Saturday, March 01, 2003

Wishes, Lies, and Dreams : Kenneth Koch & the schoolchildren

Here are two of the poems from the classic (if underrenowned in some places?) 1970 collection of elementary school poems written at the truly whimsical instigation of the ideally suited instructor ...


Untitled poem (in the "Noises" section")
by Ruben Marcilla, 5th grade

My crazy cousin drove the clickity clankity car down the street.
I shot my short shirt out the window of a shooting star.
Chimmey Chummy chirped like the camp of a chippy chappy
Arley's airplane is apt to abbreviate your apple.
The pink petunias turned purple from pumping pipes.


by Annie Clayton, 4th grade

I dream of many colors making a pattern.
I clutter my mind with arithmetic examples.
I try to play piano in my sleep.
I dream that every day is October ninth.
I dream that I have a golden throne.
I dream that I have all the clothes I want.
I dream that there won't be any school tomorrow.
I dream I'm in the movies.
I dream I'm standing on the floor and diamonds snow on me.
I dream I know all the Bob Dylan songs my brother knows.
I dream all my boyfriends date me and not my friends.
I dream that every year I have my weight in gold.


Kenneth Koch [and the children of PS 61, NYC], Wishes, Lies, and Dreams : Teaching Children to Write Poetry (Vintage Books, 1971), p. 121, p. 128.
This song has been going through my head for the last couple of days. RIP, FMR.
The Smiths were not whiny!
A friendly controversy with the contrarian commentator

If anything, Morrissey's lyrics are savage & aggressive rather than supine. Yes, there's a mopey persona in some of the lyrics -- and the mopeyness is so over-the-top as to be funny. But to dismiss the lyricist of "Panic," "Sheila," and "The Queen Is Dead" as whiny? Oh, the mind, it's all a-boggle.

Even "Hand in Glove" is so caustically ironic ...

Naw. A whiner Morrissey ain't.

I have this gestating intuition about 'southpaw grammar' as self-defense. I've not yet heard the Morrissey disc with that title. But Stephen Fry had some thoughts on the subject which seem apt for Morrissey as well. Language -- coy, ambiguous, taunting, brash, unabashedly individualistic and unrepentantly literate -- as self-defense. As, perhaps, a form of aggression. Wallace Stevens said that poetry is the violence within that protects us from the violence without. And while we don't confuse Smiths songs with "Le Monocle de Mon Oncle" or "An Ordinary Evening in New Haven," the violence metaphor seems apt. Morrissey's lyrics are delicately violent, gleefully brash, waspishly savage, brightly dark, cheerfully glum, and as wry as Christopher Buckley's martinis.

"in an epoch of UNself -- to be ONEself" to quote Three(est)Guesses(lin)Who. That's what Morrissey's all about. Of course, he can take his vegetarianism and his leftism and Fed-Ex them into a black hole, for all I care. But on the charge of being merely whiny -- an unconditional acquittal.
Two wonderfully useful French expressions
and I owe my knowledge of these expressions to a British actor and an American bishop!

L'esprit de l'escalier : When you think of the perfect retort/response/thing to say as you're on the bottom stair, leaving the party. When the witticism comes to you about a month too late. Bishop Sheen used it somewhere, I think in his autobiography. But he seems never to have had the problem!

Avant la lettre : I love this one. Stephen Fry, in his autobiography, relates a tale from the 1970s saying that one of the fellows involved looked like "a Tarantino hitman avant la lettre." Before the thing/term/type/concept existed.
Poetry redux

But currently on one of the C-Spans they're showing the obnoxious poets in a Vermont Congregationalist church. Donald Hall, who is not obnoxious, just finished reading one of his farm poems. Jamaica Kincaid is currently condemning the thin-skinned First Lady and her husband, whom Kincaid denominates "the lord and master of weapons of mass destruction." Mah-stuh. As if a broad A could make elegant this toxic rhetoric.
Kenneth Koch

Wishes, Lies, and Dreams : Teaching Children to Write Poetry

I may have to begin quoting some of the marvelous, colorful, exuberant, irrepressible, fresh, chaotic, joyful, gleeful, comic specimens of verse produced by the students of PS 61 in New York City under the tutelage of the late poet Kenneth Koch (1925-2002) some thirty-odd years ago. The book Wishes, Lies, and Dreams was published in 1970 & I believe has been in print ever since. It is something of a gem.

My life is moving difficult
As a startless engine as a sparkless fire
As a book without a crux or gist
A play without a point or vital strife

My life is moving splendidly
Like Dominique at Barcelona
Like skaters in The Bishop's Wife
Like trains through tunnels slicker than grease
Like circulation like tickertape

My life is actually quite still
A pebble or a broken clock
A stylite on a stem of grace
A dusty book which no one reads
A permanent mobility
That moves so fast it does not move

My life and mind are stiller than the spheres
Serene as the commotion of commuters
As silent as a battering thunderstorm
As violent as monks as pure as lust
As awful as a sudden happenstance
As austere as the spouse of Anne Boleyn
As orderly as chaos prim and brash
by George Herbert (1593-1633)

WHO sayes that fictions onely and false hair
Become a verse? Is there in truth no beautie?
Is all good structure in a winding stair?
May no lines passe, except they do their dutie
    Not to a true, but painted chair?

Is it no verse, except enchanted groves
And sudden arbours shadow course-spunne lines?
Must purling streams refresh a lovers loves?
Must all be vail'd, while he that reades, divines,
    Catching the sense at two removes?

Shepherds are honest people; let them sing:
Riddle who list, for me, and pull for Prime:
I envie no mans nightingale or spring;
Nor let them punish me with losse of ryme,
    Who plainly say, My God, My King.
Especially with syrups

From the comment box to a recent post at Gospel M*I*N*E*F*I*E*L*D (direct linkage to post a little oogy at the moment).

a shit of espresso actually has less caffeine than a cup of regular brewed coffee - and I think it tastes better! especially with syrups.....
1. What is your favorite type of literature to read (magazine, newspaper, novels, nonfiction, poetry, etc.)?

Poetry, biographies, books about God and prayer. Newspaper and magazines, in smaller doses. Very few novels.

2. What is your favorite novel?

Toss-up between Love in the Ruins by Walker Percy and The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. Liked Garp as a teenager, & other John Irving books. Like what Nabokov did with language in his most notorious novel.

3. Do you have a favorite poem? (Share it!)

Toss-up between Shakespeare's 18th sonnet ("Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate") and Dylan Thomas's "Author's Prologue," which is really too long to share, but here (without line-breaks, & from memory) goes :

This day winding down now, at God speeded summer's end, in the torrent salmon sun, in my seashaken house, on a breakneck of rocks, tangled with chirrup and fruit, froth, flute, fin and quill, at a wood's dancing hoof, by scummed starfish sands with their fishwife-cross gulls, pipers, cockles, sails, -- out there, crow black, men tackled with clouds, who kneel to the sunset nets, geese nearly in heaven, boys stabbing, and herons, and shells that speak seven seas, eternal waters away from the cities of nine days' night whose towers will catch and fall in the religious wind like stalks of tall, dry straw -- at poor peace I sing to you strangers (though song is a burning and crested act, the fire of birds in the world's turning wood, for my sawn splay sounds) out of these sea-thumbed leaves that will fly and fall like leaves of trees and as soon crumble and un-die into the dogdayed night.

Seaward the salmon, sucked sun slips; and the dumb swans drub blue my dabbed bay's dusk for you to know how I, a spinning man, glory also this star : bird-roared, sea-born, man-torn, blood-blest. Hark! I trumpet the place from fish to jumping hill. Look! I build my bellowing ark to the best of my love as the flood begins, out of the fountainhead of fear, rage-red, man-alive, molten and mountainous to stream over the sheep-white hollow farms to Wales in my arms.

Hoo, there, in castle keep, you king singsong owls, who moonbeam the flickering runs and dive the dingle-furred deer dead! Huloo, on plumbed bryns, O my ruffled ring dove, in the hooting nearly dark with Welsh and reverent rook coo rooing the woods' praise (who moons her blue notes from my nest down to the curlew herd)! Heigh, jack-whisking hare, who hears there, this fox light, my flood-ship's clangor as I hew and smite ...

Etcetera. A marvelous piece of work in which the last (102nd) line rhymes with the first, the second-to-last with the second, until the rhymes meet in the middle. In the poem, Thomas compares his art to Noah building the ark ("my flood ship's clangor" & other such images).

Oh, yes : and Dante's sonnet Tanto gentil e tanto onesta pare / La donna mia ... in section xxvi of La Vita Nuova. And several dozen things by Estlin Cummings, who sustains one.

4. What is one thing you've always wanted to read, or wish you had more time to read?

Everything! Really. That's the short answer. But to name five :

Finnegans Wake by James Joyce;

Leadership by Rudolph W. Giuliani;

A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life by William Law;

Beowulf in Seamus Heaney's translation;

Little Girl Lost by Drew Barrymore.

5. What are you currently reading?

Theology of Wonder by Bishop Seraphim Sigrist, and a few other things.

Friday, February 28, 2003

Also from NRO

A column by one Michael Long, written on the occasion of the retirement of the late Mister Rogers. Insightful about his enduring appeal.

There's a brief but necessary digression in this piece about our "culture of sarcasm," and how Fred Rogers was not a part of it.
Jonah Goldberg in NRO

on McCarthyism -- was it such a bad thing? Answer : Compared to Communism, no way.

Estlin Cummings was among those who weren't vexed overmuch by the vigilance of the Red-hunters. If I remember the passage from his Selected Letters aright : "macarthyism arises exactly as a result of what it decries"; namely, the presence of traitors in the USA, and the insouciance of a certain President about the Communist threat (when this President died after 3.1 terms in office, Cummings wrote : "not being a monarchist, I felt immensely relieved").

But back to Goldberg : He commits the impertinence of wondering aloud why so many on the Left are ... well, props in Simon Morley's puppet show. Even the women.

He wonders about "Jacksonism" and "Sharptonism," the reflexive tendency of black leftists to accuse their idelogical opponents of racism.

And I wonder about abortionism. The credo that would require all politicians to sign loyalty oaths to NARAL and Planned Barrenhood. The view, successfully implanted in the minds of many, that it's treasonous to be "anti-choice."
Levavi oculos
(26 II 2003)

The dry and burning misery of not knowing why. Or how, or whether, or what next.

Disgrace upon disgrace? Not quite. These evils, a matter of millimeters, milliseconds even. And sensing self, seeming, bereft of support, of the love that makes all endurable, of the light that affords a glimpse, and more than a glimpse, of joy.

But now it is dark, and we shall see the light more clearly. And so we hope. And so we trust.

Where is the You, where is the Thou, who sees and loves and understands?

Books almost bought today -- wait, yesterday : One Times One by you know who; Chinese Whispers by the other fellow. Typo in the Cummings book : 'synbeams.' Page thirty-nine, was it? Almost bought the movie magazine with Kevin Spacey on the cover. Almost bought a beam of sunlight; stole one instead. Does Dialogues with Silence exist in paperback? Almost bought some discs : Rock Steady was $15. or $19., depending on where I looked.

Didn't buy Magnificat. Didn't curse the darkness. Didn't light a candle. Two beers with lunch. Scanned the fifty-cent bookshelves outside Antiquarian. Paid homage to Lefty and Guinevere. Died twice and felt sinister. Didn't purchase Belle and Sebastian. Was shocked, shocked at the Newsweek story. No tax on periodicals.

Ashbery said of van Gogh, "It's okay if you like great art." We tire of sophisticates. Give us the cold north wind and an endless snowscape.

Poems for Wednesday hidden in the drawer. The operations of a loyal memory. The twentieth, to be precise. Of a time when the world was clearly much, much better. And changing for the better. Or so we believed.
Collaborative solo project
(after Stein)

Pity back. Quarrel cares, and no one with a curl. What came hither, what came hence but a wince. And a jesting thrust. Sized with pride, this rushed coast, this fallow life inept. And searches for churches at three sixteen.

This is a sculpted fact, is a facet of skill enclosed. Borrow this still note, this silent knock, at ten shillings per minute. Retrieve thou this forsaken splendor, thine abandoned bliss.

Thursday, February 27, 2003

Let me tell you how it will be

If you drive a car, they'll tax the street; if you try to sit, they'll tax your seat; if it gets too cold, they'll tax the heat ...

And in Nevada, if, uhm ... well, you know ... if you try to employ a working girl, well ... read the story.

Via Rosa Mystica.
This is just to say

I have nothing to say at the moment! Ha!

There are no plums in my icebox. And no white chickens beside my red wheelbarrow.

I anticipated not being able to blog tomorrow, but it turns out that I may after all be able to.

As today is the feast among the Orthodox of a Bishop Raphael, I believe happy feast-day wishes are due to the blogger at Doxos.

Relatively warm day in Boston today ... saw some thermometers with readings a whisker above freezing!

Am worried about many things at the moment. But a small part of the mind says, there's nothing to worry about, or rather, there's nothing that worry can help.

If Gertrude Stein married Ben Stein : A rose is a rose is a ... anyone? anyone? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller? What is it with these Steins and repetition, anyhow.

My favorite "non-American" TV show : Without a Trace. I mean, it's American enough, but very few of the actors are American (although they're all playing Americans!) : Anthony LaPaglia, Australian; Poppy Montgomery (middle name Petal, see this week's TV Guide), Australian; Marianne Jean-Baptiste (nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of Hortense in the 1996 film Secrets & Lies), British. I think Without a Trace is on tonight, as a matter of fact, after CSI.

Question : Is Jenna Elfman a dharma queen?

I might have to listen to Belle and Sebastian. On one of their discs, there's a song "Just Like Dylan in the Movies." I'm told that people who liked the Smiths generally like B&S.

I've written another quadripartite surrealist prose-poem. And as soon as I think of a title, it'll get posted.

Speaking of quadripartite, I was quadripartisan the last time I went into the voting booth : Republican, a pair of Independents, a pair of Libertarians, and one Green.

Might link to John Ashbery's 1957 review of Gertrude Stein's (gawdawful) Stanzas in Meditation. Ashbery praises the work, silly him. Tender Buttons is much better -- more colorful, more alive. I think Cummings liked Buttons, but not much else by Stein.

Typo in One Times One (around p. 39, if mem serves) : "synbeams."

I've had a lot to say for someone with nothing to say.

Now there's a possible first sentence for an autobiography!

Title : Things to Go, Places to See, People to Do. Or something like that.

Here endeth the lesson.
Cooperating with grace

Mr Riddle (of the invariably inspiring Flos Carmeli) used to think that offering up suffering was "only for trained professionals" -- those heroically saintly souls we have all heard about. But has discovered, in recent days, something else. Read, if you haven't already, his immeasurably valuable personal meditation of a few days ago.
And the Holy Father

is urging the church to examine its conscience with respect to the liturgy. Mr Serafin quotes the Zenit article.
the God of unlikely places

A short reflection from Mr O'Rama reminds us of what we already know but are in constant danger of forgetting, that we should most expect to find God where we least expect to find him!
Gertrude Stein
from Tender Buttons, 1914


A violent luck and a whole sample and even then quiet.

Water is squeezing, water is almost squeezing on lard. Water, water is a mountain and it is selected and it is so practical that there is no use in money. A mind under is exact and so it is necessary to have a mouth and eye glasses.

A question of sudden rises and more time than awfulness is so easy and shady. There is precisely that noise.

A peck a small piece not privately overseen, not at all not a slice, not at all crestfallen and open, not at all mounting and chaining and evenly surpassing, all the bidding comes to tea.

A separation is not tightly in worsted and sauce, it is so kept well and sectionally.

Put it in the stew, put it to shame. A little slight shadow and a solid fine furnace.

The teasing is tender and trying and thoughtful.

The line which sets sprinkling to be a remedy is beside the best cold.

A puzzle, a monster puzzle, a heavy choking, a neglected Tuesday.

Wet crossing and a likeness, any likeness, a likeness has blisters, it has that and teeth, it has the staggering blindly and a little green, any little green is ordinary.

One, two and one, two, nine, second and five and that.

A blaze, a search in between, a cow, only any wet place, only this tune.

Cut a gas jet uglier and then pierce pierce in between the next and negligence. Choose the rate to pay and pet pet very much. A collection of all around, a signal poison, a lack of languor and more hurts at ease.

A white bird, a colored mine, a mixed orange, a dog.

Cuddling comes in continuing a change.

A piece of separate outstanding rushing is so blind with open delicacy.

A canoe is orderly. A period is solemn. A cow is accepted.

A nice old chain is widening, it is absent, it is laid by.

Thomas Campion

      Follow your Saint, follow with accents sweet,
      Haste you sad noates fall at her flying feete;
      There wrapt in cloud of sorrowe, pitie move,
And tell the ravisher of my soule I perish for her love,
      But if she scorns my never-seasing paine,
Then burst with sighing in her sight, and nere returne againe.

      All that I soong still to her praise did tend,
      Still she was first, still she my songs did end.
      Yet she my love and Musicke both doeth flie,
The Musicke that her Eccho is, and beauties simpathie;
      Then let my Noates pursue her scornfull flight:
It shall suffice that they were breath'd and dyed, for her delight.

:: :: :: :: :: :: ::

Worthy of note : "Ravisher" and "perish" in the same line. And the metrical ease with which "ravisher" falls into the line, even though it "technically" has a syllable too many.

And of course, the heptameters!

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

The day

is over, thank goodness. An unsplendid day, not for anything that happened, but for the mood that overtook one at a little before noon, and which hasn't quite departed. The mood that comes to one after the sensation of one step forward, 483 steps back.

Oh, one knows not what to do!

Sleep, perhaps. And trust.
Austin Farrer
From a sermon entitled :

Consecrated Bread
from The Essential Sermons, ed. Leslie Houlden (Cowley Publications, 1991), pp. 83-84.

"He takes us, and says we are his body; for his love will make us so."

Christ takes; it is our privilege to bring. Christ takes, through the hands of the priest his representative; we bring the token and stuff of our bodies, no longer in bread and wine, but in the money of the offering, for which the bread and wine have come to be exchanged. It is easily said, that the substitution is bogus; that to give money is one thing, to give ourselves is another. The objection is only valid, if the giving costs us nothing. The only absolute way for us to give ourselves, is as Christ gave himself, in a voluntary death; there is no part of the person left out for such an offering, and we shall all have to make it in some fashion, grudgingly or willingly, when we come to die. Short of that, we can give ourselves only in giving what is ours : our attention, our effort, our sympathy, our patience, our money, our time. Believe me, you are more likely to make a real offering of yourself to God by a decent and costly alms; a bit of your heart will stick to the precious coin, and come away with it, for where thy treasure is, there will thy heart be also -- I say that you will probably make a more genuine self-offering in hard cash than by eloquent and invisible acts of the spirit in which you aspire to give to God everything -- that is to say, to give him what you will take back from him half an hour after; as Peter did, for all his fine works, when he denied Christ in Caiaphas's court.

Dear me, what we give to God isn't much, and our giving isn't much of a giving; so let's be thankful that your preacher is not put up here to discourse on so depressing a theme. No; it is not my text that they gave or presented the bread of the offering (about which, as we have seen, the Evangelists are silent) but that Christ took it into his blessed hands, and said it was his body. He took, and he takes. He takes what we are : he is not ashamed of us, does not discuss us. Peter might deny Christ, but Christ set his eyes on Peter, his eyes and his heart. He takes us, and says we are his body; for his love will make us so. We read of the great St Bernard, that he took some strange monks into his monastery, confident, and rightly, that the love of God in their Abbot's bosom would make Christians of them. But he was only the instrument and copy of his Redeemer. He takes us : he loves us for what we are, and loves us into what we must be; he takes us, incorporate with him through his death and resurrection, and gives us back ourself, that is himself, in the communion of bread and wine.

Now therefore to the living love of heaven, Creator and Saviour of all, who most wonderfully ordained the excellence of man's estate, and more wonderfully has redeemed it, One God in three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, be ascribed as is most justly due, all might, dominion, majesty and power, henceforth and for ever.

[preached in Pusey House Chapel, Oxford]

Originally appeared at error503 -- La vita nuova, 7th Sept. 2002.
Joe Fitzgerald column

on a Massachusetts priest who lost his cousin in the Rhode Island nightclub fire.


snowless freeze
and late November sunlight

the rusty workmanship
of ordinary time

"the fences of the light"
brown leaves gray trees

the industry of man
in metallic suburbs

abandoned shells of trucks
beside the endless railroad

no sunlight colder than yesterday's


the monarchy of yesteryear
has fallen like a city

the landscape writes a song of desolation
its entertainments are the cloak of grief
its prayers are phrased to distant vacancy

the earth grows adamant and passionless
beneath the tiny grandeur of the stars

can darkness comprehend
Notable quotations

"His performances are always layered and nuanced. He brings a total dedication to the part that reminds me of Pacino, De Niro, and some other guys who aren't Italian."

Danny De Vito on Kevin Spacey


"I don't want my wife changing from a Christian into a Catholic!"

Archie Bunker (Carroll O'Connor) to Fr John Majeski (Barnard Hughes) in All in the Family


"Yes, I can see why you're having so much trouble with that letter. It requires taste, tact, and sensitivity. You have all but three of those qualities."

Maj. Charles Emerson Winchester III (David Ogden Stiers) to Capt. Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda) in M*A*S*H


"Did you say I was beautiful?"

Toula Portokalos (Nia Vardalos) to Ian Miller (John Corbett) in My Big Fat Greek Wedding


"I'm just sippin' on chamomile ... " (made to rhyme with "appeal")

No Doubt, featuring Bounty Killer, "Hey Baby"


"This is not sleepwear, and I do not have a missus. I am a Frenchman."

Data (Brent Spiner) in Star Trek : The Next Generation


"Pull this bus over to the side of the pretentiousness turnpike. I want the shiny people over here, I want the happy people over there. I represent the angry gun-toting meat-eating f***in' people!"

Denis Leary, dissing the eminently dissable Michael Stipe
It's just catapulted ahead of gymnastics

and middle-distance running, and baseball, as my favorite sport of all time.

I hope they start showing this on Saturday afternoons on television ...

Yes, it's Byzantine bowling !!
Te Deum laudamus
via 1928 BCP

WE praise thee, O God; we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.

All the earth doth worship thee, the Father everlasting.

To thee all Angels cry aloud; the Heavens, and all the Powers therein;

To thee Cherubim and Seraphim continually do cry,

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth;

Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of thy glory.

The glorious company of the Apostles praise thee.

The goodly fellowship of the Prophets praise thee.

The noble army of Martyrs praise thee.

The holy Church throughout all the world doth acknowledge thee;

The Father, of an infinite Majesty;

Thine adorable, true, and only Son;

Also the Holy Ghost, the Comforter.

THOU art the King of Glory, O Christ.

Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.

When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man, thou didst humble thyself to be born of a Virgin.

When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death, thou didst open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.

Thou sittest at the right hand of God, in the glory of the Father.

We believe that thou shalt come to be our Judge.

We therefore pray thee, help thy servants, whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood.

Make them to be numbered with thy Saints, in glory everlasting.

The Suffrages

O LORD, save thy people, and bless thine heritage.

Govern them, and lift them up for ever.

Day by day we magnify thee;

And we worship thy Name ever, world without end.

Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin.

O Lord, have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us.

O Lord, let thy mercy be upon us, as our trust is in thee.

O Lord, in thee have I trusted; let me never be confounded.
Yesterday's quiz answers

1g Gwen Renee Stefani
2e Janet Damita Jackson
3c Brandy Rayana Norwood
4a Paula Julie Abdul
5b Halle Maria Berry
6f Dana Elaine Owens (Queen Latifah)
7d Judith Olivia Dench

In the absence of guesses, I win! Ha, ha!
This or that, surrealist version

1. Holland or Netherlands? Dutch treat!

2. Emu or Ostrich? Emu reminds me too much of Emo Phillips; therefore, ostrich.

3. Biff or Happy? Are these Rockefellers? Nelson!

4. Quincy or Braintree? You know, I've lived in Massachusetts since before conception, and it wasn't until the age of 20 or so that Braintree struck me as "brain" + "tree" ... but I'll go with Quincy, which, as we all know is pronounced Quinzee.

5. Cassius Clay or Muhammad Ali? Cat Stevens.

6. Istanbul or Constantinople? Byzantium!

7. Pig or Swine? Leaning pig for Porky.

8. Barf or Puke? Haloscan outages.

9. Potatoes or Spuds? I miss Dan Quayle.

10. Squeeze Box or Accordion? Concertina!

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

St Andrew of Crete (+740)
from the Great Canon, Canticle II

I persist in caring only for my outer garment, while neglecting the temple within -- one made in the image and likeness of God.

Through love of pleasure has my form become deformed and the beauty of my inward being been ruined.

A woman will search her house for one lost coin until she finds it. But in me has been lost the beauty of my original image, buried in the passions. Come now, O Savior, search to recover it.

Like the sinful woman I will cry to Thee, O Savior, "I have sinned." I alone have sinned against Thee! Accept my tears as once [Thou didst] hers when she came to anoint [Thy] feet.

Like the Publican I will cry to Thee : "Have pity on me, O Savior." Have pity on me, for among the children of Adam none has sinned more than I!

I have no tears, no change of heart, no remorse -- O my God and Savior, grant these to me!

O Lover of mankind, whose wish it is that all be saved, in Thy goodness receive me as I return to Thee.

Give ears to the groaning of my soul, and accept the tears that fall from mine eyes, O Savior, and save me.

from Daily Readings in Orthodox Spirituality, ed. P. Bouteneff (Templegate Publishers, 1996), p. 58.
the 55th day with 310 remaining
alias yesterday

A glass of grace. My strength and my song. The music of now, splendid and atrocious. A bright cold day in February. With more to follow. A chronicle of particular faults. The radiator's pleasant noise, industrious, recessive.

An entertaining sobriety. Lust & backaches. A flurry that peters out during the evening rush. Only to return around midnight. Everything human interests him, the annoying character who switches his nom de guerre, who glances at the grey-and-white snapshots of a happy inferno, in between his pesterings of perplexed parishioners. Shouldn't he stick to the wrong side of the tracks?

Quotations from the Daily Readings. Small snippets of antiquity. The staretz advises, get creative with it. Find play as well as work in these obligations & suchlike. Quotidian quarrel, the daily delight. The sonnets of a given Sunday, glum and gleeful. Sans blague. No doubt.

Write it down. Face reality. Lighten up. Let people be people. Trust above all. Look past the incidentals. Keep nearness at a distance. You know who's there, who's waiting for you behind the curtains and behind the music. Never mind the slogans, the pabulum, the chatter. Be attentive to the silent flicker of a most cordial flame.
Celebrity middle names
match the middle name with the celebrity

1. Renee
2. Damita
3. Rayana
4. Julie
5. Maria
6. Elaine
7. Olivia

a. Paula Abdul
b. Halle Berry
c. Brandy
d. Dame Judi Dench
e. Janet Jackson
f. Queen Latifah
g. Gwen Stefani
Yesterday's quiz winners

were Mrs vonH & Robert Wenson ... Mrs vonH, with the accurate "famous poet plus state dylan's in" ... and Mr Wenson giving us the next three places in the sequence :

Yorba Linda, CA

Omaha, NE

Plains, GA

Tampico, IL

Milton, MA

Hope, AR

New Haven, CT

... these being, of course, the birthplaces of US presidents since & including Richard Nixon.

Need some time to think of the next quiz. Maybe celebrity middle-names or something like that.

Or lines from a poem, & guess the poet.

Or Kevin Kline sticking chips up Michael Palin's nose and asking, "Where are the diamonds?"

Monday, February 24, 2003


The word appears both in the newest TV Guide & in an Eve post dated earlier today.

I like both bravura and the word "bravura." Whenever I encounter the word "bravura," I think : Somebody up there likes me.

:: :: :: :: :: :: ::


... not really related to the "bravura" business, but at least one reader will be able to follow my train of thought ...

This poem rocks. Demands to be read aloud, at least in part.
Famous poet plus the state I'm in ...

Keats confusion?
Mile high?

Gregg the Obscure remembers a somewhat NORML version of the 1977 Debby Boone single "You Light Up My Life."
............... went to my high school

all the boys say ...............
Two by Derbyshire

Recently, on the war, which he thinks will happen. Noteworthy points : the praising-with-faint-damn of Tony Blair, the evisceration of his native land's Labour party, the apt cynicism about the "mountebanks" in the UN, and dismay ("Great god in boots, they take this seriously!") at hearing Condi & Co. quote UN resolutions as if they were holy writ.

Three months ago, on humor, "appropriate" and in-, PC or not. Aside : Do black Americans really have "a British taste" in comedy? Perhaps it's atypical, but I do know a black priest who loves the Britcom Keeping Up Appearances.
Guigo the Carthusian : Undoing Our Undoing
From the meditation for the 27th in February's Magnificat

Do not drive people away, but drive away from them what rightly offends you -- that is to say, vice. And do this out of love for them -- just as you want for yourself. It is not human nature that offends you, but the vices which impair it. Why probe the bleeding wounds of your own race, unless it is to heal them -- as you should your own?

You should be concerned not with what others do, but with what you do. For the person who is of value to all is the one who pays attention not so much to what others do as to what he makes of them and their deeds, whether good or evil. You can bring good from both, but much more particularly and notably from evil.

If you are going to reject evil people, begin with yourself. The good and evil are raw material from which a just person can bring profit -- rejoicing with the former, and having compassion on the latter ...
What comes next
... and why?

Yorba Linda, California
Omaha, Nebraska
Plains, Georgia
Tampico, Illinois
? ? ? ? ? ? ?

Answers by email are preferred, especially if they're the right answers! If you find the quiz vexing, vent in the comment-box ...

Sunday, February 23, 2003

Remind me to post

the great meditation from Guigo of La Grande Chartreuse, found in this month's Magnificat.

Also coming tomorrow : the What Comes Next? quiz ...

Schmemann : And yet ...

And yet, from its very beginning Christianity has been the proclamation of joy, of the only possible joy on earth. It rendered impossible all joy we usually think of as possible. But within this impossibility, at the very bottom of this darkness, it announced and conveyed a new all-embracing joy, and with this joy it transformed the End into a Beginning. Without the proclamation of this joy Christianity is incomprehensible. It is only as joy that the Church was victorious in the world and it lost the world when it lost the joy, when it ceased to be a witness of it. Of all accusations against Christians, the most terrible one was uttered by Nietzsche when he said that Christians had no joy. ...

Let us, therefore, forget for a while the technical discussions about the Church, its mission, its methods. Not that these discussions are wrong or unnecessary. But they can be useful and meaningful only within a fundamental context, and that context is the "great joy" from which everything else in Christianity developed and acquired its meaning. "For, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy" -- thus begins the Gospel, and its end is : "And they worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. ..." (Lk 2:10, 24:52). And we must recover the meaning of this great joy. We must if possible partake of it, before we discuss anything else -- programs and missions, projects and techniques.

Joy, however, is not something one can define or analyze. One enters into joy. "Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord" (Mt 25:21). And we have no other means of entering into that joy, no way of understanding it, except through the one action which from the beginning has been for the Church both the source and the fulfillment of joy, the very sacrament of joy, the Eucharist.

Alexander Schmemann, Sacraments and Orthodoxy (Herder and Herder, 1965), pp. 26-27.
Nordlinger's impromptus
at NRO

On a brave Chinese dissident, on President Bush's refusal to allow hey-hey ho-ho rallies to sway foreign policy, on the American left dissing Eastern Europe, on Tony Blair's grammar, on a newspaper resurrecting "Reds." And other matters. An enjoyable read.
Queen Latifah is Irish

and believes in peace through cultural rhythms. Veritas Community College honored the performer yesterday.

And she's honorable in my book -- despite having uttered the sort of banality about geopolitics that seems de rigueur for entertainers nowadays.
Literary quiz answer

In an essay called "Idiosyncrasy and Technique," Marianne Moore wrote that "structural infirmity truly has, under surrealism, become a kind of horticultural verbal blight threatening firmness to the core." See The Complete Prose of Marianne Moore, p. 508. So, the correct one-word answer was : surrealism.

Now, the common thread quiz still hasn't been tried. We'll add first names to yesterday's list of surnames to make things a wee bit easier :

1. Mo Vaughn
2. Oscar Mayer
3. Calvin Broadus
4. Fred McGriff