wrote to each other at holiday times of year and met at family and community events. But it was only after several of them had died that those who survived decided they would reveal the message of the medium.

This is part of it but much more will be revealed as I have time to read through their correspondences. Small scrawls that need to be interpreted rather than read fill the pages of the many notes and greeting card messages.

The news of the church is just so 1950's. The little girl going to church with the perky hat and wrist length gloves. I have a calendar with covers from that period. I look at the reproductions of the covers and read the sentiments from those who share the memory of that time. Howdy Doody was on black and white television but we knew he had red hair and freckles just like Arthur Godfrey and Mickey Mantle. Doris Day was not yet the freckle girl of television but she was in the movies saying all the really cool things like gosh and golly. In our catholic hearts we knew they were really just waiting to announce that they were one of us.
We never quite figured out Mickey Rooney and Walt Disney. They should have been one of us but they had imperfections. Mr. Disney had a mustache like a used car salesman and drooled over some of the kids on his show. And Mickey Rooney kept getting married. What would Father Flannigan of Boy's Town have thought of all that Las Vegas living his favorite boy was doing? Things were worth praying for. My brother Jim led the rosary each evening with a group of the faithful. Later he decided that being a priest was not such a good idea. At the time we all worried that he would. We feared he might one day be a bishop, a cardinal or worst.
The first sign of need for reform was the lack of support for purity among the less than perfect marriages. Tony and Janet divorced. Bob Hope told sex jokes that even a naive housekeeper at the rectory blushed at and which was repeated in the barber shops when kids were around.
Some good girls of that era married and secretly help onto the belief that they would be perfect mothers and good examples for the coming generation. In their hearts they held onto the weekly admonitions of the high school principal. These true believers became the Catholic American Puritans. They wore chapel veils, little circles of lace, if they even went into the shadow of a church. They had numerous children. The boys were named for apostles or popes and the girls had some variation of Mary in their name. Families of Marian, Mary Ann, Marie and Marianna were the woven with Matthew, Mark, Innocent and Leo.
The school rolls were filled with litanies of the saints and names aching for initialing.

A group of puritan Catholics destroyed a large statue in New Jersey. At the chapel of our lady of travels a group of militant purist aligned with a Marianist Cult had broken into the highway side refuge and attacked the large statue with electric power tool and a gas driven chain saw. To claim this victory they recorded the event using a personal video camera. Copies of the assault were made and distributed to centers of the movement. They do it to protest the presence of mythical saints being present in a chapel. In the early eighties a group of militant Catholics destroy a statue and they video-tape it. The tape is edited and released as a movie. The movie has been sponsored by a group of neo-puritan Roman Catholics who are under the influence of repentant former CIA agent who destroyed the villages of central America while fighting the people against a dictator. He has delusional dreams that he now has a mission from a high spiritual source that has been freed by the new revival of local devotion to the true order that has used old copies of a weekly mission magazine to trace the fall from grace. They question the changes in the order of Saints and in the observation of pagan festivals in the name of true Christianity.
He had always done very few things outside the home. He went to work every day and perhaps stop off for a beer on the way home. He knew friends from high school and a few guys from work but most of his life was with relatives and neighbors. His wife and his children depended upon his being there each time they needed something. He lived in quiet comfort and routine was part of these ease.
His family knew that each year they would go to the seaside and spend a few days wading in the water and feeling that they had a great life. He thought that illness and death would be the terrible things of his life. He knew that some people in his life were solid and worth supporting.
When things changed they came from an unexpected source.
His wife changed and the life he knew started to crumble. He was caught off guard but he was not overwhelmed. Suddenly he was the man standing in the small craft in a storm and he wanted to save everyone.
He looked at the video and saw something that he never thought he would see. He saw his wife doing something very violent.
She always had been the one who rushed home from work to start dinner. She had been the one who volunteered at the school fund raisers. She had been the one who read the romantic novels for an hour before sleep. She had been the one whose sisters and brother had depended upon when their mother had a tantrum about what needed to be done to celebrate the moments of the family.
She read a book which was recommended by the woman at the bakery in the supermarket. She would not have read it if she had had to go to the library to get it. She read it because the woman had lent her a copy and did not nag her about it .
She had not talked about what she read and she did not seem to be upset by what she was reading. She did pull away from a few of her daily routines. She quit going to the parish bingo games and she started to go to visit a retired priest at one of the small country parishes. He had been the pastor of a church in a farm town in the hills before his retirement. Her visits were to the housekeeper at the retirement center as much as to the old priest. The woman, Rita, had been a life long worker for the church. She had studied at a convent school and was a novice for several years after high school. She remembered the strict rules of her youth and maintained them for herself. A few of the other priest teased her as being more a pope than the pope. She worried that she may be committing a sin of pride. Only the old priest assured her that she was a true and pure Catholic model for others. She blushed at the idea but she continued in her self-assured ways.

A woman from a small city has been secretly reading the tracts that she has found in the rectory of an old priest. She helps his housekeeper with the cleaning of the rectory and the church.
The old priest has collected the old magazines and has written comments in the margins. She feels that he has a true mind for the spiritual life that she feels is now missing from the world.
The husband of one of the people sees the film and realizes it was his wife's study group who did the deed. He is astounded.In the early part of the twentieth century a giant statue was created from an experimental plastic Bakelite. The work was completed in Italy and shipped to the United States by order and payment of a man who had immigrated to America and had decided to change his life by doing good works for the artist who had helped him and his family during the days of poverty and war.
The man wants to stop his wife's activity but feels that she is not really seeing herself as being anything other than good and high minded. He decides to look up the family history of the man who had the statue created. It was a very kind action that helped the artist in Italy and helped to solidify the industry that was struggling at the time.
He explains to his wife that the act of the man who carried the child across the flood was not just the act of a saint but a lesson in bravery and compassion. He shows her the results of the man's support of the business and artist in Italy and how it had been amplified by the work of the people during the war and during the recovery after the war. He pointed to people they knew who had been able to survive because of this single act of devotion.
He gets pictures of the statue at the time it was put into the church. He shows her the family who had devoted their lives to the comfort of travelers and to the welfare of small children.
He contrasts the work of those people with the angry talk that comes from the group when they talk about the now discredited saint. The emotions are the clue to the real thing that was done.

I love that creepy sort of fiction we call the ordinary life in a small town.

The marriage and the community are two parts of the man's life.  He is now beginning to understand that he has stood back for too long and the others have taken a much different path.  He has not addressed the changes in his wife's life over the past few years.   She is not at home when he arrives each day and he has not questioned her about her absences.  He and she arrange their lives around a few things that have become more imortant to her and her past than him and his present life.

Notes from cards for Our Lady of Travel
A exploration of the American Catholic as a heretic.

One summer he went to Cape Cod with his wife.  They drove from their small home town in Western Pennsylvania.  She enjoyed the drive but the ocean and the beaches were not to her taste.  On the warmest day the breeze was chilling.  The sand got into everything and the people seemed to want to tan in the most personal places.  She wore white gloves for most of the time they were there.  She explained that aging comes from exposure to too much sun and nothing showed age so much as the freckled backs of hands.
The whole time he was holding back for he found everything not only beautiful but he was constantly discovering new things he loved.  He found the walk on the beach to be profoundly soothing and invigorating.  The sky above and the sand at his feet were soothing and thought provoking.  He noticed little houses near the shore and found himself wanting to live there.  The scale was a combination of vey small and extremely vast.  Music drifte in the air and he looked about to see the source and found it was a combination of porch radios, pier amusement centers and the inside of his head.  He was melting into the place and the seaside world. 
She noted that the air was salty damp, sand was in her shoes and the cuffs of her trousers were soggy wet.  
If there were a magic act at this moment he would see a fluffy bunny being pulled from a silk top hat and she would see blood seeping from the box of the lady beingcut in half.
He now traced back to the visit as being the first sign of their differences.  He was a school teacher in a small city and she was a volunteer at a local church.  She worked a few hours each week at the cosmetics counter of a local drugstore.  She sold make-up but she did not use it.  Frequently she would mention others who seemed to devote their lives to the pretense of movie magazine beauty.
She was suspicious of all sorts of exterior mniifestations of beauty.  To her all colorful butterflies were another insect that were in the same catagory as bats, beetles and anything else that made one shudder to touch.
Most scented flowers seemed too cloying.  Her one exception was the lilac and lavender talcum of the grade school nuns from her early years.  She would add that some of them also seemed to go to excess with the rose and violet colognes.
He listened but did not reply.  Some people had stong dislikes as other had stong preferences.
He knew her dislikes.
She quit her job at thedrug store when she found that the female druggist was offering birth control devices and advice to the unmarried and the young.
IF she were to encounter the pharmacist at church or at a community event there was only coldness and no pretense at civility.
Those others who disapproved of the woman called her Miss instead of her medical title.  He noted that these references were among his wife's nearer associates.   
His wife soon announced she was working with a group of catholics who were supporting foreign missions and collecting funds to support a group who were protesting  some books being held  at the library.
She had not talked with him about this.  He had had a talk with one of the school librarians and a young teacher, the science teacher, who had received letters from the group with a series of small demands.
The first line of the letter said that the group did not beleive in book burnings and there would be some books that would not be burned if they were kept in a safer place than a school library.
The writing of the letter was ackward and perhaps the veiled threat was only a matter of grammar.

The notes of the cards begin at this point.
Meeting of the Purist  1A
He arrived home to find a note that his dinner was in the oven.  He had a little room off the sun porch where he reads and does his school work.  There is a typewriter on a table covered with a plastic fiber cover.  A half page of writing is in the scroll.
He absently mindedly eats his meal while he reads.  The dish is on a low table next to the chair.  The book is a novel.
Meeting of the Purist 1B
White house with  green shutters in a wooded area.
Large oak table in an old fashioned kitchen.
Note on church bulletin board  (A copy is seen at various places)
Calendar of saints.    A child is seen putting mustaches on some of the pictures.
Church handouts are left and some have gotten trod upon outside the church.  The rain drain is matted with litter of church events.
Picture of first Thanksgiving
Home made bread, no white sugar, No nail polish and no make up
Life schedule around church and group.
Meeting of the Purist 1C
There is a thread of discontent and the line is based upon discontent with change.  The announcment almost weekly that something else is new.  They recall when things stayed the same and they  cited tradition as being the strong point of continuity and predictability.
They threw in a Latin phrase they had known as children and noted the lack of recognition from the young.  They noted the references in older books that seem to take for granted the knowledge of the classics.  Now Venus and Mars are part of the weather page of the newspaper.  They regret the death of Pius and regret the reign of John.  They do not see the need for all this ecumenical movement.
They remember the arguments for the Latin use in the church.  It had been so logically explained during religion class.   They changed the names of things and they are not the same.  

2A  When you get caught in a traffic jam on a holiday weekend Sunday evening you take a side road, an unmarked lane with a gravel edge, not the obvious one the others take.  The lane has a green area, trees and low vine covered walls.  A canopy of green leaves, those green leaves that light shines through.  The lane is quiet.  You and the car ahead and behind become a procession and not a parade.  You are in a line.  Traffic has gone on another detour route.

2B  Man coming back fromthe Jersey Shore - A memorye wity urgent details.  Chapelout in the country in a wooded area.  On an edge of a former estate.  Man strangely moved by beauty of the large statue.
Talks with the old caretaker of the chapel  The man had on gardener's gloves and a wide  brimmed hat.

3B  Husband tells wife about large statue of  St. Christopher at the Chapel.
She talks to the Purist and they feel it should be an example of restoring purity to the church.
They state that there is no Lady of Travel and Christopher was a myth.
They decide to attack the statue and to film the destruction  (Silent 8mm)
One man decides to scout the situation to develope a plan.
4A   The statue seemed enourmous.  But it was partially an illusion.   The chapel was built with a series of false perspectives.  The center aisle seemed much longer than it proved to be.  The pews on both sides of the aisle were built with a gradual decrease in the size of the carved details  
The wall behind the altar was architectuaral.  The height and slant of the beams and columns was distorted to emphasize the feeling of a lofty and celestial nave.  The statue was positioned in an alcove which created a box of shadows on the bottom and the sides.  The high point was the haloed head of the saint.  The body of the child and the hands of the saint were a play of size and distance.  Th e hands of the saint cradled the body of the child. From the  floor level the viewer saw the hand  and the two faces in a center of light.
The robes of both figures were draped with strong vertical lines.  The height and the seeming greater mass caused those who were about to attack the figures to hesitate for a moment.
There was no sound to the film but the long lingering moments of the film seemed to be ao form of reverence.

4B  One man finds out about the schedule of the chapel.  They decide to go when there would be no one there.  They go to the chapel and with a clip board plan they systematially go about destroying the statue with electric saws.  They use long extension cords  They discover the statue is not ivory,  They find it is plastic.  they decide  not to take it and burn it and not to bury it.  they decide to carry away the  parts in plastic bags. 
History of the Statue
Told by Father Dove.
Statue presented to church by mother of young priest.  He had been an Episcopalean and became a Catholic Franciscan.  His mother had the statue blessed in Europe in the 1920's  Statue thought to be hand crafted from ivory pieces with mosaic inlays of bone and ivory.  The statue had been an illustration in an art book in the early 1950's.
The old priest is now retired and lives on the campus of a small college in western Pennsylvania.  
"All this is almost legend.  Mother  was devestated by the death of her brother during World War One.   She found some consolation in religion and I seemed to have enherited that comfort in my choices. 
6B  The Purist have preserved the Christ Child from the statue.  Saving the child saviour deemed a holy deed.  Husband is very upset that the statue was destroyed.  He takes the child portion and create a mount for it.  He is feeling guilty that his discovery of the statue led to the destruction.
(Describe the child and the mounting.)

7A  He remembers first meeting her years ago in school.  The bet had always been that the recruiting nuns would get her and she would be a nun.  He heard she took care of her brother and sisters and was her mother's slave.
She always gave her candy to others.  During high school she had a brief time with a guy a few years older.  He was out of school and had a car.  Her mother hated him and she soon gave him up when she finished high school.  
7B  She is very elated with her success.  She is beginning to speak at small groups.  She pulls away emotionally from those she feel are not on her side.
She begins to equate any deviation as heresy.   
She begins to wear black.
(She no longer uses the sun room of the house except on dark rainy days.)

8A  He found the word agnostic in the dictionary when he was eleven and became one.  He was a reader and would trail after a few friends in high school but his life was inside his mind, inside his dreams and he would find some earth only in movies.
8B  He comes out of his intelledtual alcove.
He confront a few of his wife's associates.  He gets involve in the history of the statue as a work of art.
Starts ti ask quetions about the philosphy of the Purist.
(His thinking is done while he walks in the woods behind his house.)  There is a clearing on the edge of the woods that includes a fruit orchard that had been abandoned when the town built over ther farm.

9B  A friend introduces him to an old nun.  She was in a cloistered order for most of her life.  She is now living in a medical house attached to a rural town parish convent and rectory.  She knows almost nothing about the outside world.  Husband tells her about the destruction of the statue,
(house is apart from the rest of the hospital.  old fashioned Victorian parlor.  She is upstairs when he arrive and she comes down a long stairs.)
9C  To say a nun is not to say of this person.  She was apresence and a quiet.  Her words were more memory than sound.  She spoke in short phrases and the movement of her fingers traced the prayers on an airy page of thought,  Words well considered, told of ordinary words of long unused

10B   The nun tells of apsinting in a churchwhich was discovered to be a madonna with the face of a know prostitute.  The portrait was removed.  She says a teacher had said she spoke as a voice in a Victorian novel.  She was not sure of that or she was the teacher.  She used to know.
She uses refined  archaic language and serene gestures.  The sound of long ago in a drawing room.

She paints a vivid image of the mountains, the poor, the draught, the weather,the miracle of belief.
She had only heard of the modern world.  How long is she in the cloister?
  She does not know.

A very old story with details which seem medieval, of horse running in the streets, people  withlanterns and torches.  Empty buildings which echo in the dark.  widows who stood in the shadowed windows of lonely morning rooms, windows shuttered and latched.  (A vision of the man's wife.)
12B  After talking to the nun, the husband lloks at the head of the child.  The child's eyes caught his eye.  The statue looked back at him. He is movedby it.  It inspires him.  He see the destroyers as brutes who have  developed a form of tyranny.
What is the significence of St. Christopher.  The spirit of willingness to serve.
(He is wearing a cardigan sweater, drinking a cup of tea he made himself)  A flickering of a candle.
13B  Priest looks back over time.  His mother had been his inspiration.  He became Catholic she bought the statue for his first parish before she died.  He had the statue taken to the chapel on the edge of their estate.  She had gone to the chapel daily for the rest of her life.  His memory starts as a young boy and his mother painting in a gallery.

14B   Husband creates a shrine on his property.  His wife emphasizes it is a place to show a work of art.  That the child can not be thought of as a religious object.  She is very cold to the idea of a shrine.  The head and shoulders is enclased in a wooden and glass case in a stone and heavy timber building, partially underground.
What does this child mean to him, the man?  He refers to the place as the Grotto.  He tells a story to a friend that as a child he broke the stain glass window from the small grotto on the lawn of the church rectory.  This was the same lawn where he  and his friends played.
15B  The old priest (not Father Dove) goes to the shrine,then they go to visit the old nun.  (This is a dream with the collision of time)  Nun notes how man has changed since she last saw him.
(A confusion of time and character as in a dream and a memory)
The nun listens to the priest talk about the meaning of the statue to him and his mother.
The husband talks about the first time he saw the statue, the light, the quiet of the chapel,  The face of Christopher reminded him of someone.
15C  Nun tell os a visit by a young boy.  It was when she  was living in a retreat house after an illness.  It was the first child she had seen since she went into the cloistered convent.  She and the priest, her nepphew, had talked and the boy had sat  quietly.  She had been amazed how her memory had quickened when she saw him.
16B  A young business man works up a gimmack of selling cips of the statue as relics.  The public is touched by the destruction of the statue.  Some buy as  a joke.  They advertise it as the oldest plastic statue. (With plastic we have an endless supply of fragments.
The purist split over this. ( Newspaper story read by several people)
"Imagine a hundred pounds of some saint's tibia!"
17B  Old people meet with husband and they talk of thier disappointment with the actions of the priest.  Saying they are unyielding and lacking feeling and tenderness.
They look at the child and some are moved to tears.  The real prayers (The intent not the words was the rule.)
Wife is unrepentant and turns from her mother and aunt.
(Husband goes to front door and there they are.)

18B  A professor who taught the husband years before  comes to look at the child.  He pronounces it as being very beautifu but not the work of a major artist.  Significent for the use of palstic. Husband tells him the nuns story of the painitng.  Professor says he has heard of the story.  It has been a tradition with no real history.
They talk at a stone inn near the univeristy.  They sit by a fire place on a settle bench while they eat cheese cake and drink a glass of ale.  That had been their ritual while the husband was attending the university and the professor was a graduate assistant.

19A  He finds that she is still alive.  Time seems to have stopped for her and her memory of him.  She sees the boy he had been.
He had waited in the parlor of the guest house for several minutes while the nurse attendant went to her room.  The room is now on the  same floor.  The nurse assures him that she is still getting around with out need for help.  The  upstairs rooms are now being used by other retired nuns.  The old nun needs her silent place.  The other nuns seemed to have forgotten the few vows of silence and obedience.
He looks at the pictures on the wall.  They are now colorful landscapes and florals.  The world has invaded the private place.
As he waits he remembers the first time he had sat in the chapel in New Jersey.  He had stopped for a moment to get away from the line of traffic.  He had carried a road map and had intended to ask for directions.  He remembered later that he had clutched the map until it became a wad of folded paper.
19B  Husband returns to nun and asks about the painting story.  She reveals she was told the story as a child.  She felt that it revealed  that art inspired and truth of history was secondary to inspection.
It did not matter if the statue was ivory or plastic  if Christopher as listed or not listed as a saint.
It is the story of St. Christopher that is the truth in the matter.
(Nun is a story teller, hypnotic.)

20A  He had a smooth rock he used as a paper weight.  It is on the desk and it had been there for years.  He thinks of it as being useful but he does not remember ever needing  a paper weight in a room so closed and close.  No breeze from an open window.  The rock was in his yard when he was a child.  His mother waxed it with furniture polish to make it shine.
20B  He is no longer comfortable.  He and his wife are at odds.  He tries to go over the seperate events and assess their effect on his life and belief.  (Walk in the woods)  The nun and the parents of the purist moved him the most.
He asks the old priest if he could restore the child's head to the chapel.  The old priest says no.
His mother is dead, the child needs a place in the world.  (at the shrine)
20C   She sees him as a husband.  He is the one who made her a wife.  She is not a mother.  She both blames him and thanks him in her mind for children  were not part of her life plan.
She had avoided the convent for she knew it would be a life surrounded by children.

21A   "Now is a good time to talk."  He sees his wife with new eyes.  His father 's early hesitation now makes sense.  She had a way of making low voiced and strict demands.  He now sees his early days as going from one set of rules to another.
He sees the calendar with the exact notes and the regular regiment of dinners and holidays.  The tree was decorated each year exactly.  She "repaired" any of his deviations.
21B   He talks to his father about the emotion and the conflicts.  The father talks about early memory. He talks about beauty and art.  The subject matter is secondary to the emotion evoked.  All experiences are linked.  His attraction to his wife and the change of a static situation.  
Man is alone but sees something in his life as better.  (In sun room of house.) 

He often carried a notebook when he went anywhere.  The few notes of the trip proved to be a solace during the evening when he sat waiting for his dinner to warm up or when he was waiting for the bus on the way to work.  The few jotted lines soon became his diary and his moment of sanity in the world that had become alien and harsh.  He no longer argued his point with his wife or their friends.  The silence he maintained did not help him but the few words he added to the pages allowed him to see that he seemed to have a repeated need to clarify his thoughts and to distance himself from their harsh beliefs.


The Purists (American Heresy)

The Purist are a group of people who have arisen as a reaction to the lessening of the strict ritual of the Catholic Church after the Eucemical Council headed by Pope John XXIII.  They are part Marianist and part Latin Mass groups.  They have maintained the days of fast and absentinece from the time they were in primary school and were being confirmed in white dresses and the dark blue suit.

The women are the ones who are the most rigid.  They remember the habited nuns of the fifties and they feel dispproval in the lay teachers in school.

They continue to cover their heads inside churches and usually have a rosary in their purse and one on the bedstand.   Many of the Purist women are married to men who have problems with drink and have accepted marginal ways in their lives.  None of the men assert themselves in a bigger world.  The professional men, the lawyers, doctors and government officers are tolerated more than valued in the professions.

The purist woman in the story is the wife of a high school teacher.  He spends most of his time doing school work.  He teaches English and Social Studies in a small public school.  She is happy that he is not teaching in the Caatholic High School or the local Catholic Junior College.  She does not want to be married to a man who associates himself with those of the laity who would attempt to replace the good nuns.

An incident in travel brings excessive reaction.

Because he had to take a detour on his drive from Alantic City to Philadelphia he came upon a small chapel built in a park along side the road.  The small sign said it was Our Lady of Travels Chapel. 

When he got home, in Western Pennsylvania, he mentioned the event to his wife.  She only heard him but did not react to the information. 

The following week he went again to the Jersey Shore for a few days and this time he deliberately looked for the small chu;rch.  He had time to visit.  The church was open and he met the caretaker who told him a little of the history of the place.  It had been built as a memorial by a woman who lost a son in World War One.  Her brother had converted to Catholicism and was a Franciscan priest who taught in a school in Pennsylvania.  The caretaker gave then man the name of the priest and the Girls Junior College.  The school was less than twenty miles from where he taught public high school.  The coincidence of place and interest helped the man to determine that he wanted to find out more about the chapel.
The caretake gave him a brief tour and in the church was a artistic construct of St. Christopher bearing the Child.  It looked like a relief made of ivory colored material.  The caretaker told him it was made of ivory and had been made in Italy at the request of the woman.  She is now deceased and her estate is now a branch of a Philadelphia Museum Foundation.  The estate is used for conferences and conventions of manufacturers.  The family had been in perfumes and soaps during the latter part of the nineteenth century.

The family name shows up on several of the documents in the records of the church and the priest shares the same last name.  It was his mother's name.  Her husband had wealth and the strong desire to live in Europe.

The woman and her children lived in Philadelphia.  The family never got over the death of the nephew in the war.  The mother of the soldier went to Rome for several years.  When she returned she had the chapel built.
 There is an album of old photographs of her while the chapel is being built.  The cornerstone laying was a documented event.  She is with a group of children and the event happened in the rain.  The photographs are a series of glares and areas of reflected water caused by the necessary construction lights and the head lamps of cars.  These pictures are used in the areas of transitions when the chapel is being discussed  by the puritan group and also when the old priest remembers his early years.
The sense of loss is amplified by other pictures of the chapel taken over ther years as the landscaping developes and envelopes the building.  Perhaps there is a photo taken of a graduation day ceremony and maybe a picture of a dark gloomy hearse for a funeral.
He is standing away from the group and he listens to the talk and his interest centers on the words of his wife.

And now the wife begins to show her new interests and religious needs.  She tells new friends of her long interest in being good and of being perfect.  The story is a variation of her memory of being in the group selected as being medal winners for perfect attendance in grade school and of her pin that declared her the most knowledgeable in the religion class.

Runaway Movie

Story lines (part one)
This is not about Jake and Mike.  This is the idea of a young man making it on his own and finding that his Dad believes in his dream.  The idea of a naive kid deciding to control his own destiny.  He can be funny and serious but he needs to be kind and generous.  The first rule of a hero is to have others around who are on his side.  No one wants a bitter young person who is so filled with suspicion that magic is a forseeable  commodity.
A four to six minute movie.  Jake goes to Las Vegas to make a movie about a young man seeking ways to make money for college.
 He gets his Dad to make a movie of his efforts.  The boy decides that he wants to write the movie and he has to convince his father to trust him in his choices.
The first way to make money is as a performer in a lounge act.  He has a fantasy being either a vocalist with a small combo or a whiskey swigging stand-up comic.
He works on his personae in front of a sink vanity of a cheap motel.  The father shows him some of the good moves he has seen from the old pros.
In the dream it is open mike night in a small lounge in a small town but the crowd is all wheeler dealers who just happen to be there for the evening.  The kid knows that his fate is being determined.  The show is all flash and loud laughs and celebration.  The kid delivers the punch line and a few of the set ups his dad and his dad's friends have given him over the years.  They are all show stoppers.
He tries the act and the movie enters a "dream" lounge and he does his bit.  The guy comes from the shadows and tells him he is good but right now he has problems.  His chef just quit and he needs a replacement.  The boy steps in and does a set of one dinner evening with chopping, slicing, baking and grilling while ordering the crew to do the things needed to feed the crowd.
Someone says it would take a magician to pull it all together.  He turns into a lounge act, slight of hand magician delivering full dinner from beneath the silver topped dishes and popping wine corks.  Someone comes into the kitchen/lounge and tells him that the animal tamer needs an assistant.  He has an hour to learn how to snap a whip and blow a whistle to put the wild beasts through their paces.  In the fantasy he is standing below the looming shadows of roaring lions and tigers.  He tells them they would be a lot healthier if they ate more vegetables.
He promises that he will seriously think about becoming a veternarian and take care of all the animals.  But out of the fantasy, all the animal tamer wants is some help with the push broom in the empty cages.
He does the labor and swears he will always clean up after the dog if someone else cleans the cat's litter box. Elliot needs time to be by himself while he makes decisions.  He chooses to go places to draw and paint.  He meets another artist who is doing the same thing.

Story Line (Part two)  Tech choices.
    Special effects done via computer images and photo enhancements.  Makeup done with consistancy.
Nothing cute or "hip".  Stick to the script.  There is one writer for this and participation will depend upon maintaining boundaries.  Take it or leave it.
Have a scene where the young man falls asleep while working late.  His book of pictures are there to be seen by the camera.  The characters in the pictures begin to address the camera directly.  The book is on the side of the boy.  They want him to succeed.  They talk about the Dad and his own ambitions.

The Dad sees that the boy has gotten his dreams and skills from him.  The boy knows this and it is apparent to all others but the father does not always see that his son thinks he is just great.

Original music, no pirating.  Piano with a Alex North feel.  Moody abstract sound that does not interfere with the dialogue and does not hint at the changes of mood.  The music is riding with the movie and is not the driver.
Find some examples of Alex North and see that it is sound that is mood driven but uses conventional instruments.
 Sound bits timed after shooting.  Music may include jazz combo sounds, ie. drum, bass, piano and guitar.  No electronic sound from bit sources.  Sound produced to fill the spaces in the film.

(Part three)
Part Three is the pivotal part.  All of the adventure is created in the town limits of San Anselmo and a few jaunts to the hills and the seashore for location shots.  The seams of the movie will be raw.  There is no intent upon fooling the audience into believing in 100percent authenticity.  The bright lights of the Vegas night life are really nothing more than lights being rflected from odd shapes and across wet surfaces.  The feel of the limo night life is done in quick shots with a few car windows and careful reflected light.  The luxury of the lobbies are suggested by the close up of good primative sculpture and lofty distant views.   The interiors can be photoshopped with the burnes effect.  The glamor of shopping and fashion comes from the the slinging of expensive hand bags and the shapes of very expensive shoes.  Rubies and diamonds need to be suggested by the flash of color and the sparkle of the sunlight on water effects.

 Locations scouted in the San Anselmo town limits.  No pay until the project has been accepted by a festival and no farming out of bits and pieces of the work.
   Cement structures that look like Vegas garages.  Palms and metal work that has been dramatically enhanced.  Wet alley streets,  Desert sunrise and sunsets. Kitchen area.  Hallways.  Parquet flooring, marble flooring, luxury looking rugs and wood furnishing.
   Using recording devices to create the sounds of the
 LasVegas environment.  Create a list of common sounds and create variations of each group.  The sound of a slot paying off.  Develop several versions and combinations.

Doing the dreary writing parts will be the fun parts for he will be able to go off into moments of high imagination that he will  suddenly see as being too much or not continuing as expected.   The fall from a high moment may segue into moments of childhood comfort.  The young man going from the desk to the home gym apparatus and in the moments of strenuous exercise finding that the physical and the mental help each other.

His dreams are both too big and not big enough.  He sees a movie he loved a few years before and wonders where his head was at.  The movie he sees is a movie he made in a film class.  His friends mock him for his dialogue and now he can do the same mocking himself.
He says that the talk in the movie sound like someone reading a dictionary and not understanding the plot.

He makes statements of what he wants  No white limousines, that is so prom night.  Not if a bunch of women in dark leather get out and have a few vicious dogs on chains.  No large vicious dogs, only small ones that snarl a lot, (shark jawed pocketbook pets).

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Traditional greetings in a new form

Greeting cards and travel post cards are a long tradition.  The penny post card of the distant past remain with a difference in cost and a difference in ready mailing places.  The casual mail box on the corner and the ready mail carrier are no longer a part of the journey.

The long tradition of holiday cards and secret admirer valentines are fond memories of many and the attempt to continue shows the  needs to convey thoughtfulness.  The thank you note is part of the seasons of weddings, funerals, graduation  and birthdays.  

A simple well chosen sentiment heals many a wound and gives balm to the pains of missed apologies.

A card drawn on the computer can be added to the comment on facebook, the first few lines of an e-mail or as the heading of a seasonal  announcement.

No need to be a Rembrandt when we have the refrigerator front arts.  The drawing of the ten year old and the doodle of the crank old man have a place in the high tech world.

Here are a few of my drawings that celebrate  and remind that the little thoughts are yet available and need not be limited to emotioncron and serries of XXX  and OOOO.   Lets play with this and see how it works. 

I have drawn a few notes and cards that will suggest directions for the new path to continuiing a valuable cultural tradition.

The Holidays
The symbol of a wreath that is used for various time of the year and would  seem appropriate for various greeting and messages.

The floral tribute that with the appropriate wording could be used as a greeting, a note, a condolence or an  invitation.
This is an idea that crosses over time from holiday to childhood and into the adult area of obsession and such topics as diet and lust. 

Harvest and seasonal celebrations all have symbols.  The range is wide and varied.  The seasons are celebrated with moon symbols.
The phases of the moon are noted world wide as being significent.
Fertility and planting and then the abundance of harvest and the plenty are moon directed.  The months are arrange to contain the phases of the lunar light.  The sky and the view upward connects such things as the rising of stars at the horizon and the effect of the light of the revolving bodies war visual notes of the regularity of the world.
Moons and stars show up in the motif of various arts.  The ceramic sun and moon show their presence in archaic remains.

Religions and customs will have some form of celestial symbolism.
In numerology the numbers four, five, six, etc are often represented as star figures.


We need only look at the national flags to see that that the sun and moon are part of the political world.  
Maps use as symbols of major cities and centers of government with the sun and  star icons.

Another view of Easter and Christmas

Not your cute Easter Bunny.  This is Jack and he is into leather and the rat race of achievement.  When he rises it is not Sunday morning.   

 And  Christmas in an adobe housetrailer is often celebrated with winter sports.  Weather permitting or not.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Guy Walks Into a Bedroom

In some families the literary life is everyday.  Dad is a fan of reading and his kids love to hear him read aloud no matter what he reads.  He is a performer.  They love it on the days he wears his trench coat and the heavy felt fedora.  That means the story time is going to be a chapter of a detective novel no matter what the book is about.  He has the look and the attitude of the old time hard boiled detective.  He may be hard boiled but he is a good egg.  


Why is it that Tuesdays are the night when the television has a blank face and Mom makes a huge pot of soup that steams up the windows in the kitchen and she writes five letters of the alphabet on each of the small windows of the door.  There are six and in the six pane she draws a heart.  She does this quickly when she hears Dad walk up the path from the bus stop at the corner.

"I just bet it is a signal that tonight is one of those nights when there is a ball game between the rainy clouds and the warm soup and the soup wins."
He hangs his raincoat on the hook near the back door and puts his umbrella in the tin bucket right inside the door.

In some families the literary life is everyday.  Dad is a fan of reading and his kids love to hear him read aloud no matter what he reads.  He is a performer.  They love it on the days he wears his trench coat and the heavy felt fedora.  That means the story time is going to be a chapter of a detective novel no matter what the book is about.

We wait in the breakfast nook where we have been doing our homework.  He pulls up a chair from its place near the hallway door and sits on it with the back up against the table. 
This is the way that cowboys sit on chairs.  It is also the way that sailors and pirates sit on chairs when they get home from a long sea voyage.

Mom gives him a towel so he can dry the back of his neck and hands.
Rain stays outside on a night like this.

Tonight I think we will be hearing the last chapter of the mystery story.

First lines are the way to get your story started.

None of those stormy night first lines.

When Dad reads the story he does not include the once upon a time part.

Sometimes he tells us what the story is not about.

We have a regular list of nots
then there is the surprise lists of nots
that could become absolutely
yeses were the kids favorites.  One yes was never as good as
 a bunch
or maybe
if we are really sleepy.

The "sometimes"  are special
we like very much anything special.

If he is late we know that he will wear his
very special costume
which is a hat and sunglasses.

He has hair that is seldom ruffed
When his hair is ruffed and if he talks
with a growly voice
 and if he calls us "You guys"
we know this is a beyond ordinary
this is from a very old list of nots.

This is the story that needs music.
Will you yell if I threaten to sing?

This is a song from long ago.
Imagine that there is a man playing the piano.

In the story he was drinking beer.
It was root beer and he said  the cookie
was an absolute necessity.
This absolute necessity was optional on Thursdays

But if the cookie was not there the music would
sound far away and at the end of a dark tunnel.

And the story would have a dream time ending.
The song would come in the dream and you
have to sing in the dream.
No singing, no piano player and no cookie.

So close your eyes and wait for a few minutes
for the lights in you head to turn into a soft glow
like a candle light that flicker back and forth
sending the wavy shadows on the wall and ceiling.

One note is near and the next one is far away
The first you hear and it is like the number one
The one you will wait for will be very low and soft
The first of the notes from
far away will be two.
The next three, the next four, the next five.
Each note will be lower and softer.
Each time you hear the note wait for the next.


As he reads the room darkens and there is no longer a flashing neon sign outside the window of the office in the walkup brick building near the bus station and a block away from the shadowy train platform.  He puts aside the eight by fourteen twenty paged adventure of talking eggs and sits for a moment to imagine the first timeless minutes of two lovely dreams.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Tell Me What You Saw

The guards stood by the door and waited  for a few nods from the cleric and the teacher.  The woman and her two friends stood inside the door until the cleric dismissed the guards.

Please, make your selves comfortable on the this bench. We  may be here for a time but we want to give everyone a turn at telling what they have to say.  
She took the first chance to talk.
  She silenced the other two with a nod and an elbow.
"You will find his story more than just a barroom tale.  He saw the prince and the pirates on the boat."
Nicholas put his hand up with palm face out.  The teacher was telling the students to pause and he would tell them when to take a turn.
She gave him a look of grave impatience.  The whole idea to her was that the story needed to be told and she knew others would have a version that might not be accurate.
Again he gave his signal to her an the others.  They muttered to each other and Nicholas breathed sharply out of his nose.  
"Now don't go snorting at me.  I have friends and they know who I am."

"You are well known to all here so we need to settle into a little order of who is to talk first.  I will talk first.
She began again.  "Now look.."

She found herself looking at his raised hand
She  put her hands between her skirted knees.
The two men shrug their shoulders.  It is their way of saying they are used to this for that is how she is. 

 Everyone around knows this with the exception of her.  
Nicholas sits back and points to them.
This is the performance they will give and he accepts that this is their way.

Nicholas knows them all.  He knows the names and the story that goes with them.
There are several ports along this way and each one has an ale house or two for the comfort of the traveler and the sailor.  The places would be a drab and joyless place for drink if not for the the locals who add a bit of color and local history.  The ales men welcome these talkers for there is an increase in consumption during an evening when the story of recent adventures is combined with the purse of a bored but not penniless traveler.
"We should talk with these as a group.  Only one will do the talking but the others will be at the elbow when the round is due."  They huddle and agree and are often called upon to vouch for the veracity of the story.  That affirmation is a vigorous nod and a series of knowing grunts that could only mean  "that is true, that is true."

The widow divides her time.  Part of her day is standing in the market and doing more talking than buying.  She listens and pretends she is judging the quality of the hanging rabbits and ducks.
 She is quick to note that she is far too young to have had a married daughter.  But since he is family there is no talk about the two of them living in the same house and traveling on the same small boat.  If there were to be talk she will also be able to point out that he has a good friend named Thomas who is very respectable and of a good family.  He is not a one who would allow any behaviour that would be worth talking about.  

The sheriff's widow is named Agnes.  It means lamb.  Her son-in-law is named Jacob and although there was no need for it he has taken over the duties of the now deceased sheriff.
Others will not mention in her hearing that there was never a duty for the sheriff. 

 There had not been a sheriff.  It was a bit of a pretense on all their parts.  Her husband had told the tale at the table of many an alehouse of being on the boat along the edge of the Western sea and of the boat being attacked by some surly pirates and how he had routed them by declaring he was the high sheriff of an English lord.   Now no one wanted to be enemies of an English anything for you know how savage they are.

Agnes always smiled when she told that old memory.  He was truly a man who would do such a thing and be brave and bold and not only when he had had a snout full. 

The several port towns accepted the boats of the fishermen and the trading boats without question.  The boats of travelers and unmarked strangers were accepted with the proper conferences at a distance near but not at the port.  The local men would happen to be in the boat when the others arrived.  It was not always a battle or a disagreement.

  It was a manner of allowing the other to have a chance to tell the story of a voyage and an opportunity to become a regular visitor to the port.

Such arrangements had been made before by visitors to the sentry places on the roads.  The name of a sailor and the description of his craft and his banner would have presented at a gate on the road.

Happy surprises were chosen over sudden encounters.
                                                   (from a novel in progress)    
by Ron Ratchford