Thursday, December 07, 2017

Index: Christmas Readings

Tim Anderson | Re: Loneliness Can Be Contagious

Frederick Buechner | The Annunciation
Frederick Buechner | Emmanuel
Frederick Buechner | The Face in The Sky
Frederick Buechner | Gabriel

Robert Farrar Capon | Advent
Robert Farrar Capon | Better Watch Out
Robert Farrar Capon | Naughty or Nice

Truman Capote | A Christmas Memory

Tom Carson | Snow Angel

Nicola Colhoun | Creche

John F. Deane | Driving To Midnight Mass In Dublin On Christmas Eve

Annie Dillard | Feast Days
Annie Dillard | God In The Doorway

Dina Donohue | No Room

Craig Erickson | Christmas Rant

John Henry Faulk | A Child's Christmas in Texas

Lawrence Ferlinghetti | Christ Climbed Down

Paul Flucke | The Secret of the Gifts

Rev. J.M. Gates | Death Might Be Your Santa Claus

William Gibson | Butterfingers Angel

Lorenz Graham | Every Man Heart Lay Down

Wayne Harrel | The Camels Of Ancient Yore

Rory Holland | Frail Humanity
Rory Holland | Nativity

Garrison Keillor | The Seven Principles of a Successful Christmas

Ron Klug | Joseph's Lullaby

David Kossoff | Seth
David Kossoff | Shem

Rudi Krause | one way
Rudi Krause | unforeseen

Madeleine L'Engle | O Sapientia
Madeleine L'Engle | The Tree

Peter La Grand | Christmas Memory

Mike Mason | Three Fools

William Nicholoson | Christmas Drinks Party

Lance Odegard | Impossible Dream

Richard Osler | Advent Poems 2006
Richard Osler | Afterwards

Ron Reed | Clay
Ron Reed | It's a Wonderful Life

Luci Shaw | Advent III
Luci Shaw | December
Luci Shaw | Madonna and Child, with Saints
Luci Shaw | Mary Considers Her Situation
Luci Shaw | Presents

Sufjan Stevens | Christmas Tube Socks

Diane Tucker | Advent Couplets
Diane Tucker | Christmas Couplets

Various Authors | Joseph & Mary

Sunday, November 05, 2017

paradise | two images



paradise
(2016, russia/germany, andrei konchalovsky)

the new yorker goes to korea

Families enjoy National Liberation Day at the Rungna Dolphinarium

My guide was Pak Song Il, whose job has allowed him to visit several countries, which he described in terms of their cleanliness: Switzerland (very clean); Belgium (not so clean); Bangladesh (not clean at all). In 2015, he went to Utah (clean) for a nongovernmental exchange attended by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The experience convinced him that Mormons have a lot in common with North Koreans. "When the L.D.S. started, they were hated. They were sent to the desert. But they made it thrive. They are organized like a bee colony, where everyone works for one purpose and they would die for it. And they make huge output, as a result. We understand each other very well."

*

When you buy a North Korean newspaper with an image of Kim Jong Un on the front page, the clerk folds it carefully to avoid creasing his face.

Kim Jong Un executed his uncle Jang Song Thaek. The charges against Jang ranged from “treachery” to applauding “halfheartedly” when Kim entered the room. Many of Jang’s children and aides were also put to death. Some were killed by flamethrowers; others were shot by anti-aircraft guns before outdoor audiences.

*

Kim Jong Il, who assumed power in 1994, was a cinĂ©aste, plump and sedentary, who made his own version of “Godzilla.” (His favorite films also included Rambo and Gone With The Wind.) On foreign trips, his aides brought home his feces and urine, to prevent foreign powers from hijacking the waste and evaluating his health. He was five feet two inches tall, and insecure about his height. In 1978, he ordered the kidnapping of his favorite South Korean actress, Choi Eun-hee, and greeted her by saying, “Small as a midget’s turd, aren’t I?”

*

Kim Jong Il's second son, Jong Chul, was reserved and gentle. While in Switzerland, he had written a poem called “My Ideal World,” which began, “If I had my ideal world I would not allow weapons and atom bombs anymore. I would destroy all terrorists with the Hollywood star Jean-Claude Van Damme.”

*   *   *

excerpted from
The Risk Of Nuclear War With North Korea
by Evan Osnos
The New Yorker, September 18, 2017

Friday, November 03, 2017

maggie's farm


If Dylan and the Band, buoyed by Levon Helm’s strutting, deep-in-the-pocket Southern groove, had sounded like American comfort food, a triumphant homecoming football team on a crisp Thanksgiving afternoon, the singer and his band on the Hard Rain album sound like a surly crew of mercenaries adrift at sea; exhausted, strung out, and hungry, they are so bored out of their wits that they’ve taken to drinking the ship’s supply of whale oil and throwing one another overboard for fun.


howard fishman compares two performances of maggie's farm
in never ending bob dylan
the new yorker, november 3, 2017

Monday, October 30, 2017

the pulp fiction of henri nouwen


"As Doc fired several rounds into the attacking platoon, he heard the unmistakeable rat-a-tat-tat of enemy fire, and felt a tearing, burning sensation in his left leg. Damn! He was hit..."



A shocking tale of wasted youth! He stole his father's money, fled his home town, and cast off every rule of decent society! He slept with hookers! He ate with pigs! And now... He's back! The long awaited sequel to the searing thrill-o-rama that shocked a generation! If you liked "The Prodigal Son," you'll LOVE... "The Return Of The Prodigal Son"!!

Friday, September 29, 2017

brad aaron modlin | what you missed that day you were absent from fourth grade


What You Missed that Day You Were Absent from Fourth Grade


Mrs. Nelson explained how to stand still and listen
to the wind, how to find meaning in pumping gas,

how peeling potatoes can be a form of prayer.
She took questions on how not to feel lost in the dark.

After lunch she distributed worksheets
that covered ways to remember your grandfather’s

voice. Then the class discussed falling asleep
without feeling you had forgotten to do something else—

something important—and how to believe
the house you wake in is your home. This prompted

Mrs. Nelson to draw a chalkboard diagram detailing
how to chant the Psalms during cigarette breaks,

and how not to squirm for sound when your own thoughts
are all you hear; also, that you have enough.

The English lesson was that I am
is a complete sentence.

And just before the afternoon bell, she made the math equation
look easy. The one that proves that hundreds of questions,

and feeling cold, and all those nights spent looking
for whatever it was you lost, and one person

add up to something.



by Brad Aaron Modlin
from the book Everyone At This Party Has Two Names

an almost holy picture | notes for an interview


where do we find hope in the face of loss?

beauty
small things
a burlap sack of beans, jars of salsa verde
making things grow
walking your daughter to school
watching your wife in a play
smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee in a friend's 57 Thunderbird

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

haas, baden, drake | three photos from an exhibition


Ernst Haas, New York City, USA, 1981



Karl Baden, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, 2009



Carolyn Drake, Breeze, Zhetisay Kazakhstan, 2009


from Cartier-Bresson: A Question of Colour
the inaugural show of The Positive View Foundation,
Somerset House, London

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

adam gopnik | shakespeare and forgiveness


Shakespeare believed in fate, order, and forgiveness; we believe in history, justice, and compassion – three pairings so similar as to sometimes seem the same, though they are not. The novelistic, psychological work of explaining why evil people are evil gets very little energy from him. His villains are the products not of trauma and history but of nature and destiny. He amputated Iago's motive for malignancy from the Italian story where he found Othello's tragedy, in order to make the evil more absolute. Even to ask if Shylock's graspingness is a product of his people's history of exclusion would not have seemed important to him. He wasn't looking for causes. Though not satisfying to our modern sense of psychology, this is actually psychologically quite satisfying. The malevolent people we encounter in life are mostly just like that. They don't have a particular trauma that, if addressed and cured, would stop them from being evil. They were creepy, malignant kids, too....

Shakespeare also believe in forgiveness in a way that we don't. Really rotten people get forgiven, in the comedies and romances, at least, in ways that still make us uneasy. In The Tempest, As You Like It, Twelfth Night, bad actors get easy outs. Even Shylock isn't killed. Dr Johnson thought the moment when Hamlet delays killing Claudius in order to deprive him of any chance of forgiveness was "too horrible to be read or to be uttered." We are much more ostentatiously compassionate and much more effectively vindictive. Small incidents of plagiarism end careers – not a rule that Shakespeare himself would have escaped – and sexual sins can place their perpetrators forever beyond the bounds of redemption. In Shakespeare, rotten people do rotten things, but if they stick around and say they're sorry they are forgiven. By contrast, we feel everyone's pain, forgive no one's trespasses."

Adam Gopnik, "Why Rewrite Shakespeare?"
The New Yorker, October 17, 2016

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

walker evans | stare



Stare. It is the way to educate your eye, and more. Stare, pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long.

Walker Evans

Sunday, April 16, 2017

samaritan woman | sheila rosen


On the outskirts of Sychar,
I bear my empty water jar to Jacob's well.
Under searing sun this daily trek is only one
of the vexing complications of my day.

Mornings I wake with dryness. I've dreamed again
of water pots, spilling, cracking, falling into shards.
I rouse myself before others, to keep my tryst
with the tiny bird that darts and sings each morning.
by my door. This small fidelity is all
that whets my appetite for another day.

The sun is high. Each day’s a new beginning, they say.
I set out alone, turning over, like dusty prayer beads,
the usual string of questions:

How is each day new? I am who I am, and was
all the other beginnings. Where is my help?
Neither in me nor the man who is not my husband
and isn’t likely to stay. I look up to the hills.
Where is the one true worship that might lift me,
even me, to the heights? Where is running water
for this never-ending thirst? Where, in this heat
is there even one bird singing?

My throat is dry. My feet hurt. I'll do well
to fill my water pot and bear it home. I'll climb
no bless/ed mountain today. Would that God
were a man who’d come down off his holy hill
and give me a hand drawing water. Deep water
from Jacob’s ancient well. And sweet,
I want sweet water, I want a soaking —
water enough to set a small bird singing,
under this scorching Samaritan sky.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

found poem | no use


gift wrap,
old prescriptions, old chargers, broken headphones,
old towels, old bath mats, chipped mugs,

old magazines,

shoe boxes, old bills, dried pens,
old warranties, receipts,

takeout menus,
event tickets, invitations, old nail polish,
party favours, broken jewelry,
unused gifts.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

found poem | assembled from the pages of the new yorker, 2016


Other people's minds are a foreign country
in which we're guests, tourists, or strangers,
unsure where we are and what's expected of us.
People say things that they don't mean literally:
"Someday I am going to get my eyes open all the time
and then I will eat you and Lizzie both."
They tell jokes and they use ironic expressions:
"Make it extremely squalid and moving.
Are you at all acquainted with squalor?"

He'd had enough of what people said,
tips and tales, theories, tidbits.
If he could have it his way,
nobody would ever say anything again.

Once,
looking through this garbled, pearly whorled window,
he'd pulled a seven-foot coil of ingrown hair from an abscess
on the tip of a patient's tailbone,
theatrically slipping sleeping pills
into their tea,
a cluster of pastel plaster.

He was not well behaved in the girlfriend situation.
Unsuitability, resistance, seduction,
failure of imagination,
failure of courage,
bad planning,
incompetence,
corruption,
fecklessness,
the laws of nations,
the laws of physics,
the weight of history,
inertia of all sorts;
like an exotic dancer at a trustee's meeting.