Author Archives: bbj1969per@aol.com

Movie review: “The Post” – It wasn’t REALLY 6-3!

Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) and “The Post” staff get news from an old-timey (3-channel) TV…

*   *   *   *

Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”

This blog is modeled on the Carolina Israelite.  That was an old-time newspaper – more like a personal newsletter – written and published by Harry Golden.  Back in the 1950s, people called Harry a  “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”  (For his work on the Israelite.)

That’s now my goal as well.  To be a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”

For more on the blog-name connection, see the notes below.

In the meantime:

The Post (film).pngI just went to see The Post, the “2017 American political thriller” featuring Meryl Streep as Katharine Graham and Tom Hanks as Ben Bradlee (The publisher and executive editor of the Washington Post – respectively – at the time in question.)

It brought back a lot of memories.

The film – set in June 1971 – covered the month when both the Washington Post and the New York Times ran afoul of the Nixon Administration.  Specifically, both newspapers ended up in the U.S. Supreme Court, charged – essentially – with treason.  At stake – also essentially – was the future of freedom of the press in the United States(You know, that pain-in-the-ass part of the First Amendment of the Constitution?)

The Washington Post was perhaps best known for its coverage of Watergate scandal:

[From 1972 to 1974], in the best-known episode in the newspaper’s history, reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein led the American press’ investigation into what became known as the Watergate scandal; reporting in the newspaper greatly contributed to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

However, The Post (film) covers an earlier time:  June, 1971.

That was when first the New York Times, then the Washington Post began running a series of articles based on the Pentagon Papers (The 47-volume, 7,000-page assessment of the history of the Vietnam War.  It was ordered in 1967 by Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, and ultimately concluded that the war was “unwinnable.”  The papers were “turned over (without authorization) to The New York Times by Daniel Ellsberg, a senior research associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for International Studies.”) 

 The Nixon Administration charged Ellsberg with conspiracy, espionage, and theft of government property – i.e., the Pentagon Papers – for which he faced a possible 115 years in prison.  And the substance of The Post (film) is that “Kate” Graham herself faced criminal prosecution, not to mention personal bankruptcy and the loss of the “family paper.”  (The Post (newspaper

An aside:  The paper had been “in the family” since 1933.  That’s when Katharine’s father – Eugene Meyer – bought the paper in a bankruptcy action.  “In 1946, Meyer was succeeded as publisher by his son-in-law, Philip Graham” – Katharine‘s husband – who died in 1963.  (Which itself offers some interesting drama…) 

The point being that Katharine Graham had a lot to lose…

I could write a lot about The Post as both film art and a commentary on how history tends to repeat(My original title for this “article” – to avoid a redundant “Post post” – was “Movie review: ‘The Post’ – and history repeating itself…”)  And I will do more “posts on ‘The Post'” in the future.

But for today I’ll focus on journalism and its place in American law.

All the President's Men book 1974.jpgFor one thing, I majored in journalism because of “Woodstein” and the film All the President’s Men.  For another, after graduation in 1976 I went to work for the St. Petersburg Times – now the Tampa Bay Times – for five years.  Then I  went to law school intending to become a reporter specializing in the law and legal proceedings.

Which could explain my focus for today’s review.

Near the end of the film, the staff of the Washington Post got a telephone call – on a rotary phone, no less – announcing the Supreme Court’s decision.  At stake was not only freedom of the press, but also the personal and financial future of Katharine Graham and Ben Bradlee (U.S. Attorney General John Mitchell was quoted as saying, “Katie Graham’s gonna get her tit caught in a big fat wringer if that’s published.”)

The announcement?  “We won, 6-3!”  (Or words to that effect…)

My first reaction?  That the scariest part of the movie was that – back in 1971 – three Supreme Court Justices seemed to agree with the Nixon Administration.

And if that was true back then, what would happen today if the Trump Administration took a similar stand, from its own Enemies List?  Or worse, if Trump goes on to pack the Court?  But –  after further review – it turned out that Chief Justice Warren Burger – together with Justices John Harlan and Harry Blackmun – dissented only because of the “haste of the proceedings:”

[Burger] argued that in the haste of the proceedings, and given the size of the documents, the Court was unable to gather enough information to make a decision…  The Chief Justice did not argue that the Government had met the aforementioned standard, but rather that the decision should not have been made so hastily.

Which doesn’t mean the dissenters favored the government.  It only meant they thought the decision should not have been made so quickly.  (See New York Times v. United States.)

To give some perspective, the Times published its first article on June 13, 1971, while the Washington Post began publishing its own articles on June 18.  The Supreme Court heard oral arguments from the various parties on June 25 and 26, and rendered its decision on June 30, 1971.

Which means the whole process – from the first publishing to the government’s law suit to the final decision by the Supreme Court – took less than three weeks.  But in normal certiorari proceedings, “cases take approximately 12 to 24 months from the day they are petitioned until the Supreme Court issues a decision.”

On the other hand, the average schmuck trying to fix a decision in a state court must first “exhaust all state remedies” – which can take years – and such cases are rarely granted review.

At any rate, the fact that the three dissenting justices only felt the decision was rendered too quickly made me feel a bit better, and not so panicky.

At least for now…  In the meantime, consider this from one Thomas Jefferson:

…were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. 

I’ll be writing more reviews of The Post in the future.

*   *   *   *

Official Presidential portrait of Thomas Jefferson (by Rembrandt Peale, 1800).jpg

*   *   *   *

The upper image is courtesy of The Post (2017) – IMDb.  Text and/or images were also gleaned from  The Post (2017) – IMDb and Pentagon Papers – Wikipedia.

RE:  “That pain-in-the-ass part of the First Amendment.”   That Amendment states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;  or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Re:  The Pentagon Papers saying the Vietnam war was “unwinnable.”  The study also indicated that presidential administrations beginning with Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower also routinely lied to the American people as to why the war was necessary in the first place.

The photo to the right of the paragraph “To give some perspective,” is captioned “The Monday, July 21, 1969, edition, with the headline ‘The Eagle Has Landed’‍ – Two Men Walk on the Moon.” 

Re:  The “normal” length of time for Supreme Court proceedings.  See How long does a US Supreme Court case take – Answers.com:  “More commonly, cases take approximately 12 to 24 months from the day they are petitioned until the Supreme Court issues a decision.”  Re:  “Average schmuck” and “exhausting state remedies.”  See SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES, (courtesy of “law.cornell”), and U.S. Supreme Court: Failure to Exhaust Remedies Is an Affirmative Defense.  

And as another aside, Chief Justice Warren Burger also argued that the Times should have discussed the possible societal repercussions with the Government prior to publication of the material.

The lower image is courtesy of Thomas Jefferson – Wikipedia.  As to the quote, see also Jefferson’s preference for “newspapers without governmentJefferson on Politics & Government: Freedom of the Press, and/or Jefferson’s Warning to the White House | Time.com.

*   *   *   *

Re:  The Israelite.  Harry Golden wrote and published it from the 1940s through the 1960s.  He was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.”  (Another way of saying he told good stories.)  That also means if he was around today, the “Israelite would be done as a blog.”  But what made Harry special was his positive outlook on life.  As he got older but didn’t turn sour, like so many do today.  He still got a kick out of life.  And for more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.

On George McGovern’s “KMA” buttons…

Unlike many Republicans – past and present – George McGovern actually served his country…

*   *   *   *

It’s the Thursday after Christmas Day.  So those holidays are over, and the end of 2017 is near.  Which means it’s time to look back at 2017.  And for me especially, that means looking back at some draft blog-posts that I started this past year, but never got around to finishing.

One of the posts was on George McGovern and his famous “KMA” buttons.  But first a note:  In the 1972 presidential election, only about four people in America – including me – voted for McGovern.  Richard Nixon won in a landslide, but neither he nor Vice-president Spiro Agnew served out their terms of office.  (Agnew resigned in less than a year over allegations he took bribes as Governor of Maryland.  Nixon resigned over the Watergate Scandal in August 1974, illustrated above right.) 

Which means that my vote for McGovern in 1972 is one of the proudest moments of my life.

In case you’ve forgotten, that election in 1972 was famous for Republican dirty tricks.  (Including but not limited to the infamous “Canuck letter” that led to Ed Muskie’s tears of anger.)

But since then I’ve gotten used to underhanded Republican campaign tactics.  Like the fact that some stay-at-home conservatives in 1972 also took issue with McGovern’s service in World War II.  And just for the record, McGovern served in combat with the the 741st Squadron of the 455th Bombardment Group of the Fifteenth Air Force, stationed near Cerignola, Italy.

He was commissioned a pilot in the Army Air Forces and flew 35 missions over enemy territory.  He piloted a B‑24 Liberator that he named “the Dakota Queen,” in honor of his wife Eleanor.  (And won the Distinguished Flying Cross.)  

But my favorite story about George McGovern came much later in his life.  It happened late in the 1972 campaign and involved his confronting a heckler from the Richard Nixon camp.  (Though it was not Donald Segretti):

McGovern was giving a speech and a Nixon admirer kept heckling him.  McGovern called the young man over and whispered in his ear, “Listen, you son-of-a-bitch, why don’t you kiss my ass?”  The heckler confirmed this to an inquiring journalist and the remark was widely reported.  By the following night, “KMA” buttons were being worn by people in the crowds at McGovern rallies.  Several years later, McGovern observed Mississippi Senator James Eastland looking at him from across the Senate floor and chuckling to himself.  He subsequently approached McGovern and asked, “Did you really tell that guy in ’72 to kiss your ass?”  When McGovern smiled and nodded, Eastland replied, “That was the best line in the campaign.”

See McGovern presidential campaign, 1972 – Wikipedia.  And again just for the record, Senator James Eastland was a Democrat – like McGovern – but who supported the Conservative coalition, and was “known nationally as a symbol of Southern support for racial segregation.”  But this was when Southern Democrats were effectively Republicans:

Mississippi was effectively a one-party state, dominated by conservative white Democrats since the disfranchisement of African Americans with the passage of the 1890 state constitution.  The state used poll taxesliteracy tests and grandfather clauses to exclude African Americans from the political system.  Therefore, winning the Democratic nomination was tantamount to election.

But this was also a time when political rivals could “sup with their enemies.”  In the photo at right, Eastland shared a moment with noted northern liberal – and a very young – Ted Kennedy.

You can see this photo – or one much like it – at Kennedy got Senate assignments in boozy meeting (N.Y. Daily News, 9/30/15).  At the time Eastland chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee:

After he slammed three drinks, Kennedy staggered away with the three assignments he wanted the most…   “It’s quarter to eleven, and I’m barely able to get up.  So of course I go back to my office [and] walk in there smelling like a brewery.  Here’s our little senator, 30 years old; he’s been down here two weeks, and he’s stiff as a billy goat at 10 in the morning.”  Kennedy said Mississippi’s Sen. James Eastland poured him a drink as soon as he arrived to the 1963 meeting.  “Bourbon or scotch?” the chairman asked.

But of course Eastland’s legendary drinking – or Kennedy’s for that matter – is a whole ‘nother subject entirely.  The point is that back in the good old days, politicians still had a sense of humor.  (Even to the point of chuckling over an arch-enemy’s “best line in the campaign.”)

And in a very big sense politicians as a group were eminently more likeable than they are today.  (See also On Reagan, Kennedy – and “Dick the Butcher.”)  But the main point I’d like to make is that I wish George McGovern could have hung around long enough to run in the 2016 presidential election.  That way he could have told someone else to “kiss my ass!”

For that alone, George McGovern would have made a great president…

*   *   *   *

Donald Trump

*   *   *   *

The upper image is courtesy of George McGovern – Wikipedia.  In other versions of the “KMA” story, McGovern was appearing in Battle Creek, Michigan, on November 2, when a Nixon admirer heckled him.  McGovern told the heckler, “I’ve got a secret for you,” then said softly into his ear, “Kiss my ass.”  The incident was overheard and reported in the press, and became part of the tale of the campaign.  See also “George, Heckler Exchange Words”. The Spartanburg Herald. November 3, 1972. p. B8.  For an account of his passing – by Fox News – see Former Senator George McGovern, ’72 Democratic presidential nominee, dies at 90.  

Campaign trail.jpgFor still other takes on the 1972 campaign, see Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ‘7 – by Hunter Thompson and illustrated at left, The Boys on the Bus – and/or One Bright Shining Moment.  Also, reference was made to Boller, Paul F., Presidential Campaigns: from George Washington to George W. Bush, 2nd Edition, Oxford University Press, 2004, ISBN 0195167163, at page 340. 

And for one of my takes on Southern Democrats like Eastland , see Blue Dogs and the “Via Media.”  For yet another take on the politicians of yesteryear, see “Great politicians sell hope.”

The lower image is courtesy of businessinsider.com/donald-trump-has-been-fired.  I first used a smaller version in Reagan, Kennedy – and “Dick the Butcher,” but then used the photo as a “parting shot” in the December 15, 2017 post, On “Pyrrhic victories.” 

(There seems to be a trend here…)

On “Pyrrhic victories…”

The Battle of Bunker Hill,” one example of a Pyrrhic victory from our own American history…

*   *   *   *

Doug Jones Flag.jpgLast Monday – just before Tuesday’s special election in Alabama – the term “Pyrrhic victory” came to my mind – for some reason…

On the other hand, late that Tuesday evening – December 12 – you could have knocked me over with a feather(As in, to “shock, confuse, or astonish someone to a point of complete bewilderment.”  In the alternative, the idiom expresses “great bewilderment or surprise.”)  As to why, see Doug Jones beats Roy Moore in Alabama Senate race.

Which is another way of saying that I expected – or was afraid – that Roy Moore would win, possibly in a landslide.  (Because Alabamians don’t like “outsiders” telling them what to do, as my brother Bill predicted a week or so before the election.)   And that is another way of saying that if Moore got elected, it could have turned out to be a Pyrrhic victory for Republicans.

pyrrhic victories, romeThe name comes from King Pyrrhus of Epirus, an ancient Greek state in the western Balkans(Just east of the Italian peninsula.)  His army beat the Romans in two separate battles – one of which is illustrated at left – in 280 and 279 B.C.  But the wins came at a high cost.  While the Romans had more casualties, they also had a far greater pool of soldier-replacements.

Which gave rise to the name of a victory that “inflicts such a devastating toll” that it is tantamount to a defeat.  (The “heavy toll negates a true sense of achievement or profit.”)

You can check out four other such “victories” at 5 Famous Pyrrhic Victories – History Lists.  Interestingly enough, two such battles came in America, both within the last 250 years.  (Compared to the original, nearly 2,300 years ago.)  So maybe it’s time for a third? 

In the American Civil War there was the Battle of Chancellorsville, in 1863.  While often called Robert E. Lee‘s masterpiece, “it came with a massive price tag.”  That is, while the Union army had 4,000 more casualties – 17,000 to 14,000 – it too had a “far greater pool of replacement soldiers.”  (Like the Romans.)  More important, Lee lost his most trusted general, Stonewall Jackson (“Jackson was hit by friendly fire,” and Lee reportedly said “I have lost my right arm.”)

On the other side of the fence – so to speak – there was the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775:

The battle was a tactical, though somewhat Pyrrhic victory for the British, as it proved to be a sobering experience for them, involving many more casualties than the Americans had incurred, including a large number of officers.  The battle had demonstrated that inexperienced [American] militia were able to stand up to regular army troops in battle.

And that brings us back to last Tuesday’s special election.  Just as the Battle of Bunker Hill showed that inexperienced American militia could stand up to the vaunted British army regulars in battle, so last Tuesday’s election proved that a &^%#$ Democrat could get elected to the Senate in  &^%#$ Alabama!!!

Which brings up how that “pigs are flying” victory came about.  Or more specifically, why Roy Moore lost the election in Alabama.  The linked web article said – for one thing – that the “Alabama election was a warning:  appease the Trumpian, populist, nationalist movement at your peril.”  Then there was the article, Analysis: Why Trump will pay the political price for Roy Moore’s loss in Alabama.  As one professor said, “This is the first real evidence that a political backlash might be brewing to Trump-ian Republican politics.”

So maybe last Tuesday’s special election in Alabama wasn’t about Roy Moore at all.  Maybe it was more about Donald Trump and his “particular brand of magic” going stale.

So maybe – just maybe – we could post-date this spiel on Pyrrhic victories to November 8, 2016?

*   *   *   *

Donald Trump

*   *   *   *

The upper image is courtesy of Battle of Bunker Hill – Wikipedia.  The full caption:  “‘The Battle of Bunker Hill,’ by Howard Pyle, 1897.”

The Doug Jones image is courtesy of Doug Jones (attorney) – Wikipedia.

The “two separate battles” image is courtesy of 5 Famous Pyrrhic Victories – History Lists.

For more on such victories, see Urban Dictionary:  Pyrrhic victory, which included this suggestion:

The best example of a pyrrhic victory is in the anglo-zulu war, in which Ntshingwayo Khoza set 22,000 zulu warriors, about 55% of the male population of zululands to attack 1,400 British soldiers in a surprise attack at the Battle of Isandlwana.

See also Battle of Isandlwana – Wikipedia.

The “pigs are flying” image is courtesy of APG 146 – When Pigs Fly?airlinepilotguy.com.  See also Flying pig – Wikipedia, which defined the phrase in pertinent part as “an adynaton—a figure of speech so hyperbolic that it describes an impossibility.”  Note also that I used the image in “I dreamed I saw Don Trump last night,” posted on November 30, 2016.  (That post was an exercise in irony.)

The lower image is courtesy of businessinsider.com/donald-trump-has-been-fired.  See also, On Reagan, Kennedy – and “Dick the Butcher,” which included a smaller version of the photo. 

“Buen Camino!” – The Good Parts

A Pamplona monument to running with the bulls.   (Something that is not on my bucket list!)

*   *   *   *

Some people reading “Hola! Buen Camino*” might think I had a lousy time in my five weeks hiking the Camino de Santiago in Spain.  For example, there was my comment on the first 10 days – after starting in Pamplona – being “pretty miserable.  My left foot constantly throbbed, until it blistered up and got tough.”  And that it took about 10 days for that to happen.

But there were lots of good things that happened during those 30 days on the Camino…

21743239_361474040953373_4085132213676039775_nThe good times started with Pamplona itself, where my part of the hike began.  I had drinks – two separate times – at the Café Iruña(Immortalized by Ernest Hemingway in The Sun Also Rises.)  And before the hike started my brother and I spent a day sight-seeing.  (During which I took my own photo of the “running of the bulls” monument, at left…)

Then too, at the end of the first day’s hike we stayed at the Albergue Jakue, in Puente la Reina.  That was September 13, when we made 15 miles but didn’t reach the albergue until about 8:00 p.m.  The good part:  “They had a $13 dinner special,* which included wine.  I GOT MY MONEY’S WORTH!”  To explain:  The wine came in a serve-your-own set of three spigots, not unlike those for draft beer.  (Except for the privilege of “pouring your own.”)  

As I recall, there was a red wine, a white wine, and a rosé (And I noted that I had a good portion of each.  As added in my journal, “Did I mention that I got my money’s worth on the wine?”)

Perhaps fittingly – or preemptively – during that first day we had hiked up and over the 750-meter high Alto del Perdon(Also known as the “The Mount of Forgiveness.”)  And as the link at left says:

It is a very windy place, and a long winding climb.  The path is not very steep but feels tiring…  Maybe the weight of unforgiven sins on our shoulders?  Once the top of the hill is reached, [the pilgrim-hiker] is welcomed by these statues representing pilgrims, braving the wind to continue their chosen path.  (Emphasis in original.)

For myself I was mostly glad that some enterprising lady had a “cafe movil,” basically a truck-pulled trailer offering cold drinks.  And it was interesting to go “‘horsing’ around with some of the cut-out statuary at ‘the Peak…'”  (The Peak of Forgiveness that is, as shown above right.) 

This is also a good time to mention that dinners on the Camino were universally delicious.  Most of the albergues featured a three-course special, including a salad, main course and choice of desserts.  Which may explain why – even though people said I “looked thinner” when I got back home – I actually weighed the same 160 pounds as when I left.

Then on September 14 we stayed at the Albergue de Capuchin, a pilgrim’s hostel run by monks in a monastery:  “Though ‘Spartan’ it has wifi … and a shower, w/ washer/dryer and a restaurant downstairs.”  That was in Estella, not to be confused with Estrella, “a lager beer, brewed in BarcelonaSpain.”  (With which I became well acquainted, while in Spain.)

Getting back to the hike, September 16 “was tough. 17.3 miles, from Los Arcos to Logrono. We’re both limping this fine Sunday morning.  I have an unpopped blister on the ball of my left foot…  I put a bandaid on it.  Then duct-taped a gauze pad on top of that.”  But along the way we had gotten some “jamone” sandwiches to go, and later ate them in a copse next to the “Ermita del Poyo,” or Hermitage of the Virgin of Poyo (As shown above left.)  

And incidentally, those “jamone” sandwiches became pretty much part of our daily routine.  Jamone is “basically a cured ham, thin sliced and dark hued, with cheese, on a half loaf of French bread,” as I wrote.  I suppose the bread was actually “Spanish,” but either way it was very chewy, as was the jamone itself.  Which led me to ponder at one point during the hike, “I wonder what people with dentures do for lunch in Spain, what with the chewy sandwiches?”

One answer?  They probably go hungry!

And speaking of routines, breakfast had a routine as well.  Fresh-squeezed orange juice – one feature I do miss about Spain – along with café con leche and tostadas(As in toast, or “more French/Spanish chewy bread, toasted and spread with butter and marmalade.”)  But however routine those early meals of the day, “dinners on the Camino were universally delicious.”

Unfortunately I’m approaching the limits of an ideal blog post – 1,000 words or less – so I’ll have to wrap it up.  And what better way to wrap up an emphasis on the good parts of the Camino than the photo at right:  A “scene along the way:  A shepherd and his ‘flocking’ sheep.”

I took that picture on September 17, the fifth day of hiking.  And aside from a quaint shepherd and his flock, you can also see “some fellow Peregrinos in the background, walking along the road.”  That particular day featured a lot of hiking on macadam and asphalt highways, but with more than two months’ hindsight, the picture above right made it all worthwhile.

Plus I discovered – in just checking my hand-written notebook – some more good parts of the Camino.  I wrote on September 15, “Two nice Spanish ladies helped us today.  One came from behind and zipped up my pack.”  (As in the side pockets that I’d left unzipped.)  Then, “Another [lady] pointed us back to where ‘we’d’ made a wrong turn.  We had to hike across a field.”

I remember that.  While the Camino is normally well-marked, there are times when you can get lost.  We’d taken what we thought was the right path, but then discovered there were no other hikers around.  That’s when the Spanish lady took the time to point out the error of our ways.

But now I’m getting really close to the 1,000-word maximum.  So I’ll wrap up with the picture below, from the first day off we took from hiking.  We reached Burgos – with a population of some 180,000 – on Friday evening, September 22.  (After 10 days hiking.)  After checking into our swanky hotel, we went out for a bite at the Cafe Dolar, an American-themed pizza parlor.

It was quite the Friday-night hot spot, and featured American-movie posters on the walls and ceilings, and some old-timey advertising posters and such.  I had such a good time that I went back Saturday afternoon, for a quick cerveza.  And to take the picture below.  (You can see my yellow-shirted arm to the left in the mirror.)  It was almost like being home…  (But better.)

*   *   *   *

*   *   *   *

The upper image is courtesy of Pamplona – Wikipedia.  Caption: “Monument to running of the bulls.”

“Note” also that an asterisk in the main text indicates a statement supported by a reference detailed further in this “notes” section.  Thus, as to “Some people reading ‘Hola! Buen Camino*,'” the full reference is to the post dated October 23, 2017, “Hola! Buen Camino!” – Revisited.  (As opposed to the “primitive” post I did while on the Camino itself, “Hola! Buen Camino,” dated October 3, 2017.)  

And as to the “$13 dinner special,” that would have been 13 euros. 

On Roy Moore – and Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde Sarony.jpg

 Oscar Wilde in 1882, before he was sentenced to two years prison for “gross indecency…”

*   *   *   *

As a general rule it pays to remember our past history.  That’s good advice even when – and maybe especially when – that history isn’t all that glorious.  As Harry Truman once said, “The only thing new in the world is the history you don’t know.”  (See Harry Truman and his History Lessons.)  Which brings up Roy Moore – and Oscar Wilde.

Judge Roy Moore.jpgOne interesting aspect of Moore’s saga involves his weighing legal action against women accusing him of harassment(Other interesting aspects include his being “compared to Jesus.”  Or – in the alternative – to Joseph, who “courted” Mary when she was 14 years old.)

But let’s focus on his weighing legal action against his accusers.  And the fact that “Those who cannot remember the past are [often] condemned to repeat it.”

*   *   *   *

In 1895, Oscar Wilde was at the height of his fame.*  But that all came crashing down when he got into a dispute with the Marquess of Queensberry(The same guy who lent his “name to the ‘Queensberry Rules‘ that form the basis of modern boxing.”)  It started like this:

On 18 February 1895, the Marquess left his calling card at Wilde’s club, the Albemarle, inscribed: “For Oscar Wilde, posing somdomite” [sic].  Wilde … against the advice of his friends, initiated a private prosecution against Queensberry for libel, since the note amounted to a public accusation that Wilde had committed the crime of sodomy.

What happened next was a public scandal, and a media circus.

 It seems the Marquess of Queensberry was the father of Wilde’s lover – one of them anyway – Lord Alfred Douglas.  And after Wilde filed the lawsuit, the Marquess was arrested and charged with criminal libel.  So he and his lawyers went to work:

Queensberry could avoid conviction for libel only by demonstrating that his accusation was in fact true…  Queensberry’s lawyers thus hired private detectives to find [supporting] evidence…  They decided on a strategy of portraying Wilde as a depraved older man who habitually enticed naïve youths…

As noted, Wilde filed the lawsuit against the advice of friends, one of whom advised him to “flee to France.”  But he proceeded on, to a trial that “became a cause célèbre as salacious details” began to emerge in the press.  The trial itself began “amid scenes of near hysteria.”

A cartoon drawing of Wilde in a crowded courtroomLater, as the defense produced evidence to support the accusations, Wilde decided to drop the prosecution:

Queensberry was found not guilty, as the court declared that his accusation that Wilde was “posing as a Somdomite” [sic] was justified, “true in substance and in fact.”  Under the Libel Act 1843, Queensberry’s acquittal rendered Wilde legally liable for the considerable expenses Queensberry had incurred in his defence, which left Wilde bankrupt.

But wait, there was more!!!

Even as Wilde was leaving court, an arrest warrant was applied for, against him.  Again friends advised him to take a fast boat to France, but it was too late.  Or as Wikipedia put it:  The libel trial unearthed evidence that led to Wilde’s “own arrest and trial for gross indecency.”

To make a long story short, Wilde was sentenced to two years hard labor.  And when he tried to speak, his voice was drowned out by cries of “‘Shame’ in the courtroom.”

Wilde was imprisoned first in Pentonville Prison and then Wandsworth Prison in London.  Inmates followed a regimen of “hard labour, hard fare and a hard bed,” which wore very harshly on Wilde…   His health declined sharply, and in November he collapsed during chapel from illness and hunger…    He spent two months in the infirmary…   Richard B. Haldane, the Liberal MP and reformer, visited him and had him transferred in November to Reading Prison…  The transfer itself was the lowest point of his incarceration, as a crowd jeered and spat at him on the railway platform.

When Wilde was released from prison – in May 1897 – he sailed immediately to France and never returned to England.  He spent his last three years “in impoverished exile.”  Despite that, and though his “health had suffered greatly from the harshness and diet of prison, he had a feeling of spiritual renewal.”  Among other works, in exile he wrote and partially published De Profundis, a letter “from the depths” based on Psalm 130(Of which more in the Notes.)

So maybe there’s some hope for Roy Moore yet…

*   *   *   *

The point is that in a few short years Oscar Wilde went from the highest acclaim to cries of “shame” in the courtroom.  And it all came about based on an ill-advised lawsuit that should never have been filed.  (And of which Roy Moore may want to take notice.)  Further, when Wilde was transferred to “Reading Gaol,” a crowd gathered to jeer and spit at him.

And now he brings tourists to Dublin, the city of his birth…

(Which leads to the question:  Will the same happen to GadsdenAlabama, Roy Moore’s birthplace?)

*   *   *   *

*   *   *   *

The upper image is courtesy of Oscar Wilde – Wikipedia, with the caption:  “Photograph taken in 1882 by Napoleon Sarony.” 

“Note” also that an asterisk in the main text indicates a statement supported by a reference detailed further in this “notes” section.  Thus, as to Wilde “at the height of his fame:”  Throughout the 1880’s Wilde was a popular London playwright.  He was noted for his epigrams – his “witty, ingenious or pointed sayings” – and a novel The Picture of Dorian Gray.  Then there were the plays, including a “masterpiece,” The Importance of Being Earnest.  Also:

He wrote Salome (1891) in French in Paris but it was refused a licence for England due to the absolute prohibition of Biblical subjects on the English stage.  Unperturbed, Wilde produced four society comedies in the early 1890s, which made him one of the most successful playwrights of late Victorian London

The “media circus” image is courtesy of Media Circusdavejay.com.

The lower image is courtesy of Wikipedia: “Statue of Oscar Wilde in Merrion Square, Dublin.”  

*   *   *   *

A final note:  This post borrowed extensively from a post in my other blog, On Oscar Wilde and Psalm 130.  The following is a summary of the highlights of that post:

Between January and March 1897, near the end of his prison term, Wilde wrote a letter.

The letter was sent from “Reading Gaol to Lord Alfred Douglas.”  The title of the letter was De Profundus.  Psalm 130 is one of the “Penitential psalms.”  In English it begins:  “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!”  The Latin for “out of the depths” is De Profundus, and that’s where the title comes from.  See De Profundis (letter) – Wikipedia

In other words, [Wilde] “lost everything dear to him,” but didn’t blame external forces.  [Take note, Roy.]  The letter quoted Isaiah 53:3  He was despised and rejected by mankind, and [Wilde] came to see “Christ as a Romantic artist.”  In a word, instead of blaming other people, Wilde “rather absorb[ed] his hardships through the artistic process into a spiritual experience.”  See Oscar WildeDe Profundis, and also Voices from Solitary: Oscar Wilde’s Cry from the Depths.

Incidentally, Wilde had to publish his last work, “Reading Gaol,” under an assumed name:

The finished poem was published by Leonard Smithers in 1898 under the name C.3.3., which stood for cell block C, landing 3, cell 3.  This ensured that Wilde’s name – by then notorious – did not appear on the poem’s front cover…   It was a commercial success, going through seven editions in less than two years…

So again, maybe there’s some hope for Roy Moore yet…

This time last year – 11/8 and 11/13/16

From last November 13:  “Are you telling me Donald Trump just got elected president?”

*   *   *   *

It’s mid-November, and so it’s time to start taking stock of the year just past.  (And what a year it’s been!)  Which brings up “last year at this time.”  Specifically, two posts from this time last year:  Trump made me a Contrarian,* and “Trump is like a box of chocolates.”  (Published November 8 and 13, 2016, respectively.)  The “Chocolates” post noted a prediction that – having been elected – Trump would be impeached.  But not by Democrats, by Republicans:

They [Republicans] don’t want Trump as president, because they can’t control him.  He’s unpredictable. They’d love to have Pence – an absolutely down-the-line, conservative, controllable Republican…  “Mike Pence in the White House would put a more trusted establishment Republican in the job.”  (E.A.)

That post also asked if Donald Trump would be “the new Simon Legree” – as noted in the Classic Comics image above left – but that’s a whole ‘nother story altogether.

A man is at the center of the image smiling into the camera. He is sitting on a blue crate and has his hands resting on his legs.The “box of chocolates” post further discussed my being turned into a Contrarian – defined in part as a “moderate with a ‘tude” – both by the election itself and the uncertainty as to what kind of president Trump would turn out to be.  And that brings up what Tom Hanks meant when he said “Life is like a box of chocolates:”

When you open a box of chocolates, there is a variety of flavors available.  Problem is, since they are covered in chocolate, you can’t really tell what any given piece of chocolate is going to taste like…  The real lesson:  you take what life gives you and you learn to deal with it, because – as they say – that’s life.

I wondered if Trump might “evolve into something neither his ardent supporters nor his rabid opponents expect.”  I also wondered if “Showman Donald Trump” had actually played his “far-right conservative” supporters “like a piano.”  And finally, I wondered if – given “Donald Trump’s chameleon-like shifting political positions” – he would “eventually be seen as an ‘effective elected official,’ or a funhouse showman?”

It seems the jury is still out on those questions.  (At least to some people.) 

But no matter:  I resolved in the “box of chocolates” post that I would “be a cheerful Contrarian.”  Which brings up the Trump made me a Contrarian post.  I published that on the night of last year’s election – and before the final results came in.

I started off by noting that I used to be all “moderate and nicey-nicey.”  I used to say – or at least think – things like, “Let’s not rush to judgment!”  Or, “Let’s wait until we get all the facts before we say anything that might be taken the wrong way!”

However, when dealing with people like Trump supporters, that “moderate, reasoned, common-sense approach will get you nothing but bowled over.”  (In the sense of hearing something so “whacked” that you are rendered temporarily speechless with disbelief.)

And that’s because they “use the 8-track tape mode of political discourse:”

The thing about 8-tracks was that they never stopped.  You never got to the end.  They used a “continuous loop” system, which is why they didn’t have a rewind option.  As long as you played the tape, you got the same thing over and over again.  The same “data,” the same songs played in the same order over and over again.

Which I thought was much like “trying to have a meaningful conversation” with a Trumpster.  That led to one definition of Contrarian as a former moderate who has to “take a position directly opposite the person we’re talking to just to get a &^%$ word in edge-wise!”

You could also refer to it as having to “out-wacko the wackos.”  And that’s turning out to be a skill that we former “moderates” are definitely going to need in the years ahead.

The good news is that having to “out-wacko the wackos” isn’t all that difficult, and can be fun.  (In a weird, other-worldly sense.)  Which is another way of saying that being a Contrarian means learning how to make a snappy comeback.  But because Trumpsters tend to make the same arguments over and over again, your “moderate” or “Contrarian” snappy comebacks don’t have to be all that snappy.  “You can plan your snappy comebacks way ahead of time.”

Which translates to:  “Bless those Trumpsters and their 8-track political arguments…” 

*   *   *   *

“Factory optional 8-track stereo player … between the center console and dash…”

*   *   *   *

The upper image is courtesy of Forrest Gump (1994) – IMDb.  See also Forrest Gump – Wikipedia, and Life is like a box of chocolates – Wiktionary.  The latter indicated that the book “Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami, first published in Japanese in 1987, and in English in 1989, has the following: ‘Just remember, life is like a box of chocolates.’”  (Some seven years before the movie.)

“Note” also that an asterisk in the main text indicates a statement supported by a reference detailed further in this “notes” section.  Thus, as to the “Contrarian” post, the full title of the post for November 8, 2016, was ‘Mi Dulce’ – and Donald Trump – made me a Contrarian.”  “Mi Dulce” was my pet name for the woman I was dating at the time.  However, that relationship is now defunct, for reasons possibly including her status as a Trumpster, then and since.

The “Legree” image is courtesy of Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Wikipedia.  The full caption:  “Simon Legree on the cover of the comic book adaptation of ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ (Classic Comics No. 15, November 1943 issue).”  The article added:  “It is unclear if Legree is based on any actual individuals.  Reports surfaced after the 1870s that [Harriet BeecherStowe had in mind a wealthy cotton and sugar plantation owner named Meredith Calhoun, who settled on the Red River north of Alexandria, Louisiana.  Generally, however, the personal characteristics of Calhoun (‘highly educated and refined’) do not match the uncouthness and brutality of Legree.”  

The “Gump-in-uniform” image is courtesy of Forrest Gump – Wikipedia.

The lower image is courtesy of 8-track tape – Wikipedia.  The full caption:  “Factory optional 8-track stereo player in a 1967 American Motors (AMC) vehicle mounted between the center console and dash.”  The article added:  “The format is regarded as an obsolete technology, and was relatively unknown outside the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Japan.”

“Hola! Buen Camino!” – Revisited

My completed pilgrimage started at Pamplona, at lower right, for miles of hiking and biking…

*   *   *   *

Well, we did it.  My brother and I arrived in Santiago de Compostela on Thursday, October 12.  This was after hiking – and biking – the Camino de Santiago, as shown in the map above.  Along the way I occasionally listened to my iPod Shuffle – to help pass the time – and one of my favorite songs was It’s a Long Way to Tipperary.  Except in my mind I had to change the words to “It’s a long way to Santiago!”

*   *   *   *

I did my last post from Puente La Reina, in Spain – “about eight miles shy of León” – on October 3, 2017.  For reasons including that I only had my tablet, the post was extremely primitive.  But it did note that – upon reaching Leon – “we will have hiked 250 miles from Pamplona, in the 21 days since we left on September 13.*”  Here’s what I also noted:

The first 10 days after [Pamplona] – on the hike – were pretty miserable.  My left foot constantly throbbed, until it blistered up and got tough.  But the day off in Burgos helped a lot.  And since then we’ve made good progress.  Still, we had to implement a Plan B, which involves renting bikes in Leon and cycling the remaining 194 miles.

Image may contain: sky and outdoorAnd speaking of Burgos, here’s a picture of the city’s famous cathedral.  It shows my fellow traveller, and was taken on the morning of September 26, on the way out of town.  (That took over an hour, hiking.)

To make a long story short, we covered the last 195 miles or so in seven days, riding mountain bikes, complete with panniers on the back.  In other words, during the first two-thirds of the trip we averaged 12  miles a day, hiking.  In the last seven days we averaged closer to 28 miles a day.

But in a way that turned out to be simply a variety of Dorothy Parker‘s “different kind of hell.*”  (We just got way too sore again, but in different parts of the body.)

You can get a better idea from the map at the top of the page.  It took ten days to hike from Pamplona to Burgos, where we too our first day off.  It took another 10 days to reach Leon, where we took our second day off and picked up our pre-ordered bikes.  Then that long section from Leon to Burgos – some 195 miles of the 450 – we covered in seven days.

But not without mishap.  Neither one of us had ridden a bike in 40 or 50 years, so it wasn’t really surprising when my right handlebar took out – smashed the heck out of – the side-view mirror of some poor slob’s nice new car.*  In the second mishap I literally “ran my ass into a ditch…”

We were zooming downhill one afternoon.  I tried to adjust my left pantleg, and the next thing I knew I was laying in a ditch, bleeding like a stuck pig.  And not just any ditch.  A nice deep ditch covered with thorns and brambles on the sides and bottom.  The “stuck pig” part came when my Ray-Bans gashed the bridge of my nose, causing it to bleed profusely…

The third major mishap came a mere six kilometers from Santiago, when my rear tire when flat.

We finally got a new tube on and inflated, but then had a time getting the chain back on the derailleur.  I finally flagged down a passing Spanish cyclist.  He helped get that straight, but then – after he peddled his merry way – we found out there were no rear brakes, which posed a problem.  We knew that much of the remaining six kilometers was downhill, and also that if applied too forcefully, using front-only brakes can cause a cyclist to go “ass over teakettle.”

So my brother had us switch bikes, and we both glided – carefully and gingerly – into Santiago.

I’ll be writing on more of these adventures, including the several times I – or we – got Lost in Spain.  But after five weeks in Spain – the last part of which included a nine-hour bus ride from Santiago to Madrid, and a 10-hour flight from Madrid to Atlanta – I can only say, with feeling:

There’s No Place Like Home!!

*   *   *   *

There is indeed “no place like home” (especially after a long pilgrimage…)

*   *   *   *

The upper image is courtesy of Camino de Santiago 800 PROJECT: Map of the Routesilverarrow18.blogspot.com.  

The “Tipperary” image is courtesy of It’s a Long Way to Tipperary – Wikipedia.

“Note” also that an asterisk in the main text indicates a statement supported by a reference detailed further in this “notes” section.  Thus as to the asterisk next to the passage “the 21 days since we left on September 13:”  We actually reached Leon on October 4. 

Re: Fellow traveller.  Here referring to a person who is “intellectually sympathetic” – in this case, to the crazy idea of spending thousands of dollars and five weeks to hike in a foreign country – as opposed to the term as used in U.S. politics in the 1940s and 1950s.  At that time and place the term was a “pejorative term for a person who was philosophically sympathetic to Communism, yet was not a formal, ‘card-carrying member‘ of the American Communist Party.” 

Young Dorothy Parker.jpgRe:  “Different kind of hell.”  The allusion is to Dorothy Parker‘s famously saying – whenever the door rang in her apartment – “What fresh hell is this?”  That’s also the title of Parker’s 1989 biography by Marion Meade.  See Amazon.com: Dorothy Parker: What Fresh Hell Is This?  

Re:  “Some poor slob’s nice new car.”  City streets in Spain are generally very narrow and difficult to maneuver. 

The “bicycle in a ditch” image is courtesy of Cyclist falls into ditch at opening of new safer bike path …telegraph.co.uk.

The lower image is courtesy http://f3nation.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/no-place-like-home.jpg.   See also No Place Like Home – Wikipedia, which noted that – aside from the famous line in the movie Wizard of Oz – the phrase may also refer to “the last line of the 1822 song ‘Home! Sweet Home!,’ words by John Howard Payne and music by Sir Henry Bishop; the source of inspiration for the other references here: ‘Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home,’” and/or “‘(There’s No Place Like) Home for the Holidays,’ a 1954 Christmas song most famously sung by Perry Como.”  For a “live” version, see also There’s No Place Like Home – YouTube.

“Hola! Buen Camino!”

It's_a_Long_Way_to_Tipperary_-_cover_2

I’m now in Puente Villarente, about eight miles shy of Leon.  (In Spain, on the Camino de Santiago.) By the time we get there – tomorrow – we will have hiked 250 miles from Pamplona, in the 21 days since we left on September 13. (We took a day off in Burgos.) Unfortunately my tablet isn’t good for the usual high-quality posts, so for now I’ll try this more-primitive version.

The image above refers to one of the favorite songs on my iPod Shuffle. The one I sneak out every once in a while, “on the march.” But I’ve changed the words to “It’s a long way to Santiago!” (Santiago de Compostela that is.)

IMG_20170912_144540

Here’s a picture from Pamplona, showing two “turistas” in front of a statue commemorating the annual running of the bulls. It seems like an eternity ago.

The first 10 days after that – on the hike – were pretty miserable. My left foot constantly throbbed, until it blistered up and got tough. But the day off in Burgos helped a lot. And since then we’ve made good progress. Still, we had to implement a Plan B, which involves renting bikes in Leon and cycling the remaining 194 miles.

But for now we’re happily ensconced in Puente Villarente, a city named for the old Roman bridge shown below.

I’ll try to either update or add some such primitive posts, but if not, I’ll be back home on or about October 17.

IMG_20171003_142757

 

Going back “whence we came…”

I’m going east to explore Spain.  (That’s where Columbus – center – started west to explore us…)

*   *   *   *

Within 48 hours I’ll be winging my way from Atlanta to Madrid (As in Spain, and as indicated in Training for the Camino.)  From there I’ll be taking a train to Pamplonafrom whence my brother and I will hike 450 miles in 30 days, on the Camino de Santiago.  Which brings up the whole “whence we came” thing.  (As illustrated at right, and in the title of this post.)

That phrase is attributed – variously – to John F. KennedyJames Baldwin, and Jesus.

Jesus said – in the King James Version of John 8:14 – “I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go.”  John F. Kennedy put it this way:  “When we go back to the sea … we are going back from whence we came.”  And James Baldwin said, “If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.”

Which pretty much sums up the whole idea of going on a pilgrimage.  As in – for example – going for a 450-mile hike on the Camino de Santiago. (As shown at left, in an illustration from a far earlier time.)

Or, as Pope (Emeritus) Benedict XVI put it:

To go on pilgrimage is not simply to visit a place to admire its treasures of nature, art or history.  To go on pilgrimage really means to step out of ourselves in order to encounter God where he has revealed himself…  Above all, Christians go on pilgrimage [for example] to Compostela, which, associated with the memory of Saint James, has welcomed pilgrims from throughout the world who desire to strengthen their spirit with the Apostle’s witness of faith and love.

The point of all this being that – in going to Spain – I’ll be going back to the place where the whole American Saga really began.  (As illustrated in the painting at the top of the page.)  That saga – the American Journey – began when one Chris Columbus met “Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon.”  I.e., back “whence we all came.”

Metaphorically or otherwise…

But there is one problem.  In preparing for the trip, I found out that I know very little about Spain as it is today.  For example, I didn’t know that Spain is now both a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy.  (One of “19 full democracies in the world.”)

I also didn’t know about the Iberian Wolf – at right – but there’s more on that later.

More to the point, I didn’t have much of an idea of what kind of sections or provinces of Spain that I’d be hiking through.

But I know now – through the magic of Googling – that my portion of the 450-mile Camino-hike will go through the four most-northerly regions of Spain:  NavarraLa RiojaCastilla y Leon, and Galicia.

(My brother will be hiking further:  Over the Pyrenees – from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France – and meeting up with me in Pamplona.  So he’ll do 500 miles and I’ll do 450 miles.  But personally I had enough mountain hiking last August.  See On the Chilkoot &^%$# Trail! – Parts One  and Two.)

So anyway, the capital of the first province on our mutual journey – Navarra (Navarre) – is Pamplona.  This – it is said – is “a quiet and pleasant city … world-famous for the Running of Bulls which form part of its most famous festival, Sanfermines, in July.”  (And as immortalized in The Sun Also Rises, the 1926 novel by American author Ernest Hemingway.)

Wine with the La Rioja Designation of Origin © La Rioja TurismoThe La Rioja region also has one province, of the same name.   The “smallest of Spain’s Autonomous Communities,” the first thing that comes to mind for La Rioja is “probably the wine bearing the same name.”  (Memo to self:  Do more research on this topic.)  

Along the Way of Saint James there are monumental towns of great beauty lined up:  Calahorra, Arnedo, San Millan de la Cogolla,Santo Domingo de la Calzada, and Logroño, founded already by Romans and today the region’s capital.

The next region – Castilla y Leon – is not only the largest region of Spain, it’s also “the largest region of all the European Union.”  And it’s actually two regions in one:  “Castilla and Leon came together in 1983, when the regions of Castilla la Vieja and Leon were united.”

The 450-mile hike ends in Galicia, the region “known in Spain as the ‘land of the 1000 rivers.'”  It has four provinces:  Lugo, Ourense, Pontevedra and A Coruña.  The capital of the latter province is – as we well know by now  – Santiago de Compostela.  And that’s the “final destination of the famous pilgimage way” and “certainly among Spain’s most beautiful cities.”

In closing this post, I’m not sure when I’ll get to do another one before I get home  That is, I’m not sure how safe, secure and user-friendly are the “public” wi-fi connections in Spain.

But in the meantime, consider the following little tidbits of information:

*   *   *   *

The region of Spain where my brother and I will be hiking…

The “approximate geographical range of the Iberian wolf…” 

IberianWolf-Map.png

And finally, an “Alpha male Iberian wolf with blood stains in its snout:”

Just Sayin’!

*   *   *   *

The upper image is courtesy of Spain – Wikipedia.  The caption:  “Christopher Columbus meets Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon in the Alhambra.”

Re:  “Whence.”  The Kennedy-quote image is courtesy of To sail or to watch – we are going back from whence we camequotefancy.com.  Kennedy made the comments at the “Dinner for the America’s Cup Crews,” on September 14, 1962.  Here’s the full quote:

I really don’t know why it is that all of us are so committed to the sea, except I think it’s because in addition to the fact that the sea changes, and the light changes, and ships change, it’s because we all came from the sea.  And it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears.  We are tied to the ocean.  And when we go back to the sea – whether it is to sail or to watch it – we are going back from whence we came.

Re:  “American Journey.”  See also The American Journey: A History of the United States, the text book, not to be confused with American Journey, the “six-part orchestral composition” composed by John Williams and “commissioned by U.S. President Bill Clinton to accompany a multimedia presentation titled ‘The Unfinished Journey’ directed by Steven Spielberg for the 2000 ‘Millennium‘ celebrations.”

Re:  “Back ‘whence we all came.'”  Yeah, I know, the Vikings Beat Columbus to America, but they didn’t stick around very long.  See Norse colonization of North America – Wikipedia:  

The Norse colony in Greenland lasted for almost 500 years.  Continental North American settlements were small and did not develop into permanent colonies.  While voyages, for example to collect timber, are likely to have occurred for some time, there is no evidence of any lasting Norse settlements on mainland North America.

Information on the “northerly regions of Spain” was gleaned from Regions of SPAIN – All about Spain.

The “wolf” image is also courtesy of the Wikipedia article on Spain.  The caption, “Iberian Wolf.”  The caption for that link indicates that the Iberian Wolf is “a subspecies of grey wolf that inhabits the forest and plains of northern Portugal and northwestern Spain.  The 2003 census estimated the total Iberian population to be 2,000 wolves.”  The article further indicated that “Iberian wolf lives in small packs.  It is considered to be beneficial because it keeps the population of wild boar stable, thus allowing some respite to the endangered capercaillie populations which suffers greatly from boar predation.  It also eats rabbitsroe deerred deeribexes and even small carnivores and fish.  In some places it eats domestic animals such as sheep and dogs.”

The “La Rioja” image is courtesy of Tourism in La Rioja (Province) in Spain | Visit La Rioja.  The caption:  “Wine with the La Rioja Designation of Origin © La Rioja Turismo.”

Note again that the map above – showing the “Approximate geographical range of the Iberian wolf” – roughly coincides to where I’ll be hiking.  See e.g. the top map in Training for the Camino.

Also, note that the idea of Columbus starting “west to explore us” is a bit of Artistic License.

Training for the Camino

My projected route will start at Pamplona, at the lower right, for some 450 miles of hiking…

*   *   *   *

Some three weeks from now I’ll be winging my way from Atlanta to Madrid.*  (As in Spain.)  I’ll arrive at 8:30 Saturday morning, after an all-night flight.  (And no doubt suffering from jet lag.)

The bad news?  “Travelling east causes more problems than travelling west because the body clock has to be advanced, which is more difficult.”  Also, if you cross six time zones – like I’ll be doing – “the body will typically adjust to this time change in three to five days.”  By which time I’m supposed to be in Pamplona, getting ready to hike 450 miles, in 30 days, on the Camino de Santiago.

*   *   *   *

And now for some background:  Last year at this time I was training for a four-day “hike” on the Chilkoot Trail.  I was also training for a canoe trip.  That canoe trip came after the Chilkoot-Trail hike, and entailed my brother and I paddling 440 miles “down” the Yukon River,* in Canada.

I described those adventures in On the Chilkoot &^%$# Trail! – Part 1 and Part 2, and in “Naked lady on the Yukon.”  (As metaphorically illustrated at right.)

The “Chilkoot” was pretty much a nightmare.  For one thing, it’s not a trail at all.  It’s more like one big pile of &^%#$ rocks after another.  But I’m glad I did it.

I’m also glad my brother and I canoe-paddled 440 miles “down” the Yukon River, from Whitehorse  to Dawson City.  (For reasons including but not limited to the “naked lady” sighting described in my prior posts.)  So now I’m ready for a new adventure.

For one thing, between last summer and now we’ve had a contentious presidential election, and an even more contentious beginning-of-the-Trump Administration.  So my new adventure in Spain is a chance to get away from it all.  Then too, I’ve tried to keep pace with all the resulting mayhem since last August, but to no avail.  (For one thing I was going to do a post on a “Bizarro Trump.”  But that’s been impossible because it’s hard to tell the Bizarro version from the real thing.)  So I’ve decided to focus on some things I can actually have an impact on.

Things like my upcoming pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago.  (Where I’ll meet up my brother in Pamplona, but not during the “running of the bulls, as seen at left.)

And incidentally, the map at the top of the page is courtesy of Camino de Santiago 800 PROJECT.  That post described a 14-day trip on the Camino, starting at Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port.  But that guy and his travel-buddy covered the 500 miles on bicycles, not on foot.  (Though traveling on bikes could be a fallback position for us:  “an alternative course of action that may be taken if the original plan fails.”)

Other sites with good advice include Preparing for the Camino and Training for the Camino.

Then there’s Camino de Santiago – Helping pilgrims since 2004, and – for some “devil’s advocate” feedback – a post called 10 Reasons Why El Camino Santiago Sucks.

Among the reasons the Camino “sucks:” Car traffic within earshot 95% of the time, monotonous scenery and unfriendly commercialism.  But apparently the biggest reason:

It’s hard to take a piss.  There’s little privacy. Cars and pilgrims are constantly passing you by.  After 3 p.m. most pilgrims retire to their albergues (huts) and you’ll get more privacy to do your business.  Nevertheless, at 7 p.m. one jogger still managed to catch me with my pants down.  [Emphasis in original.]

13 Dead Horse GulchWhich could be a personal problem.  And for that matter there was also very little privacy on the Chilkoot Trail.

But as I described the situation in The Chilkoot – Part 1, that was more of a problem of “cursing my fate” rather than answering a call of nature.  (See the notes…)

Then too, I ran into a similar problem kayaking into the Okefenokee Swamp – twice – for overnight camping trips.  But in that case it was a matter of no solid ground – in the swamp – for you to get out and stand up.  (For whatever reason.)

But we were talking about “training for the Camino.”  For starters, there’s a boatload of paperwork:  Making sure your passport is up-to-date, and has at least three months left after your projected departure date.  (Departure back home from Spain that is.)  Getting your pilgrim’s “credencial.”  Booking your air line flight.  Getting travel insurance.  Getting your pack ready, and making sure it weighs no more than 10% of your body weight.  (For me, 16 pounds.)

You could get all the necessary prep-info from the websites noted above, or other informative sites. Or, you could have an ex-Marine Sgt. Rock-type older brother who’s done the research already.

And sent a number of informative emails, plus a 4-page single-spaced “to-do list” to check before you leave.  (Not to mention a note saying, “I hope you’re saving this information I’m passing on…”) 

As to getting ready to hit the trail itself, the hardest part is getting your feet ready.  (Like the hardest part of getting ready to paddle six hours a day for eight days is getting your wrists and hands in shape.)  To that end, I’ve been hiking 12 or more miles a day, once a week, for the last several months.  And making sure my feet are in good enough shape the next morning to hike another five or six hours.  And for the past several weeks I’ve been doing my weekly hikes on the Pine Mountain Trail, near F.D. Roosevelt State Park, near Warm Springs, GA.

But there’s a big difference.  The Pine Mountain Trail is – I hope – far more rugged than the Camino.  Lots of roots, boulders, sheer drop-offs and slippery-rock streams to cross.  On the other hand the Camino seems to be more smooth and level, or asphalt-paved.

Naturally I’ll be doing a post-mortem in this blog, once I get home.  So “we” will see if my hike-training preparations were adequate.  But in the meantime it pays to look ahead.  And looking ahead to some time on the weekend of October 14-15 – some seven and a half weeks from now – I hope to catch a glimpse of of our final destination, shown below.  That would be Santiago de Compostela, whether the “Pico Sacro*” is in the background or foreground.

*   *   *   *

“A partial view of Santiago de Compostela, with the Pico Sacro in the background…”

*   *   *   *

The upper image is courtesy of Camino de Santiago 800 PROJECT: Map of the Routesilverarrow18.blogspot.com.  

“Note” also that an asterisk in the main text indicates a statement supported by a reference detailed further in this “notes” section.  Thus as to the asterisk next to the passage “from Atlanta to Madrid:” The image is courtesy of the Wikipedia article on Spain, including a link to the Spanish Civil War (1936-39).  The caption indicated the words “No pasaran” translate to “They shall not pass.”  The caption further noted a sub-title on the banner, that “Madrid will be the graveyard of fascism.”  And finally, the caption noted that “Fascism was on rise in Europe during Spanish Civil War,” which somehow seemed appropriate…

Also, re:  “‘down’ the Yukon River.”  As explained in the “naked lady” post, the Yukon flows north, like the Nile River but unlike most other rivers in the world.  Thus the anomaly of saying you are paddling “down” a river, but also paddling northward, which most people refer to as “up.”  See The Straight Dope: On maps, why is north always up?

Re:  “Cursing my fate.”  See On the Chilkoot &^%$# Trail! – Part 1:

What with my lack of depth perception, going over “one big pile of *&$% rocks after another” was like negotiating a minefield.  I wore heavy hiking boots, but they felt like ballet slippers. Every step was sheer torture…  I had just taken one of many missteps – especially bad that day – and let loose a string of pungent epithets. Then I looked behind me and there – climbing “personfully” behind me – was [a] sweet young [lady hiker].  Sheepishly I apologized, noting that I had “no depth perception.”

Also re:  The Camino.  See also Camino de Santiago – Wikipedia.

The image to the right of the paragraph “But as I described the situation,” shows “Dead Horse Trail,” so named for the number of horses who died on White Pass, the only alternative route to the Klondike gold fields in the 1898 gold rush.  As to which route was better – White Pass or the Chilkoot Trail –  “a pioneer – Mont Hawthorne – said there really was no choice:  “One’s hell.  The other’s damnation.”  

The “Sgt. Rock” image is courtesy of Sgt Rock Wallpapernocturnals.com.

The lower image is courtesy of Santiago de Compostela – Wikipedia.  As to “Pico Sacro,” see Pico Sacro | Web Oficial de Turismo de Santiago de Compostela, which added these points:

The history of the municipality of Boqueixón is closely linked to its main geographic landmark and greatest natural and cultural resource:  Pico Sacro, one of Galicia’s most mythical and best-known mountains.

Pico Sacro’s silhouette is a scenic point of reference in a wide-ranging area.

Pico Sacro is the source of countless legends and traditional tales.  The region’s inhabitants venerated the mountain before and after the arrival of Christianity, and it plays an essential role in the myth regarding the transfer of the Apostle James’ body.  It has a peculiar shape formed by rocks of crystallized quartz and a height of 533 metres above sea level.