Friday, August 6, 2010

Amigos,

I know, it’s been a while, and I owe you an explanation. Here’s what happened. That sweet natured, kindly, well mannered guy you used to know has become a cantankerous old geezer who sits in front of the television set, shouting obscenities and throwing things at it.

Part of the problem is age. When I went to my doctor not long ago to complain about my knees he said, “There isn’t much you can do. They’re just old knees.” Aside from that I am well and there is even some news about a new book that will be coming soon.

When I was a young man I told myself that when I got old I would be tolerant of the young. I promised myself that with the wisdom that would come with the years I would rise above youthful follies. I would smile at the antics of the young; try to understand their language and their behavior.

It didn’t happen.

So here I am in my “golden years!” You do get some breaks, like lowered prices on some items like restaurants and theaters. But the hell with senior rates at the movies! Most of them aren’t worth even the reduced price, acted for the most part by unappealing people, and filled with gratuitous violence and celebrations of perversity. What ever happened to movies like “All About Eve,” Citizen Kane,” “Great Expectations” “It Happened One Night,” and “Gone With the Wind?”

While many of the problems I have are in what the mother of a friend of mine used to call “my mental mind,” most of my disabilities are physical.

There have been suggestions that the stairs in our beach house will make it necessary for us to sell and find an “alternative life style.” No way. I’m going to crawl up them steps on my knees if I have to. Well, maybe on the left one, the right one just don’t work hardly at all.

Where is the world we used to know?

I mean look what’s happened to our language. Yuknowhahmean? Of course you know what I mean. Either that expression or the shorter version “Yuno?” punctuates just about every attempt at communication made by half our population. I suspect there is an underlying cause for this aberration. I suspect that we have grown so alienated from each other, so distrustful of, or ignorant of our language, that we aren’t sure that what we are trying to express is actually getting through to the other person. So we have to keep asking, “Do you know what I mean? Am I getting through to you? Yuno?"

Even some of our great institutions have fallen into the trap of trying to be cool and appealing to “the youth audience.”

For years I have taken pride in the fact that I am a member of the National Geographic Society. It was formed back in 1888 for the purpose of promoting the conservation of the world’s cultural, historical and natural resources. You don’t just subscribe to the National Geographic Society. You don’t just become a member - you belong to this distinguished organization – one of the largest non-profit scientific and educational institutions in the world. I will confess that I have often looked for ways to mention casually in conversation that I am a member of the National Geographic Society.

You should also know that I am a sucker for big fish. I love to catch them, to write and read about them, and to watch others catch them on television.

So I became excited when I saw an ad for a story about a man’s attempt to catch a monster fish in some South American river. I turned on the television only to find that the program had been produced by NAT GEO! Surely I thought, this is not my National Geographic Society. But I was wrong. How this venerable institution has allowed this outrage to take place, I don’t want to know. I tell this to you in confidence. Don’t mention this to anybody. God knows I don’t want the entire world to know that I am a member of something called NAT GEO.

The same thing has happened out here in California in the music world. This won’t come as any surprise to most of you since weird things are happening out here all the time.

While I was growing up back in Virginia during the Great Depression I was an avid fan of The Grand Old Opry. I still love country western music, but somewhere along the way I also acquired a taste for more “serious” music.

I remember a remarkable experience right after World War Two when I was a soldier stationed in Paris. There was a concert conducted by Pierre Monteaux at Le Palais de Chaillot of all nine of Beethoven’s symphonies. Whenever I could get a pass I went to these concerts.

Recently I was reading the Entertainment Section of the Los Angeles Times and an ad caught my eye. It invited me to a performance of among other works, one of Beethoven’s symphonies. My interest perked up until I saw that the music was being performed by L.A. Phil.

L.A. Phil sounded to me like he could have been a cab driver who sang to his passengers or the jolly butcher at the meat counter at the Farmer’s Market or even the author of one of those Internet ads offering devices for enlarging one’s manhood, and then I realized it was short for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.

No way I will attend a performance by L.A. Phil.

Some of you may remember a time when we were fortunate to have such great singers as Frank Sinatra and Rosemary Clooney. They were people with talent and style and something we used to call “class.” I hobbled into these vintage years with Frank and Rosie and others like them, loved them and their music, bought their recordings and grieved when they left us.

Today we see such oddities as Lady Gaga. Recently she was the guest on an early morning show. Her entrance on stage was a doozie. She materialized in a cloud of smoke in an upright position but then proceeded to sing much of her song while lying prone on the platform. Most recently on the same show they featured a young boy, not even into his teens, who sang with his adenoids and kept stroking his genitals. I suspect this was a bad habit he picked up from old Michael Jackson videos, but on the other hand he could have simply been checking to see if there was anything there.

The object of my wrath on television at the moment is the NBC newsman, Brian Williams. I kind of liked Brian when he first took over that position from Tom Brokaw. He looked like the kind of guy I might enjoy going fishing with.

But then I began to worry that Brian didn’t know what country he was in. He kept referring to “this country” as if he just happened to be some place and wasn’t quite sure what country he was in. And finally it came to me that Brian was talking about “our” country. I counted one newscast in which Brian referred seven times to our country as “this country.”

I know this sounds naïve, but in this time in our country where there is so much discord, when politics have divided our citizens so sharply, when we face such dangerous enemies, I wonder if it might make a difference if we thought of “this” country as “our” country and feel some small smidgen of shared patriotism and pride in the good old U. S. of A.

I wrote Brian a letter asking him to follow our Presidents’ good example and refer to The United States of America as “our” country, but so far I haven’t heard back from him.

I am really put off by people who talk fast.

Recently there was a young woman on the Today Show who talked so fast that I suspect she had trouble understanding what she was saying herself.

She was probably just graduated from Vassar a day or two ago but oh my goodness, she knew everything about everything.

She was an authority on several topics one of them being the war between men and women. Marriage was her specialty and she informed us that the institution was in trouble in “this country” because partners had taken to sleeping in separate beds, or God forgive them, in separate rooms.

I sent her note explaining the effect that snoring could have on a marriage. I wrote it from personal experience. I have a deviated septum, which causes me to snore so vigorously that I have been known to disrupt the sleep of folks living blocks away. Rather than let my affliction destroy an otherwise extremely happy marriage Jane and I elected to sleep in separate rooms. And we will be celebrating our 57th anniversary this coming October. So far the knowledgeable young lady from Vassar has not responded either.

I still have in my office an upright Royal typewriter. It is in perfect working order and often I work on it for the fun of hitting the keys. The sound brings back happy memories of all those early years when I wrote novels and poems and radio scripts on a similar machine.

But today I work on a computer. It’s faster and at eighty-seven I am trying to finish a novel as well as a screenplay before going to that great Writer’s Guild in the sky. So speed is a necessity. There is one advantage of the computer over the typewriter. You have probably noticed that I have used an extraordinary number of misspelled words.I have been a terrible speller all my life. I never really mastered the art. So I use the spellchecker once in a while on the computer, but I warn you it can turn on you.

For instance I have a fine man for a son in law. He is a considerate, solid citizen, a student of history, a concerned citizen, and a devoted husband to my daughter.

I once sent Pepe an e-mail and before I hit the send button I ran the spell check. Somehow the Spell Check changed Pepe to Peeps, a name you might use to describe a little yellow baby chick.

Well, there is nothing yellow or chicken about Pepe, but he is a good-natured man and the name stuck. In addition to his other good qualities Peeps is a computer expert and it is due to his expertise that these words are being transferred to my BLOG.

So until you hear from me again I’ll just be sitting here listening to L.A. Phil on the radio, watching a middle aged woman in hot pants shouting lyrics to a song I can’t understand, and switching over occasionally to watch fishing stories on Nat Geo, writing notes to Brian Williams to remind him what country he is in and throwing things at the television.

Warm regards and Adios!

Earl

29 comments:

  1. Dear Mr. Hamner,

    It is a pleasure to see a new post from you! Thank you for the update. I will be praying about your knee situation and the other physical ailments you are enduring. Congratulations on your upcoming 57th wedding anniversary! Blessings to you and your dear wife ~ you are an inspiration to us all!

    I must tell you I am in agreement with you on the abbreviated and impersonal culture we find ourselves immersed in today. I try not to let things get under my skin too much, but it does bother me greatly. I think the abbreviated mentality that we are experiencing in our country is an unfortunate manifestation of a much deeper issue stemming from an utter lack of respect for others, for our heritage, and for God. I am not one to be pessimistic, but I do believe we are sorely in need of a revival in our country. 2 Chronicles 7:14! I pray for the days when neighborly kindness, respect for authority, patriotic unity, and appropriate acknowledgement of our amazing Creator are commonplace in our society.

    Please don't let the trends of our nation steal your joy and discourage your spirit! You have been a light to many in this world through your writings and creativity! It would be sad to dampen your imagination now!

    Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with us! May God richly bless you! Please share another story soon.

    With much respect,
    Katie

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am in total agreement about our society and all of the woes therein. God helps us all. I enjoy reading your post no matter how far between. May God your bless your knees and you and your wife.
    Rena'

    ReplyDelete
  3. i agree with every single word that you said. I'm a young 54 with a 16 year old daughter. I insist that we have family night, as we did when i was a child. We will watch a movie, and I usually try to get a movie that i like. Such as Gone With The Wind or Wizard of Oz. Yes, I've even insisted that we watch Episodes of the Waltons when the sets are available at our library.

    I always identified with WM because my dad was born and raised in Roanoke, and we spent every summer while i was growing up in Virginia. Please know that your stories changed my life, and now provide me with a welcome visit to my past.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Earl, see if they can get a definitive diagnosis on your knees. Do you need knee replacements? I love living on one level and I am thirty years younger than you. I never did care for steps, love being close to Mother Earth. Go with the flow and if you need to have the knees tuned up, go with it....you have too much left to contribute to this crazy world...we need all the sane people who are still left, so hang in there. Keep up the good work with your writing...did you think to ask them at UVA library if they will be a repository for your works? I've been reading articles here lately that you are looking for a place in Nelson, but you'll do better with the thermostatically controlled environment at the university library. Why don't you give them a call? Take care and have a great (rest of it) summer. From Charlottesville, Cheryl M.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Mr. Hamner,

    I always am excited to see an email from announcing the arrival of the next installment of your blog :) You keep on being cantakerous :) It has a lot less to do with age than it does with reality..
    :) God Bless

    John B

    ReplyDelete
  6. Dear Mr. Hamner, I tried to send you an email, but the email address you have posted on this website is not working. Twice I tried and twice the email bounced back to me. Please fix the email problem or post a new email address in your Contact area. Thank you... a faithful fan.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm 38 years old and I agree with you in every way. The world is going crazy and the values are fading very quick. Sometimes when I have heard and seen too much, I simply put a dvd of THE WALTONS in and for a short while, everything is right again. Thank you for that!

    Take care, Tonya

    ReplyDelete
  8. As always, you make me smile. Your post was well worth the wait. Lately, while writing I have thought much about the impact you have on my life. My words may never be famous, but my writers heart developed as I watched your life unfold through the fictional character, John Boy.
    Recently, I was asked why I write? I could hardly answer the question and later it I realized why. I write because I must. Writing is a part of who I am. To take away the ability to write would be like extracting a vital organ from my body. Thank you for sharing your story over and over again through the years. You made the little girl in me never let anyone thwart my desire to write.
    As for those steps, keep crawling and when you can no longer crawl they make a wonderful chair device that can be mounted for a ride up and down the steps. I would NOT give up a beach house, either! Enjoy all your favorite music and keep trying to make a difference in this crazy world.
    Blessed to have traveled by here,
    Andrea Bowling Perdue

    ReplyDelete
  9. Oh, the good old days. At least you throws things at the tv and not shoot it.

    ReplyDelete
  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  11. First of all, I would like to thank you for all of the great work that you have done over the years. I'm 47 years old and grew up watching "The Waltons" with my grandparents, who loved it. I am married now (have been for 23 years) and have 3 kids (19, 17 & 15.) As a family we have watched "The Andy Griffith Show," The Dick Van Dyke Show," and are now enjoying "The Waltons," together, as a family. As they say, "They just don't make 'em like that anymore." I feel fortunate to have been able to enjoy your show and now feel blessed to be able to enjoy it with my wife and kids.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thanks for the good cry! Actually, I laughed so hard reading this that I almost cried -- right here in the middle of the work day. I'm printing this one to take home and share with the family, as your descriptions of Lady Gaga and the young boy singer alone were well worth the price of reading it. All the best to you, Earl.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'm so glad to read a new post from you. I've been missing them. I'm turning 50 this week, and I guess I've reached the "golden years" thinking, because I think the same way you do.
    Oh, and my folks just celebrated 62 year, and are in separate bedrooms for the same reason. I've said that if any of ours were unoccupied, (with 6 kids, it will be awhile) I'd be doing the same, my husband is a wonderful man, but I've worried about him waking the neighborhood up too :-) yaknowwhatimean?
    Blessings,
    Marcia

    ReplyDelete
  14. Mr. Hamner,

    I'm 40 years old, and I share in your sentiment about what has become of the world.

    And I'm glad to know you are working on another novel and screenplay.

    Steven

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hello, from Schuyler...
    We enjoyed this posting so much! You hit so many good points, I won't recount them here. Nelson County is a good place to live, Brother Earl, and we miss you, still. The peaches are ripe, and so sweet, but the heat has burned up our gardens. Tomatoes are rare, due to the lack of rain. Record temps are being set in Virginia...which is, "our country". Ground hornets are bad, and come out swarming.
    Glad that you are keeping your inimitable sense of humor and honor. Come and see us. We'll make iced tea and tell lies to each other.

    Pastor Tom

    ReplyDelete
  16. I don't have any problem with abbreviations, but I DO have a problem with what too often passes for "entertainment" these days and have had for years. I'm guilty of using "this country"--but in both positive and negative ways. A positive example would be that people like you make this country great! Anyway, I really enjoyed this and think that Andy Rooney has some tough competition in you! Will be sharing this. . .

    ReplyDelete
  17. My dear Mr Hamner, How enthusiastically I look for your blog posts.I can relate, and what a good hearty laugh I get each time. A good sense of humor adds longevity to ones life.That wise ole man Solomon put it this way "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine."and I beleive it. May the peace that surpasses all understanding keep your heart and mind to a good ripe age and even longer...........Patsy from Tennessee

    ReplyDelete
  18. Dear Earl, I knew it. The last conversation we had I was so full of things to say, it all came gushing out at once. I was like a rolling tide. It must have been overwhelming to you! It certainly would have driven me crazy to listen to "me". Yet, as always, you remained calm and kind. Now I can imagine that you might have been throwing things at me via the telephone during your moments of silence. Well, I can't blame you. It wasn't until we said our "Good-byes" that the light bulb came on! I told my good son,
    (who, by the way, sends his best to you)
    "I just realized that I totally dominated the entire conversation." A hundred apologies. I would like to say it is because at my age I have to hurry and get things said before I forget them. But, that is not always the case. Sometimes I forget I am a southern and find myself talking far too much and too fast for no reason. If I send you something via email, I guess you have noticed also that Spellcheck fails me. I am becoming like "Them"!! Oh Lord! I pray it isn't so. But then again I know I will never dress like Lady Gaga or whatever she calls herself, nor will I visit L.A.Phil. So maybe, just maybe, there is hope afterall. Please don't give up one me. :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hi Mr. Hamner! Your blog is great and wish you could write more often. I featured you in my blog today. You can find it here on blogspot also at nostalgicrambler.blogspot.com. Tried sending you an email through your website but it came back.

    ReplyDelete
  20. To quote my 15-year-old daughter: "I know, right." That being said, she and our other children enjoy few things as much as watching "The Waltons" on DVD on Sunday nights. In fact, our kids were just as excited to visit Schuyler, Virginia, as they were nearby Monticello on our last vacation. Maybe even more so.

    I'm extremely happy to have found your blog. Thank you for remaining a part of our lives.

    ReplyDelete
  21. hey there..i,m new on this board but its great to be here..Mr.earl hamner, thank you for the great show "the waltons"...i was just in Schuyler visiting and had an excellent time..felt like a kid again ..lotsa fun...

    ReplyDelete
  22. Mr. Hamner, like so many others before me, I am so happy to be able to read your blog. I've enjoyed reading your comments and thoughts and quite frankly, I agree with them all! I'm a child of the 80's, born in 1968 but as I was growing up I watched The Waltons so I'm kinda in that era too. As I age my mind falls back to my youth and how I was raised and I try to incorperate those things into my childrens' lives. I have 4 kids, ages 21, 19, 14 and 8 and just recently became a grandmother. My husband and I have adopted the tradition of watching an episode or two of The Waltons most evenings after supper time. (I'm slowly collecting the whole series; I have 4 seasons so far)It's a nice way to unwind and settle down after a hard days' work and it takes us back to the way things used to be. But, it's always a pleasure to get on here and read your words of wisdom, and you have so many I'd be on here writing a book about them. Thank you again and have a great day!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hello Earl... I am Bren. I am 60 and married to Rustic Charlie, a loving, jolly man who handcrafts VA Cedar Log Furniture as a Roadside Artisan on the outskirts of Charlottesville VA. I too write... find I cannot not write and enjoy reading and doing research almost as much. Just discovered your Blog while doing a search on your Books after discovering 'Generous Women' at a used Book Store.

    The Internet has been a great outlet for me, as a writer and one who loves to learn. We have traded it in for Television in our home because we feel almost the same as yourself. Thus far this choice has helped to keep us from becoming 'a cantankerous old geezer who sits in front of the television set, shouting obscenities and throwing things at it.' YouTube is quickly becoming a favorite as we can type in any topic and are usually able to find something to keep our comfort zone warm and cozy.

    These day enjoyable TV for me consist of 'Sprout' with my Grandchildren and some Adult Educational Programing when I visit at their home. Having become concerned about what my Grandchildren will find to feed their souls as they grow up, I've decided to collect DVD's and Books which have been beneficial in my life ... The Walton's are on that list. Finding your Official Website has proved to be very advantageous indeed.

    Am delighted to have found you and to have read more about your life here and agree with the insights of Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey 'A reader often falls in love with a writer through his work but can sometimes fall out of love with him on learning about his life. Not so with Earl Hamner.' Am sure this info will come to mind as I pass by the Rockfish River on my way to my brother's James River Property. I am the eldest of 6 by the way, thus the Waltons touched a spot in me that was in need of what you had to offer through your writings. They are much appreciated by many and hopefully will be for a long time to come.

    I too have made a promise to myself, 'that with the wisdom that would come with the years I would rise above youthful follies. I would smile at the antics of the young; try to understand their language and their behavior.'; but am grieved to discover,like you, I am unable to keep it. Am considering writing Children's Stories as well... am in the ruminating cycle just now ... hopefully something worth while will be birthed.

    Before saying 'Warm regards and Adios!' with a special acknowledgment and thank you to Pepe, may I be so bold as to refer you to my Blog? www.LivingASimplifiedLife.blogspot.com It may help to bring back 'That sweet natured, kindly, well mannered guy' we've all come to love and appreciate as one of the great contributions our country has to offer those who look to us for goods that are worth passing on to and for the benefit of our future generations.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this... take care.... bren

    ReplyDelete
  24. Afternoon Mr. Hammer. I am watching "THE WALTONS" marathon on the Hallmark channel. Everyday,I watch your show wondering if you have a blog on line. I decided to look,and you do! While the commercials play,I have been reading your blogs. Very enjoyable reading. One of the things that caught my opinonated eye,was what you wrote about Brian Williams and his continual commenting about "this country". I thought,
    "YES,someone else has noticed." I quit watching the news from American newscasters. Living where I do in northern Michigan,I am able to get a Canadian news channel. I have learned more about what is going on in our country from their News.I know they have no reason to hide anything,which newcasters here seem to do,more and more,like Americans are ignorant. I wrote on my Facebook last night, how I wished my Grandfathers and my Dad were still a live. Knowing what they would say about what is happening in our country . I wrote I could picture them shaking their heads in sadness and dis-belief. That they would not be afraid to voice their opinions,like so many Americans are afraid to do anymore. It seems people won't speak up for fear of offending. Offending whom? I also commented how this President has said, "By Memorial day gas will be up to $5.00 a gallon and Americans should start buying electric cars". I commented "How a lot of Americans can't even pay their monthly electric bills". I am proud that you are not afraid to voice your opinions. If you were able to sit down with our Grandfathers and our Dads, would you share the same honest and refreshing views about America as it use to be and could and should still be today? God Bless and continue in good health. I am sorry about your achy knees. Sincerely, Linda Worth

    ReplyDelete
  25. Michelle "Fred" HaganJune 30, 2011 at 4:58 PM

    Good evening Mr. Hamner. Thank you for your most recent blog. I laughed until I cried about "Peeps" and the spell check. I hope you will not change when it comes to sharing your thoughts and opinions on any topic. You are informative as well as witty. I will never get tired of reading your words. We as an audience would have been deprived of your wonderful talent of writing if you had decided to become anything else other than a writer. I do believe that you and Mr. Twain would have gotten along right nicely. I hope that you have no plans on leaving on the next comet out of here so that you may finish all your endeavors. I am sure all will be worth reading. I do enjoy all that you write about your family. It's a lot like remembering what it was like for my parents growing up in Tennessee and Kentucky during the depression. Thanks for the memories. Your ever supportive fan, Michelle "Fred" Hagan

    ReplyDelete
  26. Dear Mr. Hamner,

    I look forward to reading your blog. Having an author of your caliber actually verbalize with your followers gives me hope. At the young age of 68 I have finally had one of my stories published. I do not expect to be as famous as you, but you have given me the oourage to try. I have been writing stories and poems for many years and finally after everyones encouragement decided to go for it. I am not far behind you in the line for the jumping off point, but intend to keep trying, and hopefully some folks will enjoy my work. Keep bloging for us, you are a wonderful author.

    Sincerely,
    Patricia Salamone

    ReplyDelete
  27. Dear Mr Hamner i am so happy to have received your news letter as of today May 30 th 2012 i look forward so much to hearing from you.

    The Twinkle Twinkle Movie Star! letter is wonderful i shall share the story with my family once i can get them all together this coming week end i would like to say thank you so mu7ch for your writings and great stories and the 'Waltons`the best family show ever i HAVE seen on Tv...

    I would like to make comment to your watcheré listener Patricia Salomone and say good luck and wishes with her writings...
    yours truly JoanFryer and THANK YOU MR HAMNER

    ReplyDelete
  28. Rebecca SlinkardJuly 18, 2012 at 9:05 PM

    Hello Mr. Hamner,
    So glad I found this site. My husband, grandson, and I visited your home in Schulyer, VA. this past week (07/2012.) We loved it. It makes watching reruns of The Walton's, and your books that much more enjoyable.
    Please keep writing and letting us know what is going on in your life. I truly appreciate you, your many writings, and especially your wonderful voice.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Hi Mr. Earle Hamner,

    Thank God there are great writers as you Sir. I personally like to express my thoughts on what a wonderful show being aired of the "WALTONS" I seldom miss not watching this show. Every time I view the 'WALTON'S TV show, it brings me back to the good years of the 40's and 50's when Family values, and love and respect was truly the way of life.

    As a radio host of my own station, for the past 8 years, The Walton's Show is a must for all to enjoy. Our musical format is simple, music of the 30's, 40's, 50's. Thank you for the Walton's TV show.

    Frank E. Dee/Gmmy Radio Host

    ReplyDelete