Thursday, March 23, 2017

Stubborn Sheri Reda

Stubborn by Sheri Reda
~ writer, performer, story celebrant ~
Beautiful cover by Chicago artist Nancy VanKanegan!
Produced by locofo chaps / moriapoetry

If you're feeling gloomy about the current political climate; if all the political commentary is giving you a heavy heart, clogging your brain space, and weighing down your spirit, try reading this inspiring collection from my friend Sheri Reda. Her voice will lift you up, and you will feel better. Indeed the poems are disruptive, yet they offer a sense of balance, confirming bleakly that it's "not so bad," that "It’ll never be better than this," even though it's entirely possible that "there will be no nightingales."

To deal with the bleakness of this rancid landscape, Reda offers a "pre–apocalyptic shopping" list to feed our "hungry century,"* leaving the reader with a stubborn, contaminated hope for the future:
"The outward sign of something much, much worse...
Cut—burn—away the fact of him. You will
nurse the wound, protect the scab, oil the scar, and never
again be smooth and clean. Never once free of the fact of him
while you wait, phone in hand, ringer on high,
for the call that says what’s next."
*Other poems quoted above:
"Not so Bad in Lincoln Square"
"11pm we"
"Fat and Somewhat Happy with Vilsak and Perdue"
"Go Ahead"

Equinox Poster by Spiritualitea

Monday, March 20, 2017

Light Spectrum

Stained Glass Representation of the Electromagnetic Spectrum
at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
KEY (left to right):
Green: Radio waves; Yellow teardrops: Meteors;
Orange teardrops: Aurora;
Red: Infrared light; Rainbow colors: Visible light; Violet: Ultraviolet light;
Dark violet triangles: X-rays; Light violet triangles: Gamma rays;
Pink: Cosmic rays.

Happy Vernal Equinox
Some haiku for the
Day and Night of Equal Light:

Trying but failing
to be the voice of reason.
The spirit prevails.

Here's to equanimity
and all shall be well!


The season of increasing light seems a befitting time for a coincidence concerning the Lumineers. Not long ago, my friend Cate sent me the link to their hit "Cleopatra."

The night before receiving Cate's email, Gerry and I had been to the movie theater where one of the previews was a larger - than - life trailer of a "LUMINEERS TOUR." Now, to back-track a little bit, before going to the movie, Gerry and I had been talking about cruises, like the European Viking Tours, and trying to decide if we would ever try something like that someday.

So when I saw the words "LUMINEERS TOUR," I immediately thought, "Oh that sounds like a great cruise! What kind of cruise is that?" Gerry tried to set me straight, "I think that's a concert tour -- not a cruise tour." Oh, okay.

Then, I got home, and there was Cate's email and the beautiful song by none other than the Lumineers! Suddenly it all made sense! Isn't it strange how that happens?

Anyway, it is a lovely, meaningful, and timely song. And I can always count on my Quotable Cate for timely words of wisdom!

The Banquet, 1958 ~ Rene Magritte, 1898 - 1967

Saturday, March 18, 2017

That Lost Time & Place

" . . . but it still seemed that some other time,
from some other place,
had invaded the town and was
silently establishing itself"
~ from Badenheim 1939 ~

Out My Window (1930)
by Hanns Kralik (1900 - 1971)
I know the sky looks dark and the city a bit lifeless,
but still the bright yellow trolley and the sense of order
(sometimes a good thing) brought to mind:
Yiddish for Travellers

I bought the book optimistically,
thinking to go there one day, to that lost land
where the border guards only know Yiddish . . .

In the capitol of the Yiddish country, there are
shiny green, blue, and yellow trolleys, broad plazas
with delis and patisseries where the small tables
are filled with people reading and arguing and joking
over their strudel and rugelach, sipping tea in glasses.
They place sugar cubes in their mouths; they lovr herring.
They squeeze plump cheeks of nephews ad grandchildren.
The people there are all oddly reminiscent of my relatives,
my aunts and uncles and great - aunts and great uncles,
and all of their relatives who I never met, who never
somehow crossed over, who were isolated perhaps
int this landlocked Yiddish land, where the police
speak Yiddish, where everyone is in terrific health,
vigorous and sometimes portly from all the pastries,
from the lack of stress, from having escaped
everything so thoroughly.
[emphasis added]
~ Leonard Orr ~
from his poem "Yiddish for Travellers"
in Why We Have Evening


Recalling a recent passport renewal, Orr writes:
"This process reminded me of my older relatives and their worries. Some of them always carried their passports ("just in case," they said). Some of them had gotten into the habit of having many savings accounts so that cash and documents would be available if needed (the winners in this category, as far as I know, were my ancient aunts Gertie and Rose, who lived in a tiny apartment in Brooklyn and had over one hundred savings accounts spread across all of the boroughs). My parents were baffled by anyone choosing to travel to Europe. When I returned from my first summer in Europe (two months in Paris and London) my father said he it was incredibly brave of me to travel by myself there. He associated Europe with the notion of fleeing."

Similar to Kralik's painting is this cover art:
the sky, while not dark, remains high and distant;
the windows, detailed but impassive, retain their secrets.
All of the Badenheim covers are hauntingly quaint,
but I think this artwork by Nancy Lawton is my favorite.

Badenheim 1939 ~ Aharon Appelfeld

It may be true, as a few linguists have observed, that something has been lost in the translation of Badenheim 1939 from the original Hebrew, but enough has been retained to make it one of the saddest most beautiful books that you might ever care to read. This novel is on my special list of books that I recommend to everyone.

The lyrical gaiety of the charming resort town is gradually displaced by fear and anxiety. The delicious afternoons of pink ice cream and strawberry tarts are disrupted by the extended "jurisdiction of the Sanitation Department . . . it had been authorized to conduct independent investigations. . . . In the middle of May a modest announcement appeared on the notice board saying that all citizens who were Jews had to register with the Sanitation Department" (11, 20).

Despite this sobering turn of events, the merry - makers strain for a positive outlook:
"The inspectors . . . took measurements, put up fences, and planted flags. Porters unloaded rolls of barabed wire, cement pillars, and all kinds of appliances suggestive of preparations for a pubic celebration.

'There'll be fun and games this year.'

"How do you know?'

'The Festival's probably going to be a big affair this year; otherwise why would the Sanitation Department be going to all this trouble?'

'You're right, I didn't realize.' " (15)
Even as the summer season draws to a melancholy close and the beautiful vacationers are required to board the ominous freight cars, their delusional innocence allows them to voice a false hope, heartbreaking to the reader who knows the horrible reality: " 'If the coaches are so dirty, it must mean that we have not far to go' "(148).

Looking ahead to the "transition" the residents of enchanted Badenheim reassure each other: "'By the way, what language will he sing in?' 'What a question! In Yiddish, of course, in Yiddish!' . . . There was no country as beautiful as Poland, no air as pure as Polish air. 'And Yiddish? . . . There's nothing easier than learning Yiddish. It's a simple, beautiful language, and Polish too is a beautiful language.' . . . The headwaiter was learning Yiddish. Samitzky wrote long lists of words down in his notebook and sat and studied them. . . . in Poland it would be easy to learn. Everyone spoke Yiddish there. . . . 'This is only a transition. Soon we'll arrive in Poland. . . . It's only a transition, only a transition' " (36, 95, 106 - 07, 143).

Their optimism mirrors that of the bookstore patron in Orr's poem above, who "optimistically" picks up a copy of Yiddish for Travellers, recalling to himself "that lost land," that lost time and place.

Not to trivialize, but reading Badenheim
always brings to mind the song "Desert Moon"
-- yet another lost place.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Sunday, March 12, 2017


Beata ~ Katie ~ Kitti

Precisely a year ago, as Daylight Saving Time began, I took the opportunity to thank my friend Beata for her consistent inspiration and contributions to my blogs. So it seems only fitting that this year, I pay tribute to our mutual friend Katie who never fails to send me just the right poem, cartoon, or article at just the right time, and to keep us all abreast of local literary and cultural events that we might otherwise overlook.

September Birthday Girls: Beata & Katie

Thanks to Katie
for this inspiring collection of connections:

Evening ~ Timing ~ Floating: Poetry by Leonard Orr

"Sometimes a girl just needs to read a good book!"


Dark Days

A Good Day to Be a Cat

Mere PhD

Fairy Tale

Waiting for the Full Moon

Godspeed October

What Makes Life So Sweet

Alas, Poor Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern! We Knew Them!

Macabre Matryoshka

January 2017 ~ Surviving the Midwinter Blues
". . . If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. . . . "

~ from "A Brief for the Defense" by Jack Gilbert

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Romantics & Street Mimes

Acutely accurate cartoon given to me by friends
at my first real job in the real world.

early 1980s ~ by Richard Stine

Birthday card to me from Gerry; we had entered
the world but still felt fairly confident!

early 1990s ~ by Kim Warp

Next thing you know, we moved to Philadelphia
and learned right away what it was like to be
fooled by street mimes on a daily basis.

We were just innocent little blacksmiths after all!

from Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey

Friday, March 3, 2017

Star - Spangled But Unsingable

National Anthem Day
This Day in History: March 3, 1931
" . . . I am thinking how odd it is that national anthems
("Star - Spangled Banner," "O Canada,"
let alone the more stirring
"Chee - lai! Boo yuan tzo noo lee dee run men"
or the more rhythmic "Ragupat ragava rajah Rum"
can only be handled by massive choral groups,
by opera divas and gospel singers, and can't be played
by amateurs on guitar, and isn't that counter to
national purposes? . . . "
~ Leonard Orr ~
from his poem "The Loop"
in Why We Have Evening

Sheet Music From Library of Congress Archives

Further Reading:

September 13, 1814

The Story Behind the Star - Spangled Banner

Things You Might Not Know

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Piano Bar

Piano Bar & Poem
"We must admit there will be music despite everything."

So pleasant to sit here,
listening to the pianist at the big white piano . . .

and taking afternoon tea!

"Love perfected and whole, you arrive."
~ Rumi ~

"Those who bind to themselves a joy
Do the wing├Ęd life destroy;
But those who kiss the joy as it flies
Live in eternity's sunrise. ~
~ William Blake ~

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Handwriting on the Wall

Sundial in St. Augustine, Florida
"The hours pass by and
we must account for them."


"They (the hours) pass away
and (yet) are accounted for."


"The past vanishes but
is evident in our increasing age."


Garden Wall in Nassau, Bahamas
Gerry says: "I particularly like the razor wire punctum.
Kitti and I only frequent the toughest parts of town!"

Excellent Advice Bahamas Ministry of Health

Some Timely Graffiti in Medellin, Colombia

Larger Context

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Increasing Light

3 February Sunset, West Lafayette, Indiana

"What may not be expected in a country of eternal light?
. . .
Nothing contributes so much to tranquilize
the mind as a steady purpose --
a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye."

from Frankenstein
by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

11 February Sunset ~ Jacksonville, Florida

Monday, February 20, 2017

SSRIs & Walking Upright

Anonymous Cartoon

"Just as we know our walking to be
only a constantly prevented falling,
so is the life of our body only
a constantly prevented dying,
an ever - deferred death."

Arthur Schopenhauer
from The World as Will and Representation

quoted by David Shields in
The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead

Writing of some health issues (bad back, stuttering), Shields repeats his doctor's directive:
"I have to become my own authority and view my recovery as an existential journey. I reassure him that I do, I do. I see going to the drugstore to get toothpaste as an existential journey.

"And what existential journey hasn't been aided by chemistry? I've been in and out of speech therapy all my life, but nothing has mitigated my stuttering as effectively as taking 0.5mg of Alprazolam before giving a public reading. The ibuprofen, the muscle relaxants have certainly helped my back, but the antidepressant Paxil has been transformative. . .

"Paxil has apparently been used to treat chronic pain for more than a decade. For the past few years I've been taking one 10mg tablet of Paxil a day. I worry a little about becoming a grinning idiot, but I figure I already have the idiocy part down, and I'm so far over on the grouchy side of the continuum that a little grinning isn't going to kill me.

"Maybe it's all just the pure dumb rush of selective serotonin reuptake, but now, rather than endlessly rehearsing how my life might have been different, I tell myself how grateful I am for my life – with Laurie and Natalie and our relative health and happiness together. (Knock on lumbar.) I'm newly in love with Laurie – aware of her weaknesses and accepting of them, because I'm so blisteringly aware of my own.

"I like the humility and gravity and nakedness of this need, for – and this is apparently a lesson I can't re-learn too many times – we're just animals walking the earth for a brief time, a bare body housed in a mortal cage. . . .

"A while ago, I asked [the doctor] why I have a bad back. He explained that the ability to walk upright was a key evolutionary adaptation for mankind, but vertebrae that are aligned in the same direction as the force of gravity often become compressed, leading to pinched nerves and ruptured disks. Then he said, 'In your case, though: bad attitude.' He was joking, but I think I got it."
(9, 119 - 20, emphasis added)
What I definitely get is Shields' reference to the repeating mental tapes and the compulsive habit of re-writing history.

I was also reminded of an explanation that I came across a few years ago in Time or Newsweek at the dentist's office. I think I'm getting this right:
Talk / Cognitive Behavior Therapy
1. mutes logic (in the frontal cortex) -- e.g., turns off the repeating decimal "if only" tapes, otherwise known as "hey, let's rewrite the past" with focus on living in the present & turning off the tapes

2. raises emotion (in the limbic hippocampus) -- e.g., allows "ownership" of appropriate responses such as anger, disgust, etc., with focus on acknowledging suppressed feelings and feeling something instead of nothing

Medication SSRI)
1. raises logic -- e.g., improves the "oh well" / "re - set" function

2. mutes emotion -- e.g., alleviates non-stop crying
It's still a struggle for me -- both understanding the concepts and applying them. But, just like Shields -- and Brian Andreas -- I'm going to keep trying.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Breakup Playlist

Last summer my friend Charlotte asked a fun question
and encouraged everyone to join in with suggestions:

"What songs belong on the Ultimate Breakup Playlist?
Any genre. Angry is more fun, but weepy is acceptable."

Click to see all responses.

Here are mine:

Third Runner Up: Take A Bow ~ Madonna

Second Runner Up: Insensitive ~ Jann Arden

First Runner Up: Without You ~ My Fair Lady

My Winner: Love's Been A Little Bit Hard On Me ~ Juice Newton
"I'll see you around in a thousand years
Love's been a little bit hard on me . . ."

Good one from Gerry: Gordon is a Moron ~ Jilted John

Seasonal favorite from Robb: Hard Candy Christmas ~ Dolly Parton

One more golden oldie: If You Could Read My Mind ~ Gordon Lightfoot

But hopefully, with any luck . . .
you'll be makin' up, not breakin' up!
Gold candlesticks from the St. Francis De Sales
mega - rummage - sale ~ West Philly, 1993;
heart - shaped ornaments, a gift from my friend Celine,
around the same time.

Previous Playlists: Duets & Forever Young Again

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Grade School Valentines

Long live the grade school Valentines!

How did we learn about sending Valentines?

By giving one to every kid in our class, every year.

Kindergarten ~ Bruce & Kit
Eugene Field Elementary ~ Neosho, MO ~ Feb 1963

1st Grade ~ Bruce's Class
Eugene Field Elementary ~ Feb 1964

We grew up knowing that you could send Valentine's to any and everyone -- not just your "true love." So, of course, it's okay to receive a Valentine from your parents and vice versa. Penpals, cousins, neighbors, facebook folks, old friends, new friends, elders and youngster. Send away . . .

to your heart's content!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

I Only Have Hearts For You

Thinking Ahead to Valentine's Day

As seen previously:
Feast of the Three Kings
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
The Days Were Long

As seen previously:
Take This Quiz!

I was recently reminiscing with my nephew Jerrod about my one - day career as an existentialist cartoonist, when it suddenly occurred to me that I was selling myself short. In fact, my brilliant career had endured for not merely one, but three days! First of course was "Pandemonium ~ Paramecium ~ Paisly"; then "The Four Kings of Orientar," which I have posted and explicated a few times before; and lastly my "Hearts for You" Valentine. How could I have forgotten about it over the years?! Luckily, in sorting through yet another folder of buried treasures, there it was -- just in time for Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Ironic Ramifications

"I'm happy . . .
yet I'm aware of the ironic ramifications
of my happiness."

Anne Taintor

Of course, you can also say the same thing
about being unhappy . . .
Storypeople ~ Brian Andreas

Another Old Favorite

[click on the picture to enlarge for easy reading]
~ finepix 2011 0203 ~

Monday, February 6, 2017

Aquarius: Sign & Season

Whether or not the Age of Aquarius has arrived,
the zodiacal month (January 20 to February 18) certainly has.
Some of my relatives were born under this sign,
but I'm not naming names:

Click to see more of these astrological funnies,
including my own sign ~ Gemini

And on my Fortnightly Blog:
Some mystical lyrics for the New Year:
"Aquarius: It's A Sign!"

Friday, February 3, 2017