Sunday, July 29, 2012

Favorite Funnies

My friend Michael posted:
"Thank God for this! I was beginning to think 'normal' didn't even exist."

Earlier Version from Olive Sandwiches

My brother Bruce responded:
"As a kid, I recall this being one of our favorite destinations for family outings."

And my friend Lorrie wrote:
"I gave all my frequent flyer miles away for that one."

. . . she knows exactly where it is at all times!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

One Who Knows

Happy Birthday, Victoria!
I don't always wear a shirt featuring a painting by Van Gogh,
but when I do, I like to visit the Chicago Art Insitute
with my friend Vickie!

“I talk to you in my mind because
I know you understand the things I want to mean.

There are those who know and those who don't know.
And for every ten thousand who don't know
there's only one who knows. That's the miracle of all time --
the fact that these millions know so much but don't know this.

It's like in the fifteenth century when everybody believed the world was flat . . . But it's different in that it took talent to figure that the earth is round. While the truth is so obvious it's a miracle of all history that people don't know.

For you see, when us people who know run into each other that's an event. It almost never happens. Sometimes we meet each other and neither guesses that the other is one who knows. That's a bad thing. It's happened to me a lot of times. But you see there are so few of us.

Why has this miracle of ignorance endured? Obscurantism.”

Carson McCullers
from The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
[emphasis added]


"We divided people into two groups: those who knew, and those who didn't know. Aldous Huxley [b. 26 July 1894] and Carson McCullers knew. Roy Rogers and Doris Day didn't. [Joan Baez and a] crazy singer called Bob Dylan knew."
Sara Davidson
from Loose Change: Three Women of the Sixties
(also a movie)

For more on "Those Who Know"
see my new post
on The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dancing As Fast As I Can

Dance Monkeys Dance
Thought - provoking and tear - jerking.
Monkey that I am, I'll doubtless be brooding about it all day long!

Also, this weird but powerful statement on economics and religion:
Bendito Machine
Bendito Machine 2
Bendito Machine 3

Thanks to my brother Dave
for sharing these videos with me awhile back.

Also Bendito 4, 5, 6

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Far Far Better Thing

London, Paris . . . Gotham

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair,
we had everything before us, we had nothing before us,
we were all going direct to Heaven,
we were all going direct the other way."

opening lines from A Tale of Two Cities, 1859
by Charles Dickens, 1812 - 1870

Literature, even in snippets, can make life more beautiful, add value, impose meaning, establish connections. I like to think of the literary allusion as a bookish version of Six Degrees of Separation, linking the reader to a particular work and author, to everyone else who recognizes the connection, to centuries of human experience. For example, back in my teaching days, I had my students memorize the beginning and ending sentences of Tale of Two Cities even if they never read what was in between.

Maybe it would be a far, far better world if we all read A Tale of Two Cities in its entirety. Falling short of that, however, just knowing the first sentence and the last will enrich your life, because -- as I used to tell my students -- you are going to hear them repeated numerous times, in speeches, titles, jokes, advertisements, movies. What a shame it would be to miss the connection for lack of knowing the reference. If they heeded my advice to memorize these famous lines, my students will have been well - rewarded to hear Commissioner Gordon quoting Dickens at the graveside ceremony for Bruce Wayne this past weekend: "It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known" (closing line from Tale of Two Cities.

For additional parallels, see
"The Dickensian Aspects of [Batman] The Dark Knight Rises"

and for more reading highlights of a similar nature,
check out this cool blog: First Line, Last Line

You might also remember back in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) that Spock gives Kirk a copy of A Tale of Two Cities for his birthday and Kirk reads aloud the first sentence: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” And, as so many have done before and since, at the movie's conclusion, Kirk chooses for Spock's eulogy the noble words of Sidney Carton: "It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known."

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Time Traveler

The dates on their headstones
reveal that even in their graves
they grow older year by year
just as we do. They are all still with us.
We are all going in the same direction.

from the poem "Memorial Day"
by Ernest Sandeen

Willard M. Carriker, 1970s

A year ago, in observance of my father's birthday (18 July 1923), I wrote a post concerning Tennessee Williams' poem "The Summer Belvedere," including a footnote explaining that on "the day he died (Saturday, 27 June, 1987) we all watched Cat On A Hot Tin Roof that evening on TV. This was before the days of movie rentals, so it's not as if we planned or chose it; it's just what happened to be on. Although my dad's personality was nothing like the character of Big Daddy, we were all kind of mesmerized by the appropriateness of it." (See also my previous posts from "Father's Day" 2010 & "My Father's Birthday" 2010).

Even though I've never been one to put much stock in dreams or remember mine or analyze them or anything like that, a few years ago, I had an unforgettable dream in which my dad comes to a school picnic, wearing a white linen suit and Panama hat -- not like anything I ever saw him wear in real life -- with a camera around his neck -- again, nothing I ever saw my dad do. He looks like a tourist, which I guess is the point, as if he has traveled back from the afterlife.

In the dream, the school kids are all playing and the parents are sitting at picnic tables. When I see my dad come into the park, I say to one of the other parents, "Look, there's my dad." She says, "He can sit with us!" I say, as if it's just a minor setback, "Well, I have to tell you, he's no longer living." And she says, "Oh, that's okay. Tell him to come on over anyway," as if it doesn't matter in the least -- living or dead, all are welcome!

I've often felt sad that my father died before my boys were born; so what I want to do next in the dream is show him which of the children are Ben and Sam so that he can meet them, but when I look across the park, I see that he already has them standing side by side and is taking their photograph! That's when I realize, in the dream, that he already knows who they are! At that point, I woke up and, in real life, felt the same certainty.

I've shared this story with a few friends, one of whom pointed out that perhaps my father's uncharacteristic outfit was his way of saying, "Kitti would never pull this outfit out of her imagination for me, so I'll wear this. Just to let her know." I loved that interpretation, for truly, what I experienced that night did not feel like a dream from within so much as a visitation from without, a surprising, comforting visit from a time traveler.

I've had this same sensation only a couple of other times in my life; but I'll save those stories for another post. For now, Happy 89th Birthday, Dad!

Monday, July 16, 2012

One Hundred Years From Now

The Empyrean ~ Mists of Time
~ Columbia River Gorge ~

"So is there no fact, no event, in our private history, which shall not, sooner or later, lose its adhesive, inert form, and astonish us by soaring from our body into the empyrean. Cradle and infancy, school and playground, the fear of boys, and dogs, and ferules, the love of little maids and berries, and many another fact that once filled the whole sky, are gone already; friend and relative, profession and party, town and country, nation and world, must also soar and sing."
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882)
from The American Scholar
[See more.]:
An Oration delivered before the Phi Beta Kappa Society, at Cambridge,
August 31, 1837

"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."

Steve Jobs (1955 - 2011)
CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios
from A Commencement Address delivered at Stanford University,
June 12, 2005

Old and Wise
[Click Title to Hear]

by Alan Parsons (b 1948)

As far as my eyes can see
There are shadows approaching me
And to those I left behind
I wanted you to know
You've always shared my deepest thoughts
You follow where I go

And oh when I'm old and wise
Bitter words mean little to me
Autumn winds will blow right through me
And someday in the mist of time
When they asked me if I knew you
I'd smile and say you were a friend of mine
And the sadness would be lifted from my eyes
Oh when I'm old and wise

As far as my eyes can see
There are shadows surrounding me
And to those I leave behind
I want you all to know
You've always shared my darkest hours
I'll miss you when I go

And oh, when I'm old and wise
Heavy words that tossed and blew me
Like Autumn winds will blow right through me
And someday in the mist of time
When they ask you if you knew me
Remember that you were a friend of mine
As the final curtain falls before my eyes
Oh when I'm old and wise

As far as my eyes can see

Vista House
~ Columbia River Gorge ~

As Marilynne Robinson says in Gilead:
"It is worth living long enough to outlast
whatever sense of grievance you may acquire.
Another reason why you must be careful of your health" (238).


As Walt Whitman says:
"Whoever denies me, it shall not trouble me;
Whoever accepts me, he or she shall be blessed,
and shall bless me."

See "Loos'd of Limits"

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Happy Bastille Day!

Ready for the Fourth and / or the Fourteenth!
~ at the Venetian / Palazzo, Las Vegas ~

If I Had a Hammer

words and music by Lee Hays and Pete Seeger
sung by Peter, Paul & Mary

If I had a hammer
I'd hammer in the morning
I'd hammer in the evening
All over this land
I'd hammer out danger
I'd hammer out a warning
I'd hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters
All over this land

If I had a bell
I'd ring it in the morning
I'd ring it in the evening
All over this land
I'd ring out danger
I'd ring out a warning
I'd ring out love between my brothers and my sisters
All over this land

If I had a song
I'd sing it in the morning
I'd sing it in the evening
All over this land
I'd sing out danger
I'd sing out a warning
I'd sing out love between my brothers and my sisters
All over this land

Well I've got a hammer
And I've got a bell
And I've got a song to sing
All over this land
It's the hammer of justice
It's the bell of freedom
It's the song about love between my brothers and my sisters
All over this land

©1958, 1962 (renewed), 1986 (renewed)
TRO-Ludlow Music, Inc. (BMI)

Do You Hear the People Sing?!
from the muscial Les Miserables

Enjolras: Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes!

Combeferre: Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?

Courfeyrac: Then join in the fight
That will give you the right to be free!!

All: Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes!

Feuilly: Will you give all you can give
So that our banner may advance
Some will fall and some will live
Will you stand up and take your chance?
The blood of the martyrs
Will water the meadows of France!

All: Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes


Many years ago, I was teaching Ben and Sam these lyrics and more before we went to see Les Mis at the theatre in Philadelphia. They weren't sure if this was really necessary and asked me if it was going to be a sing - along? I told them, "Well, if I'm in the audience it is!" Haha!

For more on Life Beyond the Barricade
see my new Fortnightly Post
"Bastille Day: Is There A World You Long to See?"
on The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Love & Justice, Both Blind

The arc of history is long
but it tends toward justice.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Look what happens to the scale
when love holds it:
it stops working.


Full Quotation:

"I do not pretend to understand the moral universe;
the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways;
I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure
by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience.
And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice."

Theodore Parker

PS. If only justice were as plentiful as beauty:


The beautiful is fair. The just is fair.
Yet one is commonplace and one is rare,
One everywhere, one scarcely anywhere.

So fair unfair a world. Had we the wit
To use the surplus for the deficit,
We'd make a fairer fairer world of it.

Robert Francis, 1901 - 1987

Sunday, July 8, 2012


The Columbia River Gorge ~ Oregon

The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper . . .

I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything have to die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

by Mary Oliver (b 1935)
Contemporary American Poet
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, 1984
This poem found in New and Selected Poems

Mount St. Helens ~ Washington

Vaca Albums on Facebook:

Portland & Seattle

Mount St. Helens

~ And Earlier ~
Birthday & Memorial Day

(Maryland ~ Washington D.C. ~ Notre Dame ~ Las Vegas)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Loving America the Al Franken Way

Entrance to what used to be a rural Indiana cemetery --
now adjacent to our Menard's parking lot

"Loving American the Al Franken Way"
Chapter Five in Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them
by Al Franken

"I've made a list that takes a good, hard, if quick, look at our great nation's history, pointing out the good and owning up to the bad. It's not meant to be a complete list. For example, I've left out the Gadsden Purchase of 1849, which was something of a mixed blessing. This list is more a bittersweet love song to the world's only remaining superpower, that majestic, though slightly flawed, country that I call home.

Salem witch trials -- bad

Revolutionary War -- good

Slavery -- bad

Ending Slavery -- good, but hard

Civil War reenactments -- weird

Massacring Native Americans and breaking our treaties with them -- bad

Indian casinos -- ?

Child labor during the Industrial Revolution -- bad

Child labor mowing lawns and babysitting -- character-building

Labor movement creating the weekend -- good

Land grant universities -- hot

Rural electrification -- hotter

Social Security -- hottest!

Dictating pop culture for the world -- mixed

Selling Saddam Hussein chemical weapons in the eighties -- In retrospect, bad

Louisiana Purchase -- bargain

Grand Canyon -- wonderful, though we really can't take much credit for it -- no wait:

National park system -- really good

Leading human genome project -- probably good

Genetically engineering super race of unstoppable killers -- bad, but probably inevitable

Winning World War II -- wow!!!

Creating democracy in postwar Germany and Japan; laying groundwork for European peace and prosperity in second half of twentieth century -- right on!

The Greatest Generation -- greatest!

The Greatest Generation -- best - seller

Liberty -- good

Justice for all -- would be nice

Bill of Rights -- great! but Second Amendment could have been clearer

Putting man on the moon -- awesome, if true

Supporting vile dictatorships in Iran, Indonesia, Iraq, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Congo, Paraguay, Haiti, El Salvador, Bolivia -- bad

Parades -- wholesome fun for whole family

Gay parades -- exuberant expressions of individuality often featuring highly imaginative floats and costumes

Conducting horrific medical experiments on African - Americans in Tuskegee -- bad

Japanese Internment camps -- good. Wait, what were these?

Truman Doctrine -- smart

Vietnam -- mistake

Winning Cold War -- credit all around, to postwar Republican and Democrat presidents alike

Gross human rights violations in name of winning Cold War -- credit all around, except to Jimmy Carter

Women getting the vote -- good . . . for women! Just kidding. It's good for everybody!!!

African - Americans getting the vote -- good . . . for African - Americans. Kidding again. Good for Democrats!!!

Making mistakes -- bad, but inevitable

Correcting mistakes -- good, but not inevitable

Calling those who point out mistakes "unpatriotic" -- itself unpatriotic

Owning up to our mistakes -- brave

America -- home of the brave
" (24 - 27)

Happy Independence Day

Old Cemetery in Tippecanoe County, Indiana

P.S. Al Franken for President!
Dream Ticket: Colbert & Franken (in either order)!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Memories Within the Walls

New Post for June on
Kitti's Book List
"Our Island Home"

While reading Julie Myerson's thoroughly researched treasure hunt of a book -- Home: The Story of Everyone Who Ever Lived in Our House -- I was reminded several times of Rumi's description (not sure which poem) of finding the precious streams of gold and red that flow beneath the floorboards of our own inhabited homes; and also of Janis Ian's plaintive song:

Tomorrow is the birthday of a lady dressed in blue
She don't have much to look forward to and nor do you
We live alone, though we sleep in the same old bed together
This is the home we built before we lost forever
There are memories within the walls and tapestries
There are memories - sitting alone at the station
waiting for a train that never comes
The nights are cold, the days just fade away
Tomorrow never comes
Nothing to say but yesterdays
Do you remember my name?
I don't remember you
We live alone, though we live in the same old home, with the same old truth
There are memories within the walls and tapestries
Memories - sitting alone at the station waiting for a train that never comes

[emphasis added]

Music & lyrics by Janis Ian
from her album, Night Rains

I think it's those "streams of gold and red" and "memories within the walls and tapestries" that Myerson is thinking of when she observes that "There are whole pieces of the past that lie just around the last corner, closer perhaps then we'd like to think. We may choose to forget this, but the house doesn't. The house has seen it, done it, felt it all before" (46). The house has not forgotten!

Myerson's little daughter wonders if perhaps every building we've ever entered can remember our presence, and maybe the buildings that our ancestors have been in draw us back to them: "Maybe all the buildings we ever go in, our ancestors have been in before us and we just don't know it because we never find out those things" (98).

Lillieshall Road Today
[here & above]

More "memories within the walls and tapestries"
from Small Island by Andrea Levy:

"A house had its front sliced off as sure as if it had been opened on a hinge. A doll's house with all the rooms on show. The little staircase zigzagging in the cramped hall. The bedroom with a bed sliding, the sheet dangling. flapping a white flag. A wardrobe open with the clothes tripping out from the inside to flutter away. Empty armchairs siting cosy by the fire. The kettle on in the kitchen with two wellington boots by the stove . . . " (304 - 05).

"Haunted Dollhouse" by Laura Lipton

For more on Small Island and Home,
see these posts on my book blog:
"Our Island Home" & "The Top Layer" & "SSR"