Saturday, March 29, 2008

My Favorite Love Song from Love Long Ago: Tammy Wynette and George Jones "Take Me"

Just a good old little love song from a day gone by

thanks to hellkitten23

Never Give Up! No Suicide Please! There's Always Another Day

I've had many occasions to be grateful that I've studied some philosophy and watched a lot of movies. Because whenever I'm having a bad, bad, really bad day, I remember a speck of philosophy and one line from one little movie. Both little specks are about how you just need to get through that day.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), the existentialist German philosopher, had attained great success in his mid-twenties, being named head of the Philosophy Department at the University of Basel. But the poor guy had health problems and lost his mind eventually, imagining that he had enormous earthly powers and envisioning vast conspiracies against him. He lived out his life with his mother and sister, dying of stroke and pneumonia in 1900. He may not have been the cheeriest soul. But he obviously had a sense of humor. Out of his multitudes of writing, everyone remembers his idiotic "God is Dead." But I have more occasion to remember this speck: “The thought of suicide is a powerful solace: by means of it one gets through many a bad night” That is really funny! Thinking of suicide is a solace and a good way to get through the night. Just don't act on it! This too will pass.

In the movie "Crimes of the Heart" (1986), three sisters (Jessica Lange, Diane Keaton, and Sissy Spacek) come together because the Sissy Spacek character just shot her husband and needs some family support. The Diane Keaton character, kind of prissy, has never married and has always taken care of their grandfather. While the sisters, who haven't been together in a long time, hash over old family history, they talk about the shame brought on the family by their mother's suicide many years ago when she stuck her head in the gas oven. Obviously it's had an impact on all of their lives, and they variously blame her or defend her according to their personalities. Jessica Lange's character, the black-leather jacketed, chain-smoking one who's been around the block, finally says languidly about the suicide: "Look. Mamma was just having a really bad day."

Those two specks have sustained me. I haven't seen the movie in 20 years and don't intend to, but I think my memory serves me well. I always loved this idea that life goes on, and you may as well go on too, because no matter how bad it seems, no matter how horrendous this day is, the tide will turn. There will be another day. Your number will be up eventually, but don't rush it.

And just for the record, I'm actually having a very good day. I'm just discouraged about the presidential campaign, but believe me, as my father said when when Jimmy Carter got elected (or was it Bill Clinton?), "Ah well,we'll get through it."

Bohemian Rhapsody for a Down Day

Sometimes this song can fill a void. Poor Freddie Mercury could sure pull your heartstrings. Freddie, born "Farrokh Bulsara" in 1946 to Parsee Indian parents in Zanzibar, attended British boarding school in India, and art school in England before his singing career took off, culminating in the band Queen. After keeping his personal and health issues secret for a number of years, he succumbed to AIDS in 1991.

video thanks to Frozentoast

Got My Obama T-Shirt but Can't Wear It

I don't know what's wrong with me. I just don't have the courage of my convictions. Or worse, I don't know what my convictions really are. I know I'm not a freak of nature, there are people like me all over the place these days, I hear them talking on the TV and out on the street every day, very few people seem 100% sure! I mean, now that Bill Clinton has basically endorsed both Obama and McCain by singing their praises, who wouldn't feel schizo about the political options?

Anyway, my Obama T-shirt finally arrived and I was going to wear it out to the grocery store a little bit ago. But I just can't get out the door. Agorophobic tendencies aside, I think the shirt has something to do with it. Do I detect tinges of fear in myself, Obama's grandmother's kinds of fears - illogical and apparently forgivable- of allying myself with Farrakhan, Jeremiah Wright, the Black Panthers, the SDS, Hells Angels and who knows who else? I can't make a stand. I started to wonder if I'd be more comfortable in a McCain shirt so I checked out their site, just for fun. Suddenly I felt old. The whole McCain image is a little too old-blue-haired-lady, clean-cut, Perry Como, white-shoed, wannabe-golf-clubsy for me. Although lately he's thrown a little dab of Apocalypse Now into his ads, which I find oddly appealing. What's it all about, Alfie?

At the online McCain store, I liked a nautical lapel pin, which says nothing, and apparently just spells out McCain's name in flag code, good for someone like me who likes mystery and equivocation, but that pin is $200, and I don't want it that bad. Why doesn't Obama's store have that? What's a girl to do? To make matters worse I watched the video of Hillary Clinton talking about her ideas for universal health care at and thought she looked tired but sounded right.

I give up. I'm heading for the hills. I'm gonna keep my mouth shut and my head down low. It's depressing. I feel like listening to Freddy Mercury's Bohemian Rhapsody, well the very last line anyway. Tomorrow's another day.

I'll wear it as a nightshirt. It goes halfway to my knees anyway.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

No Holds Barred! So, Bill and Hillary, Now it's Obama Against the Catholics and the Jews?

This has to be the work of Bill and Hillary, right?. They would fight this dirty. News reports today are geared towards subtly alienating Obama from Catholics and Jews, by virtue of the fact that Jeremiah Wright has made some crazed remarks in the past about the Israelites and the Italians. Ok. Been there, done that. Even if it's not the work of the Clintons, and surely,there is that possibility, it's pretty easy to imagine them gloating. God knows I'm getting scared, realizing that Obama donated $22,000 in 2006 to a church that honored Louis Farrakhan with a "Social Achievement" award just a few months ago.

Bill Clinton said recently that America is "all about" the fight, and I guess he means, all about the nasty nasty fight he and Hillary are going to wage from here on out. No holds barred. Tyrants aren't born tyrants, they evolve from early power and learn how to take hold by cruelty, intimidation, selling people down the river. A report in the Economist this week illustrates how Zimbabwe's prime minister Robert Mugabe evolved from a bookish freedom-fighter into a murderous thug over twenty-five years. Not that Bill and Hillary would ever start killing us, but they are evolving into something much different than the idealistic intellectual do-good Yale students they once were. They may have many gifts, but they are definitely letting down the guard on their downright nasty side.

So even if it's not the Clintons who have spear-headed this latest rise in news about Obama's church, we know they are going for the jugular. And we've gotten a glimpse of blood, and I don't like it. Today I'm leaning off my chair and coming close to falling into the McCain camp. Why is noone ever perfect?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Johnny Depp, Neil Young and Jim Jarmusch's collaboration "Dead Man"- Influenced by William Blake's "Auguries of Innocence"

Every night and every morn
Some to misery are born,
Every morn and every night
Some are born to sweet delight.

Some are born to sweet delight,
Some are born to endless night.

One of my all-time favorite movies, strange, I'll admit:

Wish You Were Here

thanks to Chartrand

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Feeling Grateful that I Have Visited Rosslyn Chapel and Found True (A)Symmetry

I had a dream last night about Rosslyn Chapel. Like a lot of my dreams, it was simple and lovely and, well, ...dreamlike. I was just sitting there in the chapel, relaxing with the spirits of people I would have loved in life, the creators and builders of Rosslyn.

While my daughter was in college for four years at St. Andrews in Scotland, I went to Rosslyn twice. The Chapel, built in the 1400's, is just five miles south of Edinburgh. I had wanted to go there since a long-ago teacher enthusiastically showed our class her photographs of this deeply mysterious place.

But by the time I got there, it had become very famous, thanks to The DaVinci Code. I was almost embarrassed to visit, joining with the throngs of curious folk who had seen the movie and were probably hoping for a glimpse of Tom Hanks or Dan Brown. Ridiculously, I imagined myself to be just a cut above the tourists who would be thronged there for all the wrong reasons. After all, I was looking for clues to the deepest mysteries of mankind. But we all are, in one way or another. And Rosslyn's builders really did something about it. Rosslyn's a great pilgrimage, if you like puzzles and mysteries with a spiritual context.

My daughter and I first approached Rosslyn by a two-mile walk along a deserted road, having taken the wrong bus out of Edinburgh. There were apparently no busses directly to Rosslyn that day, and no cars passed us by during the approach to the village. We walked through the village and out the other side without seeing any major signs. The entrance to the hillside chapel was utter simplicity, very few markings. Yes, there was a small parking lot with a few cars, and a gift shop with a few idlers, and the chapel itself, not in the least crowded. Thanks to a preservation project underway to protect the roof in particular, there is scaffolding around the upper outside of the chapel, with a walkway along the upper scaffolding open to the public for up-close examination of the incredible carvings in every nook and cranny.

There's no way to describe it. There's no way to explain what a wonder this place is. There is a fabulous story of a carved pillar that I will let you learn on your own. But suffice it to say, the pillar was carved in the fifteenth century, and resembles a strand of DNA. There are carvings of corn, or maize, grown then only in North America, and supposedly unknown in fifteenth century Europe, before Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Throughout the chapel are carvings of the Green Man, who appears around the world in oddly similar carved incarnations. There are carved cubes that seem to spell out a musical code, and one man has recently made a recording of what he believes that code is, after many years' work. There's a fanciful feeling throughout, (cartoon stars in the vaulted ceiling), but serious too, reminding me of the way Antoni Gaudi's architecture is fanciful and serious all at once, oddly out of place and time. But at Rosslyn, there is a sense that every millimeter of carving is heartfelt, thought through by an enlightened mind, never self-indulgent, and always serves a higher purpose, of worship.

But the biggest clue for me that I was walking through the handiwork of loved ones, the thing about it that calls me home, and makes me dream, and holds my heart still and very still, is what I love more than any other communication from the past: an apparent symmetry that is not symmetry at all, or symmetry only in the very largest sense, a sense that easily includes past present and future even now. If you look at the photographs of Rosslyn to the right of this column or if you stare at closeups of the entrances for awhile, you may understand what it is that I love. There's a sense of symmetry at first, but you will find if you start counting things, that, as in life, there's most often an aberration, an asymmetry that relaxes the overall effect. Six rosettes on one side, seven on the other. Four of these, three of those. One this size over here, one that size over there. I've gone out on a limb here, and into cliche, to try to explain the unexplainable. I can't explain it, but it's what I love.

I'm so grateful to have seen it. And I hope to go again and to sit in the comfort of that handiwork. In real time, or in a dream.
And if you're interested, here's a little video (maybe stretching it a bit but who knows?) about just one mystery in the Chapel-that musical cypher and the carving of the stave angel:

Thanks to Stuart7M (Stuart Mitchell, who has done years of research and published the CD last year.)

Hillary's Concession Speech: Imagine It!

David Brooks NYT column this morning is "The Long Defeat" - about what Hillary will drag us through in the coming months just for her very slim chance of winning the nomination. (Click on the title above to read Brooks' article.)It's a great article to get you started imagining Hillary's concession speech. Not that I'm indulging in schadenfreude or anything.

Could she ever concede the nomination to Barack Obama? She is a machine, a terminator, she will fight to the virtual death, won't she? Could she switch it all off and give a gracious speech, subduing the demons within? That speech would be self-serving as always, about how she will never stop fighting for the American people. Bill would be at her side, looking dogged and drawn, off-balance and slightly wasted as of late, thumb up though. Chelsea would be Chelsea, what we know of her up to this point, taking it all in, hatching a plan for her own campaign in years to come perhaps? Or ready to bolt?

Would Hillary "crack" a little during her concession speech? Just a little sob? Would her face look swollen from a sleepless night of crying? Would she stumble just a little as she leaves the stage, looking skyward and dodging imagined sniper fire? Will she let anything show? And then what? Would she take a vacation in the Caribbean, as Obama is doing now? Can we picture her relaxed on a pool lounge chair? Would we want to picture that? Or is it easier to picture her going out in a straight-jacket, and heading for a long, much-needed rest, just Hillary and a butterfly net, far away from the madding crowds?

Happy Birthday Lelly!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Were all Three Candidates' Files Really Compromised? Or is it just a Clinton Ploy?

I don't believe that all three candidates' files were breached at the State Department. I think there was quick action by the Clintons to cover up their own work. If they had been caught having one of their servile syncophants snoop into Obama's passport files, (and let's face it, they must have really good connections all over the place)- they would have been 100% FINITO! So if you're a Clinton, what do you do when you're in danger of being caught red-handed? You get the story out there right away that you are a victim too. Your files were breached too. And oh, let's throw McCain's files in there too. I doubt it! It's just a minor variation of the cowardly liar's "Deny, deny, accuse" tactic.

Chris Matthews made a tremendously strong denouncement of the Clintons this morning on Good Morning Joe. Although he was definitely not coming close to suggesting what I just said in the paragraph above, he was so fervent in his denunciation that Mika Brzezinski asked him if he was giving an endorsement of Obama (which he denied, of course). If it comes up on Youtube, I'll stick it in here.

Walter Shapiro's column, at, made me laugh out loud this morning, when he said the Democrats are "down to seeds and stems." I don't think the fighting is as bad as people say, at least not where Obama is concerned. Yes, the Clintons are as bad as everyone says, but I just don't get the feeling that Obama is fighting the filthy tooth and nail battle that the Clintons are. He stays cleaner, cooler, calmer. I definitely would rather have him answering the phone at 3 AM!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Christ is Risen!

Did you ever go to a church and wonder what it was all about, why people came there, what they were doing, how they could believe all this stuff, how it has been going on for over two thousand years? A man, Jesus, lived and died and had an effect that has lasted for centuries, prompting people to build cathedrals and perform rites and share communion in His name until the present times.

He was supposedly born in a stable under a special star that guided kings and wise men to his little manger. He lived and walked among us, teaching and healing, even raising the dead. He was crucified dead and buried, then ascended into heaven. What really happened back then that meant so much? What could it have been? There's only one possible answer: It must have been true.

Who could do this nowadays? We have our eyes on everyone, for at least fifteen minutes. We have all kinds of ways to prove and disprove things. We have insatiable curiosity. We are skeptics but we want hope, and proof. And if someone lived among us and performed miracles, and then died and was dead for three days and then walked again among us, and then ascended into heaven, wouldn't people be profoundly changed, and wouldn't we talk about it, write about it, act upon it,for generations?

We would want to hear from his friends and the people who knew him, we would want to know more, we would want to know everything. We would read the accounts online, and enshrine them in special texts undiluted, preferably with red letters to highlight exactly what he said. If we were told about his instructions at the Last Supper, many would want to do what he said, and would create a ceremony, a sacrament, to break bread and drink wine. Some among us would try to discern, and taste, his flesh and blood in it, transubstantiated, in the mystery of faith. For many people there would be no need to go on a wild goose chase for the Holy Grail, because His simple instruction to "Love one another", and His promise of eternal life would be wondrous enough. "Remember Me."

There are so many galaxies in the universe, mystery upon mystery. Scientific theories are developing, beyond Einstein, about light and space and speed and time. The prospect of stem cells replenishing life, our nascent cloning experience, many other theories about quarks and black holes and magnetic forces all suggest larger mysteries than we are ready to grasp, here in our little speck of the universe. That life could be recreated and restored is part of the suggestion made by these sciences. And somewhere, with the communion of saints, why couldn't there be planets made of diamond, sapphire, ruby, emerald, and gold, and all the things that have been wrought by God....where the heavenly angels sing, where the good people go and have always been, where life is eternal?

It's simple really. Jesus came to us from another place, from heaven, to show us something, to interest us in love. He suffered, died, was buried, and then He rose again, to eternal life, and told us that we could do that too. He said all things are possible, if you will only believe. And Christ will come again. Alleluia!

The Great Easter Vigil

This is the ancient time of baptism and renewal. Wait for the resurrection!

"What I Have Lived For"- Bertrand Russell, looking back at life

Bertrand Russell, the British philosopher and mathematician who died in 1970 at nearly 100 years old, was a man who really thought things through, on a large scale. Russell co-authored “Principia Mathematica” and wrote “History of Western Philosophy.” Above and beyond his achievements in mathematics and philosophy, he was active in opposing the Vietnam War and nuclear armament, and he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1950. I used to read this to my kids when they were young.

The Prologue to the the Autobiography of Bertrand Russell


“Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a great ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair.
I have sought love, first, because it brings ecstasy - ecstasy so great that I would often have sacrificed all the rest of life for a few hours of this joy. I have sought it, next, because it relieves loneliness--that terrible loneliness in which one shivering consciousness looks over the rim of the world into the cold unfathomable lifeless abyss. I have sought it finally, because in the union of love I have seen, in a mystic miniature, the prefiguring vision of the heaven that saints and poets have imagined. This is what I sought, and though it might seem too good for human life, this is what--at last--I have found.

With equal passion I have sought knowledge. I have wished to understand the hearts of men. I have wished to know why the stars shine. And I have tried to apprehend the Pythagorean power by which number holds sway above the flux. A little of this, but not much, I have achieved.

Love and knowledge, so far as they were possible, led upward toward the heavens. But always pity brought me back to earth. Echoes of cries of pain reverberate in my heart. Children in famine, victims tortured by oppressors, helpless old people a burden to their sons, and the whole world of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be. I long to alleviate this evil, but I cannot, and I too suffer.

This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me.”

-Bertrand Russell

Friday, March 21, 2008

This Place Don't Make Sense to Me No More: Bob Dylan "Tales of Yankee Power"

fading away with Bob Dylan....the original version was so so powerful, but is not available on youtube ...and this version is still beautiful. Check out the lyrics below, kind of a final march to Calvary, when you think about it:

courtesy of adsaew

Senor, senor, can you tell me where we're headin ?
Lincoln County Road or Armageddon ?
Seems like I been down this way before
Is there any truth in that, senor ?

Senor, senor, you know their hearts is as hard as leather
Give me a minute now, let me get it together
Just gotta pick myself up off the floor
Will there be any comfort there senor ?

There's a wicked wind still blowing on that upper deck
There's an iron cross still hanging down from around her neck
There's a marching band still playing in that vacant lot
Where she held me in her arms one time and said, Forget me not.

Senor, senor, I can see that painted wagon
Smell the tail of the dragon
Can't stand the suspense anymore
Can you tell me who to contact here, senor ?

Well, the last thing I remember before I stripped and kneeled
Was that trainload of fools bogged down in a magnetic field
A gypsy with a broken flag and a flashing ring
He said, Son, this ain't a dream no more it's the real thing.

Senor, senor, do you know where she is hidin' ?
How long are we gonna be riding ?
How long must I keep my eyes glued to the door ?
I'm ready when you are, senor.

Senor, senor, let's overturn these tables
Disconnect this cable
This place don't make sense to me no more
Can you tell me what we're waiting for, senor ?

If You Will Only Believe, by the Reverend Claude Jeter and the Swan Silvertones

Thanks to ArchieB9876

In January I sat with a friend and watched the video song above by the Silvertones, one of her favorite singing groups. We both knew that my friend's long battle with cancer was nearing its end. After the song was over,she said "So, tell me, what is that supposed to mean? Are you trying to tell me that if I would only believe, my cancer would go away?" We both knew it wouldn't.

I told her what I could, and we both knew I was trying very hard. She watched me carefully, and knew I believed it: that you just don't know what lies ahead, on the other side. It could be far more amazing than anything you've ever hoped for, far more wonderful than anything you thought possible. There's world upon world, world within world, music, science, math, art, earth, the sun, the moon, the stars, into eternity. "In my father's house are many mansions" (John 14:2), world without end, Amen. You could fly to God and sing in the heavenly choir, and dwell in the communion of saints.You could be with your loved ones forever, lifetime after lifetime, here there and everywhere in the universe, beyond time and space as we know it. All things are possible, if you will only believe.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Good Friday, from noon til three

Just be aware of the suffering that someone has endured for you. Think clearly, don't be sentimental. Watch the sky, the shadows and the light. Give thanks.

People who have to die willingly, courageously, triumphantly, sorrowfully, leaving love in this lifetime behind: Ah! se un giorno da queste ritorte

What if you were told that you had to die soon, not from illness, but because of the way you are, and the way people are, people who have misunderstood or mistrusted you. What if it was someone else's decision that you should die, and that person wasn't sure it was the right decision, and anguished over it, but decided against you. And then you had to walk to your violent death, let's say to be beheaded by axe like Mary Queen of Scots. How might you feel? In his opera "Maria Stuardi", Gaetano Donizetti imagines it expressed in this way, with the help of Joan Sutherland as Mary Stuart:

courtesy of goopera

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Come to think of it, why haven't I gotten my Barack Obama t-shirt yet?

When I was feeling swept up in the Obama excitement, I ordered a Barack Obama t-shirt and some lapel pins from the Barack Obama website store. I wanted the Obama khaki "Face" t-shirt, like the one wears in his "yes we can" video, available under men's t-shirts. The Obama website explained that the medium size shirt I wanted was back-ordered, and would take "several weeks" due to huge demand. Medium was on backorder, small was on backorder, large was on backorder, but there was immediate availability if you wanted extra-large,and so I did. I figured it could be a nightgown, and I'd have it day after tomorrow. That was February 6th. The money was deducted from my account two days later. Now it's March 20th. Still no shirt.

Yet every day I have gotten requests for more money, and letters addressed to me by my first name, in a familiar tone, and signed "Barack"- when I know he doesn't have time for such nonsense. The letters do not accord in tone with his speeches, and I don't even read them anymore. Even if he did have time to dash off a few letters daily to his millions of potential donors, does he really have to sign them "Barack"? What's wrong with saying something realistic like "Dear friends and supporters"- from Barack Obama? Are we such needy little simpletons that we are expected to believe the man is writing to us personally? Do his staffers think we are idiots out here?

This false familiarity really bothers me. Letters letters letters, but not one from the barack obama store about my shirt, other than the confirmation, six weeks ago, that I ordered it. Is this the real Obama support system? Can't they even put together a STORE?! Are they really so disorganized that they can't get it together to make up some t-shirts? I have some friends who could probably get it together and print up all the tshirts they need in a few weeks. I could wrap them up and go to the post office, and send them out myself, maybe ask one of my daughters to help me. No problemo. Unless I had gotten really knocked for a loop, and had bitten off more than I could chew, and was in way way over my head. Or unless I somehow lost the money that people had paid to me to make and mail the shirts. I must admit, I'm starting to wonder.

Fats Domino "Blueberry Hill"

Nothing much beats watching Fats Domino roll around at the piano with that sweet smile. I'm so glad someone made his dreams come true up there on Blueberry Hill.

thanks to marcellopresley

Ricky Nelson singing Lonesome Town right in the middle of a family sitcom

AH! Ozzie and Harriet. Those were the days - a little after-school or pre-prom get-together in the living room, dad coming home from work, everything just hunkey-dorey, a beautiful slow-eyed guy with a guitar starts singing like this and you just sit there, like a good little girl?! And then say okey-dokey, see you later, gotta run off with that funny looking guy now and do some homework and have some milk and cookies. Byebye!

Thanks to CrescentNoon

Obama's Historic Speech and Why People Must Find Fault With It

You remember. When you were in school, sophomore year, learning how to write essays, the teacher would say "If you want to write a book or movie review that gets attention, and if the book or movie is pretty good and therefore gets many good reviews, write a critical review, make it negative so that people will notice it." So it's a little sophomoric trick to go out of your way to find fault. It's attention-seeking behavior. We're seeing a lot of that in the wake of Obama's historic speech yesterday about race and politics in America.

If anything were to happen to our dear Mr. Obama, if he were sick or injured or unable to continue his campaign for any reason, God forbid, that speech would be enshrined in the collective memory of the world henceforth. But as it is, in our sometimes shoddy little media-driven process, news commentators and talking heads want their fifteen minutes of fame, so they are trying to get attention by dissing the speech, by ripping it to shreds, by finding the most picayune little quibbles with it. Even the Clintons will probably find some way to diminish its greatness eventually, though they are smart enough to acknowledge it and lay low for a bit. Hillary said, somewhat proprietarily, "I'm glad he made it." As if she had told him to.

Come on! Let's hear it! Give it up for Barack! As the New York Times editorial "Mr. Obama's Profile in Courage" says, for starters:

"There are moments — increasingly rare in risk-abhorrent modern campaigns — when politicians are called upon to bare their fundamental beliefs. In the best of these moments, the speaker does not just salve the current political wound, but also illuminates larger, troubling issues that the nation is wrestling with.
Inaugural addresses by Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt come to mind, as does John F. Kennedy’s 1960 speech on religion, with its enduring vision of the separation between church and state. Senator Barack Obama, who has not faced such tests of character this year, faced one on Tuesday. It is hard to imagine how he could have handled it better."

Let's face it. He's younger than Hillary or John McCain. He's less experienced than Hillary or John McCain. But he is the very substance of greatness. He will learn and grow and we can nurture him with our support. He's grown beyond the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. And there's plenty of reason to believe he can grow beyond Hillary Clinton and John McCain. He could lead us through some meaningful change. I'm starting to feel it in my bones.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

How Our Idols Crumble into the Sand: Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley


I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.


All I Have To Do Is Dream- Harmony to Spare from the Everly Brothers

Thanks to Kilroy76

Feeling Special oh so Special

I think it's good that in the last week three governors have had to make shocking admissions about sexual liasons. Now all those poor young people messing around with governors, elected officials, celebrities and high-profile folk will realize that they are not necessarily so special after all. Innocent young things must think they're pretty special there for awhile, sneaking and tip-toeing through the corridors of power, wealth and fame to rub up against their needy little undressed idols. Why sell out?

The idols themselves, having forbidden trysts then being forced to announce their perversions or their infidelities to the general populace, broadcasting their sins - oh please, gag me with a spoon, who needs this? So you poor young things out there who feel so special, rich and powerful as you rush off to have sex with the rich and powerful - wake up and look around. The whole thing is not necessarily as wonderful as it seems, and neither are the objects of your interest. There can be love, of course. But it's kind of rare..and...well, special.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Sweetness for the Little Ones at Easter

Don't forget an Easter lamb in the baskets, cotton or candy, to teach the kids about the Lamb of God!

Easter Week, from man to God

I like the eternal verities, and seek them everywhere and in all seasons. Eternal verities, things that are always true, often hold true in regard to light and the shifting earth moon sun and stars. For me, Christmas is all about the solstice, the light shining forth in darkness, and the babe radiant in the manger under the shining star. Even Santa rolling all bright and cheery out of the dark chimney, and the festivals of light all accord with the solstice very well. A light shines forth in the darkness. Remember the Prologue to John. It's easy to keep a mystical perspective throughout the days of the season.

At first blush, equinoxes are a little harder to integrate into the grand scheme of things. At Christmas solstice we think of the transcendent Christ as the light of the world. In His death and resurrection at Easter it is the transcendent Christ again who embodies that mystery of eternal life. The vernal equinox is about new life in the spring, new life bursting forth in nature, flowers abloom, resurrection anew. Hold a barnyard egg up to the light, see the life immanent within. It's easy to understand that the egg is a symbol of the season and of Christ's illumination of us.

But in the week leading up to Easter, we think of Jesus the man. The man washing his disciples' feet, the man weeping in the garden, the man betrayed by his friends, the man being nailed to the cross, the man suffering. The great Easter Vigil, falling on the silent night before Easter as we await the risen Christ, is the historic time for baptism and renewal. We share in the shift from man to God.

I love the old Sunday school handouts from the 50's, before the pictures were so painfully politically correct, modernized and vividly colored. I love the old soft-toned simple drawings of Jesus coming into Jerusalem, of Jesus with the children, of Jesus praying in the garden, and the old Sallman portrait of Jesus that I accepted as fact when I was a child.

And so I immerse myself in the eternal verities as I see them, whenever I can. But this week I think of the historical Jesus, and of the concrete experiences of the man who was called to be an avatar of light and truth, a Christ.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Betrayals and reversals of fortune

Betrayal seems to be part of human nature, certainly at least part of the human experience. After Jesus marched in triumph from Galilee to Jerusalem, welcomed as the Son of God, everything went sour. Within days He was humiliated, beaten and crucified. What else could he do but accept it as God's will, forgive, and move on to Paradise?

When Caesar was attacked by his fellow senators on the floor of the Roman Senate, he began by fighting back, but when he saw that his dear Brutus was among the would-be assassins, he lifted his toga to cover his eyes, and relinquished himself to his fate. Shakespeare makes Caesar's final sorrowful words "Et tu Brute?" Suetonius said Caesar's final heartbroken words were "You too, my child?" What else could Caesar do but accept betrayal as his fate, cover his face, and succumb to death?

Peaceful Tibetan monks have begun marching from Dharmasala India to Lhasa in Tibet, a 5 to 6 month march that will culminate in their arrival at the time of the Olympics in Beijing in August. Meanwhile, at their destination in Lhasa, the killing has already begun. Chinese authorities proudly announce that they have contained the situation with tanks and guns and forced incarcerations of Tibetans. In recent years those same authorities built a railroad to Tibet and sent in Chinese residents to populate Tibet and marginalize Tibetans as violently as America marginalized the American Indians. The Potala Palace and the sacred Jokhang Temple, to which Tibetan pilgrims used to come for hundreds of miles by prostrating themselves body length by body length the whole way, are now surrounded by brothels and honky tonks catering to tourists. What else can the Tibetans do but foresee their possible doom, and resist it as long as possible, even unto death?

An innocent child or a happy and beloved adult gets a deadly cancer, and each must relinquish life to cancer's relentless appetite. What else can they do but hope for comfort and for their loved ones not to suffer as they have?

Elliot Spitzer, former Attorney General and Governor of New York, boy wonder, moral monitor, prosecutor extraordinaire, is revealed as a fraud, as a patron of common but well-marketed prostitutes. What else can he or we do but accept his slimy inner realities as part of the human condition? This stuff is nothing new. People go crazy for sex, money, power or revenge. Friends become enemies. They murder one another, they go to war, indigenous people are tossed aside for others' gain. A tsunami wipes away a few hundred thousand people. It's just the way it sometimes is. Life goes on. What else can we do but pray for forgiveness, ask for strength to endure or to make a change, and hope to experience laughter and loving-kindness? What else is there but to carry on the best we can until the moment we die, cherishing and giving thanks for the blessings we have?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Brenda Lee's "I'm Sorry"

This is one of those musical moments that was perfect at the time and then provided lifetime fame. But poor Brenda Lee, just 16 years old, and only 4 foot 9, looks so unhappy here, as if someone was standing offstage who would beat her mercilessly if she didn't remember to get those hand movements right. But she sure did it, and whoever encouraged her to perform certainly realized she could. As far as I know, she lived happily ever after. So grab your hairbrush microphone and sing along! Courtesy of ForFarley

Awareness ad

Regarding the "awareness ad" below, one of my friends, a judge, said "Makes you think twice about eyewitness testimony."

Click the words "Awareness ad" in the title to watch the video

Dirty Dancing in our Dotage

Went out dancing last night and had a repeat of what happened in November - same friends, same band, same fun, except this time, we danced all night long. So I will just repost that November blogspot to share some of the joy joy joy of being old - well, older - and dancing.

Boomers can really dance for joy, it's an actual phenomenon. We've got rhythm and we've still got our moves. Give us a good band and we'll dance in circles til midnight unabashedly. We've got history galore and can do little moves from a hundred different dance sensations, we make funny faces, we're sexy as hell. Uhhh...that's true isn't it? You know, I think it is. Damn if it isn't.

After dinner and drinks last night, our group of four decided to peek in to the remnants of a party in an adjacent ballroom where a great band was still playing. We were welcomed by the folks there to dessert and the dance floor. Magic ensued. Johnny Cash's "Walk the Line" and some Chuck Berry got us going. We were transformed from a group of folks whose birthdates stretched from 1934 to 1954 into 20 and 30 somethings. (So actually, we were three Boomers and one Depression Baby.) Other dancers intermingled briefly in and out of our circle, and noone seemed to notice or care that we were interlopers from other generations.

It's heavenly to dance with abandon. All over the world and all through time, from ancient tribes in isolation to the highest spheres of civilization, from the youngest to the oldest, from the ridiculous to the sublime, we're all joined together in eternity by music and dance. We can't all be Nureyev, Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, or Uma Thurman and John Travolta, but we can dance our hearts out and be ever so glad we're here to do it.

Grace be to God!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Remembering Grandma Peggy

I'm often comforted by the knowledge that my parents, all four of my grandparents and all eight of my great-grandparents were church-going and upright folk who worked hard, enjoyed a good meal, and loved a good song. I'm probably the first one in generations with a lazy streak, contaminated by a stray gene from another day and age. I can stare out a window at the rustling leaves for a good half-hour. I can leave the dishes in the sink until a better day. I can leave the Christmas tree stand on the porch until the beginning of March.

But my grandmother Peggy, born in 1896, would never do that. A card-carrying member of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, the good old WCTU, she had no time for slothful folks. She never stopped moving and working, except for the times she set aside for her Bible and her devotions in the morning, after a hot dinner at noon, and at bedtime. (The evening meal was "supper", not "dinner".)

"Learn to be neat!" was her refrain. As we took fresh-smelling bedsheets from the clotheslines on Mondays, she sang old hymns: The Old Rugged Cross, In the Garden, Blessed Assurance. She would call out happily to a flock of birds in the sky "My money! my money! my money!"- you'll someday get a dollar per bird, you know. She always wore a dress, stockings, and sturdy heels,even when working in the garden, her long gray hair piled in braids or a bun, she prided herself on her figure and her slim ankles. She was ladylike and happy.

After we made the beds, she would fold a small blanket at the foot of the bed with a precision I could never match. If I folded a throw blanket loosely and tossed it on the foot of the bed, she would take it up again and fold it right, with just the tiniest huff. I missed the gene that could help me notice such things, yet I learned to admire those who have it.

Now Grandma had her darker side, honed honestly and earnestly by religion and forebears who placed a high premium on working from dawn to dusk in order to be saved by Jesus in the end. She could be just a tad judgmental. I remember sitting smug in the car with my grandparents as we passed by a ramshackle house out in the country that had beer bottles and old cars in the yard. "Not fit to live," she said about one hapless resident, obviously knowing more about the man of that house than I did.

Occasionally Grandma would have a "sinking spell" which meant she had to sit down for a moment, and only very rarely, take to her bed. Once I remember her sitting on a bench in her gardens in the sunlight, combing out her long hair after washing it, and sighing "Ah! Fifty years seems but a day!" She did not like sinking spells in herself or anyone else. I, for one, given to occasional prolonged sinking spells, still feel very guilty when I give in to breathlessness or gloom. And I imagine my sister and cousins and all of us unto the fourth generation still feel guilty if we slack off for too long.

Grandma baked her own bread, made her own soap, killed her own chickens. Sunday supper was an event, 2:00 sharp every Sunday afternoon following three or four hours of church and Sunday School. She believed life should be lived close to the bone, close to nature, close to God. She had a mink coat that she wore to church and she lived in a beautiful home on many acres, but she favored simplicity. Her values were based on her Christian principles and her belief in the output of constant energy all day every day, except of course on Sunday. "Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy."

If I recall correctly, the framed needlework over her mantlepiece spelled out Christ's words: "Remember Me." I can't find the perfect picture right now,with just those words in a long horizontal frame, but I'll keep trying. I know He remembered her, and that she rests in peace.

Monday, March 10, 2008

From My Desktop: The Einstein Quote for the Day

"If you are out to describe the truth, leave elegance to the tailor. "

Sunday, March 9, 2008

trying something new

check out my latest effort - photos -

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Feeling Less Patriotic? Try Expatriotism. And Blest Be the Tie That Binds.

The very thought of seven weeks of Obama-Clinton fighting for a win in the Pennsylvania primary is enough to send me packing for good. But where to go? Out of the country, surely. A beautiful spot like San Miguel de Allende? Too big? Ajijik? Too many tourists maybe? Africa? Well there's the malaria and the bloodshed and all that. Scotland? But then there's the exchange rate. Does anybody really welcome Americans with open arms anymore? It's hard enough to be welcomed when you're over-the-hill and not exactly laden with jewels, let alone from George W Bush's homeland.

There are many considerations, most achingly, leaving loved ones behind, but also foregoing top-notch medical care, and saying goodbye to the old homestead where you always thought you'd rock in a rocking chair into your dotage, surrounded by your progeny.

Peace Corps, anyone? Is it too arduous for a non-athlete? Make me a pallet on the floor, and I'd give it one more try, I think. But after years of Egyptian cotton sheets it could be hard to adapt. I can picture myself heading west and settling into obscurity out in the desert with a shotgun to keep away intruders, a big dog, no mortgage, no TV, drawing my water from a sputtering well, sleeping on a cot with squeaky springs and an old wool blanket, and ekeing out a hardscrabble existence with rice, beans, and potatoes. Or not.

I could stick it out here, hang in for a bigger pension and that social security, go to church, be with my family, live the life. How do you decide? OR...It could be fun to be an expatriot (or an expatriate)-somewhere like Mexico, if there's any place left that's as "authentic" as it was in my heyday there forty years ago. Not too many art gallery openings please, not too many feel-good meetings please, not too much old-folks support group stuff please. Don't anybody try to trick me into dying with your arts and crafts classes, please, and thank you.

How to decide? Do you do it because you really have to? Because you really want to? Or because you can't stand the status quo any more? I feel like I lost my people somewhere along the way in the last near half-century, like I wandered off from the tribe and now want to find them again. I guess that's old age coming on, looking toward the communion of saints. I guess it's an illusion, a way to imagine a return to youth. I guess we all wandered off into life and now have to shift our sails and start heading home, where the heart is.

When shall we meet again? When the hurly-burly's done, when the battle's lost and won.

Blest be the Tie That Binds

Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

Before our Father’s throne
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one
Our comforts and our cares.

We share each other’s woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.

When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.

This glorious hope revives
Our courage by the way;
While each in expectation lives,
And longs to see the day.

From sorrow, toil and pain,
And sin, we shall be free,
And perfect love and friendship reign
Through all eternity.

How Does Hillary Do It? Do people forget about her dark side? I'm giving up the news! I'm heading for the hills!

I woke up in a rainstorm and ran downstairs to see the returns. I am flabbergasted that Hillary appears to have won the popular vote in Ohio and Texas. The people like her, they really like her! Do they forget about her dark side? Could I ever? Even though the math is not in her favor for delegates,this is huge. She has won the big glamourous states. The party seniors won't take her out for a talk behind the woodshed, not yet. We won't get to see that concession speech, with Bill looking like a haggard sheepdog at her side, not yet.

Last month I put together a little Hillary collage and I am going to dig it out again to remind people of the dark side of Hillary. My cousin thinks Hillary has sold her soul, and has sold some folks down the river in her efforts to get back to the White House. None of us will ever know all the details, but I believe that. Hillary turned on the charm in the last few weeks, but that charm may very well be just a thin veneer over a desperate woman. If Hillary wins the nomination, a lot of folks I know will start turning hopefully toward McCain. I can't stand how people are afraid of Obama's change, I can't stand any more of the news, the constant speculation, the uncertainty, the Clinton machine. I've been reading about San Miguel de Allende and I think I'm going to sell the house and head for them thar hills.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

An Exciting Day in Boomer Politics

I don't know how people make up their minds about truth in the political process. Some days I realize I'm becoming more conservative in my old age, and that I may be evolving into a Republican. I repudiate my liberal youth in many ways. I have examined first-hand the results of inclusion and affirmative action policies, which are presumably based on an interpretation of the Constitutional allowance that "all men are created equal," and I have come to doubt the rationale for that interpretation. I'm here to tell you that I was in no way and no how created equal with Audrey Hepburn, for instance. People are created equal only in a most abstract way. In a philosophical sense it's tabula rasa, go get 'em. Then there are biological, genetic and circumstantial imperatives that lead to characterological developments, for better or worse, come hell or high water. But that's neither here nor there right now. Suffice it to say, almost everyone has a shot if a lot of things go right. Now we basically have three people running for President, and for somebody, things are going to start going wrong real soon. Today Texas and Ohio are going to have a lot to do with that.

In any case I'm rooting for Obama most of the time, and I got an Obama 08 lapel pin, but I haven't yet worn it for some strange reason. (Well- not so strange, it's not appropriate in my workplace, and also I was slightly put off by all the over-friendly email I got soliciting funds and signed "Barack" after I ordered a few lapel pins and that Will-i-am t-shirt.) Setting aside consideration of true presidential qualifications, and going with the gut feelings that lead many Americans into the voting booth, I feel ok about McCain, because he's sort of a combo Republican-Democrat and he was hanging there by his own broken arms in the POW camp and still wouldn't rat out his buddies, or leave without them. My forebears would not roll over in their graves if I voted for him! Then Hillary had to go and do a great job on Saturday Night Live, and then most endearingly call her situation "pretty pathetic" on the Jon Stewart Show. That got her some votes for sure. Those Clintons are micromanaging every vote!

This has truly got to be the most exciting Presidential race ever. I'm glad all of our candidates have a sense of humor, and I wish them all well when all is said and done.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

With the dawn you'll be gone: Patience and Prudence singing "Tonight You Belong To Me" (1956)

Blessed to Dream of Love

I dreamt of a big calm man, and how we loved each other. We walked and talked along a promenade at the seashore. We laughed. We held hands at times. Once, suddenly, he took my earlobe thoughtfully between his thumb and forefinger. Later, he felt the bones of my wrist with his fingertips, briefly, as we talked. I rubbed his back for a moment, smoothing his sweater. We sat on a bench. He crossed his legs. I touched and felt the round smooth bone at his bare ankle. He showed me a small tattoo I had never noticed before. We kept on talking, serious, calm and loving. We walked to our serene sunlit home. A quiet maid, elderly and uniformed, had rearranged furniture around a fireplace in the bedroom. She had placed a bowl of fruit and a vase of peonies on a table, with books. She glanced at us kindly then disappeared. We rested in love.

I woke up to the reality of the years in the bathroom mirror and gave thanks to God that my life has been such that I have many beautiful images in my mind, and for blessing me with sweet dreams of love.