Tuesday, July 31, 2012

2012 Job Exchange

Yesterday I read an article where a U.S. Representative from California, Kevin McCarthy, advocated an idea of mine.  Of course he didn't credit me -- he thought of it himself... -- He said Candidate Mitt Romney should live, during the campaign, more like a regular person -- instead of staying in upscale hotels, he should stay overnight at local Republicans' houses (hmmmh -- is Mitt allergic to cats?; does he have problem with Fleetwood Mac playing on stereo past 11pm?...WELL past 11...??...he may have to take his knapsack over to the neighbors'...)...

Rep. McCarthy also suggested the candidate should take out the garbage, and if the bag breaks, he should clean it up.

It was in the New Yorker, I think.
The concept was similar to the idea I had last fall which was, all members of Congress should take their turn working at a regular person's job, for two months at a time to give the experience some realism...and during the two months the Congressman would work as a janitor, or whatever, and earn the same salary & benefits as the janitor, & meanwhile the janitor would occupy the congressman's chair in the House, and earn THAT salary-and-benefits.  The purpose of these exchanges would be to achieve greater understanding on the part of voters and lawmakers.

Like where they have exchange students, between countries.
And -- my dad went to Germany in 1971 with a "band" of ministers, while West Germany sent group of theirs to U.S....

If students and ministers can be exchanged, there would be no reason not to exchange members of Congress with working members of the public.  For the purpose of General Education and Increased Understanding.

When I outlined the idea to a retired state legislator he became rather ruffled and claimed that such a move might provoke a "constitutional revolution."

[puzzled frown]
A constitutional revolution.
Over -- taking out -- garbage.

It's like -- what you hear some people comment about others -- "They just don't WANT-TO-work!!!!!!!"

Is it possible that some of our elected officials "just don't want-to-work" ?

...anyway, was somewhat gratified to read an idea containing same principle as mine, coming from a congressman.

Probably lots of people have some version of this idea....


Monday, July 30, 2012

and with these words

[excerpt, Winnie-The-Pooh, the chapter entitled "IN WHICH PIGLET IS ENTIRELY SURROUNDED BY WATER"]-----------------

When the rain began Pooh was asleep. It rained, and it rained, and it rained, and he slept and he slept and he slept. He had had a tiring day. You remember how he discovered the North Pole; well, he was so proud of this that he asked Christopher Robin if there were any other Poles such as a Bear of Little Brain might discover.

"There's a South Pole," said Christopher Robin, "and I expect there's an East Pole and a West Pole, though people don't like talking about them." Pooh was very excited when he heard this…

...he was so tired when he got home that, in the very middle of his supper, after he had been eating for little more than half-an-hour, he fell fast asleep in his chair, and slept and slept and slept.

Then suddenly he was dreaming. He was at the East Pole, and it was a very cold pole with the coldest sort of snow and ice all over it. ... until suddenly he woke up with an Ow!--and there he was, sitting in his chair with his feet in the water, and water all round him!

He splashed to his door and looked out....

"This is Serious," said Pooh. "I must have an Escape."

So he took his largest pot of honey and escaped with it to a broad branch of his tree, well above the water, and then he climbed down again and escaped with another pot . . . and when the whole Escape was finished, there was Pooh sitting on his branch dangling his legs, and there, beside him, were ten pots of honey....

Two days later, there was Pooh, sitting on his branch, dangling his legs, and there, beside him, were four pots of honey....

Three days later, there was Pooh, sitting on his branch, dangling his legs, and there beside him, was one pot of honey.

Four days later, there was Pooh . . .

And it was on the morning of the fourth day that Piglet's bottle came floating past him, and with one loud cry of "Honey!" Pooh plunged into the water, seized the bottle, and struggled back to his tree again.

"Bother!" said Pooh, as he opened it. "All that wet for nothing. What's that bit of paper doing?"

He took it out and looked at it.

"It's a Missage," he said to himself, "that's what it is. And that letter is a 'P,' and so is that, and so is that, and 'P' means 'Pooh,' so it's a very important Missage to me, and I can't read it. I must find Christopher Robin or Owl or Piglet, one of those Clever Readers who can read things, and they will tell me what this missage means. Only I can't swim. Bother!"

Then he had an idea, and I think that for a Bear of Very Little Brain, it was a good idea. He said to himself:

"If a bottle can float, then a jar can float, and if a jar floats, I can sit on the top of it, if it's a very big jar."

So he took his biggest jar, and corked it up.

"All boats have to have a name," he said, "so I shall call mine The Floating Bear." And with these words he dropped his boat into the water and jumped in after it.

For a little while Pooh and The Floating Bear were uncertain as to which of them was meant to be on the top, but after trying one or two different positions, they settled down with The Floating Bear underneath and Pooh triumphantly astride it, paddling vigorously with his feet.

[and Christopher Robin says to Owl]:
"Then would you fly to him at once and say that Rescue is Coming? And Pooh and I will think of a Rescue and come as quick as ever we can. Oh, don't talk, Owl, go on quick!" And, still thinking of something to say, Owl flew off.

"Now then, Pooh," said Christopher Robin, "where's your boat?"

"I ought to say," explained Pooh as they walked down to the shore of the island, "that it isn't just an ordinary sort of boat. Sometimes it's a Boat, and sometimes it's more of an Accident. It all depends."

"Depends on what?"

"On whether I'm on top of it or underneath it."

"Oh! Well, where is it?"

"There!" said Pooh, pointing proudly to The Floating Bear.

It wasn't what Christopher Robin expected, and the more he looked at it, the more he thought what a Brave and Clever Bear Pooh was, and the more Christopher Robin thought this, the more Pooh looked modestly down his nose and tried to pretend he wasn't. ---------------------------- [end excerpt]

{Winnie-the-Pooh.  By A.A. Milne.
Copyright, 1926.  Methuen & Co., Ltd., London.}

Whenever I don't feel well, I think of Winnie-the-Pooh stories being read aloud to me:  seems a cure-all.  (And to any skeptics in world who might say listening to Winnie the Pooh stories would not make them feel any better, I'd challenge them, Have you tried it?)

In the above passage there are two places where it's like a dawning awareness of "Oh-ooh-oh...!" in the positive sense.  When Pooh gets the idea, to cut through the difficulties presented to him by the flood and continuing rain:

"If a bottle can float, then a jar can float, and if a jar floats, I can sit on the top of it, if it's a very big jar."

So he took his biggest jar, and corked it up.

"All boats have to have a name," he said, "so I shall call mine The Floating Bear." And with these words he dropped his boat into the water and jumped in after it.
He gets the idea, while viewing the problem, and then puts the idea into Action.
------------------- And then at the end:

It wasn't what Christopher Robin expected, and the more he looked at it, the more he thought what a Brave and Clever Bear Pooh was...

There's a rhythm and balance to A.A. Milne's stories that's kind of unique, like a song that you haven't heard before, yet it seems familiar anyway....


Thursday, July 26, 2012

ok, three guys go into a bar...

Some of the people I work with disbelieve me when I tell them that laughter helps people stay healthy, or recover from illness.

Maybe they'll believe the internet.

On the internet it says,

"While it is common knowledge that laughter can serve to raise spirits and relieve stress, there is scientific evidence that laughter may also be able to aid in the curing of diseases. The notion that laughing has healing powers is not a new concept. Dating to at least ancient Greece, hospitals were built next to amphitheatres to help "cure" the patients.  Do we laugh because we're happy and healthy, or are we happy and healthy because we laugh?"

And in the online "encyclopedia" if you look up Norman Cousins, someone my dad used to quote a lot, you can read:
Told that he had little chance of surviving [a diagnosed illness], Cousins developed a recovery program incorporating megadoses of Vitamin C, along with a positive attitude, love, faith, hope, and laughter induced by Marx Brothers films.

(Ahh -- this safari is quite an adventure!  Yesterday I shot an elephant in my pajamas.  How he got into my pajamas is hard to say....)

"I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep," he reported. "When the pain-killing effect of the laughter wore off, we would switch on the motion picture projector again and not infrequently, it would lead to another pain-free interval."

Someone wrote in The New Yorker in recent years that part of the problem in the U.S. Senate is that they've lost any sense of humor (even with Al Franken in there!)...


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

do you see?

Why do I like The Great Gatsby?  Same reasons millions of other people have, I suppose.  Same reasons Hollywood movie studios keep on trying, with uneven success, to put it in film version.  (Leonardo Dicaprio?  ...I don't know....)

And I sort of grew up hearing the name F. Scott Fitzgerald.  (Thought it was a guy named "Escott" Fitzgerald until someone cleared that up.)

There's a writer named A. Scott Berg.  He wrote a biography of Maxwell Perkins, the editor who worked with Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe, and other giants of that era in the fiction business.  I think it was on the Perkins book's jacket that I read of Berg that he admired Fitzgerald's work & was applying to Fitzgerald's alma mater, Princeton, and in his application letter mentioned that he hoped he would be accepted and that even if he was not, he was going to come anyway.  : )

What other biographies has he written?
Besides Max Perkins --
Katharine Hepburn
Charles Lindbergh.

------------------------ [excerpt, Max Perkins:  Editor of Genius]:
Not long after Maxwell Perkins introduced F. Scott Fitzgerald to Van Wyck Brooks in the summer of 1920, Edmund Wilson, one of Fitzgerald's Princeton companions, wrote an imaginary conversation for the New Republic between Perkins's newest friend and his oldest, a meeting of two of the most celebrated literary minds of the day.  Wilson supposed Fitzgerald would acknowledge that Brooks was "the greatest writer on the subject [of American literature]" and then tell him:  "Of course, there were a lot of people writing before This Side of Paradise -- but the Younger Generation never really became self-conscious before then nor did the public at large become conscious of it.  I am the man, as they say in the ads, who made America Younger Generation-conscious." 

Brooks later remarks, "Scarcely had the first crop of young writers arrived and achieved, like you, some impressive success than a host of publishers, editors and journalists appeared ready to exploit and commercialize them -- with the result that there is now more demand for 'younger' writers than there are younger writers to supply it."

Scribners resisted the trend.  Old CS had no intention of converting his publishing house into a pulp factory, grinding out trashy fiction that failed to live up to his company's seventy-five-year reputation for responsible publishing.  Maxwell Perkins respected the company's standards but was inclined to take risks.  More actively than any of his colleagues, he scouted the work of new authors from all corners of the country.  In what seemed a personal crusade, he gradually replaced the hackneyed works in the Scribners catalog with new books he hoped might be more enduring. 

Beginning with Fitzgerald and continuing with each new writer he took on, he slowly altered the traditional notion of the editor's role.  He sought out authors who were not just "safe," conventional in style and bland in content, but who spoke in a new voice about the new values of the postwar world.  In this way, as an editor he did more than reflect the standards of his age; he consciously influenced and changed them by the new talents he published.
------------------------ [end excerpt]
{Max Perkins:  Editor of Genius, by A. Scott Berg.
Copyright, 1978.  Berkley Publishing Group,
New York, New York}

Books by F. Scott Fitzgerald:
This Side Of Paradise
The Beautiful And Damned
The Great Gatsby
Tender Is The Night
The Last Tycoon

---------------------------- [excerpt, The Great Gatsby] --
He did extraordinarily well in the war.  He was a captain before he went to the front....After the Armistice he tried frantically to get home but some complication or misunderstanding sent him to Oxford instead.  He was worried now -- there was a quality of nervous despair in Daisy's letters.  She didn't see why he couldn't come.  She was feeling the pressure of the world outside and she wanted to see him and feel his presence beside her and be reassured that she was doing the right thing after all.

For Daisy was young and her artificial world was redolent of orchids and pleasant, cheerful snobbery and orchestras which set the rhythm of the year, summing up the sadness and suggestiveness of life in new tunes.  All night the saxophones wailed the hopeless comment of the "Beale Street Blues" while a hundred pairs of golden and silver slippers shuffled the shining dust.  At the grey tea hour there were always rooms that throbbed incessantly with this low sweet fever, while fresh faces drifted here and there like rose petals blown by the sad horns around the floor.

Through this twilight universe Daisy began to move again with the season; suddenly she was again keeping half a dozen dates a day with half a dozen men and drowsing asleep at dawn with the beads and chiffon of an evening dress tangled among dying orchids on the floor beside her bed.  And all the time something within her was crying for a decision.  She wanted her life shaped now, immediately -- and the decision must be made by some force -- of love, of money, of unquestionable practicality -- that was close at hand.

That force took shape in the middle of spring with the arrival of Tom Buchanan.  There was a wholesome bulkiness about his person and his position and Daisy was flattered.  Doubtless there was a certain struggle and a certain relief.  The letter reached Gatsby while he was still at Oxford.


It was dawn now on Long Island and we went about opening the rest of the windows downstairs, filling the house with grey turning, gold turning light.  The shadow of a tree fell abruptly across the dew and ghostly birds began to sing among the blue leaves.  There was a slow pleasant movement in the air, scarcely a wind, promising a cool lovely day.

"I don't think she ever loved him."  Gatsby turned around from a window and looked at me challengingly.  "You must remember, old sport, she was very excited this afternoon.  He told her those things in a way that frightened her -- that made it look as if I was some kind of cheap sharper.  And the result was she hardly knew what she was saying."

He sat down gloomily.

"Of course she might have loved him, just for a minute, when they were first
married -- and loved me more even then, do you see?"

-------------------------- [end excerpt]
{The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Copyright, 1925.  Charles Scribner's Sons}


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

rumors and testimony

-------------- [excerpt, The Great Gatsby]----------  "Do you come to these parties often?" inquired Jordan of the girl beside her.

"The last one was the one I met you at," answered the girl in an alert, confident voice.  She turned to her companion:  "Wasn't it for you, Lucille?"
It was for Lucille too.
"I like to come," Lucille said.  "I never care what I do, so I always have a good time.  When I was here last I tore my gown on a chair, and he asked me my name and address -- inside of a week I got a package from Croirier's with a new evening gown in it."

"Did you keep it?' asked Jordan.
"Sure I did.  I was going to wear it tonight, but it was too big in the bust and had to be altered.  It was gas blue with lavender beads.  Two hundred and sixty-five dollars."

"There's something funny about a fellow that'll do a thing like that," said the other girl eagerly.  "He doesn't want any trouble with anybody."

"Who doesn't?" I inquired.
"Gatsby.  Somebody told me ---"
The two girls and Jordan leaned together confidentially.
"Somebody told me they thought he killed a man once."

A thrill passed over all of us.  The three Mr. Mumbles bent forward and listened eagerly.
"I don't think it's so much that," argued Lucille skeptically; "it's more that he was a German spy during the war."
One of the men nodded in confirmation.
"I heard that from a man who knew all about him, grew up with him in Germany," he assured us positively.

"Oh no," said the first girl, "it couldn't be that, because he was in the American army during the war."  As our credulity switched back to her she leaned forward with enthusiasm.  "You look at him sometime when he thinks nobody's looking at him.  I'll bet he killed a man."

She narrowed her eyes and shivered.  Lucille shivered.  We all turned and looked around for Gatsby.  It was testimony to the romantic speculation he inspired that there were whispers about him from those who had found little that it was necessary to whisper about in this world.

The first supper -- there would be another one after midnight -- was now being served and Jordan invited me to join her own party who were spread around a table on the other side of the garden.  There were three married couples and Jordan's escort, a persistent undergraduate given to violent innuendo and obviously under the impression that sooner or later Jordan was going to yield him up her person to a greater or lesser degree.  Instead of rambling this party had preserved a dignified homogeneity, and assumed to itself the function of representing the staid nobility of the countryside -- East Egg condescending to West Egg, and carefully on guard against its spectroscopic gayety.

"Let's get out," whispered Jordan, after a somehow wasteful and inappropriate half hour.  "This is much too polite for me."

We got up and she explained that we were going to find the host -- I had never met him, she said, and it was making me uneasy.  The undergraduate nodded in a cynical, melancholy way.

The bar, where we glanced first, was crowded but Gatsby was not there.  She couldn't find him from the top of the steps, and he wasn't on the veranda.  On a chance we tried an important-looking door, and walked into a high Gothic library, panelled with carved English oak, and probably transported complete from some ruin overseas.
--------------------- [end excerpt]

{The Great Gatsby.  F. Scott Fitzgerald.
1925.  Charles Scribner's Sons.}

..."He doesn't want any trouble with anybody."

"He was a German spy during the war."
"He was in the American army during the war."
"You look at him sometime when he thinks nobody's looking at him. I'll bet he killed a man."

It was testimony to the romantic speculation he inspired that there were whispers about him from those who had found little that it was necessary to whisper about in this world.


Monday, July 23, 2012

let me tell you, let me show you

---------------------- [excerpt, The Great Gatsby]------------- "I'd like to do more work on Long Island if I could get the entry.  All I ask is that they should give me a start."

"Ask Myrtle," said Tom breaking into a short shout of laughter as Mrs. Wilson entered with a tray.  "She'll give you a letter of introduction, won't you, Myrtle?"

"Do what?" she asked startled.

"You'll give McKee a letter of introduction to your husband, so he can do some studies of him."  His lips moved silently for a moment as he invented.  "'George B. Wilson at the Gasoline Pump,' or something like that."

Catherine leaned close to me and whispered in my ear:

"Neither of them can stand the person they're married to."

"Can't they?"

"Can't stand them."  She looked at Myrtle and then at Tom.  "What I say is, why go on living with them if they can't stand them?  If I was them I'd get a divorce and get married to each other right away."

"Doesn't she like Wilson either?"

The answer to this was unexpected.  It came from Myrtle who had overheard the question and it was violent and obscene.

"You see?" cried Catherine triumphantly.  She lowered her voice again.  "It's really his wife that's keeping them apart.  She's a Catholic and they don't believe in divorce."

Daisy was not a Catholic and I was a little shocked at the elaborateness of the lie.

"When they do get married," continued Catherine, "they're going west to live for a while until it blows over."
"It'd be more discreet to go to Europe."
"Oh, do you like Europe?" she exclaimed surprisingly.  "I just got back from Monte Carlo."
"Just last year.  I went over there with another girl."
"Stay long?"
"No, we just went to Monte Carlo and back.  We went by way of Marseilles.  We had over twelve hundred dollars when we started but we got gypped out of it all in two days in the private rooms.  We had an awful time getting back, I can tell you.  God, how I hated that town!"

The late afternoon sky bloomed in the window for a moment like the blue honey of the Mediterranean -- then the shrill voice of Mrs. McKee called me back into the room....

The bottle of whiskey -- a second one -- was now in constant demand by all present....Tom rang for the janitor and sent him for some celebrated sandwiches which were a complete supper in themselves.  I wanted to get out and walk eastward toward the park through the soft twilight but each time I tried to go I became entangled in some wild strident argument which pulled me back, as if with ropes, into my chair.  Yet high over the city our line of yellow windows must have contributed their share of human secrecy to the casual watcher in the darkening streets, and I was him too, looking up and wondering.  I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.

Myrtle pulled her chair close to mine and suddenly her warm breath poured over me the story of her first meeting with Tom.

"It was on the two little seats facing each other that are always the last ones left on the train...."

------------------------------ ...With enchanting murmurs Daisy admired this aspect or that of the feudal silhouette against the sky, admired the gardens, the sparkling odor of jonquils and the frothy odor of hawthorn and plum blossoms and the pale gold odor of kiss-me-at-the-gate.  It was strange to reach the marble steps and find no stir of bright dresses in and out the door and hear no sound but bird voices in the trees.

... We went upstairs, through period bedrooms swathed in rose and lavender silk and vivid with new flowers, through dressing rooms and poolrooms, and bathrooms with sunken baths.... Finally we came to Gatsby's own apartment, a bedroom and a bath and an Adam study, where we sat down and drank a glass of some Chartreuse he took from a cupboard in the wall.

He hadn't once ceased looking at Daisy and I think he revalued everything in his house according to the measure of response it drew from her well-loved eyes.  Sometimes, too, he stared around at his possessions in a dazed way as though in her actual and astounding presence none of it was any longer real.  Once he nearly toppled down a flight of stairs.
------------------- [end excerpt]

{The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Copyright, 1925.  Charles Scribner's Sons.}


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Well put!

In Fiddler on the Roof there is a scene early on where Reb Tevye and several other men in the "little village of Anatevka" are talking, downtown.  They stand gathered around Tevye's milk wagon, on a dirt road.  An outsider, a young student from the university in Kiev ("Is that a place where they teach you how not to respect your elders?!") puts in an occasional comment.

The student admonishes the group that they've gotta tune in to the big changes simmering in the bigger cities.

One of the bearded middle-aged men standing in the group says energetically,

"Why should I break my head about the outside world?
Let the outside world break its own head! --
Well put!"  he adds the compliment himself at the end.

Tevye:  "He's right.  As the Good Book says, When you spit in the air -- it lands in your face."

Student from Kiev:  "Nonsense.  You can't close your eyes to what's happening in the world."

Tevye (nodding):  "He's right."

Another man interjects, "Wait a minute.  You say he's right, and -- he's right. 
They can't both be right."

Tevye thinks a moment.
"Rrh...You, too, are right..."

----------------- My hairstylist lets me select the TV channel when I'm there, so I remoted it to C-span and while having my hair done, watched / listened to a speech by some expert about defense department spending.  He stood behind a podium addressing an audience we couldn't see -- he said Democrats mostly believe this about defense spending priorities, while many Republicans point out that -- and the speaker then said,

It's like the old rabbi story, where one guy says it's this way, & the rabbi says, "He's right."  And the other guy makes his point and the rabbi says, "He's right."  And the third man says "Wait they can't both be right" -- by this time I was telling the beautician excitedly,

"That's from Fiddler on the Roof!  He says the same thing in there -- "  and then said it in unison with the C-Span lecturer, "Yes, you too are -- right!"
My hairstylist is unflappable; nothing surprises her.

(That must have been an "old rabbi story" before, and the writer of Fiddler on the Roof injected it in there.  Reb Tevye isn't a rabbi, but the vignette still works....)


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

we'd sit for hours

I'm always pleasantly surprised and sort of feel -- rewarded -- somehow, when I notice a quote and I know where they got it from! -- or I think I do, and anyway it's familiar -- it gives you some common understanding with the person who says it, and it's like an "Ah-hah!" moment.

Yesterday on C-Span, for example this guy was talking about defense spending and he told a story right directly out of Fiddler On The Roof -- though he didn't credit the movie (or the play), he called it "the old rabbi story"....so maybe the story existed before Fiddler was written, and they just stuck it in there.

And when listening to Bob Dylan's Love And Theft CD, there's a song called "Summer Days" and he sings,

She's looking in to my eyes, and she's a-holding my hand

She looks in to my eyes, she's holding my hand

She say, "you can't repeat the past,"

I say "You can't? What do you mean you can't?

Of course you can."

-------------- that "repeat the past" part -- right straight out of The Great Gatsby -- (Bob Dylan and I read the same book -- hurrah!  and Ah-hah!)
-------------------[excerpt, The Great Gatsby]----------------Tom was evidently perturbed at Daisy's running around alone, for on the following Saturday night he came with her to Gatsby's party.  Perhaps his presence gave the evening its peculiar quality of oppressiveness -- it stands out in my memory from Gatsby's other parties that summer....
Daisy and Gatsby danced.  I remember being surprised by his graceful, conservative fox-trot -- I had never seen him dance before....
Almost the last thing I remember was standing with Daisy and watching the moving picture director and his Star....
"I like her," said Daisy.  "I think she's lovely."
But the rest offended her -- and inarguably, because it wasn't a gesture but an emotion.  She was appalled by West Egg, this unprecedented "place" that Broadway had begotten upon a Long Island fishing village -- appalled by its raw vigor that chafed under the old euphemisms and by the too obtrusive fate that herded its inhabitants along a short cut from nothing to nothing.  She saw something awful in the very simplicity she failed to understand....
I stayed late that night.  Gatsby asked me to wait until he was free and I lingered in the garden until the inevitable swimming party had run up, chilled and exalted, from the black beach, until the lights were extinguished in the guest rooms overhead.  When he came down the steps at last the tanned skin was drawn unusually tight on his face, and his eyes were bright and tired.
"She didn't like it," he said immediately.
"Of course she did."
"She didn't like it," he insisted.  "She didn't have a good time."
He was silent and I guessed at his unutterable depression.
"I feel far away from her," he said.  "It's hard to make her understand"
"You mean about the dance?"
"The dance?"  He dismissed all the dances he had given with a snap of his fingers.  "Old sport, the dance is unimportant."
He wanted nothing less of Daisy than that she should go to Tom and say:  "I never loved you."  After she had obliterated three years with that sentence they could decide upon the more practical measures to be taken.  One of them was that, after she was free, they were to go back to Louisville and be married from her house -- just as if it were five years ago.
"And she doesn't understand," he said despairingly.  "She used to be able to understand.  We'd sit for hours ---"
He broke off and began to walk up and down a desolate path of fruit rinds and discarded favors and crushed flowers.
"I wouldn't ask too much of her," I ventured.  "You can't repeat the past."
"Can't repeat the past?" he cried incredulously.  "Why of course you can!"
He looked around him wildly, as if the past were lurking here in the shadow of his house, just out of reach of his hand.
"I'm going to fix everything just the way it was before," he said, nodding determinedly.  "She'll see."
------------------------------------- [end excerpt]
{The Great Gatsby.  F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Copyright 1925.  Charles Scribner's Sons.}

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

whisperings - champagne - stars

Here I was, in recent posts, typing merrily along from Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, completely unaware until today that Hollywood is making (another) film of the novel.  Due out Christmas.

I saw the one with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow (and Sam Waterston -- later of L & O fame -- playing the part of the first-person narrator, Nick Carraway).  It was the summer between freshman and sophomore year in high school.  Seeing the movie, and planning to read the book, I felt grown-up, and sophisticatedly world-weary.  In a good way.

Google the new film and the 1974 one, and the reader can see that film projects of this book attract "heavy-hitters," Hollywood-wise, & writer-wise.
(the 1974 film:  original screenwriter -- Truman Capote ...
but replaced by Francis Ford Coppola - !!
with some scenes re-written first by --
Vladimir Nabokov,
Philip Roth,
Thomas Pynchon....it's like, "Well ex-cuuuuuuuse me!!...

...lotta firepower...)

----------------- [Gatsby excerpt, Chapter III]---------------------There was music from my neighbor's house through the summer nights.  In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.  At high tide in the afternoon I watched his guests diving from the tower of his raft or taking the sun on the hot sand of his beach while his two motor boats slit the waters of the Sound, drawing aquaplanes over cataracts of foam.  On week-ends his Rolls-Royce became an omnibus, bearing parties to and from the city, between nine in the morning and long past midnight, while his station wagon scampered like a brisk yellow bug to meet all trains.  And on Mondays eight servants including an extra gardener toiled all day with mops and scrubbing-brushes and hammers and garden shears, repairing the ravages of the night before.

Every Friday five crates of oranges and lemons arrived from a fruiterer in New York -- every Monday these same oranges and lemons left his back door in a pyramid of pulpless halves.  There was a machine in the kitchen which could extract the juice of two hundred oranges in half an hour, if a little button was pressed two hundred times by a butler's thumb.

At least once a fortnight a corps of caterers came down with several hundred feet of canvas and enough colored lights to make a Christmas tree of Gatsby's enormous garden.  On buffet tables, garnished with glistening hors d'oeuvre, spiced baked hams crowded against salads of harlequin designs and pastry pigs and turkeys bewitched to a dark gold.  In the main hall a bar with a real brass rail was set up, and stocked with gins and liquors and with cordials so long forgotten that most of his female guests were too young to know one from another.

By seven o'clock the orchestra has arrived -- no thin five piece affair but a whole pit full of oboes and trombones and saxophones and viols and cornets and piccolos and low and high drums.  The last swimmers have come in from the beach now and are dressing upstairs; the cars from New York are parked five deep in the drive, and already the halls and salons and verandas are gaudy with primary colors and hair shorn in strange new ways and shawls beyond the dreams of Castile.  The bar is in full swing and floating rounds of cocktails permeate the garden outside until the air is alive with chatter and laughter and casual innuendo and introductions forgotten on the spot and enthusiastic meetings between women who never knew each other's names.

The lights grow brighter as the earth lurches away from the sun and now the orchestra is playing yellow cocktail music and the opera of voices pitches a key higher.  Laughter is easier, minute by minute, spilled with prodigality, tipped out at a cheerful word.  The groups change more swiftly, swell with new arrivals, dissolve and form in the same breath -- already there are wanderers, confident girls who weave here and there among the stouter and more stable, become for a sharp, joyous moment the center of a group and then excited with triumph glide on through the sea-change of faces and voices and color under the constantly changing light.

Suddenly one of these gypsies in trembling opal seizes a cocktail out of the air, dumps it down for courage and moving her hands like Frisco dances out alone on the canvas platform.  A momentary hush; the orchestra leader varies his rhythm obligingly for her and there is a burst of chatter as the erroneous news goes around that she is Gilda Gray's understudy from the "Follies."  The party has begun.

I believe that on the first night I went to Gatsby's house I was one of the few guests who had actually been invited.  People were not invited -- they went there.  They got into automobiles which bore them out to Long Island and somehow they ended up at Gatsby's door.  Once there they were introduced by somebody who knew Gatsby and after that they conducted themselves according to the rules of behavior associated with amusement parks.  Sometimes they came and went without having met Gatsby at all, came for the party with a simplicity of heart that was its own ticket of admission.

I had been actually invited.  A chauffeur in a uniform of robin's egg blue crossed my lawn early that Saturday morning with a surprisingly formal note from his employer -- the honor would be entirely Gatsby's, it said, if I would attend his "little party" that night.  He had seen me several times and had intended to call on me long before but a peculiar combination of circumstances had prevented it -- signed Jay Gatsby in a majestic hand.

Dressed up in white flannels I went over to his lawn a little after seven and wandered around rather ill-at-ease among swirls and eddies of peple I didn't know -- though here and there was a face I had noticed on the commuting train.  I was immediately struck by the number of young Englishmen dotted about; all well dressed, all looking a little hungry and all talking in low earnest voices to solid and prosperous Americans.  I was sure that they were all selling something:  bonds or insurance or automobiles.  They were, at least, agonizingly aware of the easy money in the vicinity and convinced that it was theirs for a few words in the right key.

As soon as I arrived I made an attempt to find my host but the two or three people of whom I asked his whereabouts stared at me in such an amazed way and denied so vehemently any knowledge of his movements that I slunk off in the direction of the cocktail table -- the only place in the garden where a single man could linger without looking purposeless and alone.

I was on my way to get roaring drunk from sheer embarrassment when Jordan Baker came out of the house and stood at the head of the marble steps, leaning a little backward and looking with contemptuous interest down into the garden.

Welcome or not, I found it necessary to attach myself to someone before I should begin to address cordial remarks to the passers-by.

"Hello!" I roared, advancing toward her.  My voice seemed unnaturally loud across the garden.

"I thought you might be here," she responded absently as I came up.  "I remembered you lived next door to ---"

She held my hand impersonally, as a promise that she'd take care of me in a minute, and gave ear to two girls in twin yellow dresses who stopped at the foot of the steps.

"Hello!" they cried together.  "Sorry you didn't win."

That was for the golf tournament.  She had lost in the finals the week before.

"You don't know who we are," said one of the girls in yellow, "but we met you here about a month ago."

"You've dyed your hair since then," remarked Jordan and I started but the girls had moved casually on and her remark was addressed to the premature moon, produced like the supper, no doubt, out of a caterer's basket.  With Jordan's slender golden arm resting in mine we descended the steps and sauntered about the garden.  A tray of cocktails floated at us through the twilight and we sat down at a table with the two girls in yellow and three men, each one introduced to us as Mr. Mumble.

----------------------------------------[end excerpt]
{The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Copyright, 1925.  Charles Scribner's Sons.}

Noticed something -- the first three paragraphs here are in the past tense:
"There was music from my neighbor's house..."
"Every Friday five crates of oranges and lemons arrived from a fruiterer in New York..."
"At least once a fortnight a corps of caterers came down..."
------------------ and then in the fourth paragraph, Fitzgerald shifts gears into the present tense:   "By seven o'clock the orchestra has arrived..." -- (HAS arrived) -- and keeps it present tense for the next two paragraphs...
"The lights grow brighter as the earth lurches away from the sun..."
"Suddenly one of these gypsies in trembling opal seizes a cocktail out of the air..."

In the paragraph after that, the author shifts back to past tense, relaxing, reminiscing....for those three paragraphs of Present Tense, he got more intense with us, the readers -- like someone who's telling you a story and suddenly leans forward over his knees, or across a table, and gets intense for three paragraphs....

If I was reading that, and not typing it out, would not have noticed that nuance.


Monday, July 16, 2012

just a man named Gatsby

[excerpt - The Great Gatsby]  ------------------    I turned again to my new acquaintance.  "This is an unusual party for me.  I haven't even seen the host.  I live over there --" I waved my hand at the invisible hedge in the distance, "and this man Gatsby sent over his chauffeur with an invitation."

For a moment he looked at me as if he failed to understand.

"I'm Gatsby," he said suddenly.

"What!" I exclaimed.  "Oh, I beg your pardon."

"I thought you knew, old sport.  I'm afraid I'm not a very good host."

He smiled understandingly -- much more than understandingly.  It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life.  It faced -- or seemed to face -- the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. 

It understood you just so far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey. 

Precisely at that point it vanished -- and I was looking at an elegant young rough-neck, a year or two over thirty, whose elaborate formality of speech just missed being absurd.  Some time before he introduced himself I'd got a strong impression that he was picking his words with care.

Almost at the moment when Mr. Gatsby identified himself a butler hurried toward him with the information that Chicago was calling him on the wire.  He excused himself with a small bow that included each of us in turn.

"If you want anything just ask for it, old sport," he urged me.  "Excuse me.  I will rejoin you later."

When he was gone I turned immediately to Jordan -- constrained to assure her of my surprise.  I had expected that Mr. Gatsby would be a florid and corpulent person in his middle years.

"Who is he?" I demanded.  "Do you know?"

"He's just a man named Gatsby."

"Where is he from, I mean?  And what does he do?"

"Now you're started on the subject," she answered with a wan smile.  "Well, -- he told me once he was an Oxford man."

A dim background started to take shape behind him but at her next remark it faded away.

"However, I don't believe it."

"Why not?"

"I don't know," she insisted.  "I just don't think he went there."

Something in her tone reminded me of the other girl's "I think he killed a man," and had the effect of stimulating my curiosity.  I would have accepted without question the information that Gatsby sprang from the swamps of Louisiana or from the lower East Side of New York.  That was comprehensible.  But young men didn't -- at least in my provincial inexperience I believed they didn't -- drift coolly out of nowhere and buy a palace on Long Island Sound.

"Anyhow he gives large parties," said Jordan, changing the subject with an urban distaste for the concrete.  "And I like large parties.  They're so intimate.  At small parties there isn't any privacy."

----------------------------- [end excerpt]
{The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Copyright, 1925.  Charles Scribner's Sons.}


Friday, July 13, 2012

slenderly - languidly - unobtrusively

-------[excerpt, The Great Gatsby]---------------Slenderly, languidly, their hands set lightly on their hips the two young women preceded us out onto a rosy-colored porch open toward the sunset....

Sometimes she and Miss Baker talked at once, unobtrusively and with a bantering inconsequence that was never quite chatter, that was as cool as their white dresses and their impersonal eyes in the absence of all desire.  They were here -- and they accepted Tom and me, making only a polite pleasant effort to entertain or to be entertained.  They knew that presently dinner would be over and a little later the evening too would be over and casually put away.  It was sharply different from the West where an evening was hurried from phase to phase toward its close in a continually disappointed anticipation or else in sheer nervous dread of the moment itself.

"You make me feel uncivilized, Daisy," I confessed on my second glass of corky but rather impressive claret.  "Can't you talk about crops or something?"

I meant nothing in particular by this remark but it was taken up in an unexpected way.

"Civilization's going to pieces," broke out Tom violently.  "I've gotten to be a terrible pessimist about things.  Have you read 'The Rise of the Coloured Empires' by this man Goddard?"

"Why, no," I answered, rather surprised by his tone.

"Well, it's a fine book and everybody ought to read it.  The idea is if we don't look out the white race will be -- will be utterly submerged.  It's all scientific stuff; it's been proved."

"Tom's getting very profound," said Daisy with an expression of unthoughtful sadness.  "He reads deep books with long words in them.  What was that
word we ---"

"Well, these books are all scientific," insisted Tom, glancing at her impatiently.  "This fellow has worked out the whole thing.  It's up to us who are the dominant race to watch out or these other races will have control of things."

"We've got to beat them down," whispered Daisy, winking ferociously toward the fervent sun.

"You ought to live in California ---" began Miss Baker but Tom interrupted her by shifting heavily in his chair.

"This idea is that we're Nordics.  I am and you are and you are and ---"  After an infinitesimal hesitation he included Daisy with a slight nod and she winked at me again, "---and we've produced all the things that go to make civilization -- oh, science and art and all that.  Do you see?"

There was something pathetic in his concentration as if his complacency, more acute than of old, was not enough to him any more....

------------------  "Did you give Nick a little heart-to-heart talk on the veranda?" demanded Tom suddenly.

"Did I?"  She looked at me.  "I can't seem to remember, but I think we talked about the Nordic race.  Yes, I'm sure we did.  It sort of crept up on us and first thing you know---"

"Don't believe everything you hear, Nick," he advised me.

I said lightly that I had heard nothing at all, and a few minutes later I got up to go home.  They came to the door with me and stood side by side in a cheerful square of light....

------------------  Nevertheless, I was confused and a little disgusted as I drove away.  It seemed to me that the thing for Daisy to do was to rush out of the house, child in arms -- but apparently there were no such intentions in her head.  As for Tom the fact that he "had some woman in New York" was really less surprising than that he had been depressed by a book.  Something was making him nibble at the edge of stale ideas as if his sturdy physical egotism no longer nourished his peremptory heart.

Already it was deep summer on roadhouse roofs and in front of wayside garages where new red gas-pumps sat out in pools of light, and when I reached my estate at West Egg I ran the car under its shed and sat for a while on an abandoned grass roller in the yard.  The wind had blown off, leaving a loud bright night with wings beating in the trees and a persistent organ sound as the full bellows of the earth blew the frogs full of life. 

The silhouette of a moving cat wavered across the moonlight and turning my head to watch it I saw that I was not alone -- fifty feet away a figure had emerged from the shadow of my neighbor's mansion and was standing with his hands in his pockets regarding the silver pepper of the stars.  Something in his leisurely movements and the secure position of his feet upon the lawn suggested that it was Mr. Gatsby himself, come out to determine what share was his of our local heavens.

I decided to call to him.  Miss Baker had mentioned him at dinner, and that would do for an introduction.  But I didn't call to him for he gave a sudden intimation that he was content to be alone -- he stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and far as I was from him I could have sworn he was trembling.

Involuntarily I glanced seaward -- and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been the end of a dock.  When I looked once more for Gatsby he had vanished, and I was alone again in the unquiet darkness.
-------------[end excerpt]

{The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  Copyright, 1925.  Charles Scribner's Sons}

Somehow, I like the word "unquiet."
"the unquiet darkness"
"...and I was alone again in the unquiet darkness."

Willie Nelson has a terrific song called "Uncloudy Day" --
"Unquiet" and "uncloudy" are words that I would not ordinarily think of.  But I like them.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

hovering in the next hour

We walked through a high hallway...
[excerpt / The Great Gatsby / Fitzgerald] -- We walked through a high hallway into a bright rosy-colored space, fragilely bound into the house by French windows at either end.  The windows were ajar and gleaming white againt the fresh grass outside that seemed to grow a little way into the house.  A breeze blew through the room, blew curtains  in at one end and out the other like pale flags, twisting them up toward the frosted wedding cake of the ceiling -- and then rippled over the wine-colored rug, making a shadow on it as wind does on the sea.

The only completely stationary object in the room was an enormous couch on which two young women were buoyed up as though upon an anchored balloon.  They were both in white and their dresses were rippling and fluttering as if they had just been blown back in after a short flight around the house.  I must have stood for a few moments listening to the whip and snap of the curtains and the groan of a picture on the wall.  Then there was a boom as Tom Buchanan shut the rear windows and the caught wind died out about the room and the curtains and the rugs and the two young women ballooned slowly to the floor.

The younger of the two was a stranger to me.  She was extended full length at her end of the divan, completely motionless and with her chin raised a little as if she were balancing something on it which was quite likely to fall.  If she saw me out of the corner of her eyes she gave no hint of it -- indeed I was almost surprised into murmuring an apology for having disturbed her by coming in.

The other girl, Daisy, made an attempt to rise -- she leaned slightly forward with a conscientious expression -- then she laughed, an absurd, charming little laugh, and I laughed too and came forward into the room.

"I'm p-paralyzed with happiness."

She laughed again, as if she said something very witty, and held my hand for a moment, looking up into my face, promising that there was no one in the world she so much wanted to see.  That was a way she had.  She hinted in a murmur that the surname of the balancing girl was Baker.  (I've heard it said that Daisy's murmur was only to make people lean toward her; an irrelevant criticism that made it no less charming.)

At any rate Miss Baker's lips fluttered, she nodded at me almost imperceptibly and then quickly tipped her head back again -- the object she was balancing had obviously tottered a little and given her something of a fright.  Again a sort of apology arose to my lips.  Almost any exhibition of complete self sufficiency draws a stunned tribute from me.

I looked back at my cousin who began to ask me questions in her low, thrilling voice.  It was the kind of voice that the ear follows up and down as if each speech is an arrangement of notes that will never be played again.  Her face was sad and lovely with bright things in it, bright eyes and a bright passionate mouth -- but there was an excitement in her voice that men who had cared for her found difficult to forget:  a singing compulsion, a whispered "Listen," a promise that she had done gay, exciting things just a while since and that there were gay, exciting things hovering in the next hour.

I told her how I had stopped off in Chicago for a day on my way east and how a dozen people had sent their love through me.

"Do they miss me?" she cried ecstatically.

"The whole town is desolate.  All the cars have the left rear wheel painted black as a mourning wreath and there's a persistent wail all night along the North Shore."

"How gorgeous!  Let's go back, Tom.  Tomorrow!"  Then she added irrelevantly, "You ought to see the baby."

"I'd like to."

"She's asleep.  She's two years old.  Haven't you ever seen her?"


"Well, you ought to see her.  She's --"

Tom Buchanan who had been hovering restlessly about the room stopped and rested his hand on my shoulder.

"What you doing, Nick?"

"I'm a bond man."

"Who with?"

I told him.

"Never heard of them," he remarked decisively.

This annoyed me.

"You will," I answered shortly.  "You will if you stay in the East."

"Oh, I'll stay in the East, don't you worry," he said, glancing at Daisy and then back at me as if he were alert for something more.  "I'd be a God Damn fool to live anywhere else."

At this point Miss Baker said "Absolutely!" with such suddenness that I started -- it was the first word she had uttered since I came into the room.  Evidently it surprised her as much as it did me, for she yawned and with a series of rapid, deft movements stood up into the room.

"I'm stiff," she complained.  "I've been lying on that sofa for as long as I can remember."

"Don't look at me," Daisy retorted.  "I've been trying to get you to New York all afternoon."

"No thanks," said Miss Baker to the four cocktails just in from the pantry, "I'm absolutely in training."

Her host looked at her incredulously.

"You are!"  He took down his drink as if it were a drop in the bottom of a glass.  "How you ever get anything done is beyond me."

I looked at Miss Baker wondering what it was she "got done."  I enjoyed looking at her.  She was a slender, small-breasted girl with an erect carriage which she accentuated by throwing her body backward at the shoulders like a young cadet.  Her grey sun-strained eyes looked back at me with polite reciprocal curiosity out of a wan, charming discontented face.  It occurred to me now that I had seen her, or a picture of her, somewhere before.

"You live in West Egg," she remarked contemptuously.  "I know somebody there."

"I don't know a single --"

"You must know Gatsby."

"Gatsby?" demanded Daisy.  "What Gatsby?"

Before I could reply that he was my neighbor dinner was announced; wedging his tense arm imperatively under mine Tom Buchanan compelled me from the room as though he were moving a checker to another square.

------------------ [end excerpt]
{from The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott
Fitzgerald.  Copyright, 1925.  Charles Scribner's


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I love democracy

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. "

Edmund Burke

Irish orator, philosopher, & politician (1729 - 1797)

"I have found it advisable not to give too much heed to what people say when I am trying to accomplish something of consequence. Invariably they proclaim it can't be done. I deem that the very best time to make the effort."

Calvin Coolidge
American president

"I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom."

Bob Dylan

("Be nice; don't kill people."


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

friends I scarcely knew at all

---------------------------It was a matter of chance that I should have rented a house in one of the strangest communities in North America.
[excerpt, The Great Gatsby]
It was on that slender riotous island which extends itself due east of New York and where there are, among other natural curiosities, two unusual formations of land.  Twenty miles from the city a pair of enormous eggs, identical in contour and separated only by a courtesy bay, jut out into the most domesticated body of salt water in the Western Hemisphere, the great wet barnyard of Long Island Sound....

I lived at West Egg, the -- well, the less fashionable of the two, though this is a most superficial tag to express the bizarre and not a little sinister contrast between them.  My house was at the very tip of the egg, only fifty yards from the Sound, and squeezed between two huge places that rented for twelve or fifteen thousand a season.  The one on my right was a colossal affair by any standard -- it was a factual imitation of some Hotel de Ville in Normandy, with a tower on one side, spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy, and a marble swimming pool and more than forty acres of lawn and garden.  It was Gatsby's mansion.  Or rather, as I didn't know Mr. Gatsby it was a mansion inhabited by a gentleman of that name.  My own house was an eye-sore, but it was a small eye-sore and it had been overlooked, so I had a view of the water, a partial view of my neighbor's lawn and the consoling proximity of millionaires -- all for eighty dollars a month.

Across the courtesy bay the white palaces of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water and the history of the summer really begins on the evening I drove over there to have dinner with the Tom Buchanans.  Daisy was my second cousin once removed and I'd known Tom in college.  And just after the war I spent two days with them in Chicago.

Her husband, among various physical accomplishments, had been one of the most powerful ends that ever played football at New Haven -- a national figure in a way, one of those men who reach such an acute limited excellence at twenty-one that everything afterwards savours of anti-climax.  His family were enormously wealthy -- even in college his freedom with money was a matter for reproach -- but now he'd left Chicago and come east in a fashion that rather took your breath away:  for instance he'd brought down a string of polo ponies from Lake Forest.  It was hard to realize that a man in my own generation was wealthy enough to do that.

Why they came east I don't know.  They had spent a year in France, for no particular reason, and then drifted here and there unrestfully wherever people played polo and were rich together.  This was a permanent move, said Daisy over the telephone, but I didn't believe it -- I had no sight into Daisy's heart but I felt that Tom would drift on forever seeking a little wistfully for the dramatic turbulence of some irrecoverable football game.

And so it happened that on a warm windy evening I drove over to East Egg to see two old friends whom I scarcely knew at all.  Their house was even more elaborate than I expected, a cheerful red and white Georgian Colonial mansion overlooking the bay.  The lawn started at the beach and ran toward the front door for a quarter of a mile, jumping over sun-dials and brick walks and burning gardens -- finally when it reached the house drifting up the side in bright vines as though from the momentum of its run.  The front was broken by a line of French windows, glowing now with reflected gold, and wide open to the warm windy afternoon, and Tom Buchanan in riding clothes was standing with his legs apart on the front porch.

He had changed since his New Haven years.  Now he was a sturdy, straw haired man of thirty with a rather hard mouth and a supercilious manner.  Two shining, arrogant eyes had established dominance over his face and gave him the appearane of always leaning aggressively forward.  Not even the effeminate swank of his riding clothes could hide the enormous power of that body -- he seemed to fill those glistening boots until he strained the top lacing and you could see a great pack of muscle shifting when his shoulder moved under his thin coat.  It was a body capable to enormous leverage -- a cruel body.

His speaking voice, a gruff husky tenor, added to the impression of fractiousness he conveyed.  There was a touch of paternal contempt in it, even toward people he liked -- and there were men at New Haen who had hated his guts.

"Now, don't think my opinion on these matters is final," he seemed to say, "just because I'm stronger and more of a man than you are."...

We talked for a few minutes on the sunny porch.

"I've got a nice place here," he said, his eyes flashing about restlessly.

------------------------ [end excerpt]
{The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Copyright, 1925.  Charles Scribner's Sons}


Monday, July 9, 2012

higher education

"Terms of venery" is what they call those words for groups of animals:

a flock of sheep
a herd of cattle
a school of dolphins
a troop of baboons
a clutter of cats (! : ) )
a parliament of owls  (...do we deserve this much fun...??  we must have been very, very good this year....)


Friday, July 6, 2012

...say again?

Photographic essays and whole books of photographs of
Detroit's "decline" --
looks like what they used to call, "rack-and-ruin":
and it occurs to one:  in 2008 or 9, didn't our government conduct a major bail-out of the auto industry -- "too big to fail," or something?

Where'd that money go?


Thursday, July 5, 2012

fear and money

A student at my alma mater (BU) downloaded some songs and "shared" them and big music companies sued him for more money than he has. 

Guy's name:  Joel Tenenbaum -- he can be read about on the internet.

I ran across an article on a site called
A place for bands to tell it how it is",
discussing the case and the larger issue.

I thought it was well-argued and so wanted to re-print it here.
A few expressions, words, and phrases in the article made question marks appear above my head -- I wondered, since THE WAY BANDS DO IT is from a software co. in Montreal -- maybe French is their first language & some expressions, converted into English, don't translate to our ears ...

"set me aback" - ?  (I was taken aback...)
"the other follows briefly after" - ?  (the other follows soon after...)
"fathering fear" - ?  (fostering fear...)

"there is no long-tail humanitarian purpose here" - ?!
(there is no long-term humanitarian purpose here...)

"we don't burn people on stakes anymore" - ?
(we don't burn people at the stake anymore...)

(And, the author probably meant to turn the expression "hissy-fit" into "sissy-fit"...)

----------------------- But anyway the writer's point certainly comes across and I thought it was interesting.  (And -- am always in favor of "long-tail humanitarian purposes"...?  : ) )

---------------------- [the article]:
File-sharers, the RIAA, and the art of the absurd

July 28, 2009 by Weedback

“He who rejects change is the architect of decay”.
Harold Wilson

Ever heard of Joel Tenenbaum? Well I hadn’t really paid any attention to that name until today, and more precisely until I read this article from The Guardian – “How it feels to be sued for $4.5m“. I have always known thousands in the states had been sued for absurd sums for sharing music, everyone’s aware of the RIAA’s sissy-fits, but to read such a testimonial set me aback some. Do read it: it was written by Joel himself, and whether you’re with him or against him, it won’t leave you indifferent to his cause.

I don’t want to go into the details of his story because it is all written marvelously well in that article. What I’ll say is this: Joel is one of the tens of thousands of people who have got their lives crushed just for sharing music. Joel is not the compulsive file-sharer type who detains tera bytes upon tera bytes of music storages on dozens of 7200 rpm, RAID intertwined hard-drives, he’s just one in 50 million file-sharers who unluckily won the RIAA lottery. His battle started off small, just in for a couple of thousand of dollars. Now he is in for millions because he fought back.

He finally made it to the trial which started yesterday (most people cave in before reaching that point). Joel’s story struck a chord in many music lovers’ hearts, and he is now backed-up by thousands from all over the world. He has got his proper “Joel Fights Back” twitter account (@joelfightsback), twitter feed (#jfb) and website.

The Guardian’s article holds ten pages full of comments, but the very first one made my day. It was written by a nut who hammers Joel by invoking the “you just shouldn’t steal from people more creative than you. You deserve what’s coming at you” speech.

I can take a step back like any other and realize there are laws for a reason, that these laws must be reinforced to maintain order. I am not defending Joel 100% just because it’s easy and comforting to be on the martyr’s side, engaging resistance against corporate fat cats, I’m on Joel’s side because if we succumb to absurdity, we are headed straight for a brick wall, the likes of which mankind has a tendency to bang its head against over and over again.

For such trials to be enacted in this day and age is absurd for the simple reason that there is no balance whatsoever between technological advancements and copyright law anymore. The latter has, since its most primitive founding, been intimately linked to the former. They both go hand in hand, and when one changes, the other follows briefly after. The recording industry caved in on many accounts in the past because of ever-evolving music distribution mediums, yet now, the RIAA still won’t accept the change p2p brought to their consumers’ consumption habits.

And why are they so aggressive? Because of scalability. Never have the paper-rolls, the radio, the cassette-tapes and so on scaled such a gap between consumers and content owners. So members of the RIAA have literally been sh----n’ their pants these two past decades. Their solution: to frantically sue customers at random for completely absurd sums of money for no reason other than fathering fear and making up for decreasing profits. I would like to repeat myself here:

it is only to engender fear and make money that the RIAA is suing. There is no long-tail humanitarian purpose here, there is no will whatsoever to educate the masses, there is no greater master-plan behind all this grief - just fear and money.

We don’t burn people on stakes anymore just because they refuse to believe in the virgin Mary. Same should apply to file sharing and music in 2009. But apparently, that is still far from being the case.

Accepting change is the key to healthy evolution.

The first step would be for major labels to admit their wrongs in terms of serving musical garbage to us all these past 10 years.

Economic instability, growing gaming industry, DVDs and Internet- related-entertainment didn’t help them one bit in getting back that entrepreneurial spirit they lost so long ago. Add to that p2p networks, and it all seems so logical that the RIAA affiliates are going down the drain, taking 15% decreasing market blows every year or so.

That is just the ways things have changed, and those who go against what has changed, although it is completely beyond their power to do anything about that change, are fools, plain and simple.

Good Luck Joel. You have my total support.


---------- [end post, from THE WAY BANDS DO IT]

Big companies should not pick on people.
Bullying is never the answer. 


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

"it will be all right"

Scribble Scribble:  Notes on the Media
Crazy Salad
are two collections of essays written by Nora Ephron that are too expensive to buy because they're out of print. 

($450 for a 34-year-old paperback. 
I --
I'll get right on that.)

Scribble was pub. 1978,
Salad, 1975,
and another Ephron essay collection that costs much less than $450, Wallflower At The Orgy, was pub. 1970.

Will read Wall.
Could check with local library to borrow the others, but --
the library never has the books I'm looking for,
just as the video store
has the movies I want.

I make this observation not in a spirit of complaint, but only of FLE --
Fatigued Life Experience.

I think --
the reason the library doesn't have the books I want and the video store doesn't have the movies I want is because my taste is mainstream,
while -- our local library and video store cater to a tiny minority of the public who have atypical, unconventional interests.
Yes -- that's what it is.

When I read that Nora Ephron had died, I had these impulses --
read the articles and tributes!
read all her books of essays!
re-watch Julie And Julia and When Harry Met Sally!
Write a blog post about N. Ephron!

Last weekend, thought -- what shall I write?
And then it seemed hard -- you have to summarize a person's life in one set of paragraphs, on one day, because -- they died?
"...ok that makes no sense," I thought.  I'm not an Obituary-Writer.  No one's appointed me to do this.
And there's no "this" -- I don't have to do -- or write -- anything!
And yet a person feels moved to -- to -- something.

When a famous person whom you don't know personally dies from a disease -- it really isn't, realistically, "heartbreaking" -- you didn't know them.  And it's not a fatal accident or a murder.  And the person -- while they may not have been all that old, still was sort of old, & had done a lot of stuff.  It isn't like when someone really young -- younger than 40 or 50, I guess -- dies & there's a feeling of Oh! What a shame!  That's not fair!  Because it seems the life has not been lived, yet.  As you would hope that it could be lived, for the person if you knew them, and as we all hope for ourselves and those we know and love.  Death from a disease, anytime after 55 I guess, is part of the Process of Nature.

I guess maybe the impressions I had in my mind when I read of Ephron's passing came from --
really liking two of her films, J & Julia, & Harry-Sally,
and also having a far-off ancient memory of those book titles -- Crazy Salad and Scribble Scribble -- I never read them, wasn't into "essays" at that age, but those book-covers were familiar no doubt from when I would prowl the aisles of bookstores during high school and college years.

And suddenly I -- WANTED to READ THEM - !

And thought maybe I would write about the two movies that are two of my favorites but then realized -- whether people live or die, I will have many occasions to talk about Julie and Julia and When Harry Met Sally -- works of art stand on their own and are part of our life and existence whether their creators are still "among us" or not.  (The commentary and special features on both of those DVDs are fun and engaging and enlightening, too....)

And the main point that keeps returning in thoughts and spiking my attention is the fact that Nora Ephron had been diagnosed with the leukemia 6 years ago, according to reports.  And she kept knowledge of the condition to herself and intimates, she did not make it public, & she continued to work and offer pleasant entertainment and thoughts to the world.

There's a nobility in that, I think -- similar to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who continued her work in publishing almost right up to the day of her death.  Several writers recount getting faxes from her, suggesting improvements to their manuscript, and then finding out only a short time later -- weeks, or days, can't remember -- hearing that she'd been hospitalized and then went home to die.


Near the time of her death Mrs. Onassis told someone at her office at Doubleday, that she was doing well, and,

"It will be all right."

And that was not true.
But what a good thing to say.

It seems like Jacqueline Onassis and Nora Ephron were both people who wanted to work to offer something positive for other people to enjoy, and they just kept working at doing that until it was time to check out.  (Or rather, to be involuntarily "checked out.")

Make a big public fuss about medical conditions and discomforts?
Make a big public fuss and exaggerate for effect?
Make a big public fuss and use the enforced sympathy-and-attention of other people as a tool to try to control them, and manipulate them?
N-ah -- these people were too busy doing something constructive.

When thinking of the "timeline" for Nora Ephron -- diagnosed 6 years ago, and her excellent film Julie-Julia came out three years ago -- there she was, making it happen -- writing and directing -- in her commentary, she says something along the lines of,

"I was astounded at the enormous task Julie Powell set for herself (cooking through the Julia Child cookbook in a year) because, (Ephron says), these French dishes are, almost none of them, easy to make -- some of them take three hours....and I thought I had cooked most of the recipes in Julia's book, but then was amazed to see how many recipes there were that I hadn't cooked, and wouldn't have been caught dead cooking, like aspic, and kidneys. ..."

She is so funny in that commentary, because while she's an accomplished cook (or "foodie" as they say) herself, she speaks reverentially of cooking, and of food, but then under-cuts it with honest observations that there are fancy, complicated, three-hour French recipes that just aren't really (freakin') worth it!

Hers was -- is -- a voice of Reason.

motto:  "Wage Reason"


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

...and I was strolling

On the eve of our favorite patriotic holiday, the 4TH OF JULY, I think everyone should solemnly remember, that
if it hadn't been for the
American Revolution --

(we might all-lll be speakin' English, right now-!)

This land is your land, this land is my land,

From California, to the New York Island,

From the Redwood Forest, to the Gulf Stream Waters,

This land was made for you and me.

I roamed and rambled, and I followed my footsteps

To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts

And all around me a voice was singing

This land was made for you and me!

This land is your land, this land is my land,

From California, to the New York Island,

From the Redwood Forest, to the Gulf Stream Waters,

This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking that ribbon of highway

I saw above me that endless skyway

I saw below me those golden valleys

This land was made for you and me!

This land is your land!

This land is my land --

From California,

to the New York Island...

From the Redwood Forest --

to the Gulf Stream Wah-ah-ters...

This land was made for you and me.

As the sun was shining,
and I was strolling,

And the wheat fields waving,
and the dust clouds rolling,

As the fog was lifting--
a voice was say-ing:

"This land was made for you and me!"

This land is your land,
this land is my land,

From California -- to the New York Island

From the Redwood Forest,
to the Gulf Stream Waters,

This land was made for you and me.


Monday, July 2, 2012

echo of a romantic song

It had to be you --

It had to be you ...

I wandered around, and finally found
The somebody who --

Could make me be true --

Could make me be blue.
Or even be glad,
Just to be sad,
thinking of you ...

Some others I've seen ...

might never be mean.

Might never be cross --
or try to be boss--

But they wouldn't do.

For nobody else
gave me the thrill

With all your faults,
I love you still

It had to be you

wonderful you

it had to be you.

Melody:  Isham Jones
Lyrics:  Gus Khan

The first time I saw the film, When Harry Met Sally... I thought it reminded me of Woody Allen's Annie Hall in several ways:  this song was one of them.  It's in both movies.