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September 21, 2013

Annual Sunset Intersection Quiz

Time again for the annual quiz. The question's the same as last year: What do these people have in common? Send in your answers on the comment page to collect valuable prizes.
Benjamin Franklin
Burl Ives
Carmen Electra
Cary Grant
Charlie Chaplin
Colonel Harland Sanders
Daniel Craig
Danny Bonaduce
David Letterman
Debbie Reynolds
Djimon Hounsou
Don Imus
Dr. Phil McGraw
Drew Carey
Eartha Kitt
Ella Fitzgerald
George Eads (CSI)
George Orwell
Gordon Parks
Halle Berry
Harry Houdini
Heather Mills
Hilary Swank
Jack Kerouac
Jaco Pastorius
Jean-Claude Van Damme
Jean-Michel Basquiat
Jennifer Lopez
Jim Carrey
Jim Cramer
Jim Morrison
Joan Rivers
John Drew Barrymore (father of Drew)
John Garfield
John Muir
John Woo
Kelly Clarkson
Kelsey Grammer
Kurt Cobain
Lil’ Kim
Martin Sheen
Patti Smith
Rose McGowan
Sam Worthington
Shania Twain
Sly Stone
Steve Jobs
Sylvester Stallone
Traci Lords
Troy Donahue
Tupac Shakur
Tyler Perry
Vachel Lindsay
William Shatner
Woody Guthrie

Happy trials, Martin

Mutt:  Did you see that picture the boss put up?
Jeff:  What about it?
Mutt:  Look at the last one with the hat and glasses. It's a self-portrait, dude! It's him.
Jeff:  Yeah, remarkable resemblance. You're right.
Mutt:  Damn  right I'm right.
Jeff:  Then if you're so smart maybe you know this: If a word is misspelled in the dictionary, how would we ever know?
Mutt:  How do you spell 'misspell'?
Jeff:  Like the dictionary.
Mutt:  Ok. Why do we say something is out of whack? What is a whack?
Jeff:  Ooway, got me there. Why do 'slow down' and 'slow up' mean the same thing?
Mutt:  Why do 'fat chance' and 'slim chance' mean the same thing?
Jeff:  Why do 'tug' boats push their barges?
Mutt:  Why is it called 'after dark' when it really is 'after light'?
Jeff:  Why are a 'wise man' and a 'wise guy' opposites?
Mutt:  Why do 'overlook' and 'oversee' mean opposite things?
Jeff:  Why is bra singular and panties plural?
Mutt: Yeah, and if love is blind, why is lingerie so popular?
Jeff:  If work is so terrific, why do they have to pay you to do it?
Mutt:  Good one. But that grumpy cat is still scaring me.
Jeff:  Me too. Let's fly.
Mutt:  Can we do that?
Jeff:  It's a free ... no never mind.

September 5, 2013

I'd Rather Walk

On the thru-hiker bench next to the gas station at Castella, California with Sheepdog and El Jefe, joined by people nicknamed Peter Pan, a woman, Mr. Green, Starfox, Chikchuk, Birdhouse, Tapper and so on, we watched the RVs and Motorhomes, 5th Wheels and Bus-sized contraptions pulling jeeps and SUVs behind, and someone commented (me), “Work hard and  be rewarded,” since it takes a life of work to afford those monstrous toys. Then we, in the name of all our PCT comrades, said one by one, “I’d rather walk,” “I’d rather walk,” “I’d rather walk.”

When we’d had our fill of milk and cookies (I had only one box of Lorna Doones), or beer and smokes, we slowly got up, one by one, shouldered our friendly packs and made for the 5000 ft climb back up to the alpineland, high-altitudeland, the cloudland, rocky peakland, timberland, motherland, wonderland, where you can only go on foot, Castle Crags and the Trinity Alps, in this case.

“I’d rather walk,” to me stands for the wisdom of human beings to choose. Don’t hike [insert whatever] unless you like it. Do things that last. Can happiness be bought? Is bigger better? Newer better? A promotion, a lottery win, a new lover the answer to your yearning? When your phone is also a geiger counter or your car parks itself, is that progress? We can opt out of the phony world presented by the ad-powered popular PR-ess and go back (or forward rather) to pastimes that touch both the earth and us. Learn to swim and sell the jetski. Pull the plug on that maxi-screen and play the dulcimer or read a book in a foreign language. Garden. Knit. Sing in harmony. You want to relax, sit, lay around doing nothing? It’s a lot sweeter when you earn it, like we did, after a twenty-miler. And look, you do not need another garage full of stuff, it'll just make you feel guilty. As Greg Brown said, “We have no knowledge and so we have stuff, and stuff with no knowledge is never enough … to get you there.” But I digress.

I had a good walk this summer, cut a bit short by fires, a trick knee and giardia, more testing of my physical/mental limits and perhaps less ecstasy than other years, still important, fundamental. John Muir, the Sierra Saint, in his journal from his first summer in the mountains said,

Oh, these vast, calm, measureless mountain days, inciting at once to work and rest! Days in whose light everything seems equally divine, opening a thousand windows to show us God. Nevermore, however weary, should one faint by the way who gains the blessing of one mountain day; whatever his fate, long life, short life, stormy or calm, he is rich forever.

Rich forever.

A record-breakingly fast kid named Broken Toe told me, “If you come to the mountains to find yourself, meet people, or for an inspirational experience, you’re doomed. The only reason to hike is if you love hiking. You gotta love hiking.” True I’m sure, very true, but I met people, got inspiration and a bit of self-knowledge in the bargain. With, I might add, no carbon imprint, no electronic circuitry, no celebrity news, no deodorant, no politics, just good old walking – the best preventative and curative medicine, especially against the dis-ease called angst.

See you next year, mountains, don’t burn everything please. I need the green. We all need the green. To walk in.

Happy trials on happy trails, Martin
Mutt and Jeff are on vacation in Atlantic City; they'll be back soon.