Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday Five: Holiday Grump

Today's Friday Five was suggested by Will Smama: “Please tell us your least favorite/most annoying seasonal....”
  1. dessert/cookie/family food
    The less said about fruit cake the better. Several years ago, someone gave me a book titled 101 Uses for Fruitcake as a stocking stuffer; sample uses include doorstop and building material..
  2. beverage (seasonal beer, eggnog w/ way too much egg and not enough nog, etc...)
    Someone mentioned the other day they had pumpkin beer (for Turkey Day). I got a hangover just picturing it.
  3. tradition (church, family, other)
    It has become a tradition for shops to promote Christmas earlier each year. In time, I'm sure we'll see displays in February. Other traditions, at home or church, warm my heart.
  4. decoration
    Santa kneeling at creche. Seems maudlin and sentimental.
  5. gift (received or given)
    None come to mind, but this does remind me of a story. A former employer hosted a Dirty Santa party. An ugly vase was the traditional gag gift. Whoever received this vase was duty-bound to recycle it the following year. Part of the challenge was wrapping it in such a way that a person couldn't tell it was the gag gift.
Bonus: Song/CD that makes you want to tell the elves where to stick it.
Almost all pop covers of carols are intolerable. Kenny G, for example, can take one of my favorite carols (O, Holy Night) and transmute it into schlock.

More on the internet cat

The cat's performance in the link in the previous entry may seem familiar:

Cat Friday

The musical stylings of the common internet kitty

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

William Blake

An on-line friend at MySpace reminded me that today is William Blake's birthday (born Nov. 28, 1757; died Aug. 12, 1827). As I thanked my friend for the reminder, I commented that Blake was "my muse in eternity".

The better part of Blake's life was spent refining a mythos which would reflect his vision and world view. This mythos plays out primarily in a series of illumnated epic poems, beginning with The Marriage of Heaven & Hell and ending (roughly) with Jerusalem.

Beginning in 1981, I tried to form a mythos, titled "The Saturn Sequence", primarily in free verse. As I note in my introduction, the role of Saturn shifts from benign to malevolent to apocalyptic. As a mythic symbol, it is inconsistent.

The same accusation could be made of Blake: a character may serve a positive function (the narrative voice is approving) in one poem, and less so in a later poem. However, his overall mythic system remains consistent.

I consider Blake a muse - or a mentor, if you prefer - because I admire his dedication to his vision. His determination to create his own system rather than be a slave to another's. I admire his prosody - a poem like "The Tyger" (for example) continues to be anthologized because of its sound and rhetoric, as much as its theodicic theme.

The infrequent posts on "Love During Wartime" reflect a dry period. I find myself mostly bored with the (figurative) sound of my own voice. Blake also went through dry periods, one lasting multiple years, yet he returned with full power.

His example, and my own experience, gives me hope that my dry spell will end in good time. Blake continued to be creative in the plastic arts, as painter and etcher, during that dry spell. Just as I continue to create as photographer.

It seems to me that I may be true to Blake's example by following what he called "genius". He used this term in its archaic sense, as a sort of guiding spirit (as I used "muse" above).

Thus, one's genuis may lead through the plastic arts of paint, the liberal arts of words, or the etheral arts of floating notes. What can one do but follow?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Idée d’jour

Sell your cleverness
and buy bewilderment.
— Rumi

Thursday, November 15, 2007

First Amendment

Jim Hightower writes:
George W likes to claim that global terrorists are out to attack America because "They hate our freedoms." But we’re learning that it’s really the Bushites themselves who hate America’s freedoms.
Retired Army Col. Ann Wright and one of America’s leading peace activists, Medea Benjamin, have recently felt the bullying hate of the Bush regime. Both women have been very vigorous practitioners of our freedom to speak out and assemble in opposition to government policies, using these freedoms to protest the war in Iraq. They’ve put themselves on the line and been willing to undergo several arrests for their nonviolent civil disobedience.
This is as American as the 4th of July. Yet Wright, Benjamin, and civil libertarians everywhere were stunned to learn last August that Bush’s FBI has suddenly turned this misdemeanor into a weapon of political intimidation, using it to bar the two women from traveling to Canada… and perhaps to other nations.
When they tried to visit Canada, Wright and Benjamin were detained by Canadian customs officials and told that their names were on an FBI no-entry list. Even though this list is meant to stop fugitives, potential terrorists, and violent felons – not peaceful protesters – they were told that they would have to apply for "criminal rehabilitation" and pay a fine if they ever wanted to enter Canada.
Unintimidated, the women have since tried to re-enter, this time at the invitation of five members of parliament to come speak to that assembly. Yet, Canada’s officials have bowed to the Bushites, honoring the FBI’s no-entry list, rather than respecting their own parliament. The FBI refuses to say why non-violent protesters are on a terrorist list.
Chillingly, the U.S. media have ignored this story, but you can learn more about this blatant assault on our freedoms by going to
Brother Dave comments: "Lot more of that going on that folks know. The 'list' is now over 1 million names long and growing by about 20,000 a month."

See also:

It appears people in America are only free to speak if they agree with B*sh, Faux News, and other war mongers. There's a reason freedom of speech and assembly are the first two rights preserved in the Bill of Rights: those are the things most feared by tyrants. Note, as a glaring example, what is currently happening in Pakistan.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Ideé d’jour

If you love the sacred and despise the ordinary, you are still bobbing in the ocean of delusion.
— Lin-Chi

Friday, November 09, 2007

Friday Five: Extravagant Unbusyness

This week's theme suggested by Sally, who asks:
What do you do to:
  1. to care for your body
    Truth to tell, I don't take good care of my body. My ambitious plan to walk a local (mostly abandoned) mall lasted a couple of months, then petered out when I got sick early this year.
  2. to care for your spirit
    Coincidentally, I'm off to care for my spirit this afternoon. I'm going to the annual "Guitar Weekend" sponsored by my church, which will be at a camp center in southeastern Oklahoma.
    Additionally, I'm striving to reinstate the discipline of being with people more often. I hope to find just the right balance of alone time and crowd time. At least one evening a week with flesh and blood folk (opposed to those on a TV screen) seems a modest enough goal.
  3. to care for your mind
    I am devoted to life-long learning. I read every day. I read at breakfast, lunch, and during commercial breaks.
  4. to bring a sparkle to your eye
    My feline companion does much to sparkle my eye. She can bring that sparkle when she lies on my lap and purrs.
  5. to place a spring in your step
    My experience to date suggests this is a choice. The trick seems to be to force the body to lead the emotions. That is to say, one can chose to hold his head up, and to walk briskly. I have noticed that I do feel better emotionally when I do this.
  6. Bonus which one on the list are you determined to put into action?
    In addition to the discipline of spending more time around people, I hope to reinstate the discipline of walking.

Koan d’jour

Pull a five-story pagoda out of a teapot.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Idée d’jour

There's no money in poetry, but then there's no poetry in money, either.
— Robert Graves, poet and novelist (1895-1985)

Friday, November 02, 2007


It appears one or more robots have spammed my comments. Therefore, I have initiated word verification for my comment box. I generally don't like these verification modules on other blogs, and have resisted this move. But, after over 75 comments promoting viagra and some other spurious drug, I felt it was warranted.