Friday, March 31, 2006
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Sunday, March 26, 2006
Let us make man in our image, after our own likeness.
"This is what I believe: that I am I.
"Here am I, my body made of elements that once were stardust, drawn from the far corners of the universe to flesh out, however briefly, the pattern that is uniquely me, my soul, a thing that can breathe in the enormity of such awe-inspiring origins."
--The Quantum Self
(**Baby at 20 weeks, and The Omega Nebulae)
Saturday, March 25, 2006
So. Winter is officially over, and while I am glad to see it go, there are things that I will miss. Snow angels for one. Poet Nancy Willard wrote of them saying, "...we look back at angels, blurred fossils of majesty and justice..." There are lots of things coming to look forward to: A baptism in May, a new baby in August, taking the dogs for more walks in the sunshine.
Today is the birthday of Flannery O'Conner, who first became famous as a 5-year-old in Savannah, Georgia, for teaching a chicken to walk backwards, and later said, "Everywhere I go people ask if I think universities stifle writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them."
Maybe this is the summer I will write the Great American Novel. Or teach a chicken to walk backwards.
Monday, March 20, 2006
In the yellow head of a tulip
in the sound of the wind entangled in the forest
in the haphazard combination of things
for sale on the sidewalk
an iron next to a nail-clipper next to a can of soup
next to a starling's feather
in the silence inside of stone
in tea in music in desire in butter in torture
in space that flings itself out in the universe
in every direction at once without end
despite walls despite grates and ceilings
and bulletproof glass
the sun falls through without refracting
in the wind hanging out its own sheets
on all the empty clotheslines
in the bowels of rats
in their tiny moving architectures
in a world that is always moving
in those who are unable to speak but know how to listen
in your mother who is afraid of her own thoughts
in her fear of her death
in her own derelict loneliness
in the garden late at night
between the alder tree and the ash
she rocks herself to sleep in the hammock
a little drunk and wayward
in everything she is that you are not
in the well of the skull
in the fish that you touch
in the copper water
in its breath of water
in your breath, the single bubble rising
that could be you
that could be me
that could be nothing
--Malena Morling, from Astoria
Friday, March 17, 2006
Monday, March 13, 2006
What's the matter with the prosecution attorneys of Zacarias Moussaoui? It seems the government lawyers coached four witnesses. This is the second significant error made by the government team. The defense, of course, moved to have the judge dismiss the death penalty as a possible outcome, saying, "This is not going to be a fair trial." The alternative, they say, should be to dismiss the witnesses from the case. The prosecution says that would exclude half the government's case. The prosecuting attorney admitted that the witness coaching was "horrendously wrong."
Now. What's the matter with these guys? Why do they do something they know to be horrendously wrong? Time after time, even in high profile cases of great importance, they think themselves above the law and break the rules, and screw the case. WHY? Somebody explain this to me ...
"Why is this plasma so hot? Physicists aren't sure. What is known for sure is that the Z Machine at Sandia National Laboratory created a plasma that was unexpectedly hot. The plasma reached a temperature in excess of two billion Kelvin, making it arguably the hottest human made thing ever in the history of the earth and, for a brief time, hotter than the interior of stars. The Z Machine experiment creates high temperatures by focusing 20 million amps of electricity into a small region further confined by a magnetic field. During the unexpected powerful contained explosion, the Z Machine released about 80 times the world's entire electrical power usage for a brief fraction of a second." (From Astronomy Picture of the Day--italics mine)
My gosh. What's next? We're going to unexpectedly blow up the world ...
Sunday, March 12, 2006
Today is the anniversary of "The Great White Hurricane," of 1888, one of the worst blizzards in American history. It lasted for 36 hours, killed 400 people, and dropped 40 inches of snow on NYC. Drifts were piled up to the second story windows, and frozen pigeons were dropping off window ledges like...well, pot pies, I guess, and people who weren't able to get to the market cooked them for dinner.
We here in Slick City had a blizzard of our own last week, a Great White Hurricane. Fortunately, ours only lasted 45 minutes, left 4 0r 5 inches of snow, and wrecked 200+ cars around town (20 of them sliding like snot down First South into one big pileup). Now, don't you wish you'd a been here to see it???
From an article by Bernard Holland in this morning's NY Times, concerning Mozart and music in general: "The people on the streets never abandoned him. Classical music was not isolated from popular music, as it is today. There was one musical language and grammar operating on a sliding scale of sophistication. Music slid both ways -- indeed, carefully written tunes by Schubert and Dvorak, subjects of art songs and symphonies 'descended' to folk music status and can still be heard in the wee hours, sung by beergarden patrons all over central Europe."
For lack of radios and television sets, I suppose, he says that "those musical and rich enough kept private orchestras, or at least wind bands or string quartets," and invited their friends over, or even sold tickets. All of which kept composers clothed and well-fed. "Mozart spoke to three (or four, if you count the Church) audiences. First, the emperor, second, the Viennese rich, who let him put on concerts in their house, and third, the people in the streets."
Gee, might something like this not be ideal for our own young struggling composers of music today? -- those who love The Flaming Lips, Smashing Pumpkins, Tom Waits, Brian Wilson, and the Beatles, and who also want to compose great operas and symphonies?
Yesterday I had the good fortune to see "The World's Fastest Indian," the story of an old man from Invercargill with a bad ticker and a good bike. He rode an Indian Scout motorcycle across the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah to speed records that still stand. What a terrific movie! Don't miss this one!
I just finished Garrison Keillor's WOBEGON BOY -- a familiar landscape to all who love and listen to "A Prarie Home Companion," wherein the Tollefson boy John discovers what is truly important: Cheer Up, Make Yourself Useful, Mind Your Manners, and Avoid Self-Pity.
The back cover says: "This dark night of the happy Lutheran soul, spun out of Keillor's clean, elegant prose, makes WOBEGON BOY a midlife crisis well worth living." And reading about. One of my favorite lines: "How lucky I am, praise God -- how fortunate to have fixed points, like oarlocks, from which to fulcrum yourself forward through the water."
How lucky indeed.
Saturday, March 11, 2006
How to Leave the World that Worships Should
Let faxes butter-curl on dusty shelves.
Let junkmail build its castles in the hush
of other people's halls. Let deadlines burst
and flash like glorious fireworks somewhere else.
As hours go softly by, let others curse
the roads where distant drivers queue like sheep.
Let emails fly like paniked, tiny birds.
Let phones, unanswered, ring themselves to sleep.
Above, the sky unrolls its telegram,
immense and wordless, simply understood:
you've made your mark like birdtracks in the sand -
now make the air in your lungs your livelihood.
See how each wave arrives at last to heave
itself upon the beach and vanish. Breathe.
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Today is the birthday of Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Wilbur, born in NYC in 1921. Of the major poets of his generation he is one of the last still living and writing. Today is also the birthday of poets Robert Lowell and Robert Haas. Hass once said: "Everyone ... wants to say in their own terms what it means to be alive.... Take time to write. You can do your life's work in half an hour a day."
Here's one of Wilber's, called ELSEWHERE
The delectable names of harsh places:
Cilicia Aspera, Estremadura.
In that smooth wave of cello-sound, Mojave,
We hear no ill of brittle parch and glare.
So late October's pasture-fringe,
With aster-blur and ferns of toasted gold,
Invites to barrens where the crop to come
Is stone prized upward by the deepening freeze.
Speechless and cold the stars arise
On the small garden where we have dominion.
Yet in three tongues we speak of Taurus' name
And of Aldebaran and the Hyades,
Recalling what at best we know,
That there is beauty bleak and far from ours,
Great reaches where the Lord's delighting mind,
Though not inhuman, ponders other things.