Stalking The Centre For The Unknown

This place has fired my curiosity ever since we moved here. It’s instantly recognizable looking out from the train to Lisbon. What the hell are they doing in there? Unknown what? Artificial Intelligence? Extra dimensional travel? Galactic Alien Relocation Center? What’s going on? Turns out the Champalimaud Foundation (named after a wealthy Portuguese benefactor) is a world renown cancer research facility. I’m glad they’re doing good work there, but I’m a wee bit disappointed they didn’t quite fan the flame of my wild imaginings.

My curiosity built to the breaking point after I recently wrote a short science fiction play and entered it into a contest (The Future of Art). The  intriguing theme of the contest is Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Conflict: How will AI change the nature of human endeavor? Sounded like a challenge to me so I answered it by lobbing a Molotov cocktail into the discussion.  Hey, it’s what I do sometimes.  A filmmaker pal thinks we should shoot it as a movie here.

Here is the animated view of the facility a full three years before it was built. Looks amazingly like the final product in real life.

Pretty cool, yes? Just another day in one of the world’s oldest cities that also happens to have it’s eyes sharply focused on the future.

If you are interested, let me know and I’ll email you a copy of the play; it’s a pretty quick read. And my take on the theme has to do with AI, self-aware robots and NDE’s (Near Death Experiences). Yeah, it’s that far out there, but as in a lot of sci-fi…is it?

 


Alfama: The Oldest District In Lisbon

An ancient neighborhood (‘bairro’ in Portuguese) beginning on top of a spectacular hill. The Alfama district winds down to the Rio Tejo in a labyrinthine series of narrow streets, alley ways and storefronts that are the epitome of the word ‘quaint.’ We took some visiting friends there and got a soulful glance into this eternally fascinating city.


New York Minuet

What is a minuet? It’s a dance, a social dance. And that’s what the entire eight day excursion was in the wilds of New York City and its even wilder environs. It was one continuous dance.

We stayed in the Bronx, the more up-and-coming area known as South Bronx, or Sobro. Still, even though I was the OWD (only white dude), I got the same feeling I often get when we travel: we are the foreigners, the minority. And sometimes that’s not a bad thing. We never felt threatened, in danger, nor did we get robbed, beaten, stabbed or killed — not killed even once! Though on a couple of occasions I did get extra looks, smiles mostly.  The area where my daughter and granddaughter live (‘Sup Brooke Ave!) is not yet used to seeing many white people of a certain age. Their neighborhood is mostly a mixture of Hispanic, i.e., Dominican Republic, Central and South Americans and blacks; not only African Americans but from all other African countries. On the street and especially in the subways, you hear the music of languages that originate from every culture on earth.

I was thrilled and honored to be a part of the 4th Annual Schreiber Shorts play festival (check it out here, if you have a moment). I felt like a famous playwright for a night and even got to schmooze the after-show reception with my granddaughter, Aisha Carpenter (an acting student at the T. Schreiber Theatre and Studio) by my side.

cowboy-cutCOWBOY CUT

Corruption, Greed, & Deception on an Arizona Ranch
By Nelson Clark
Directed by Ann Cooley
With: Bill Barry, Ivan Sandomire, Tai Thompson

For me, the whole time was an exercise in gratitude; every minute I tried to appreciate exactly how lucky a creature I am.

aisha-and-big-b

Going to New York is always big, brash and busy, and we loved our visit…but honestly? Despite all the energy, the vibrancy and never-ending noise,  traffic, subway congestion and even the snow falling gently down and covering the freshly heaved vomit on the sidewalk, it was a relief to return to Portugal. We love our girls and wish them all the success and fulfillment the city can help them achieve. But it sure was nice to get back, after a long and exuberant dance, and relax on the veranda with Wyatt Earp Clark.  The three of us sit close and look out over a magnificent vista where we watch the big winter waves crash on the beach at Pria da Poça. It was a good trip.


Guess Whose Play Is Going To Be Produced Off-Broadway?

This year’s lineup of 10-minute shorts explores the idea of CHALLENGES with plays that reflect various creative interpretations of the theme. Out of nearly 1,000 submissions from around the world, 10 short plays were selected for this year’s production!

10 Playwrights.

Bob Canning
Eugenie Carabatsos
Nelson Clark
Alex Dremann
Jim Gordon
Peter Kennedy
Dan McGeehan
Rosemary Frisino Toohey
Michael Weems
Nathan Yungerberg
10 Directors.

Raquel Alamazan
Janet Bentley
Page Clements
Ann Cooley
Ivette Dumeng
Crystal Edn
Joan Kane
Clarissa Marie Lignon
Gregg Pica
Jake Turner

That’s right, me, your humble Raging Traveler. Yes, the one whose picture is second from the end. Yes, the same guy who looks like he’s about to plant a big French kiss in the ear of the last fellow in line (he’s so handsome!). Seriously, it is a serious honor to be part of this group. I’ve been in communication with the director and she has a great cast; they’re having fun rehearsing the piece and bringing out the humor in what is a fairly dark story.  The festival is having a three week run from January 25 through February 11. So if you are in NYC…come see it! Very exciting as you might imagine.

So, as I jump through hoops to try and tie all this to a travel blog, Virginia and I will be traveling to New York City for the opening night festivities.  So much will be packed into nine days, including staying with daughter, Layla Angulo, and her daughter, our granddaughter, Aisha Carpenter, who just so happens to turn (my God you’re old, this blog should be called Raging Geezer) 19 the day before the opening!

Not only that, but…Aisha is an acting student at the very theatre and studio where my play is being performed (Hey, grampa kinda looks cool now, oui? What do you mean, non?).

Not only that, but…she will be acting in a one-woman show I wrote (sort of, be honest) for her later this year.

Not only that, but…there will be lots of interesting places, people and experiences to report on once we return, and each and every one of them I will share with all of you.

Before I go, let me leave you with one more bit of pride from my heart — as if I haven’t been Mr. Braggadocio until now. (Geez, isn’t this guy done yet? These toe nails aren’t going to clip themselves.)

Aisha just finished performing at one of Manhattan’s premier supper clubs, Feinstein’s/54 Below. And she simply, well, see for yourself.

Ah, yes, you are correct. I am one lucky so-and-so. Cheers and ciao for now.


Hello and Goodbye Times Three

A new camera and its new tricks to play with. Old friends and good times in this country where we continue to find ourselves enchanted; every, single, day.


When Power Meets Time

A place of dark secrets amid swirling rumors. We snuck inside and roamed through an enchanting nightmare from the not-so-distant past.


Óbidos

A Portuguese castle born in antiquity, its high life lived in the Middle Ages, in its latest incarnation reinvented as a tourist attraction. History meets Disneyland? It is a beautiful relic, on a wondrous site, a marvel of engineering.

But I’m still not sure what to make of it.

Little alleyways, thrillingly dangerous ramparts, quaint shops and eateries mixed with kitsch and crowded lanes of tourists bused in from all over the world.

How does one decide what it all means? We’ll just have to go back for more visits.  If for nothing else but to sip ginjinha (the local tasty sour cherry liqueur) and look out again from the high castle walls to the farms and green countryside stretching out in the distance below.

 

 


A Halloween Story You Won’t Soon Forget

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! BWA-HA-HA-HA!

I hate what corporate America has done to Halloween.

The ancient Celts, who started the tradition, believed that every October 31 there appeared a tear in the curtain between the worlds of the living and the dead, who were able to slip back through. What began as a way to remember the dead (and acknowledge where we’re all headed) has long been turned into yet another vacuous marketing ploy: ads starting in September, monster push on tacky costumes and Type II diabetes triggering crap — I’m looking at you Candy Corn.

Despite all that, I’d like to pass along a little story I came across for this All Hallow’s Eve.

Some who know me will claim, falsely I must state here, that several places in the story seem suspiciously, nay, creepily like the truth. I beg you not to make that same mistake. It will have dire (I said dire!) consequences.

Join me, won’t you? If you dare, buckle up, hold onto your seat, because here comes the…

Thanks for watching.

And to all on this foreboding All Saint’s Eve, I wish you…a good night?


Nazaré

It’s all about perspective. Stand on a high cliff. Look into the far distance, miles off. The long curve of the bay. The hills sloping down into the sea. The tile roofs clustered like a rumpled rust-colored carpet. Then look beside you. White washed walls and buildings. White cobblestone walkways. Move across them. The change in perspective sways your mood, your intention, what thoughts bubble up from the shift. What is the meaning of these visual changes? For me, head and heart collide; the intellect of optics merge with the opening of an emotional channel. Like two best friends who, after a long absence, know they need to meet more often. It’s good for the soul.

 


Fun With Friends at Praia da Poça, Cabo da Roca, and Sintra

A quick jaunt through four days with our friends David and Elizabeth; the first of many who come to visit (we hope!)


Morning to Dusk: Views From Estoril

It’s a little like waking up in an ever-changing world that is strange and yet so familiar. Welcome to every day in Estoril, Portugal.

 


The Day We Met Our Dinner

Sometimes you have to get up close and personal with what you put in your mouth. Suddenly, you appreciate the creatures who sustain your life every single day.

 


Let’s Get Lost (Again)

We know where we want to go. We just don’t know how to get there. Which is always half the fun.


Fantabulistic

We love our friends, George and Nirava; he the skillful driver; she the marvelous gourmet chef. They are spoiling us with great food, wine, and excellent company. The weather here in the fading weeks of September continues to be a succulent feast of its own: Warm, soft days and with the kind of sunlight that beckons painters, poets, and professional lollygaggers such as myself to come out and play.

 


Estoril Sunset

Two bookend videos; sunrise and sunset. I couldn’t help myself, the place is too beautiful and I can’t leave it alone. Can you blame me?


Estoril Sunrise

Up early to walk the boy and catch as much of this magnificent Portuguese morning as we can. Can you smell the ocean?


Fast Walk to a Slow Lunch

The weather: perfect. The company: exquisite. The hour: lunch. The music: killer . What’s not to love on this spectacular September afternoon? Shall we go for a stroll? I say Yes!

 

 


Train and Garden

Two posts in two days?? I know, I can’t believe it, either. But life here is so lovely, ever-changing and full of unexpectedly pleasant surprises; I feel energized to try and capture a bit of it as we continue our adventure in Portugal.


Escape to Alcatruz

A week after arriving, I finally caught my breath from the relentlessly beautiful place we’ve moved to and picked up the camera. Things are different yet familiar here…in the most intriguing ways.

Oh, I’m sorry, did I forget to mention that Virginia, Wyatt and myself are now living in Portugal? This world, she is so full of surprises, oui? Enjoy; more to come!

Music by the incomparable Portuguese duo, Dead Combo: “Waiting for Nick at Rick’s Café.”

 


The Journey Inside

I am contemplating my first solo adventure. Virginia has suggested and I have come to agree that a trip alone would be good for the soul. Get me out of my comfort zone. It will be a much rougher trek than Virginia is comfortable to make and I don’t blame her for wanting to sit this one out. Right now Equator is at the top of the list, but that could change any day. In the mean time, I try to get better at my version of Tai Chi. (It will be painfully obvious to most serious martial arts students that this is not how it is taught in most classic schools. However, call me the old fool that I am, good or bad, at this point in my life I do what feels right for me.)


Porto: City of Bridges

A magnificent city in northern Portugal; glorious yet down-to-earth. Like floating through an ancient dream riven by yesterday and today. A place where J.K. Rowling wrote chapters of the first Harry Potter novel, spent time in and was inspired by the beautiful Livraria Lello bookstore, and it’s easy to see how she was inspired by the magic of the city.

If you dare to ride on one of the many garishly painted double-decked tourist buses (how they manage to drive on some of the narrow and winding streets is magic in itself), you’ll find you have the best vantage point, as you will see, to view the city of Porto from on high.

And while on the bus, listening on the headphones while the history of the city and its landmarks pass you by, you will no doubt begin to imagine that your narrator is none other than Dame Judy Dench herself. For some reason, this voice acting job is not on her resume (!).

Music by the wildly talented group, Calexico. Title track from their album, “Algiers.”


Next Stop Coimbra: A Musical City in the Heart Of Portugal

Black capes and uniforms on the college students. More steep, winding and narrow streets with surprises around every corner. River views and an interesting twist on the art of fado: usually sung by women, the ‘Portuguese blues’ here is sung by (often love-struck) young men. Groups of musicians and singers at every turn; beautiful music was everywhere.


Lisbon, Portugal: A Video View

A follow-up to the Portugal post, this is a series of short videos that take you around Lisbon and let you feel the powerful draw of this ancient city.


An Affair To Remember

As a writer I kind of hate to say it: Sometimes it’s all about what the pictures tell you (‘worth a thousand words’ and all that). In this case I found it was difficult if not impossible to describe this experience in a way that was satisfying. Yet, when I put this video together, simply pictures and music, it felt perfect. What do you think?


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