Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Readings for Lent

Easter Mystery, 1891
by Maurice Denis, 1870-1943

New Posts

@ The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker


February 14 ~ Moveable

February 28 ~ Yellow Gold Guayacan

&

@ Kitti's List


February ~ I Should Have Read the Book First

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Not Cool, Not Funny



Anti - gun - violence artwork
by Ethel Gilmour (1940 - 2008) ~ Medellin, Colombia
Non - Fiction Series, 1995
Colombia Certified
There is no Elephant in this Picture
I Cannot See the Sea
I Want to Walk and See the Flowers


[vs Pro - gun - violence movie posters]
***************

First, some bad news. My friend and colleague Rebecca requested that everyone read this article, and I second her request:

"Men Are Responsible for Mass Shootings:
How Toxic Masculinity is Killing Us"

by Jennifer Wright
From the article: "So let’s start talking about the culture of toxic masculinity that makes men believe they should get a gun and shoot people with it.

We live in a culture that worships men with guns. You can probably think of many off the top of your head—John Wayne, Indiana Jones or James Bond come immediately to mind. They’re all men who get what they want. Women are all eager to have sex with them. They have the respect of their peers and their communities."
Why it is that guys with guns are seen as cool?

If you ask me: No, not cool!

***************

Second, more bad news. Right after reading the above article, which is mostly about anger, I read this one about humor:

"The World's Funniest Joke
(According To Science)"

by Michael Taylor

Taylor saves the "best" joke for last, and it's about one man shooting another one with a gun. What? No, not funny! But apparently that's what the what the survey respondents voted as funniest joke. Go figure.

I've taken classes on the theory of humor and satire, right? I know about context, timing, frustrated expectation (Aristotle) and derision (Plato). Despite all that, guess what? This joke is not even remotely funny.
From the article: "If you didn’t fall over laughing, don’t feel too bad. In an interview, Wiseman says he doesn’t think it’s all that great either. 'It’s terrible. I think we found the world’s cleanest, blandest, most internationally accepted joke. It’s the color beige in joke form.'"
Clean, bland, acceptable, beige?

Well if by "beige" he means "unimaginative," okay.

But definitely not funny!

***************

Third, even more bad news: the NRA has its own television station:

"Why the NRA Always Wins
It’s not the money. It’s the culture."

By Bill Scher
From the article: "NRATV is a new piece of the puzzle, having been launched only in late 2016. But it’s a window into the culture that the NRA has nurtured for decades. Every minute, the network pumps out a message that can be delivered regardless of external events: Liberal elites want to take away your guns and freedom. Terrorists and criminals lurk everywhere and you need to know how to defend yourself. And by the way, look how cool guns are and how powerful they make you feel!"
Let me repeat: No, not cool!

The article starts out gloomy, but actually has a pro - active ending. Please read:
"Gun control proponents don’t necessarily have to emulate the NRA and, say, launch a TV network. But they might consider marshaling the financial resources of Bloomberg, and other multimillionaires, and emulating one of the most successful public service advertising campaigns in history: the anti-tobacco “truth” campaign.

Hundreds of millions have been spent since 2000 by what is now called the “Truth Initiative” on edgy ads that turned teenage perception of what smoking represents from cool rebellion to corporate dishonesty. The ad campaign is not the sole reason, but it is widely credited for helping drive smoking levels among teens down from from 23 percent to 6 percent.

Like the tobacco industry, the NRA has been cultivating an image of guns as a source of freedom and cool, with the extra value of protection from grievous harm. A large-scale countercampaign could help reverse that image, highlighting the damage guns do every day: the depressed never getting another chance for mental health services, the children dying from home accidents, the domestic abuse victims who never could escape. Other spots could depict life where guns are controlled around the world, to show what is possible. A partnership with Hollywood could bring gun issues into more TV shows and movies, similar to how Hollywood was successfully pressured to stop making cigarettes look cool. [Of course, Hollywood isn't exactly doing a great job when it comes to smoking either; shame on them.]

Such a campaign would have two main objectives: In the short run, keep the gun control majority engaged on a daily basis, and in the long run, reduce the demand for guns in areas where the NRA exerts political influence.

As heartwarming as it is to see high school students organize anti-gun marches, they are no more likely to be successful in busting the NRA narrative, or separating politicians from NRA money, than the parents of Columbine and Sandy Hook. The gun rights community is steeled against succumbing to sympathetic victims, as they have convinced themselves that they are above the politics of knee-jerk emotion.

Social conservatives are fond of the insight, “Politics is downstream from culture.” There is a big gun-rights culture that has a grip on our politics. Until there is a gun-free culture that can rival what the NRA has cultivated over decades, no national trauma, no matter how searing, is going to move the political needle."
***************

Yet another discussion on the topic.
And my answer to an annoying rhetorical question:
"Of course it is NEVER okay to shoot kids with any kind of gun.
And if every kind of gun ever used in any kind of school
(or similar) shooting is banned forever from the face of the earth,
then that is A - OKAY with me."

As displayed at the Museo de Arte Moderno de Medellin

See More Ethel Gilmour

@ The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker


February 28 ~ Yellow Gold Guayacan

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Saving What We Love ~ Stronger Tomorrow


"What does it matter if I’ve been
discouraged or encouraged over the years?
This thing’s got to be done. It’s not a question
of how I feel from moment to moment. . . .
Be depressed, discouraged, and disappointed
at failure and the disheartening effects of
ignorance, greed, corruption and bad politics,
but never give up."


~ Marjory Stoneman Douglas ~
(1890 - 1998)
Read more -- about this amazing woman after whom the Parkland, Florida, high school is named: American journalist, author, women's suffrage advocate, conservationist and defender of the Everglades


“That's how we're gonna win.
Not fighting what we hate, but saving what we love.”

~ from The Last Jedi
The Last Jedi . . . also features a significant new character named Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) who . . . doesn’t want her sacrifice to have been in vain. . . .

"Rose is a wonderfully sneaky character, in that she’s set up as a plucky sidekick but almost immediately becomes a crucial teacher, and equal partner, for Finn. Her certitude about the Resistance is not tied up in a noble idea of heroism, but in her understanding of what they’re trying to overthrow. . . .

'That’s how we’re gonna win. Not fighting what we hate, saving what we love,' she tells Finn. It’s a motto that might sound trite, but it’s a beautiful summation of what Johnson is trying to grapple with. The First Order is evil, yes, but the Resistance isn’t just good because they’re against them; the rebels are also trying to create a better world, and to protect a cause the rest of the galaxy can rally to. It’s a message Johnson drives home with the film’s final image—one of the stable boys on Canto Bight, sweeping the steps for his master, and looking up at the stars, dreaming of a more hopeful future."

Read more: "The Last Jedi's Biggest Storytelling Innovation"
By David Sims
A Barn Named Kittredge ~ Kitti for short!

"May our minds be stronger tomorrow."
~ from Brigsby Bear

"But it soon becomes apparent that the conversations would only be normal if the child were 8 years old and the family belonged to a cult. James’ only conversations revolve around Brigsby Bear, never mind the weird handshake ritual of the family when they say in unison, 'May our minds be stronger tomorrow.' They wear gas masks to go outside, which James does on occasion. . . . James can’t help but relate everything he sees to Brigsby Bear; he won’t stop talking about it.

"His parents try everything to divert his attention from the show and dismiss it as unimportant. . . . But James is fixated and will not abandon his love for Brigsby Bear. Fortunately for him, his new friends find James’ favorite show entertaining and his enthusiasm contagious. One by one, those around James learn to accept his obsession and jump on board . . . ."

Read more: "Quirky Sundance Film Filled with Surprising Tenderness"
By Amy Iverson

Monday, February 19, 2018

Presidents Day: Duty to Posterity

Abraham Lincoln ~
born 12 February 1809 - died 15 April 1865
16th President of the United States of America ~
from 4 March 1861 – until his death
Ben, Gerry, and Sam ~ Spring Break 2004
At the Lincoln Memorial


" 'Tis our task to transmit to the latest generation:
a political edifice of liberty and equal rights,
gratitude to our [founders],
justice to ourselves,
duty to posterity,
and love for our species in general."


Summarized from Lincoln's Lyceum Address
Springfield, Illinois ~ 27 January 1838

*******************

The following poem has been on my blog before,
but never on Presidents Day!

You Were Wearing

You were wearing your Edgar Allan Poe printed cotton blouse.
In each divided up square of the blouse was a picture of Edgar Allan Poe.
Your hair was blonde and you were cute. You asked me,
"Do most boys think that most girls are bad?"
I smelled the mould of your seaside resort hotel bedroom on your hair held in place by a John Greenleaf Whittier clip.
"No," I said, "it's girls who think that boys are bad."
Then we read Snowbound together
And ran around in an attic, so that a little of the blue enamel was scraped off my George Washington, Father of His Country, shoes.

Mother was walking in the living room, her Strauss Waltzes comb in her hair.
We waited for a time and then joined her, only to be served
tea in cups painted with pictures of Herman Melville
As well as with illustrations from his book Moby Dick
and from his novella, Benito Cereno.
Father came in wearing his Dick Tracy necktie: "How about a drink, everyone?"
I said, "Let's go outside a while."
Then we went onto the porch and sat on the Abraham Lincoln swing.
You sat on the eyes, mouth, and beard part, and I sat on the knees.
In the yard across the street we saw a snowman holding a garbage can lid mashed into a likeness of the mad English king, George the Third.


by Kenneth Koch, American poet, playwright, professor 1925 - 2002

More by Kenneth Koch [pronounced "coke"]:
The Syntax of Love
House Sisters

Friday, February 16, 2018

Chinese New Year


The Year of the Dog
I'm a Rooster, known for Constancy.
How about you?

Find more animals in the
Chinese Garden of Friendship
Darling Harbour ~ Sydney, Australia


Here are a couple more from my trip last June --
wish I'd been more diligent & photographed them all!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Be My Valentine?

Painting by Yerbolat Tolepbay (b 1955)
At the National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Astana, Kazakhstan

Because the Night You Asked

for Josh

Because the night you asked me
the moon shined like a quarter
in the sky; because the leaves
were the color of wine at our feet;
because, like you, there was a private
sense of absence in my every day;
because in your arms my heart grows
plump as a finch; because we both
pause at the sight of heavy branches
burdened with fruit, the sound
of apples dropping to the ground;
because you hold no secrets;
because I knew what I wanted;
because we both love the snow,
the ice, the feeling of a long deadening
freeze and the mercy of a thaw;
because you gave me an empty
beach on a warm day in fall,
and a feeling that we might stay
for awhile, just the two of us,
looking out across the water,
I said yes.


by Crystal Spring Gibbins
found in her book Now / Here

************************************

Upon reading Gibbins' fairly new poem,
I was reminded of Judy Collins' song of the Sixties:

Since You Asked
Sung by Judy Collins

What I'll give you since you asked
Is all my time together;
Take the rugged sunny days,
The warm and Rocky weather,
Take the roads that I have walked along,
Looking for tomorrow's time,
Peace of mind.

As my life spills into yours,
Changing with the hours
Filling up the world with time,
Turning time to flowers,
I can show you all the songs
That I never sang to one man before.

We have seen a million stones lying by the water.
You have climbed the hills with me
To the mountain shelter,
Taken off the days one by one,
Setting them to breathe in the sun.

Take the lilies and the lace
From the days if childhood,
All the willow winding paths
Leading up and outward,
This is what I give,
This is what I ask you for;
Nothing more.


Judy Collins / Jimmy Webb

Saturday, February 10, 2018

10 ~ 10.5 ~ 55

A Happening Girl ~ 1980

Barbara & Bette ~ 2014

Bette & Barbara ~ 2017

April 1, 1980
Washington Post ~ recap of the interview

[Very humorous & insightful!]

I have always loved it that, when pressured by Barbara Walters to do so, Bette Midler refused to rate herself on a scale of 1 - 10. Instead Bette answered: "Oh, I think I'm about a 55. I don't know. I'm a happening girl."

Thanks Bette Midler for being so smart! And thanks to my son Sam for inadvertently reminding me of this anecdote (when discussing shoe sizes)! You just never know when a really great connection will present itself and remind you of something that happened 38 years ago!

I was recently texting Sam about ordering some slippers that he wanted for Christmas:

Kit: "10.5 ~ wife or medium?"

Kit: [upon immediately spotting my typo]: "Oops! Freudian slip -- should say WIDE!"

Sam: "I'm a 10.5 ~ medium.

And the color is 'Sarhara' -- tan with brown sole.

And my wife better be a 10.5!!!

Hahaha!

Just kidding!"

Well, naturally, I relished the sudden opportunity to share with Sam the wit and wisdom of The Divine Miss M, who taught us that no matter how we look, we are off the scale!

In the same vein, Brian Andreas, equally wise and witty, reinforced the idea a decade later with his StoryPeople story about being a Princess. Much like being a "10," being a "Princess" is simply too limiting. Measuring our potential requires much broader categories than are typically available:


About his imaginary future wife, I wrote back to Sam: "She will be! At least! No joke! Back in 1980 when being a '10' was all the rage, Barbara Walters asked Bette Midler to rate herself on a scale of 1 - 10, and Bette said '55.' Barbara said 'No, really.' And Bette said, 'Really! I'm a happening girl!'"

Although I have recounted this exchange many times to many people as one of my all - time favorites, I had neither re - watched nor re - read the Midler - Walters interview since seeing the original in 1980. But after chatting with Sam, I decided to check out google for the archived material, and there it was! I have to brag (Bette would approve!) and say that I'm pretty impressed with myself for remembering Bette's response nearly word for word! Obviously, it was a very memorable insight from an impressive role model!

Thanks to my sister Peg and my friend Peggy for sharing:
Peg: "Bette Miller has always been my idol. I want to be just like her when I grow up."

Peggy Morris: "I remember that interview and was thrilled with her answer. She crushed it!

She was in concert here some years back and complained about ticket prices for her show. Bette told the audience about her fights with promoters. She lost that battle but promised she’d give us every darn dime’s worth of price. She did! 'Darn' was not the word Bette used!"
P.S. ~ A Timely Update

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Philadelphia Eagles

Super Bowl LII ~ Eagles 41 vs Patriots 33
How thrilling for Sam to join the throng at
the Philadelphia ~ City Hall!

If you're from Philly, you love the WaWa!

Sam stopped by to check out our West Philly house:
~ Corner of 48th & Beaumont ~

Where we lived 1993 - 2001:
~ Our beautiful side street ~

Where we lived 2001 - 2004:
~ Corner of 3rd & Pine ~
Sam took this one
by the light of the historical street lamp!
We had the wrought iron railing made 16 years ago.


Ben and Sam were raised on the Eagles, and have been waiting for this moment since childhood! Whether or not you live and die for football, the communal joy is the fun part! Our old Philly friend and neighbor Hannah posted updates of the festivities throughout the day, including the fact that every hymn in church, and one of the lessons, featured eagles. Apparently, eagles appear in scripture 38 times; and perhaps in at least as many hymns (e.g. "Raise You Up On Eagles Wings").

Back in the days when Ben & Sam were choristers at St. Peter’s, Sam went in before choir practice one Sunday morning and added Donovan McNabb’s name to the prayer list — not because Donovan was injured, but just in hopes of an Eagles 🦅 victory! At long last his prayers have been answered!

My lucky Eagles earrings,
a present from Sam when he was little.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Least Important Day


In observation of Groundhog Day, my childhood friend and neighbor Rebecca Sprigg provided a facebook prompt: "If you had to live one day of your life over and over again, what day would you choose, and why?"

Becky had the movie Groundhog Day in mind, but I was immediately reminded of Thornton Wilder's Our Town. This play is dear to my heart -- as you can see above from the leading quotation of this blog -- and has been ever since way back in 1973, when my brother Bruce portrayed the character of George. Bruce, of course, knew what I was talking about when I said to Becky that "This play breaks my heart every time." The was he explains it:
"This play is when I learned how to 'be in the moment.' In the scene where George goes to the graveyard to visit Emily's (Yvonne Brooks') grave, I actually cried . . . real tears."
Shortly after Emily's untimely death (at age 26, during childbirth), she is allowed to revisit Earth for a day, and she wants to choose a "happy day," but the Dead advise her "No! At least, choose an unimportant day. Choose the least important day in your life. It will be important enough."

Here are the lines, in context:

Emily: Live people don't understand, do they?

Mrs. Gibbs: No, dear, not very much.

Emily: They're sort of shut up in little boxes, aren't they? I feel as though I knew them
last a thousand years ago. . . . I never realized before how troubled and
how, how in the dark live persons are. . . . From morning till night, that's all they are, troubled. . . .
But . . . one can go back; one can go back there again, into living. I feel it. I know it. . . .

Mrs. Gibbs: Yes, of course you can.

Emily: I can go back there and live all those days over again...why not?

Mrs. Gibbs: All I can say is, Emily, don't.

Emily (To the Stage Manager): But it's true, isn't it? I can go and live, back there, again.

Stage Manager: Yes, some have tried but they soon come back here.

Mrs. Gibbs: Don't do it, Emily.

Mrs. Soames: Emily, don't. It's not what you think it'd be.

Emily: But I won't live over a sad day. I'll choose a happy one. I'll choose the day I first knew that I loved George. Why should that be painful?

Stage Manager: You not only live it but you watch yourself living it.

Emily: Yes?

Stage Manager: And as you watch it, you see the thing that they, down there, never know. You see the future. You know what's going to happen afterwards.

Emily: But is that -- painful? Why?

Mrs. Gibbs: That's not the only reason why you shouldn't do it, Emily. When you've been here longer you'll see that our life here is to forget all that and think only of what's ahead and be ready for what's ahead. When you've been here longer you'll understand.

Emily: But, Mother Gibbs, how can I ever forget that life? It's all I know. It's all I had.

Mrs. Soames: Oh, Emily. It isn't wise. Really, it isn't.

Emily: But it's a thing I must know for myself. I'll choose a happy day, anyway.

Mrs. Gibbs: No! At least, choose an unimportant day. Choose the least important day in your life. It will be important enough.

Emily: . . . I can choose a birthday at least, can't I? I choose my twelfth birthday.

Stage Manager: All right. February 11th, 1899. A Tuesday. Do you want any special time of
day?

Emily: Oh, I want the whole day.


But, as it turns out, she can't bear the whole day.
After only an hour or so, she cries out to the Stage Manager:

Emily: I can't. I can't go on. It goes so fast. We don't have time to look at one another. . . . I didn't realize. . . . Take me back -- up the hill -- to my grave. But first: Wait! One more look.

Good-by, Good-by, world. Good-by, Grover's Corners -- Mama and Papa. Goodby to clocks ticking…and Mama's sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new ironed dresses and hot baths…and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you.

Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it -- every, every minute?

Stage Manager: No. The saints and poets, maybe—they do some.


************************

So, to make a short story long, this poignant scene is what came to mind when I read Becky's question about repeatedly reliving a day from the past.

Reading over the responses to the Becky's prompt, I was interested to see that some commenters had interpreted living "one day of your life over and over again," as a good day that they would like to experience perpetually; but others had interpreted it as a do - over day that they would like to improve upon or change.

I asked Becky which she preferred, and she explained what she had in mind originally:
"Yesterday I was thinking about the movie Groundhog Day, but had forgotten the plot. Living that day over and over again was not a good thing for the character Bill Murray played. He only got out of that vicious cycle by slowly changing, realizing his mistakes, doing things for others and being a nice guy. So my initial thought was that people would share a blissful day that they wouldn't mind re-living.

In that vein, I love the touching memories my friends and family have shared. However, equally touching are the do-over stories. I appreciate the bravery of those willing to share about their losses (none shared here related to any personal failings) that evoke regret. Everyone has them. Sharing them seems to me a path to peace with our past. This is a long way to get to your answer, but please feel free to share either a happy day or a do-over day."
I had to brood about all these options for awhile, but finally I decided to go with the first day of 2nd grade at Eugene Field Elementary School (Neosho, Missouri, Fall 1964). Here's why, not so much because I want to relive it over and over; and not because it requires a do - over, but out of curiosity:

For as long as I can remember, I have had this memory that my grandparents -- my mother's parents Paul & Rovilla Lindsey -- drove me to school on the first day of 2nd grade. But could that really be true? It seems unlikely, but in my memory, I had stayed with them until the very last day of summer vacation, and they drove me back home either the evening before school started or that very morning (they lived about 2 hours away from Neosho, in Caney, Kansas). I can see it so clearly -- their car pulling up to the school (the door by the kindergarten side of the building), me wearing a plaid dress, jumping out of the car, running up the steps, and turning to wave to them. But where are my close - in - age siblings, Bruce and Diane? Aaron was too little for school; and David and Peggy were at high school. But it was also the first day at Field School for Bruce and Di, so they should have been there with me, jumping out of the car and running up the steps. Yet, I can see only myself.

If I could go back and live that day again, I could confirm whether or not or how much of this memory really happened or if I somehow just made it up because that's how I wanted the summer to be. She died of breast cancer in June 1966, and during her last 2 summers -- 1964 and 1965, Bruce and I spent a lot of time at their house, so maybe we really did stay that year until the very last day.

Choosing this day (if it really happened), would also allow me to hear my grandmother's voice once again. I was only 9 when she died, and sadly the memory of her voice is nearly lost to me. How I would love to hear it once again!
In conclusion, here is a contemporary passage -- written in 2016, describing the summer of 1938. It is so in keeping with the tone of Our Town written in 1938, describing the years from 1901 - 1913; and with my own childhood memories of sitting out on the front porch rocking chairs with my grandparents, as the light faded, night after night, summer after summer, 1960 - 1966:

“She watched her nieces commencing their nightly rite of selecting chairs. They were young and they didn’t understand. They believed that one chair was better than another. They believed that it was important to make distinctions, to choose, to discern particulars. Like crows, they picked out bits from each evening and lugged them around, thinking they were hoarding treasure. They remembered the jokes, or the games or the stories, not knowing that it was all one, that each tiny vibration of difference would be sanded, over the course of years, into sameness. It doesn’t matter, Jottie assured herself. They'll get to it. Later, they’ll understand that the sameness is the important part" (47 - 48).

from the novel The Truth According to Us
by American editor and author, Annie Barrows (b 1962)
Tea sets, here and above, on display
at the Art Institute of Chicago

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Double Jeopardy

"Here we are as in olden days,
happy golden days of yore . . ."

American Actor, Robert Redford, b 1936

Anyone who reads this blog much, knows that I am a loyal viewer of Jeopardy, although we often record them and watch them days after the fact. If you happened to catch the show on Wednesday, January 10, you udoubtedly share my dismay. Turns out I wasn't the only one who was astonished by the contestants' -- yes, all three of them! -- inability to recognize Robert Redford. What is the world coming to?

It was similarly painful to see Judy Garland's photo remain unidentified on the special celebrity Christmas edition of Pointless, a British quiz show that I was watching in Liverpool over the holidays. Not one contestant called out Garland's name, despite being given the hint that each name contained a Christmasy word of some sort. But never mind "garland" -- had they never seen The Wizard of Oz or Meet Me in St. Louis, never heard Judy sing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"? Sad. Olden days, indeed.

American Actress, Judy Garland, 1922 - 1969