Thursday, September 22, 2005


Today is the Autumnal Equinox. This is good because it is hard to find opportunities to use the word 'autumnal,’ so any chance to do so is a gift. Happy Autumnal Equinox! And what better way to welcome the new season than a poem, my favorite fall poem, by Mr. Hopkins[1]?

Spring and Fall: to a young child

Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow's springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

[1] That would be Gerard, not Anthony. I don't know if Anthony writes poems. He acts well, though, and that is good enough for me.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

September Songs

As I've mentioned before, I write from Frederick, Maryland, USA, which was immortalized by John Greenleaf Whittier in his poem 'Ballad of Barbara Fritchie':
Up from the meadows rich with corn,
Clear in the cool September morn,
The clustered spires of Frederick stand
Green-walled by the hills of Maryland.

It's also the sometime hometown and resting place of Francis Scott Key (who was an ancestor of F. Scott Fitzgerald). The upshot of this is we have a mall named after Key, am I occasionally buy jeans there.

Key wrote[1] the poem 'The Defence of Fort M'Henry' on this day back in 1814 (during the unfortunate results of a pre-emptive war against Britian). It was renamed 'The Star-Spangled Banner' and put to music, and then became the USA's national anthem in 1931. This is what Vonnegut has to say about it:
There were one quadrillion nations in the Universe, but the nation Dwayne Hoover and Kilgore Trout belonged to was the only one with a national anthem which was gibberish sprinkled with question marks.


[1] Key wasn't a particularly good poet, which is why it was good that he had a day job. He was a lawyer. Of course, it was his bad poetry that got a mall named after him.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Beside the rivering waters of, hitherandthithering waters of. (Election) Night!

One nice thing about being an independent is you don't have to vote in primaries. For lazy citizens like me this is a huge selling point. One less thing to do. (As a bonus, being an independent you get to feel smugly superior to all the Democrats and Republicans who are busy with calling each other names rather than putting their shoulders to the wheel.)

Sounds great, right? It has its disadvantages, though. It's Election Day in Frederick, and if I were a Republican I would be able to vote for James Joyce as City Alderman. This is an opportunity that comes around once in a lifetime, and I am going to miss it. Can you imagine the possibilities?

Zoning Commissioner: We propose to enact a partial moratorium on new construction in the Historic district and along Carroll Creek, due to the long term availablity of water--

Alderman Joyce: riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.

Zoning Commissioner: Er, well, I suppose new construction would include castles, Alderman. But--

Alderman Joyce: Rot a peck of pa's malt had Jhem or Shen brewed by arclight and rory end to the regginbrow was to be seen ringsome on the aquaface.

Zoning Commissioner: I give up.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Hope and Pessimism

1) Those who cite the fall of the Soviet Union as proof that Socialism is a failure, should take a good look at the puzzling case of Norway. Here is an interesting personal perspective on the world's most prosperous country. Interesting. It raises the question: is it possible to get there from here (aside from flying to Norway)? It doesn't seem likely.

2) Oh. So there is Boycott of Exxon. I am I going to do it? Yes. Do I think it is going to work? Not really. I see it more of (in the words of the poet) 'a gesture when there is nothing else to do.'

3) The decade is just over half over and how is the US doing? The most devastating attack on our soil in 60 years; two major wars; one endless pseudo-war; a recession; a large increase in obesity rates; the worst natural disaster in a century; a space shuttle disaster; a multi-year drought in the southwest; an upsurge in Atlantic hurricanes; enormous federal deficits accompanied by record government and personal debt; Republicans infesting all branches of gov't. To make matter worse Frederick, the town where I live, doesn't have a decent Thai Restaurant. Oh, Lost! The 00s are turning out to be just like the 90s, but without hope.

But we have better music and movies now than we did in the 90s. There is that.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

August Lists

He is my status report for the month of August.

Books Read:

Carry on, Jeeves (P. G. Wodehouse)
The Lamb's Supper: Mass As Heaven on Earth (Scott Hahn)
Leave it to Psmith (P. G. Wodehouse)
Murder on the Orient Express (Agatha Christie)
Jeeves in the Morning (P. G. Wodehouse)
Do Androids Dream Electric Sheep? (Philip K. Dick)
The Man in the High Castle (Philip K. Dick)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (J. K. Rowling)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (J. K. Rowling)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix (J. K. Rowling)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (J. K. Rowling)
The Murder of Dan Ackroyd (Agatha Christie)
The A.B.C. Murders (Agatha Christie)

Movie's Seen for the First Time
My Wife is an Actress (Yvan Attal)

iTunes Top 25 Most Played:

1. Sister Jack. Spoon
2. Sleep The Clock Around. Belle & Sebastian
3. The Boy With The Arab Strap. Belle & Sebastian
4. Big Boat. M. Ward
5. Radio Campaign. M. Ward
6. Goodbye West Coast. Matt Sharp
7. Drown. Sun Volt
8. It Could Have Been A Brilliant Career. Belle & Sebastian
9. Questions. Papas Fritas
10. New Slang. The Shins
11. Fake Palindromes. Andrew Bird
12. Failure. Kings of Convenience
13. Here Comes The Sun Again. M. Ward
14. Caring Is Creepy. The Shins
15. Tables And Chairs. Andrew Bird
16. A Summer Wasting. Belle & Sebastian
17. Dry The Rain. The Beta Band.
18. The Trapeze Swinger. Iron & Wine
19. Homesick. Kings of Convenience
20. Massterfade. Andrew Bird
21. Neihborhood #1 (Tunnels). The Arcade Fire
22. Wishbone. Architecture In Helsinki
23. Do the Whirlwind. Architecture In Helsinki
24. Baby bye bye. Dan Bern & The IJBC
25. Eva. Dan Bern & The IJBC

Hours spent in the car with two year old: 20+
States passed through: 6
Roadside breakdowns: 2
Dollars spent on automobile repairs: too many to bear
Weddings attended: 1
Blood Donations: 1
Times horrible-looking-mental-state commented upon[1]: 4 or 5
Number of days until I give notice that I'm quitting my job: 0


The only reason I got so many books under my belt last month was because (a) i had a week of vacation, and (b) all the books were quick reads. Thoughts on this month's reading:

Wodehouse: How can you not love Wodehouse? The books are pretty much all the same, but somehow that doesn't matter. I would recommend 'Right ho, Jeeves' as a starting point, and also 'Leave it to Psmith' for a non-Jeevesian specimen.

Christie: I rarely read Mystery novels (although I come from a long line of devourers of that genre), but I've been big into Agatha Christie this month. I bought Orient Express on a whim, and I'm glad I did. I recommend Orient Express and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. I hate 1st person narratives generally, but Ackroyd was on of the best experiments in narration I've read (the book says a lot more than a great deal of 'post modern' literature).

Philip K. Dick: The Man in the High Castle was interesting. Still, I wouldn't read this author unless you have a stomach for Science Fiction.

Potter: What is there to say that hasn't already been said?

The Lamb's Supper: It was interesting, but the writing was only so-so (I am saying this in a snobbish way: what is the use of comparing every religious book one reads to Annie Dillard? Life's too short) and it was a bit too brief. Still, the premise was interesting: A liturgical interpretation of Revelation and an Apocalyptic interpretation of Liturgy.

Slow movie month. I rented more than I saw, but I haven't had any solid blocks of 90-120 minutes in order to enjoy any movies. Fall and Winter are coming and the good movie season will be here soon, so this should pick up.

My Wife is an Actress was okay. Nothing spectacular. See it if you like French movies or unattractive nudity (these things typically go together anyway). The best thing about the movie was the lead actor (who also directed, I believe). The comedy comes not so much from the dialog or the scenario, rather than from the actor's personality. I hope he keeps making films.



[1] Examples: 'Are you okay?', 'What's wrong?', 'You look like your mother just died' and so on. I am not sure why; maybe it's the beard.