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As the story goes, the author fainted when the publisher’s five-digit advance arrived in the mail. Of course, for most of us scribblers this never happens. But it is a sweet thought to think anyone could put such a value on our “work.”
I read an article in The New York Times this morning (15 June) by William Logan, a professor of English at the University of Florida, who was promoting the need for poetry in our lives.
Review of Playing By The Book by Chris Shirley. Magnus Books, Bronx, NY, 2014. 305 pages.
If you are willing to love your lgbtq neighbor as you love yourself, Playing By The Book will assist you, not so much with argument as with passion. The novel immerses the reader into the passions of Jake Powell during the summer between his junior and senior year in high school in Tarsus, Alabama.
educator's lament: part 3
“You have to be confused before you can reach a new level of understanding anything.” — D. Herschbach (Harvard University chemist and Nobel laureate)
In the summer of 2007, I attended “Boot Camp for Profs” in Leadville, Colorado. For an entire week, a maverick team of educators from multiple disciplines — geology, chemistry, education, biology, and psychology among others — bombarded 30 college and university professors with the theory and practice of learning.
who wrote that?
I’m convinced that songwriters are the Rodney Dangerfields of popular music. Name any popular hit song of the last 50 years and ask your friends who wrote it. The most likely response will be, “Duh?” Like Dangerfield, the late king of one-liners (“I went to the fights and a hockey game broke out”), songwriters get no respect.
Why? Beats me. People just seem to pay no attention to who wrote something, no matter what it is.
educator's lament: part 2
“Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.” — Wm. Butler Yeats
In the previous two posts — In Defense of Light and Magic and An Educator’s Lament: Part I — I argued that education is 1) the guardian of liberty, 2) the cornerstone of democracy, and 3) under siege in America. Today, we’ll delve into why. The primary culprits include neglect, austerity, anti-intellectual/anti-science attitudes, good intentions gone awry, and malevolence aforethought.
states have choice
The politics surrounding climate change is getting warmer.
President Obama has caused quite a ripple in this arena with his proposals to cut carbon emissions by 20 percent. He has taken a back door step to remove this issue from the do-nothing Congress, and exercised his executive power under the Clean Air Act to move toward fewer carbon emissions.
“The lost and wondrous wreckage of America. The ceaseless road to nowhere. Yeah, that’s my home.”
That’s how John Mulhouse introduces visitors to his blog, City Of Dust. His blog (A term I can never bring myself to like) documents in words and photographs places abandoned, crumbling, stuck in the middle of nowhere, and to be blunt places few people have the intellect to appreciate. His work resonated with me as it is much like what Robert Clark and I do.
in the day
Every odyssey has to begin someplace, and in this case it was Washington D.C. on June 16, 1967 at a special hearing of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Manpower, Employment and Poverty, the most prominent members of which were its chairman, Sen. Joseph S. Clark, and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.
I ‘d read a New York Times news story that this committee would be hearing from a team of doctors who had traveled though parts of Appalachia, Georgia, Alabama and, most notably, Mississippi, and returned to report on conditions in the South amounting to actual starvation.
Like an amoeba, Rayonier is splitting, but not in the interest of promoting organic existence. Rather, the real transformative and productive endeavors, which informed the operations of the original corporation to convert trees into paper and other useful products, is being left behind, as the new moniker, Rayonier Advanced Materials, Inc., is clearly designed to disguise, in the interest of promoting speculation in Real Estate development. I suppose we could say it’s a matter of separating the doers from the seers.
scary 1950s stuff
Scary Stuff From the 1950s: I’ll take adventure in the wilderness over television shows any day. One great disappointment today is how little there is to watch on TV despite there being more channels than ever. Was just the opposite when I was a child of the 1950s. We had few channels but plenty good shows to watch and some shows scared us pretty good. Horror shows and science fiction series gave me a jolt. What kid of the 1950s doesn’t remember quicksand.
the idea of memory
I want to tell you about Floyd, but I think I might be able to best do it by first contrasting him with Walt Whitman and then by comparing him with Jim Corder, a university scholar who gave us a new appreciation in the 1980s and 1990s of language and the power of rhetoric.
In one of his own anonymous reviews of Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman described himself as “one of the roughs” with a “face not refined or intellectual, but calm and wholesome — a face of an unaffected animal — a face that absorbs the sunshine and meets savage or gentleman on equal terms.”
The theater long ago was laid waste by the gods of big entertainment. Now, when we think of acting, we think Hollywood, celebrities, an HBO series. When we think of the stage, it’s Broadway musicals, or if “serious” theater, it’s usually the work of famous dead playwrights being produced for the umpteenth time for high-priced tickets that put you in the upper seats.
Kerri Koczen and Danielle Roos had another idea.
You don’t want to mess with Ginger at Georgia Gwinnett College. She’s well known to students, a bright and affable female chocolate Labrador three year old dog, and an integral part of the Department of Public Safety at the college, the only substance sniffing K-9 staff member.
Ginger is hard working, and has chalked up an impressive list of accomplishments in the more than two years she’s been at the college. She has assisted in several dozen arrests for substances the students should not have at the college: marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine…
educator's lament: part 1
“A popular Government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy, or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power that knowledge gives.” – James Madison
Education is the cornerstone of democracy. The writings of both Madison and Jefferson are chock full of admonitions that only a generally enlightened public can hold at bay the forces of tyranny.
I walk my pit bull ‘Dro (short for Pedro), on or near the beach nearly every morning. We usually access the beach at an inn whose parking lot, full these days, is to me something of an amusement park, what with all the bumper/window stickers and out-of-state license plates to be seen there: New York, Tennessee, Maryland, Ontario, Virginia, Texas, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina.
One Maryland license plate was especially evocative; it said simply RIPTREV. Love to know the story behind that one.
perfume of memory
This morning as I read Linda Pastan’s poem The Months in The Writer’s Almanac, I was once again reminded to live in the moment, not to think too much about upcoming calendars or events planned days, weeks, or months from now. She begins her thoughts with an allusion to the German Romantic-era poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s haunting poem Der Erlkönig or The Elf King, an image of Death pursuing a child held by his father as they both race forward on horseback. When I first read the poem eons ago in a second-year German class…
sunday, june 1
A cable and online network called Pivot will be televising a condensed, impressionistic version of the May 19 Peabody Awards ceremony on Sunday, June 1, at 9 p.m. Less almost certainly will be more.
The Peabodys, based at UGA’s Grady journalism school, have been on TV before, broadcast by PBS and A&E respectively, most recently in 2003. But in those instances, what viewers saw on their home screens was the full event, a parade of previously announced winners making acceptance speeches.
pluff mud slinging
If it’s hard, their solution is to just not do it. Maybe it’s only Republicans in Georgia that react that way. Jack Kingston, who’s now seeking a seat in the United States Senate, the gentleman’s club, complained bitterly when the Democractic Speaker of the House decreed that that body would be in session five days a week. More recently, Kingston has been joined by Judson Turner, the Director of the state’s Environmental Protection Division, who determined that protecting the marshes from pollution and sediment intrusion was just too hard and just wrote the whole thing off.
In the past several decades, a major force has entered the American political arena under an explicitly Christian banner. I’m talking about the Christian Right, which has aligned itself with the Republican Party. Has this alliance advanced the values that Jesus taught?
Jesus advocated for the poor and the outcast, and castigated mostly the privileged and the mighty. Today’s vociferous Christian political force supports the party that cuts programs to feed the hungry and to lift up the downtrodden, while protecting the interests of the fabulously wealthy.
life in the wild
The awful thud against the window in the sunroom made Jody jump up and rush outside where she found the small Downy Woodpecker on the deck. As she has done previously, she picked him up gently and held him in her warm hands as he shivered from the collision. At first we didn’t think he was going to make it, but he was able to move his head which told us our little dive bomber had not broken his neck. Living amidst the wooded hills of far eastern West Virginia with the Shenandoah Valley just over the ridge line of the Great North Mountain, we are daily observers of life in the wild.
Following an engineering degree and a stint in the Air Force, I taught high-school mathematics for three years, before eventually becoming a university mathematics professor. Why the change of direction, and why math? Nearly four decades after that sudden tack, a young woman came to my office requesting a letter of recommendation and answered these questions better than I could have. “Why do you want to teach math?” I asked…
off season football
I haven’t exactly been an avid watcher of Super Bowls. But I did make it through some of this year’s, and thought I saw clearly one phase of football giving way to another. Maybe Denver just had a bad game, but those two teams play five times, I don’t like Denver’s chances in any of the five. Peyton Manning, in the right landscape, was a great quarterback. He hasn’t changed, but the landscape has: some new element has come into the game. The athleticism — the pace and nature of the game — have jumped to a higher level, college and pro. Football evolves like everything else.
Fact: Sherman’s middle name came from the Shawnee war chief Tecumseh.
Fun Fact: Initially, Sherman’s mother named him after the Ottawa war chief Pontiac, but then realized it made her son sound too much like an automobile.
Fact: Sherman was mentally ill shortly before the Civil War.
Fun Fact: Sherman was depressed because he didn’t know what to do with his life. The firing on Fort Sumter fixed all that.
computer blues - part II
Just like my neighbor Carlos’ ferocious, man-eating cocker spaniel — or my Sixth Grade nun — Internet password strength checkers can smell fear on a man: Gotta’ get by me first punk, before you can do anything,” each one of them barks. But again, I’m getting ahead of myself…
“What do you want first, the good news or the bad news?” The statement is made by the head of the Credit Card Fraud Department of my current bank and former longtime employer. His cramped office is located in the bowels of the bank headquarters building in midtown Atlanta…
see the evil
In today’s Washington Post, there’s an excellent op/ed about a threat to the integrity of our nation’s judicial system. That is, the piece is excellent but for one glaring omission.
Entitled “Keep politics out of the courthouse,” it is written by retired Chief Justices of two of our states’ Supreme Courts, Ruth McGregor of Arizona and Robert D. Orr of Indiana. McGregor and Orr give three examples of how altogether inappropriate kinds of political pressure have lately been brought to bear upon our “independent” judiciary.
My son has gone to England on an extended business trip. His two sons in Virginia keep in touch with him most days by Skype. Jake (8) has a tablet and Connor (11) an iPad. Jake has a 6th grade reading age. His brother Connor is similarly advanced. When we talk we never dumb down vocabulary, although I sometimes check their understanding.
When his father was three, I was reading a book about Paddington Bear to him, his twin and his four year old brother. “ ‘And Paddington’s hat blew off and fell into the river. Paddington was upset because it was a family heirloom.’ Do you know what an heirloom is?” I asked, knowing they didn’t.
stay open, forever
When I recently stumbled onto a scene complete with cap and gown at James Madison University with students practicing for their upcoming graduation ceremony, I thought them all so young and unprepared for the world they will now become more a part of. Despite my inner congratulation to them, I was also reminded of a story from Isaac Bashevis Singer about how the Jews in the Polish shtetls he wrote of rarely admitted good fortune. And if they did, they would quickly add “kinahora”–let the evil eye not see.
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
“All of us failed to match our dreams of perfection. So I rate us on the basis of our splendid failure to do the impossible.”-- William Faulkner It’s been quite a spate of birthdays for famous writers this latter part of September, the beginning of autumn when we slowly let go of whatever is left of our ties with summer. The daily Writer’s Almanac column always provides for interesting bits and pieces of the lives of writers, but this week seems to have been special. From the somber words of Faulkner (born in late September, 1897) to the giddy fun of Shel Si Read on →
Author's Note: Fall is here as are a slew of remastered and reissued CDs, some in expanded editions. On September 23, "The Apple Years" by George Harrison, a box set containing 6 CDs and 1 DVD hit the stores. Harrison's old buddy, Bob Dylan, will have Volume 11 of his "Bootleg Series," "The Basement Tapes Complete," released on November 4, the same day remastered and expanded editions of Paul McCartney's "Venus and Mars" and "Wings at the Speed of Sound" are made available. We expect great revelations on the Dylan package, but from McCartney, probably not. Still, reassessing even the Read on →
It’s fair to say that the South and Scotland go back a ways. For example, the cult of the “Lost Cause” that sprang up in the aftermath of the South’s failed fight for independence had something of an antecedent in the fabled “lost cause” of the Scottish Jacobites whose four-decade struggle to restore to the Stuart monarchy of Scotland to its rightful seat on the thrones of England, Scotland, and Ireland was heartily romanticized in the novels of Sir Walter Scott. Scott’s glorification of the swashbuckling supporters of the Stuart restoration was so popular with the southern upper classes in the antebellu Read on →
Summary: President Obama should have made it a top priority to help the American people see what the Republican Party has become. That would lead the people to take away that Party's power. Unfortunately, Barack Obama seems ill-equipped by temperament and character to fight that battle. With your help, I can deliver a message that can focus our national conversation on the destructive force that has taken over the Republican Party. *** If Barack Obama had become president at a time of normal politics, with a normal opposition party, there's no telling how much he could have accomplished. On many issues, President Read on →