I hope you all have a great one. Sorry you’re not all arriving up here in the cold and snow this evening for a night of Asian food before we have the usual feast on Thanksgiving Day. Tradition looms large in memory.
Oh the long tradition. Much regret we are not gathering together. Many good wishes and gratitude to all of you on this Thanksgiving. A lot to be thankful for this year. A raised glass to you.
A piece of Walt Whitman on this historic day:
If I should need to name, O Western World, your powerfulest scene and show,
‘Twould not be you, Niagara – nor you, ye limitless prairies – nor your huge
rifts of canyons, Colorado,
Nor you, Yosemite – nor Yellowstone, with all its spasmic geyserloops
ascending to the skies, appearing and disappearing,
Nor Oregon’s white cones – nor Huron’s belt of mighty lakes – nor
This seething hemisphere’s humanity, as now, I’d name – the still small
voice vibrating – America’s choosing day…
Ned, thanks for the quick examples of your take on the frightening theme. About two weeks ago I started digging through my art from college because I had a hankering to start in on my work again. I hadn’t looked at my work since college in many cases, and was surprised by what I thought was crap then didn’t seem so crappy. I worked on "restoring" a couple of drawings that had gotten smeared from my few moves since an undergrad and fixing some parts that I wanted to alter. A couple of drawings I thought would be fine contributions to Project Frightening.
I am hopefully going to post a couple of creepy things that aren’t mine and one that is mine in the comments later today. Click on the thumbnails to see an enlarged view.
Study of Bernini’s Death on the Tomb of Pope Urban VIII
Box Elder, Part of the "My Icons" Series
I had to take photos of these both and adjust them in Photoshop, so they look much different in real life. The Box Elder piece is at least five feet in height, so I had to take two shots and seam them together. The Death study is on white paper, but I created the effect you see in Photoshop and thought it created a nice mood for this project. Hope you like my additions!
Thought I’d share a few tracks from the Fleet Foxes album that came out recently. J.E. came to my mind when I saw the Bruegel image used on the cover. Speaking of J.E., hope your busy season goes well, sir!
01 | White Winter Hymnal
02 | Quiet Houses
03 | Your Protector
04 | Blue Ridge Mountains
Have a fantastic autumnal week!
My apologies for not posting this sooner. A couple of things have prompted my long absence from the blog 1) the getting ready for, the birth of, and resulting lack of sleep from Ms. Clara Francine 2) I took a week off work and I’ve been working double for a while now (although things are finally starting to get back to a normal workload) 3) Steph and I sent out a mass email with details to you all, but we’ve learned that it may have been blocked and not gotten to anyone.
Clara Francine was born Friday September 28th at 11:04 pm. The delivery went great and she is doing really well. She weighed 7 lbs 1.5 oz and was 20 inches long. Clara is named after Stephâ€™s grandmother, Francine.
Here is a link to the Flickr website where we have a few pictures posted: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tobiaspete/
I’ll be posting more photos to Flickr in the coming weeks, so you can try to hit every once in a while for new photos.
I have to say that I wish we were all excitedly posting and commenting on this site about gathering for Thanksgiving. I know our lives are all at a distance and that there are many factors that mean the tradition has ended. We had a pretty tremendous ten-year run. And last year, I greatly enjoyed gathering with Toby and Peters in Kansas City for autumn fun, long walks, cigars, and bocce.
This will be one of the first full calendar years where I have not been, and will not be, in Kansas at all. I miss it, and will miss gathering with you all for the holidays. I just walked down to Ingebretsen’s, the Scandanavian shop two blocks away that is one of the last remnants of the old immigrants in my neighborhood–it reminds me of home and of Lindsborg and of the holidays. So here’s a raised glass of lingonberry sparkler to you.
Perhaps we can revisit possibilities for gathering sometime before long.
If you haven’t all by now downloaded Radiohead’s new album, In Rainbows, I highly recommend you do so. You can find it on Radiohead’s web site and download it for as much or as little money as you think it’s worth. Admittedly I gave all of two British pounds, which comes to about $5. It’s worth far more than that.
Jerod may even be playing with Radiohead by now, so listen for his distinctive wailing synthesizers on continual loop.
I also highly recommend a newish album by a band called Okkerville River. Very good, tuney stuff.
Jen and I went to see Wilco last week here in Minneapolis, and they put on a really great show. As mellow as their latest album is, the live show was completely loud. Jen’s and my first real date was going to Wilco at the Walker Sculpture Garden, so it was nice to go home again. The opening act was an interesting multi-instrumentalist named Andrew Bird who builds songs live on stage by playing various instruments and looping them over each other. He also whistles a lot, and he’s a damn impressive whistler. Very entertaining and interesting show.
The peak of the fall is already past its heights up here. Jen and I will be raking up damp leaves a lot of the weekend, and trying to find whatever glory can be found in that and scooping out raingutters.
I have been contemplating this place and time in life–being 33. It is an interesting but hard to define stage. I have particularly been trying to explore the concept of the Jesus Year, as Jesus was supposedly 33 for the bulk of his ministry, betrayal, and death. The concept is that by the age of 33, you should have done something big–perhaps not have saved us all from sin and hell, mind you, but something large in terms of a contribution. Do we die a metaphorical death in this year? And if so, what is on the other side? What does it mean to contribute something, and something big or important, by this age? I’ve been trying to think through this a bit, and write about it in some way as a project.
What does the Jesus Year hold for you, and what do you make of this idea generally, and in terms of your own lives?
For me, I’m interested in finding larger struggles beyond myself, and maybe that’s ultimately what one can do that lives up to, in part, the example of Jesus. And yet. Here, this year, I’ve been given everything–a good life, companionship, good work, and even a more flexible schedule so that I can teach this fall (something I’ve wanted for a long time) and so that I can write (something I’ve always wanted). Why does this still seem like it falls short? Why are my struggles still primarily with myself? Is this part of the experience of being 33, as a sort of crossroads year? A year in which I know many of my peers are far more successful in terms of what the culture says is successful? Why is it that I still can’t eat right, exercise right, balance my life? Maybe the Jesus Year is the year we are supposed to compare ourselves to Jesus, yes, but really what we do is compare ourselves to everyone else?
But more generally, does this stage of life have any common or universal traits among the culture at large? Are most people already married? already married and divorced? having children? getting higher promotions? running for office? changing jobs? moving? taking up some cause?
I thought you would all be interested in this, seeing as, for a little while longer, at least, we’re all 33, our high school and college classmates are, most of them, 33, and I suspect several of our friends, cousins, and others around us are 33. And we haven’t had a larger question posed lately, so it seems like a good time. Any thoughts?
I’m writing this post from my new office at Macalester College. It feels right now rather incredible to be here, even just for one semester, teaching one class. And it’s exciting and a little daunting to have an office in the department and the building where I used to take classes myself, meet with professors and advisers, and generally skulk. It’s a little like Hagrid finally getting his chance to teach at Hogwarts.
So I’m busy on my Thursdays and Fridays away from Graywolf–preparing my syllabus, creating assignments, and fretting in positive ways about the fall semester. I’m sort of giddy to be back on a campus, right across from the library and chapel, and around some of the bustle that’s already starting to take place. My class doesn’t start until September 10, so luckily I have some time yet. It will be a great experiment to be back in the classroom again, and I’m feeling like it’s a great time to return to it. And with just a one-class appointment, it’s not a huge loss if it all doesn’t go perfectly–so in it’s way, it’s nice to have some pressure off.
Meanwhile, I’m trying to get some writing in and some freelance editing to try to make up some of my reduced salary. This seems like a much healthier schedule for me, and I’m finding myself happier even than I thought I’d be at taking a step back from Graywolf. Here’s to good things ahead.
“It’s election day. Help me.”
Alright, here’s a little ditty to help things go a little smoother today. Humorous…and at the same time makes me realize that on this day, more than any other, I want to be on something.
Direct from our friend Lyle Lovett: Election Day.
From My Baby Don’t Tolerate.
He’s looking out for all of us….
Looking forward to Kansas City and heading south where, presumably, it hasn’t snowed several times already. I wish I could say that were true for Minnesota.
Tradition dictates that we will see a movie over the weekend, and tradition also dictates that we discuss in advance what movie we will watch.
My vote goes to THE PRESTIGE, the new Christopher Nolan film, the director of MEMENTO and INSOMNIA and BATMAN BEGINS. Seems like a good bet, with an autumn and Halloween appropriateness. And seems like a good movie to discuss over a pint at Harry’s.
Any other contenders?
Also of note, U2 does have a new album coming out soon–U218 Singles–with 16 of their singles plus 2 new tracks, one in collaboration with Green Day on a cover of “The Saints Are Coming.” I’m assuming Toby will have the new tracks in their entirety, somehow found and downloaded.
It’s shaping up already to be a great weekend.