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increasingly cynical prism
At this time in my life I am beginning to view so much of what is happening around me through an increasingly cynical prism. As a friend is quick to point out, though, that behind every committed cynic there is a disappointed idealist wondering what happened to a world that once seemed so good and full of possibilities.
I blame Shakespeare for part of my mental dyspepsia. It all began back in university when a supercilious professor dressed down a fellow student for misspelling the bard’s name. Now after reading Bill Bryson’s book Shakespeare: The World As Stage …
For today, a different perspective, learning from history. Reading Winston Churchill’s massive six-book history of World War II gives new insights into that war, at least for me. For instance, it appears that my main interest was the fight against the Germans, by the English, Russian, French and Allied forces. Perhaps others had more interest in the war in the Pacific Theatre. Even I, as one alive during World War II, remember the massive fighting emanating out of the Philippines, in the Coral Sea area, Okinawa and Iwo Jima,…
In his poem The Cabbages of Chekhov, Robert Bly had me again when he wrote that,
“William Blake knew that fierce old man,
irritable, chained, and majestic, who bends over
to measure with his calipers the ruins of the world.”
Despite such a fierce image in his poem, Bly has that way about him where he can rescue you in the end from all the bad news that comes tracked in on the dog’s paws.
long in the tooth
“Blah, blah, blah…, sir.” All I really hear is the “sir.” It’s the cashier at a sparkling new CVS who first catches my ear. ‘Course, she’s wearing glasses. Maybe the lenses are fogged over and her vision’s obscured, I wonder. She’s mistaken me for someone older. “Honest mistake…could happen to anybody,” I mumble under my breath.
not a spectator sport
That’s how the attendees at the Glynn County Democrats’ Annual Dinner want everyone to think about our state. Georgia is a democratic state. Republican rule is just a blip, the result of Democrats being too generous and thinking the other side ought to have a chance to win.
That, in a nutshell, was the message from the five candidates and two surrogates who showed up for the Glynn County Democrats’ Fish Fry last evening. They obviously weren’t expecting 240 people and the catering service took some time catching up. But they did and everyone was satisfied. There wasn’t room for the key lime pie, anyway.
Someone showed me a picture and I just laughed
Dignity never been photographed
Or so Bob Dylan says in “Dignity,” a song he wrote in 1988 after learning of the death of basketball great Pete Maravich. Dylan has a point. Dignity isn’t an item or commodity that can be replicated and mass-produced. It’s a quality of fortitude and bearing, guiding one on how to respond whether the news is good or bad. The one possessed with dignity feels for others and thinks carefully on the consequences of his actions. Sometimes a dignified action doesn’t pay off materially. It can also be misunderstood.
the southern life
My husband is from Western North Carolina. That part of the state is kind of like one of those remote places along the Amazon where the natives live in isolation from the modern world and have their own customs and language. I am positive that it is the only place in the world where the word “They” is an exclamation of surprise or disbelief. Rather like the all too common “Fuck” is used today, “They” can be tailored to a custom response. Said very slowly, while shaking the head, “TTHHEEEEEYY”, means agreement. Tacking Lord on the end signifies extreme amazement, “They Lord!”
August 13th is National Left-handers’ Day. I will celebrate quietly. I’m not sure about my sister; she is also a southpaw. That means our parents created two left-handed children, well above the national average of 10 to 13 percent. If you believe human traits are the result of parenting and choices from our youth, my parents did something radical to create this high percentage of southpaw children, something I wasn’t aware of. If you accept science, and think we are preprogrammed with certain traits then it was a matter of chance.
make love stay
I read recently that the woman was so hateful that you could light a cigarette from her glare. There was just some deep hurt or plain orneriness about her that made her a Fukushima Daiichi that refused to cool off. When looking at the tabloid in the supermarket rack, I noticed that her mop of big hair needed some untangling and definitely a good scrub. She sat there showing a tattoo on her fleshy forearm bearing witness to whatever meaning was hidden beneath her skin’s impression of a tractor trailer. And she sure looked pissed.
better angels of both parties
“Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here.” — Apollo 13 astronaut Jack Swigert
When was NASA’s finest hour? Most would say, “The Apollo moon landing.” As a bit of an insider, I have a different take. NASA’s finest hour, hands down, was the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission. Two and one-third days into the nominal nine-day voyage, a ruptured oxygen tank left the spacecraft crippled, the mission in shambles, and the lives of three astronauts in jeopardy. Mission controllers, engineers, technicians and astronauts worked around the clock to stabilize a dire situation and work the impossible, bringing Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise home alive.
The apple was no ordinary apple. It was a Red Delicious and it had been cut in two and shared with her some fifty years ago. The man who cut it was her grandpa and he was confined to a wheelchair soon to die of multiple sclerosis. She and he were alone in the house and he rolled his wheelchair up to the refrigerator, managed to get an apple out, and then expertly used his pocket knife to cut it in two and then scoop out the seeds, coring it before sharing it with her. Back in those days on the farm no one had store-bought apples and certainly no one peeled, cored or cut the crabapples that the kids would pick directly from the tree, wipe on their jeans and eat on their way to the field to herd the cows into the barn for milking.
looking for light
When retrospective gaze spies sense in hitherto presumed nonsense of blind alley
Do we not at times, looking back on periods in our life when we felt lost and confused, recognize sense emerging from nonsense, meaning emerging from what had felt meaningless? Think back to the weeks, months, maybe even years when it felt we were wandering, squandering, floundering.
unfit to eat or drink
Too little too late? Georgia is one of those states where there is much bruiting about “local control” and how the people who live there know better what’s good for them. This editorial from the Brunswick News lays it out nicely: “In this country there are laws against stealing land, but that doesn’t stop the federal government and its oversized bureaucracies from doing it. They accomplish such thievery simply by changing the rules whenever they get a hankering to do so.”
in the name of balance
I have claimed that America now faces one of the most profound crises in its history, but unlike with the other major crises, this time our national conversation has not focused on discussing what’s gone wrong and how it might be set right. If I’m right, what does that say about the performance of the press? Our founders instituted special protections for the press not because they had a love for journalists, but because they recognized that a free press is necessary for the maintenance of a free society.
“I just opened up the Sunday morning paper to the Religion page and was stunned that my little county, including the county seat, had eighty-four different Baptist churches! Why so many and what kind of folk could harbor such nuanced differences in a particular denomination that they could be spurred at any perceived slight to go out and found another church to match their theological shoe size perfectly?”
So began Lady X, one of the nine of us seated around a large table at a recent writers’ symposium. The topic was the “fine art” of cobbling together your far-fetched yarns into comprehensible tales that have a point and won’t lose your reader.
united we stand
At first blush, the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street appear as bookends: opposing grass-roots movements on the political right and left, respectively. At second blush, the Tea Party seems the more successful. In the 2010 mid-term elections, one-third of Tea Party-backed candidates won, reclaiming the House for Republicans. And an unknown Tea Party libertarian just defeated House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia’s GOP primary. Occupy’s one obvious success is searing the 99 percent meme into the national consciousness. But a look under the hood of each is instructive.
u.s. media coverage
Listen to those defending Israeli violence against the Palestinians in Gaza and what you hear is denial. They cannot deny the facts and instead deny their emotional and moral significance. They agree that the Israeli military is bombarding Gaza and that thirteen hundred have been killed as a consequence. Rather than admit that the bombardment constitutes a humanitarian disaster and heinous war crime, however, they leap to the rhetorical devices of blaming the victim and condemning the condemner.
There’s a simple reason why small turnouts at elections bother me. Simply put: Low turnouts run the risk of having a small pinch of the electorate choosing our public officials. With a small number of people voting, splinter and fringe groups can dominate the election. This can produce elected officials representing these way-out views, often not in step with the main-line, middle-of-the-road process it takes to let our government function best. It doesn’t matter is the electorate if one third right, one-third left, and one-third in the middle or independent.
an emotional landfill
Of my many faults, one of the most significant is a chronic inability to listen. Oh, I can and do listen in conversation long enough to respond, if not intelligently, at least in a way that demonstrates to both parties to the discussion that I am paying attention and offering argument or agreement that is, more or less, relevant. But, when it really isn’t a conversation, when someone is venting or lamenting or just delivering of herself a good old fashioned bitchin’, I am a terrible listener and always have been.
I, invariably, try to solve the problem. I do this knowing it is the wrong thing, even the insulting thing, to do.
oh, shit moments
“I remember the City Park Prophet once said everything that isn’t darkness or death is a vision. I remember he said we are all God’s hallucinations.”
As I read further into Anthony Marra’s A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, ostensibly about the second Chechnya war set in 2004, I begin to wonder how much people think about god and the afterlife when all the minutes of their each and every day are focused exclusively just on keeping one step ahead of any number of thugs who want to plant them in some garbage pit.
blither v. dither
There is a gathering storm of American voter unrest from citizens tired of having to chose between the party of blither, Republicans, and the party of dither, Democrats. The former jabber endlessly, making no sense, spouting nonsense and being outraged when sensible people point out these failings. On the other hand, the ditherers believe they have a winning strategy in simply not being the other guy. Who can blame them? President Obama was awarded what had previously been the most prestigious prize on the planet, the Nobel Peace Prize, for the achievement of not being George W. Bush.
Who knew? We’ve got some snotty residents on St. Simons Island who collect their mail at the Sea Island Post Office so they can pretend they live where they don’t. Now they’ve been discombobulated by the armed guards at the gates and collecting their mail has proved an inconvenience. Not to worry. The Sea Island Acquisitions people will just move the P. O. out of their exclusive enclave and give it a new home on St. Simons while they continue to pretend that the Sea Island Road is as exclusive as that cesspool on the dunes known as Sea Island.
you'll think you're in africa
July 24, Thursday afternoon, 3:30. The July sun bears down with no mercy. The humidity’s high and the terrain rough and remote. To the northwest a cloudbank promises relief but relief never comes. We drive on in no need of windshield wipers.
Robert Clark and I are miles from city life headed deep into the Francis Marion National Forest. To reach our destination, we turn off US Highway 17 onto State Highway 45. We drive for miles looking for Halfway Creek Road.
life in their shoes
By now, most of us know that 28 July 1914 marks the formal beginning of WWI when the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia. Within a few days, most of the other nations of Europe had decided to unleash their own dogs of war in a complicated array of alliances that obliged them to come to the aid of their pals and fellow monarchs. Perhaps toward the end of the carnage a few years later, the phrase “How’s that working out for you?” was coined.
On Tuesday, July 22, Glenn Beck spoke from some 700 movie screens to Americans who paid admission to hear him attack the “Common Core.” The “Common Core” consists of standards, offered to the states, defining the knowledge and skills that American school-children should learn at each stage of their education. Beck’s move here reminded me of “The Music Man,” the con man in the musical of that name who comes to an Iowa town to fleece the good people there. What Beck and the con artist in “The Music Man” have in common is that to accomplish their own hidden aims they tap into the anxieties that parents have regarding their children.
grass is always greener
You get a hint of the problem. Of course, the article I’m referencing was published way back in 2001. But, the mindset is telling. The author, who was employed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, dismisses one kind of grass as a bank stabilizer because: “Fescue tends to clump in our climate and wither in droughts. It fades in hot, dry weather, which lets weeds, brush and other noxious vegetation grow. Fescue is simply not a turf type grass.”
t-party vs. country club republicans
More than a century ago the “forgotten man” of Mississippi and across the South — the farmer, the common worker — decided he’d had enough of “Wall Street speculators who gambled on his crop futures; the railroad owners who evaded his taxes, bought legislatures, and over-charged him with discriminate rates; the manufacturers, who taxed him with a high tariff; the trusts that fleeced him with high prices; the middleman, who stole his profit.”
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
In his poem The Cabbages of Chekhov, Robert Bly had me again when he wrote that, “William Blake knew that fierce old man, irritable, chained, and majestic, who bends over to measure with his calipers the ruins of the world.” Despite such a fierce image in his poem, Bly has that way about him where he can rescue you in the end from all the bad news that comes tracked in on the dog’s paws. With Bly on my mind, I wasn’t all that surprised that something magical was about to happen this past weekend. On the wings of Bly, a sweet little guy with a funny Read on →
For today, a different perspective, learning from history. Reading Winston Churchill's massive six-book history of World War II gives new insights into that war, at least for me. For instance, it appears that my main interest was the fight against the Germans, by the English, Russian, French and Allied forces. Perhaps others had more interest in the war in the Pacific Theatre. Even I, as one alive during World War II, remember the massive fighting emanating out of the Philippines, in the Coral Sea area, Okinawa and Iwo Jima, other areas, and finally, the dropping of the Atomic Bomb on two Japanese Read on →
"Blah, blah, blah..., sir." All I really hear is the "sir." It's the cashier at the sparkling new CVS who first catches my ear. "'Course, she's wearing glasses. Maybe the lenses are fogged over and her vision's obscured," I consider. She's mistaken me for someone older. "Honest mistake...could happen to anybody," I mumble under my breath. Several days later, a new check-out person at Roger's Fine Food and Spirits gives me the quick once-over and instantly coughs up the 5% Senior discount. Doesn't even ask me if I'm a senior. Bernice, the regular cashier, always asks. I bet this newbie is giving 5% t Read on →
August 13th is National Left-handers’ Day. I will celebrate quietly. I’m not sure about my sister; she is also a southpaw. That means our parents created two left-handed children, well above the national average of 10 to 13 percent. If you believe human traits are the result of parenting and choices from our youth, my parents did something radical to create this high percentage of southpaw children, something I wasn’t aware of. If you accept science, and think we are preprogrammed with certain traits then it was a matter of chance. Being left-handed used to be a tough way to live. Every relig Read on →