Friday, November 28, 2008

Brian Doyle, "Some Thorny Questions About The Resurrection"

And I don't mean theological or ontological or scriptural or hermeneutical questions,
I mean real questions, like did He have to pee like a racehorse after three long days?
And what's the first thing He said when He woke up, did He say where's my wallet?
Or did He say sweet mother of the Lord, that is absolutely the last time I drink wine?
Or where is my posse? or who
are these two men in white at my head and at my feet,
Are they hospital orderlies or nurses from the nuthouse or navy midshipmen or what?
And when Mary of Magdala didn't recognize Him, and thought He was the gardener,
Did He want to say, my God, Mary, the
gardener, do I look like a shaggy botanist?
And did He think, boy, I would give my left arm for some fresh grilled fish and bread,
Or man, when a guy gets wrapped for the tomb do they use
enough linen and spices?

And between you and me I am sure that there are also many other things Jesus thought
The which if they should be written every one I suppose that even the wild world itself
Could not contain the books that should be written. Like where did He get a decent cup
Of coffee that morning? And who paid for it? And why was He razzing Peter so much?
And when He saith unto Mary, woman, touch me not, was that a personal space issue?
Or was she one of those people who when they touch you it tickles even if they do not
Try to tickle you? You know what I mean? And when He appeared along the lakeshore,
And on the road to Emmaus, had He, you know, borrowed a shirt and a pair of pants?
Of all the hints and suggestions in the Gospels that Jesus may have had a few brothers,
That's the tiny hint that seems revealing to me, don't you think He might've swung by
His brothers' apartment and nicked a shirt and left a note:
dude, I'll make it up to you ...

Brian Doyle is the editor of Portland Magazine

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Tim Anderson, "Skipping Stones"

Yesterday I taught my daughters
To skip stones
At a place where they were heaped up
Smooth and flat.

We sent them spinning onto the water
Each one telling the same little life story
The first explosive contact
And in success, a second, then a third

Footprints in the wavelets
Describe a tightening
arc as the steps slow to a shuffle
Some go on and on and fade like it’s on purpose
Some make it fast with a plop
But it’s all the same sad comedy
Of resistance


Today the smooth ones are harder to find.
My twelve year old finds
A rock that marks the others
And scratches her name on a skipping stone

Will this one skip?
Oh, yes

She scribes my name on a stone
Presents it to me
and it moves me – seeing my name in her hand
The letters definite and jaunty
Like tiny bones of the self

Inspired now
She kneels by the water
Scribing the names of each of us

Skip us she says
Make us skip
And hesitant at the omen

One by one I turn these tiny children over in my hand
Send my beloved over the waves
hurl my stone self in this little proxied life

How we move!
We dodge the wavelets
Spank the water with a sunny grin

But the same story forms with every skipping beat
The shortened step

The direct purpose becomes a convex decay

And our skittering lives slide
Until, still spinning
We sink back to the formless deep
Soundless beneath the unfeeling wind

And we are only a name etched upon a stone
A life written in water

She kneels there, watching the place
Where our destiny quietly swallowed us
where we lie silent
And the wind rustles the fine hairs
At the nape of her neck

I want to tell her
She is something holy
Someone beautiful
But my tongue suffers under its own weight
My language cannot stay straight

In a task where the essence
Is to be light as light
I must fail, like stones

Only this heap of heavy words remains
A marker of what I knew just then

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Hilton Als, "Less An Actor Than A Monologuist"


Mandy Patinkin became something of a star in the early eighties, when the De Niro-Pacino era—ordinary Joe becomes leading man and finds love with Meryl Streep or Michelle Pfeiffer—had already been established, and ethnic-looking leading men were still in fashion. Patinkin, who is Jewish, had an appealing quality on film in those years: sturdy, fighting his way around whatever obstacles society put in his way. But onstage he is odd to watch. In this production, he doesn’t seem to connect with the other actors or with the text; he is isolated in the part. Elisabeth Waterston, for example—she has the kind of fine, melancholy features that Ingres loved to draw—pays close attention to Patinkin as he speaks, but he barely seems to register her. And whenever he has a speech to deliver he bellows and races through it. Prospero is angry about the past, of course, but not all the time. It’s difficult to tell whether this interpretation—which reveals little about Prospero’s progression from spurned nobleman to wise artist—is due to Kulick’s direction or to Patinkin himself, but you can certainly feel that Patinkin is more relaxed when he sings, or stands alone onstage addressing the audience directly, than when he is called upon to respond to the other performers. In short, one suspects that Patinkin is less an actor than a monologuist, interested mostly in his song of the self.

The only actors who seem to connect are Elisabeth Waterston and Stark Sands. In the lovely scene in Act III when Ferdinand professes his love, we’re given a glimmer of what this production might have been had all the actors interacted: a kind of homage to forgiveness.

by Hilton Als
The New Yorker, September 29, 2008
from "Stormy Weather," a review of The Tempest at the Classic Stage Company

Monday, November 24, 2008

C.S. Lewis, "Adjectives"

In writing, don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you’re describing. I mean, instead of telling us a thing was terrible, describe it so that we’ll feel terrified. Don’t say it was delightful; make us say ‘delightful’ when we’ve read your description. You see, all these words ‘horrifying’, ‘wonderful’, ‘hideous’, ‘exquisite’, are only like saying to your readers, “please, would you do my job for me?”

C.S. Lewis, "Letters To Children"