Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thy Days are Done

Thy Days Are Done
George Gordon, Lord Byron

Thy days are done, thy fame begun;
Thy country's strains record
The triumphs of her chosen Son,
The slaughter of his sword!
The deeds he did, the fields he won,
The freedom he restored!

Though thou art fall'n, while we are free
Thou shalt not taste of death!
The generous blood that flow'd from thee
Disdain'd to sink beneath:
Within our veins its currents be,
Thy spirit on our breath!

Thy name, our charging hosts along,
Shall be the battle-word!
Thy fall, the theme of choral song
From virgin voices pour'd!
To weep would do thy glory wrong:
Thou shalt not be deplored.

I don't know why this poem gets to me, but every time I read it I think....Wow.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hyperion Day aftermath

What a Hyperion Day! I am still exhausted.

More, after recovery. (Sleep and less pain.)

Thanks to all.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Black Eagle of Prussia

"Black Eagle of Prussia"
Gustave Dore

In war, there are no unwounded soldiers. ~José Narosky

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Matthias Grünewald

I just set up to be all personalized for me. (It's called iGoogle.) One of the things I put on there is "Art of the Day." This is today's. It's called "The Mocking of Christ" by Matthias Grünewald. I can't get it out of my head.

The Mocking of Christ

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Death of Hope

The Darkness in my Soul
It has nowhere to hide
I am no longer whole
I can no more abide
The smile is just for show
The Lie that lets me cope
There's nowhere left to go
This is the Death of Hope

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


I think that if I could have one year free of pain, free of doubt, free of demons; I would gladly give the rest of my potential years up for someone else who needed them.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


By the way, in case you were wondering, Somerset Maugham should be pronounced "Mawm," not Maug-ham or Maug-em. I got into an argument with my mom on this the other day, and she hated being wrong.

Secret Life

I continue to have computer trouble. You never know how much you need something until it no longer works.

In other news, I picked up "The Secret Life of a Schoolgirl" from the library the other day. I don't know what I was hoping for, but that wasn't it. Still, the book was interesting, and I ended up reading it all in one day.

I just remembered: I am supposed to watch (and review) Showtime's Secret Diary of a Call Girl, which I have not gotten around to yet. Because of that, I got interested in "Secret Life" books. I also have on reserve at the Library:

The Secret Life of a Teenage Siren
The Secret Life of Amanda K. Woods
The Secret Life of Becky Miller
The Secret Life of Bees
The Secret Life of Bill Clinton
The Secret Life of Brian
The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes
The Secret Life of Cowboys
The Secret Life of Dagmar Schultz
The Secret Life of Danny Kaye
The Secret Life of Dilly McBean
The Secret Life of Dust
The Secret Life of Food
The Secret Life of Geisha
The Secret Life of Houdini
The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover
The Secret Life of Josephine
The Secret Life of Ramses II
The Secret Life of Lobsters
The Secret Life of Math
The Secret Life of Men
The Secret Life of Mrs. Beeton
The Secret Life of Ms. Wiz
The Secret Life of Plants
The Secret Life of Quanta
The Secret Life of Sharks
The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney
The Secret Life of the Brain
The Secret Life of the dyslexic child
The Secret Life of the lonely doll
The Secret Life of The Veronicas
The Secret Life of Water
The Secret Life of Words
The Secret Lives of Citizens
Secret Lives of common birds
The Secret Lives of Dentists
The Secret Lives of dogs
The Secret Lives of Dolpins
The Secret Lives of fortunate wives
The Secret Lives of girls
The Secret Lives of Men and Women (Postsecret)
The Secret Lives of second wives
The Secret Lives of snakes
The Secret Lives of kudzu debutantes
The Secret Lives of words

Who knew there were so many secret lives going on out there? Will I read them all? Probably not, but at least they are ready for me, should I choose.

Anyway, The Secret Life of a Schoolgirl is by Rosemary Kingswood. It recounts and affair she had with the actor Richard Burton.....when she was 14!

Kingswood somehow kept the secret for 40 years, save her diary, but you really can't blame her for writing a book about it. In 1955 sex with a 14 year old would not be quite as bad as today (especially when it's a famous actor) but still: 'twould have been quite the scandal.

The book was interesting, if not fascinating, but I wanted to share the first couple of sentences. They pop, and are worth reading even if you never give Miss Kingswood another chance:

"There comes a time in a young girls life when she is ripe and ready for love, when there is a richness about her, a glow, a honeyed tumescence that draws men like bees to blossom. Call it what you will, nature, biology, pheremones, or lust, it is the moment, that perfect moment, when her hormones are sizzling, when she melts, when her eyes are dewey with promise, that everything about her is sending out urgent messages. In short, nature works continuously to make her absolutely irresisitible."

How could Sir Richard even stand a chance?

Death Speaks

I started reading John O'Hara's first novel this morning. At the beginning was an epigram by W. Somerset Maugham, itself a reworking of a centuries' old tale. I've heard it before, but it is so powerful, I wanted to share today. It is called "Death Speaks," and may be the finest "flash fiction" story of all time.


There was a merchant in Bagdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, Master, just now when I was in the market-place I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me. She looked at me and made a threatening gesture; now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate. I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me. The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went. Then the merchant went down to the market-place and he saw me standing in the crowd and he came to me and said, Why did you make a threatening gesture to my servant when you saw him this morning? That was not a threatening gesture, I said, it was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Bagdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.

-W. Somerset Maugham


Saturday, August 09, 2008


“Their rhetoric does not match the reality of what they have done.”
-John Edwards

Frankly, John Edwards is not worth much of anyone's time or attention. However, as I intermittently cover political matters, we will give him a brief and curt dismissal.

Most, maybe all, politicians are somewhat fraudulent. They tend not to say what they think, but rather, what they think we want to hear. Part of it is the process. (A politician who says what he or she thinks usually isn't a politician very long.) Most of it, however, is because before anything else, politicians generally want to keep their jobs (or get shinier better ones), and this involves triangulating their positions to gain the most approval, votes; whatever is necessary at the time.

As I said, most politicians do this. It is such a widespread phenomenon that it is almost not worth commenting on. Don't for a minute think that both major presidential candidates are not doing this left and right. (Literally and figuratively.) They are. It's sad, but it's life.

However, every once in a while there exists a politician who is a complete fraud. Their hypocrisy extends to the core of their being. At such times it is our obligation to point them out, lest they be given any credibility whatsoever.

This brings us back to John Edwards.

Way way before any of the current tawdry sex scandal, I was on record saying that Edwards was a fraud. I don't care one bit about the sex (thought it is relevant, as we'll see in a moment), but I do care about what Edwards has to say, and he's a fraud. He was not a man of great ideas, an accomplished legislator, or an experienced executive. His singular ability, which is quite impressive itself, which made him millions as a lawyer, got him elected to the senate, and made him a viable presidential candidate, vice-presidential nominee, and possible vice-presidential candidate or cabinet member this time around, is to tell stories that pull the heartstrings and sway people's emotions.

That's it. These stories aren't necessarily true. In fact, they are mostly BS. He makes them up. or, perhaps more charitably, the "fact" of the stories are not that important to Edwards. He's a storyteller, concerned more with the polemical "truth" of what he's selling.

This would be fine if

A) He was upfront about that from the beginning


B) Edwards's "truth" did in fact contain some actual truth.

Maybe they did. There are certainly poor children in this country, and Edwards talked about poor children often. Then again, didn't someone once say that even the Devil believed in Jesus?

I'm not comparing Edwards to the Devil. (The Devil has ideas.) I'm just saying that talking about something is never an excuse to make up facts to prove your case. That's fraud.

I return to my initial statement. Edwards is not important enough to go line by line through his speeches, policy positions and record to show what a fraud he is. With luck his political career is over, and he will retreat from public view. But who knows? Should he arise, phoenix-like (or vampire-like,), I will stake his heart then.

For now, let us leave off with a quick proof that his sexual behavior is ENTIRELY relevant to judging and dismissing Edwards the politician.

I bring this up because you just know that some will claim we (America) are all puritanical about sex, and it has nothing to with effective governing, etc. I'm not sure I agree, but that's another debate for another time. As far as Edwards goes, though, it is perfectly permissible to dismiss the man (if we had not already, from his "ideas") and shun him based on the sex scandal.

John Edwards wanted it that way.

From the beginning Edwards milked every inch of his family. His wife's battle with cancer was center stage for how the Edwards overcame adversity. When she relapsed (after remission), it became even more of a focus. Here is Edwards with his wife in a 60 Minutes Interview about how they were coping (but really, why Edwards should be president):

Katie Couric: Some have suggested that you're capitalizing on this.

John Edwards: Here's what I would say about that. First of all, there's not a single person in America that should vote for me because Elizabeth has cancer. Not a one.......

.......But, I think every single candidate for president, Republican and Democratic have lives, personal lives, that indicate something about what kind of human being they are. And I think it is a fair evaluation for America to engage in to look at what kind of human beings each of us are, and what kind of president we'd make.


That should be enough. But just in case you wanted more, in case all the incredible denials and lies for months from Edwards, all the close aides who feel so duped, we move, ironically, to what Rielle Hunter, the woman John Edwards had his affair with, was supposed to do for him.

Hunter created a series of "documentary" shorts about the Edwards campaign. They had been pulled from the web, but I have managed to find the first episode. (There are probably others if you care to look; I don't.) I always say the words matter more than how they're said.

Pay attention to the words that come out of John Edwards's mouth.


August 9, 2008

Friday, August 08, 2008


"Gravedigger, when you dig my grave.....could you make it shallow, so that I can feel the rain?"

I get Paste Magazine each month, which comes with a CD full of songs from up-and-coming artists. It's a cool way to get early word on some talented people.

So, I was mighty surprised when I was listening to one of CDs; it was Willie Nelson!

I have since come to find out that "Gravedigger" was originally a Dave Matthews song, on his first solo album. I have never been a fan of the Dave Matthews band, although I have nothing particularly against them. (Except: his one huuuge song had that line that always sounded like "sodomy." I think it was "inside of me," which isn't much better.) However, I just listened to the Dave Matthews version, and it is pretty great. I prefer Willie, but I will say the DM video is ten times better.

The song seems haunting, and for a good reason. Here is how Matthews explains its origins:

"It's kind of these different stories that are brought together by walking through a graveyard with their names and the dates of their births and their deaths, and the stories that came out of their lives," Matthews said recently of "Gravedigger" while on the set of its video in Livingston, Montana. "[It's] sort of just telling those stories and some others as you wander through a graveyard and what you might think if you could walk into the graves and find out what people went through to get there,"

As you listen to the song, try to ignore the video. It will color your experience, which isn't good. I have the lyrics below, so meditate on them. Try to really "feel" what's it's like to be those people Willie is singing about. Each story was like a hot knife in my flesh, while at the same time somehow comforting.

Cyrus Jones 1810 to 1913,
made his great grandchildren believe you could live to 100 and 3
a 100 and 3, is forever when you're just a little kid so
Cyrus Jones lived forever
when you dig my grave
could you make it shallow
so that I can feel the rain

Muriel Stonewall 1903 to 1954,
she lost both of her babies in the second great war
now you should never have to watch your only children lowered in the ground
I mean you should
never have to bury your own babies
when you dig my grave
could you make it shallow
so that I can feel the rain

Ring around the Rosy
Pocket full of posies
ashes to ashes
we all fall down

when you dig my grave
could you make it shallow
so that I can feel the rain
oh Gravedigger

Little Mikey Parsons, 67 to 75
He rode his bike like the devil until the day he died
when he grows up he wants to be Mr. Vertigo on the flying trapeze
oh, 1940 to 1992

when you dig my grave
could you make it shallow
so that I can feel the rain

when you dig my grave
could you make it shallow
so that I can feel the rain
I can feel the rain
I can feel the rain

when you dig my grave
could you make it shallow
so that I can feel the rain

If you still can't get enough, check out the Dave Matthews version, to compare it to how Willie covered the song, and for a much more atmospheric video. Let me know which one you think is the best!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Batman Troubles

I've been working on a big review/column for THE DARK KNIGHT. Here's my problem:

I don't know where to begin.

There hasn't been a movie that deserved as much written about it in some time. Like, I could easily write 10,000 words. This film is begging to be deconstructed.

As for the review, I feel mightily useless. Tuesday night I helped TDK over the edge, passing SPIDER-MAN as the biggest comic book movie of all time. By Monday morning, it will likely be the third biggest movie (domestically) EVER!

In other words, who wants to read a review from me?


Maybe I write it from the perspective of, "Once you've seen the new Batman film, read this column. 'Twill give you things to think about."

Even then, how do I limit it? Do I talk about acting? About the evolution of the comic book film? How much attention do I pay to 9/11 implications. Or the biggest factor: Manichaeism?


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Dark Morning

Finally saw Batman last night. I am almost too exhausted to speak. More after sleep.

Monday, August 04, 2008

And Speaking of Women taking credit.....

In my last post I mentioned how Kaida would probably try and take credit for my great deadpan line. This comes from a conversation I had with my sister years ago.

The Da Vinci Code was big in the news, and Jerrica wanted to know about the historical possibility of Jesus being married.

We were discusssing the various issues therin, for example:

What historical evidence there may or may not be that Jesus was married.

What historical evidence there may or may not be that Jesus was not married.

What theological problems might or might not be posed by such a marriage.

What theological problems might arrise if Mary Magdalene was given prominence over Peter.

What theological problems might arise if Jesus and Mary Magdalene had a dynastic line.

Anyway, it was a fine old conversation, but about the time I was telling Jerrica about the Merovingian Kings, a thought struck me. This led to anothe thought, and another, and suddenly I was seeing a movie in my head. (I tend to get ideas in movie-scenes.)

The idea was far removed from the discussion of Jesus and the Merovingian Line. If I had to plot the course of my thought it would be something like A --> C --> L --> 8 --> & --> etc.

You get the idea. Like all inspiration, and especially my brain, the thoughts were all over the place. The final idea wasn't even tangentially related to the discussion.

However, this did not dissuade Jerrica. Seeing on my face an amazing idea, she immediately demanded that the book (be it a book) be dedicated to her or the movie (be it a movie) include a juicy part for her, all thanks to her inspiration.

This is hogwash. Jerrica had nothing to do with the idea, and to this day can't even begin to tell me what it is. (The only person I've ever told is Quincy.) Nonetheless, whenever this comes up, Jerrica shouts at the top of her lungs,

"I was in the room!"

Throwing a Parade


I'm talking to Kaida last night, and the conversation is winding down, and she says something pointing out a great thing (in her eyes) that she did, and clearly wanting credit for it. I decide to ignore her. And, like all women who feel they have not been justifiably praised for their wondrous deeds, she repeats the sentence, just in case I didn't hear.

This leads to a mild argument about whether what she did is praiseworthy, and how class it is to call attention to that allegedly praiseworthy act.

Finally I deadpan, "Let's add that to the list of reasons to throw a parade."

I knew I had a classic. What a great line, right? You know you want to start using it. In fact, I forgive her self-aggrandizement, as it led to such Awesome on my part.

Of course, like a woman, watch Kaida now try to take credit for "inspiring" my line.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Splendor Falls

I subscribe to a "Poem of the Day" email. Today's was "The Splendor Falls" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. I've been reading and re-reading the poem for about two hours, trying to soak it all in. (It's from "The Princess," if you're a Tennyson fan.) Lamentably, I know very little about Tennyson and his work. I have some thoughts on this, but other than the obvious (death, what comes after), I have nothing worth sharing on what the poem might mean, or what the author might be trying to say.

But that's okay. Poetry doesn't always have to be explained. Sometimes you just take it in and enjoy. Hopefully you will, as well.

The Splendor Falls
Lord Tennyson

The splendor falls on castle walls
And snowy summits old in story;
The long light shakes across the lakes,
And the wild cataract leaps in glory.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying. dying, dying.

O, hark, O, hear! how thin and clear,
And thinner, clearer, farther going!
O, sweet and far from cliff and scar
The horns of Elfland faintly blowing!
Blow, let us hear the purple glens replying,
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.

O love, they die in yon rich sky,
They faint on hill or field or river;
Our echoes roll from soul to soul,
And grow for ever and for ever.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
And answer, echoes, answer, dying, dying, dying.

Schizophrenic Psycho

Yesterday I was sitting in the parking lot at Wal-Mart, because I am most surely an idiot. We needed a few groceries, which my sister and I were going to get. However: Saturday was the 2nd, the day after payday, which means everybody and their brother was at Wal-Mart (on a Saturday afternoon).

Second, every year Georgia runs this scam where they hold a "tax holiday," in order to get people to spend more money. Are people this stupid? In a word? Yes.

(We like to do the shopping in the middle of the night, when it's just you and the stockers. Might be a little tough to maneuver, but it's so nice to move in relative freedom.)

Anyway, so the plan was ill-conceived. Unfortunately, my allergies were just killing me, and (this is gross, in case you want to skip to the next paragraph), I kept swallowing snot all through lunch, and I drank water on top of Chinese food, which is salty, which means it didn't digest, which means the snot just curdled in my stomach, and long story short, I kept throwing up ribbons of snot as I spit/blew my nose hundreds of times.

This meant that I stayed in the car while my sister went it. (Actually, I drove around to different parking spots, because I kept opening my car door to throw up and I didn't want to be associated or near that. I couldn't really get out and walk around because it was almost 100 degrees.

So not good times.

However, the point: as I was sitting and not breathing, I listened to hard-rock radio. Not generally my first club out of the bag, but I was too miserable even to change the dial. One of the songs caught me with the line "Maybe I'm the one who is.....the schizophrenic psycho." As they say, it was like they were playing my song.

When I got home I looked it up; turns out the song is sung by Puddle of Mudd. (It's called "Psycho.") I'm not super familiar with them, but I've heard a few of their songs. I seem to recall in one of them that someone (either the singer or the girl he was singing about), wanted his/her ass smacked. Not sure why that detail stuck in my head.

I listened to the song again, and read over the lyrics. They seemed mysterious and meaningful, even though they probably aren't. Here you go:

Follow along with the lyrics

Then, I happened to find another version, the music video. This changed everything for me. Has that ever happened to you? You totally like a song, it seems to hit that certain part of the back of your brain, to reach out and "get" you, but the video is so different from your interpretation that it almost ruins it? They won't let me embed that, but if the song hooked you, watch it here.

I suppose I should wrap this up with something witty or interesting, but I can't breathe again, so I'm done.