:::this is the way the world ends:::

Month: January 2007

Three Things I’d Like You to Know


We have talked briefly about fasting on this blog, but never in depth. This February 24th, I am going to participate in a Thirty-Hour-Famine. This amounts more to a hunger strike than a fast, which implies a more spiritual journey. I will be going thirty hours without food in order to raise money for Worldvision activities in Uganda. I am once again calling upon my friends and family to donate to this cause by the date above. Checks can be made to WorldVision for any amount. I will say that I will cut a check for five dollars more than the largest check I get from any of you.

Two: Recently, I have been reading some essays by John Ruskin. Oddly enough, I searched out one of his essays, because Gandhi mentioned it having changed his life (come to find out, so did Proust, Tolstoy, and William Morris). The essay is called “Unto This Last”. It is a four part, medium length essay expounding on the inherent problems of England’s capitalist economy. I have read things by John Berger challenging the notions of capitalism as well, but Ruskin’s is more direct, more reasoned, and oddly more contemporary. It is written in high Victorian language, which is beautiful and difficult to understand. Ruskin is rapidly becoming one of my favorite historical essayists. Many economists after Ruskin have felt compelled to answer to his charges in this essay.

Three: Shoot. I forgot what number three was.

Poetry Post: The Buried Life

Just back from a tremendous week in the Caribbean. By way of a Poetry Post, here’s a review of a new book on T. S. Eliot that seems relevant and interesting. The idea of “the buried life” seems central to Eliot–perhaps, in some ways, to all of us in the Hollow Men. –Shotts

Books of The Times
A Devoted Tour Guide to a Desert of a Soul

Published: January 16, 2007

By Craig Raine
202 pages. Oxford University Press. $21.

In a culture that now seems long ago and far, far away, T. S. Eliot was a rock star. The poet made the cover of Time magazine in 1950, and several years later, 14,000 people turned out in Minneapolis to listen to him talk about “The Frontiers of Criticism.” Modernism was the ruling aesthetic inside and outside academe, Eliot was one of its high priests, and his most famous poem, “The Waste Land,” was hailed not only for its groundbreaking technique and glittering shards of language, but also for its difficulty — its density, its allusiveness, its recondite knowledge.

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Recommended: Pan’s Labyrinth


Though there are more scenes of graphic violence than I would have liked I highly recommend this movie. I didn’t see a better movie in 2006 and I don’t expect to see a better movie in 2007. I’m looking forward to Netflixing Guillermo del Toro’s other work as well.

Two Album Music Thursday

Camera Obscura | Let’s Get Out Of This Country

01 Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken
02 Tears For Affairs
03 Come Back Margaret
04 Dory Previn
05 The False Contender
06 Let’s Get Out Of This Country
07 Country Mile
08 If Looks Could Kill
09 I Need All The Friends I Can Get
10 Razzle Dazzle Rose

Youth Group | Casino Twighlight Dogs

The proverbial second album is an online listen, check out their track titled “Daisychains.”  It’s superb. 

Click on the cover to hear it and some of their previous works.

Like, Not Love, Music Thursday

It’s not that I won’t love these songs someday…it’s just that I’ve only met them within the last week, day, or hour.  How can I say those words without more history between us?  I’m taking love back, right now.

01 Cloud Cult | “Chemicals Collide”
02 Cloud Cult | “Outside of Your Skin”

03 Malajube | “La Monogamie”
04 Malajube | “Montreal – 40 degre Celcuis”

Malajube’s Videos are a delight…check after the jump for a couple of YouTube goodness.


05 The One AM Radio | “In the Time We’ve Got”
06 The One AM Radio | “Flicker”
07 The One AM Radio | “The Greatest of Ease”
08 The One AM Radio | “Ninety-Nine, One Hundred (Live)”

09 Au Revoir Simone | “Backyards of Our Neighbors”
10 Au Revoir Simone | “Hurricanes”

The Arcade Fire is coming out with a new album — they’re one of the bands I’ve liked (and put tracks from Funeral on “All the Money That Money Buys last year).

11 The Arcade Fire | “Black Mirror”

And now for a few random uncoupled smatterings:

12 Of Montreal | “Gronlandic Edit”
13 !!! | “Myth Takes”
14 Laylights | “Sparrows”

The last one reminds me of The Editors…good night all!

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Poetry Post

Here’s an appropriate first poem to start the New Year. It starts with a muzak-version of Dylan and ends on a Dear Abby letter, and in between gets at our present moment.


Hard Rain

After I heard “It’s a Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”
played softly by an accordion quartet
through the ceiling speakers at the Springdale Shopping Mall,
I understood there’s nothing
we can’t pluck the stinger from,

nothing we can’t turn into a soft drink flavor or a t-shirt.
Even serenity can become something horrible
if you make a commercial about it
using smiling, white-haired people

quoting Thoreau to sell retirement homes
in the Everglades, where the swamp has been
drained and bulldozed into a nineteen-hole golf course
with electrified alligator barriers.

“You can’t keep beating yourself up, Billy,”
I heard the therapist say on television
to the teenage murderer,
“about all those people you killed—
you just have to be the best person you can be,

one day at a time”—

and everybody in the audience claps and weeps a little,
because the level of deep feeling has been touched,
and they want to believe that
the power of Forgiveness is greater
than the power of Consequence, or History.

Dear Abby:

My father is a businessman who travels.
Each time he returns from one of his trips,
his shoes and trousers
are covered with blood–
but he never forgets to bring me a nice present.
Should I say something?

Signed, America.

I used to think I was not part of this,
that I could mind my own business and get along,

but that was just another song
that had been taught to me since birth—

whose words I was humming under my breath,
as I was walking through the Springdale Mall.

–Tony Hoagland

Earl Grey Cookies

Here is the recipe you have all been pining for:

Earl Grey Tea Cookies (makes 6 dozen)

2 c. all purpose flour

1/2 c. granulated sugar

2 T. Earl Grey tea leaves (or two tea bags)

1/2 t. salt

1 t. pure vanilla extract

1 c. unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Pulse together all the dry ingredients in a food processor until the tea leaves are pulverized.  Add the vanilla, 1 t. water, and the butter.  Pulse together until a dough is formed.  Divide the dough in half.  Place each half on a sheet of plastic wrap and roll into a 12 inch log, about 2 inches in diameter.  Wrap and chill for 30 minutes.  Slice each log into discs, 1/3 inch thick.  Place on parchment or foil-lined baking sheets, 2 inches apart.  Bake until the edges are just brown, about 12 minutes.  Let cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack.  Enjoy!

FYI, for our allergy-ridden friends, mangos are in the cashew family.


I’m trying to cover all my thanks in one blow. So — thanks J.E. for the gift of the gear. Right now we have it by our side door. Not the best place, but we’ll look for a better place. I also want to apologize for missing your call. I just checked my message yesterday. (People don’t call me very often on my cell). Feel free to call our house anytime.

Thanks Peters for coming over on New Year’s Eve and getting me to take the Myers – Briggs. I have to admit that I am skeptical of aptitude tests because I tend to loathe labels and catergorizations and how people use them to decide how they want to treat people. But I was glad I took it. I guess Counselor Idealist is about as close to Discontented Idealist as I could expect. (That was meant to be funny in an under-handed way).

Thanks, Toby, for so much. The blog makes my best of 2006 list. Thanks for passing off the music from the blog as well as the Window in the Sky cd. I have to admit I am sometimes cynical about the music posts, thinking something along the lines of “What indie rock, flash-in-the-pan band is it this time?” But in all honesty I have been enjoying the cd immensely. You are a guru of pop-culture and you’re making me quite hip with my college students; so keep up the good work. So far, I like the Decemberists and the Rock Kills Kid songs, but I haven’t been through the entire disc too many times.

Thanks to Shotts for the chance to get together after I missed the Pre-Christmas gathering. It was fun.

Rapatronic Wednesday

From Damn Interesting (one of my favorite ways of wasting time on the internet).

I saw this for the first time two months ago and the images have set up shop in the same part of my brain that houses the 500 kV video I posted last month. I find these images sublime and hypnotic — like catching a glimpse of the end and beginning of the universe.

During the early days of atomic bomb experiments in the 1940s, nuclear weapons scientists had some difficulty studying the growth of nuclear fireballs in test detonations. These fireballs expanded so rapidly that even the best cameras of that time were unable to capture anything more than a blurry, over-exposed frame for the first several seconds of the explosion.

Before long a professor of electrical engineering from MIT named Harold Eugene “Doc” Edgerton invented the rapatronic camera, a device capable of capturing images from the fleeting instant directly following a nuclear explosion. These single-use cameras were able to snap a photo one ten-millionth of a second after detonation from about seven miles away, with an exposure time of as little as ten nanoseconds. At that instant, a typical fireball had already reached about 100 feet in diameter, with temperatures three times hotter than the surface of the sun.


I Like Lentils


Liz and I have trouble taking the time to feed ourselves properly — especially for supper. But tonight we had one of our favorite meals. This recipe is very good and very simple.

Lentil Soup

16 oz. (2 1/2 cups) dry lentils
8 c. water
4 stalks celery, sliced
5 carrots, sliced
1/4 c. parsley, chopped
2 t. salt
3/4 t. pepper
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
16 oz can (2 c.) tomatoes, undrained, sliced
3 T. red wine vinegar

Combine lentils, water, celery, carrots, parsley, salt, pepper, onion and garlic. Bring to boil. Reduce heat. Cover; simmer 1 1/2 hours. Stir in tomatoes and vinegar. Cover; simmer an additional 30 minutes.

Stir often in the last hour or so. The lentils like to stick to the bottom. The vinegar and tomatoes make this really good — don’t be tempted to substitue!

We usually have this with red wine, whole wheat tortillas or soda bread. Hope you like it.
Please post some of your staples. Liz and I need new food.

Mental Health Monday

OK, so here is my first post in a while- a two-parter.

I have recently been thinking in systems theories, particularly as they partain to groups like ours. How closely does life imitate art, I ponder. In a system, each part of that system serves a function and hopefully the whole of the system is able to obtain homeostasis, that is to say, a conistancy in functioning. Our group, I would contend has been consistent over time to a degree, and has righted itself here and there over the years. So, when TV shows, movies, and theater is written, one wonders how much of what they are trying to capture could be represented in our little group. What I would suggest is that this may occur more than we think.

An interesting little experiment we might do here is to have each person consider the cast of a few shows and movies and submit them to me. Feel free to add shows, or movies we might all have some degree of familiarity with. What I would be interested in is:

1) how we see ourselves; what roles we envision ourselves in
2) how others see us
3) how well those match.

This may give us some clues as to some of the roles we fulfill with in the structure of our group. Some obvious shows: Star Trek (original and next generation), Lost, U2 (not a written cast, but a group whose members function as a system), Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, M*A*S*H*, the Office. Maybe we want to choose 2 or three to get started. Suggestions? Send them to me this week, and I will tally and report on them next Monday. I am also open to any suggestions on how to better this experiment.

The next line of business is not related with any intention to the first. I would submit that we all look at taking 5 minutes and filling out a Myers-Briggs test. Human Metrics has one that has a number of questions which should provide some validity to the project. This is strictly for fun only, and does not have any problematic mental health implications. This is a test used primarily by psychologists and is a fun way to compare what the test says about personality traits so we might compare how that measures up with observation of self and others. Really not much more than a conversation peice which may give everyone a little insight about themselves and how they function and work, what strengths they might have. I would be interested to get feedback on how whether or not everyone feels the tool is accurate or inaccurate and why. There are several of these on line, and they are not the actual test, but my experience has been that they are fairly predictive in capturing the flavor of the test. This one is a little longer than the others which should help create more validity. There are no right answers just how you feel. being honest with yourself and not playing to the bias that you feel the questionare is seeking is most likely to result in the most accurate tabulations. I took it and will take it again after I post to see if my result is consistent again. I was an INTJ.

Here is one more if you get bored or want to compare your result to another test.

I am looking forward to hearing what you guys find out. By the way, Happy New Year to all.

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