Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Coral Sea Shark Fest - A Poem by Patty K Mooney

Shark Attack, AustraliaImage by cleopatra69 via Flickr Not every poem I write is a rhyming poem. But from time to time I have had occasion to create rhyming ballads, based on adventures that defy belief! This one originated in Australia (aka "Oz") while aboard the dive vessel, Spoilsport in 1990, and illuminates what happened one day in the balmy Coral Sea. About a week after I'd written it, I read it aloud at a Talent Quest in a pub called "Fast Eddie's." It won first place. The prize? A horseback trip to a billabong with crumpets and tea. But that was another adventure.....

A Coral Sea Shark Fest

When I shut my eyes all I can see
are sharks, primal beasts roaming free;
white tips and whalers at home in Coral Sea,
gun-metal gray, seriously hungry...

We were three days out of port,
intrepid divers on the dive vessel, "Spoilsport."
From Port Douglas, Australia to Great Barrier Reef,
dive sites with scenes defying belief:
vivid fish and corals wherever you'd look
in the waters explored by Captain Cook.
We came face to face with a moray or two,
starfish and sea snakes, we noticed a few.
And child-sized cods and Maori Wrasse,
you could feel their wakes as they would pass.

That day we fell into the sea, our tanks full of air,
into the mouth of the reef sharks' lair.
We perched on a coral wall with a view
of what the big-jawed predators would do.
You could tell they knew that lunch was nigh'
as ten or more of them swept by.
None had what you'd call a forthright gaze,
as they watched us watch them make their ways.
Like cruise missiles equipped with remoras,
creatures that could all but bore us!

Then tuna heads on a line came down.
We saw sharks and a big-lipped cod go to town,
vultures on carrion that was not enough,
they made for dive master, Tui, getting rough.
Tui punched them on their surly snouts,
taking no guff from those grisly louts;
but sharks attracted to Tui wasn't so odd,
he was geared like a neon potato cod!

Then the second line of meat was dropped
to jaws that would not be stopped.
The food frenzy continued to everyone's awe
'till the last fish head stuck in one shark's craw.
That monster couldn't swallow it, another tried,
then out of its jaws the head was pried
by a shark in the gang that was blunt and mean,
sweeping his meal up like a vacuum machine.

The show over, the sharks went back
to what they were doing before the attack.
But their dark, menacing forms will always be
in the cobalt depths of my memory.

© 5/25/90 1st Place, Fast Eddies Talent Contest, Great Barrier Reef

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Monday, August 23, 2010

"Meet the Players" - A Mocumentary edited by Patty K Mooney

I spent the better part of last week collaborating with the world's greatest close-up sleight-of-hand magician, Steve Dacri - just ask Robin Leach, Regis Philbin or Johnny Carson if Steve isn't indeed the BEST. (Well, Johnny's dead, but you get the idea). With Steve's footage and input, I edited up the following hilarious video about a troupe called "The Players" who used to perform dinner theater on the east coast. Steve Dacri wrote, produced and directed these shows. These "Players" pretended to be members of a wedding, and would perform for 200 or more people at a time in big halls that provided catering, and of course, the booze would be flowing. This is a sort of "Sopranos" meets "Wedding Crashers" meets "Jersey Shore." The Players definitely packed 'em in, and everybody had a great time. This Mocumentary, which features Robin Leach, is very funny, if I do say so myself, and I do.

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Friday, August 20, 2010

To Be Or Not To Be - On Jury Duty - by Patty K Mooney

I am all for performing one's civic duty, and have over the years come up with a few unique ways to give back to my community. Because I am a video producer here in San Diego, I have shot, produced and edited several videos for non profit organizations such as the Environmental Health Coalition, Girls Think Tank (who work to eradicate homelessness), the VVSD (Veterans Village of San Diego), Peace Resource Center and others.

When I received an official notice to serve on a jury, rather than stating that I am self-employed (which I am) and time away from my business would be a hardship (which it would), I decided to go ahead and show up for jury duty.

I think we all feel that if jurors were justly compensated for their time and expenses (mileage, parking, lunch) there would be people lined up around the block to perform this civic duty. But I could see when I walked into the Courtroom lobby that they don't even have enough money to fix their clock. At 8:45 AM it was stuck on "5:15." Well, at least it's correct twice a day.

Jury selection is the most time-consuming and grueling part of the process (unless, of course, you end up on a never-ending trial). 50 of us were marched into a courtroom, of which 12 would be selected for the jury with three alternates. For the next day and a half the two attorneys whittled down the available jury pool to 15. You could see by the line of questioning that anyone who knew or was related to an attorney or police officer would be kicked off the panel by Attorney "A." And anyone who had been negatively affected by gang violence would be kicked off by Attorney "B."

I was ready to divulge information about myself including the time gang members had lashed me with a chain out the window of their car as I rode by on my bicycle. I had been so incensed about it, I caught up to them and dumped my water bottle on the driver. At first they looked at me in stunned amazement. Then they laughed and drove away. I would have also mentioned that my dad worked as an attorney in the Attorney General's office in Detroit, under Frank J. Kelley, the longest-serving Attorney General in Michigan's history. I never had to say anything. I did not get called into any of the 15 seats, so I was a spectator through it all. The relief at not being selected made me giddy. It also made me a bit sad.

The best part about the experience was the judge. He was a hoot. He delivered a few hilarious lines, like "I was going to retire a few years ago, but I did a 'Brett Favre,'" "Some people confuse me with George Clooney" and my favorite, "You don't have to read all those books (the law tomes in the courtroom library); I've got it covered."

Something else the judge said still resonates. It's that "People who walk away after having performed jury duty feel better for having participated. It's good citizenship. If you don't do it, who will? You folks are the conscience of the community." He's right. So as a community, it would be good if we could all figure out how to reward those who do serve on juries. Wouldn't that be nice? People lined up to be on juries, just the way they line up to see Lady Gaga in concert.

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Monday, August 16, 2010

His Golden Madness - A Poem by Patty K Mooney

'Image via Wikipedia

In his “Flying Dutchman”
Charles and I leapt over white caps
at the jetty’s entrance
to prove his mastery to the sea.

No other boat ventured into that day,
not even the skillet-bellied fishing vessels.
His sailing was his golden madness
as heavy waves stormed the hull.

I knew the taste of good fruit
but not of potential trouble.

I knew the angles of stars on the sea,
but not of foreshadowed weather.

I knew where to place trust
but not my intuition.

I rode like a pirate’s slave
on his golden madness that burned
into my untouched skin
like a nautical sun
leaving a tattoo, “Flying Dutchman”
visible forever to my sea-green eyes.
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Friday, August 13, 2010

The Lost Negatives of Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams, 1942Image via Wikipedia

In 1937, a fire ripped through Ansel Adams’ darkroom, destroying as many as 5,000 negatives. This loss represented one-third of his portfolio. Many of the negatives had never been developed into photographs. It was a heartbreaking loss
for Adams and his wife, Virginia, and it has long been lamented by the art
lovers who have wanted to trace how Adams found his artistic voice in the early phase of his career. Art historians assumed that the images and evidence of his early career were simply lost forever.

This critical void in Adams’ collection of photographs remained until spring 2000. At a garage sale in Fresno, California, Rick Norsigian, a painter for the Fresno school district, chanced upon two boxes of antique glass negatives. Deteriorating from old age, the manila envelopes held glass photographic negatives wrapped in newspaper. The negatives were of a unique size and the manila envelopes contained writing which listed a date and the venue where the negative was created. With these indisputable facts, the question submitted to a team of experts was whether these negatives where in fact created by Ansel Adams.
Well, the results are in. To see the entire report about the now-found Lost Negatives of Ansel Adams, go to the website of Rick Norsigian. This is one of the most fascinating stories of the century (so far).
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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My Fifteen Minutes of "Fame" - by Patty K Mooney

Mountain Biking MamaImage by cleopatra69 via Flickr

This is a funny clip of me 15 years ago when I appeared on the local news station to talk about mountain biking, and our around-the-world adventures on mountain bikes (which were chronicled in an award-winning video called "Full Cycle: A World Odyssey.")

Channel 9 Segment on Patty Mooney, Mountain Bike Champion from Patty Mooney on Vimeo.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ice Master - A Poem by Patty Mooney

You guys know I like to write "Found Poems," "Cross-Out Poems" and "Air Poetry." I'm also interested in history and stories of survival. This is a cross-out poem about the last voyage of the ill-fated Karluk. She ended up sinking, with half of her crew perishing on a doomed Arctic expedition in 1914.

Ice Master
(Funeral March of the "Karluk")

Lying swollen and helpless, he was afraid to travel the Arctic.
The icescape looked different, an amplified wasteland.
Eyes useless now, all sense of direction lost:
impossible to avoid long stretches, to veer,
to tell the land from the sky; the game was thinning.
He was suffering, fingers and lips turned blue.
His skin freezing, the Bear vivid in his brain.
The Gray Specter now the Unseen Guest,
blond with the baby-fat face.
Everyone said hello – if not to him, to me. If not to me, to him.
He never made me cry. Never hurt me. Never let me down.
He treasured me. Now he was gone.
The midnight sun was gone. Blank horizon.
He must have died trying to reach Siberia.

Back at Skeleton Island, falling heavily and drifting badly,
they could still hear music echoing from the galley.
Winds and snow helped wash down the pemmican.
Deep water on top of the ice, Ice Master at the helm
as the ship nosed her way sluggishly, slivers of water
held captive. The old itch for adventure,
a grisly, bone-chilling roar, thickening fields of white.
Ice thrummed ominously. It rattled. It sounded like drums,
and then thunder, shuddered, continued its deafening
symphony grinding, churning, listing badly to port.
Two small daughters were crushed. Surprised.

A slight puff of steam seemed to straighten with great dignity.
He could feel the tears welling, weary and frozen.
What had he agreed to?
The worst in each man will behave without hesitation.
This strange clan – polar bears and offshore seals,
nothing beneath their feet but ice. As far as the eye,
only ice everywhere. Ice and darkness. Safety precarious.
Still there, adrift in the middle of the Arctic night.

Afterward, only chaos. The dogs wild and fighting.
The next full moon watched for trouble to a sound like gunfire.
Ice pressed tightly in these sanctuaries.
See the water pouring in, a long painful death,
a shard of ice thrust through at speed.
Snow blindness, to his thighs, his waist.
Slow suicide made a man of him.
Peace, peace, when there is no peace.
Say goodbye to the bottom of the ocean.

Difference Engine Band put together this cool video that pays homage to Ernest Shackleton, a sea captain who led several South Pole expeditions. Shackleton experienced a very similar tragedy with the loss of the Endurance in much the same way that the Karluk, at the opposite end of the Earth, was lost.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Worlds Firsts - by Patty Mooney

Patty Ridin'; SshhhhhhImage by cleopatra69 via Flickr

Lately I have been reflecting upon my life, and I realize I have participated upon numerous "world's firsts," mostly having to do with mountain biking, and some to do with video production; sometimes with both.

Mark invented the first helmet cam, so he could take some good video from the rider's point of view, Mark's exploits have been recorded on Wikipedia.

Mark and I, via our company New & Unique Videos, produced the world's first massage video, "Massage For Relaxation," starring Cleo who shared healing techniques and focusing on self-massage.

We produced the world's first women's self -defense video featuring techniques from Gary Wooten, called "Common Sense Self-Defense For Women."

We were among the first group of westerners to be admitted into Sikkim (a state in northern India) for over a hundred years, and participated in the first-ever Himalayan Mountain Bike Rally (1993).

I was the first woman in the world to ride a mountain bike underwater (Costa Rica, 1994).

In reflecting on these fun and adventurous occasions, I feel so grateful that I did not let anything or anyone stop me from enjoying my life. On the contrary, I was fortunate to meet a man (Mark) early on in my life who encouraged me and accompanied me on these life-changing journeys. And it wasn't like we set out to be the first people to do anything... It just turned out that way. Cool, huh?

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Friday, August 6, 2010

If Depression Had a Face - by Patty K Mooney

Grim Reaper (advertisement)Image via Wikipedia

If depression had a face, I think it would be the bony grim reaper in its coarse black hooded robe. Once this creature has grabbed ahold of your neck with its clawed fingers, it does not want to let go. You have to work hard to extricate yourself. Your friends may not see this shadowy specter. You may not even want them to see it. You want them to think you are in control of the situation, you've got it covered. You become so good at fooling your friends that you fool yourself. You don't seek help from anyone because maybe you're a caregiver yourself, and admitting that you need help is just not an option for you.

And so you live your days right on the edge of the abyss until the moment when the hooded creature, Depression, knocks you off balance and watches as you spin uncontrollably down the rabbit hole like Alice in Wonderland, never to be seen again, and leaving all your friends mystified, wondering "What happened?! Why would she institute a permanent solution for a temporary problem," as my cousin, a Vietnam veteran so succinctly put it.

Nobody knows, nobody will ever know why our young friend, Kim, chose to end a life that to everyone around her seemed to be an ideal one, filled with love, adoring friends, fun adventures and a full and rewarding work life. "We need to read between the lines," said one of her beautiful cousins who stepped forward to eulogize Kim. "We need to be able to recognize when a person needs help, and then step in and lend a hand."

But how does one "read between the lines?" We are each so involved with the drama of our own life, sometimes to the exclusion of everyone around us. It seems like you'd have to be Clark Kent with x-ray vision to be able to ferret out someone's well-hidden inner turmoil.

"If only I'd known," said my husband, "Maybe I could have said something, done something." The resounding emptiness that comes from the self-extinguishing of a bright and lovely light is haunting to those of us who really care about our friends. Maybe the self-determination we all fight to protect includes the right to exit the planet, even it it seems premature to the rest of us. These are questions that we humans have been wrestling with for a long time, for as long as the Grim Reaper began his sober and unrelenting task.

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Heading West - A Poem by Patty K Mooney

Today I will regale you with a poem I wrote in 1975, when I was 20 years old. This photo, by the way, was taken in Detroit, at Barnum & Bailey Circus, 1986.

Heading West

You wouldn’t believe
what I’m dreaming,
if I could put it nice.
And I’d tell you raw-
honey sweet
if I could hold you
down to one person

but you’re a circus:
Siamese twins,
fat lady, thin man
and especially knife eater.

Fantasy ring-leader
you want me
for your main attraction.

Waking up I find your hands
on my chest, as though
you’d spun tight wires
from your fingers,
and are afraid
to let go.