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Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Caretaker's Concern for 8/26/2010

TCC for 8/26/10:

Photo from this morning, only so-so, and not even really that:

Yesterday, the wind on the Lake died down around mid-afternoon so the Caretaker took the opportunity to go for a row in the scull, other than the boat wakes it was a pretty smooth row. While on the water the Caretaker passed two people in a canoe who clearly didn't know what they were doing, they were paddling the canoe backwards, it made for a funny sight that made the Caretaker laugh. He thought about telling them that they might find it easier to control the canoe if they turned around in their seats but in the end he decided against it because if they didn't know enough to tell the bow from the stern when two people are in a canoe with seats then they most certainly would not likely be able to turn around in their seats while out on the water without flipping the canoe over. Being in a rowing scull the Caretaker was in no position help steady their canoe while they turned around in their seats, the Caretaker in the end said nothing, although he could have suggested that they return to shore and make the change but he didn't. Not long after that the Caretaker rowed passed the new town pier and who does he see but G.G. so the Caretaker stopped rowing and chewed the fat a bit with G.G.

Later in the evening, just at nightfall, the Caretaker was taking a shower when started to hear a male voice screaming and yelling intermittently. He stepped out of the shower and went out to the North Boathouse dock to see if he could determine where the sound was coming from, to the Caretaker's ears it sounded as though this person had been lit on fire, perhaps from using too much lighter fluid. All he could tell was that the sound was coming from over on the West shore, where exactly he could not determine, after hearing no more of the screams the Caretaker returned to his shower, he found the incident to be a touch disturbing but figured that since it was over on the mainland if this person needed first aid they would get it.

That's about it for yesterday.

Since there isn't much as far as new photos the Caretaker has decided to repost some of his favorite floral shots:

So, back in early July the Caretaker was over in town doing his laundry when he noticed a flier advertising that the Adirondack Shakespeare Company would be performing three of Shakespeare's plays three times each over the course of three weeks: As You Like It, Romeo & Juliet, and Macbeth. The first and the last are the Caretaker's favorite Shakespeare plays. There and then the Caretaker decided he would make a point to take in one performance each of As You Like It and Macbeth, it had been quite a while since he'd been up to Schroon Lake and it would be good for the Caretaker to get off the Island for a few hours. Not to mention it had been a long time since he'd seen a performance of Shakespeare's work, the last time was in 1999 out in Arizona.

July 16th rolls around and the Caretaker heads up to Schroon Lake to catch the first performance of As You Like It, he didn't really know what to expect but he figured if this group was willing to come all the way down to Bolton Landing to post fliers for their performances if nothing else they were at least dedicated. Due to rainy weather the first performance was done inside the Boathouse Theatre.

The Caretaker could go into much further detail about his experience watching this group perform Shakespeare but for the sake of brevity he's going to just say that after watching the first performance of As You Like It, because of the quality of the acting and the method in which the group was performing the plays the Caretaker realized that he had much to gain by coming back for all of the performances. The performance style the group was using is what they call:

"...Shakespeare IN THE RAW, the brainchild of Tara Bradway and Patrick Siler. This experiment was a test in stripping away elements of production in order to return to the most basic aspects of the theater: the actors, the audience, and the words."

One of the results of this method is that between each performance the actors would continue to rehearse the play so each additional performance would evolve from the one prior. Consequently, with each performance the actors became more and more familiar with the material thus more and more comfortable with the material and so the stage action would continually change and get better. The main reason this element of this style appealed to the Caretaker is that there was a time when the Caretaker used to write drama but the furtherest he ever took it was to win prize money in play writing contests. The next stage would have been to get some actors to workshop the plays then stage it, etc. The Caretaker never did this so to be able to watch an acting group work with the same material and develop it further and further was quite appealing to the Caretaker not to mention highly informative. By the end of the first performance of As You Like It the Caretaker had decided he was going to definitely make a point to see at least all of the performances of As You Like It and Macbeth; Romeo and Juliet on the other hand, not being a favorite of his he figured he would probably catch just the first performance.

Another reason the Caretaker decided to see so much Shakespeare is that at $10.00 a show he really would not be able to see so much Shakespeare for so little money anywhere else, so best to take advantage of the opportunity. Granted, he could have bought a season ticket for $30.00 but he opted not to do that, to save money now could lead to insufficient funding for next year and the Caretaker wanted to see this group carry on to next year. The director of the group did offer the Caretaker the opportunity to see the last performance of Macbeth for free but the Caretaker respectfully declined the very kind offer and in fact, paid $10.00 for a glass of wine to make up for the ticket he didn't buy for the second performance of Romeo & Juliet because he didn't go to it.

The method this group is using to stage Shakespeare's work provides insight into many aspects of drama, if you or anyone you know is interested in drama the Caretaker highly recommends that you make your way to Schroon Lake to catch more than one performance of the Shakespeare plays this group will be putting on next year. For more info check out their website:

And now for the last and perhaps most important reason why the Caretaker ended up seeing all but one of this group's performances, for the better part of these past 6 years the Caretaker has been spending his time either working to earn his keep, or creating "art" (for lack of a better word), but leaving himself little to no time to consume art. He hadn't really been aware of this until he was watching the first performance of As You Like It. There is no television where the Caretaker lives, not that there is much art to be found on such a venue, but nor does the Caretaker leave the Island all that much in general and when he does it is usually either for work or to go take photographs. Given the quality of the acting of the group, the Caretaker found himself getting quite carried away with being in the audience and just enjoying the show. To just sit there and be entertained by great work and great actors was most revitalizing to the Caretaker's spirit. It was a very enjoyable experience and he definitely got carried away, the most would be for Macbeth, he cried at least twice during each performance.

Speaking of crying, fast forward to this past Sunday evening, the Caretaker is out to dinner down in Southern New York with his father and step-mother, and three of their friends for a meal before seeing Shakespeare's Taming Of The Shrew. The show had been sold out before the Caretaker got wind of it so he wasn't able to get a ticket, initially the plan was to try and get a ticket due to a cancellation (or sneak in) but it was nothing but rain all day and the Caretaker was driving back to the Island that evening and decided that to start his trip back to the Island in the rain at around 9 at night would make for a long trip. The play was performed on the grounds of Bosco Bel (not sure on spelling) along the Hudson River, outside, beneath a tent. It's about a three hour drive to the Island, it had been a long weekend for the Caretaker so he felt he was making the right decision by not even trying to see the play. Not to mention that it was Taming Of The Shrew, if the Caretaker recalls correctly he did not study this play in college but he does remember seeing the Richard Burton/Elizabeth Taylor movie version and that there was an awful lot of yelling, not to mention from the title alone it could just as well be called Jerk Who Thinks He Needs To Control A Woman. Anyway, it turns out that much of the dialogue couldn't be heard during this performance due to the sound of the heavy rain on the roof of the tent, so the Caretaker made the right decision to pass on trying to get into the play.

At the beginning of dinner the friends of the Caretaker's parents had asked him about the Shakespeare he had seen up at Schroon Lake and why he had seen so much of it. His father was at the table for his explanation but his step-mother left the table to take a phone call, much of what the Caretaker stated above is what he shared with the table. To which the Caretaker's father said, "I didn't know you liked Shakespeare so much..."

Now, back track to the mid to late 1960's. The Caretaker's father served with the United States Army as a Green Beret, Airborne, Special Forces (the Caretaker is not sure of the proper order to state these titles). His father doesn't talk much about his experiences in Vietnam and when he does it is usually only the funny stories he has to tell which are mostly from basic training. The Caretaker has never heard his father say "Back in Nam..." or any other approximation of that sort of thing, his father isn't ashamed of his service but for the most part feels it is something from the past that really shouldn't be taken lightly nor relied upon as a lens to view the world for the rest of life.

However, during the mid '90's the Caretaker's father offered to sit down with him and a tape recorder to record his experiences while serving in Vietnam. The Caretaker certainly does not remember all of what was said but he still has the tapes and knows exactly where they are, he can say that much of what he heard was quite horrifying--to say the least.

I'm hesitant to share any of my father's story for a number of reasons, but one is that my memory is a bit hazy and more importantly, it's not my story to tell, but I do feel the need to share at least one story in order for you to understand where I was coming from regarding the present.

One of the missions my father was sent on was to rescue a double agent from the Viet Cong, the double agent was a woman, one of the things done to this woman as a means of torture was to stand her up between two large stones on ropes, the stones would be swung out and allowed to swing back in at the same time striking her on either side of her pelvis bone. The woman was tied in place.

A woman's pelvis bone is probably the strongest bone in the human body because it protects the womb, thus smashing stones against it will cause an immense amount of pain long before the pelvis bone breaks. This was the sort of treatment this woman was receiving. So my father and his group manage to free her, she can't walk, my father carries her, she starts sharing with him what she knows because she is going to die. She does die en route, my father must still carry her back as proof of completion of the mission. I don't recall how far it was but even a few steps carrying a tortured corpse is plenty far. As I think about it, there may have been no group and he was on a solo-mission, I can't recall.

So, the above is along the lines of what a substantial amount of my father's experience was like over in Vietnam.

My father says, "I didn't know you liked Shakespeare so much. Throughout my entire time in Vietnam there is only one thing that I was able to keep with me from the very beginning to the very end. It was a four volume set of Shakespeare that I had received from one of my sisters, she sent it to me within the first two weeks of my arrival. I wasn't always able to bring it with me on missions because that wouldn't be practical, but I always knew where it was and I never left it behind."

I then asked him, "do you still have it?"

"Yep, it's on the upper shelf on the right hand side of the library."

Side note, what my father calls the library is actually a wet bar with a large number of books on the shelves.

"The books are probably a bit moldy."

I interrupted, "you should probably get them cleaned up so you can preserve them."

He then said, "you're right, but I'm going to leave that to you, what I'm going to do is write on the inside of each volume that these are for you. Probably just 'To Jeff, Love Dad.' That way I know you'll get them when I die."

I immediately became choked up. I don't think I was even able to say thank you. He then turned to the rest of the table and started talking about something else. We were at a round table and I was sitting next to my father, I started to cry quiet tears of appreciation. I had to turn away to try and dry my eyes and prevent my father from seeing my tears. Not because I was embarrassed, hardly, but because I knew that if he saw my tears he would then express concern at which point I would have just totally lost it and started bawling at the table. As it was I was using all my strength to keep my composure. Thankfully my step-mother didn't return to the table until after I was able to put myself together again, if she had seen my tears she would have asked about it too. Most thankfully my father's friends who saw me crying and turning away in my chair were kind enough to not say anything.

My father has certainly done many a kind thing for me, but he has also done his share of not so kind things, this is by far one of the kindest, most touching, and most meaningful things he has done for me. If I was writing this on paper the paper would be soaked, thankfully I don't lean over my computer keyboard when I type or it probably would have shorted out.

In other news, the Caretaker will be going to Saratoga today to lose money on the horses, it should be a good time, it will be good to meet up with S. and whoever else is accompanying him.

Lastly, the text from the post from 2007 that is being posted today contains some very funny material so even if you got the 2007 posts the first time around back in 2007 you'll want to read this post again, it provides some good comic relief, it is as follows:

Before there was the blog the Caretaker sent out posts via e-mail, the following is from the Caretaker's second winter on the Island:

Island Ice Report Update (sort of) 4/26/07:

Lake Temperature: 42 F

There hasn't been all that much to report lately, in fact, there isn't all that much to report now, the Caretaker has been busy with a few projects but nothing worth mentioning. However, one of the things the Caretaker has been working on is an epilogue for the IIR which will be sent out in the next day or two, the IIR won't come to a complete end but it will not be going out on a daily basis any more.

In the meantime, what follows is the text from something that the Caretaker started a few weeks ago, he forgot about it until now and so here it is. You might find it mildly amusing but more likely just plain stupid. Either way, by sharing it with you now, in the future you will be able to thank (more likely blame) the Caretaker should this product show up on your grocery store shelves. If it does, it will probably cause an increase in the cases of heart disease, heart attack, etc. Why would the Caretaker do such a thing? Because he wants to spread the good word about SlimJim meat products by helping ConAgra diversify the product line. Not that this new product will really expand the SlimJim buying market, if you aren't interested in consuming room temperature shelf-stable meat products wrapped in plastic that you eat cold (and understandably so that you don't want to eat such products), you are probably not likely to be interested in consuming refrigerated shelf-stable meat products wrapped in plastic that you heat up. However, chances are that all those who are happy consumers of the former, will most likely be happy consumers of the latter. Does ConAgra really need one man's help? Of course, the industrial food complex needs all our help, talk about a struggling industry. Anyway, enough of the Caretaker's jibber-jabber...

The Caretaker's e-mail to ConAgra foods:

When are you going to come out with SlimJim Hotdogs, or SlimJim style hotdogs? I have to imagine that the market for SlimJim is the exact same market for hotdogs, yes? I know you pay people there big money to come up with your various food products, personally I'm not interested in that, I just want to be able to walk into my local market and see "SlimJim Brand Hotdogs--the hotdog with bite, or attitude, or whatever it is your catch phrase is." I would make this suggestion via the "SlimJim" website, but it won't let me view it unless I upgrade my "Flash Player program or something", trust me, I can not be bothered in the slightest to do such a thing, so, if you are so inclined to pass my suggestion on to the SlimJim people, please do so, I would greatly appreciate it.
Thank you for your time and effort, I look forward to seeing "SlimJim Hotdogs" in my market soon.
The Caretaker

To which ConAgra responded:

Thank you for your interest in ConAgra Foods. Although we appreciate you taking
the time to share your idea with us, please know that any ideas submitted to us
become the property of ConAgra Foods and we cannot compensate you nor return
your idea to you. Blah, blah, blah...

To Which the Caretaker responded:

I am more than happy to provide you my idea gratis for I have neither the time nor the finances to bring such a grand product as "SlimJim brand hot dogs" to market, however, I believe your company does have the necessary capital, and since you currently own the SlimJim recipe, trademark, patent, etc. it is probably best that you bring this product to market. As I stated in my previous e-mail I am not interested in financial compensation for this idea, nor do I have an interest in coupons (so don't send me any), however I would greatly appreciate it if you could contact me via e-mail in order to inform me as to when you will be bringing this product to market. If you can provide the exact date as to when it will be on my local grocer's shelves I would really appreciate that because then I'll be sure to be there the moment the store opens so I can be the very first person in my town to buy "SlimJim brand hot dogs". This will be an honor that many of my fellow townspeople will most certainly long to claim, but since I'll be first, only I will be able to make the claim and thus only I will be able to covet it. Memorial Day is not that far off, if I was you I wouldn't mess around, get your chemists there in the meat factory to finalize the formula for "SlimJim brand hot dogs", then have them program the meat machine to start pumping out said meat product, then round up the "dogs" and stuff them into that famous SlimJim logo-ed plastic packaging, and then ship them out around the world--just make sure to get a case over to my local grocer first, thank you.
Thank you for your time and effort regarding this meat matter.
I look forward to "Snapping into a SlimJim brand hot dog" soon.
The Caretaker

--The Caretaker

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