Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sam Harris

Most of us spend our time seeking happiness and security without acknowledging the underlying purpose of our search. Each of us is looking for a path back to the present: We are trying to find good enough reasons to be satisfied now.

Acknowledging that this is the structure of the game we are playing allows us to play it differently. How we pay attention to the present moment largely determines the character of our experience and, therefore, the quality of our lives.

-Sam Harris


Friday, September 19, 2014


I lost my big straw hat the one Ray gave me a few summers ago. I have looked everywhere. Oh well. I think I lost my head with it because I walked into the big wooden sign on the lawn of Saint Germain the other day while buttoning my jacket. It was embarrassing. I cut the bridge of my nose. When the seasons change I get thrown off kilter. I lose things; hats, scarves, earrings, sunglasses. I wake in the night palms and soles burning and itching from allergies. I walk into things. We are mere earthlings being spun around and around.

Listening to the 'Hood

There is a thin brown boy who chirps and squeaks all afternoon on the porch across the street. He is deaf. He stands beside the large scary tattooed woman who screams off the porch and starts fights with everyone. Yesterday 16 people from the complex of red tenements came into the street yelling back at her. I heard sirens and two cruisers stopped under the porch. The police were good listeners, just like social workers but armed and in blue. A woman from the red buildings with shiny black hair, midriff showing, pointed and waved her arms. The policemen listened for a while and the tension finally dissipated.

Gladys Hunt

What is home? My favorite definition is "a safe place," a place where one is free from attack, a place where one experiences secure relationships and affirmation. It's a place where people share and understand each other. Its relationships are nurturing. The people in it do not need to be perfect; instead, they need to be honest, loving, supportive, recognizing a common humanity that makes all of us vulnerable.
― Gladys Hunt, Honey for a Child's Heart: The Imaginative Use of Books in Family Life

Herman Hesse

“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.

When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one's suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.

So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.”
― Hermann Hesse, Bäume. Betrachtungen und Gedichte

James Baldwin

Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.
― James Baldwin, Giovanni's Room

Zombie Invasion

In an effort to ward off the cell phone zombie invasion, the Chinese city of Chongqing has unveiled special pedestrian lanes made specifically for cell phone users.


Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.
― Charles William Eliot

A.R. Gurney, Love Letters - Acting Edition

Andy: But they gave us an out in the Land of Oz. They made us write. They didn't make us write particularly well. And they didn't always give us important things to write about. But they did make us sit down, and organize our thoughts, and convey those thoughts on paper as clearly as we could to another person. Thank God for that. That saved us. Or at least it saved me. So I have to keep writing letters. If I can't write them to you, I have to write them to someone else. I don't think I could ever stop writing completely.
― A.R. Gurney, Love Letters - Acting Edition

A.R. Gurney's Play: Love Letters

“Love Letters” illustrates this universal truth, that so much of life, probably most of it, is a solitary journey, a letter we write only to ourselves.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Rene Denfeld

On Johnny's Knee
by Renee Denfeld

Embrace Fear

Alexander Osterwalder, fear is not only an option, it’s something to be embraced as an opportunity to discover.

That’s not always possible in the bottom-line world of business. But in one corner of Providence this week, failure, sometimes spectacular in scale, is viewed as a necessary step to growth.

“The more you fail, the less you fear it,” Osterwalder said.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Neighbors Rally

Neighbors Rally To Combat Drugs
By Stephania H. Davis, Chicago Tribune Staff Writer.

Gwen Gale moved into her South Side home 25 years ago. The neighborhood then was full of people who worked hard and looked out for each other's children.

Now, some of those children are selling drugs on the same front porches where they used to play, and many of the hard-working people have fled from the violence that often follows drugs.

"I'm tired," Gale said. "Tired of people being scared to live their lives. Something has to be done."

Something started on Saturday with a March to Take Our Neighborhood Back. About 30 residents who live on or near the 2800 block of East 79th Street marched up and down the block chanting, "Up with hope, down with dope" and "Get involved." They carried signs that read "Get to Know Your Neighbor" and "We are 4-drugs, 2-stop, 2-day."

Following the march, the group discussed forming a neighborhood block watch and better ways to inform the police of drug sales and violence in the community.

The small but determined group met at Christian Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, 7859 S. Burnham Ave., where Elder Derrick M. Pagan gave an inspirational talk.

"We may be just a few people now, but if we press forward, people will know we're not going to take it anymore," he said.

After marching on 78th and 80th Streets, the group stopped in front of a house in the 7900 block of South Muskegon Avenue where a young man was killed in September. Residents say drug dealers work nearby.

"This is a chance to make a difference," said Margie Pittman, a resident of the area. "If you stand for nothing, then you'll fall for anything."

The group urged those neighbors inside their homes to come out and join the march. Few responded, but as a light snow began to fall, Shirley Scott emerged from the Muskegon Avenue house.

"This is the main spot, and this is the first time in a long time I have not been afraid to come out of my house," said Scott, who said she and her son have been living in the house for just over a year.

Pittman said Saturday's march will not be the last.

"You see the drug dealers are gone today," she said.

Linguists Linguine

Reviews of expensive restaurants are more likely to use sexual metaphors, while the food at cheaper restaurants tends to be compared to drugs.
“The language of food is this secret hidden in plain sight,” he said. “We have all this amazing data all around us. How can we not use it?”

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Monday, September 15, 2014

Drive Wake


Garlic Lover

CHIDEOCK, England, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- The winner of Britain's World Garlic Eating Competition downed 33 cloves of raw Iberian garlic in 60 seconds, organizers said.

Organizers of the event in Chideock, England, said David Greenman, 34, was two cloves ahead of his closest competitor when the time ran out during the contest, but he was one clove short of equaling the world record.

Mark Botwright, 50, contest organizer and a garlic farmer with the South West Garlic Farm, joked it was "just as well" the champion came to the contest unescorted, as his breath was likely to be less-than-prizewinning after his accomplishment.

"Iberian garlic is really the only variety that is anywhere near palatable when eaten raw," Botwright told The Mirror.

"Nobody was sick during the event but there were a few facial expressions and screwed up faces," he said.

Read more:

Come Together

Please spread the word this is a great opportunity to come together as a region around drug addiction, preventative measures, and recovery efforts. There will be guest speakers from the community.
7PM Oct 2, 2014 at Woonsocket Middle School. 60 Florence Drive Woonsocket Rhode Island,
HAMLET Middle School INFO (401) 766-3332


We read to know we're not alone.
― William Nicholson, Shadowlands

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.
― George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons

Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.
― Lemony Snicket, Horseradish

Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.
― Oscar Wilde

I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.
― Groucho Marx

You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.
― C.S. Lewis

It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it.
― Oscar Wilde

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.
― Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn't happen much, though.
― J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Books are the ultimate Dumpees: put them down and they’ll wait for you forever; pay attention to them and they always love you back.
― John Green, An Abundance of Katherines

'Classic' - a book which people praise and don't read.
― Mark Twain

I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! -- When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.
― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.
― Oscar Wilde

A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.
― William Styron, Conversations with William Styron

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.
― Charles William Eliot

Books are a uniquely portable magic.
― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest.
― C.S. Lewis

If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.
― Stephen King

Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.
― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Do not read, as children do, to amuse yourself, or like the ambitious, for the purpose of instruction. No, read in order to live.
― Gustave Flaubert

You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.
― Ray Bradbury

Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly.
― Francis Bacon

You get a little moody sometimes but I think that's because you like to read. People that like to read are always a little fucked up.
― Pat Conroy, The Prince of Tides

Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.
― Voltaire

Only the very weak-minded refuse to be influenced by literature and poetry.
― Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Angel

Many people, myself among them, feel better at the mere sight of a book.
― Jane Smiley, Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel

There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.
― Joseph Brodsky

Think before you speak. Read before you think.
― Frances Ann Lebowitz, The Fran Lebowitz Reader

Reading was my escape and my comfort, my consolation, my stimulant of choice: reading for the pure pleasure of it, for the beautiful stillness that surrounds you when you hear an author's words reverberating in your head.
― Paul Auster, The Brooklyn Follies

James Baldwin

Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.
― James Baldwin

Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.
― James Baldwin

I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.
― James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

Freedom is not something that anybody can be given. Freedom is something people take, and people are as free as they want to be.
― James Baldwin

Love takes off the masks we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.
― James Baldwin

All art is a kind of confession, more or less oblique. All artists, if they are to survive, are forced, at last, to tell the whole story; to vomit the anguish up.
― James Baldwin

But then you Read

Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up.
― James Baldwin

You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.
― James Baldwin

Receptivity and Listening

The importance of receptivity and listening by Amanda Siegel.

A.A. Milne

I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart for so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can be together all the time.
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

I'm not lost for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That's the problem.
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Just because an animal is large, it doesn't mean he doesn't want kindness; however big Tigger seems to be, remember that he wants as much kindness as Roo.

“What I like doing best is Nothing."

"How do you do Nothing," asked Pooh after he had wondered for a long time.
"Well, it's when people call out at you just as you're going off to do it, 'What are you going to do, Christopher Robin?' and you say, 'Oh, Nothing,' and then you go and do it.
It means just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering."
"Oh!" said Pooh.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

My taproot for writing and seeing was born and driven into a different world altogether. I have no formal schooling in writing. Am self-taught. Am not a testing psychologist. And my favored research methodology is listening to the tiny as well as to the loud. To listen to the overculture, but to listen underground as well.

I realized only recently, that these living experiences of walking with men of such heart-broken and yet strong psyches, including my work with veterans recovering from post-trauma, the men who have been in my memoir gatherings, any man I have had contact with who has told me or tried to tell me about his life and soul… including those with happy-calm life experiences and accomplishments with only a few nicks and dents… that this is why/ how I can write a book for/to men.

- Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

The Circus Animals' Desertion

by William Butler Yeats (1939)

I sought a theme and sought for it in vain,
I sought it daily for six weeks or so.
Maybe at last, being but a broken man,
I must be satisfied with my heart, although
Winter and summer till old age began
My circus animals were all on show,
Those stilted boys, that burnished chariot,
Lion and woman and the Lord knows what.

What can I do but enumerate old themes?
First that sea-rider Oisin led by the nose
Through three enchanted islands, allegorical dreams,
Vain gaiety, vain battle, vain repose,
Themes of the embittered heart, or so it seems,
That might adorn old songs or courtly shows;
But what cared I that set him on to ride,
I, starved for the bosom of his faery bride?

And then a counter truth filled out its play,
The Countess Cathleen was the name I gave it:
She, pity-crazed, had given her soul away,
But masterful Heaven had intervened to save it.
I thought my dear must her own soul destroy,
So did fanaticism and hate enslave it,
And this brought forth a dream and soon enough
This dream itself had all my thought and love.

And when the Fool and Blind Man stole the bread
Cuchulain fought the ungovernable sea;
Heart-mysteries there, and yet when all is said
It was the dream itself enchanted me:
Character isolated by a deed
To engross the present and dominate memory.
Players and painted stage took all my love
And not those things that they were emblems of.

Those masterful images, because complete
Grew in pure mind, but out of what began?
A mound of refuse, of the sweepings of a street,
Old kettles, old bottles, and a broken can,
Old iron, old bones, old rags, that raving slut
Who keeps the till. Now that my ladder's gone
I must lie down where all the ladders start
In the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart.

Wolf Mother

If I get too much exercise or not enough sleep or not enough time alone, I am CRABBY. It's a fine line that I must monitor. Morning is my best time until the haunted season of the holidays approaches, then it is the worst time. That's when I have to walk many miles in order to refrain from cutting off my head.




When I was a child I thought all mothers poisoned their children. I distinctly remember being at the breakfast table, age five, and I said, "When I grow up, I'm going to poison my children too!"

Today is the birthday of mystery writer Agatha Christie (books by this author), born Agatha Miller in Torquay, England, in 1890. During the first and second World Wars, she worked at a hospital dispensary; this gave her a knowledge of pharmaceuticals and poisons that would later serve her well as the author of more than 70 murder mysteries, including Murder on the Orient Express (1933), Death on the Nile (1937), and the play The Mousetrap (1952), which has been running continuously on London's West End since 1952, the longest initial run of any play in history.

Agatha Christie once said, "The best time to plan a book is while you're doing the dishes."

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Anne Truitt

Unless we are very, very careful, we doom each other by holding onto images of one another based on preconceptions that are in turn based on indifference to what is other than ourselves.

This indifference can be, in its extreme, a form of murder and seems to me a rather common phenomenon.

We claim autonomy for ourselves and forget that in so doing we can fall into the tyranny of defining other people as we would like them to be.

By focusing on what we choose to acknowledge in them, we impose an insidious control on them.

I notice that I have to pay careful attention in order to listen to others with an openness that allows them to be as they are, or as they think themselves to be.

The shutters of my mind habitually flip open and click shut, and these little snaps form into patterns I arrange for myself.

The opposite of this inattention is love, is the honoring of others in a way that grants them the grace of their own autonomy and allows mutual discovery.

Compassion is one of the purest springs of love.

- Anne Truitt


Zadie Smith

I think sometimes that the best reason for writing novels is to experience those four and a half hours after you write the final word. The last time it happened to me, I uncorked a good Sancerre I’d been keeping and drank it standing up with the bottle in my hand, and then I lay down in my backyard on the paving stones and stayed there for a long time, crying. It was sunny, late autumn, and there were apples everywhere, overripe and stinky.

By middle of the novel I mean whatever page you are on when you stop being part of your household and your family and your partner and children and food shopping and dog feeding and reading the post — I mean when there is nothing in the world except your book, and even as your wife tells you she’s sleeping with your brother her face is a gigantic semicolon, her arms are parentheses and you are wondering whether rummage is a better verb than rifle. The middle of a novel is a state of mind.

It’s such a confidence trick, writing a novel. The main person you have to trick into confidence is yourself.

Zadie Smith, Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Bill Hayes

When we reached the last room, I asked Katy which picture was her favorite. She led me back to the one that had stumped her in the synonym department. Her sister, Emily, who’s 14 and had been off wandering through the Met’s collection of European paintings, then showed me her favorite piece in the museum: a Monet water lily painting (the first she’d ever seen) from 1919.

This is when I let each girl in on a secret: It can be yours. No different from falling in love with a song, one may fall in love with a work of art and claim it as one’s own. Ownership does not come free. One must spend time with it; visit at different times of the day or evening; and bring to it one’s full attention. The investment will be repaid as one discovers something new with each viewing — say, a detail in the background, a person nearly cropped from the picture frame, or a tiny patch of canvas left unpainted, deliberately so, one may assume, as if to remind you not to take all the painted parts for granted.

This is true not just for New Yorkers but for anyone anywhere with art to be visited — art being a relative term, in my definition. Your Monet may, in fact, be an unpolished gemstone or mineral element. Natural history museums are filled with beauties fairly begging to be adopted. Stay alert. Next time a tattered Egyptian mummy speaks to you across the ages, don’t walk away. Stay a while. Spend some time with it. Give it a proper name: Yours.


The name says it all.

Local Story

Sometimes life imitates a STEPHEN KING novel. Luckily the neighbors had the courage to speak up.

Museum of Urban Sleuthing


Friday, September 12, 2014

Using The Muscle that Tells the Story


Q. What has it been like to do this as an adult, and as an established actor?

A. When I first did it, I was like, “Gee, I’m playing out in public and with good musicians.” But it became, “Gee, I can do this, and it really is fun.” I like offering it to people. It’s different than practicing on your own. Even with acting, even early in rehearsal, I like to have another person there who’s watching, so you’re using the muscle that tells the story. I like this idea of sharing the thing. Music is meant to be like that.

Q. Is it possible, if events had turned out differently, that you’d now be making your living as a musician rather than as an actor?

A. One could imagine without too much difficulty. I’m not careerist about it. Acting was always a mission of passion, and the chips fell nicely for me. But in a different way, I was not out to accomplish anything or get anywhere with music. As I’m still not. We purposely did it under the radar and didn’t advertise, until the Playboy Jazz Festival somehow had us do it several years ago. They said, “We’re going to put you in the program.” And so I said, “Well, we don’t have a name.” I thought of this funny name.

Q. So there was a real-life Mildred Snitzer?

A. She was a friend of my mom’s and my family, and she lived to be over 100.

Q. Does it ever feel like a novelty act, that it’s keeping you from doing more substantial work?

A. First of all, my work of substance, so-called, it feels like I have enough. There’s something that could be low-class, lowbrow, and frivolous about it, and wasteful. But I like it. My sister is a wise person and has devoted her life to the arts, and I recently said to her: “Have I just become a song-and-dance man? Am I trying to work my way down the rungs of sophistication and substance?” She says, “Music, beyond language, comes from someplace deep in yourself and can be offered to somebody in a place that’s impactful.” That was encouraging.

Gautama Buddha

Every morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.
― Gautama Buddha

You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.
― Gautama Buddha

No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.
― Gautama Buddha, Sayings Of Buddha

Doubt everything. Find your own light.
― Gautama Buddha

Eyes on the Front Lines

Yesterday I heard a strange metallic sound and yelling. I went out on the porch and saw a woman below sharpening a six inch kitchen knife on the brick wall. Then she began waving it around while screaming at a man. That can't be good, I thought and phoned the police. They showed up fast. My pulse was racing, with my kneecaps bobbing. The adrenaline filled me up for the day. I am still trembling. Yet, I do love being eyes on the front lines.

Smell Map


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Suicide and Abuse in the Wilderness


Walking Thinking and Writing

What is it about walking, in particular, that makes it so amenable to thinking and writing? The answer begins with changes to our chemistry. When we go for a walk, the heart pumps faster, circulating more blood and oxygen not just to the muscles but to all the organs—including the brain. Many experiments have shown that after or during exercise, even very mild exertion, people perform better on tests of memory and attention. Walking on a regular basis also promotes new connections between brain cells, staves off the usual withering of brain tissue that comes with age, increases the volume of the hippocampus (a brain region crucial for memory), and elevates levels of molecules that both stimulate the growth of new neurons and transmit messages between them.

Sun Moon and Truth

Three things cannot remain long hidden—the sun, the moon, and the truth.
- Buddha

Own Your Story

“The saying is, ‘Either own your story or it owns you,’” Dario DiBattista, another project instructor, said. He explained that by sharing and reliving traumatic events, a person is taking charge of what happened and acknowledging that he has moved on. - See more at:

Slum Cam

One city decided to put up webcams for the world to see the absentee landlords destroying a neighborhood. It was a fast-acting campaign!

Healing by Writing with Dog

John DiRaimo is working on a book about his war experiences in Iraq and about his resulting posttraumatic stress disorder.

“I used to sleep with a gun. I got rid of the gun. I used to keep a knife at the side of the bed — I don’t do that anymore.” He is able to get out of his house more often and doesn’t always barricade the door at night.

Therapy, medication and the support of friends including Susan Storti, a behavioral health researcher and counselor, have helped. So has his service dog Park, a yellow Labrador who has lived with him since he obtained the animal from Princeton, Mass., based NEADS almost a year ago. NEADS provides dogs to a variety of needy people, not just combat veterans.

“If I’m depressed, he comes up to me and just gives care and love, and I give the same back,” DiRaimo says. “He’s the best thing that ever happened to me. He goes everywhere with me. He wakes me up from nightmares, which no one believes because they’re not trained for that. But he senses all my senses and he’s unbelievable.”

“I Wanna Go Home” is the tentative title of his book.

“I want to come home but I just can’t get the war out of my head,” he says. “Even though I’m home and I’m safe — there’s no more shootings or anything like that — part of me is still there.”

It was a hot and windy morning with the wind whipping sand that burned your face like sand paper. We were assigned a task to build the berm to the north of the camp to prevent the enemy from attacking us…

While standing there, I lit a cigarette and felt something touch my right foot. I looked down. It appeared to be a bone. I picked it up and noticed it was almost snapped in two. I thought it was a rib bone that you eat… For some reason, I started kicking the sand around and found more bones and little teeth and a jaw bone.

Late in the evening, I was told all the bones were put together and it was a little girl. All I thought about was what she went through — and then I remembered my own daughter. I wanted to cry so bad but I couldn’t, ’cause sergeants don’t cry.


Desire to Connect


Erich Fromm

To spare oneself from grief at all costs can be achieved only at the price of total detachment, which excludes the ability to experience happiness.
- Erich Fromm

Bo's Toxic Mask

I love faces. I love to READ faces. When my favorite actress got Botox injections in her forehead, it essentially ruined her career. To me it would be as if a dancer deliberately broke her legs.

Truth about Fiction


Dogs in the Lab

Dogs in the Lab sniffing out cancer cells.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Catskills

You may remember the old Jewish Catskill comics of Vaudeville days:
Shecky Greene, Red Buttons, Myron Cohen, Totie Fields, Joey Bishop, Milton Berle, Jan Murray, Danny Kaye, Henny Youngman, Buddy Hackett, Sid Caesar, Groucho Marx, Jackie Mason, Victor Borge, Woody Allen, Joan Rivers, Lenny Bruce, George Burns, Allan Sherman, Jerry Lewis, Peter Sellers, Carl Reiner, Shelley Berman, Gene Wilder, George Jessel, Alan King, Mel Brooks, Phil Silvers, Jack Carter, Rodney Dangerfield, Don Rickles, Jack Benny and so many others.Laugh

Oscar Wilde

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.
― Oscar Wilde

To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.
― Oscar Wilde

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
― Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere's Fan

If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.
― Oscar Wilde

It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it.
― Oscar Wilde

The truth is rarely pure and never simple.
― Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.
― Oscar Wilde

Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.
― Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist

Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.
― Oscar Wilde

Charles Bukowski

An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way.
― Charles Bukowski

Close the Drapes

Sylvia and I decided that the best way to heal the 'hood is to close the drapes. Then we laughed our heads off!

Writing is Performance

Writing is a performance, like singing an aria or dancing a jig.
—Stephen Greenblatt

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

We Sell Fun

The major job is still to entertain people. Joyland really took off for me when the old guy who owns the place says, “Never forget, we sell fun.” That’s what we’re supposed to do—writers, filmmakers, all of us. That’s why they let us stay in the playground.
- Stephen King

Daniel Junge's Op-Doc

Daniel Junge is an Oscar-winning filmmaker whose documentaries include “Saving Face,” “They Killed Sister Dorothy” and “Beyond the Brick: A Lego Brickumentary.” Bryan Storkel’s documentary “Holy Rollers: The True Story of Card Counting Christians” has won 10 awards. Their feature-length documentary “Fight Church,” from which this Op-Doc is adapted, will be released this month.Article

Life's Longing for Itself

Your children are not your children.
They are sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For thir souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the make upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness.
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He also loves the bow that is stable.
― Khalil Gibran

The Prophet

Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.
― Khalil Gibran, The Prophet

Khalil Gibran

I AM IGNORANT of absolute truth. But I am humble before my ignorance and therein lies my honor and my reward.
― Khalil Gibran

Gibran: Peace Love and Scars

You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts.
― Khalil Gibran, The Prophet

If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours. If they don't, they never were.
― Khalil Gibran

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.
― Khalil Gibran

Trees are Poems

Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky, We fell them down and turn them into paper,
That we may record our emptiness.
-Khalil Gibran

Khalil Gibran

Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.
- Khalil Gibran

Robert Pilkington's Village Green

Robert Pilkington's new Charter school: The Village Green Charter School

Roald Dahl

If the Good Lord intended for us to walk, he wouldn't have invented roller skates.
-Roald Dahl

Photography of Philip Perkis

Photography of Philip Perkis: 'The magic is in looking'
By Allison Hersh

Philip Perkis discovered photography from the back seat of a B-36 bomber while serving in the U.S. Air Force in the 1950s.

"I was on a bomber crew, and it was very visual looking out of the window of the plane for hour after hour after hour," he recalled. "I met a fellow who was a photographer and he started me out in 1957. That's how I got started, and I haven't done anything else since."

"Philip Perkis: Fifty Years of Photographs," an exhibit on display at the Telfair's Jepson Center for the Arts through Sept. 19, 2010, celebrates five centuries of photography by this New York-based documentarian. Underwritten by Kathy Levitt, this retrospective exhibition offers a window into one photographer's ever-evolving world view and a glimpse into the magic of everyday life as seen through the lens.

"This show offers the public an opportunity to appreciate the collected works of an accomplished master of photography," said Holly Koons McCullough, the Telfair Museum of Art's director of collections and exhibitions. "His subject is everyday life as it unfolds before him, whether in his native New York City or in points around the globe, including Mexico, Israel and Korea."

Working in the tradition of 20th-century photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson and Helen Levitt - a close friend of Perkis - this talented artist captures the magic and mystery of the world around him, revealing his mastery of what Cartier-Bresson termed the "decisive moment."

From the cinematic splendor of "Police Checkpoint, Durango, Mexico" to the voyeuristic romance of "New York City," Perkis excels at translating the richness and spontaneity of the world at large into intimate gelatin silver prints. A purist at heart, he eschews artificial lighting, tripods and digital photography, instead choosing to develop his work by hand in an old-fashioned darkroom.

"In this age of large scale, often highly-staged digital photographs, Perkis remains devoted to black-and-white film and natural light, and processes his own prints," McCullough said. "Many of his works explore the poetry and mystery inherent in daily life, in particular within the natural world. These photos are more contemplative than graphic or bold. They speak in hushed tones."

Perkis recently spoke with the Savannah Morning News about photography, inspiration and the magic of looking.

SMN: You seem to have a very open mind, photographing a wide range of subjects. Where do you tend to find inspiration?

Perkis: I'm not attached to any particular subject, which is unusual for a photographer. What holds my work together is the way I see and the fact that I use very simple equipment. I still photograph the same way, technically, that I started with in 1957, with a small camera and black-and-white film. I carry my camera with me all the time. When I see something that moves me or interests me, I take a picture. I don't care what it's a picture of.

SMN: You've described photography as being like "this puzzle that is never going to be solved." How so?

Perkis: It's an endless process where I keep the technical crafting very simple and always the same. What keeps changing is my vision and how I see the world and how my inner life is reflected in the way I see things. That's constantly changing and it will never be over. There's no end point to photography. It's like life in that way.

SMN: I understand you lost most of the sight in your left eye in 2007. How did that experience affect your work?

Perkis: That was the eye I took pictures with for 50 years. It just went - in one day - due to a retinal occlusion. It took about six months before I could take pictures again. It was kind of traumatic, but I think my work has gotten more interesting as a result. It's a little deeper, a little sadder and a little closer to the bone. Emotionally, it's darker, and people have told me they think it has more emotional depth.

SMN: What advice do you have for people seeing your work at the Jepson Center in Savannah?

Perkis: I hope they can appreciate the quality of the prints as drawings and as graphic art. That's something I'm very attached to and interested in. If they can see the prints as having a quality of tones and darks and lights and grays, and to look at them as though they were drawings or lithographs, that would be interesting.

SMN: What ideas are you ultimately interested in sharing through your photography?

Perkis: I'm really interested in the fact that looking can be magic. If my pictures convey that at all, then I'm really successful. My process is so incredibly simple. I really do almost nothing. I just put a camera between me and what I'm looking at and I click it. There's no technology involved in what I'm doing at all. The magic is in looking. Looking really is a miracle.

Every Scar

A little talent is a good thing to have if you want to be a writer. But the only real requirement is the ability to remember every scar.
- Stephen King

Roy Blount Jr.

When mannequins have nipples, it's a cold-hearted world.
― Roy Blount Jr.

When it's summer, people sit a lot. Or lie. Lie in the sense of recumbency. A good heavy book holds you down. It's an anchor that keeps you from getting up and having another gin and tonic. Many a person has been saved from summer alcoholism, not to mention hypertoxicity, by Dostoyevsky. Put The Idiot in your lap or over your face, and you know where you are going to be for the afternoon.
― Roy Blount Jr., Where Books Fall Open: A Reader's Anthology of Wit & Passion

The last time somebody said, 'I find I can write much better with a word processor.', I replied, 'They used to say the same thing about drugs.' -- Roy Blount Jr.
― Roy Blount Jr.

Perhaps the truth is that heavy literature blooms in extremes of temperature.
― Roy Blount Jr., Where Books Fall Open: A Reader's Anthology of Wit & Passion

Leo Tolstoy: A Confession

There is an Eastern fable, told long ago, of a traveler overtaken on a plain by an enraged beast. Escaping from the beast he gets into a dry well, but sees at the bottom of the well a dragon that has opened its jaws to swallow him. And the unfortunate man, not daring to climb out lest he should be destroyed by the enraged beast, and not daring to leap to the bottom of the well lest he should be eaten by the dragon, seizes a twig growing in a crack in the well and clings to it. His hands are growing weaker and he feels he will soon have to resign himself to the destruction that awaits him above or below, but still he clings on. Then he sees that two mice, a black one and a white one, go regularly round and round the stem of the twig to which he is clinging and gnaw at it. And soon the twig itself will snap and he will fall into the dragon's jaws. The traveler sees this and knows that he will inevitably perish; but while still hanging he looks around, sees some drops of honey on the leaves of the twig, reaches them with his tongue and licks them. So I too clung to the twig of life, knowing that the dragon of death was inevitably awaiting me, ready to tear me to pieces; and I could not understand why I had fallen into such torment. I tried to lick the honey which formerly consoled me, but the honey no longer gave me pleasure, and the white and black mice of day and night gnawed at the branch by which I hung. I saw the dragon clearly and the honey no longer tasted sweet. I only saw the inescapable dragon and mice, and I could not tear my gaze from them and this is not a fable but the real unanswerable truth intelligible to all. The deception of the joys of life which formerly allayed my terror of the dragon now no longer deceived me. No matter how often I may be told, "You cannot understand the meaning of life so do not think about it, but live," I can no longer do it: I have already done it too long. I cannot now help seeing day and night going round and bringing me to death. That is all I see, for that alone is true. All else is false. The two drops of honey which diverted my eyes from the cruel truth longer than the rest: my love of family, and of writing -- art as I called it -- were no longer sweet to me. "Family"... said I to myself. But my family -- wife and children -- are also human. They are placed just as I am: they must either live in a lie or see the terrible truth. Why should they live? Why should I love them, guard them, bring them up, or watch them? That they may come to the despair that I feel, or else be stupid? Loving them, I cannot hide the truth from them: each step in knowledge leads them to the truth. And the truth is death.
― Leo Tolstoy, A Confession

Light and Shadow

All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow.
― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Love is Life

Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love. Everything is united by it alone. Love is God, and to die means that I, a particle of love, shall return to the general and eternal source.
― Leo Tolstoy

Powerful Warriors

The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.
― Leo Tolstoy

Leo Tolstoy

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.
― Leo Tolstoy

If, then, I were asked for the most important advice I could give, that which I considered to be the most useful to the men of our century, I should simply say: in the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.
― Leo Tolstoy, Essays, Letters and Miscellanies

I think... if it is true that there are as many minds as there are heads, then there are as many kinds of love as there are hearts.
― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.
― Leo Tolstoy

When you love someone, you love the person as they are, and not as you'd like them to be.
― Leo Tolstoy

Rummaging in our souls, we often dig up something that ought to have lain there unnoticed.
― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Respect was invented to cover the empty place where love should be.
― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Mary Hunter Austin

I was only a month writing ... but I spent 12 years peeking and prying before I began it.
- Mary Hunter Austin

Leo Tolstoy

During my stay in Paris, the sight of an execution revealed to me the instability of my superstitious belief in progress. When I saw the head part from the body and how they thumped separately into the box, I understood, not with my mind but with my whole being, that no theory of the reasonableness of our present progress could justify this deed; and that though everybody from the creation of the world had held it to be necessary, on whatever theory, I knew it to be unnecessary and bad; and therefore the arbiter of what is good and evil is not what people say and do, nor is it progress, but it is my heart and I.
- Leo Tolstoy

James Hilton

Surely there comes a time when counting the cost and paying the price aren't things to think about any more. All that matters is value — the ultimate value of what one does.
— James Hilton

Monday, September 08, 2014

Shame is the Lie

Shame is the lie someone told you about yourself.
— Anaïs Nin

Anaïs Nin

There are only two kinds of freedom in the world; the freedom of the rich and powerful, and the freedom of the artist and the monk . . .

Every word you wrote I ate, as if it were manna. Finding one’s self in a book is a second birth; and you are the only one who knows that at times men behave like women and women like men, and that all these distinctions are mock distinctions.

The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery.

Had I not created my whole world, I would certainly have died in other people’s.

When you make a world tolerable for yourself, you make a world tolerable for others.

We are going to the moon that is not very far. Man has so much farther to go within himself.

She lacks confidence, she craves admiration insatiably. She lives on the reflections of herself in the eyes of others. She does not dare to be herself.

You have a right to experiment with your life. You will make mistakes. And they are right too. No, I think there was too rigid a pattern. You came out of an education and are supposed to know your vocation. Your vocation is fixed, and maybe ten years later you find you are not a teacher anymore or you’re not a painter anymore. It may happen. It has happened. I mean Gauguin decided at a certain point he wasn’t a banker anymore; he was a painter. And so he walked away from banking. I think we have a right to change course. But society is the one that keeps demanding that we fit in and not disturb things. They would like you to fit in right away so that things work now.

There is not one big cosmic meaning for all, there is only the meaning we each give to our life, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person.

People living deeply have no fear of death.

I must be a Mermaid, Rango!

We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.
― Anaïs Nin

I must be a mermaid, Rango. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.
― Anaïs Nin

Portable Magic

Books are the perfect entertainment: no commercials, no batteries, hours of enjoyment for each dollar spent. What I wonder is why everybody doesn't carry a book around for those inevitable dead spots in life.
― Stephen King

Books are a uniquely portable magic.
― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.
― Stephen King

Good books don't give up all their secrets at once.
― Stephen King

Fiction is the truth inside the lie.
― Stephen King

Some birds are not meant to be caged, that's all. Their feathers are too bright, their songs too sweet and wild. So you let them go, or when you open the cage to feed them they somehow fly out past you. And the part of you that knows it was wrong to imprison them in the first place rejoices, but still, the place where you live is that much more drab and empty for their departure.
― Stephen King, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption: A Story from Different Seasons

I think that we're all mentally ill. Those of us outside the asylums only hide it a little better - and maybe not all that much better after all.
― Stephen King

A short story is a different thing all together - a short story is like a kiss in the dark from a stranger.
― Stephen King, Skeleton Crew

A little talent is a good thing to have if you want to be a writer. But the only real requirement is the ability to remember every scar.
― Stephen King

Humor is almost always anger with its make-up on.
― Stephen King, Bag of Bones

Fretting and Sweating

I was already beginning to realize that the only way to conduct oneself in a situation where bombs rained down and bullets whizzed past, was to accept the dangers and all the consequences as calmly as possible. Fretting and sweating about it all was not going to help.
― Roald Dahl, Going Solo

Crock of Gold

I was glad my father was an eye-smiler. It meant he never gave me a fake smile because it's impossible to make your eyes twinkle if you aren't feeling twinkly yourself. A mouth-smile is different. You can fake a mouth-smile any time you want, simply by moving your lips. I've also learned that a real mouth-smile always has an eye-smile to go with it. So watch out, I say, when someone smiles at you but his eyes stay the same. It's sure to be a phony.
― Roald Dahl, Danny the Champion of the World

When you're writing a book, it's rather like going on a very long walk, across valleys and mountains and things, and you get the first view of what you see and you write it down. Then you walk a bit further, maybe up onto the top of a hill, and you see something else. Then you write that and you go on like that, day after day, getting different views of the same landscape really. The highest mountain on the walk is obviously the end of the book, because it's got to be the best view of all, when everything comes together and you can look back and see that everything you've done all ties up. But it's a very, very long, slow process.
― Roald Dahl

The prime function of the children's book writer is to write a book that is so absorbing, exciting, funny, fast and beautiful that the child will fall in love with it. And that first love affair between the young child and the young book will lead hopefully to other loves for other books and when that happens the battle is probably won. The child will have found a crock of gold. He will also have gained something that will help to carry him most marvelously through the tangles of his later years.
― Roald Dahl

Different Place

Two hours of writing fiction leaves this writer completely drained. For those two hours he has been in a different place with totally different people.
― Roald Dahl

Absolute Freedom

A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom. He has no master except his own soul, and that, I am sure, is why he does it.
― Roald Dahl

A Passion

I have a passion for teaching kids to become readers, to become comfortable with a book, not daunted. Books shouldn't be daunting, they should be funny, exciting and wonderful; and learning to be a reader gives a terrific advantage.
― Roald Dahl

With Glittering Eyes

And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.
― Roald Dahl

Deep Breathing

Why Practice Deep Breathing

Body Wisdom


A Mouth Full of Sand

My big problem is I dream too big and end up with a mouth full of sand.

Cucumber Blindness

Last night on my walk my friend Deb told me she had cucumber blindness. "It's when you check and don't find any cukes until one day you discover that they're huge."
She gave us three home grown, garden cukes. They were delicious peeled sliced salted and eaten with Greek olives at supper. It was dark but I had no need for my flashlight since the full moon was out and we now have city streetlights turned on thanks to Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt.


If you are afraid of death, you are afraid of life, for living your life leads to death. Until you face death and see its beauty, you will be afraid to really live—you will never properly burn the candle for fear of its end.
― Henry Alford, How to Live: A Search for Wisdom from Old People

Henry Alford

Painted seashells, a lurid conch, a Pierrot-themed weather vane, a giant starfish waving an American flag, two raffia chickens with googley eyes, an ambitious amount of tern art: If you had to categorize the contents of the beach house I rented that summer under one artistic school, you’d probably go with Alcoholic Gift Shop.

“Maybe I’ll deep-six some of this stuff in a closet for July and August,” I thought, reaching for a paper bag in which to decant the more vivid items. My plan was, come Labor Day weekend I would re-tchotchke. The house’s owner would never be wise to my slightly aggressive act of biocontainment.


Sunday, September 07, 2014

Chicken Coop Designs

The Pain

The pain never goes away but it retreats. I have not seen my friend in 19 years. I have an eerie feeling I may never see him again. When I "Google" to see how he is, I see a photo of him wrapped in scarves, now wearing black bulky glasses. He's put on a lot of weight. He looks like he's sinking into a pond. He suffered emotional and sexual abuse at the hands of his mother and his male art teacher. He was never able to repair the damage or escape his role. He went to a psychic for help and she said "All I see is locks and doors. Are you a locksmith? I can't get much else. I'll give you your money back." His whole life is on hold as he emotionally takes on the burdens of everyone absorbing the drama and getting angry. His damage is profound. His parents are 80 and 90 year old children. They destroyed their only child, their prince. He is too terrified to work on healing and health because if he opens the door Niagara Falls will gush in. So he keeps the door sealed with 8 two-by -fours and watches the splashing against the porthole, and he swallows the key.

Paul Graham

How to do What you Love

12 Hour Shifts

“They’re not small adults, they’re children,” he said. “They have more surface area to body mass. They’re still developing neurologically. Their reproductive systems are developing.”
Just 13, and Working Risky 12-Hour Shifts in the Tobacco Fields

Roald Dahl

The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village.
- from Matilda by Roald Dahl

E-mail a Pothole

I love my City and our Brilliant new Mayor LisaBaldelli-Hunt.
Pothole Complaint Form, Woonsocket
Mayor Baldelli-Hunt is taking a new approach to reporting potholes in the City of Woonsocket. Steven D'Agostino, Director of Public Works, is attempting to have potholes repaired within 48 hours of being reported. If you come across a pothole during your travels through Woonsocket, please let us know by completing this form. Please be aware that potholes (unless they create a safety hazard) are repaired Monday - Friday. If a pothole is so large that it is presenting a safety hazard for motorists or pedestrians and it is a weekend, please call and report it to the Police Dispatch at (401) 766-1212.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Friday, September 05, 2014

Grace L. Park

A tiger in my dream chases me, and I wake cold in fear
My mother tells me that people don't give up when they love you.
I dream of the tiger again. This time, we become friends.

from 2014 Rattle Young Poets Anthology


Why do you like to write poetry?

Grace L. Park: "I find that my poetry is strongest when it's from my experiences. In fact, one of my favorite quotes is one by John Steinbeck, who said, 'A story to be effective [has] to convey something from the writer to the reader, and the power of its offering [is] the measure of its excellence. Outside of that, there [are] no rules.' These sijos are two of my attempts to capture some of my experiences and how they've affected me."

Rattle: Poetry for the 21st Century

Gar Waterman's Sculpture

Article in The New Haven Independent about Gar Waterman's bronze sculpture for Dartmouth College.

Polka Dot

A brief history of the polka dot.

A Thing Shared

Rereading my favorite piece from The Gastronomical Me by MFK Fisher. A Thing Shared (1918).

Solar Powered Bra

In my wildest dreams I would have solar powered clothing.
Solar-powered bra 'able to charge an iPod'

A Japanese lingerie firm today unveiled the perfect gadget for eco-friendly sun worshippers – the solar-powered bra.

By Matthew Moore

4:37PM BST 14 May 2008

The bra comes with a detachable solar panel, worn around the stomach, which can produce enough energy to power an iPod or mobile phone as the wearer lazes on the beach, the makers claim.

It is also equipped with plastic pouches that can be filled with water, allowing wearers to quench their thirst without having to buy and then throw away hard-to-recycle drinks bottles.

And the bra itself is made of high quality organic cotton, to ensure its production has the smallest possible impact on the environment.

But the fetching "Photovoltaic-Powered Bra" won't be on shelves any time soon. It is still at the "concept" stage and has several problems that need to be ironed out.

For one, it is damaged by rain – a big drawback for those used to the vagaries of English summers.

The makers, Triumph International Japan, concede that that the bra will not become popular in its current form, as outer clothing renders its solar panel ineffective.

"People usually cannot go outside without wearing clothes over it," said Yoshiko Masuda of Triumph.

Triumph is developing a reputation for innovative, eco-friendly lingerie. It has previously released a bra than can be turned into a reusable shopping bag, and a bra designed to encourage the use of reusable chopsticks.

Googling Houdini

I spent the morning Googling Houdini posters. They are amazing. Try it.

Gargoyle Bride


Group Therapy

My routines come out of total unhappiness. My audiences are my group therapy.

-Joan Rivers

G.K. Chesterton

There is a great man who makes every man feel small. But the real great man is the man who makes every man feel great.

All men can be criminals, if tempted; all men can be heroes, if inspired.

What embitters the world is not excess of criticism, but absence of self-criticism.

It isn't that they can't see the solution. It is that they can't see the problem.

We must not hate humanity, or despise humanity, or refuse to help humanity; but we must not trust humanity; in the sense of trusting a trend in human nature which cannot turn back to bad things.

The poor object to being governed badly, while the rich object to being governed at all.

Whatever may be the reason, we all do warmly respect humility — in other people.

There is a road from the eye to the heart that does not go through the intellect.

There is no such thing on earth as an uninteresting subject; the only thing that can exist is an uninterested person.

Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.


noun \ˌȯ-tō-ˈdī-ˌdakt, -dī-ˈ, -də-ˈ\
Definition of AUTODIDACT
: a self-taught person
— au·to·di·dac·tic adjective
Greek autodidaktos self-taught, from aut- + didaktos taught, from didaskein to teach
First Known Use: 1748

George Santayana

To be happy you must have taken the measure of your powers, tasted the fruits of your passion, and learned your place in the world.
— George Santayana

Samuel Johnson

He who has so little knowledge of human nature as to seek happiness by changing anything but his own dispositions will waste his life in fruitless efforts and multiply the griefs which he purposes to remove.
― Samuel Johnson

Ram Dass: Polishing the Mirror

Yesterday Lily and I went to the library to pick up Ram Dass' latest book Polishing the Mirror. I couldn't put it down. I have always been a fan of Ram Dass since I was introduced to his book Be Here Now. That book blew my mind when I read it in 1976. I remember the day. I was 15. My parents were away for the weekend and I was home alone. I read the book and the top of my head flew off. I am forever grateful and so glad he is still writing.

Raju the Elephant

Freed at last.

Sister Skaters

The entire world is like a skate park, right?

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Louis Jordan: Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens

In celebration of legalizing chickens in the city of Woonsocket, here's the lyrics to a favorite Louis Jordan song:

Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens

One night farmer Brown was takin' the airs
Locked up the barnyard with the greatest of care
Down in the hen house, somethin' stirred
When he shouted, "Who's there?"
This is what he heard
“There ain't nobody here but us chickens
There ain't nobody here at all
So calm yourself and stop that fuss
There ain't nobody here but us
We chickens tryin' to sleep and you butt in
And hobble, hobble hobble hobble with your chin”
“There ain't nobody here but us chickens
There ain't nobody here at all
You're stompin' around and shakin' the ground
You're kickin' up an awful dust
We chicken's tryin' to sleep and you butt in
And hobble, hobble hobble hobble, it's a sin”
“Tomorrow is a busy day
We got things to do, We got eggs to lay
We got ground to dig and worms to scratch
It takes a lot of settin', gettin' chicks to hatch”
“Ohh, there ain't nobody here but us chickens
There ain't nobody here at all
So quiet yourself and stop that fuss
There ain't nobody here but us
Kindly point that gun the other way
And hobble, hobble hobble of and hit the hay”
“Tomorrow is a busy day
We got things to do, we got eggs to lay
We got ground to dig and worms to scratch
It takes a lot of settin', gettin' chicks to hatch”
“There ain't nobody here but us chickens
There ain't nobody here at all
So quiet yourself and stop that fuss
There ain't nobody here but us
And kindly point that gun the other way
And hobble, hobble hobble of and hit the hay”
“Hey, hey, boss man, what do ya say?
It's easy pickings
Ain't nobody here but us chickens”
Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens lyrics © BOURNE CO.

Museum Village

To Lure Tourists, a Remote Village in Spain Turns Its Eye to the Arts

Black Thread

I have a fantasy romance with sewing. It's what I call girl's carpentry. Sewing is like driving a car but better, because you stay at home and usually don't get into a wreck or get tickets. In college I sewed two blouses with the help of a friend. I still have them, and I am proud of them. I have always been sentimental about my clothes. I adore fabric and when a favorite shirt or skirt or jeans wears out I save it for the chance I might repair it or recycle it into something like a quilt or a bag or a potholder. I am seduced by the remnant orphan fabrics at the bargain fabric outlets. Fabric to me is another form of art supplies. The only problem is I rarely sew except for quick repairs. Perhaps I dream too big. I dream of making dresses and skirts and vests. Recently a hem came apart on my new favorite polka dotted skirt. I knew if I washed it before mending it it would unravel and become worse. I sat down at the machine. It was threaded with black. My skirt is white with colorful dots. I decided to sew the hem anyway because I knew another decade would go by if I didn't. I told myself do it. If it bugs you you can change it later. Do it now and wear the skirt today. I was right. Sometimes black thread is better than no thread. I have to chuckle every time I glance at the hem. It makes my skirt look inside out!


I thought I was the last one to the table but actually I was the first.

More on Molly McGuire

“In order to excel at something, I think you need to be able to walk away from it for a while,” she says. “Every time I take on a new medium, I learn something I can apply back to my other work.”

Circus Banner Artist: Molly McGuire

You may have noticed them in parades like Muses and Thoth, announcing the arrival of The Bearded Oysters Dance Troupe or Gris Gris Strut. Or you may have seen one flapping outside Who Dat Coffee Cafe in the Marigny: lurid circus banners with a sharply macabre element. (Though in the case of the Bearded Oysters' banner, which depicts ballerinas flaunting fluffy, well-coiffed pubic hair, it comes with the territory.)

Molly McGuire started making circus banners in 2008 to finance a trip from Los Angeles back to her adopted hometown of New Orleans. "As I was traveling, I sold circus banners along the way to pay for gas," she says. "It's amazing that it even worked, because I was able to get to New Orleans on the sails of these banners, selling them out of my van."

A former musician who has recorded with Queens of the Stone Age and Frank Black and played in bands including The Spores and Rhudabega, McGuire considers herself a visual artist first and foremost. The Ontario native has lived in New Orleans off and on since 1994, and though much of the inspiration for her banners comes from her dreams ("One of them was about a walking carrot stick," McGuire says), New Orleans' influence has been seeping steadily into her work, visible especially in the Loup Garou and the Fighting Uptowners.

"When I was Uptown working at Le Crepe Nanou, these two Uptown ladies just started beating the shit out of each other with their purses," McGuire says. "It was just a spectacle. They were rich ladies fighting like crazy outside the restaurant. I was like, 'Wow, they are freaks! They should go on a circus banner."


Lori Colwin

Unlike some people, who love to go out, I love to stay home. This may be caused by laziness, anxiety or xenophobia, and in the days when my friends were happily traveling to Bolivia and Nepal, I was ashamed to admit that what I liked best was hanging around the house.

I am probably not much fun as a traveler, either. My idea of a good time abroad is to visit someone's house and hang out, poking into their cupboards if they will let me. One summer I spent some time in a farmhouse on the island of Minorca. This was my idea of bliss: a vacation at home (even if it wasn't my home). I could wake up in the morning, make the coffee and wander outside to pick apricots for breakfast. I could wander around markets figuring out that night's dinner. In foreign countries I am drawn into grocery shops, supermarkets and kitchen supply houses. I explain this by reminding my friends that, as I was taught in my Introduction To Anthropology, it is not just the Great Works of mankind that make a culture. It is the daily things, like what people eat and how they serve it.
-Lori Colwin Home Cooking

B.J. Fogg, PhD

B.J. Fogg, PhD, a social scientist and behavior researcher at Stanford University, helps people kickstart positive changes in behavior with his project Tiny Habits.


Enriching our relationship with writing means discovering what allows us to feel balanced and safe enough to begin putting words on the page. We can create a context within which writing happens. One of the ways to do this is to explore what we need to do to prepare, not over prepare, to sit down and write. For one writer, preparing might be steeping a full-bodied cup of Assam tea. For another, it could be a 20-minute meditation. For yet another, a minute or two of jumping-jacks.
Each of us is unique, and it is up to each of us to discover what it is we need, to give ourself permission to write.
- Jane Anne Staw

The Outsider

If you've a notion of what man's heart is, wouldn't you say that maybe the whole effort of man on earth to build a civilization is simply man's frantic and frightened attempt to hide himself from himself? That there is a part of man that man wants to reject? That man wants to keep from knowing what he is? That he wants to protect himself from seeing that he is something awful? And that this 'awful' part of himself might not be as awful as he thinks, but he finds it too strange and he does not know what to do with it? We talk about what to do with the atom bomb...But man's heart, his spirit is the deadliest thing in creation. Are not all cultures and civilizations just screens which men have used to divide themselves, to put between that part of themselves which they are afraid of and that part of themselves which they wish, in their deep timidity, to try to preserve? Are not all of man's efforts at order an attempt to still man's fear of himself?
― Richard Wright, The Outsider

Black Boy

My mother's suffering grew into a symbol in my mind, gathering to itself all the poverty, the ignorance, the helplessness; the painful, baffling, hunger-ridden days and hours; the restless moving, the futile seeking, the uncertainty, the fear, the dread; the meaningless pain and the endless suffering. Her life set the emotional tone of my life, colored the men and women I was to meet in the future, conditioned my relation to events that had not yet happened, determined my attitude to situations and circumstances I had yet to face. A somberness of spirit that I was never to lose settled over me during the slow years of my mother's unrelieved suffering, a somberness that was to make me stand apart and look upon excessive joy with suspicion, that was to make me keep forever on the move, as though to escape a nameless fate seeking to overtake me.
At the age of twelve, before I had one year of formal schooling, I had a conception of life that no experience would ever erase, a predilection for what was real that no argument could ever gainsay, a sense of the world that was mine and mine alone, a notion as to what life meant that no education could ever alter, a conviction that the meaning of living came only when one was struggling to wring a meaning out of meaningless suffering.
At the age of twelve I had an attitude toward life that was to endure, that was to make me seek those areas of living that would keep it alive, that was to make me skeptical of everything while seeking everything, tolerant of all and yet critical. The spirit I had caught gave me insight into the sufferings of others, made me gravitate toward those whose feelings were like my own, made me sit for hours while others told me of their lives, made me strangely tender and cruel, violent and peaceful.
It made me want to drive coldly to the heart of every question and it open to the core of suffering I knew I would find there. It made me love burrowing into psychology, into realistic and naturalistic fiction and art, into those whirlpools of politics that had the power to claim the whole of men's souls. It directed my loyalties to the side of men in rebellion; it made me love talk that sought answers to questions that could help nobody, that could only keep alive in me that enthralling sense of wonder and awe in the face of the drama of human feeling which is hidden by the external drama of life.
― Richard Wright, Black Boy

Emotionally True

Anything seemed possible, likely, feasible, because I wanted everything to be possible... Because I had no power to make things happen outside of me in the objective world, I made things happen within. Because my environment was bare and bleak, I endowed it with unlimited potentialities, redeemed it for the sake of my own hungry and cloudy yearning.
― Richard Wright, Black Boy

It was not a matter of believing or disbelieving what I read, but of feeling something new, of being affected by something that made the look of the world different.
― Richard Wright, Black Boy

I did not know if the story was factually true or not, but it was emotionally true [...].
― Richard Wright, Black Boy

All Literature is Protest

They hate because they fear, and they fear because they feel that the deepest feelings of their lives are being assaulted and outraged. And they do not know why; they are powerless pawns in a blind play of social forces.
― Richard Wright, Native Son

Our too-young and too-new America, lusty because it is lonely, aggressive because it is afraid, insists upon seeing the world in terms of good and bad, the holy and the evil, the high and the low, the white and the black; our America is frightened of fact, of history, of processes, of necessity. It hugs the easy way of damning those whom it cannot understand, of excluding those who look different, and it salves its conscience with a self-draped cloak of righteousness.
― Richard Wright, Black Boy

All literature is protest.
― Richard Wright

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Zamboni Driving Lessons

I've always wanted to drive a zamboni!
It might have an exotic Italian name, but any similarities between a Zamboni and the glamorous world of Ferrari and Lamborghini ends there. A Zamboni is ponderously slow and definitely not street legal. Its job is to clean and smooth the surface of an ice rink.
- Nick Kurczewski

We need a new WPA

We need a new WPA to rebuild the nation's crumbling infrastructure, a higher minimum wage, strong unions, investments in education, and extended unemployment benefits for those who still can't find a job. When 95% of the economic gains go to the top 1%, the middle class and poor don't have the purchasing power to keep it going.

Victor Hugo

To learn to read is to light a fire;
every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.
- Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

Greek Festival in Cranston

September 5th 6th 7th Church of the Annunciation / Cranston Greek Festival
175 Oaklawn Avenue
Cranston, RI 02920
Phone: (401) 942-4188

Blighted Cities

Some neighborhoods [in Baltimore] have lost two-thirds of their residents since 2000. There are so many vacant lots that the city, now home to more than 200 community gardens and farms, zones for urban farms and allows people to keep pigs, sheep and goats in residential areas. A vineyard has popped up as well.