Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Susanne and I just returned from two weeks visiting the Maritime Provinces of Canada. The climate was perfect, the food was great and nobody seemed to care about conflicts of interest, bribes, emails or Trumpisms.

It’s been a little warm since we got back here in New Hampshire but it’s supposed to get a little warm in August.

The fish are jumping and the corn is high. Corn is important here. There is nothing better than New Hampshire sweet corn grown in northern New England and freshly picked.

To my readers from overseas, and there seem to be a lot of you, I would suggest a trip to New Hampshire that runs anytime from mid-August until mid-October. You have a chance to eat some truly wonderful fresh produce, take some spectacular photos and watch the world change colors.

Did you know that the state of New Hampshire has more land under forest now than it had two hundred years ago? If the world is starting to feel a little crowded, we provide a great change of pace.

We have been invaded by a few city folk who want to make us just like New York or Massachusetts, but, fortunately, the majority have worked to maintain our special status. We are a population that likes to find its own path, and refuses to be stampeded onto the crowded paths. We cherish independence, ethical living and the use of common sense. I hope we can sustain that despite all the negative vibrations that emanate from much of the world around us.

Sometimes it is easy to lose perspective in our lives. I wrote a poem a few years ago, Wandering in Cemeteries (Riding in Boxcars, Snap Screen Press, 2006), that will, perhaps, remind us of what is important.

Glenn K. Currie

                  Wandering in Cemeteries

Monuments to those,
Who spent their lives
Living in comas.
Hidden now
Beneath the covers.

Monuments to those
Who raged inanely.
Angry at the weather,
Or the news.
Passions wasted,
On passing storms.

Monuments to those
Burning their lives away
In the furnace
Of somedays.
Ashes carefully saved
In time’s vault.

Monuments to those
Seeking immortality.
Striving for greatness,
Interrupted in their quest.
Their only mantles,
The first snow.

A city of souls,
Filled with regrets.
Unfinished stories,
Written in stone.
Read by those
Wandering in cemeteries.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

I haven’t written much lately because I honestly didn’t know what to say.
I am depressed by the state of our country. We seem to be incapable of understanding the world outside of our borders, and we seem to be incapable of understanding each other.

Instead of coming together when we are threatened, we make ourselves even more vulnerable by turning into a bunch of bickering groups more intent on the destruction of each other than the safety and welfare of our country.

It all seems to be about what goodies the government can provide, or what controls the government should put on our private lives. Here’s a message for all of you. If Sharia Law becomes the law of the land, you won’t be getting any goodies and you won’t have private lives. I know, you think that can never happen. Well, if we keep fighting among ourselves, belittling our military and police, and pretending that we are impregnable to outside and inside threats, we will wake up one day, ruled by someone who isn’t afraid to make decisions and hates everything we stand for, which, by the way, isn’t very much anymore.

Our leadership in Washington over the last two decades has been dreadful. We wobble among the choices of incompetent, ineffective and embarrassing. And what do we get from our political parties in this crucial period? They have basically fled the scene. We were hoping for candidates who could bring strong character, leadership, competence, common sense, logic and an ability to unite our nation. Instead we have two people who are self-serving, untrustworthy, partisan, vengeful and downright scary to most of the public.

I don’t even know what to hope for at this point. We are coming apart at the seams, and our designated new leadership would rather dance on each other’s graves than look for ways to form a common front against outside threats, and work to recreate our national sense of unity.

I don’t have any answers. Our political parties and our voters have betrayed us. No matter who wins in November, we will be poorer as a nation. We have chosen to be angry, greedy, grasping, vengeful, petty, untrustworthy and unforgiving in our choices and put ourselves in a position where the entire world is afraid of the outcome. We should be ashamed of ourselves. And let’s hope that is the worst of it.

Sorry. I needed to get that off my chest. I will try to come back from a brief vacation with a renewed sense of humor and maybe some new poems.

Glenn K. Currie

Thursday, July 14, 2016

We spend a lot of time up at York Beach in the summer. It is one of the great vacation  places in the area for parents with kids in different age groups. No one needs a car to participate in the various attractions. There is a petting zoo, carnival, batting cage, several basketball courts, a large grassy area for frisby, wiffleball, soccer, etc, live bands in the gazebo in the evening, a total building dedicated to video games and skee ball, and bowling and go carts. It also has a terrific playground. But in the end the real attraction is a very gently declining beach that makes for great time for even the youngest beachgoers.

A while ago I put my observations of the beach residents into a piece that was used in the Concord Monitor. For those who may have missed it I include it here. It is also among the many pieces in Granite Grumblings (Snap Screen Press, 2011).

I hope you have some fun with it and I hope you have a chance to get to the beach this summer.

Glenn K. Currie

Getting Ready for the Beach

I have spent parts of the last thirty years at York Beach, Maine (sometimes also known as Concordville because so many Concord residents vacation there). It is a great place to go for a change of pace. I like the sounds of the ocean, the cool sea breezes, the excitement and activity of the area, and the ever-changing scenery (both on the water and the sand). For years, however, I have been trying to figure out what motivates individuals to spend all those hours actually lying on the beach. I couldn’t understand why theoretically normal and sane people would find pleasure in oiling themselves up, and then alternately frying themselves in the hot sand and freezing in the numbingly cold waters of the North Atlantic. I was unsuccessful in obtaining a government grant to pursue an analysis of this (apparently they were already over budget for theses kinds of projects). I decided, however, to continue with research on my own, as a service to my fellow man.

After years of study, and many long hours with the binoculars, I believe I have been able to classify, in general terms, some of those who seem so addicted to blistered skin, sand in intimate places, and heart-stopping, cold water baths. I thought it might be useful to share some of the results of this research with you prior to the arrival of the new beach season. This might allow you to better evaluate the situation if you, a normal person, were to suddenly find yourself surrounded by a broad cross-section of certifiable crazies at such a beach.

The following categories comprise the major groups of beach dwellers. They are listed in no particular order:

1)Polar Bears. There are people out there who actually like to swim in freezing water. Some of them can be seen on TV in the winter, diving into holes in the ice. This is part of their training program so that the York Beach water doesn’t seem too cold. I suspect that their brains were fried in a previous summer’s heat, and now they have the uncanny ability to actually thrive in water that makes the rest of us turn blue. Most of these people have been preparing for years for this test, their bodies are well-oiled, and the tide tends to rise when they go in.

2)Max-Tanners. These are people who use the beach to release their inhibitions. Many of them wouldn’t be caught dead in a revealing blouse on Main Street, but will basically strip down to their underwear as soon as they are standing on sand. The theoretical rationale is that this is the only way they can get a really good tan. The actual objectives vary from impressing boyfriends or girlfriends, to enjoying the sense of freedom and release that comes from running around nearly naked. There is a kind of selective amnesia related to this, and that is probably a good thing. It definitely adds life to the beach scene but can be a real mixed blessing. There are some cases where there is more to meet the eye than the eye is ready for.

3)Voyeurs. Many beach-goers fall into this category. They come to see everyone else. Unfortunately beach etiquette demands that they also wear bathing suits. This can be particularly unpleasant. One ameliorating factor with this group is that they burn easily and therefore often cover up fairly quickly. They also tend to have very short attention spans, except when confronted with world-class max-tanners. Since York Beach is not Malibu, they often get bored and hot, and wander into town to buy ice cream and add to their collection of ugly t-shirts.

4)Perpetual Motion Machines. A wide variety of kids add excitement and variety to the beach scene. These youngsters have been resting up all year for beach day. They are impervious to cold water, are quite good at warming up tidal pools, love to splash those who wander too close to the ocean, and kick sand in food and drinks as they run over bodies and drip on towels. They are relentless in their activities, never sleep and have great lungs, which help maintain a decibel level that appears essential to maintaining the chemistry of the beach.

5)Beasts of Burden. These are mostly out-of-shape fathers who are on an involuntary conditioning program. They don’t actually spend much time on the beach, but they can be seen making frequent trips between car or cabin and the established beachhead. They carry inner tubes, folding chairs, shovels, pails, towels, big hats, cushions, binoculars, beach umbrellas, radios, wagons, strollers, blankets and a wide assortment of toys. The kids mostly ignore this stuff and the mother generally is too busy to use it, but it definitely contributes color to the setting. Most of these trips are scheduled at the hottest part of the day.

6)Unofficial Assistant Lifeguard. There are always a few of these guys on the beach. They roam back and forth looking for their lost youth. They can be identified by the tiny little bathing suits that they wear, and the tendency to have more hair on their backs than on their heads.

7)Mummified Remains. These are veteran beach goers who were left out in the sun too long, and are now a permanent part of the landscape. They are there when you get there, and they are there when you leave. They never seem to move, and probably own that piece of beach by virtue of squatter’s rights. With luck, they will wake up before the guys with the metal detectors come by and try to grab their earrings and keys.

I hope that this summary of my years of beach study will be useful to you in understanding the dynamics of this primitive culture. Obviously, most of you do not fall into any of these categories, but are, instead, just normal, healthy people looking to get away from the hot weather. And if you are also interested in doing scientific studies of beach culture, York Beach is a pretty good place to start.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The following piece was published this morning in the Concord Monitor. I am sure most of you will recognize the characters. Hope you have some fun with it. If you know a Congressperson please don't hesitate to forward it to him or her. They need some help.

How to Fix Congress

I spend a lot of time thinking like a ten-year-old. Not only does my wife tell me that I often am a ten-year-old, but it is part of the job requirement in getting in touch with the characters in my children’s books.

Recently, I was settling into my title character to work on a new part of a future book, when I began to think about the upcoming election and how totally inept our Congress seems to have become. I wondered what little Glenn might have to say if he were asked how to fix the seeming inability of Congress to function.

The following might have been some of his solutions:  

1)      I think we should make all the Congress people sit together like they do in school. Miss Fernapple said all the boys can’t sit on one side and the girls on the other. She says that would be segregation and she mixes us all up with each other. Now I have to sit next to Snobby Donna and even do some projects with her. She’s still a stinky tattle-tale, but I don’t put cockroaches in her locker anymore. If all the Republicans and Democrats had to sit next to each other, maybe they would do better on projects too.
2)      All the Congress people should have to go to lunch together and eat the same stuff that they serve us at school. I bet they would get tired of the turnip salads and tofu burgers real fast, and maybe then they would bring back pizza and chocolate chip cookies, and be in a better mood to work together.
3)      Congress people should have homework just like we do. Maybe if they had assigned homework they would read their bills before they pass them. I think civics and geography homework would also be good for them.
4)      I think they should have to ride to and from work on school buses. Those seats are really uncomfortable, there are no seat belts, and the shock absorbers are so bad that they would soon vote to fix the roads and bridges.  Buses would also probably cut down on traffic and pollution in Washington, and make parking easier. There might be some bullying on the buses, but Mr. Mullins would fix that fast.
5)      Miss Fernapple makes all of us turn off our phones in class. I think this would be a good idea for Congress, too. My dad says that if the Congress people actually had to listen to all the stupid speeches they make down there, maybe some of them would shut up.
6)      They should require better attendance. I get detention every time I skip a class. I think Congress people should too, unless they have a note from a responsible person.

Good luck finding one of those in Washington.

Glenn K. Currie

Mr. Currie is the author of  A Boy’s First Diary and Surviving Seventh Grade in which these characters deal with many of the real and important issues in life.(www.snapscreenpress.com).

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Also, a reminder that through the end of June my three collections of poetry are available at the counter of The Works in Concord at half price with all proceeds going to the Children's Literacy Foundation. www.clifonline.org provides lots of info about this great organization.

Just a short note to let you know that my new poem "Charleston Tears" won first prize in the recent New Hampshire Poetry Society contest and will be published  in the next issue of "Touchstone". I will publish the poem here as soon as it is published there.
Thank you to all of you for your interest and support.
Glenn K. Currie

Friday, June 3, 2016

I am exhibiting my poetry and photography at The Works in Concord during the month of June. It is a fundraiser for a favorite charity of mine, the Chidren's Literacy Foundation ( www.clifonline.org). My books are available at the counter for half price this month ($10) and all proceeds will go to CLiF. Since I know all my readers are not local I will also make this offer....any books that you order through my website, www.snapscreenpress.com or directly to me at Glennkc@aol.com will also be available at half price this month and shipping within the US will be free. Again, all of those proceeds will also go to CLiF.
Thanks for your consideration.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

This is a piece that was published in the Concord Monitor this morning.

I picked up the May 18th copy of the Concord Monitor and noticed that in addition to the stories about recovering drug addicts and the need for more government subsidies, there was a piece about how the country was going into a tailspin regarding its moral conduct.

Apparently the writer just recently had this revelation after noting that an egotistical blowhard (my words not his) like Donald Trump was a serious candidate for President. What really perplexed me, however, was not the sudden clarity of his view on society, but that this same individual (a politician himself) has been a very staunch and public supporter of one of the country’s most morally corrupt politicians of the last two decades. Yet it took Donald Trump for him to realize that this country had lost its moral compass.

The capacity for hypocrisy among our politicians is hard to believe. And yet they somehow manage to keep setting higher plateaus from which to bloviate. Still, it was hard to disagree with his essential point that the country has lost its way as it wanders down the path to disaster.

There was another article in the paper discussing the demise of many local newspapers in this country. It was a nice piece but I couldn’t help but wonder if the writer was too close to the problems.

Yes, the newspaper industry is beset by many issues. The internet has provided inexpensive competition, has taken away ad revenues and changed the readership habits of many in the population. But the local newspapers have also lost awareness of some of the advantages they have, such as being the ready source of what is really going on in local communities. Unfortunately, the Monitor, and many others seem to focus primarily on the negative side of things. Even when they think it is an uplifting approach such as the article on a recovering addict or a new homeless shelter, it is a negative kind of positive. We are celebrating the care and success of those who have spent their lives making poor decisions. Yes, it is good that we are doing this, but if this is all we are doing we are heading for a murky future.

The morale and morals in our community might be well served by showing some truly positive  examples. Perhaps we could highlight some of the fathers and mothers who have taken responsibility to raise their children well: families without drug problems, and where abuse and infidelity aren’t the flavor of the week. I believe that many of those exist although you would never know it from the news. Perhaps we could feature a few pieces  about the business people who bring jobs and products to the area or those bringing creativity and vision to the community.

I know we don’t seem to be getting much of this from our political leaders right now, but that makes it even more critical that we provide it locally. There are lots of people in Concord and New Hampshire who resist the temptations of the world. They make sacrifices for their kids, work difficult jobs, treat people with respect and integrity, and help establish a “moral” environment. Couldn’t we focus a little more often on those stories?

I talk to a lot of people in this community, have served on a multitude of boards and think I have a pretty good sense of the pulse of the city, and I can tell you that the Monitor is losing its position as a real representative of the citizens. Readers tell me they may still subscribe to find out what physical events are happening, but they spend less time on the articles because it’s too depressing, it is just saying the same thing over and over, or it has no diversity in its approach to issues.

I realize that it is a hard road for the news media in this country to travel. It is very easy to focus on the negative. We have violence, wars, a poor economy, and lots of bad decisions made by our leaders and our individual citizens. But the majority of people in this country still work hard, raise their children well, and try to live good lives. We need to be reminded of that. In this election year we are facing a mystifyingly bad set of choices for new leadership. And perhaps we all need to take responsibility for that. There has been a distinct lack of attention given to people who do things the right way. Everyone, especially the media, focuses on the train wrecks in society. The non-producers and the manipulators get the attention, so we shouldn’t be surprised when they rise to the surface in a national election where the most outrageous, the most devious, the most deceitful, are the names the electorate gravitates toward. 

Glenn K. Currie

Monday, May 16, 2016

One of the TV shows that Susanne and I used to like to watch was Nashville. The show had a nice mix of likeable characters, interesting new performers and the feeling that the actors actually liked each other. There were always plot lines that included some drama and a few characters who were necessarily dislikeable. But in general, it was a “feel good” show.

About two years ago everything started to change. The number of songs performed by the actors (they actually sang) dropped dramatically, and in its place, the characters were all given major problems to deal with. As a result of the plot lines, the “likeability” quotient of most of the performers began to drop dramatically.

By this year, the show had become a typical soap opera with over-wrought drama and almost no music.

Today I read that the show is being cancelled. This should be a surprise to no one. I had stopped taping it a few weeks ago because it just became too darn depressing. Writers too often forget that viewers often watch programs to escape the problems and burdens of the events they see every day on the news.

A show named Nashville should provide a look at country music and allow us to identify with a fictional world where, at least once in a while, things go right for the characters. The writers instead started to fall into the typical cycle of misery, duplicity, back-stabbing and tragedy that defines so many nameless offerings on television. They killed the likeability of the characters, the association with the city and, most importantly, they killed the music. For a series with the name Nashville there wasn’t much else to kill except the show.

As a writer of humor and poetry, I have always believed that it is useful to provide the reader with something that can lift their spirits, or at least leave them empathizing with the characters or the topic.

I feel sorry for the actors because they had put together a talented group of performers, but the writers and director ran their ship aground on the mud banks of the Cumberland River and the their paddle wheeler has sunk with all hands.

Perhaps a final question might be why Hollywood seems to do this so often. They seem to lose touch with their audience and change shows to fulfill other objectives. Comedies stop making us laugh and start preaching to us. Dramas seem to lose a sense of proportion and go way over the top or else get so involved in a single story plot that they lose track of what made them popular. Hollywood needs to get over themselves and stop thinking they are so much smarter than their audience that they can use the bait and switch on viewers to accomplish other objectives. 

Here's a little message for the people in southern California. We look to you for entertainment and once in a while hope that you will provide us with an intelligent show that is fun to watch. We have no illusions that you are smart because we are very familiar with most of the crap you put out there. But we hope that, "like the blind pig and the acorn", you will once in awhile stumble onto an interesting or different show. Please, when that happens, try not to rush out and screw it up. Nashville without music?  Send those people over to Chicago PD and let's move the show to Reno and feature poker strategy. 

Glenn K. Currie

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

I just returned from a Navy reunion in which the plankowners of USS Biddle (DLG-34) gathered together in Annapolis to celebrate the 49th anniversary of the commissioning of that ship.

Our Captain (now 96), and nine of the original officers plus wives and other family were in attendance. There were about twenty-five plankowner officers initially, but deaths, conflicts and illnesses had worn the group down from earlier years.  

It was a very pleasant chance to renew old friendships, but also a telling example of the old adage that time waits for no one.

We were the young lions of the late 1960’s. we served our country, ignored the excuses, and came home from the conflict unharmed. In many ways we were very lucky…and for the most part, tolerant of those in our own country who wished us ill.

We formed a family, a shelter, where we could gather. We knew the truths and the fictions of that era, and took pride in having carried on the traditions of the finest naval force in the world.

We met every few years, but as the years passed, we saw our ship, the finest in the Navy in 1967, be decommissioned and probably chopped up for salvage. And we saw our country also go through a change to where it now appears to desperately need some kind of repair or salvage.  

At our reunion, I looked around at how we had all aged, and there was little doubt that our country has passed us by. Other younger generations are going to have to do the salvaging of this great country. And I think we are alright with that.

We could rejoice in the common bond of service. We had done our duty during our own difficult times. We had protected each other in the bad and good times through nearly fifty years.

Many of our group were career naval officers. You don’t get rich in the military and so we weren’t staying in the fancy hotels down by the water. But the company was the best you can get.

It is sad that our country has not honored the promises it made to service members then or now. The VA is still not doing its job as was abundantly clear from several of the comments there. That scandal seems to carry on, although better in a few locations. Other promises have also faded from memory as politicians declare a form of government induced amnesia.

But veterans do have a few special benefits still. All of us still have a strong love of our country and the deep satisfaction, the honor, to know that we served our country well. And we have the family that has been created by that service.

I don’t know what lies ahead for our particular family. We have become the observers, the invisible ones in the country. We hope for the best for our children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. But we are truly the old soldiers fading away. I suspect we may not meet again, but it has been a singular honor to be a member of this family and to have traveled with them on this journey.

Glenn K. Currie