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~~~~~~~~ In Memoriam: John Updike (1932 — 2009) ~~~~
~~~~~~~~ American Writer, known for his Rabbit novels and essays. ~~~~~
~~~ GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS DIGEST #097, July 1, 2009 ~~~== == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==Quote for the Freedom Month of July:
Here comes the orator! With his flood of words, and his drop of reason.
— Benjamin Franklin ( Founding Father, Writer, Inventor)
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THE GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS DIGEST #097, July 2009Archived Digests
Table of Contents
1. July's Violet-n-Joey Cartoon
2. Honored Readers for July
3. On a Personal Note
4. Cajun Story
5. Recipe of the Month from Bobby Jeaux’s Kitchen: Maman Nette's Bread Pudding
6. Poem from 2009 Cat & Mouse Dinner: "Queen Adele"
7. Reviews and Articles Added for July:
8. Commentary on the World
- ARJ2: Counterclockwise — Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility by Ellen Langer
- ARJ2: The Courage to Create by Rollo May
- ARJ2: Eugene Onegin — A Novel in Verse by Alexander Pushkin
9. Closing Notes — our mailing list, locating books, unsubscribing to Digest
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THE GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS DIGEST #097== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==
ARCHIVED DIGESTWORLD ISSUES ON THE WEB ~ ARCHIVED DIGESTWORLD ISSUES ~2000: INAUGURAL YEAR: Jun #1 Jul #2, Aug #3, Sept #4, Oct #5, Nov #6, Dec #7
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2002: Jan #20, Feb #21, Mar #22, Apr #23, May #24, Jun #25, Jul #26, Aug #27, Sep #28, Oct #29, Nov #30, Dec #31
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1. July Violet-n-Joey CARTOON:
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For newcomers to the Digest, we have created a webpage of all the Violet-n-Joey cartoons! Check it out at: http://www.doyletics.com/vjtoons.htm Also note the rotating calendar and clock that follows just to the right of your mouse pointer as you scroll down the page. You'll also see the clock on the 404 Error page if you make a mistake typing a URL while on the doyletics.com website.
The Violet-n-Joey Cartoon page is been divided into two pages: one low-speed and one high-speed access. If you have Do NOT Have High-Speed Access, you may try this Link which will load much faster and will allow you to load one cartoon at a time. Use this one for High-Speed Access.
This month Violet and Joey learn about Getting Over It.
#1 "Getting Over It" at http://www.doyletics.com/images/062109jv.gif
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2. HONORED READERS FOR July:
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Each month we take time to thank two of our good readers of Good Mountain Press Digest, books and reviews. Here's our two worthy Honored Readers for this month. One of their names will be in the TO: address line of your email Digest notification. Our Honored Readers for July are:
Steve Samanie in Luling, LA
Lawrence Kurzius in Florida
Congratulations, Steve and Lawrence!
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3. ON A PERSONAL NOTE:
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Out Our Way:
NEW DIGEST LIST @ TOPICA.COM
This month got off to a bumpy start with someone sending a nastygram to my internet service provider claiming I was sending out spam. I explained to my provider that I was sending a monthly email reminder to a list of subscribers, but it seems that was not an acceptable usage according to my agreement with them. The bad news is that this requires me to purge my entire list and requires every Good Reader to re-subscribe. The good news is that I am moving the Digest Reminder List to a commercial service which will send out the email to all the members of the list for me. Sorry about the inconvenience to all of you, but I'm reminded of the saying that the Wizard had inscribed inside the King's ring to bring him down to Earth if he got to feeling too good and to cheer him up if he got to feeling too bad: "This too shall pass."
Hopefully, all of our Good Readers will know by now that the email is simply a monthly reminder, and that they can view the Good Mountain Press Digest at any time by going to the Home Page at www.doyletics.com or saving a Bookmark or Favorite of any Digest issue and going to the Archives Page which is updated for all issues when a new Digest is published to the website.
We will continue the Honored Readers Section of the Digest, even though its original reason no longer exists. When my subscription list got over 350 subscribers, I had to split the list in half and send two separate emails, a TO: one Honored Reader with a BCC: to everyone else.I don't think I've ever mentioned what constitutes an Honored Reader in a Digest before, so this would be a good time to do so. To become an Honored Reader, one need only mention to me that they have read or looked at one of my Digests and hint that they enjoyed doing so. I was amazed as I checked the Honored Reader data base to find that we have honored over 400 readers over the years. I will endeavor to notify all the Honored Readers first thing after the first of July. I expect it will take me several days to do so, and perhaps most of the month, so please be patient, knowing that our staff consists of only four people, our capable copy-editor, Del, in addition to me, myself, and I. Twenty-hours a day and two hands can only do so much.
I would like to thank the person who wrote the nastygram for encouraging me to migrate to a professional list provider, something that I have wanted to do for so long anyway. The list provider is Topica.com, and I have used them for nine years for the Doyletics Discussion List and have been very satisfied with them. The new Good Mtn Digest List is a one-way List and will be used solely for sending out the new Digest Reminder email once a month around the first day of each month. As of June 26, we have only 9 subscribers to the list, so we have a long way to go to reach the 700 plus members of the previous homemade list I reached by two simple emails with BCC's.We will send invitations to our Honored Readers and other current Digest Subscribers to join the Topica.com service over the next few months and include a link to the latest Digest in the invitation. After that initial subscribe period, any reader not subscriber will not receive a reminder email thereafter.
This month has a lot of wild life photos. Egrets along a canal, a baby owl on the ground, a red-eared slider turtle about 18" long, two anoles making babies, a cardinal in a loquat tree, two wasps doing the wild thing (it is Spring until June 21st, you know), and two squirrels noisely imitating the anoles about ten feet in front of my eyes, but as luck would have it, my camera was inside. Just a few minutes ago while typing these notes at my workstation, I noticed a large bird fly into the live oak tree. I could see its tail and shoulder, and suspected a red-shouldered hawk, but had to carefully walk outside with camera ready on Zoom, lean over far to my left and shoot the photo with rain dripping down to get the photo you can see above. When it flew away, I saw it was carrying some prey in its claws, a squirrel most likely. On the reading side, we have three new reviews and five old favorites you have probably not read before for your edification and enjoyment. Much thanks for coming back to the Digest, especially since it took a special effort on your part this month to do so. Please know we also have made a special effort to get the Digest to you this month.
BUM BUNN AND NEW BUNNAbout a year ago, we received a recall notice about our BUNN coffee maker, but I decided it was unnecessary to get it repaired, but kept the information in case ours broke and we needed to buy another one. Our current one began leaking on the first of the June, so I was on the phone with Bunn to get a replacement at half-price as part of the recall. When I called Bunn about the recall of coffee maker, they said to call back with the Model and Date Code and a credit card to order a replacement which would come with a pre-paid package to mail in the other one. After considering my options, I decided to buy new one locally so we don’t have to put up with a leaking one while waiting for the new one. We could maybe return the other one and have a backup ready. Del brought home a photo of the new ones at Target in her cell phone. Not good enough to see much, but she got practice taking a photo and saving it, and that’s a handy skill to have.She and I drove over to Target and bought the new BUNN coffee maker for $124. It looks spiffy, has a smaller footprint on the counter — and shorter under the counter, while maybe a bit wider at the rear where the new Stainless Steel tanks are located. BUNN makers have a hot water tank for very quick coffee making. Its tanks are great for warming the honey dispensers. With the new tanks, as many six of honey drippers can lean with their side touching against the warm tanks. This is great for winter time usage of the honey when the house stays from 70-72 degrees and the honey gets sluggish if not warmed a bit. If you want a coffee maker that can make up to 20 cups of coffee in under 2 minutes, or 4 cups in 20 seconds, this one’s for you.
BEAR STEAKS, OWL STEW, AND GROUND LONGHORN ROUNDFrom the title, this will sound to most Readers as some exotic wild game cook-off, but no, it’s only a quick culinary-like summary of LSU’s run through the competition from the State of Texas to win its 6th National Championship in Baseball this month. First the Tigers had to chew up the Baylor Bears in the Baton Rouge Regional. Strange thing about NCAA rules is about half-the-time LSU had to sit in the Visitors Dugout because the role of Home Team rotates, even if LSU is playing in its home stadium.Those Bear steaks on the grill for the Regional were kinda rare and tough, therefore, for the Super Regional (also in the brand new Alex Box Stadium, say it ALEC BOX), the tailgaters cooked up for the Tigers a delicious gumbo with the Rice Owls, which tasted good and lasted only two games, cutting down on the calories. The banquet was set for Omaha, and the Tigers had a full course meal beginning with Horsemeat Shish-Ka-bobs thanks to the Virginia Cavaliers who walked back to the airport, followed by some BBQ’ed Pork Ribs from Arkansas, and for the main course, a large Hamburger Steak made of Ground Round Longhorn Steers, with all the trimmings, of course. That main course took three meals to finish it all, the second meal causing a bit of Jungian indigestion, but the third going down smoothly. To finish off the huge banquet, the Tigers played an enthusiastic game of Fifty-Two Pickup in the middle of the baseball diamond with Louis Coleman getting first crack at the playing cards.
Needless to say needless to say, so I won’t — it was a great year for LSU baseball. The pitcher, who was the closer last year, (the one off which the Rice Owls hit a grand slam to knock LSU out of the 2008 Championship Round) Louis Coleman, was chosen to be the first pitcher in the new Alex Box Stadium against Vanderbilt. Coleman was also the pitcher who threw the last pitch to strike out the Texas Longhorn batter in the bottom of the ninth inning to win the 2009 College World Series National Championship. In between these bookend performances there was a lot of blood, sweat, and tears shed by the team and their coach, Paul Manieri. And a lot of great strategic and tactical moves during the year by Manieri.Strategically, Manieri moved three freshmen into the starting lineup mid-season, Nola, Hanover, and Mahtook, which raised a lot of eyebrows and the number of double-plays and timely hits. Tactically, in the last game against Texas he moved Jared Mitchell ahead of Mikie Mahtook, from batting sixth to fifth. Jared hit a three-run home and Mahtook struck out to end the side that inning. Without Manieri's tactical switch of his batting order, zero runs instead of three.
Another impressive strategic move was pitching Chad Jones in relief. About mid-season, when Manieri first sent Jones to the bullpen to warm up, two long-time LSU Radio Announcers, Jim Hawthorne and Charlie Hanegriff, were verbally scratching their heads. “Maybe Jones is there to just there to warm up some pitcher by catching for him.” This was late in the season, and a few minutes later when Jones did come in as relief pitcher, Jim and Charlie were scrounging around for his statistics, and all they could find was something like 175 yds in punt returns and 3 interceptions, all football statistics. I was not surprised at Jones pitching because one of the boys who called Del “Mom” because they were at our Marcie house in Metairie so often, Norman Pineda, had told me during a Saints game last year that Jones, who I only knew as a Safety and Punt Returner on the football squad and an occasional outfielder on the baseball team, was a pitcher, that he was drafted out of high school by the Majors as a pitcher.I asked Norman what kind of a pitcher Jones was, because I couldn’t understand why Manieri wasn’t using him if he were good. “He throws a pea,” was Norman’s laconic reply. I waited a second or two and then asked Norman sheepishly, “Is that good?” “Oh, yeah, that’s great.” Later I found out that to throw a pea means to throw so hard, the baseball looks like a tiny pea coming at you, impossible to hit. So, at soon as they announced Chad was in the bullpen, I knew he was coming in to pitch, almost a year and a half after Norman and I had talked. In the last game against Texas, Chad Jones proved his worth in keeping Texas scoreless in two and two-thirds innings.
HOT AND DRY JUNE
Not completely dry, but nearly so. First rain came on June 3rd and the next rain came on June 25th. In between the sun shone brightly nearly every day and the temperatures reached 90 to 95 by early afternoon several times. One day it even ranged over a 100 briefly, something which has only happened less than two dozen days in the long history of recorded weather in New Orleans, mostly due to our usually dependable Good Mountain cloud cover and cooling afternoon thundershowers throughout the summer months.
Heavy rainstorm early morning of June 2 with a burst of high wind which left our newly transplanted 8 foot high pipe cactus standing, but tore three arm-thickness limbs off one of the two cypress trees along Timberlane Road between the south side neighbor’s house and ours. Largest branch fell on my shrubs, breaking the center of the round bush which had just begun growing well since the large loquat tree south of it had been chopped down.I spent the morning sawing the limbs into chunks small enough to move and for the garbage men to haul away. Little did we suspect we would not get a single drop of rain again until the end of June. Good news is the planting job my friend Guntis and I did on the large cactus held it in place just fine, even with heavy gusts of wind rushing past it. By the end of June, new growth is clearly obvious on the tops and sides of the cactus. Lucky that cacti can go for a year without water, so there was no need to water the cactus before the rain fell three weeks later.
JUICY CREOLES, BELLS, ZYDECO VERT, AND TASTY CUKES
By the time June arrived, we had eaten all the radishes, and eaten most of the green beans (haricot vert, the origin for music named zydeco which is what haricot sounds like in French). But the cucumbers were climbing up the arbor and the cucumbers, some longer than a foot, were hanging down, volunteering for a tasty salad.The luscious Creole tomatoes began to ripen and make it into our evening fare in various ways: salt and pepper, Blue Plate Mayonnaise, or Del’s Creole Tomato sauce made with Wishbone Italian Dressing whipped with equal parts of the BP Mayo. Sometimes sliced cukes and sliced tomatoes with just a tad of vinegar, salt and pepper. Del’s favorite is a Creole Tomato sandwich with stone-ground whole wheat bread toast topped with sliced Creoles that have been soaking in her Creole sauce. Talk about good! Nowhere else on Earth I want to be in June than in South Louisiana when those Creole tomatoes are turning red on the shelves in the kitchen, as you can see in the Banner Photo of this issue of the Digest.
Here’s what we had to eat one evening during the Super Regional. With the last of our garden haricot vert and potatoes, I had made green beans and potatoes using the leeks as adjunct to onions and it was delicious. I was waiting for the LSU — Rice baseball Super-regional game to start at 4 pm and couldn’t start writing anything in the meantime. Instead I read for a while, then worked in the garden. The baseball game was incredible. LSU took a lead and didn’t let it go. Coleman pitched a masterful game and Matty Ott came on in the ninth to relieve him. Got the first two guys at the bottom on the order out and with the ninth batter at the plate with 2 out, he hit the batter with a pitch. Now the top of the batting order was at the plate representing the tying run, but Ott took care of business: with two strikes on the batter, on these instructions from Manieri: “Don’t throw him anything good”, Ott gave him one almost in the dirt which the batter struck at and missed to send the Tigers to Omaha! WOW!
Del had earlier taken some green beans and rice to Rosie and stayed to play Rummy Cube with her, so I began watching the FIFA Finals with the USA playing Honduras. Luckily it came on immediately after the game was over on ESPN-HD because I would have otherwise not known about the game. Our local newspaper hardly even gives the scores of FIFA games, much less announces any games in advance. USA had just lost to Costa Rica the previous day after allowing an early lead of 1-0 and never catching up. Unfortunately in this game, Honduras likewise gets a 1-0 lead 4 minutes into the game, but this time, the USA came storming back, first on a PK, Penalty Kick by Donovan, and later on a masterful shot to lead 2-1, and win the game to take second place in the standings behind Costa Rica. WOW! By the end of the month, the USA had gone on to beat Spain in the semi-finals in South Africa, and after Brazil narrowly escaped losing to South Africa, the USA will meet Brazil in the FIFA Finals in South Africa.I learned about soccer when I was in Germany for ten days during the 1998 World Cup and I enjoy watching great soccer being played. By the time you read this, we’ll know if the USA was able to beat Brazil. Followup: USA took a 2-0 lead into the first half but were unable to stave off Brazil who won 3-2. A valiant effort which bodes well for USA's chances in the next World Cup.
HORROR SHOW AT THE RAVE THEATER
One Sunday afternoon, Del and I drove up to our son John’s apartment where he was fixing lunch for us. It was the first time we had visited him there when his two sons, Kyle and Collin were there, and we were all going to see the new Night at the Museum movie. Along the way to Gonzales, Del and I stopped at Tanger Mall and she got two new shoes and so did I. She bought me two pair of new shoes for my birthday and wanted me to be sure to remember that when July 20 rolls around. Here it is, Del, I remember! Some Nike beach uni-strap flops, and some Dr. Scholl deck shoes with memory foam inside the shoes. All for $80. I said ersatz because later when I was tying the shoes on my feet, I noticed that the shoe strings did not go through to the back of the shoe like real deck shoes, so there was no way to tighten the shoes properly. Hope the memory foam does the job that the shoe strings are supposed to do to keep wet deck shoes on one’s feet tightly. Would not have bought them had I noticed the ruse in time. We left the Outlet Mall to drive to John’s, and I mentioned to Del as we drove out thru the Crackerbarrel Restaurant parking lot that it was the first time ever we drove away from the Crackerbarrel still hungry! The sequel to the first museum movie got a Your Call, but the Rave Theater in Baton Rouge in which we viewed the movie got an AVOID AT ALL COSTS.Some teenage boy in the row front of me and off to my left was doing TEXT messages during the movie and the bright light from his open cell phone was glaring in my eyes. My foot began subtly bouncing off his rockable seat and he finally shut it down. Makes me think fondly of old man Paul Boudreaux who used to walk up and down the Gordon Theater in Westwego when I was that age and made sure no distracting behavior was going on. Like so many other things, prices have gone up and service has gone down. Were it not for the chance to go with our grandsons, I would have stayed out of any movie theater. A month or so ago, we went to the local Palace Theater, a gal sitting one seat over to my right answered her cell phone during a critical part of the movie and kept talking! That did it for me. No more first run movies. Blu-Ray on the plasma screen at home with the surround sound and anyone who answers a cell phone will be gently kicked out of the Timberlane Screening Room.
CLOSER AND CLOSER
There is only one first run Network program we watch and we wait for it to arrive every June since we fell in love with Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson and her pugnacious, charming, ingenious, and lovable crew in the Major Crimes department, in fact, we consider it a major crime to miss a single episode in first run. Thanks to DVR, we are able to begin watching halfway into its hour run and then fast-forward over all the commercials and obnoxious previews of wannabe Closer’s. This year the wait till June was ameliorated by a spate of original episodes of The Closer which were broadcast in January. Hopefully the trend continues.
Along with The Closer premiere, we watched two fine 2008 movies about precocious dark-skinned boys, “Australia” and “Slumdog Millionaire” one night. I’ve noticed how often we have two movies of similar themes surprise us during a double-feature night. This was one of the better synchronies we’ve encountered with our Netflix DVD’s. I do most of the selection and avoid ordering two movies of similar themes, so these similarities are hidden in the movies and one must watch them all the way through to notice. In advance, I thought “Australia” was about a beautiful white woman, but the small aboriginal boy stole the show. Two other memorable movies on the week of The Closer premiere were “Daniel Deronda” and “Noble House”. See Movie Blurbs below for more info on these.
CAT & MOUSE DINNER, MOTHER’S BIRTHDAY, FATHER’S DAY
Our Annual Cat & Mouse Dinner, a Black Tie Banquet in the Rex Room of Antoine’s Restaurant was another great evening. After a superb banquet topped off by an autographed Baked Alaska for dessert, the men read poetry to their ladies, included a 1950s rock song written and sung by Ric to his lady, Dolly Dean. With us singing Doo Wop behind him, Ric was the hit of the evening. My poem to Del is featured as the Poem of the Month in this Digest.
Summertime began on Father’s Day this year, which was also our remaining Mother’s Birthday, Doris Richards, and Del had planned a get together of Doris’s two kids (Del & Dan), their spouses (Bobby & Karen), and Dan’s local kids (Cherie and Randy), spouses, and their kids (Heather, Brandon, and Brooke). So the day was a joyous celebration of the summer solstice and the giving and receiving of Birthday and Father’s Day cards and presents, and the traditional blowing out of candles on a Gambino’s Chocolate Doberge Birthday Cake for Doris.
My day began with a Happy Father’s Day card, first in a long time from someone who lives in the house with me, namely our Schnauzer Steiner, who just passed his 12th birthday. His card was so cute, I thought you would like to see it. Wish I had Del here to read it to you like a dog would say it, panting quickly, tail wagging, with eyes wide open, with an Ahrooo or two thrown aptly in. Steiner gave me a present of wrapped chocolate truffles, too. How did he know how good these taste to humans? “It’s one of the great myskeries of the sea”, as Popeye once said.
My day ended with having supper with Buster, our 91-year-old dad, and then playing Pay Me! with him. All the Matherne’s will be familiar with the game, but few else. You start off with three cards in your hand with 3's wild, and move up one card at a time to 13 cards in each round with Kings wild. Almost 92 and Buster still manages to hold, sort, and win with 13 cards in his hand. The game is a combination of fun, physical therapy, fun, mental conditioning, gambling, memory exercise, and fun. Buster plays on Sunday and again on Monday, whenever we visit (once a month usually), or whenever any Matherne’s stop by for a visit. We brought him some of the goodies from the Richards’ gathering earlier in the day and he ate heartily. The second Pay Me! game ended about 10:45 pm, an hour or so past his normal bed-time, and I helped him get ready for bed. After I pulled the covers over him and kissed on the forehead, he opened his eyes and said brightly, “Happy Father’s Day.” We drove home quietly, Del and I each thinking over the busy day we had, and ready to tuck ourselves into bed.
MAMA MIA! THE LITTLE MERMAID & BILLY ELLIOT: WICKED
The final week of June saw Del taking her grand-daughter Katie Gralapp on a trip to New York City to celebrate her graduation from high school. When Doris took Kim, Katie’s mother, to London for her graduation, Del was working and unable to go along, so Del promised she would take her daughter along on this trip. Why NYC? Katie’s choice of where she wanted to go. Also the choice of Broadway Plays which grace the title. Plus they saw “Billy Elliot”, which stars the son of Rick Bologna who with his wife ran the Bologna Gallery for many years. Those two artisans framed many of the artworks which grace our home today, and apparently they moved to NYC to help their son get started on the stage. I gather from Del’s telephonic description of “Wicked” this morning, a lot of you will be watching this musical back story of the life of the wicked witch of Oz in the coming years, both on stage and in movies. Where are they staying? On Bloomberg Beach or rather right next to it. It’s the name NY’ers give to the blocked-off from auto traffic section of Broadway complete with lawn chairs for visitors to sit and enjoy the sights.
So far I’ve heard of a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to Grimaldi’s for pizza, dinner at Tavern on the Green, watching LSU in the College World Series at the ESPN broadcast headquarters, a visit to St. Patrick’s Cathedral to view the spot on the corner of Fifth Avenue where Del and I locked ourselves out of my car during rush hour on Friday. Plus a visit to the M&M store and to the place where the diamonds come out: Tiffany’s. On Saturday Del called from Soho, which she explained means “SO of HOuston Street” and as any crossword puzzler knows, there is also a very handy NOHO section of NYC as well.Originally manufacturing district, it turned into an artist’s colony when the garment industry went South in more ways than one — now it’s been kicked sideways all the way to China. This has been a very comfortable visit to New York City for me. I get to learn about NYC while eating food from our garden and I get detailed on-the-scene reports in the air-conditioned comfort of my home with no one jabbering away at the next table, looking over what I’m eating or drinking, or hailing a taxi.
No rain from June 3rd till June 25th at Timberlane, over three weeks of hot, dry, and sunny. On the 24th, I was moving the sprinkler from one place to another all during the day to cover the St. Augustine grass. The only care this marvelous green carpet requires is watering in those rare group of days when it doesn't rain: it grows by itself without fertilizer, aerating, pesticides, hay-bale mulch or any of the other expensive and time-consuming lawn treatments I’ve found that grass in other parts of the country require. I’ve only lived in Tennessee, California, and New England, but that was enough. All our wonderful St. Augustine needs is rain, and a lot of it, which makes it perfect for New Orleans and South Louisiana. I learned as a buyer of a bare lot with a new house on it back in 1965, all you have to do to create a lush Bermuda grass lawn in New Orleans is wait. About a month or so of summer will do the trick, and soon you will have Bermuda everywhere covering the dirt. If you decide you want St. Augustine, you’re in luck, because your neighbor may have it and if so, no matter what you do, you’ll soon have St. Augustine as well, as it migrates like a bushel of spilled blue crabs, and soon your lush Bermuda will be completely replaced by St. Augustine and the good news is: there is nothing hardy enough to replace St. Augustine!Only one thing to watch out for. Remember the “lot of rain” part? There is an insidious bug hiding beneath every St. Augustine lawn waiting its chance, it’s a cinch you’ve heard about it already, it’s called a “cinch bug”. When we get these rare mini-droughts of two weeks to three weeks, savy lawn owners know it’s time to sprinkle because if the water table gets too low below the surface of the ground, the cinch bugs are a cinch to munch on the St. Augustine grass. How low a water table is too low? When the brown circular spots appear in the middle of the lush green grass. They are caused by the cinch bug. So water preemptively and no problem. If you’ve waited to find out “how long”, then here’s what you do. Take a large juice can, cut out the top and bottom, hammer slightly into the grass, hopefully surrounding all of the cinch bug dinner plate (brown spot), and fill it with water several times a day. It’s an engraved invitation for the cinch bugs to go back into hibernation and leave your St. Aug alone. Or you can wait till the next widely scattered thundershower to come your way, and the one to two inch downpour will keep your precious St. Aug safe for another week or so. On the 25th and 26th we got one of the two-inchers so I can safely pack away the sprinklers for another year.
My friend Guntis, who also has his wife in New York and New England, invited me to hear some music on Wednesday night at an Algiers Point Music Evening, but the Tigers were playing the last game of the series and I wasn’t leaving the Screening Room till that game was over. Later that night while checking local news, I saw a TV anchor interviewing our long-time friend, Carol Osborne, who was in charge of the Algiers music series at the Point.
On Thursday I took our friend Rosie Harris to lunch. That night her two nieces were coming to take her to dinner. The next day around noon I called to see how Rosie was doing, thinking to take some of my shrimp stew which I had just eaten. I realized without Del to help me finish it off, I would have a lot extra shrimp stew left. Well, Rosie’s two nieces, Judy and Dawn, offered to do something for their beloved Aunt Rosie, insisting on it despite Rosie’s protests, so finally she said her windows needed washing. That’s what they were doing when I called. I packaged up the rest of the shrimp stew and took it over for the three ladies, since they were going to work through lunch and be very hungry. They protested about my offer to get a photo of them, but I said they look just like the helpers they are, and that would be very appropriate. Soon as I got home, about three blocks away, Rosie called back to say Dawn had gotten stung by a wasp and what could she do? I suggested the old home remedy I learned as a child for stings: grab some green grass, crush in your hands, and rub on the spot of the sting. Then I remembered the Neosporin-Plus which has a pain killer in it and took the tube over and administered some of the ointment to Dawn’s leg.
JUNGLE GYM FIG PICKING AND SNOWBALL STANDING
Out of the two events, picking figs or standing in line for snowballs, I'll pick fig picking any day. Especially if the snowball stand has a twenty-minute queue and is not air-conditioned on a 90 plus degree day like Sunday. My friend Gus loves Hansen's Snowball stand, which I have passed by on many occasions, never stopping because of the twenty-minute line of folks waiting outside. But Gus told me this stand has the best snowballs in New Orleans, and on the way home from an event on a Sunday late afternoon, there was no line, so we stopped in to buy a snowball, only to find that there was a twenty-minute line inside the shop, which had only one cool spot — behind the ice-shaving machine. Sans air-conditioning, it would have been sans my business, but Gus said at least four times or more, "This place has the best snowballs in town." Later on the way home after I had polished off a $3.50 snowball which Gus treated me to, covered half with fruit punch and half with limeade, which was very good by the way, Gus admitted that Hansen's was the only snowball stand in New Orleans he had ever bought a snowball from.Well, Hansen's didn't have soft-serve, ice cream-filled snowballs and they didn't have Dreamsicle flavor, so their product doesn't make to the level of Cool-Hand Luke's which was a short walk from my work-station and its queue was always fully visible from the street, and our grandkids could climb on low-hanging tree limbs in the shade while waiting. The truck outside my club on Sundays always has Dreamsicle flavor for its snowballs, but no ice cream, so I'm still auditioning replacements for Cool-Hand Luke, a great name for a snowball maker, ain't it? Paul Newman, the original Cool Hand Luke would agree, given his natural sense of humor and penchant for the best-tasting foods of any genre.
My figs were drying on the vine, then the daily rains came and they're plumping up large and sweet. I'm hoping to fill my large pot and turn them into fig preserves before July 4th. I'm picking a basket each day and that seems a doable goal. What's with the jungle gym thing? Well, climbing inside the tree is the best way of picking figs that are otherwise too high to reach. Sure, I know about ladders and got all sizes, but the ground is soft under the tree and muddy, as it should be for growing great figs, and ladders have a way of sinking into mud, but the tree is already sunk into the mud and stays there.So I carefully place my size 10 feet, in my old sandals, and reach and twist everyway my body can twist, and some ways I didn't now it could twist. I carefully pull down the branches smaller around than my thumb — the limbs bend like bow, and brings the ripe figs to the tips of your other hand and fingers. Don't the limbs break when I step on them or pull them too far? Sure, if I was foolish enough to step in the wrong place or pull too far on a limb, but, no, for me, they don't break. I wouldn't recommend this procedure that I use to someone going to pick in my fig trees — I would have a ladder ready for them. But taking out a ladder and putting it up every time I pick figs, in the morning and the afternoon would be onerous to me, and not as much fun as challenging myself to pick every ripe figs without breaking a limb by stepping or pulling. And the exercise is terrific.New Stuff on the Website: This is one of a series of five artworks sent to me by Cynthia Waters this month. Each one has hidden images of human beings within the artwork. In the sample below, "La Vie En Rose", ask yourself where the stockings and the red shoes that are on the window sill came from. See rest on the Tidbits Grab Art Page here: http://www.doyletics.com/tidbits/grabart.htm#hidden
Do I wear long sleeves while picking figs? Sure, if the temperature is in the 70's which is a New Orleans way of saying, "No." No, short pants and short sleeved shirts. Don't you get scratches? Sure, and very sticky fingers, and my arms itch when I'm done most every time. But a good soaping in the sink, rinsing with water does wonders. Any leftover itching on some spot on my arms or fingers gets a dousing with good ole Dr. Tichenor's and in a minute or two, I'm ready to tap away on some keys if that's what's waiting for me, which in these last days of the month, is what is usually waiting for me. Wonder why so few movies reviewed this month? Del has been gone the last week of the month to New York City, and six NetFlix DVD's are waiting for us when she returns.
We ate the last of our fig preserves (from 2005) and are ready to lay in some new fig preserves for next year by the end of this next week. Enjoying figs from our own fig tree is a nutritious treat we can enjoy throughout the year.
TILL NEXT MONTHThat’s it from out our way for another Digest. Till next month, by the Grace of God, and the Mississippi River don’t rise! Enjoy the end of school, vacations, and the balmy breezes of Summer (or the chilly winds of Winter in the Southern Hemisphere). Make it a great month for yourself, however and wherever in the world you celebrate the joys of Summer ! ! !
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New Quotes Added to quotes.htm this month:New Stuff about Website:
- We learn to swim in the winter and to ice skate in the summer.
William James, US Pioneer in Psychology, writing about how our unconscious works in our learning process.
My Reviews of Five Whimsical Books
1. Tom T. Hall's The Songwriter's Handbook
Excellent book for beginning songwriters: light, easy reading with lots of tips on getting published, recorded and best of all, paid. The chapter on how to write hit songs was deleted at the last minute when the publisher remembered his money back guarantee.
Rule 1: There are no rules for writing hit songs.
Given that paradoxical requirement, old Tom T. comes up with an excellent rule for song/poem writing: make each line complete in itself. Here's my first attempt at following that advice:
It's a nice trick
Try it for yourself
A poem's both smooth and slick
Take one from your mental shelf.
When I was halfway through the book several mornings ago, I started my daily free writing exercise and it came out in poetry. The three pages became more and more poetic until I had about three poems laid out in front of me. The first punctuation or parsing was to give a title to the third page, "The Song of Freedom" which is about a country where the freedom bell is not cracked. The first page became the poem "Write Away" and the second page, the poem "Conquer the World." Not bad dividends for a twelve dollar investment in this book.
Here are two of the poems. Note how Tom has influenced my style right away in the complete thought per line, especially notable in the second one:
SONG OF FREEDOM
An epic song of freedom calls to me,
to leave my moorings on this murky sea
To set my tattered sails for brighter climes,
to where the crackless bell of freedom chimes.
A land of earnest volunteers,
bereft of bureaucrats for years:
They left because their lawful force
found no one willing to coerce.
We cannot fight for liberty you see
is not consistent with bureaucracy.
It's only by our joint consent
we do on freedom's shores relent.
We lose our declared independent roots
by pursuit of democracy in polling booths.
Conquer The World
You never wrote a song before — what of it?
Alexander never conquered the world
before he did it.
He crossed the sea in harmony
and stayed until the land was won;
His only goal was just to see
what lies beyond the next horizon.
He won the world but not with might,
The evidence is now at hand,
he won it with his rag-time band.
So heed the lessons one and all
the world is at your beck and call
To conquer the world without a casualty
you must first set your bodies free.
Free to dance and free to sing
will bring you joy in everything,
For bodies free will ne'er lie
and let your carefree spirits fly.
Now for my extended attempt at following his advice that every line express a complete thought. Read it and decide for yourself if I achieved that or not.
Tips from Tom T. Hall
To write a poem every time,
Write a fully stated design.
The listener will hear what you say.
Thoughts will upon his psyche prey
A sentence must express a complete thought —
A fragment is like half a boat —
No matter how titanic, it will sink of its own weight
Half an auto will not go, half a driver also, no.
Half a loaf will nourish some,
Half a friend means no chum.
Writing lines in half a minute
Half a moon and half a sum
Have a heart or halve a heart
Broke in half is not much fun
So you read a book by Tom T. Hall
He displays no modesty at all.
You decide that you can write some songs
Tell tales of her to whom your love belongs.
2. Roy Blount, Jr's One Fell Soup — I'm Just a Bug on the Windshield of Life
I was nearly through the book when I listened to the June 13, 1987 broadcast of Prairie Home Companion, which was supposed to be its last show. I heard Roy recite the following line: "It's better to be good and over, than rotten and hanging on." He'd been a regular on PHC and his brand of humor is aptly described as "one fell soup."
From "Is the Pope Capitalized?" he quotes the UPI stylebook: "burro, burrow: A burro is an ass. A burrow is a hole in the ground. A journalist is expected to know the difference." From "The Times: no SH*T": "And Sports Illustrated once turned my 'crap' to 'baloney' and Esquire my 'F*ck' to 'Forget.' And he closes with: "Since then, there has been a 'sh*t' or two in the New Yorker and other publications have eased their dung restrictions."
In "The Family Jewels," a column devoted to testicles (from Latin root 'testify'), he points out that "pubescent teenage boys appearing at their girl-friends's doors with orchids for their ball gowns" takes on a new meaning when you realize 'orchids' means 'testicles' in Greek.
And so the book goes — a delight to pick up and read anywhere — maybe a three-page article or two just to experience the mental whiplash of entering Blount's brain for a couple of minutes. "Be sure to fasten your seatbelts before reading" should be place in fluorescent orange at the beginning of each story, article, or column. Reading Blount's writing is like watching Jimmy Piersall play baseball: you can never tell when he might hit a home run and then run the bases backwards.
3. Paul Watzlawick's The Situation is Hopeless, But Not Serious
Note the subtitle of this book is The Pursuit of Unhappiness. Knowing that happiness is something that happens spontaneously, Watzlawick devotes this book to a study of ways for folks to carefully pursue unhappiness. By cataloging the most popular ways that folks make themselves unhappy and giving intricate details on how to do it, those folks who recognize their own strategies for creating unhappiness as they read this book, will be unable to perform the tasks as well as before, their careful processes for making themselves unhappy will be broken!
When confronted with a desperate predicament, the Northern German is said to take the attitude that "the situation is serious, but not hopeless" whereas the Southern German, confronting the same predicament, would take the attitude that "the situation is hopeless, but not serious". With the southern attitude, Paul Watzlawick offers a simple solution to seemingly impossible predicaments.
One predicament is choosing to operate on the world the way one thinks it should be instead of the way it is. Watzlawick says of such a person, "As captain of his ship, which the rats have already abandoned, he heroically steers into the stormy night."
Of another favorite predicament, "Games with the Past", Watzlawick details four variations for the reader to consider:
1) Glorification of the Past: Seeing one's youth as Paradise Lost and "making it into an inexhaustible reservoir of nostalgic misery."
2) Mrs. Lot: Looking back obsessively on the past so as to avoid any possibility of discovering something new in the present, in effect, turning oneself into stone.
3) The Fatal Glass of Beer: In this predicament, the single act of sinning starts an irreversible decline (like the young man drinking his first glass of beer in W. C. Fields' movie, The Fatal Glass of Beer). "Then I sinned, but now I am the victim of my own sin." Watzlawick tells us in the voice of the hopelessly lost sinner.
4) More of the Same: The story is of Nasruddin, the Sufi joker sage, who was crawling around the campfire in front of his desert tent when a friend walked by.
"What are you looking for?"
"My key" At this his friend got on his knees and joined in the search, soon another friend came by and there were three of them helping, then a fourth. Soon, a fifth friend came by and asked, "What are you looking for?"
"Oh, where did you lose it?"
"In my tent."
"In your tent? Then why are all of you looking for it out here?"
"Because the light is better here."
Sounds absurd, doesn't it? If you look in the wrong place, you will never find what you're looking for, right? Yes, but continuing the game of "more of the same, is one of the most effective recipes for disaster that has gradually evolved on our planet."
The only hope for the irrepressible "more of the same" player is to follow these two directions explicitly: [Liberally reworded from the author's text.]
1) You must keep doing what you're doing the same way, since only one way of doing it is permitted, and if the way you choose to do it is not working, just apply yourself more forcefully.
2) Under no circumstances doubt the assumption that there is only one way to do it; only your application of that one way and its effectiveness may be questioned and refined.
After these playful romps with the past, Watzlawick examines other ingenious ways that people use to make themselves unhappy. As Margaret Mead pointed out, while an American would pretend to have a headache to avoid an unpleasant social engagement, a Russian would have to have a headache. The American suffers from a hurting conscience, and the Russian from a hurting head.
For persons unfamiliar with the tools of the average paranoiac, Watzlawick, in The Story of the Hammer, gives details on how to convert floaters into failing vision, tinnitus into hearing loss, and one's friends into co-conspirators. It only takes a little practice with the detailed exercises to become proficient.
Given that all these simple tools may never allow one to achieve the true unhappiness of Oedipus, Watzlawick points out how the self-fulfilling prophecy, conscientiously applied, can save the day. He leads us to see Karl Popper's point that "the very actions that Oedipus took in order to avoid the horrifying predictions of the oracle led to the fatal fulfillment of those predictions."
Need stronger ammunition? Try mixing messages at the object and relationship level, Watzlawick suggests. "Do you like the soup I made especially for you?" If it tastes bad and you say, "No" honestly, the relationship will suffer. Some folks spend their entire lives nourishing themselves on bad tasting soup rather than risk upsetting the relationship by telling the truth.
The author finally unsheathes the most powerful weapon of all in his armamentarium, the "Be Spontaneous" Paradox. It's use is demonstrated below by two unhappiness experts:
"Do you love me?"
"If you really loved me, you'd say so without my asking you."
Any request or command for a spontaneous act will cause other persons to be unable to perform the act spontaneously. Whether it's to: "Go to sleep", "Show me you love me", "Be happy", or even "Do a good job", the mere gracing of their ears with the request will make it difficult or impossible for them to perform as requested. This is the reason why actors before a stage performance are told to "Break a leg". Since breaking a leg can only happen spontaneously, it will not happen on command, and the actors are not stuck in the exquisite "Be Spontaneous" paradox of being wished to "Perform well tonight". Even the simple request by a photographer to "Smile" will evoke a faked or posed smile in place of a genuine one. True unhappiness enthusiasts are experts at the "Be Spontaneous" paradox.
With so many effective ways to create unhappiness, small wonder that one can continue along unhappy for a lifetime, when merely stopping one's pursuit of unhappiness would allow one to be happy in a moment. "The situation is hopeless," Watzlawick ends his small book saying, "and the solution is hopelessly simple."
4. Philip J. Davis's Thomas Gray — Philosopher Cat
"Consuetudo Peregrinadis — the habit of wandering is endemic in cats" might be the theme of this mystical novel and it would surprise no one. Instead the theme is that of a cat who is a philosopher, not the cat of a philosopher. Lucas Fysst (rhymes with "diced" not "Christ" — that would be irreverent, Lucas claims) is an historian of science who had unearthed and dutifully researched an ancient Irish poem c. 900 AD about a Celtic monk's cat named Pangur Ban. When the title cat appears in Lucas' world he names her Thomas Gray after the famous "Elegy in a Country Churchyard" poet who wrote a poem about his cat that died in a vat of goldfish and, by the way, had a conscious tail. He named this peregrine cat Thomas Gray, but he affectionately called her Pangur Ban — which may mean "furry white" unless you punctuate the name Pan Gurban which turns the furry feline into a hairy hunchback, an abomination that Lucas considered more irreverent and less poetical.
Thomas Gray's subsequent disappearance (one of many) from the Halls of Cambridge brings sadness to the dons, commentary by the Prime Minister during Questions, and the lowering of the Pembroke flag for an hour. But Dr. Redding spies Thomas in King's Lynn and the chase is afoot. Lucas retraces Redding's exact steps, including ordering gooseberry fool from the waitress who Redding only remembered as having a name beginning with a 'B.' After a lot of fool and fooling around, Miss B. becomes Mrs. Fysst and Lucas discovers Thomas Gray once more on a scow in the Wash off King's Lynn. She wants to retrace her grandmother Katrina's quintessential experience of the specific wavelet out of the myriad of general wavelets on the rippling sea. To discover for herself infinity in the gap between the specific and the general. Once having done so, she can rest at peace, with occasional peregrinations, of which we shall not speak, in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Lucas Fysst.
A delightful novel from beginning to end — most likely to surprise those who think of cats as untrainable dogs and are embarrassed by the thought of having coming into possession of a whole book about one.
5. Philip J. Davis's The Thread
Get ready for a pafnutying good time as you follow this mathematical thread that begins with a letter questioning the author's spelling of Tschebyscheff in his book on numerical approximations. While tracking down the variety of acceptable ways of spelling this surname, the author begins also tracking down the unusual Russian first name of Pafnuty.
Soon the author has developed a mania for tracking names that takes him to reading the story of the Desert Fathers, hippopotami in the Nile, the pharaoh's pyramid builders, and traveling to Tasmania, Jerusalem, among other exotic places. In this book he changes the mania into a series of delightful stories.
One of these stories involved Thaïs the whore turned saint, whose tale were in many ways in the Fourth century. The author discovered this thread from his daughter who suggest he look up Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim. Finally he located a Hrotsvitha club, and drove to Greene, Rhode Island, to meet a former official who later posted him a copy of the Collected Plays of Hrotsvitha(1). When he opened it, there on page 83 was the play Paphnutius, starring Paphnutius, a hermit, and Thais, a courtesan. Later Davis discovers a reference to two tombs in Lower Egypt during an excavation in 1899. One tomb was inscribed with "Here lies blessed Thaïs" and:
In the crumbling coffin, the remains were surrounded by a number of religious objects not characteristic of other tombs in the same cemetery. There was a sacrament case of palm fibers, an ancient rosary of wood and ivory, a rose of Jericho, the symbol of immortality and resurrection, and, found between the fingers of the skeleton, a cross in the form of an ankh, the symbol of life and rebirth. There were also some palm leaves signifying a martyr's triumph.
In a nearby grave, they found the remains of a monk in a brown robe. No inscription but on a potsherd nearby they found the inscription "Serapion, son of Kornosthalos." In the various plays about Thaïs, the Man of God is either Paphnutius or Serapion.
For those verbophiles among us, who do not consider a book or article complete unless we learn at least one new word from it, I offer Philip Davis's contribution: "pafnuty, v. i., to pursue tangential matters with a hobby-like zeal."
New Stuff on the Internet:
---------------------------- Footnotes -----------------------------------------
Footnote 1. In a new book on Thoreau, Kevin Dann notes a connection between Hrosvitha and Rudolf Steiner's mentor in Vienna."Steiner had researched the karmic history of an extremely important mentor in his own life — Karl Julius Schröer, his teacher at the Institute of Technology in Vienna, the man who in 1882 recommended Steiner to write the introductions to Goethe’s botanical, zoological, geological and color theory writings for an edition of Goethe’s collected works. From his research, Steiner discovered that Schröer had been the tenth century playwright Hroswitha, and before that, Plato."Return to text directly before Footnote 1.
Pontchartrain Beach, courtesy of Dave Lyons. Click this link: http://www.scottymoore.net/pontchartrain.html
This was our favorite venue during the 1940s and early 1950s, and we spent many a night watching great acts on the Midway Stage. For 21 cents I could amuse my ten-year-old self for hours in the Penny Arcade. Great memories of the Zephyr roller coaster, the Laughing Clown, the Carousel with the Flying Horses, and those shelters where our large Matherne clan could gather for the day before they began charging admission and we could park our cars a few feet from the shelter.
At right is a watercolor of the famous lighthouse which was there before the Amusement Park was built and remained a landmark after it was gone. I bought this watercolor from John Goodwynne who specializes in nautical theme paintings, especially paintings on top of navigational maps. See Photo of Goodwynne with one of these watercolors.
Movies we watched this past month:Notes about our movies: Many of the movies we watch are foreign movies with subtitles. After years of watching movies in foreign languages, Arabic, French, Swedish, German, British English, Russian, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, and many other languages, sometimes two or three languages in the same movie, the subtitles have disappeared for us. If the movie is dubbed in English we go for the subtitles instead because we enjoy the live action and sounds of the real voices so much more than the dubbed. If you wonder where we get all these foreign movies from, the answer is simple: NetFlix. For a fixed price a month they mail us DVD movies from our on-line Queue, we watch them, pop them into a pre-paid mailer, and the postman effectively replaces all our gas-consuming and time-consuming trips to Blockbuster. To sign up for NetFlix, simply go to http://www.netflix.com/ and start adding all your requests for movies into your personal queue. If you've seen some in these movie blurbs, simply copy the name, click open your queue, and paste the name in the Search box on NetFlix and Select Add. Buy some popcorn and you're ready to Go to the Movies, 21st Century Style. You get to see your movies as the Director created them — NOT-edited for TV, in full-screen width, your own choice of subtitles, and all of the original dialogue. Often you get the Director's Cut Edition which adds back excellent footage that was cut from the theater releases.Hits (Watch as soon as you can. A Don't Miss Hit is one you might otherwise ignore.):
P. S. Look for HD/DVD format movies which are now available from NetFlix.“Last Chance Harvey” (2009) a marvelous chick-flick with Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman. Makes fathers supplanted by step-fathers giving away their daughters think and weep. A DON’T MISS HIT ! !
“Speaker” (2004) about a young girl entering the ninth grade after a summer party went bad and she called 911. The police came to break up the party, but no one asked why she called, and all her friends turned on her. Can she survive the year without telling a soul? A good time to be an art student.
“Zack and Miri Make a Porno” (2008) and each other for the first time. A life-long friendship threatened by falling in love? Prepare to laugh while you send the kids over to the in-laws for the evening. There are words and scenes you don’t want to have your kids explain to you. Plus you’ll be too busy rolling on the floor laughing to hear the explanations! Seth Rogen is a hoot! A DON’T MISS HIT !
“The Stone Angel” (2007) Ellen Burstyn stars, says this line, “Time is unstuck from me now — I am filled with memories” as she wanders through the last days of her life. We see the memories flooding her life that no one else does. What a lesson for those with aging parents. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“Australia” (2008) with the awesome sweep and epic scope of “Gone With the Wind” will be remembered that way in seventy years. Uses “Over the Rainbow” from “Wizard of Oz” which opened in 1939 with GWTW. Storyline: Can a thoroughbred mate with an outback brumby? A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! ! !
“Slumdog Millionaire” (2008) A Chai Wallah, tea server for Telemarketers, answers every question and wins 20 Million Rupees. How could he do this? Thereupon hangs a story, a long story of love and poverty during his childhood in the slums of Bombay. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“Magic of Fellini” (2002) One cannot understand the man’s movies without understanding the man: he was crazy, he was a cartoonist, he was an inspired artist, he improvised everything, even dubbing a line for a guy with his mouth closed in post-production. A kaleidoscope of genius for 55 minutes.
“Noble House” (1988) Disk 1 of 2 Pierce Brosnan takes over Noble House as Tai Pan and must battle his nemesis to maintain his place as leader of the most powerful company in Hong Kong. Powerful tale masterfully portrayed. A DON’T MISS HIT ! !
“Daniel Deronda” (2002) George Eliot’s last novel brought convincingly to the screen portrays the struggle of a young man to find meaning as an English gentleman in the nineteenth century. Daniel rescues two women from drowning, which one will he marry? A DON’T MISS HIT !
“Marley & Me” (2008) the happy and poignant life story of a rambunctious Lab who expanded the limits on what’s edible. A DON’T MISS CHEW! ! !
“Noble House” (1988) Disk 2 of 2 Stock market runs, bank runs, mudslide, boat fire, love affairs keep the Tai Pan busy trying to keep the too-big-to-fail Noble House afloat in Hong Kong. A DON’T MISS HIT ! !
“Revolutionary Road” (2008) A look at middle class mores and challenges in the middle Fifties. Off to Paris or sell computers? Or have a baby? Decisions loom large in this Titanic rematch of DiCaprio and Winslet. Who will sink and who will swim this time?
“Jesse Stone: On Thin Ice” (2009) Tom Selleck is shot at the beginning of this thriller and is ordered to stay away from his assailant. But when has that stopped him? He is on thin ice all the way to the surprise ending. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“Defiance” (2008) Ever wondered why Jews didn’t escape from the ghetto and live out the war in the woods? Here’s a story of some who did & the incredible challenges they faced. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“My Sassy Girl” (2008) Drunken gal nearly does a Karenina in front of a train. Boy rescues her from train, but not from the drink — that was her job. Halfway through the 95 minute flick, a movie breaks out.
“The Winslow Boy” (1948) Excellent drama about a young naval cadet accused of stealing and how his father stuck behind him all the way to the highest court to prove his innocence. There is a more version done in 1999.
Misses (Avoid At All Costs): We attempted to watch these this month, but didn't make it all the way through on most of them. Awhile back when three AAAC horrors hit us in one night, I decided to add a sub-category to "Avoid at All Costs", namely, A DVD STOMPER. These are movies so bad, you don't want anyone else to get stuck watching them, so you want to stomp on the disks. That way, if everyone else who gets burnt by the movie does the same, soon no copies of the awful movie will be extant and the world will be better off.“Hollywood Stories” (2005) stares at its lint-filled navel and bores the audience. AAAC
Your call on these — your taste in movies may differ, but I liked them:“The Day the Earth Stood Still” (2008) and logic flew out the window. Earth was created for humans and the idea that some aliens would eliminate humans to save the Earth is ludicrous. I liked the new method of razing stadiums and skyscrapers, but it seemed a little non-selective. Missed Michael Renne and his elegant Klatu and a metallic Gork who didn’t fly to pieces. Can’t take Cleese seriously as a Nobel scientist after his underwear performance in “A Fish Called Wanda”. But it’s Your Call on whether this is a hit or an overstuffed turkey.
“Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian” (2009) follow up to Ben Stiller’s first hit and a bit too talkative at times, but still fun.
“Snow Angels” (2007) are two females who die in the snow and how it happens to them.
“JCVD” (2008) aptly named since Jean Claude van Dam plays himself as an aging and broke actor who is trying cash a check in a bank when a bank robbery breaks out. Everyone on the outside thinks he’s heading the robbery. Will he escape the clutches of the robbers? Will we see his patented kicks? Not soon enough for it to be a hit.
“Burn After Reading” (2008) Close cover before striking. Shoot without thinking. Who do you work for? A web of intrigue. Everybody’s in bed with somebody else. All around my base is it. It’s a hatchet job. Prepare to be surprised and laugh a lot. Filled with great stars in unexpected roles. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“Robinson Crusoe” (1997) Pierce Brosnan is Robinson at his hairy best in this classic tale worth another look.
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4. CAJUN STORY:
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At a tailgating party for an LSU football game in Tiger Stadium, a bunch of tiger fans from all over the state were gathered and a discussion began as to which was the best bar in Louisiana.
"Well," said the alum from Shreveport, "I think Sullys Tavern is the best. The bartender is friendly and fun to be around. Plus he goes out of his way for the locals so much that when you buy 4 drinks he will buy the 5th drink for you."
"Well, that's nothing", said the alum from Uptown New Orleans, ""at my local drinking hole, Duke's Tavern on St. Charles Avenue, the bartender will buy you your 3rd drink after you buy the first 2."
"Mais, dat's nothing," Boudreaux exclaimed, "at Mulate's in Breaux Bridge, now dat's a place where dey treat you real special. Lemme told you sumpin! Soon's you step in the place, dey buy you a drink, whatever you like, den another, all the drinks you want. Den after beaucoup drinks, dey take you upstairs and see dat you get laid. All on de house. Ah guarantee!"
The Shreveport and Uptown alums immediately scorned the Cajun's claims, saying, "Oh, come on, Boudreaux!" and "That sounds phoney to me" etc, but Boudreaux swore every word he said was the God's truth.
"Well, Boudreaux," said the Uptown alum thoughtfully. "Tell me, did this actually happen to you?"
"Mais non, not me," Boudreaux replied, "but it did happen to Clothilde, mah sister-in-law."
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5. RECIPE of the MONTH for July, 2009 from Bobby Jeaux’s Kitchen:
(click links to see photo of ingredients, preparation steps)
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =Maman Nette's Bread Pudding
Background on Maman Nette's Bread Pudding:
This is bread pudding the way my mother, Annette Babin Matherne, made it for us. It was one of the few official dessert items we had as kids when I was under 15. Use left over French bread. Here in New Orleans I've found that our French bread will keep for a year if simply left in its paper tube with the end wrapped. I usually keep some for oyster dressing for Thanksgiving this way. I gets nice and dry and ready to crush into bread crumbs. We never had whiskey sauce when I was a kid probably because it wasn't popular then or we couldn't afford to "waste" whiskey that way.
Bread Pudding Ingredients
1/2 loaf French bread (approx)
1 cup milk
8 oz heavy cream or evaporated milk
4 TBSP butter 5 TBSP Brown Sugar
1 cup raisins
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp nutmeg 1 TBSP cinnamon
Whiskey Sauce Ingredients
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 TBSP Butter
Whiskey, to taste
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 TBSP Butter
Whiskey, to taste
Tear apart or crumble the French bread. Add milk and cream to soak bread until soft. Should be juicy or add more milk or cream. Separate egg yolks, save egg whites for meringue. Mix well: brown sugar, egg yolks, cinnamon, 1/2 tsp vanilla, and grate 1/2 nutmeg into mixture. Then fold into soaked bread. Spread into baking pan. Slice 2 TBSP butter and place pats on the top of the mixture. Place bread pudding pan in water for baking.
Bread Pudding Cooking Instructions
Bake bread pudding in preheated oven 300 degf. for about 60 minutes. Until top is slightly browned.
Meringue Cooking Instructions
Whip egg whites till fluffy, then add 1 cup Confectioner's Sugar while whipping, 1/8 tsp cream of tartar, and 1 tsp vanilla. Whip until the meringue stays in high peaks when you remove the mixing blade. Spread over top of cooled down breading pudding. Then bake at 250 degf oven till top has brown peaks. Remove from oven fifteen minutes after heat turned off and coo
Cut into two inch cubes to serve. Can be kept covered in the frigerator over night.
Make an easy Whiskey Sauce to pour over each piece before serving. NOTE: Alcohol is highly volatile and will evaporate away from the warm sauce quickly. I like to use Bushmill's Irish Whiskey, but any good whiskey will add its distinctive flavor. Melt the butter, stir in the sugar, add the water, and heat in microwave till all sugar dissolved. Add whiskey to taste. Pour over each serving of bread pudding.
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6. POETRY by BOBBY from 2009 Cat & Mouse Dinner:
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =For our Eighth Annual Cat & Mouse Dinner in the Rex Room of Antoine's Restaurant, I honored Del with this Sonnet that I wrote especially for her on this occasion. The Rex Room honors Rex, the King of Carnival and is filled with crowns of Rex and his Queen, sequined memorabilia, and photos of Rex of past years. To the gathered gentlemen and ladies, I introduced the sonnet thusly:Tonight I have for you a little ditty,
A Sonnet to stick . . . in your Bonnet.
What it's called I should give you just as well
Its title is:
Here in this room of Kings, no Nobler Queen
Has ever sat before a banquet fare
Nor better breathed the sequined Regal air,
Than she who sits by me tonight serene.
How came this Dear to grace my presence here
T’would require Homeric stanzas forthwith
Verses, to wit, of gargantuan length,
The Muse Erato whisp’ring in my ear.
How came she first to give my heart a tug?
One Full Moon night a call came from afar
A maiden sent me flying in my car
To meet my sweet Adele in tender hug.
The rest is wedded bliss and history
And how it came to this, sweet mystery.
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7. REVIEWS and ARTICLES for July:
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And for my Good Readers, here’s the new reviews and articles for this month. The ARJ2 ones are new additions to the top of A Reader’s Journal, Volume 2, Chronological List, and the ART ones to A Reader’s Treasury. NOTE: these Blurbs are condensations of the Full Reviews sans footnotes and many quoted passages.
1.) ARJ2: Counterclockwise — Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility by Ellen Langer
For too long we have separated the mind and the body and then wondered about whether some linkage exists between them. This kind of abstract logical reasoning is the hallmark of our current scientific paradigm and curiously, it goes back to the Scholastics around the twelfth century who argued about how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. Such reasoning is useful in dealing with inanimate objects, but of questionable use when dealing with human beings. Why separate mind and body in the first place, when we have no examples of living human beings without minds? Those who are thought to be without minds, such as those in comas or brain damaged, we have no mechanism whatsoever for probing whether their mind is working or not. Their mind may be fine, but they are helpless to demonstrate that fact to others, because all their mechanisms of communication are malfunctioning. If we assume the mind is gone if the brain doesn't work, then we are admitting there is no distinction between brain and mind at all.
Doctors and experts in medical science are loath to admit that they know little about the mind, and, by adopting the hypothesis that the mind (or consciousness) is an emerging property of the brain, they are spared that painful admission. But if mind is only an emerging property of the brain, how can changing the way people think about something as important as health cause an improvement in their health? Yet, that is precisely what the abundance of evidence shows in Langer's book.
This book could also be read as providing many hints on how to think and act in the world to keep you healthy. It contains many examples of studies and experiments to test out hypotheses of the author and others about how the way we think impacts our health, and either they are all very lucky at choosing hypotheses or there is some basic principle at work which affects everyone or, rather, allows every one to affect one's own health. You want proof that the author is right? You're not going to find it in this book. But, by following the approaches suggested in the many studies, you might find proof in your own life as you enjoy a long and healthy life. I always think of the guy who said, "I have discovered the secret of immortality, but it will take me forever to prove it." If you live a very long time, rest assured that all the people you would like to prove this to will likely not be living at the time you would consider yourself as having satisfactory proof.
The work from which this book got its title comes from a study suggested by work by Langer and her colleagues back as early as 1979. It took these thirty years for the results of this work to come to light in book form because of the radical nature of mind-body unity which it suggests, among other reasons.
[page 5] In 1979, several years after that initial investigation with plants and nursing home residents, it seemed natural to continue testing the question of limits with an elderly population. My students and I devised a study-which we would later come to call the "counterclockwise study" — to look at what effects turning back the clock psychologically would have on people's physiological state. We would re-create the world of 1959 and ask subjects to live as though it were twenty years earlier. If we put the mind back twenty years, would the body reflect this change?
In short, the answer came back a resounding, "Yes!" There was something about the way people thought about their life when they were twenty years younger that made them actually feel better and stay healthier. When we are young, there may be parental figures around us admonishing us to "Act your age!", but as we get older, into our fifties and sixties, we rarely hear that from older people anymore. We don't have to. That injunction lives inside of us and fires off without anyone outside around to remind us, unless we mindfully challenge the presuppositions behind the injunction each and every time we hear it or act as if we had heard it. Act your age can be fine if you interpret it to mean, "Act as the healthiest possible person at whatever age you are." But, injunctions and their presuppositions can be introjected at an early age, swallowed whole, and taken to mean, "Act like all the people you know who are your age." Given the state of mindlessness in our society today, that would be a ticket into ill health and discomfort over the long run. How long does it take you to recover when hit by a presupposition? Presuppositions blind-side us. We don't see them coming. We may miss that they ever hit us. We may notice their effects, like the "Act your age!" one, but we may never consciously connect those effects with the presupposition until someone like Langer points them out to us.
After the study, all members of the group showed improvements in independent action, joint flexibility, finger length, manual dexterity, and score on intelligence tests. Every one of the group looked noticeably younger at the end of the study according to judges unaware of the purpose of the study. (Page 10) What are we to make of the results of this study? Perhaps we need to question all the presuppositions about aging that we have swallowed whole from those around us all of our lifetime.
[page 11] If a group of elderly adults could produce such dramatic changes in their lives, so too can the rest of us. To begin, we must ask if any of the limits we perceive as real do exist. For example, we largely presume that as we age our vision gets worse, that chronic diseases can't be reversed, and that there is something wrong with us when the external world no longer "fits" as it did when we were young.
If the world no longer fits, then perhaps it is because we have grown rigid and inflexible due to the hidden presuppositions which feed our expectations and shape our lives, up until now. Instead of fixing our lives, we should flex and stretch our expectations, our mindsets — these are only maps of the territory of aging, not the unique territory which you and I move about within. Someone told me that the key to successful engineering is to get the customer to relax the specifications. In the case of aging, you are both the customer and the engineer. The engineer holds the specifications of your mindsets and tells you what you can do, given the mindset you have chosen. Change your mindset and you can open up the territory of your life. You will be able to do much more than you ever dreamed possible — all the while living inside the reality of the territory of your specific maturation as you age.
With these prefatory comments, we arrive at what I think is this book's theme. What Langer calls "taking back what is yours", I call removing your unthinking limitations. If you want a tool which allow you to do this on a daily basis, try my limitation eraser. Simply adding the words "up until now" to the end of any sentence or thought you have which might contain a limitation will open your mind to new possibilities for health and even more.
A hypothesis can be a theory to account for something not understood, and therefore may not be provable. But like Langer's studies, a good hypothesis can be tested and open up possibilities. My basic hypothesis about life is that if there is a process any living human was ever able to do, we can all do it, and are doing it all the time, often out of our awareness. A process can be used to create a limitation (a mindset) or free us up for new possibilities like Langer's studies.
A baby boy was born without eyes, without functional legs, and with shortened arms that can only be raised as high as his shoulders. What hope could that boy ever have to be the star trumpet player in the University of Louisville Marching Band? The mindset of limitation to his son's activities never occurred to the boy's parents and they had cosmetic eyes surgically implanted, taught him music, and his dad pushes him across the field during half-time performances. Patrick is the star of the band! And a great vocalist as well, accompanying himself on the piano. Can such a baby ever be a star member of a marching band? Yes. Del and I witnessed in person this young man perform Amazing Grace in the Crystal Cathedral in 2008.
Once we have accepted that something was impossible, we may spend our lifetime convincing others that it would be impossible for them and thereby instilling in them our own mindset. Mindsets are like viruses and we live within a pandemic of such thought-viruses in our time, up until now. Mindfulness is the enemy of mindsets — one can kill a mindset by the simple act of challenging whether a given mindset need be true for you, as Patrick's parents did for their son.
Cynics, like a Greek chorus, are no doubt singing their laments as they read these words, and warning the actors on the stage, "It can't be that easy or everyone would do it." And yet what everyone knows or everyone does rarely proves to be a healthy guide for one's own life.
The naysayer is like the Dragon called "Paradigm" which determines what is possible and what is achievable. Langer is fighting this Dragon, and like all paradigm-fighters throughout history, the Dragon is fighting back. But she is not alone in this fight. Each one who reads her work and understands it becomes a fighter in this battle, and each personal victory against the Dragon makes it weaker and the victor stronger. The Dragon operates out of certainty and a true human being operates out of possibility. Certainty makes the Dragon stronger and Possibility makes the human being stronger. There is no doubt that possibility is stronger than certainty because, rightly understood, certainty is merely a map, a mindset, and it can be a cruel mindset.
Langer details three mindsets which limit our possibilities if we accept them mindlessly. The option: review them mindfully along with Langer.
Mindset 1) We are either ill or healthy.
What a lovely certainty the either-or choice gives us, but it is better to consider the more complex uncertainty: that we are either tending towards illness or healthiness and our attitude can tilt us towards healthiness.
Mindset 2) The medical world knows best.
Doctors know a lot about a lot of things, but they know very little about you, no matter how many tests they run. The tests give them a static image of a dynamic human being which you know from the inside-out, intimately, with all of its dynamic changes that no test can reveal.
Mindset 3) Health is a medical phenomenon.
Once that mindset gets inside, one has given over control of oneself to some medical practitioner. I recall my internist from 1964, Dr. Peter Everett, whose office was on the 18th floor of the Pere Marquette Building in downtown New Orleans. I was a bit of a hypochondriac at the time. I was 24 and he was about 75 or older. Two things he said stick out in my mind. I had a bout of amoebic dysentery which necessitated my taking a stool sample to his office for analysis repeatedly. I would also describe in detail what my stools looked like, and one day he said something very wise to me, "Bob, there is no Silver Standard for Stool Specimens in Paris." The other thing was that he always made a comment about my low blood pressure as he unstrapped the gadget from my arm. I finally asked him why he kept saying that, was it good or bad. He replied, "It just means you'll probably be cursed with a long life." Dr. Everett was a very wise man and taught me a lot about taking control of my own health during those appointments I had with him. I also remember a joke that went around about that time about a hypochondriac who had chiseled on her headstone, "See! I told you I was sick!" Dr. Everett, the joke, and several other writers, Norman Vincent Peale, Don Curtis, and Robert H. Schuller, among others, helped me to transcend this excessive concern about my health, which was clearly based on my accepting the three mindsets that Langer details for us on page 25 and I have summarized here.
There are always skeptics. These are people who can be skeptical about anything except their own skepticism. When Langer worked with a paralyzed woman in an ingenious way, one baby step at a time and got her to have considerable movement in her arms again, she probably heard from the skeptics.
[page 37, 38] Skeptics will cry out, "Her paralysis was probably misdiagnosed, and so there isn't any proof that there's always a step one can take." To the first, my response is that yes, there may have been an error in her diagnosis, which meant that trying to get her to move her arm was exactly the right thing to do. Moreover, how many of us are similarly misdiagnosed? To the second I would reply that even if our efforts had not worked, it would not mean that for anyone else the attempt would not work. Negative results only mean we have no evidence for a hypothesis, which is a very different thing from saying we have evidence against it. By assuming misdiagnosis whenever the "impossible" happens, we rob ourselves of the chance to question the original presumption.
In other words, by assuming misdiagnosis, we and medical people can achieve a feeling of certainty, but we thereby feed the Dragon Paradigm with a repast of certainty and it grows stronger.
Why should we call such well-meaning folks in the medical establishment Dragons? They don't kill people, do they? No doctor was ever executed for discovering a cure for an uncontrollable illness or epidemic, right? None that I know of, but consider the case of Dr. Ignatz Semmelweis who stopped the needless deaths of over 100,000 women a year in Austria in his time.
The doctors who ridiculed his findings, can we not lay some of those thousands of deaths at their feet? How about the doctor who had Semmelweis committed to a mental hospital to keep him shut up literally? What was it that Semmelweis wanted doctors to do? Simply wash their hands after taking them out of a cadaver and before putting them into a live woman's vagina while delivering a baby. He had proven that doing so would stop the epidemic of puerperal fever or childbed fever which had slain so many young, new mothers in Vienna. It only happened in the city hospitals, not in the country where doctors did not teach interns how to give birth using cadavers.
Around 1978, a series of five-minute speeches appeared in the Co-Evolution Quarterly and one speech by a Dr. Ellerbrock caught my attention. The thrust of his talk was that we maintain our illness states by turning a process into a content, i. e., we reify a living process. When we do so, we turn something we do into something we have. Then naturally we search around for someone to help us get rid of it. He tried an experiment to test his hypothesis. When teenagers came to him saying, "I have acne." He would say to them, "I hear you say that you are acne-ing. Is that so?" Note how he changed the thing acne into the process acne-ing. After his patients learned to talk that way, their acne-ing began to alleviate or disappear entirely. None of them had to disclose why they were acne-ing, but once they acknowledged that they were acne-ing aloud, they clearly began to search internally for why they might be acne-ing and soon they stopped acne-ing.
Langer discusses a similar issue in the process of experiencing back pain versus the content of having arthritis. The applications possible for Ellerbrock's idea are enormous — it is definitely a tool in the kit of mindfulness. The lesson is this: turn a process into a content and it will turn into something you have instead of something you do. Something you have is hard to get rid of; something you do only requires that you do something else. For example, something as simple as changing your mattress could eliminate the bursitis you thought you had in your shoulder.
Memory loss as we grow older is one of those mindsets that most everyone seems to accept and even blow up out of proportion. My father is 92 and he still plays cards with us two or three times a week. The game we play requires him to hold from 3 to 13 cards in his hand at various times during the game and to sort them into groups of three, four, five by like numbers or by runs in the same suit. He manages to pull this off flawlessly, only occasionally asking how many cards we are dealing with for the current hand, or having to be reminded it's his turn to play. Often as not he wins the game.
Here is a poem about memory and growing old from my 1995 book of poetry, "Rainbows & Shadows". In it I deal with the increasing number of memories as the number of balls a juggler can keep in the air at one time. Jugglers who try to push the envelope by adding more balls or plates or bowling pins will be seen to drop one occasionally. Memory is like that the longer one lives. If my wife leaves the house and tells me all the places she's going to: hairdresser, massage, club meeting, doctor's trip for her mom, etc., I only bother to remember the time she says she will come back, not every detail of her daily appointments. Memory, rightly understood, is a juggling act and the more balls you have in the air at one time, the more difficult it is to keep them all in the air.
When you grow old
as the story's told,
"two things happen:
one, you lose your memory
and two, ...
how forgetful of me!" >
I wonder about this story's verity —
It doesn't seem that way at all to me.
At seventeen I could recall
just about any memory at all
And handle each one with dexterity
like a juggler does each ball.
But now at one and fifty
my memory seems not so nifty —
When a ball falls from its apogee
it occasionally gets away from me.
But I worry less why one falls
than marvel at the amount of balls —
For seven plus or minus two
represents the best that we can do —
Whether seventeen or fifty two.
Let us trust that when they fall
It was ones we didn't need at all.
Why is this important anyway, this business of how we remember and how much? For one thing, it is a measure of our mindfulness, and Langer shows in many of her experimental groups an increased longevity attends increased mindfulness.
Another thing is that the world itself grows more forgettable as we age. Things we used to care about when we were younger become less interesting as we get involved with activities which we didn't care about when we younger. For me, my studies, my research in doyletics, my reading, the college lectures I attend, my photography, my writing, and my web publishing — all these are things I did but little up until fifteen years ago when I began working at this full-time. Any part of the world which does not contact or impact one of my interests today no longer interests me and has become forgettable. Thus the world has become more forgettable to me than it was a mere twenty years ago.
One last note from Chapter 3 in which Langer reminds us about the activity of mindfulness, an important point for those of us who already feel rundown from all the activities our month fills up with.
[page 52] Noticing differences is the essence of mindfulness. Don't imagine, however, that all this noticing need be exhausting and leave little time for anything else. Mindfulness is actually energizing, not enervating.
If we are usually energized, the world will seem an energizing place for us. As the quote by Anaïs Nin says, "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." Projection is the root of all perception. The more I focus on my range of interests in the world, the more the majority of the world is forgettable to me since so few people in the world have my set of interests.
In some countries in Europe, people over the age of 62 are not allowed to rent automobiles. Given that the pupils do not open as wide after 62 as they did before, an effect which at 68 I am aware of, this is a prudent, if rather an extreme measure. A more prudent approach would be to caution over-62 renters about driving at night. A better approach would be to hire over-62 people as consultants to highway departments of the various states to help them improve the lighting and striping of highway and street edges so that older drivers might drive safely and more comfortably at night on highways currently designed by 27- to 45-year-old engineers. To those youthful engineers, for what good it might do, let me say that the edges of roads and streets are the great priority because as the paint fades, it becomes very difficult to tell the road from the shoulder, and one lane from another. Of course, you have no idea about this until you are already retired from the business and have to navigate roads and streets in the dark that looked just fine to you when you designed them earlier.
I also like Langer's section heading from page 55: None of us is "Us" To those of you who might not have studied General Semantics or read Korzybski's books, you may benefit from a bit of translation. "None of us" means "No one of us" naturally, but what does the second "Us" mean? It refers to the collective set of all of us, and that "Us" is a map, a mindset, a generalization of all of us distilled into an abstract logical form which may not resemble some one of us. Kenneth Keyes wrote a fine book inspired by Korzybski's work called How to Develop Your Thinking Ability which will be useful to those who have trouble understanding this distinction in its practical applications. Person1 is not Person2 (the Who Index) and Thing1 is not Thing2 (the What Index) are the important principles to assimilate in connection with Langer's None of us is "Us" phrase.
When I read Dr. Axel Munthe's book, The Story of San Michele, I was tickled by his story about appendicitis turning into colitis right before his eyes as he was working in Paris as a young doctor treating rich matrons. If one came to see him and he told her there was nothing wrong with her, she would leave upset and angry. But if he said she had a mild case of appendicitis, he could prescribe some medicine for her to take, and she would leave very happy. As a beginning doctor, he almost went broke before he learned from his older colleagues this way of treating his women patients. But later, an unexpected thing happened: in America, doctors had found a cure for appendicitis! They simply removed the appendix. This surgery was not something his matrons wanted to be done to them, so he decided to use the label colitis to describe the sensations they felt. New name, new medicine, and everyone, both doctors and patients were happy. Today, from talking to some doctor friends of mine, I am led to believe that the latest phrase is "irritable bowel syndrome" which means the same thing as nineteenth century appendicitis and twentieth century colitis. According to Langer (See Page 130) the latest term seems to be "gastroenteritis." And the treatment is very much the same as in previous centuries.
This next advice or prediction by Langer may sound a little far-fetched to those with the standard mindsets about health and medicine, but I can say from my own experience, that this works for me. Rightly understood this is the goal of mindfulness. And notice it does not involve getting advice from a medical practitioner about what to do about colitis.
[page 80] Eventually — and only eventually — we may get to a place where we don't need the continua; we may one day be in a place where we spontaneously notice subtle signals our bodies give and make the necessary corrections as part of our ongoing lived experience.
What if the plants, the fruit and vegetables that we sow, harvest, cook, and eat with our own hands absorbed the sweat from our heads, hands, and feet, etc., and transposed their genetic structure to produce specific proteins our body needs to remain healthy? Can plants actually do that? No one thought it possible for over 30 years after Barbara McClintock's research showed that transposable genes were happening in her maize plants. No one much believed her right up until she received the Nobel Prize for her genetic work in transposing genes in maize. But it is not McClintock who talks about the possibility that plants can transpose their genes to create specific beneficial proteins for one person and other beneficial proteins for another person, no, it is a young woman in Russia named Anastasia. (Anna-stass-see'-ya) One need only read a couple of the books of the Ringing Cedars Series to understand how important her revelations are to the world, to you and to me. Her work led me to begin planting a vegetable garden to go along with the citrus, figs, and other fruit trees on our property.
By absorbing the toxins from one's body, the plants are able to diagnose what the body is lacking and manufacture the proteins it needs. Thus the plant becomes the doctor, the pharmacist, and the prescribed drug all in one. All one has to do is consume the vegetables and fruit planted, tilled, and harvested by one's own hands. This is truly the most individual approach to health available, very much in line with the goal Langer expresses throughout this book. There is no better way for "you to open your mind and take back what is rightfully, sensibly, and importantly yours" than for you to plant, grow, harvest and eat plants grown with your own hands. Once you do, you will have also taken control of maintaining your own health, your body will remain healthy, and your use of the medical profession can be relegated to its proper role of helping with "extreme health symptoms".
I love the quote by George Bernard Shaw which heads Chapter 5: "The only man I know who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew each time he sees me. The rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them." Old measurements are mindsets or maps. We all make them as a shorthand way of finding our way through the world. But, as my supervisor in the Research Dept. of the Foxboro Co. told me once, "In the Norwegian Boy Scout Handbook in the section on map reading, it said, 'When the terrain differs from the map, believe the terrain.'" In a land punctuated by steep cliffs falling away into icy fiords, this is exceptionally good advice. But it equally applies to tailors, to cross-country drivers, to jet pilots, and to you and me whatever our occupation or endeavors in life may be.
Moms — perhaps the largest percentage of daily workers in the country — need to know that 98.6 degrees was calculated and set as the normal temperature of the human only once in history. In 1856 in Nancy, France, 1000 people had their temperatures taken and the average came out as 98.6 degrees. That became the Silver Standard for human temperature ever since. That map, that mindset, that measurement is over 150 years old. Yet today, moms, who must deal with a huge variety of temperatures in their children, even when they are healthy, treat it as a magic marker of healthy versus sick.
Don Robinson, as part of his memory course, I took in Los Angeles around 1970, had us take our body temperature every 15 minutes over the course of a week and plot it as a scatter plot of time of day versus temperature. My temperature, as did all the other two dozen adult members of our class, wandered from 95 degrees to 103 degrees over the course of a week. That's eight degrees without any of us being sick! Moms should know this, but what doctor is going to tell them that information? Not any, likely. Why, because most moms today will call their pediatrician for an appointment if their child has a temperature of 99.1 degrees. A temperature swing without any other symptoms may be just a normal variation of bodily temperature. Sometimes taking too many measurements is not useful, but even counter-productive. Using a measurement that is 150 years-old as a magic level just because it's given with a decimal place, 98.6, is not very useful, wouldn't you agree?
One child's 99.6 may be a fever and another's 99.6 may be normal. Same words, different outcomes.
Individual experience is multi-ordinal, full of "buzzing confusion" as William James called it. But when we describe it, we tend to create flattened views of our experience, focusing on one aspect of our experience and thereby creating a naive realism which removes all multi-ordinal aspects of the experience. In most situations in life, people can deal with such impersonal and absolute language. I note this phenomenon a lot when I explain a complicated multi-ordinal situation which is unique, and the other person immediately tosses off a response like, "That happens to me a lot." or perhaps, "I hate it when that happens." Somehow they have abstracted, squeezed all the life out of, what I told them. They automatically equated what I said to their own experience at a trivial level and then communicated to me that they understood very little of what I had shared with them. To me, that signals a person living inside a world of naive realism. Someone who lives in such a world would naturally expect their doctor to talk to them in absolute terms rather than conditional terms, and would convert anything conditional into an absolute anyway.
People who live in naive realism are less likely to recognize the conditional aspects of the world in which they live. Naive realism acts like a one-way sign which they obey, no matter if it is leading them in a direction they do not want. What Langer found in her research and experimental studies is that people get along better if they use or are presented with conditional language.
One of the powerful metaphors used by both doctors and patients is that of "fighting a disease". What few people realize is that the use of that metaphor empowers the disease. It establishes a win-lose scenario in a situation where a win-win scenario would be preferable. If we treat the disease as an enemy, we may fight and lose, but if we choose to treat the disease as a teacher, we may learn from it by changing our behavior in such a way that the disease ceases to operate and disappears. People who understand that God gives us problems to learn from them have no trouble learning from problems which appear in the form of diseases.
About thirty years ago, I had a young man, Tom, who came to several of our weekend groups. He talked almost constantly, scarcely letting anyone else get a word in. His ability to talk incessantly served him well as a telephone recruiter, but not as well socially. He was a lonely man when he was off the phone. One week he was sick and unable to work. When he returned to our group, I asked him the two questions I recommend to people who have been sick, as a way for them to learn about the reason for their illness.
One: what happened during that week that would not have happened if not for the illness?
Two: what did not happen that would otherwise have happened?
The first question explores the aspect of permission; the second the aspect of protection. What did the illness give Tom permission to do? Only I couldn't ask him in that direct way, so I asked him what happened that would not have happened. "Nothing" came the reply. So I probed further, "What did you do?" "Stayed in bed." "Did anyone come visit you?" "Yes." "Did you talk?" "Yes, but I mostly listened." To the second question, nothing came up. Clearly the illness gave him permission to sit quietly and visit with a good friend and allow the friend to do most of the talking. This was an experience he could achieve only by being sick, up until then. Mindful of this process, he could schedule such times of quiet conversation from then now. Sometimes illnesses occur for such a seemingly unimportant reason, but, rightly understood, for the soul and well-being of the person, it is a very important reason.
Let me tell you a story about myself. In 1975 I got a case of red measles at age 35. Rare, but not unheard of, except for one thing: I had red measles as a child and doctors hold absolutely that one can not repeat red measles. My mom had five boys and a girl and that made her an expert on red measles before the time of vaccinations for the disease, so I believed her report that I indeed had red measles. Years later, when I applied the two questions to my red measles bout, I came up with an amazing answer: "Being home that week gave me important information on my wife's behavior that I would not have gotten had I been at work." We divorced about a year later because of that behavior. I learned from a lot from that second case of measles conjured up by my body at just the right time.
Langer discusses the placebo effect in this next passage:
[page 109] The placebo effect extends much further than many of us realize. It comes in many forms: subjects exposed to fake poison ivy have developed real rashes, and people imbibing placebo caffeine have been shown to experience increased motor performance and heart rate (and other effects congruent with the subjects' beliefs about the effects of caffeine and not with its pharmacological effects).
How can folks who are exposed to fake poison ivy develop rashes? By my basic hypothesis, if one person can do this general placebo process we all can and are doing it all the time, out of our awareness. And not just with poison ivy, but all of the rashes, allergies, and many other illnesses. What is a disease? Some toxin or bug gets into us and our body develops healing states to overcome the toxin or bug. What we label the disease is actually the healing states which arise in the presence of the toxin or bug. My red measles case at age 35 was a recapitulation of the healing states which occurred to me at age 4. My body stored those healing states, and when the need arose, was able to generate the healing states of fever, sensitivity to light, and red spots on my chest. My family doctor couldn't figure out what I had after several visits and he sent me to an internal medicine specialist in another city. I was amazed to look down the hall after the doctor had left the examination room to find him consulting with a colleague and both of them looking into a large medical reference book! Naturally I was worried, but when the doctor returned, he said, "Don't worry. It's just not often we get a case of adult red measles."
If my body could produce the healing states of red measles, it seems clear to me that the healing states of poison ivy can also be recapitulated. There is no need for the ivy's poison to enter the body for the healing states to be re-created upon the stimulus of poison ivy and so fake poison ivy may work as readily as real poison ivy. I have never had poison ivy, so far as I know, and I doubt whether the real stuff or the fake stuff would have any effect upon me.
There is another type of rash which adults get called shingles, which I have never had either. Shingles are the healing states of chicken pox which are stored as doylic memories if one had chicken pox before the age of five. If you had chicken pox at age six, seven (as I did), or older, no shingles. But if you had chicken pox before the age of five, you may have recurrent bouts of shingles, and you have the possibility of eliminating them by a simple memory trace to convert the doylic memory of the healing states into a cognitive memory.
What is curious to me is that mindsets, rightly understood, are cognitive memories of some information stored and capable of being triggered by various events in our external environment. Mindsets therefore, like any cognitive memory, are capable of triggering doylic memories which may include various healing states stored before five years old. As such our mindsets are capable of triggering various diseases whether the operant toxin or bug is present in our body or not. This will seem ridiculous to those with a naive realism view of the world, but for those can accept a multi-ordinal view of the world, they may wish to hold this as a possibility.
I mention these things and also note that Langer seems to be open to a multi-ordinal view of the world. Note the thrust of the questions she asks in this next paragraph:
The answer, I believe, is Yes, but try proving it and you have to take on Dragon Science in a big way. But you don't need proof to operate on your hypothesis that it works. Some thirty years ago when I returned to New Orleans after living for almost nine years in various spots from California to New England, I decided to begin drinking Mississippi river water, which was easy to do as it comes from our tap. It is water that drains the middle of this great land, and I consider it a blessing to ingest trace elements from this river's watershed. I consider it the healthiest water I could drink, much better for me than water which sat for hundreds and thousands of years underground like that sold in bottles. We keep plastic bottles for convenience, but refill them with our tap water. In an astounding taste-test, New Orleans water won a taste-off against other waters from around the country, including water from high mountain streams in the far northwest. What I have learned is that what tastes good for me is good for my body and my health. Someone said facetiously in a workshop I attended that Mississippi River water in the purest in the country, having been purified by the kidney's of five Midwesterners before it reaches New Orleans. Those whose stomachs turn at that thought have mindsets which may be ruling their lives and should seek more of the mindfulness which Langer urges upon her readers.
[page 120] Placebos are wonderful things, it seems. We accept a pill along with the lie that is effective, and so we adopt a beneficial mindset and heal ourselves (it can't be the pill, after all, because it is a placebo). And then attribute the success to the pill. Wouldn't it be more advantageous to recognize that when placebos work we are the ones controlling our health, to learn how to exercise it directly, and to see ourselves as efficacious when we do?
How can one go about this consciously? Placebos are no use because they only work if we are unconscious of the pill being a placebo. So, what can one do starting from where one is today? One could say this sentence: "I am unable to adopt a beneficial mindset and heal myself, up until now." This is a direct application of the limitation eraser — one of the most powerful tools for self-change I have discovered. It can be applied over and over, every sentence of the day, if necessary, to break up every form of limiting mindset, can it not? You think not? Then say, "I doubt that the limitation eraser can break up my mindsets, up until now." You think it might work for others, but not for you? Then say: "I doubt it will work for me, up until now." And so on, making sure to take a deep breath at the comma break before "up until now". Keep working on every statement of limitation you hear yourself thinking or saying, and eventually your negative mindsets will give up and simply fade away. Then the real challenge will begin as you learn to replace the negative mindsets with positive ones from now on. This is your life — the mindsets you acquired from others may no longer suit you. Thank those mindsets for sticking with you for so long and bid them Adieu, Adios, and let them "Go with God" which, rightly understood, is where they originated from to give you problems from which you would learn the right way to a healthy life eventually.
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2.) ARJ2: The Courage to Create by Rollo May
The book cover leads off with a volley of questions to which this book promises to provide answers:
What is the one quality possessed by all geniuses?
How can we acquire creative courage?
What takes place in the creative instant?
How can creative power make your life richer and more satisfying?
As we proceed through this review we'll see how close May comes to fulfilling its promise to answer these questions. These are all subjects which I have thought long and hard about, and for all I know these are unanswered questions which I first began to hold after reading May's book. My first reading of this book began when I read it on November 7, 1978 in about two hours according to a note on the inside cover page. In preparation for this review I gave the book another reading in May of 2009 to refresh my recollection of its contents. This second reading gives the review a place in A Reader's Journal, Volume 2.
Rollo May himself was aware of the unanswered question which he held about creativity, admitting his reason for hesitating to publish his thoughts on the subject was due to what he called their "unfinished" nature. Holding something in its "unfinished" state is a way of holding on to an unanswered question.
[page viii, Preface] These chapters are a partial record of my ponderings. They had their birth as lectures given at colleges and universities. I had always hesitated to publish them because they seemed incomplete — the mystery of creation still remained. I then realized that this "unfinished" quality would always remain, and that it is a part of the creative process itself. This realization coincided with the fact that many people who had heard the lectures urged that they be published.
On May 5, 2009, this passage inspired me to write this poem on creativity that I entitle, "Art":
Art is always unfinished —
it is but a map,
Our map of terra incognito —
the round Earth
on the flat paper
Which hides more
than it reveals.
If you look at art, true art, and focus only on what it reveals, the mystery for you will be: Why does it exist at all? Art, true art, does not meet our expectations, but rather destroys them because, rightly understood, art is the process of destruction, the destruction of the sameness which exists when art comes into the world. This aspect of art is not understood by the majority of people and leads to much confusion, especially when some truly new artist arrives on the scene and the universal cry seems to be, "It is ugly!" Ugly, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder of the art work, but projection is the root of perception — as I see it — and what is being projected upon the new artist's work is that it does not conform to the currently accepted standards of art. What new art does is unleash exciting possibilities which other artists will grab onto or build off of — what seems ugly at first glance gradually becomes viewed as the seed from which an entirely new tree of art has sprung.
Rollo May, writing in 1975, begins by calling his time a time of transition. Rightly understood, we are always in a time of transition, but some times, such as in 1975, the transition is more obvious than others.
May goes on to describe various kinds of courage: physical courage which he claims needs the added dimension of sensitivity, moral courage to perceive evil, social courage to achieve intimacy, courage to recognize we might possibly be wrong, creative courage to live out our imaginations. Creative courage is what is required to create new art in whatever medium one works, whether it is painting, film, photography, poetry, stage, sculpture, music, etc. He gives us, among others, the example of James Joyce:
[page 20] Consider James Joyce, who is often cited as the greatest of modern novelists. At the very end of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, he has his young hero write in his diary:Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.
I read this book when I was a young man, identifying with Stephen Daedalus at the time, somehow grabbing onto what he wrote in his diary as a scenario for my life, but I was not consciously aware of having done so until reading this again in 2009. Did Stephen give me the thrust for the rest of my life back then at 16? Joyce's words are so powerful in that passage that it makes me wonder.
When May comments that "genius and psychosis are so close to each other", it gives me pause to consider what deep meaning might be hidden in that passage. Psychosis is defined as some "non-organic based distortion of the sufferer's concept of reality" and I have studied many innovators who were deemed crazy and some were even hospitalized. Take, for example, the case of Ignatz Semmelweis, who was thrown in a mental institution because his clear concept of the benefits of prophylaxis reality did not match the distorted version of those who forced the government of Austria to hospitalize him. Who was crazier? Semmelweis, who saved hundreds of thousands of women from childbed fever in Vienna or the hospital administrator who hospitalized him? Giordano Bruno, whose clear vision of the arc of heaven did not match the distorted version of the authorities in Rome who ordered him burnt at the stake? Joan of Arc, who saved France as a nation or the church fathers who killed her likewise. No wonder it takes courage to create: one does it at the fear of one's life or livelihood being taken away by those whose distorted vision of reality is thereby threatened by your creativity!
The primordial innovator was Prometheus, and just look at what Zeus did to him for giving fire to human beings.
[page 24] He decreed that Prometheus be punished by being bound to Mount Caucasus, where a vulture was to come each morning and eat away his liver which would grow again at night.
Here is a beautiful metaphor for what happens to a human being each night: tired from a day's work and activities we slip into sleep and disengage from conscious activity in the physical world so that our body may be spiritually re-enlivened. No one ever goes to the doctor while asleep, only while awake. Doctors do not study live bodies while they are sleeping and recuperating, only awake patients who are in the process of running down their bodies. The only unconscious bodies most doctors ever encounter are either cadavers in the dissecting room or etherized bodies on the surgical table. Neither example is that of a vibrant human body recovering life like Prometheus did at night.
True art as the process of destruction of sameness (conformism) is the theme of an essay I wrote to describe the fight an artist must go through against the gods of culture which resist any innovation. I may have unconsciously gotten the initial idea for this essay ten years earlier from this next passage by May, who explains the root of the various myths of creativity being born by rebellion against the gods:
[page 26] The most obvious explanation is that the creative artist and poet and saint must fight the actual (as contrasted to the ideal) gods of our society — the god of conformism as well as the gods of apathy, material success, and exploitative power. These are the "idols" of our society that are worshiped by multitudes of people. We human beings know that we must die. We have, strangely enough, a word for death.
The popular TV show, American Idol, apparently sees its job as creating idols, but as May's analysis shows these idols are symbols of conformity to the norms of society not that of true artists.
Rollo May makes the assertion that "Creativity is a yearning for immortality." I rather see creativity as a tapping into our immortal essence. As human beings we have a spiritual essence which is immortal which resides in each of us in what is best called our "I". It survives and precedes this life and personality we find ourselves in currently, I as I type these words, and you in your "I" as you read them. Creative inspiration comes to true artists, not the shopping mall artists or the handicraft weekend artists, but the artists who transcend the conformity of today's art and brings something completely unexpected into the world. Such a person has tapped into their immortal essence and received inspiration directly from the spiritual world.
We have a word for death and we have a word for surviving death as a spirit, namely immortality. But we have no equivalent words for any life of spirit preceding birth, nor do we have in current usage, the word unbornness to refer to the condition of immortality which precedes our birth on Earth as a physically embodied being. It seems time for us to recognize the reality of unbornness as much as that of immortality, and to learn the significance of such condition for our life on Earth.
May asks a great question on page 36, "If by psychoanalysis we cured the artists of their neuroses would they no longer create?" Freud worked with psychoanalysis to remove neuroses from people, artists included, but, on the other end of the spectrum, Jung worked with his depth analysis to cure people in order to release and encourage their creative urges.
Plato understood the true artist, and wrote of it in his Symposium: "they are those who give birth to some new reality." Rollo May says about Plato's writings on true artists:
[page 38] These poets and other creative person are the ones who express being itself, he held. As I would put it, these are the ones who enlarge human consciousness. Their creativity is the most basic manifestation of a man or woman fulfilling his or her own being in the world.
True artists are the people who engage in the evolution of consciousness because they leave behind an enlarged human consciousness. They destroy the sameness they find in art and release exciting possibilities. It is from these exciting possibilities that what is normally called art is created, the weekend hobbyists type of art. Rightly understood, they are replicating examples of the new forms of art unleashed by the true artists. Rarely is this aspect of creativity as replication taken into account, but Rollo May makes the distinction.
[page 38] Now we must make the above distinction clear if our inquiries into creativity are to get below the surface. We are thus not dealing with hobbies, do-it-yourself movements, Sunday painting, or other forms of filling up leisure time. Nowhere has the meaning creativity been more disastrously lost than in the idea that it is something you do only on weekends!
On page 45, May says, "William James once said that we learn to swim in the winter and to skate in the summer." There is a delay between one first encountering an idea and one coming to grips with it wholeheartedly. We put on our ice skates in winter to try them out, but it is only over the summer that our skill on the ice skates get honed and smoothed out in our unconscious processes. On page 63 May talks about breakthroughs as destroying something. If I had read this some twenty years before my insight came to me in a flood that "art is the process of destruction" — I cannot say, but it is certainly plausible that I put on those skates during that winter and after a twenty-year summer, I learned to skate with them.
[page 63] The guilt that is present when this breakthrough occurs has its source in the fact that the insight must destroy something. My insight destroyed my other hypothesis and would destroy what a number of my professors believed, a fact that caused me some concern. Whenever there is a breakthrough of a significant idea in science or a significant new form in art, the new idea will destroy what a lot of people believe is essential to the survival of their intellectual and spiritual world. This is the source of guilt in genuine creative work. As Picasso remarked, "Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction."
When that thought arose in me two decades later, it shook me up enormously. I couldn't believe what I was seeing so clearly. What I thought was an artist being creative was actually an act of destruction! The destruction would release exciting possibilities which others would hang their hat on and call their work, creation. But none of the subsequent creation would be possible without the initial act of destruction which unleashed the possibilities for creating in a new way.
Rollo May experienced a similar shaking up from his breakthrough in understanding the flaw in his hypothesis about the presence of anxiety in unmarried mothers. (Pages 58 to 60)
[page 63] The breakthrough carries with it also an element of anxiety For it not only broke down my previous hypothesis, it shook my self-world relationship. At such a time I find myself having to seek a new foundation, the existence of which I as yet don't know. . . . it is not possible that there be a genuinely new idea without this shake up occuring to some degree.
In addition, my shake up was accompanied by everything around becoming suddenly vivid as May points out on page 64. I can remember where I was sitting, what I was looking at, the diagrams I drew to help me understand the polar opposite relationship of destruction and creation, how destruction releases the possibilities which creation then picks up and produces what is usually called art. Of this special clarity I had, May says, "I am convinced that this is the usual accompaniment of the breakthrough of unconscious experience into consciousness."
Before that breakthrough can occur, however, one must have somehow asked themselves a question, one for which they had no answer, but which was presented to their unconscious mind for an answer, sometimes days, weeks, months, or years before. It is the process of holding an "unanswered question" as I name it, but in reality it is the holding of an incomplete Gestalt, as May describes it, which is the seedbed of the new form or breakthrough.
[page 66] The idea, the new form which suddenly becomes present, came in order to complete an incomplete Gestalt with which I was struggling in conscious awareness. One can quite accurately speak of this incomplete Gestalt, this unfinished pattern, this unformed form, as constituting the "call" that was answered by the unconscious.
My process of "holding an unanswered question is equivalent to placing a call to one's unconscious for an answer to some incomplete Gestalt. I was not aware of my holding that unanswered question about the true nature of art, or of the possibility of its being placed in me by the reading of this book back some twenty years earlier, but the answer came through, breaking through the sameness of what I held to be the world of art, revealing to me that "art is the process of destruction" and that creativity as we know it is but the cleaning up process of implementing the exciting possibilities unleashed by that destruction. One needs less courage to create some weekend art than to come to grips with true art which appears as a break through the conformity of all current forms of art when it first appears. My breakthrough was understanding for myself the process of breakthrough, and my hope is that my breakthrough will show others how to come to breakthroughs for themselves.
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3.) ARJ2: Eugene Onegin — A Novel in Verse by Alexander Pushkin
My nephew Keith married a woman named Tatiana who came from the Ukraine. I got to meet her only once, on Christmas Eve at my father's house. She seemed shy, probably daunted by the crowd of relatives of Keith's that she was confronted with for the first time. I sensed a strong will and intellect beneath her shyness and her beauty. When I listened to lectures on Russian literature classics, I learned about another Tatiana who stars in this novel who is first rejected then wooed by they title character, Eugene Onegin. His first name is some times spelled Evgeny and his last name is pronounced AHN YEA' GHIN. From the resemblance of Keith's wife to the Tatiana in the story, it seemed to me that she was named after this famous beauty of Russian literature who inspired many writers after Pushkin.
[page xvii, John Bayley's Preface] It is quite true that Tatyana does seem more real than Onegin; the Russian novelists who followed Pushkin took her accordingly as a prototype, and perhaps almost unconsciously. We can see Tatyana in Dostoevsky's spirited Dunya, the sister of Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment, who is in a sense a figure evolved from Onegin. And her influence on Tolstoy's Natasha of War and Peace is just as evident. All through the nineteenth-century Russian novel there runs the theme of the strong and spontaneous woman, and the uncertain, unsatisfied male who is frustrated in the pursuit of personal and social ideals, pinned down by abstractions, 'like a man under a stone' — rejected by life. And the growing self-awareness of Russian intellectuals identified this pattern with the primary analysis that they felt Pushkin had made in Eugene Onegin.
There is a problem with reading this version of the great novel by Pushkin, and it has to do with its being written entirely in verse form, in fact, as a series of stanzas. Anyone who has tried to translate even a short poem from a foreign language into English and preserve either the rhyming scheme or the form knows how difficult that is. But to attempt an entire novel, as Charles Johnston does herein, is a Himalayan feat, and he mounts to the summit in grand fashion. Johnston succeeds so well that soon a reader can forget this is translated verse and get involved in the lyrical beauty of the novel. He takes a charge and blows away the "sound-proof wall separating Pushkin's poetic novel from the English-reading world." (Page liii by Johnston)
One of the added joys to my reading of this novel in verse comes from my long-time favorite poet, Samuel Hoffenstein, whose witty and insightful verses pleased me as early as my eighteenth year when I first discovered him in a college bookstore. Pushkin writes like Hoffenstein or perhaps I should acknowledge a possible inspiration and say Hoffenstein writes like Pushkin. Here's a pointed example of the synchronism of their styles:
[page 21 CHAPTER I XXIX ]
In days of carefree aspirations,
the ballroom drove me off my head:
the safest place for declarations,
and where most surely notes are sped.
You husbands, deeply I respect you!
I'm at your service to protect you;
now pay attention, I beseech,
and take due warning from my speech.
You too, mamas, I pray attend it,
and watch your daughters closer yet,
yes, focus on them your lorgnette,
or else. . . or else, may God forfend it!
I only write like this, you know,
since I stopped sinning years ago.
For comparison I offer you a short quartrain by Hoffenstein:
I shall pluck the moments now —
Only folly weeps to miss one;
Let some later lover's brow
Wrinkle at the thought of this one!
This sonnet sings the praises of Tatyana and ends with a humorous Hoffensteinian couplet that is too delicious to miss sharing with you, dear Reader:
[page 171, CHAPTER 7 LII ]
The night has many stars that glitter,
Moscow has beauties and to spare;
but brighter than the heavenly litter,
the moon in its azure of air.
And yet that goddess whom I'd never
importune with my lyre, whenever
like a majestic moon, she drives
among the maidens and the wives,
how proudly, how divinely gleaming,
she treads our earth, and how her breast
is in voluptuous languor dressed,
how sensuously her eyes are dreaming!
Enough, I tell you, that will do
you've paid insanity its due.
When Onegin returns after many years to find the young maiden Tatyana grown up into a majestic woman, he is upset to discover that she has married in his absence. In Sonnet XXI of Chapter 8, Pushkin writes about what ails him, referring to love as youth's derangement. "What ails him? he's in some strange daze! what moves along the hidden ways in one so slothful, so hard-bitten? vexation? vainness? heavens above, it can't be youth's distemper — love?"
One cannot spend hours reading Pushkin without the Muse Erato flitting around and flirting with one's pen. That is the only excuse I can offer for writing these two quatrains to say goodbye to Pushkin:
In closing now, it's fitting that I end
with a poetic tribute to our friend.
You see, dear Reader, you and I must bye,
but let it not be said we didn't try
To read these Pushkin sonnets carefully —
glimpsing the Tanya only he could see.
But I must let the Master have his say
to wish Adieu to you and me today.
[page 200 CHAPTER 8, XLIX ]
Reader, I wish that, as we parted —
whoever you may be, a friend,
a foe — our mood should be warm-hearted.
Goodbye, for now we make an end.
Whatever in this rough confection
you sought — tumultuous recollection,
a rest from toil and all its aches,
or just grammatical mistakes,
a vivid brush, a witty rattle —
God grant that from this little book
for heart's delight, or fun, you took,
for dreams, or journalistic battle,
God grant you took at least a grain.
On this we'll part; goodbye again!
Pushkin claimed to be Russia's Mozart, but after reading his epic poem of the odyssey of Onegin, I find Pushkin worthy to have the title of Russia's Homer.
Read the Review at:
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I hear often from my Good Readers that they have bought books after reading my book reviews. Keep reading, folks! As I like to remind you, to obtain more information on what's in these books, buy and read the books — for less information, read the reviews.
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= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =In this section I like to comment on events in the world, in my life, and in my readings which have come up during the month. These are things I might have shared with you in person, if we had had the opportunity to converse during the month. If we did, then you may recognize my words. If I say some things here which upset you, rest assured that you may skip over these for the very reason that I would likely have not brought up the subject to spoil our time together in person.2.Comments from Readers:
1. Padre Filius Notices another Bumper Sticker this Month:
Padre Filius, the cartoon character created by your intrepid editor and would-be cartoonist, will appear from time to time in this Section of the Digest to share us on some amusing or enlightening aspect of the world he observes during his peregrinations.
This month the good Padre Notices another Bumper Sticker.
3. Hellenic Culture
- EMAIL from the Pirate Blackbead out of Port Worth:
Ahoy there, shipmate!
How goes it? Things are going great here in "Port" Worth! My mind wandered in your direction the other day — I think I'm going to have to get a Skype account. You recall the time you offered to connect that way to read your poem. Well, I think I'm going to check into the possibility and see how it all works.
Speaking of reading poetry, we finally got our CD out. It's called "A Night at Devil's Tavern" and includes eleven poems and five instrumental tracks. This coming weekend it will be showing at Two festivals, one in Texas and one in Wisconsin. If we can sell a few maybe I'll try and get them on the web. It was fun (and more work than I wanted it to be!) reading the poetry and putting it all together.
Okay, let me get into the newsletter. Have a GREAT day, Capt'in!
Ta other Pirates or Wannabees out there, Ye can spend a night or so yerself at Devil's Tavern by ordering yerself a copy of this CD of Pirate Poems read by the sonorous voice of Blackbead by CLICKING HERE or Album Cover.
- EMAIL from Véro in Europe:
I am fairly new to Doyletics (sic) however I have done a successful speed trace on ...oysters. I have just done a speed trace on hunger pang and will definitely let you know how I get on.
The reason why I am contacting you is because I am an EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) practitioner, and although I have successfully helped people loose weight with EFT, I find I am unable to loose the weight myself no matter how much EFT I do (and I have done hours of it so far over the past 5 years). So I am constantly on a quest for the solution. In my search, I have come across various healing modalities (some good some less good) and have included some in my practise as a holistic healer.
I am impressed with Doyletics (sic) and would like to use it with my clients. My question to you is: how can I legally use doyletics in my practise? I did not see any copyright or limitation on your website. However, whenever I decide to use a modality in my own professional practise, I feel it is only the minimum that I should ask for approval fromtheir creator.
I am very grateful for your help in this matter and also grateful for making this amazing technique so readily and generously available to all.
Kenavo (Bye in Breton)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Bobby's Reply to Véro ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Bienvenue a doyletics, Véro!
Thanks for the feedback. I would be delighted to hear how the hunger pang trace works out for you. It has worked for me, but I have had scant feedback from others who have used it.
About your use of doyletics, note it is not capitalized. I studied NLP in the early days and wanted it to be a science, but they capitalized it and now sell it. I didn't want to do that with doyletics. I thought long and hard before I made this decision. I involved both Doyle Henderson (whose original research it is based on) and his wife Betty in the decision to release this information without charge to the public indefinitely. It is a science of how the human being matures. Its basic hypothesis is that all original events are stored in the brain from conception to 5 years old as doylic memories (bodily memories) and thereafter only as cognitive memories (just plain memories). The speed trace is a way of converting stored bodily memories into cognitive memories which forever removed the bodily effects the original doylic memory had associated with it. Rightly understood the speed trace is a memory technique, not a therapy, but it can be used on oneself and to assist others in reaching therapeutic outcomes.
I wholeheartedly appreciate your asking me permission to use doyletics and can only say, Meric Beaucoup! Bobby
P. S. to Digest Readers: There is no charge, now or ever, for using doyletics.
- EMAIL from George Parigian in Massachusetts:
Check out my review here of Ellen Langer's "Counterclockwise" book here:
- EMAIL from Ed Smith in Lubbock, Texas:
Congratulations to you on LSU's winning the CWS beating Texas 2-1. I always have mixed emotions when Texas plays outside our conference. For the sake of the conference it is good for them to win, but within the conference they are a lion to deal with for Texas Tech.
- EMAIL from Rene Lattimore:
Can you imagine how thrilled I was when I received my own printed copy of your Review of The Influence of the Dead on Destiny, GA#95 in the mail?
What a treat! I am in the process of reading it, something I had neglected to do, so thank you for the thought.
Thanks again for making my day,
- EMAIL from Marathon Walker, Professor Kevin Dann:
Thanks for the heads up on Lamothe-Cadillac; it sure will be nice to get some reading done when I get home.
Well, today again is not good walking weather — today's New York Times has an article about how everyone in New York City is in a rage because there has been so much rain in June.
As you can see from these photos, the map has truly become the real celebrity of the pilgrimage. I came into town just before there was a parade to fete the local girls softball team — state champions! — and they were kind enough to pose with my map.
I'm in Rhinebeck, NY, staging to go meet the New Age folks of the Omega Institute, where I have a speaking gig tonight. I am wrestling with whether to tell them feel-good tales from the road, or challenge us all a little and speak about the incarnation of Ahriman. . .
- EMAIL from Beverly Matherne in Michigan:
I had sent an email to Beverly asking about how her book about “Cadillac” was coming along. She replied,“Bobby I can't believe you're writing today. Advance copies of the book arrived at my front door yesterday. They did go into press with it immediately this summer, while funding was still available. Why the summer? Because the editor in chief is a professor and can't work as fast as a big commercial press to get books out. He goes into full gear in the summer.”She sent me a copy of the book to review and my review of it will appear in the August Digest. The book is done in both French and English on facing pages. Catholics in south Louisiana will recognize the origin of many of their religious festivals as young Cadillac relates them from his childhood.
Perhaps some of you who haven't studied Greek culture thought as I did that the Hellenic name for Greece came from the famous Helen whose "face launched a thousand ships" and the Trojan War which aimed to return the Greek Helen to Greece. Not so, it turns out. And the real reason for the name "Hellenic" with its two L's instead of the one L in Helen sheds light on the two famous column designs which came down to us from Greek culture, the Doric and and the Ionian.
Our porticos at Timberlane are lined with Doric columns, apropos of the house being designed by and built for Del's mother whose name is Doris. This is truly a Doric house, whose layout of kitchen looking out over a projecting bar into the Great Room was designed by Doris Richards. This handy bar is where Del and I have most of our meals. The layout of kitchen/Great Room allows me to prepare meals while working on my writings, photography, and website. A simple buzzer reminds me of the next step in cooking, and I can smell and hear the progress of the cooking as I type at workstation in the Great Room looking away from the kitchen.The three double-wide glass sliding doors allows me to see the North, East, and South Porticos and gardens from my desk seat by a simple glance while I work. For these reasons and many others I love this house with it great indoor and outdoor spaces. Its long Doric-column lined porticos are my favorite reading spaces, either on the teak rockers on the West Portico or the Louisiana Cypress swing on the Northeast Portico. I love the swing which catches the sea breezes from the Southeast, and equally I enjoy the rockers, blocked off from the stiff SE breezes, which offer very pleasant reading spots at twilight on the warmest summer days.
Hellen, as I discovered in my latest Teaching Company lecture series by Prof. Robert Garland of Colgate University, was a man, the original Greek, who probably got his name from Hellas where his father came from. Hellen had a son named Dorus and a grandson, from another son, named Ion. From these two offspring, the Doric and Ionic cultures, languages, and columns proceeded. To indicate this connection, I created a drawing showing Hellen and his offspring's columns. Doric has the simple capital and pediment, and the Ionic column has the elegant curled over capital. Hope this helps you, as it does me, to remember the difference between the Doric and Ionic columns and to know that the origin of the Greek culture stemmed from the pater familias, the mythical patriarch of Greece, the man named Hellen.
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9. CLOSING NOTES:
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