Wednesday, October 13, 2021

dietrich bonhoeffer | music, frienship, games, happiness

Who is there for instance, in our times, who can devote himself with an easy mind to music, friendship, games, or happiness? Surely not the 'ethical' man, but only the Christian.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer,
Letters and Papers from Prison (192/193)

Monday, September 27, 2021

luci shaw | no, i'm not hildegarde

I'm merely a floater in the eye of God,
a flake of his winnowed chaff. A twig
from the tree at whose root his ax is laid,
if you believe Luke, and I do. I am a wisp
of the fog that blinds my world this morning. A drop
from a leaking tap. An odd button. A blot.

I'm less than the smallest bone of St. Catherine's
withered fore-finger; in Sienna it's preserved
behind glass and I'm not. I'm a loose tooth.
A hesitation of wind. The lost coin never found.
A river wrinkle come and gone. An eyelash
found by an ant in the dust. A blink.

father thomas hopko | six maxims

Never bring attention to yourself.  

Be an ordinary person.

Do your work, and then forget it.

Be simple, hidden, quiet, and small.  

     (The Holy Fathers say: “If you want to be known by God, 

       seek not to be known by people.”)

Don’t seek or expect praise from anyone or pity from anyone.

Give advice to others only when asked or obligated to do so.


Father Thomas Hopko


Friday, September 10, 2021

g.k. chesterton | saying grace

You say grace before meals.
All right.
But I say grace before the play and the opera,
And grace before I open a book,
And grace before sketching, painting,
Swimming, fencing, walking, playing, dancing;
And grace before I dip the pen in the ink.
G.K. Chesterton

From an unpublished poem in Chesterton's notebook, called “A Grace” 

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

lewis | read them with fear

We ought to read the psalms that curse the oppressor; read them with fear. Who knows what imprecations of the same sort have been uttered against ourselves? What prayers have Red men, and Black, and Brown and Yellow, sent up against us to their gods or sometimes to God Himself? All over the earth the White Man’s offence ‘smells to heaven’: massacres, broken treaties, theft, kidnappings, enslavement, deportation, floggings, beatings-up, rape, insult, mockery, and odious hypocrisy make up that smell. 

C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

martha graham to agnes demille


susan alexander | three poems about summer jobs

Making Beds with Cordelia at the Avalon Motel in Osoyoos: Summer 1973

She could sing Desperado just like Linda Ronstadt.

I showed her hospital corners and how to 

smooth sheets like my mother taught me. 

She didn’t have one – a mom.


Thrown out of the house – for nothing 

according to her and I believed her, 

believed the worst of fathers in general, 

temper tantrums, hard hands and drinking. 


She wouldn’t talk about him, not a thing,

but I remember something about two bitchy sisters – 

one with a name like venereal disease 

while Cordelia,           

                          she walked right out of a magazine

with her long legs and sort of private smile – 

smart too though she didn’t show off like I did 

or mouth off either. 

                                 I taught her how to

tuck a bedspread under pillows then curve it 

snug like a tight t-shirt. She had the knack. 


When she wasn’t around I tried

to talk and dress and wear my hair like her,

be patient with my little niece, be nicer 

than I was or am. 

                             She lived alone 

in our trailer out back of the motel 

beside the slough we called a lake – 

saving up for university she said. 


Sometimes after work we’d lie together 

under the walnut tree. I’d play with her hair 

while she read Tess – rich green leaves 

breaking the heat of an Okanagan afternoon. 


I always thought she’d get discovered 

like that dairy queen girl, that she’d marry 

a millionaire. 

                       Strange thing is 


I was the one who kind of made it in the end,

the one with the house and European holidays. 

But Cordelia,


                       she was making her way for awhile, 

then somehow it went bad again – a man, 

some dark angel, following her.


The Avalon


It was a fast food joint on Highway 3 

where it turned into Main Street. 

Picnic tables in the breezeway, Creedence

screaming up around the bend on the jukebox.

No drive-thru windows like today. 

People had to park, get out of their cars.


My father was boss, shape-shifted 

from grease monkey in his own garage

to short order cook.  Short temper cook 

more like it. Hotter than burgers sizzling 

on the grill. Hotter than chips in the deep fat fryer. 

Him and his shout and his bottomless rum 

and coke just inside the cooler door. 


Scariest thing for me was making 

chicken dinners when he was crazy 

busy and the grill was packed. I’d crank 

up the flames under the pressure cooker

in the back, drop thighs, legs, breasts,

wings, into popping oil then twist 

the metal top on tight as I could.


Timing was critical and I was racing 

up front with customers at windows, 

making change with fingers burnt

from bagging burgers. Milkshakes 

whizzed on metal sticks while I erected

dazzling ziggurats of soft ice cream cones. 


All the time at the back the pressure 

built. Always I expected the explosion. 

My father’s holler. Flying metal, boiling oil. 

Fast food shrapnel. Casualties.


When the cooker’s valves got flipped up,

they screamed like murder, smeared the air 

with steam and grease. I served up impossible 

crispy gold in a cardboard container. 


For years I wore burn scars 

on the soft insides of forearms.

They are faded, almost gone. 

So is my father. 

Nowadays summer never gets that hot.




Sorting Cherries


We sat in lines on either side 

of the belt’s endless loop. Across from me, 

a woman in her fifties, black hair dull with dye, 

flanked by cronies. She listed infirmities 

as numerous as the cherries rolling by. 

Her hands darted, deft as a lacemaker, 

picked out the split and the bruised. 


Beside me, the tough girls I drank 

with in high school. The ones who still smoked, 

who had sex in the back of Camaros 

belonging to boyfriends who worked 

at the mill. Girls who weren’t headed

to university when summer was over.


After eight days, the whistle blew for break 

and the belt stopped. I fell off my stool. 

Mesmerized. The foreman moved me 

up the chain. Alone. I pushed boxes of Bings 

around a corner. When that crop was done,

we all got laid off until the next call came.

I never went back. 


Some nights before sleep, I see them glide by, 

a stream of profligate hearts. 

Sunday, August 15, 2021

premier league mascots

Fred the Red loves a hug with the manager. 

Buzz and Buzzette, giant furry bees, had a surprise when a 38-year-old on his stag joined them in full kit for their match-day rituals three years ago. Bertie Bee once rugby-tackled a naked streaker, who ended up somersaulting to the ground. Harry the Hornet is a cheerful, drum-bashing, man-sized wasp with a predilection for winding up Crystal Palace managers. He has been labelled "out of order" by Sam Allardyce and "disgraceful" by Roy Hodgson. 

Stamford the Lion has looked much happier since the arrival of his female companion, Bridget. Filbert Fox has been to every home match since 1992 but his two erstwhile sidekicks, Vicky Vixen and Cousin Dennis, disappeared together years ago. Hmmmn.  In 1998 the fan who dressed up as Hercules the Lion to entertain the crowd on match days was relieved of his duties following a half-time kerfuffle with a beauty queen. 

Moonchester and Moonbeam surely hail from a place called Blue Moon as they are, yes, blue and, yes, Blue Moon is the club anthem. Unfunny foam creatures have never caught on at Everton, thankfully, but the tradition of a Toffee Lady throwing sweets to the crowd before kick-off is alive and well.

The death of much-loved mascot Kayla the eagle last year was greeted with an outpouring of emotion from fans. Many made donations to her former home at the Eagle Heights sanctuary near Dartford that have helped it to survive the pandemic. 

Sammy the Saint made a name for himself with some dad-dancing in 2012, performing a half-time rendition of Gangnam Style. 

Captain Canary has been rebooted for the 2021-22 season. Thinner, yellower, smilier, he now comes with massive eyebrows. 
Chirpy Cockerel was remodelled after a more sinister previous look. Remember the dead eyes?

from The Manchester Guardian pre-season team profiles, 2021.

pictured: Fred The Red embracing The Prince of Darkness, Jose Mourinho. Jose has since been sacked and exiled to Italy, while Fred is still going strong.

Mascots and their Homes

Hercules the Lion, Aston Villa
Buzz and Buzzette, Brentford
Bertie Bee, Burnley
Stamford the Lion, Chelsea
Kayla the Eagle, Crystal Palace
The Toffee Lady, Everton
Filbert Fox, Leicester City
Moonchester and Moonbeam, Manchester City
Fred the Red, Manchester United
Captain Canary, Norwich
Sammy the Saint, Southampton
Chirpy Cockerel, Tottenham Hotspur
Harry the Hornet, Watford

Monday, July 26, 2021

raymond chandler, poet

Dead men are heavier than broken hearts.

It seemed like a nice neighborhood to have bad habits in.

I been shaking two nickels together for a month, trying to get them to mate.

It was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained-glass window.

She gave me a smile I could feel in my hip pocket.

The coffee shop smell was strong enough to build a garage on.

She had eyes like strange sins.

Until you guys own your own souls you don’t own mine.

I looked back at Breeze. He was about as excited as a hole in the wall.

I’m all done with hating you. It’s all washed out of me. I hate people hard, but I don’t hate them very long.

She looked playful and eager, but not quite sure of herself, like a new kitten in a house where they don’t care much about kittens.

“I don’t like your manner,” Kingsley said in a voice you could have cracked a Brazil nut on.

She smelled the way the Taj Mahal looks by moonlight.

Leave us do the thinking, sweetheart. It takes equipment.

California, the department-store state. The most of everything and the best of nothing.

I was as hollow and empty as the spaces between stars.

The French have a phrase for it. The bastards have a phrase for everything and they are always right. To say goodbye is to die a little.

The girl gave him a look which ought to have stuck at least four inches out of his back.

I belonged in Idle Valley like a pearl onion on a banana split.

I’m not a young man. I’m old, tired and full of no coffee.

Guns never settle anything, I said. They are just a fast curtain to a bad second act.

Don’t kid yourself. You’re a dirty low-down detective. Kiss me.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

diane tucker | three poems from 'nostalgia for moving parts'

Three poems about childhood that made me cry. From Diane Tucker's new book, Nostalgia For Moving Parts. So particular, so much compassion. Get yourself a copy. I'm not kidding.

Love the sad men
The small, huge things that sad men do, sad
men who build with everything but words.
Build dollhouses, train sets, HO mountains
from cereal boxes and plaster of Paris,
building the mountains they can for their sons.
For daughters they build scroll-sawed
shelves to hold phalanxes of dolls, blown-glass
animals, Barbie barns above the bed’s blue lace.
Sad fathers who’ve eluded words carve magic
circles in their back lawns for swimming
pools. They sieve stones out of the soil circles
so nothing will nick the pools’ thin blue skin.
This is the testament of sad men who live
starved of words: drywall, carport, pickle jars
of nails, lawnmower, farmer’s tan, house paint,
apple tree, soldering gun, handsaw, wood plane.
Wood shavings falling from the vise,
wooden curls on the cold garage floor,
wooden curls warm on little girls’ ears.


Skipping ropes at school, their woven heft.
Steel poles around the roofed playground, the rain
running down them luminous, metal-melting.
I’d press my tongue against a pole and drink.
School was a world of delicious new textures:
fat crayons, creamy manila colouring paper,
notebooks, worksheets stacked fat as animal bodies.
Tables and chairs with shiny metal tubes for legs.
Even light at school felt stronger than at home.
They showed us filmstrips of marmalade leaves
against a blue blue sky, all technicolour-crisp.
How I loved those glowing celluloid leaves!
Then the cloakroom hooks’ imploring curves,
parallel silences in calm, rectangular shadows,
the pavement tap-dance beat of skipping ropes.
How I loved school, the sweet order of desks
in grids. So I wasn’t totally upset when, in grade
two, Danny with the French last name tied me to
a pole with a skipping rope so he could kiss me,
Danny with the round eyes, a cherub’s mouth,

curly hair. He was small even among the small,
as I was. No doubt I’d flirted with him, grade-two
style, cute and clueless. I thought myself a lady.
Were kisses procured? I bet there were a few.
Soon the rope loosened and I made a dash.
But Danny pushed me back. A metal pole I loved,
from which I’d drunk the rain, rushed up
and struck me in the bone below one eye.
A shiner it was called. I had a shiner. I’d seen
them on TV, cartoon-red beefsteaks on faces.
Danny got the strap then, or another time, or both.
He came back to class subdued, his crying
eyes swollen. As if a hiding could patch up his
love-starved soul. He chased girls, he lifted skirts,
he stole kisses, and the grown-ups just spanked
his ass? Poor Danny, tiny paramour, tiny batterer!
As long as I knew him, Danny chased the girls,
staring expectantly through big brown eyes.
Whatever makes boys seize girls roiled in him.
That yearning he had, no strap could smack it out.
And no black eye stopped me flirting. I was seven
and had imprinted on romance like a baby bird.
I followed its Hollywood promises everywhere,
persistent and imploring as a cloakroom hook.


Beautiful grade four teacher
always wore his shirt half open,
had dry-look hair and eyes bigger
than Donny Osmond’s. Sometimes
he used swear words in class.
I fell hard in grade four love.
I remember the day I had to wear
the hand-me-down dress to school.
Polka dots, pleats, Peter Pan collar.
1974 was bell-bottoms, feathered hair,
Three Dog Night and Doodle Art.
It was neither pleats nor polka dots.
It was in no way a Peter Pan collar.
But crushy teacher, lounging atop a desk,
fixed me, with round, pale eyes, in his stare.
He grafted two trees to a single rootstock,
kindness twinned forever with desire.
You look smashing, he said, in that dress.
The world lit up. I clutch that moment,
talisman still, the heat that flowered when he
noticed my smallness, my sadness, and spoke.

Nostalgia For Moving Parts is published by Turnstone Press, 2021. Copies available through their website.

Tuesday, July 06, 2021

when did richard allen go to the movies?

Those are the approximate prices of the various items in Richard's list in 1925 or so.  I could only find a 1935 hot dog price, but the five cent hotdog (at Nathan's, in New York) stayed constant for quite a few years after 1935, so it's not impossible they were the same price in the mid-Twenties; I assumed one hot dog per meal, three meals a day for the seven days.  Given the prices I found for movies, comics, candy bars, and hot dogs, we can figure "games" cost about 75 cents each.  In 1908, admission to see the San Francisco Seals play baseball set you back 50 cents, so 75 cents in 1925 sounds about right. 

Sounds like a pretty good week.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Thursday, June 10, 2021

tim klein | no hotter human hatred

Surely no hotter human hatred exists than that of one who has spent years achieving a respectable measure of success in life by following the rules, only to encounter one who has achieved greater success by violating the very same rules. Tim Klein Facebook, June 9, 2021

Sunday, May 23, 2021

photo | bruce stewart | fred herzog + drink signs

 This photo of Fred Herzog was taken by his friend Bruce Stewart on Powell Street in the 1970s.

Friday, April 30, 2021

movie montages

I do love the movies. And I like making things. So I spend a lot of time making movies out of the movies. Here are links to some of my ongoing montage projects.  (Note: They're always better with headphones. The bigger the screen the better.)

A Month At The Movies In Two And A Half Minutes 
(eventually A Year At the Movies In Half An Hour) 
I prefer the versions with no titles, just a stream of images and sound. But if were you I'd also be curious about what movies the clips are from, and maybe about the events depicted, so there are versions including those things as well 
January | dates only | dates + titles | dates titles events 
February | dates only | dates + titles | dates titles events
October | dates only | dates + titles | dates titles events
November | dates only | dates + titles | dates titles events   

Date Movies
The whole obsession began with the project of finding date references in movies.  It started with watching The Longest Day on June 6, 2004, which led to the search to find one movie for each day in the calendar year. Which led to finding a lot more than one movie clip for each day of the year. Which led to making montages for specific days, usually the birthdays of friends. I've created maybe seventy of the darn things, but most of them were posted on a defunct Vimeo account. Here are links to a handful I've put up on the YouTubes.
NT GUILTY: You need a good lawyer?
Movie clips about lawyers and the law, a graduation present for my daughter Katie's graduation from law school.  Here

The Movies Go To The Movies: Marquees
A chronology of movie-going, as seen in the movies. A work in progress; here's how far I got by May 30 last year, starting with a 1915 screening of "The Curse Of Drink" at The Gem (from the film "On Moonlight Bay") through to "The Bicycle Thief" at The Rialto in 1991 (as seen in "The Player"). 

Good Time Diner
My soon-to-be son-in-law plays in a band, and they thought it would be a blast to project movie clips behind them while they play, and during breaks. So now I get to make some really long montages! Welcome to the diner.  Here's what I've got so far for Part One, and a draft of Part Two.  (And if that one doesn't stream in your country, try this version).

Earth Day International Film Festival: End of the World Edition
And here's the trailer for an imaginary film festival

ralph waldo emerson | persecuted


Wednesday, April 21, 2021

josé francisco borges | wood cuts

 from Davi Rabelo's Regent College arts thesis presentation 

literatura del cordel ("string literature")

folk novels, poems, and songs printed in chapbooks, illustrated with wood cuts, 
sold in Brazilian street markets 

garrison keillor | the pope & me

The beauty of freedom is that you don’t know what might happen. I flew to Rome once on a sudden impulse, my first trip, and the day before I left, I got a haircut and told my barber George Latimer that I was hoping to meet the pope and he said, “No way. You’re not even Catholic. You won’t get within a mile of him.” I got to Rome and ran into a priest from Milwaukee, Father Reginald Foster, the head Vatican Latinist, and he took me on a tour of the Vatican and showed me the Latin ATM he’d designed, the only one in the world, and who should be withdrawing cash but the pope himself. He invited me up to his penthouse. There was a ping-pong table. He made popcorn. Offered me a Pepsi. And then he said to me, “Qui in nomine Domini Dei tui interficiam capillos? Et tamquam degradatur monachus. Et maior patera exsequi oportuit meum iussum.” (“Who in the name of God cut your hair? You look like a defrocked monk. He should’ve used a bigger bowl.”)

Friday, April 09, 2021

brian doyle | god again

Had a brief chat with God the other day. This was at the United States Post Office. God was manning the counter from one to five, as he does every blessed day. He actually says every blessed day and he means it. You never saw a more patient being. He never loses his cool and believe me he could. I would. I have been in line behind crazies at his window and heard vituperative abuse and vulgar character assassination and scurrilous insinuation and never once did I witness any flash of temper in response to this on his part. I have asked him how he could maintain his cool and he says things like I try to put myself in their position and Witnessing vented emotion is part of the job and All storms blow over and It's only frustration and There are so many much more serious things and We are all neighbors in the end. I am impressed by these sentiments, in large part because I share them consistently in theory but inconsistently in practice. God, however, does not waver nor does he fluctuate in his equanimity. He stands there quietly as people bang their fists on his counter and offer rude remarks and stomp away muttering darkly. He does not smile when someone gets upset. He says he has learned that some people get more upset if you wmile when they are upset. He listens to what they say and often, I notice, he makes a note on a pad as they leave. I make a note if I think they have a good point we should discuss with management, he says. Often what is couched as a complaint is actually a good point about how we could be of better service. He remembers pretty much every regular who comes to his window and he greets them politely by name. Sometimes he will inquire after children and animals. Dogs adore God and will sometimes rear up on his counter to see him better. He greets them politely by name surprisingly often. I would guess I know a hundred dogs by name, he says. Hardly any cats. People don't take their cats with them when they go to the Post Office. I make a joke about how cats are the children of Lucifer and he does not smile and I realize later that probably Lucifer is still a deeply sad and touchy subject for him. How would you feel if one of your best friends, one of your most trusted companions, tried to steal everything you had and were and did, and for this breathtaking betrayal he was cast shrieking into the darkness, no longer the Shining One, the Morning Star, but the very essence of squirming withered despair, until the end of time? Wouldn't you be haunted and sad about that ever after? I would. I felt bad and told God I was sorry about making a stupid joke. I said I made stupid jokes all the time even though I was now an older citizen and ought to have learned by now to not be so flippant. And God said, No worries, and Better a poor joke than something worse, and Do you want to use the book rate for your package, which will save you about five bucks? And I said yes, sir, and thank you, and walked out of the Post Office thinking that if we cannot see God in the vessels into which the electricity of astonishing life is poured by a profligate creation, vessels like this wonderfully and eternally gracious gentleman at the Post Office, then we are very bad at the religion we claim to practice, which says forthrightly that God is everywhere available, if only we remove the beam from our eyes, and bow in humility and gratitude for the miraculous, which falleth even as the light from the sun, which touches all beings, and is withheld from none. So it is that I have seen God at the United States Post Office, and spoken to him, and been edified and elevated by his grace, which slakes all those who thirst; which is each of us, which is all of us.


from "One Long River of Song"