Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick or treat

A fav:Bugs heads out trick-or-treating and winds up at a Witch's door who is in the process of preparing a brew whose final ingredient is a rabbit's clavicle. Bugs tries to flee but is cornered with the cleaver. Doom is surely at hand when Bugs appeals to the Witch's tender side and the witch finds her comeuppance by turning into a beautiful babe- exactly what she had most feared! A true WB classic cartoon.

Halloween is one of the last holidays that is just about fun... no religious ties to ruin the mood, no somber event to cloud the party- just a great deal of spooky fun. I was discouraged from enjoying spooky things when I was little and I ruined Halloween for my children by not teaching them how fun it is to be have your teeth chattering in the middle of the night when you're all alone in the dark. But now that I am older and realize what I missed, I'm glad I can still enjoy it.... even if I can't knock on doors and threaten the residents in order to get a treat.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

There was a time

There was a time when there was a corner store that sold an assortment of candy treats and little toys for children. There was a time when dime stores were owned by the elderly gentlemen that lived on the corner of White St. and Main. There was a time when bookstores were full of literature and great history books. There was a time when the whole neighborhood was out trick-or-treating, and Widow Nichols knew each child by their first names. There was a time when a person could own a bookstore, a bakery or a toy store and they could make a living and in the doing, be a part of a community.

But in these days of big business and huge corporations, the small businessperson scratches out (hopefully!) a meager second income on their labors. "Owning" a business is generally a huge gamble unless it's connected to a well-established company- like the franchises that give us the illusion of autonomy. We work and work to keep ourselves going, putting the pennies we scratch together back into the pockets of our "toy" makers-- the automobile industry, the computer/electronic game corporations, the television/entertainment industry-- anything that keeps us from realizing that we no longer have as our goal "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" but are now in the pursuit of individual interests and having more. Not the same thing at all... but we seem to be too numb with me-ism to get that.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Calvino

New to the world of Italo Calvino, I was taken aback by his direct and colorful style. He begins this literary journey by speaking directly to his readers, and in fact pulling you into the novel by including you and what you are experiencing. He guides you to a comfortable place to open your book then takes you to your discovery of a book. Unfortunately the book is incomplete so you begin to search for the rest of the book, thirsting to know the rest of the story. Another Reader is introduced with the same problem only her journey is driven from a different motivation and the two of you head out, intrigued and perplexed. You think you found it and alas! it is not the same book but quite a different one. What a disappointment!! You scan the pages of this new book, quickly getting caught up only to find it ends without a conclusion-- so beginning another search for yet another book. By the end of the novel, you have wound your way, not through one story but approximately 10 different stories and the conclusion is... Well, I don't want to spoil it.

His style is, hmmm..., you could almost say he doesn't have A Style. Each story is written with a decidedly different flavor that gives the reader the feeling that they have actually had the experience. It's an witful adventure that will keep you turning pages into the wee. Translator William Weaver has skillfully managed the author's intent without diluting the author's lyrical tone. A masterfully written book... difficult to find in bookstores but a real and more than satisfying treasure hunt. If you're looking for a journey of the mind (what with travel prohibitively expensive these days), Calvino will take you down a path that ever winds and always twists and, you hope, never ends.


WARNING: Calvino is one of those "literature" writers whom readers now disdain for pop stuff but his work is far from the rocky shores of the literati that college students have as a "must-read" and is out on the high seas.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tools for writing

When I write, I use Wikipedia a lot-- careful of course to make sure the info is not too specific. I wouldn't use it for a sole source on archeology for instance- but it does come in handy- especially if you want to find real source material- the source notes on the bottom of the page are very useful as a start. I also use Yahoo! reference - the thesaurus is helpful. But for a more complete dictionary/thesaurus I am finding http://www.onelook.com/ to be far more comprehensive. (I found the link via 'The Phrontistry'-- a fun site on the history of words.) For instance, today I looked up 'wacky.' Onelook pulled up several sites, including the Slang dictionary. When I clicked there, I found not only the definition for wacky (adj. Crazy, zany) but a whole series of interesting words and their definitions, including 'wank' in all it's various forms:

Wank V. To masturbate. Also phrased as wank off. E.g."If our young men devoted as much time to their school work as they did to wanking then we'd have a nation of geniuses." N. 1. An act of masturbation. E.g."You can guarantee that if he sees a pair of naked breasts he'll go and have a wank straight away."
2. Something useless, or worthless. E.g."I wish I hadn't brought that new CD, it's wank." 3. Nonsense. Exclam. Exclamation of annoyance or expressing disbelief.

wank bank Noun. Memory, with respect to sexually stimulating thoughts and recalled when masturbating. E.g."Did you see that girl dancing on the podium? I've put her in my wank bank."

wank biscuit Noun. A contemptible or objectionable person.

wanker Noun. 1. A masturbator. 2. A contemptible person. 3. An idiot, an incompetent person.

wankered Adj. Very intoxicated.

wankiest Adj. Of the poorest quality, of the lowest standard, the worst. E.g."It was wankiest film I've seen all year and to think I wasted £5 on a ticket and 3 hours of my life."

wanking Noun. Masturbation.

wanking chariot Noun. A bed. [Orig. Military use]

wank mag Noun. A pornographic magazine.

wank pit Noun. A bed. [Mainly Military use]

wank rag Noun. 1. A cloth item, such as a handerkerchief, that is used to mop up ejaculate after masturbation. 2. A contemptible, low quality newspaper or magazine.
wankshaft Noun. A contemptible person.

wank spanners Noun. The hands. From being tools used for masturbation.

wanksplat Noun. A contemptible person or thing.

wankstain Noun. 1. A semen stain, as result of masturbation. 2. A contemptible person.

wanky Adj. Rubbish, of very poor quality.

I feel my vocabulary is so much richer now! :)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

a childhood should be...

Santa Claus and Easter egg hunts,

Trick-or-treating until your too cold to walk anymore,

Swinging so high that the swing set is threatening to topple

Reading a scary book (that mom doesn't approve of) under the covers with a flashlight

jumping in the pile of leaves dad just raked

sloshing through water puddles after a big rain

snowball fights with friends

telling spooky stories at a sleepover

strategising on how to defeat your friend's toy army

making a fort from boxes

Baseball/football games on an empty lot

watching monster movies and then staying awake hearing strange noises in the house

dress up

full of play and imagination

magic

Saturday, October 25, 2008

childhood?

Little league football for kids is awful stuff. Parents screaming, yelling, coaches pacing and pulling at nonexistent hair. Kids crying and being hollered at to stop crying (not that kids should never be told to stop acting like babies, but please...). What happened to kids playing football on an empty school yard or playground? What happened to the neighborhood streets teaming with children calling to one another and running from one home to another? This is preparation for adulthood...

Are we robbing our children of their childhood?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Life sucks...

yet it's all we have.

And we do have a tendency to make life difficult for ourselves- living beyond our means so that we are financially strapped and the fear of losing everything hangs heavily over our daily existence. Smoking, drinking excessively, selfishness.. there are plenty of things we do that make life harder than it needs to be. But those difficulties are simply about choices and learning to be satisfied with what we have and spending our time and money on only those things that really add to our daily existence (which is why I don't mind spending a bit more than the average person on books). But there are plenty of things that are out of our control that weigh heavily on the soul... disease, war, disasters, (this will be a long list so I'll let you fill in the blanks) In fact, there is enough misery and difficulty on this planet to make living seem like just a plod-a-long journey with nothing at the end but the Great Unknown. When I was a believer, I lived life for heavenly rewards and thought that my purpose was to serve god. As I untangled myself from the brainwashing that I had undergone since I was born, I had to find a new paradigm... a new model for life.

Fortunately, I had a humanistic outlook on life (I guess that is still part of my christian upbringing-- I believed god really loved the world) and it was easy to see that we should serve each other, our "purpose" should be to contribute something both to the planet we live on and the people we live among. Our daily chores (our jobs) should give something back, in some small way (teachers are the most AMAZING contributors-- it's unfortunate that I didn't want to teach) and hopefully help us find some fulfillment along the way. It's not always easy to give in that way but when you have a passion for what you do each day, then the giving is easier and the price does not diminish us. We should fill our other moments with intentional living... finding beauty and joy in the moments that are given to us -- not mindlessly floating off into the netherworld of non-existence that seems to pervade our culture -television, shopping, diminishing ourselves to simple CONSUMERS. Serendipity brought a man into my life who had a passion for finding the beauty in life and he taught me to let go of some of my burden for the world and my duty to it... to love myself and my life. We have crafted, together, a pretty wonderful life.

Let's face it, we (none of us) are going to change the world (and perhaps that is is not even something we should desire to do)... but we can make our little corner of it a blissful and magical place to be.

Key West


Three years ago, Maurice and I sat down together to watch a little TV show that he was a big fan of. It had been on in 1993 and had made such a huge impression on him that he tracked down the VHS tapes ten years later. The quality was poor, with occasional flickers of static interfering with the picture.

It began humorously... with half naked exotic dancers and a high end call girl (played by Jennifer Tilly) who has half the town under her spell. Seamus O'Neill (Fisher Stevens), a factory worker from New Jersey, wins the lottery and heads to Key West to be like his idol, Ernest Hemingway.


The show opens as he drives down the Keys straight into the ocean at the end of the world and is met by a Rastafarian named Jo Jo, who measures up the situation pretty quickly, "Well! I guess you're plannin' on stayin' with us a while, hey man? Oh man, now you're such a hard man! Now why you go kill that car that way, anyway? What'd that car do to you? That car steal your woman, man? You come home and find that car in bed with your woman? Maybe you find them clues, uh? Tire tracks. Oil drippin's on ya white sheets. But how do you know it wasn't that Studebaker down the street been stick-shiftin' your woman! Maybe you killed the wrong car, man! Look at him! Dead an' bleedin' in the ocean over there! But now I'm lookin' hard in these flame-throwing eyes and I'm sayin' to myself, 'JoJo', -My name really Abednigo but everybody call me JoJo, don't ask me why – 'JoJo. maybe this man done drove this car all the way down here to the end of the world, then killed his car so that he can never go home again!'"

"I'm free from the tyranny of clocks, the slavery of the second hand. I'm gonna sleep 'til four in the afternoon. Then I'm gonna stay up for three days straight, then I'm gonna get real fat, then I'm gonna get real skinny. I'm gonna eat caviar. I'm gonna howl naked at the moon in the cemetery." Seamus declares as they stroll through town.

"What you gonna do tomorrow?" Jo Jo laughs at him.


They walk past the Hemingway house and Seamus nearly melts in adoration.Jo Jo pulls him away with the promise to take him to the newspaper where he will get his first assignment to, "...put something on paper that don't put me to sleep, or make me glad I done lost my eyesight... Oh, you didn't know I was blind, did you? Didn't know I was blind? Well what is you? Inbred? Crossbred? No – don't answer! Just get out!" his future boss, Cole, orders and sends Seamus on his way, writing kit in tow.

Jo Jo's next stop on the tour of the island is past a political rally where Seamus gets a glimmer of his first story. One politician's speech seem to have been written by "wizards and angels" and the other panders to fear and greed. When the eloquent incumbent commits political suicide the other uses the his "liability" to win. Thus, Seamus's first article for the Key West 'Meteor' in which he begins, "We speak not of truth, but of the beauty of political death at the end of the world...."

then on "to paradise"... Gumbo's End o' the World Cafe. Here he meets Savannah, the sexual embodiment of the island. She sees the new boy in town and saunters over...

"Oh my! Who are you?"

JoJo steps in for the intro: "New newspaper reporter person."


Savannah: "A writer?"

Seamus looks around uncertainly: "Yeah... somedays... sort of... no."

Savannah: "Having a little trouble getting that first novel between the covers?"

Seamus: "How'd you know?"

Savannah: "You've come to the right place, you pretty thing. It's magic here. There are Angels in the Spray, Wizards in the Palm Trees, and Elves in the Sea Shells, and they all look very favorably on struggling young writers."

And thus began what would become a wonderful discovery... a show that contained some of the magic of the island, even of life itself and would take me to the island itself where I found the Place that spoke to my soul.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Word of the day

Dialectic:
I enjoy a good debate or discussion- though disagreement can be difficult it can also lead to understanding and, occasionally, a solution to a problem. Dialectical discourse is particularly interesting to me as a result. Here are several definitions from different sources:

From: Online Teymology Dicitonary.
[or.] 1382, from L. dialectica, from Gk. dialektike (techne) "(art of) philosophical discussion or discourse," fem. of dialektikos "of conversation, discourse," from dialektos "discourse, conversation" (see dialect). Originally synonymous with logic; in modern philosophy refined by Kant, then by Hegel, who made it mean "process of resolving or merging contradictions in character."

Cambridge Dictionaries Online
Dialectic: noun [U] (ALSO dialectics) SPECIALIZED
a way of discovering what is true by considering opposite theories

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Dialectics is based around three (or four) basic metaphysical concepts:

* 1: Everything is transient and finite, existing in the medium of time (this idea is not accepted by all dialecticians).
* 2: Everything is made out of opposing forces/opposing sides (contradictions).
* 3: Gradual changes lead to turning points, where one force overcomes the other (quantitative change leads to qualitative change).
* 4: Change moves in spirals not circles. (Sometimes referred to as "negation of the negation")

Within this broad qualification, dialectics have a rich and varied history. It has been stated that the history of dialectic is identical to the extensive history of philosophy.[12]. The basic idea perhaps is already present in Heraclitus of Ephesus, who held that all is in constant change, as a result of inner strife and opposition [13][14][15] Only fragments of his works and commentary remain, however. Briefly, the term "dialectic" owes much of its prestige to its role in the philosophy of Socrates and Plato, where it figures as the logical method of philosophy, which these thinkers apply by developing an elenchus, that is cross-examination for the purpose of refutation. According to Aristotle, [16] it was Zeno of Elea who 'invented' dialectic.

**on days when my post for the day is a copy and paste or a quick sentence, the paragraph has been added to either my short story, 'Lazarus Unwound' or 'Death and Politics'.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

And now a word from our sponsors


The sunset on Green Mountain, a glass of champagne and chocolate combined with hand holding and conversation that includes, "remember the time..." makes for a perfect evening.

The unfortunate message

In a previous post, I mentioned the insidiousness of commercials- how they create need that wasn't there before or is not a need at all and may, once you have it, not even be a want. Perhaps as adults, we feel less affected by advertising. We may even feel in control and pandered to by advertising (why do we resent salesmen so much but don't mind commercials? It's the same thing.). We feel they have become just a necessary evil in watching our favorite programming for free and sometimes a short source of entertainment (i.e. superbowl commercials).

Unfortunately, they are not. One of my favorite shows is 'Madmen'- a unique little program on American Movie Classics that is receiving a lot of critical acclaim. The drama on the show is interesting and engaging- (I worry about Don's children who are being raised by a more than slightly crazy mother and a father who is disengaged and neglectful -to say the least) but what I also like about the show is it's ability to reveal how advertising affects WHAT we watch. For example in 'A night to remember' in season two, one advertiser is chastised for buying advertising space on a show that references communists as "agitators"-- his clients, Maytag, were not happy about his lack of oversight. They felt the unfortunate use of the word "agitators" would immediately connect their washing machines with communism!

Although it may not seem like censorship, after all they certainly have the right to associate their product with whatever show they choose to, yet when quality programming is not aired because it cannot find enough advertising to pay for it's air time because the companies do not want their product connected with ideas they don't approve of, then it is the corporations that are dictating what we watch and see on television, NOT what the production companies think we will like. There is the illusion in a capitalist society that we have the power because we have the money-- but the reality is that we are being played-- like a cello being stroked by Yo Yo Ma. And make no mistake, everyone involved in advertising are virtuosos.

Advertising is impacting so many areas of our lives-- our politicians are being chosen essentially by advertising (even if people are finally fed up with McCain-- Obama should not be the man of choices based on his commercial appeal). People, we need to resist the commercialism in our society! We need to stop being the instrument and start being the musicians in our lives.

By the way, if you watch 'Madmen' on Comcast-on-demand, there is only one commercial the entire show and you can fast forward through that!

A local shop for local people

video

Could it get any funnier... Don't touch the precious things of the shop!

Monday, October 20, 2008

"letter to the editor"

Does religion lead to relativism? An almighty hand that can reach down to slap you for wrongdoing makes morality/doing good things a necessity. Thus the opposite would be true for those who NEED to believe there is a god. Absent of the heavenly discipliner, there is no need to do good, no higher purpose to attain to.

On the other hand, those who do not believe in an active creator god who is going to take us to the pearly gates after our spin on this mortal coil are completed, we believe it is our responsibility to care for each other. And this higher purpose is often what leads us to reject a "guiding hand" in the universe. We believe in the dignity and worth of all people. Life's cruelties seem out of sync and even contrary to the love of an almighty creator who has the power to at least alleviate the suffering of, at the very least, the weakest. It is not enough to say "it is sinful nature" or "it is free will" and in fact it is an incredible copout on the part of the people of the book to not spend their lives on their knees asking their god to intervene since they believe that god answers prayer. It is a stunning hypocrisy (and arrogance and any other number of negative human characteristics) that allows believers to think that they are somehow blessed by god while others, and generally the most helpless and defenseless, SUFFER due to their actions.

Indeed suffering is often the result of "sin"-- human suffering is so frequently the result of "man's inhumanity to man" that it is even more egregious to blame god for humanity's greed and violence. To say that human suffering is a result of sin and claim that humans are helpless to their sinful nature is to absolve humanity of it's responsibility in the world and to each other.

So does religion lead to relativism? Does a belief in god give one a shrug-of-the-shoulders view of the world, that it doesn't really matter since it's all "temporal" and "one day we'll be in heaven away from the pain and suffering of the world" attitude?

I believe it does.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

So you want to hear more?

Glancing around the bookstore today, I considered my negative remarks concerning the junk that is considered fiction writing that is available on the shelves of bookstores today... and I wished I had included names like Madeleine Wickham/Sophie Kinsella, Jane Green, Emily Griffin, Meg Cabot, Ann Brashares... well, just about anyone who can write a book in a year is NOT writing literature. I also considered my probably unpopular remarks concerning these writers and thought, "tough sh--" these women are making money writing the piffle that is left in the bottom of the sink after you've washed dishes. And as a feminist, nay, as a thinking human it is my responsibility to call them to task for the dreck they cloak in terms like "writing" or "authoring". No, they are harming us all by feeding us the same fish that caused the seamen to spasm in agony. We would be better off to tell them to find another profession that does honor to our gender rather than debase us publicly. Meanwhile, women who are putting their hearts and minds into the offering, are often looked over or completely rejected in the publishing world! It is time for this to stop!

You might say, "Well, what can I do? I am just one person. My choosing this other, lesser known writer is not going to change anything." Yet, what happens when you find something so beautiful that it silences the soul and causes you to pause in the everydayness to savor beauty? You tell others and soon the sky is illuminated like the sky at sunrise. All around benefit from the light. Great writing can do that...

You might also think to yourself, embarrassed to say it out loud "They're too hard!" Like Samantha on John Stewart, "Ow, ow, ow, you're hurting my girl brain." I would challenge you, dear reader, that if reading beauty and word filled melodies causes you to think harder than you might want to, that it is necessary, perhaps even dire, for to put your ill-at-ease aside and take up the most challenging novel you can find (and by challenging I do not mean BORING- there is plenty of "literature" out there that is just plain wordy and boring. Don't bother with that!) and take it in and find your way through it. You may find yourself along the way...

P.S. And if you are a writer who aspires to more than pop fadness, then you owe it to your craft to read what you want to write. Reading the best can only cause you to write your best.

P.S.S. And I might add... for those who like to think of themselves as "different" or "radical" or an "individual", the stream is against your finding great literature. Publishers are not really interested in developing great writers, they are merely interested in the bottom line. They market the writers that will produce a book a year because that is how they make money. They SELL them to you on a silver platter and it requires a bit of searching to find the great books. And though it's not popular to say this either-- there truly is a conspiracy to keep you from reading wonderful literature, (though it might not be with the intention of keeping the public from thinking -although it has that affect also), it is with the intention of separating you from your money. In the paraphrased words of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, "They're selling [you] a dream..." will you see through the disguise? (Full lyrics are at the bottom of my blog)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

And now this...

Advertising is a blight on civilization as we know it. It creates an unfair marketplace for the small businessperson and creates needs that were unknown up until the commercial enlightened us on our "need" for their product.

An excellent example would be teeth whitening products. I recall the first time I saw the commercial. Beautiful girl sitting at a table in a restaurant, having dinner, laughing, smiling... until! It is obvious that she has a blight on her otherwise pleasant features. Her full broad smile, which generally enhances anyone's otherwise plain looks, has become her nemesis. She has YELLOW TEETH! And now no one wants to talk to her or look at her, she is so imperfect! The answer? Crest's teeth whitening strips... they are her salvation.

And she would have never known if it hadn't been for... the commercial.

Don't you feel better too? Knowing that there is always a product out there to save the day???

Friday, October 17, 2008

What's good

It's good to look out your window and see sunshine and blue skies...

It's good to spy yellow, red, gold, and bronze leaves blowing in the breeze...

It's good to smell the scent of fireplace on a cool (not yet cold!) October eve...

It's good to walk in the brisk morning air...

It's good to find a new favorite place...

It's good to find the perfect gift for someone you love...

It's good to have champagne and a great book to curl up with...

It's good to hold hands and receive a kiss on your forehead...

Life is good.

Good

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Touchy subject

What not to read:

I read great books all the time and am always astonished by how many people do not. Having spoken to people in Barnes and Noble (and believe me I am glad people even still BUY books-- let alone read them!) all the time about their favorite authors or what they consider a great book, I am really astonished to see so many of them reading...-- well, I'll just put it right out there-- they read crap. One popular author is Jodi Picoult. Women often ask me about her books- some for book clubs, others simply because she is soup de jour and they want something new. Her stories may grab readers the way a train wreck or an accident on the highway slows rush hour, but the poetry of language and the just-dropped-me-off-on-the-moon feel are absent. She is not the worst of the lot-- try some of the chick lit that is so insanely popular (and I would classify the Twilight series in this category) and you'll wonder. At least I hope you will.

There was a time when it was difficult for women to get published and the most they could hope to write was little more than romance smut. Today, women have the opportunity and are among the majority of writers, but seemingly not the will to write anything more challenging than a self-imposed pablum. One might guess as to why this is... The meat and potatoes of bookstores is the self-improvement section. Reading is on the decline and what is read seems to be escapist material. Best selling authors are rare and making money in the book industry is nearly impossible. If you want to sell books you have to pander to the collective taste it seems.

But perhaps this says more about the reader than the writer. For with the decline of great fiction comes a decline in our collective ability to recognize art from craft, symphony from band, pirouette from spin. If we continue to tell ourselves we need the mental escapism that popular fiction offers, we will soon find that we are unable to enjoy the poetry of the word, the music of the tallest of tales, the word beyond time. When you are at the bookstore next, pick up Jeanette Winterson's 'Written on the Body' (if you can find it!) or take a glimpse into Rikki Ducornet's new book 'The One Marvelous Thing.' Robert Chatain of the Chicago Tribune says of Ducornet, "[she] writes like a stunned time-traveler, testifying in breathless fragments to exotic ages that have gone or never were. . . . It's startling and refreshing to encounter a writer whose work insists so relentlessly upon the magic of making tales."

Today I will leave you with a taste of 'The Leper's Companions' by Julia Blackburn,
"The old fisherman stopped mending his nets. His hands were stiff and painful and he laid them side by side on his lap, the fingers bunched together like the feet of dead birds...
... [and] as long as he kept singing he was cocooned in images: he was out at sea among the rolling waves of a storm, the backs of whales and silver fishes breaking through the surface of the water all around him. A catch of living things was thrashing at his feet in the boat, struggling for breath. But then as soon as his voice was silent, he was only here, frail in the sunshine..."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Holiday preparations!

Yay! It's October and we are beginning our Christmas shopping. Lots of fun! At this point in the shopping season we generally spend a lot of time just browsing but we also buy stocking stuffers... tons of cute things to fill the toes of the stockings. And of course birthdays are coming. Tristan and Arielle in two weeks. Mack the week after. Someone special just before Thanksgiving (give you one guess??? and she LOVES packages!) and Maurice's the beginning of December. It used to be "Birthday Hell" starting with Arielle's birthday but it's gotten much easier since there aren't parties to plan. There are lots of cute things for Halloween out there- lots of scary, spine tingling toys to gross out the kiddies. I love it!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

election year blues

I hate this season- it ruins what is usually one of my favorite times of the year. September is meant to be a beautiful month with gentle days and quiet nights, gold & yellow leaves and pumpkins on the doorstep. October enters with crisp mornings and shimmering moonlight, shorter days and falling leaves. Birthdays are coming up and secrets for Christmas are being hatched.

Instead we are inundated with political adds and an endless stream of news. Issues are addressed simplistically and real problems are ignored. Politicians are part of the daily stream of conversation instead of being a late night talk show joke, yet a political malaise seems to be rampant. People are not really aware of the differences in the two candidates (or really, all the similarities). They look to the media for answers yet the media has no motivation to tell the truth, and if fact the opposite is true. It's far easier to hammer out the sound-bite answers and the quick fixes that will band-aid a larger gaping wound. It's just depressing.

I think we'll just keep rambling along until there is nothing left.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Key West

See that palm tree silhouetted against the sky? Those are the cerulean skies of Key West, the canopy we slept under on a warm afternoon (it happened to be June but it could have been October.)

Wouldn't you like to go there with me?

all the space and mystery...

at the edge of the ocean...

My Bonny Light Horseman

Looking for some suspense and adventure in your life? Don't look to far abroad... with the same light, droll touch that characterizes the first five books in his series, Meyer once again heads onto the high seas with the cast of characters now familiar to Bloody Jack fans. When tumultuous heroine Jacky is captured (again!) and sure to face the noose, she avoids her fate by facing her most dire circumstances to date: a date with Napoleon! Rollicking and raucous, bordering on the bawdy, Meyer brings adventure back to the reading room with a flare that grabs hold of readers and keeps them to the final utterance. Although written for youth, the tale does not talk down and will capture young and old alike matey!

A book that isn't set aside just because the review is written!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Which way is up?

Do we get that our economy is in a shambles and in need of a complete overhaul? Do we get that the political system is a cover for corporations and democracy is only a thinly veiled veneer over a fascism that will destroy our way of life?

I think we're still stumbling along thinking a new president will fix it.

We would be wrong.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Keep Watching

The short story is a work in progress... keep reading for updates!

Found a new book that looks interesting and is going on my christmas wish list: 'Eve, the history of an idea' by John A. Phillips. In this book Phillips looks at the myths of the ancient's Great Mother goddess and reveals how the biblical authors were rejecting and renouncing the goddess image in order to assert the godhead of the male figure yahweh (and thus a male centric culture). It looks to be a terrific source for further writing projects.

Also, when I googled the book, this website popped up and I thought it was worth further discussion: http://www.womenpriests.org/body/baring3.asp If you go there, tell me what you think. I don't think their biblical interpretations are going to hold water with the catholic church since most of what the church follows is tradition, not actual scholarship, but they have certainly pulled together some interesting information.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Lazarus unwound

She walks down the street with a confidence that holds life itself in contempt- a "you-aren't-going-to-defeat-me" gait that carries her around the common and beyond the peonage. She plows through the cracked and crooked cyprus door, pausing only to allow her cornea to adjust to the dim, a duskiness that inhabits the cleavage of the walls, scurries across the floorboard and over the surface of the shack that somehow gained the reputation as a shop. The compound odors of garlic, curry, cigar, incense, dust, and ancient artifact condensed to agitate the nostrils of her finely refined nose. She swipes at her sharply pressed sierra sand colored skirt and fitted white blouse in reaction to the nearby grime and scans the perimeter against possible incursions. The tailor made "Refined Explorer" boots she purchased in Milan wrinkle at the toe of their own volition in distaste at the dirt floor which had undoubtedly been the bed of a herd animal at some not too distant past. Her cosmetically enhanced nails brush a single stray hair back in place as she gathers herself against the onslaught.

She takes a folded letter out of her pocketbook and glances over it "...happy to hear you may have discovered... can't tell you what it will mean... will await your article... Finkelberg has a new find... a real blow... your work, in the right hands, might... Get back to us as soon as you can!" Finkelberg! That Israeli hack has no loyalties. His own people were tired of his anti-biblical rant. She takes a step in one direction, then another. Scowls silently, "Gives pacing a bad name" then stops to glare toward the "back" of the hovel where a man's voice seems to transmit from.

"You, hey there," the international accent was so heavy that it was nearly unintelligible-- to anyone. "What do you here?"

Thursday, October 9, 2008

It's a wonderful life...

I am spiritual person-- with or without a deity. I believe in the unity of humanity and that when you are still and quiet you feel the power of the connection that binds us all with the universe. (there are some that might call that god but they don't believe you need to believe it IS god-- I'm fine with those people. But I don't believe it is god, just remains of the star dust that make up the universe which we all carry within us)

I have a tremendous peace and humbleness before a sunset...

or sunrise.

I weep when I hear the whisper of the wind in the palm trees at night and see the stars twinkle in the sky.

My breath is taken away by a beautiful passage in literature.

I feel a great joy and elation when I hear a symphony or the lyrical tones of Chris Botti.

I believe there is something bigger than myself that I am to serve-- not god, but humanity because if there is a god, then god would definitely want people to care for each other. Especially those who are not able to care for themselves. My duty to humanity is to contribute something in this world-- to make it a better place in some small way--even if it's just putting a wonderful book in a kid's hands...

life is good

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Where is your place???


Have you ever been somewhere that speaks to your soul, creating a peace that seems to move beyond the quiet of the moment? Some believe that we each have THAT place- though some may not have found it yet, nevertheless, it is there just over a distant horizon.

Some years ago, I was invited on a trip to a small tropical island. It was beautiful! I was told exuberantly. It is out of time, it was claimed. I smiled knowingly, confident that what one called art was called craft for another. I would wait and see.

On first blush, the island was hot and steamy, reminiscent of a large microwave oven. Tourists stormed the beaches like Normandy. I was not impressed.

Our first evening we went to heaven... 'Blue Heaven' to be more specific, where I experienced my first taste of the magic at the end of the world: a small family owned restaurant. We sipped champagne under the palm trees as our hair swayed to the rhythm of the gulf breeze and roosters clucked by the table legs. An elderly gentleman plucked gently at his guitar and crackily crowed an oldie from the eighties as the waitresses valiantly asked "would you like soup or salad?" between his vocal improvisations. Laughter bubbled out of the kitchen and the wafting of BBQ'd shrimp made my stomach rumble with yearning. I sighed with a deep contentment as I took a final slurp...

That was it. I was home.

Welcome to Key West-- the end of the world

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

On writing

Writing makes us vulnerable. When we write, we don't just flippantly put pencil to page and ramble off a litany of verbiage- we are sharing a part of ourselves. And if what we put down in writing offends, then we may lose people we care about.

I was raised in a household where every thought, every word, every deed, was a reflection on god. It's not that we were threatened with hell or god was going to strike us down but if we failed to show god's power in our lives then god had no power. We were to be "salt and light","beacons on a hill" "WITNESSES". No flaw was acceptable-- from flatulence to anger. But there was no threatening, no condemnation-- simply an acknowledgment that you weren't measuring up. You were forgiven but clearly, you needed to work on that flaw because we all had to give our "utmost for his highest." My childhood was not fun and play and dreaming-- it was Preparation for God's Work . Imagination was accepted because it kept children busy- out from under foot. I was instilled with a true passion for living life as the bible taught me to. I do not condemn my parents, nor am I bitter about my "different" childhood. I was raised the way a child should be raised if god is who believers think god is.

My faith was real. As I grew, I tested my faith and tested my beliefs. I never just passively sat and let others tell me about god. I was never a pew sitter or one who had doubts about god's work in my life... My faith was not a fraud which I cast aside one day at sunrise because I wanted to live a wanton lifestyle. The change occurred little by little- first centimeter by centimeter, then inch by inch, and gradually step by step (with no little help from my friends David and Jeanne) until my earnest childlike faith matured. I did understand and was willing to accept that god was not who I had been raised to believe god was. I allowed god to be who god was- quite separate from the bible and eventually in opposition to who the bible and the church said god was. Until one day it occurred to me that the whole idea that god cared whether I actually believed in god was silly, if god was who god is-. Belief, then, is meaningless. (and by the way, there is precedent from the bible for this as there are many texts that indicate the bible's authors were not terribly sure about who was in and who was out - that it seems to be more about behavior in the world rather than belief. Matt. 25:31-46)

And maybe, in light of how the people of faith behave, it is important to accept a new label, that of atheist. After all, if I say I believe in god, they assume they know what I mean, when they could not possibly. And atheism became a really appropriate label because, stripped from all the dogma and religion and the fraudulently conceived "experiences", there was no indication that there even is a god. It seemed better and even right to say to the world, "you don't know, I don't know, and we should not act as if we know. We are better off aligning ourselves with the "I Don't Know" or the "Don't believe" group so that we are not presuming we know things we don't. And behave rightly on this planet because all we truly have is each other."

If there were a god, I believe that is what god would want anyway.

Some might be able to move on in their life, and their family would not know or care what they believe. My family is not that way. They are always watching, measuring. They have been preoccupied with my "sinful life" but they know that that is a mere indicator of the change in my belief system. So one loss...

I expect more.

But it's just as well that they have let that be their evidence because if they were ever to read what I write- they would know then. That is, if I have the courage to write what I feel and think from my heart- and that is really the only way to write.

So, I write. I write my heart.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Death and Politics at the End of the World

Hovering in Florida’s bastard equivalent of Cuba’s Bayamo, I pause, blinking at brackish blue skies that could only be produced by the production of products as I grip the pile. Bowing my head, I pray the violent wind burst won’t force the race into postponement. Another delay would take me over the brink. Nature’s sudden intake, undoubtedly pausing to catch her breath before the next onslaught, allows me to pell-mell it down the pier to the skipjack that shuttles to and fro the Straits of Florida. I board cautiously; ever wary of my tendency to topple, leery of the murky waters below.
The hollow husk bobs skittishly. Stowing bag and phobia, I stretch onto a cushioned bench, settling in for few breaths before being plagued with day touristers and crew. My hand tickles and licks at the water’s lapping surface an impromptu muted melody that articulates pensivity. The notes coalesce into composition. Schumann’s Albumblatter channels to fingertips dabbling on the brink of conscious thought, skittering on the elastic veneer that allows my water-skater-sanity to copulate.
Bits of sun pas de chat across the water’s ripples, then tour grand jete back to their source. Pillowed clouds partner one another past an azure backdrop from one horizon to the other. The gradually receding current a low rolling bass accentuated with the cymballic crash of blue liquid on gray rock. Water thumb-rolls the shell of the craft, cracking and vibrating the cadence of the tide. A feathered orquesta charanga winds its way through the palms, lulling me into a Christmas Eve truce with myself. A silver blade shimmies in the water, just out of reach, then flits into the depth . . . a tongue . . . down into the deep chasms, dipping and swirling, rolling, pressing . . . glimpse of cerulean eyes just at my pelvic bone . . . A gust from the gulf tugs at languorous locks. The soft slurp of water seeping in and out, in and out . . . flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone. . . Rhythmic rocking up… down… up… down. A long, sustained ”caw” solos into the wildness, articulates life and joy . . .

I want you here,

I want you . . .

“Don’t people go crazy? Trapped on that island? Water on all sides?”
“No! It’s great. When you stand on the rocks at Taylor beach… it’s not very glamorous. It’s not a groomed beach, not for tourists … well, it wasn’t anyway. Could’ve changed. But when you stand there … There’s nothing but different hues of blue. Then you go out on a boat … you’re on the horizon. You look down and you could get out and walk … You’ll just love- I can’t wait until you see it.” I twist around to rub at the shades of auburn in his morning stubble. “You’ve got a white hair… right here.”

He flinches away from plucking fingers. “I have several. . . cunningly hidden below the surface of my generally clean shaven face. I should get moving. Do you miss it? Want to move back?”

“I’d love to live there again,” too much vulnerability, a high wire act of unanswered questions about the future. “It’s expensive. I would need a good job.”

“You want to paint. Seems like the perfect backdrop.”

“I’m a cop…”

“They don’t have cars? No pickpocketers or jaywalkers in Key West, aye? A true paradise.” His catnip nibble on my breast had the same effect as his tone.

“You can’t just transfer. I don’t want-- Anyway,” don’t say it. Don’t ask. Don’t set yourself u--- “would you go with me????” A guillotined response, neck-out, blade-suspended-over-my-head silence . . . waiting . . . Escape hatch? “someday? You know, maybe on vacation or something?”

Head on an elbow, a raised eyebrow lowers, turns $25,000 Pyramid thoughtful, considering the “Things you can say to hurt your lover…” list, a handsome smile on the made-for-television face “Maybe.”

“Yes.” Ding! ding! ding! “Nicely done.” The host smiles charmingly into the camera and claps the shoulder of his contestant congenially as the co-hostess pop-tart pantomimes a Miss America clap in the background.

“You could meet my aunt and uncle” Ex-laxed mouth . . . Pe—pto—bi--smo. “But-- right. If you wanted to- it’d be a nice trip. Free tropical vacation . . . just our flights. Something to think about.”

“Alright, thirty seconds: Name as many possibilities as you can.” The forever young game show host flips the card in his hand and positions it professionally up and out at a 45 degree angle.

“Things that you say to let your lover know it’s over . . .”

“Yeah. Well, we’ll see. I’ve got a pretty heavy work schedule for the next couple of months…“


I turn away from the sparkling solar reflection and stare into dim shadows of memory, the arpeggioing song of a mockingbird modifying key and mood, an incidental introduction to Ravel’s Miroirs. My fingers flutter over the surface of the water, “I have to work late tonight. See you tomorrow…” Pianissimo—hint of the melody “the boys and I are going to the game. Guy’s night. You’d just be bored…” hands cross “I’m going out of town this weekend…” a sensual bass is plucked while the right hand trills “One of the girls at the office is always hanging around. Smells like she wears a whole bottle. . . It’s probably her perfume” chords hover and glissade down the keyboard, mimicking a chorus of birds “You are just… driving me crazy… Stop smothering! Why don’t you get out and see some of your friends. . . “ delicate allemande in the upper register “Hi, this is John. Sorry I missed your call. Leave a message…” leit motif taken up in the bass “She’s just a friend. If you don’t like it, then do something about it…” cascading chords fade into solitude “I need some time, some space…” The codetta crystallizes. . .

I squinch into roiled liquids. The reflection of a child’s face lingers just below the waters visage, blinking blandly up, the brown orbs deeper than oceanic depths. Heartbreak as palpable as the water’s warmth spills over the child’s eye’s edge. The gaze that holds mine tenders narration
loss. . .
loneliness . . .
a subterranean ache. . .


Still there: just under the surface,

the little girl worn with sadness and myopic sorrow.

Pain upon pain covering a coffin of tears.

And more tears. . .

On religion

Religulous gives us all things to think about-- most particularly, I think, what role religion plays in our society. I think it is worth evaluating if a belief in god does really make one a better person or make the world a better place...

It all begins with: there is a god, god created all things, god is the giver of good; you must believe in god. It doesn't sound like a big deal! Just accept that there is a deity who set the world in motion (and some think god oversaw evolution- doesn't require rejecting science altogether).

But then that begs the question: which one should we accept?

It is ultimately our expectations of god that inform our decision about which god to choose. Do I want everlasting life or the promised land? Do I want to come back as a king or experience Nirvana? Any christian who claims to an atheist that they have blamed god and are angry because they did not "get what they want from god" is not being truthful because if the idea of heaven were taken away from the offerings of christianity, I believe we would see a mass exodus of faithful followers. But of course, that only leads to more questions because IF you have certain expectations of god and, for instance, do expect heaven-- then HOW do you get that?

Addendum: Not all people believe in god because they are afraid of god. Some are afraid of themselves-- they don't think they can negotiate life without the aid of god. Others (liberals, those who do not believe a literal interpretation of the bible) find... hope? in a deity who is leading us toward a better world. Some are seeking internal peace and think seeking god will lead them there. Some are simply afraid of being human and want to believe they have god within them-- this gives them... what? a sense of worth? It doesn't really matter what you believe about god-- but the reasons for believing in god generally surround your expectations of what god should do in you or in the world.

There is one rogue group: Some believe a community of faith is really about the community- having others to work through life stuff with. They are not concerned with god much at all. The problem is that this group has a false sense of community. If they were really honest about what they believe, they would find that their community would turn on them. And it still seems to rest on the idea that the community of faith is somehow more moral than the rest of the world. There is no logic surrounding this argument, it is simply a bias that slips in behind the rest of the brainwashing that comes with religion--the superiority factor: my club is better than your club.

Nevertheless- whatever you decide about which god you want to worship- there is then a series of things to believe. Does the bible teach me what I want/need to know about god? The koran? The torah? Just which book should I follow to learn about god? (More to follow)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Question of the week

Does belief in god encourage a culture of moral relativism?

It seems to be a recurrent theme among believers-- we are able and want to do good because of god... and if there is no god, then there is no reason to be good

Religulous

You have to see it! I have a link to the trailer in my favorite websites on the left

Book review


Book reviews will often be included on my blog (because reading is as important as writing!)

About a year ago, I picked up a book by Naomi Klein, having heard some buzz about how good it was. I read several paragraphs and decided it was a "must have" for the library I am in the process of cultivating. Little did I know what an awakening I would have as a result of Klein's work.

Opening with an interview Klein had with a woman who had been subjected to electric shock therapy, Klein explains the psychological damage that had been wrought upon the woman as a result of a specific branch of extreme psychological treatment that was being developed by a Dr. Ewan Cameron. Initially, it seems that Klein's book is a critique on electric shock therapy and a study on the psychiatric community... it is not.

She introduces Cameron as way to explain the tactics of the CIA and other investigative organisms in using torture even while all indicators show that torture in fact does not work. She reveals that there is no real intent on the part of the torturers to gain information or cooperation-- and ultimately it does not matter if the person that is being tortured is actually connected to the revolutionary or terrorist organization. These methods are used to break the opposition and shock them into submission.

Eventually these methods came to be used, not only as counterrevolutionary/ counterterrorism tactics in military operations, but applied to economics: and would be used in the ongoing war against socialism and those who oppose a free trade (or trade with the US) society. What follows is a brief albeit extensive and comprehensive look at the ideology of shock therapy directed toward the economies in Chile, Argentina, Poland, China, Russia and ... where else? Iraq. But not excluded from such harsh therapeutic treatments is the US (collapse of the housing market and banking systems). The Chicago school ideology tends to be less harsh toward the American economy which is why bailouts and government handouts are encouraged by these Friedman followers. Preparing us for the future-- or really today, Naomi Klein shows a keen understanding on the economic philosophy that is driving the foreign policy of the U.S.-- not just a critique of the current administration, but a connect-the-dots look at our relationships to other countries for the past fifty years.

Highly recommended to all who are preparing to vote!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

on politics

Tonight at BnN a co-worker was defending her support of McCain. I wasn't terribly interested in the argument she posed but it was a familiar one. In essence she still believes the lies of the republicans- that they are the party that will trim back big government and cut spending. I could have handed her book after book to the contrary, but she does work in a bookstore and sees the books all the time. She is not likely to read them, nor consider the evidence they put forth.

If you are poor (and as a BnN employee- even as a manager she is not making that much money) then why do you still believe these lies that the republicans are going to-- well, do anything they say they are going to do? I think it all comes down to people wanting to believe that they can be one of the 1% and they want to keep a party in power that they perceive will get them there. Meanwhile the rich just keep getting richer and richer...


Say! and how bout that 700 billion bailout?!?! I guess they can put the gun down now. They got what they wanted.

Friday, October 3, 2008

it's the great pumpkin Charlie Brown!

Fundamentalists are like Linus in the "It's the great pumpkin, charlie brown" they've figured out a new way to get the gift of eternal life and they're sitting in the pumpkin patch just waiting, and watching for the Great Pumpkin. Fortunately for Linus, the morning came and he realized his faith had been misplaced. Fundamentalists will never realize this and will waste their lives waiting on a gift that is simply not there.

...or did Linus decide he would return next year because he still believed and he just had to have enough faith while Sally became disillusioned and decided he was a lunatic? That may be it.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Losing a friend

The librarian at Merrill M.S. and fellow book review committee member has lost her long struggle with cancer. She was a sweet, sweet lady who took her illness with grace and courage. She was intelligent and kind (not an unusual combination!) and a lover of books. We will miss you Brenda~!

Election

Prediction: If Obama loses, it will not be because he is black (although there will be some who won't vote for him for that reason) it will be because the right has successfully painted him as one of the "liberal-elite"...

Book of the year!


In response to the post of yesterday, I think it is even more important for all intelligent human beings to read 'The Age of America Unreason'. In this book, Susan Jacoby addresses the anti-intellectualism that is a part of the history of, and is still rampant in, this country. She points out periods of brief respite from these attitudes, when America led the way in intellectual thought and challenging ideas. But the all too brief modern renaissance was stifled and nearly quashed in the 70s when television began offering news in a much simpler and dumbed down format. Books and newspapers became passe- with newspapers capitulating to the forces at hand and dumbing down the more detailed information they offered- shortening articles and adding a sound bite quality to the articles. Couple this with deregulation of the media, allowing one corporation to own (and more importantly control!) the sources for news, public information became more and more limited. The internet has opened up some of these channels, but the anti-intellectual sentiment is strong on this venue as well. Anyone can say anything on the internet and since most have developed a lassez fair attitude toward research (which was encouraged by the influx of quick news on televison) what results is a mass of misinformation rather than a mass of information as some would claim. Anti-intellectualism also results in allowing anyone to be a so-called "expert" simply because they had an experience, read a few articles or decided to say they are. There is often no standard for showing any expertise. It is as though we have become a nation of snake oil salesmen- and for some reason we are okay with that.

It is this attitude that Jacoby reveals, analyzes brilliantly, dismantles and then moves the reader on, challenging them to pick up the gauntlet of reason and go out into the world armed with intelligence. This, she challenges, is the only way we will find our way out of this morass!

Death and Politics at the End of the World

The air envelops, vacuum-sealing the skin with moisture, ill-fitting and alien. Clothes react to the alteration in the physique, the stiff pleats melting. Tendrils of mouse brown bangs cling- cooked spaghetti in a pan. It isn’t until the Ft. Lauderdale airport fades from view and the Florida toll road that the air conditioning in the rental beats back the sullen mid-afternoon July heat.

Palm trees and sprouting developments dapple the landscape, the tropical foliage out of place among the hastily built habitations, dubitable monuments to William Levitt. The loosely coiled expressway through Miami is pleasant. Toll booths unfortunate dams in the Gulf Stream’s trafficked flow. I cynically wondered if the state didn’t encourage rental agencies to recommend the “road less traveled” to ensure the population of their taxable byways. I was exhilarated to see the exit to Homestead and Highway One approaching, the expectancy of arrival heightening, more so as I contemplate a solitary dime jingling in my pocketbook. They could pave the everglades on someone else’s penny. They’ll have to.

I tucked my wallet away, relaxed into the leather of the import and set the cruise control, realizing even as I took my foot off the accelerator that the stop-and-go flow of the mostly one-lane highway would make cruising superfluous. I gazed off to the side, anxiously awaiting the first blush of the ocean… new time, new place. Key West is a different world; the real world, paradoxically, is the unwanted dream. The carbon dioxide in the back and deepest section of my airway passage loosens, releases…

At last…

Blue, turquoise, green, indigo, cyan, white surf spraying, rolling, pulling, dragging out… nothingness.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Topix and other topics

After having visited the Intellectual thinkers thread on Topix and commenting a bit, I was thinking (and perhaps it was true for me too when I was one- but I don't think so)... christians- well, that should be read fundamentalists-- seem to have very little use for the concept of working for the common good. They do not care that their ideology creates conflict, supports war, greed and aids the spread of disease, they just want to be right about where they are going when they die. If the bible isn't true, then it's all relative!

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