Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Thinking about “The Migration Series” by Jacob Lawrence at the Phillips Collection

Friday, January 6th, 2017

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Jacob Lawrence’s “Migration Series” at the Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, January 5, 2017.

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The Phillips Collection, Washington DC, January 5, 2017 -- Discussing and thinking about Jacop Lawrence's "Migration Series"

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Halloween in Glover Park – Tombstones that name names

Sunday, November 1st, 2015

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For Halloween 2015 in Glover Park, grave markers were on front lawns everywhere. The most original group of tombstone R.I.P.’s:

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Halloween in Glover Park

(Note: That’s “hillary@gmail.com” in the center background, “Bipartisanship” on the right.)

 

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Did the Tusken Raiders have pet dogs?

Monday, February 16th, 2015

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While looking through some old photos this morning, one snapshot from June, 2008, of my golden retriever Jesse, made me pause and reminisce. The location was the Calvert Cliffs formation on the western shore of Chesapeake Bay. Jesse had climbed up into the debris of a fallen section of the cliff, and I snapped him when he worked his way around to this position:

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It looks like Jesse wanted to reenact a scene from Star Wars — the scene on the planet Tatooine when the Tusken Raiders (less formally referred to as Sand People) make their scary appearance:

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Jesse found a similar protective position, and he even managed to emit a low-voltage eerie glow from his otherwise dark eyes, just like the yellow-eyed Jawas below.

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But as for creating just as threatening a look as those two native species of Tatooine? Bah! Earth-bound Jesse totally fails it.

Halloween 2014

Saturday, November 1st, 2014

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Round about my neighborhood big spiders on walls and facades were very big this year.

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Some homeowners went all out to stage elaborate scenes of thrills and chills.

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The Endless Summer of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

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Well, this blew me away. A begetter named Adam Bertocci has seized a single generative poem — Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 — and fractured and refashioned it into a brilliant series of 22 poetic exercises. Reading these pieces is like listening to an eclectic jazz performer spin variations on a theme, or like viewing a roomful of works by a disciplined cubist painter.

Yet again, Shakespeare’s “this” gives life to thee.

The one piece of Bertocci’s I’d like someone to press into further adaptation — into song — is this ditty:

Rondelet

Like summer,
But more so, your temperate way,
Like summer.
You will not fade nor discolor,
In lines that your beauty convey
You shine like the fires of day,
Like summer.

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Leaving on a Jet Plane

Saturday, October 25th, 2014

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Glover Park in Washington, DC, October 24, 2014 at 6:20:46 PM.

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The Common Joyfulness of Golden Retrievers

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

The other day a catalog arrived in the mail. On its cover was the 2014 Orvis Cover Dog, a golden retriever named Hunni. Though we see only a profile, the look on her face is the unmistakable mien of Goldens: happiness rising to delighted contentment. The picture prompted me to dig out two photos of my own dog Jesse, from nine years ago.

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(I think I see in Jesse’s eye a silhouette of the head of the photographer, me.)

What Were They Thinking?

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

The other day a shipment from Amazon arrived at my house. Among the ordered items in the box were two pairs of wool-blend thermal socks, packaged in a plastic bag. I was about to throw the bag away when I spotted the suffocation warning label:

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Huh?

I thought of those SAT-type questions that listed four items and ask you to check the one that doesn’t belong with the rest. So: (A) Babies, (B) Children, (C) Family Pets, (D) Cheese.

Would you be scratching your head for the correct answer?

The reference to le fromage is a really silly addition to a warning required by many state and local governments who’ve addressed the subject of suffocation deaths. Accidental asphyxiation by smothering is what this is all about. The altered label doesn’t follow the advice of the plastic industry trade association recommending use of the template Massachusetts implemented. A Google search found no match for this odd-ball sticker among commercially-available labels. The silly label I came across is still under the radar.

Who might be the wisenheimer author of this?

A rogue roquefort-fiend?

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Notes:

1. A study of the effectiveness of suffocation warning labels (their wording, design, placement), can be found here.

2. As far as I can tell, there is no federal requirement for warning labels.

3. The bad effect plastic wrap can have on cheese is described here.

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There’s a story here on Craigslist

Monday, October 21st, 2013

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When scanning the free items on Craigslist this evening, I did a double-take when reading the very first item. A screen shot:

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I clicked on the item and found the second half of the story. Screenshot:

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Whether genuine or not, it makes a sad companion piece to an earlier story, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

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UPDATE (10/22/2013): This listing was soon deleted, either by the poster (imposter?) or more likely by Craigslist (alcohol is among the items prohibited on the site; see rules posted here).

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“The Tunnel” by Ernest Sábato

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

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In this, his first novel, Ernesto Sábato displays an assured hand in fashioning a fresh tale of obsession and murder. The pace of THE TUNNEL is uncommonly well controlled. There is no fat on the bones of its first-person confessional narrative. At 140 pages, divided into 39 chapters, the book can be read in one or two sessions. This I recommend. Uninterrupted attention to the diseased mind of the artist-confessor, Juan Pablo Castel, is the optimal way to experience Sabato’s own artistry.

We know from the opening pages of the novel and from the first encounter between Castel and María Iribarne that these two lovers are doomed to play out a fatal destiny. We expect the descent will be devastating. It is.

The affair begins with the traditional dance: tentative connections, daydreaming, high expectations, misunderstandings, jousting, furtive telephone calls. Looking back after his crime, Castel recalls “how we are blinded by love, how magically love transforms reality.”

It is chilling to come upon the first intimations of violence. Sábato is a master of the slow reveal. He is aware of how we, his apprehensive readers, are taking in and digesting the progress of the tale. I was struck by the teasing manner in which he parcels out dialog between the lovers, and how he uses their diverging temperaments (the overly-analytical Castel versus the elusive María) as a means to keep us off-balance. We want to hear more from María, in her own words, unfiltered by the claustrophobic, maddeningly selfish perceptions of the narrator. When she finally speaks honestly to him of her desires, during an escape from the city to an estancia by the ocean (“I can’t count the times,” she tells Castel, “that I have dreamed of sharing this sea and this sky with you”) — the emotional effect is powerful.

When first published in 1948, and championed by Albert Camus, THE TUNNEL was placed on the shelf with contemporary existentialist literature. It is true Sábato bows in that direction, as when Castel waxes philosophical:

“There are times I feel nothing has meaning. On a tiny planet that has been racing toward oblivion for millions of years, we are born amid sorrow; we grow, we struggle, we grow ill, we suffer, we make others suffer, we cry out, we die, or others die, and new beings are born to begin the senseless comedy all over again.”

But to the 21st-century reader chances are this will sound like window-dressing. Nowadays the philosophical takes a back seat to the psychological, which means THE TUNNEL becomes a case study. It is an examination — or, since the story is in the form of a confession, let us say a self-examination — by a man suffering through deep psychological trauma. Castel boasts: “My brain is in constant ferment and, when I get nervous, ideas roil in a giddy ballet.” Although he fancies himself a superior analytical being, we know better. Obsessive, vengeful, violently jealous, here is a man depressed, suicidal. His descent is plotted with steady skill by the author.

Notes: The paperback edition I read, no longer in print,  is covered with the striking a black and white photo (below). Penguin Classics is issuing a reprint edition in April, 2012, with an inferior cover (above) that does little to evoke the novel’s mood. A film version of  The Tunnel was released in 1988 to mixed reviews; Peter Weller plays the role of Castel, and Jane Seymour is María.

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