Thursday, December 14, 2017

Poem for Our 32nd Anniversary

Power of Two

(for Cindy on our 25 Wedding Anniversary)

Two-to-the-fifth years of both weal and woe.
All of those wedding guests, where did they go?
Thirty-two years ago: ring, kiss, and vow.
Where is the face of that company now?

Two for a honeymoon, four till we moved;
Eight for adoption to double our love.
Sixteen for schooling the children God gave.
Thirty-two closer to rest in the grave.

Doubling and doubling again down the years.
Two, four, eight, sixteen, each new power premiers
Doublings of joy, love, and high adoration;
Growing by binary multiplication.

Thus do our marital blessings accrue,
Exponents, both, for the power of two.

--Paul Erlandson, 2017

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

2nd Annual Shinoda (Slot Car) Reunion!

It's almost time for the 2nd Annual "Shinoda Reunion", to be held at Downriver Speedway in Lincoln Park, Michigan.  Saturday, December 16.  Doors open and Noon.  Racing begins at 5pm.

Here is one of the entries that has been sent in to be raced by proxy.  This is a scratch-built, period-correct "Detroit Slider" style Thingie slot car.  The body is a Shinoda "Bullet" created by Gene Adams.  I've seen this in person, and it is exquisite!  It belongs in an art museum.

Lindsay Shepherd - Canadian University Goons Deny Her Free Speech

This is long, but SUPER important!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Poem - Beatrice Does My Laundry

Beatrice Does My Laundry

More than other men, grief-torn or merry,
That history has thought worthy of note,
I honor and adore great Alighieri,
And not alone for all the poems he wrote,
But for his tears of ecstasy and grief,
Which Dante wept and distilled into verse.
Of sufferers-from-love he was the chief,
His depth of feeling both blessing and curse.
I used to call on Dante, in the past,
For intercession in some special case.
For years, he made no answer, but at last
He spoke as clear as one speaks face to face:

“Look here, my son, what does this madness mean,
That you, the rich, play supplicant to me?
To watch my love, I had to find a ‘screen’,
But you can watch your love completely free!
For you have wife and muse in self-same soul,
And every poem you write her, you can sign.
Your love can both fulfil the Beatrice role,
And kiss you as the clock is striking nine.”

I took his sense, and troubled him no more:
The wealthy must not beg alms of the poor.

© 2017, Paul Erlandson

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Eliot Erlandson Interviewed about Thingies and the 2017 Shinoda Reunion!

My son Eliot is becoming a big wig in the sub-sub-subculture of vintage Thingie slot car racing!  Check out this interview with him:

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Top 10 Ways My Parents Gave Us the Best Childhood EVER

I was thinking this morning what a great childhood I had.  It made me want to capture some of the things that my parents did well in raising us four kids.  So, here are my Top 10 Reasons my parents gave us the greatest childhood.

1.  Raising us in Champaign, Illinois.  Okay, this one may have been partially just luck.  But I have to say that Champaign was the optimum place to raise kids, because of the diversity of experience it provided.  Just across Duncan Rd to our West was a vast cornfield.  It's still there, in fact.  A few miles to the East was the University of Illinois with all of its rich cultural opportunities.

2.  Books!  Our parents had books all over the house.  It was like living in a library.  I could just wander along a bookshelf until some title captured my imagination, take down the book, and begin reading.  This was how I came to read The Autobiography of Malcolm X at age 9.

3.  Exposure to Dad's work colleagues.  My dad had some interesting, brilliant, and quirky friends at work.  Often they would come and visit our house.  Sometimes, we would visit their homes.  I never felt as if my parents were chasing us away when they had adult company.  We got to be there, and had equal access to these fascinating people.

4.  Music.  Mom and Dad had a pretty decent sized record collection.  It had a fairly wide range, so that we were exposed to multiple styles:  classical, jazz, pop, folk, and country.  They also paid for me and my sister to take piano lessons.  

5.  Hosting missionaries in our home.  Several times, Christian missionaries (mostly ones supported by the local church we attended) were guests in our homes.  This gave us a look at the larger world, and an inside view of the work of Christian missionaries.

6.  Hard work, competition, and capitalism.  My dad was an officer in the USMC, so he had very stringent standards about shining shoes and boots.  He set up a competition between us kids.   Every week, one of us shined his left work shoe, and the other one shined the right shoe.  We got paid 10 cents for this.  But it was also a contest.  After we were done, he judged who had done the better job.  That kid got to shine one of the shoes the next week (and thus, keep earning dimes).  The one who didn't win had to step down and make room for another challenger the following week.  This one simple exercise taught us so many life lessons.

7.  The Gospel.  Before all else, our parents were Evangelical Christians.  So they were careful to explain the Gospel to us in ways we could understand.  Their care and concern for our salvation was continuous and obvious.

8.  Anti-Racism.  Our parents had friends of other races.  They were welcome in our home, and we in theirs.  For a while, we drove the kids from a black family across town to Sunday School and Church with us.  I had no idea that this kind of thing was rare in 1967 or 1968.  Once, after dropping this family off at home after church, I made what can be considered a racist remark.  I was about ten years old.  The gravity and almost violence of my father's response against this (as well as his detailed explanation of why I was wrong to say what I did) shaped the entire rest of my life.

9.  Poetry.  For a Marine Corps officer, my dad sure had a lot of poetry memorized.  He understood it, too.  But most of all, he made us know that poetry was not some unmanly pursuit.

10.  They stayed married.  Of course, they had their difficult moment, like any married couple.  But they got through them and stayed together.  They're still together.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Jagged and Smooth

This is the closest account I am able to give of a very complex dream from which I have just awaken.  I know that many details are wrong, but I hope to catch the essence of it.

As soon as I was "in" the dream this morning, I realized that it was a repetition or continuation of the same dream I had had once before.  I don't know how we know that in our dreams, but I knew it.  The rules of the thing were at once familiar to me.

I am sad that I cannot remember the exact two words or phrases used in the dream, so "Jagged" and "Smooth" are only approximate substitutes.   The dream revolved around an anonymous fiction-writing site.  The site was a collection of stories, each published under a pseudonym, and each purporting to illustrate either the principle of Jaggedness or the principle of Smoothness.  I was one of the authors.  I believe that I had authored about three stories (say, Jagged 13, Jagged 37, and Smooth 40).

To try to get your story added to the Jagged and Smooth website, you had to electronically submit your manuscript (from 400 to 10,000 words) and the webmaster decided whether you made the cut or not.  The stories were posted chronologically from oldest to newest.

I couldn't be sure, but I think that at the end of some period of years, there was supposed to be some kind of party at which all the authors could meet each other.  But one of the author's works were so compelling to me that I wanted to meet him without having to wait that long.  It was some of the most amazing writing I had ever seen.

I don't know how I found the author, who turned out to be a woman in her late twenties.  I met her out at her farm in the country, and we spoke outside.  She had a few small creatures (like large insects, but I don't think they were insects) that I had never seen before.  She seemed a little distressed to be talking to me before the date on which the authors were supposed to be revealed.  But she also seemed flattered by the things I said about her writing, and she somewhat excitedly answered my questions about her stories.

So, now I wonder:  Could or should such a site be created?  It wouldn't have to be Jagged/Smooth.  It could be Bitter/Sweet or something similar.  I think the problem would be getting good authors to contribute to it.  And then, even if good authors were to find the site, they'd have to be willing to work on the writing with no immediate accolades.