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Friday, November 30, 2007

A donkey wedding in Texas

Lee Fifield writes about taking her female donkey to meet a swain. Donkeys are pregnant for about a year...

The Texas sky glowed and blue and pink and crimson colors were all about in the west and I stood next to JLo and said, "My herd, JLo is leaving in the morning to get married to Midnight. We all must say our goodbyes as she must be safe in foal before coming home - or, if she does not take, we will welcome her back as our own regardless.

Stash (gelded as he is), still flush with the courting play all afternoon, was interested. Gisele, who I think of as a little girl, well I didn’t want to go into detail with her about what was to transpire with JLo and the perils of field breeding, such matters should not concern a young jennet.

This is a great occasion! There will be another among us! I gave everyone a piece of black licorice and we celebrated in our own ways. A year is a long time to wait.

This is what Lee had to say afterwards:

Nuptuals / yucky

I got up, changed the batteries in my camera, loaded JLo up and entered into the fray, visions of white gauzy lace enveloping JLo's head as her betrothed gently plied her with grapes.

Well, it was a most business-like affair. She was unceremoniously tied to a fence. Her betrothed was led out, a strapping handsome fellow, black as his name, Midnight, In circles nearby, ogling her disrespectfully.

Jacks have a way of bellowing their intentions and he wasted no time. It was over before I was able to even begin the ceremony music, the text was left unspoken. He was led quickly away, a workman in a truck who had stopped speechlessly at the sight, shook his head grinning, and drove away.

Such is life, everyone seemed satisfied and pleased, even JLo. I began to immediately think of names.

Lee (the one at the donkey wedding in Texas)

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Satchel Paige's "Rules for Staying Young."

"Rules for Staying Young" appeared in the June 13, 1953 issue of Collier's.

  1. "Avoid fried meats which angry up the blood".

  2. "If your stomach disputes you, lie down and pacify it with cool thoughts".

  3. "Keep the juices flowing by jangling around gently as you move".

  4. "Go very light on the vices, such as carrying on in society — the social ramble ain't restful".

  5. "Avoid running at all times".

  6. "And don't look back — something might be gaining on you".


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Atlanta: "it's too late to pray when the sun is shining if you didn't pray when it was raining."

Concerning this post about over-consumption and feeling thankful, in which I attributed a quote to Cannonball Adderly, as remembered from an overpriced greeting card I saw in Asheville years ago, a friend in Atlanta sent a correction:

I think I located the source of the quote you told me about at Wikipedia.

Don't pray when it rains if you don't pray when the sun shines.
Satchel Paige
New York Post, 4 October 1959.

OK, I'm embarrassed to have gotten it so wrong.

This friend, who lives in Atlanta, GA, spotted my beloved quote in an article about their local government short-sightedly making no preparations as the water level in Lake Lanier, the only water source for the huge city, sank lower and lower - they kept hoping the rains would finally come. This "hoping" policy worked in past droughts - the rains eventually came and bailed them out.

Thus were they able to postpone any discussion of, or painful attempts to confront, their chronic water problem. And due to the frenetic development pace Atlanta is so proud of, well - every year thousands more people and irrigation systems are sucking water out of that beleaguered reservoir.

The rains haven't come, the drought gets more and more historic every day. Now Atlanta's water has sunk to the level of the reservoir's intake pipe. A couple days ago the Army Corps of Engineers estimated: "The top third of the lake may be gone in as little as 79 days."

I think I remember reading: the proposed solution, as the water level drops, is to add more chemicals. The "dead zone" they'll soon be sucking from contains a lot of dead plants and animals. "It will be perfectly safe to drink," they assure the public.

The Army Corps of Engineers further estimates the entire lake could be dry in less than a year.

Things aren't better here in North Carolina. We get 1/10 of an inch from time to time. Farmers are slaughtering their animals because there's no hay.

I guess we'll all just keep turning on the taps and using up the water till we turn on the taps one day and nothing comes out.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sancho on "eating alone"

From Laudator Temporis Acti, one of my favorite blogs.

Cervantes, Don Quixote, Part I, Chap. XI (tr. Walter Starkie):

"Many thanks for your favor," replied Sancho, "but I must tell your worship that provided I have plenty to eat, I can eat as well and better on my feet and by my lonesome than if I was perched up on a level with an emperor.

To tell you the honest truth, what I eat in my own corner without fuss and frills tastes far better, though it's nought but bread and onion, than turkey at tables where I have to chew slowly, drink but a sip, wipe my mouth often, neither sneeze nor cough even when I'm dying to do so, nor do other things that a man is free to do when he's alone."

I leave to your imagination what other things a man is free to do when he is dining alone. Bread and onion are proverbially the diet of the impoverished.

Spanish proverbs referring to the two foods eaten together include the rhyming "A falta de polla, pan y cebolla" ("In the absence of chicken, bread and onion") and "Contigo pan y cebolla" ("With thee, bread and onion," i.e. "Provided that you are by my side, bread and onion are enough").

Of course, in my case eating alone is usually shredded wheat and bananas, though I have been dutifully gnawing away at the remains of our Thanksgiving turkey. Hannah informed me it would become "Danger Turkey" by tomorrow so I'm looking forward to throwing the rest of it to the crows.


Monday, November 26, 2007

An "8 things" meme

I haven't done one of these for a couple years; this one via Byzantium's Shores.

8 things I am passionate about:
  1. The environment
  2. Diversity in everything
  3. Spelling
  4. Yiddish
  5. Traditional music
  6. Doing what I say I'm going to do
  7. Being a mom
  8. Mentoring Menticia

8 things I want to do before I die
  1. Ride in my donkey cart to the grocery store
  2. See my children settled into happy families (of any kind)
  3. Re-learn Russian
  4. Visit parts of the world where there are no MacDonalds' restaurants
  5. Go back to the Bibliothèque Medem and be in the advanced group
  6. Record a cd of Yiddish songs with Jacqueline Schwab (if I can get her interested enough to do it...) or some other wonderful pianist
  7. Get better at painting
  8. Get better at playing the piano
Actually, I feel I've had a chance to do most of things I'd want to do. Or anyway, I've conveniently forgotten the ones I used to want to do. Or perhaps would like to do again? Be in love? Dance?

8 things I say often
  1. "Thank you." (to the many people who help me and are kind to me)
  2. "Good Boy!" (to Jethro)
  3. "I'm still above ground." (if you ask me how I am on a bad day)
  4. "Are you doing what you want to be doing?" (to my son)
  5. "Can we try it again?" (in rehearsal)
  6. "If you don't chew bones your teeth won't hurt" (to myself)
  7. "I don't want to want things I can't have."
  8. "I love you." (to my children almost every day)

8 books I’ve read recently
  1. The Adventures of Mottel the Cantor's Son by Sholem Aleichem
  2. Last of the Donkey Pilgrims by Kevin O'Hara
  3. Travels with My Donkey: One Man and His Ass on a Pilgrimage to Santiago] by Tim Moore
  4. Beowulf, the bilingual edition, translation by Seamus Heaney (I just started it)
  5. Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones (with Menticia)
  6. The Ghost of Hannah Mendes by Naomi Ragen (blegh, wish I hadn't)
  7. Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander (parts of it)
  8. La casa de los espíritus by Isabel Allende (been working on this one a long time)

Thinking about this made me melancholy for some reason.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Today's ridiculous sight...

... a big donkey ingloriously competing with chickens to hoover up little bits of leftover Thanksgiving mashed potatoes.

I threw them to the chickens but Jethro intervened immediately. He's out there right now, as night falls, trying to make sure not one crumb of potato is left. The chickens are trying to get some, but he counters by blocking them with his large body - they can slalom back and forth through his legs unscathed (because he can't see directly under his belly), but he's making the situation as difficult as possible.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Dixie Draft Horse, Mule, and Carriage Auction, Troutman NC

I spent a few hours yesterday at the Iredell County Fairgrounds watching a staggering number of people buying and selling rusty farm implements, lead ropes by the gross, things I could not possibly identify, and expensive horse-drawn carriages.

There were many Mennonite (or Amish?) vendors present, from Ohio and Pennsylvania and perhaps further afield; they are royalty in this kingdom.

Here you see a couple of the ladies who took down our information; we attendees stood in line to show drivers' licenses and get our special Buyer Numbers written large in Magic Marker (so the auctioneers can identify winners) -- and lots of space for writing down our purchases.

There were scores of auctioneers. They spelled each other in the barns, on stages, and on golf carts which inched down the rows of stuff. They could all do that fast-pitched warbling and yodeling that urges the onlookers to spend just a little bit more than they thought they could. Still, many items went for just a couple of bucks.

Carriages, though, went for thousands - harnesses and saddles went for multiple hundreds. You certainly needed to know what you were doing to make out well here.

There were only three donkeys that I saw. Here is one of them.

If you want to see all this stuff in more detail, click on the pictures for larger versions.


Friday, November 23, 2007

My Thanksgiving blessings.

I was so so happy to have Hannah and her swain here for Thanksgiving. We made a great dinner, took walks with the donkey, tried to catch chickens (occasionally with success), and listened to music. The weather was fabulous. And we're still above ground.

Here you see Hannah crocheting herself a hat. She would make four stitches, put it on, say "it's not long enough yet," take it off, and crochet four more stitches. Her swain was helpfully holding the floss and untangling it when necessary.

And here is the finished product, modeled by the satisfied artisan.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Hannah's Thanksgiving Painting

Hannah said: These are Vikings. I took away their spears and gave them pleasant expressions instead of scowls.

The Urban Caballero and I were wondering if these Vikings are planning to conquer Iceland with their watermelons.



The Urban Caballero paints Lydia

The Urban Caballero, who painted this portrait of his cat Lydia, says: I like the textured blanket the most. Also, the real cat is much better looking than this one. The circumstance of the painting is better than the painting.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Jethro's unexpected delight....

Hannah and the Urban Caballero arrived at 10 pm and that set off Jethro the Donkey's "What's Going On Here?" bray, which actually sounds like the "Feed Me Now" bray and the "How Come the Chickens Are Getting Corn And I Am Not?" bray. They are all Middle C (out) Squeak (in) Middle C (out) Squeak (in) though sometimes, depending on the emotional tenor of the monologue, there are a few preliminary or terminating Squeaks unaccompanied by Middle C.

My usual practice is to ignore all nocturnal monologues and hope there will not grow to be more of them, since the neighbors are surprisingly tolerant but there may be a limit.

(Hannah's suggestion when I first fretted about nocturnal monologues: "You need to obtain buy-in - make sure the neighbors meet him and see how cute he is." More on the successful neighborhood buy-in operation later.)

But this time we went down to see him. He poked his head over the fence - you never know when a visitor might have half an apple in some hidden pocket - and got many scratches and pats. He was on very best behavior, like a toddler who has unexpectedly been allowed to come downstairs in jammies long after bedtime.

They were most taken with my pet - "He's so cute! He's so big! His ears are so soft!"

In sum, I obtained buy-in from my houseguests, which is important, because Jethro will recommence his monologues at 5:15 am.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Melinama does Illustration Friday: "Superstition"

I didn't think I'd have time to do a painting yesterday because I was behind in the readings for our Yiddish Book Club which was meeting in the evening. However, I knocked this one out.

This is my own personal superstition: when the sun is shining, when things are going well, I feel worried that, as Beckie at Caray, Caray! puts it, the Acme Anvil is about to drop on my head.

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Mike does Illustration Friday: "Superstition"

Mike says: The Aye-Aye is a fantastic nocturnal animal that has the ill fortune of being considered evil in parts of Madagascar. Some island superstitions urge shooting the animal on sight.

As a tour guide at the Duke Lemur Center I get to see these lovely rare primates each week. The long middle finger and big ears are used to tap and sound out hollows where tasty bugs may lie. The front teeth are sharp enough to chew through concrete!

Listen to the call on the Duke Lemur Center website.

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

[New York Bureau]: Quote of the day

Went to see a production of Shakespeare's play Cymbeline this past weekend. My favorite part is when a young villain is attempting to court his stepsister (who hates him and who is married to another man). Not the brightest character, he cannot imagine why his courtship has not been successful. Perplexed, he tells his manservant:

"But I have assailed her with musics!"

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Meanwhile, out in the real world...

Suddenly I realize there IS something important I've been missing by eliminating newspapers from my life: Dilbert.


Friday, November 16, 2007

Feline Friday: Cats of Bulgaria #1

I took quite a few pictures of cats while Hannah and I were in Bulgaria. Here's the first.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Signori Spelterini will balance on his forehead a Living Ass

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In which consumption and Cannonball Adderley occupy my thoughts

Many years ago a morbidly obese but very friendly woman struggled up my front stairs for a singing lesson. I instantly realized she would be an impossible student, because she didn't really want to change anything she did, but she was fun and full of life and we became friends.

We went out to lunch once a week for years and when my son was sick I dragged my sorry butt to her house and fell into her arms sobbing. She wrapped me in a blanket, plunked me on her huge comfy leather sofa, and turned on her huge flat screen tv and provided as much consolation as a person could hope for.

She was the richest and fattest person I have ever known, having 51 million dollars and prospects of many millions more when her elderly parents died, and weighing in at, I would guess, around 400 pounds.

She was not completely housebound - in her comfy new Mercedes Benz she made daily trips to Whole Foods and weekly trips to the manicurist, the hair stylist, and the vet (her dogs were constantly needing some tweaking of their health).

However, mostly she stayed home, entertaining herself with (1) hundreds of tv channels (she had cable and satellite both); (2) her animals (one dog got 15 pills a day despite apparently perfect health - maybe the problem was the large quantities of ice cream he got when she fetched herself frequent heaping bowls); and (3) shopping.

She also derived entertainment from harrassing and complaining about the many people who worked for her. She paid them well but they put up with an awful lot.

I didn't like much of this but she fascinated me, and I was lonely, so I was a frequent onlooker. I asked myself, and now I ask you: how many millions of dollars would it take to persuade you to gain several hundred pounds?

She was a study in the ways over-consumption can destroy a person. Spending money and eating were her pursuits. Her life was full of stuff nobody needs. When I last saw her, she was planning to have a bulldozer scrape her $1.5 million dollar house so she could build another one more to her liking.

She bought herself a $36,000 diamond ring because "I deserve it." Each of her hair styling expeditions (to get highlights and whatever) cost approximately as much as Jethro.

Isn't this what most Americans are accused of? Buying junk we don't need? On the other hand, when we don't buy, they say "CONSUMER SPENDING IS DOWN" and they blame us for the stock market crashing. Guilt either way.

It wasn't her narcissism and consuming ways that made me leave our friendship - it was my increasing inability to ignore (1) the way she treated her full-time maid, and (2) her racism. I haven't seen her in a long time.

Anyway, each summer she complained bitterly about the heat and vowed to move to Asheville. She planned a house-hunting expedition but was afraid of highway driving, so she offered me a free trip if I'd be her chauffeur. Why not? We each had our own private room in a luxury hotel and, as you might expect, we ate very well.

While she was out with a realtor one afternoon I was killing time in a gift shop; I saw a greeting card I'm still thinking about more than a decade later. I didn't buy it because it was "too expensive" and I was so sick of watching my friend spend money, but I have regretted that moment of self-restraint ever since.

The card this quote from Cannonball Adderley, which I may have garbled:

Don't you dare pray when it's raining if you didn't pray when the sun was shining.

Every morning when I wake up I am thankful my spirit has returned to me, and that I'm still above ground. Also, that I'm hearty enough to go head-to-head with a big donkey and play my fiddle for three hours straight if necessary, and I'm especially pleased that I'm not too doddering to play with rocks.

I've had a lot of rocks to play with the last few days. Freezing nights were almost upon us, and I've been depending on hundreds of feet of garden hose to get Jethro his water. While I may not be too old to play with rocks, I feel I am too old - or will be soon - to haul 20 gallons of fresh, unfrozen water from my house to the pasture, every day all winter. I embarked on a waterline-burying project.

It was a big mess! I called Paco and Bob, who between them built the whole donkey empire here. I rented a ditch witch and fetched it with my new trailer hitch. It was huge and scary! Paco had never used one before but he figured it out and trenched almost 600 feet through roots and rocks!

Bob came and we put 600 feet of "PEX" underground line together and fed it through a hole in my concrete foundation -- a hole I'd thought to have provided when the concrete was first poured and then forgotten. Paco found it when I was unenthusiastically telling him we'd have to dig a giant hole UNDER the footing.

Bob put three frost-free hydrants (faucets) out in the field. We ran electric line out to the shed so I can put a water-heater in Jethro's bowl.

Then Paco filled the trenches and spread grass seed and straw over the whole mess. And I hauled rocks (thrown out of the ground by the ditch witch by the hundreds) and started making terracees.

And then, last night - after the last grass seeds had been cast - it rained for the first time in weeks. And tonight it will freeze.

See, everything lined up perfectly! I'm in my warm, dry house listening to the rain watering my new grass. Soon I'll go out and give my new donkey his breakfast in his new, dry house. And tonight I'll be able to keep his water warm. Life is good. I'm praying while the sun is shining - or, in this case, when it's raining, as we've all hoped it would.

p.s. I am not unaware that this project has been my own form of over-consumption. When gas is seven dollars a gallon and I can ride my donkey-cart to Harris Teeter, fueled by the weeds Jethro snatches from the side of the road, I will be no less self-satisfied than the people who buy hybrid cars.



I thought this came from Snopes but...

Caption of this photo reads: "Clothing decorated with condoms seen at the 4th China Reproductive Health New Technologies and Products Expo in Beijing"

China recycling used condoms as cheap hair bands

BEIJING (AFP) — Used condoms are being recycled into hair bands in southern China, threatening to spread sexually-transmittable diseases they were originally meant to prevent, state media reported Tuesday. [NPR added that these condoms were collected primarily at "pleasure centers."]

In the latest example of potentially harmful Chinese-made products, rubber hair bands have been found in local markets and beauty salons in Dongguan and Guangzhou cities in southern Guangdong province, China Daily newspaper said.

"These cheap and colourful rubber bands and hair ties sell well ... threatening the health of local people," it said.

Despite being recycled, the hair bands could still contain bacteria and viruses, it said.

"People could be infected with AIDS, (genital) warts or other diseases if they hold the rubber bands or strings in their mouths while waving their hair into plaits or buns," the paper quoted a local dermatologist who gave only his surname, Dong, as saying.

A bag of ten of the recycled bands sells for just 25 fen (three cents), much cheaper than others on the market, accounting for their popularity, the paper said.

A government official was quoted as saying recycling condoms was illegal.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

From my classmates' list-serv

As you know I don't usually print anything about politics - and I'm avoiding the subject as best I can, I don't get a newspaper, or watch tv, or listen to talk radio - but this discussion slipped through via the Yale mailing list...

Part of the country's problem is that we've had this national disingenuousness about political labels. Reagan called himself a conservative, but was really a Dixiecrat. Bush I called himself conservative and wasn't anything. Clinton called himself a Democrat but was really a Republican (and the finest Republican president we've had since Eisenhower!). Bush II calls himself a compassionate conservative, but is really a robber baron.

Bismarck: "Laws are like sausages. It's better not to see them being made."
The greatest lie sold to the American people is that the media are left-leaning. In fact the opposite is true. It’s a hallmark of the society’s reactionary forces (I agree with John Dean that they should not be called conservatives but authoritarians) that, with few exceptions, they consistently abstain from public argument on the merits of any position.

When the obscene energy consumption of the U.S.A. and its palpable and accelerating effects on a fragile globe is the topic, the tactic is to discredit Al Gore by saying that he “needs a crisis so he can be a hero” ... When this country’s scandalous failure to deliver health care to everyone in it is on the table, the tactic is to call Michael Moore a communist and ask whether we’d all like to go to Cuba for treatment.

When poverty coupled with the outrageous current trends in income disparity is the subject, the tactic is to point to John Edwards’ expensive haircut as evidence that (a) he’s a hypocrite and (b) things are just fine. And they get double points for arguing that it’s trial lawyers like Edwards who are responsible for driving up the cost of health care. You get my point: the strategy is to downplay or deny the problem and demonize the advocates of change.
From a classmate who proposes that Ralph Nader has borderline Aspergers Syndrome: But I know quite a lot about Asperger's and the autism spectrum. Thinking of it as a disorder is not right. The autism spectrum (AS) is just one more human variety of being, thinking, dealing with other people. Odd affect and aloofness are not enough to make a diagnosis that someone is "on the spectrum," but they certainly will make the possibility occur to one who is familiar with it.

And to rule AS out, it's not enough to host Saturday Night Live, either. Asperger's doesn't mean you can't deal with special events, teaching, public speaking, book writing, etc..-- on the contrary, those things tend to be easier for AS people than normal social chat or teamwork, and this fits descriptions of Nader's style. (I once heard Tony Attwood describe universities as "sheltered living" for those with Asperger's, and end a speech by describing the main AS trait as "a thirst for knowledge.")

Since the spectrum goes from classic autism -- like my brother and Rain Man -- through Asperger's Syndrome (monotone obsessions), all the way to fairly normal people whose oddnesses are in the autistic direction (who love to lecture on their favorite subject), it seems plausible that someone like Nader-- whom I know little about, but who lives alone, has never married, is "a Puritan" and whip-smart but emotionally odd-- could be on the spectrum.

It might seem pointless to identify a possibly AS side of Nader, since he is obviously very successful; but I hope the more all of us realize the spectrum extends from profoundly disturbed and dysfunctional all the way to very successful "almost normal," the more people will be kind to the clueless nerds, absent-minded professors, space cadets, and "airheads" in every group.
That's very plausible. He's also got a wicked fear of contamination, which I think relates to his anxiety about foreign trade. Someone sneezed at the dinner table, and he asked with alarm, "Do you have a cold?" The poor woman said, "Yes, I think I might be getting one," and Ralph ordered her to sit at the far end of the table. He explained that he had a fear about that sort of thing.

When other people wanted to relax and have a drink at 10 PM and look out at the weird Alaskan twilight, Ralph wanted to hold forth about things in the ship's library. He seems to have no sense of pleasure at all.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

"How many prosecute their studies," or, why it's hard to get a paper on, say, Latin American governments written.

Extracts from Samuel Johnson's "The Idler," SATURDAY, JULY 28, 1759.

... I have sent you a journal of three days' employment, found among the papers of a late intimate acquaintance; who, as will plainly appear, was a man of vast designs, and of vast performances, though he sometimes designed one thing, and performed another.

Monday. Designed to rise at six, but, by my servant's laziness, my fire was not lighted before eight, when I dropped into a slumber that lasted till nine; at which time I arose, and, after breakfast, at ten, sat down to study, purposing to begin upon my Essay; but, finding occasion to consult a passage in Plato, was absorbed in the perusal of the Republick till twelve.

I had neglected to forbid company, and now enters Tom Careless, who, after half an hour's chat, insisted upon my going with him to enjoy an absurd character, that he had appointed, by an advertisement, to meet him at a particular coffee-house.

... We then adjourned to a tavern, and from thence to one of the publick gardens, where I was regaled with a most amusing variety of men possessing great talents, so discoloured by affectation, that they only made them eminently ridiculous; shallow things, who, by continual dissipation, had annihilated the few ideas nature had given them, and yet were celebrated for wonderful pretty gentlemen; young ladies extolled for their wit, because they were handsome; illiterate empty women as well as men, in high life, admired for their knowledge, from their being resolutely positive; and women of real understanding so far from pleasing the polite million, that they frightened them away, and were left solitary.

When we quitted this entertaining scene, Tom pressed me, irresistibly, to sup with him. I reached home at twelve, and then reflected, that, though indeed I had, by remarking various characters, improved my insight into human nature, yet still I had neglected the studies proposed, and accordingly took up my Treatise on Logick, to give it the intended revisal, but found my spirits too much agitated...

Tuesday. At breakfast, seeing my Ode to Astronomy lying on my desk, I was struck with a train of ideas, that I thought might contribute to its improvement.

I immediately rang my bell to forbid all visitants, when my servant opened the door, with, "Sir, Mr. Jeffery Gape." My cup dropped out of one hand, and my poem out of the other...

... Under the oppression of this dull interruption, I sat looking wishfully at the clock; for which, to increase my satisfaction, I had chosen the inscription, "Art is long, and life is short" ...

... At half an hour after three he told me he would trespass on me for a dinner, and desired me to send to his house for a bundle of papers, about inclosing a common upon his estate, which he would read to me in the evening. I declared myself busy, and Mr. Gape went away.

Having dined, to compose my chagrin I took up Virgil, and several other classicks, but could not calm my mind, or proceed in my scheme.

At about five I laid my hand on a Bible that lay on my table, at first with coldness and insensibility; but was imperceptibly engaged in a close attention to its sublime morality, and felt my heart expanded by warm philanthropy, and exalted to dignity of sentiment.

... at eleven I supped, and recollected how little I had adhered to my plan, and almost questioned the possibility of pursuing any settled and uniform design; however, I was not so far persuaded of the truth of these suggestions, but that I resolved to try once more at my scheme.

As I observed the moon shining through my window, from a calm and bright sky spangled with innumerable stars, I indulged a pleasing meditation on the splendid scene, and finished my Ode to Astronomy.

Wednesday. Rose at seven, and employed three hours in perusal of the Scriptures with Grotius's Comment; and after breakfast fell into meditation concerning my projected Epick; and being in some doubt as to the particular lives of some heroes, whom I proposed to celebrate, I consulted Bayle and Moreri, and was engaged two hours in examining various lives and characters, but then resolved to go to my employment.

When I was seated at my desk, and began to feel the glowing succession of poetical ideas, my servant brought me a letter from a lawyer, requiring my instant attendance at Gray's Inn for half an hour. I went full of vexation, and was involved in business till eight at night; and then, being too much fatigued to study, supped, and went to bed...

Here my friend's Journal concludes, which, perhaps, is pretty much a picture of the manner in which many prosecute their studies.

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Melinama does Illustration Friday: "Scale"

This is my takeoff on another Bulgarian "hell scene" where the devil is just a henchman to a creature that I would now describe as 'The Laily Worm.' (See song of same title.) It appears to be quite a scary religion. Here is the fresco I worked from:

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Mike does Illustration Friday: "Scale"

Mike says: "This started as "Justice" with a scale but turned into a demon using man as balance with a cat, a gerbil, and a salamander looking on.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

A fabulous actor.

Last night I watched Kinky Boots, a movie which, judging by the trailer I'd seen earlier, was going to be completely formulaic. It was - all the beats were where you expected them to be - it reminded me of the crushing way my father used to call out from the living room at 22.5 minutes into the half hour: "Is Lassie rescuing Timmy?" Yes, she always was.

However, I was surprised and moved by a really great acting job. Chiwetel Ejiofor, who plays Lola, a drag queen who saves a shoe factor (I know, I know), was fabulous. He was completely convincing, charismatic, he sang and danced wonderfully, and was sexy as a man and as a woman both! His diction was gorgeous. His other movies are immediately going on my queue.