Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Somerville has the happy chance to be sandwiched between two great little rivers: the Charles to the south of us and the Mystic which meanders along to the north. Since it's a much shorter walk to the Mystic now, we've been taking a bit of time to both enjoy the nature and revel in the relative quiet around us.

Though rather unimpressive-seeming at first (it is in heavy urban/industrial area and there is a bit of trash strewn about in some places), we've found that it's best to wander around with a camera, or at least a camera-eye. That's when you really start to open up to the beauty of the area, which consists of wetlands, woodlands and almost prairie-like patches. Interestingly enough, the part of the walk that cuts closest to I-93 (with cars whizzing by about 10' from us) is the part where we find the largest variety of flowers, birds and trees.

I don't know that I'd walk the Mystic reservation alone like I have done the with the Charles, but I think that I do enjoy it more right now. It has a wildness about it that appeals to me and I'm always discovering something new on my walks there.

After this last walk around the Mystic, we decided that we needed some field guide to wildflowers. They aren't our strong point (trees are), and we were just overwhelmed by the variety we found first roadside, next along the river. Posted by Hello

I have these in my garden at home - not sure what they are, only know that the flowers are tiny (like 1/2" in diameter) and their color jumps out at you like a spark. I wonder if these aren't some sort of tradescantia. Posted by Hello

Wonderful! My flower guardian angel tells me that it is actually a Deptford Pink (Dianthus armeria). Thank you, Sissy!

The same bloom as above, only more mature and more lily-looking Posted by Hello

I'd only ever seen these in yellow (with older leaves turning orange) - was quite a surprise to find a whole field of purple ones. We checked out an Audobon guide at the Meadow Glen Mall and determined that it's a trefoil of some sort. Funny - we did find them in a patch of clover. Posted by Hello

Another great save by Sisu: this is actually crown vetch! A peaflower with a crown shape. Wow.

Though they're getting to be a bit past season, I did manage to find one catalpa in bloom during our walk. Hal supplied the bird's eye view, tall as he is. Posted by Hello

Also note Boston in the upper left-hand corner. On a clear day, you can see the buildings perfectly. Sunday was horribly humid and hazy though, so you only get an impression of the Big City. Somehow it looks more harmless that way.

Thursday, June 23, 2005


Had a Catalpa.

Since my ultimate bloomer has arrived, I think it's time to get a trip over to Arnold Aboretum. Stat.

We were all pretty surprised to hear that my mother got a kitten. First, because I'm not sure that they allow them in her condominium complex, second because my grandfather has always taken a hardline against pets. Little girl won out, though and she's done a good job of turning things upside down chez Zee. The adoption place called her Peaches, but out of deference to my grandma who'd have loved a little animal of her own, Mom and Grandpa are referring to her as Peachosim. Posted by Hello

If you concentrate on the foreground only, it's merely another saccharine-sweet kitty picture. Take a look in the background, though. This comes to mind. This, and this, too. For all that, "peachosim in a basket" is brilliant. Posted by Hello
I'm not too much of a fan of romance, and was a little surprised to see the turn being taken at Day By Day. Today's cartoon is so dear, though, that I'm still smiling thinking about it.

Chris Muir is amazing in his ability to both forcefully drive points home and handle certain subjects with a light touch. I love his work!

It seems as though my numbers came in in the Karmic Lottery last night:

First, I got caught in a short, strong downpour that happily produced a rainbow.

At about halfway through my walk home, I looked down and found something sparkly - turned out to be a diamond ring.

When I got home, the best dinner in the world (that actually became the best breakfast a girl could ever hope for): a bit of frittata made from hot and sweet peppers from Raphaella's garden sandwiched between slices of fresh scali bread.

While going through my mail later on, I found a check from the state DOR that I'd totally forgotten about (tax refund!). Generally I get very happy when I find a dollar in my pocket at the beginning of the winter coat season. Nice as that is, this was exponentially better.

Then an unexpected phone call from un ami de loin who is planning a visit soon.

For the moment, yes, I am queen of my world.
And if D-Day were to occur today?

Mark over at Decision 08 is spot on, I fear.
Different means of sacrifice for a common cause? Different expressions of a shared feeling?

Their relationship sounds an awful lot like the “deal” that Diego Riviera and Frida Kahlo had. Kahlo felt her husband to be a great man with great appetites, so allowed him his indiscretions – much like Beauvoir did with Sartre.

Not a huge fan of Sartre myself, I’d often wondered what de Beauvoir saw in him. I remember seeing a televised interview with the couple where he was always calling her those little names like “poussin” or “ma petite carrotte,” etc. Housewifey things as if to be poking fun at her life’s work and philosophy.

***Simone Weil (a modern-day Jeanne D’Arc), who graduated ahead of her at the Ecole Normale Superieure, would have nothing to do with her, from accounts I’d read, as she considered her a little bourgeoise.

Have not gotten through La Deuxieme Sexe, but maybe will some day. I remember reading and loving her Sang des Autres – an account of giving one’s self up for a cause, and, in my opinion, a great possible 'epanouissement' of Sartre’s Existentialism.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Given that my desk is located next to the vocational training center's kitchen, I'm sometimes called upon as a taste tester when the chefs are trying out new recipes. Today's was a simple but lovely cooler: diet Sierra Mist with frozen blueberries.

The blueberries danced around on the soda bubbles and made everyone who saw them just a little bit giggly. Though it was a tiny bit sweet for my taste (I think I'd prefer seltzer water and am going to try that myself), I found it to be a charming little treat.

Not many financial reporting jockeys have test-kitchen guinea pig written into their job descriptions, and I believe that it's the facet of my work that I enjoy the most.

Monday, June 20, 2005


Richard waxes poetical on his old home.

Caetano sings of an island/goddess.

Harte Crane connects the two with his beautiful, beautiful bridge.
Pablo made a discovery at the Brattle that has charmed his socks off. Actually, I'm quite surprised that he'd not seen anything by Harold Lloyd, fan of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin that he is.

I'm not going anywhere but home tonight (would fall asleep in the theater), but I'm going to try to catch a couple of the remaining films (double features through Thursday), any way. I saw a bit of The Kid Brother before, and was really impressed.
Any port in a decaffeinated storm

I slept very poorly last night. As a result, am extremely tired and cranky at the moment. At least I have the A/C blower right over me, as the frigid air is keeping me awake.

I was surprised to see that my garden contributed to this week's bouquet. Posted by Hello

Hal tells me that he loves the patterns in this flower--almost like a sunflower, or the hexagonal tiles in his bathroom, but with a spiral fractal form.
 Posted by Hello

 Posted by Hello


Althouse has some beautiful images of what looks like Angelica, along with an interesting, atmospheric woodland shot.
"iPods and PlayStations are replacing pets"

Hal sent me the above link with the following comment:

"Time to come out with iMamasan. Remember the robot dog in Woody Allen's Sleeper?
Virtual pets I'm sure can simulate a "woof woof" here and a "meow,
meow" there, but certainly not be able to provide the emotional bond
which one develops with a pet."

Who needs emotional bonds when you can have a lot of cool, replaceable gadgets?

Friday, June 17, 2005

All the grown-up people say,
"What, those ugly thistles?
Mustn't touch them! Keep away!
Prickly! Full of bristles!"

Yet they never make me bleed
Half so much as roses!
Must be purple is a weed,
And pink and white is posies.

-Edna St Vincent Millay, from Poems Selected for Young People

 Posted by Hello
Showered with gifts

Harry recently brought in a copy of an album by a "Sexy old dog" of a blues singer. All I can say is that I'm still pondering the philosophical implications of "getting one's wheat creamed."

My not-so-new-anymore coworker made my day today, first by getting me the heck out of here for lunch, and then with a copy of School of Rock. Could have kissed him, but would probably have ended up in the HR office for it.

Last weekend, maybe, I had the lucky chance to find in my travels an album by a group that could well be considered the antithesis of Takemitsu. This stuff is just too rich for words.

Hal added to my collection of souvenir trivets (don't laugh - I inherited them from my Grandma!) by finding a gorgeous USS Constitution one from the 1960s.
I really should get him to take a picture of the kitchen wall. It's impressive to see all the places that she'd visited when she was able to.
Around the world and back in blogs

Boy, there's a lot of good reading out there today. Here are just a few items I glanced at and figured I'd recommend:

Sissy Willis talks about good statesmanship, contrasting GWB with Senator (crazy talk) Durbin. She also chronicles the trials she's been having in creating a hard copy archive of her blog. (Hmm, maybe she should "call the cops!")

Neo-Neocon has a handy guide to Northern New Englanders for all you folks "from away."

Always sensible Nick (don't stare at his shoes or his car bumper, girls! Look up at him, gosh darnit! I'm telling you, he's a keepah.) comes up with a great solution as to how to proceed with a WTC monument: give it time. To wait for the furore and politics to simmer down a bit. This is largely why the Catholic Church's canonization process is so lengthy, by the way.

Over to Blighty, via Nappy. (Warning, the language is RAW.)

Funny to have to go all the way to Austin, TX for the latest news on our governor up here. (See also this article from last week's Weekly Standard.)

Pablo sent me an incredible article by Hitch on a recent trip to Iran with its "as-ifs" that really need to be realities. I was particularly struck by the fact that he in chatting with Ruhollah Khomeini’s pro-American grandson Hossein and with Reza Pahlavi, son of the late king, he found that both would like to end the Islamic Republic.

More clarity from Victor Davis Hanson.

Jonah Goldberg has an hommage to his father who recently passed away. Think good thoughts for them.
After the blistering heat and unrelenting sun last weekend, we got respite in the form of four days of cool, damp (though a bit on the drab-side) weather. It's been nice to not feel awful in clothes, to be able to sleep under the covers and to have my animals not crying for potentially smothering hugs.

Since my roommate's seldom around (and will be gone for good in another week), Ampersand's been spending more time in my room. Last night, she even slept the night with me - a first. I think that she might have had a nightmare, though: my first look at my face in the mirror showed me that I had a long scratch just below my lip, extending across the length of it. Coverup sort of worked, but it's still pretty noticeable. At least by the coworkers who greeted me this morning with inquiries as to whether or not I "pissed the cat off."
College and marijuana use do go hand in hand

So it's no big surprise that the Boston area is tops in this count, according to the latest study by the OAS. I think, however, that the AP reporter may not know the geography of the Boston Area all that well, otherwise they might have mentioned MIT (with a nasty history of binge drinking - also covered in the study), Harvard and Tufts. (I've lived next to Tufts potheads for years now. It's getting tiresome.) Just some minor nitpicky stuff, but I figured I'd bring it up.

(For that matter, NO, I never touched the stuff.)

Thursday, June 16, 2005

I could do worse than stay local, however.

This week is the biennial Boston Early Music Festival - a largely unrivalled series of concerts, lectures, master classes and exhibits. I always look forward to the opera production - this year's being Mattheson's Boris Goudenow. It's always a treat to see what lost gems they pick up and dust off to perform. The late night concerts are particularly fun.

Tanglewood, the BSO's summer home, is a favorite place to catch an outdoor concert. The best seats in the house are outside the Shed on the lawn: you bring a blanket and a picnic, lie back and let the music wash over you.

The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem is one of my favorite museums. I'm ashamed to say that I haven't visited it, however, since its renovation. This Kingdom of Siam exhibition might be a good excuse to grab the northbound commuter rail some weekend.

Wow. I've not been to Jacob's Pillow since I was a little terror living in Western MA. Wouldn't it be fun to go back and reexperience a bit of my lost youth?

I've never been here before and am killer curious about it.

The New Bedford Whaling Museum is another favorite of mine.

Other fun possiblities: the Rockport Chamber Music Festival, Newport, RI for the music festivals and "cottage" tours, and Lowell, with its wonderful working mills and textile museums. (There's also a folk festival, if you're into that.)

Goodness, it seems as though there's plenty to keep me off the streets this summer - and I haven't even touched on potential hikes.
The road is calling; I feel my feet turning west towards...the Central Leatherstocking District. No, really. CNY is hopping in the summer, so it might be fun to take a roadtrip.

Let's see:

Brouwerij Ommegang, which makes the best Belgian beer outside of Belgium is inviting Belgium to Cooperstown for the weekend of 15-17 July. Since I don't see getting back to Belgium anytime soon, might be fun to let the mountain come to Mohammed out in Central New York.

Glimmerglass (Tanglewood for Opera?) has performances of two operas by a couple of favorite French composers: Le Portrait de Manon by Massenet and Poulenc's La Voix Humaine. I've not seen either of these live, and am not at all familiar with Massenet's sequel to Manon. I'd be particularly interested in that, as his music made that awful story by the Abbe Prevost actually tolerable.

How could one spend any Cooperstown and not visit either the Baseball Hall of Fame or Howe Caverns? Haven't been to the caverns in years. Need to remedy that.

Hal and I both have family out there, too, whom we've not seen in way too long. Would be fun to get to see them as well.

Hmm, this almost sounds like a plan.
Why has Grandma visited me twice in the past couple nights? Could it possibly be that she misses me? I wonder. We never got a chance to say good bye, as she died during a bad winter storm, so my flights were grounded from deathbed to funeral.

That was a horrible winter, as between Christmas and my birthday, I lost both grandmas. Since you can't change Christmas, I let it be. I did change my birthday to July for a time, though.
It's a little known fact that there's a sizeable Scandinavian population in Western New York State. The Double-Vey family arrived from Denmark to settle in Jamestown, NY at the turn of the last century. As was the case with the Zees (the Polish side), Double-Vey new Americans kept the native tongue under wraps so that the kids would learn English properly.

For the past two days, I'd been obsessing over a song that Grandma taught me when I was a child, as when she visited me the first time this week, she was singing it to me:

Højt på en gren en krage,
- simsaladim bamba saladu saladim -
højt på en gren en krage sad.

Så kom en hæslig jæger,
- simsaladim bamba saladu saladim -
så kom en hæslig jæger hen.

Han skød den stakkels krage,
- simsaladim bamba saladu saladim -
han skød den stakkels krage ned.

Nu er den stakkels krage,
- simsaladim bamba saladu saladim -
nu er den stakkels krage død.

My Danish is HORRIBLE, as I've not used it or even thought of it
since I was a kid, but the gist of the song is that a little cuckoo set itself up in a tree. Along came a young hunter who shot the little cuckoo. The next year, the little cuckoo (another one, I'd assume) came back to sit in the tree (and so on and so forth).

I've tried to get the song out of my head, but can't. It's a cheery little thing, but it makes me want to cry.
A Couple of Fantastic Journeys

Last night, I found myself in my grandma's old house back in Buffalo. We were there ostensibly to get her moved into a care facility as she was suffering from dementia and could not live alone (In reality, she had Parkinson's. I've no doubt that this broad oak tree of a woman went absolutely barmy when she became trapped in her no longer functioning body, but it was the Parkinson's that got her locked up.) anymore. I remember going through the house, tidy and gleaming as though Minnie had just been by. No Grandma anywhere, though. Nobody but me and the voices of my aunt and my dad. Though the house looked beautiful and the sun was shining in through the picture window, I was sad because I couldn't find Grandma. Where was she?


I'm not certain how the transition took place, but I found myself in what I will call Old Jerusalem. It was sunny like Buffalo, set up kind of like how I remember un quartier arabe to be, only cleaner. What struck me was how peaceful and quiet it was. Why? No idea. Walking down one of the streets, I got a taste for ice cream, so found a little counter that sold frozen treats. Since all I had $20 in my wallet from Buffalo, I asked the woman at the counter if I should go get shekels. She told me not to worry and asked me what I wanted. Figuring I'd get the expert opinion, I asked her what she liked. Moving over to the cooler section, she pointed to a large trifle-looking confection that looked like blueberries sandwiched between two layers of either lime sherbet or pistachio ice cream. The phone rang, so she went to pick it up. As I stood there waiting for her to finish her call, it occurred to me that my alarm clock was ringing and that I'd better wake up.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Sound reasonable?

I'll support Palestinian right of return as soon as there's honest talk of a Jewish right of return. Fair's fair, after all.
I want a mountain laurel.

As the season for these spectacular beauties has well nigh arrived, I find myself coveting a bush for my landlord's garden plot more and more.

When I used to work in an office park in Waltham, I'd watch them reach full bloom, fade out and then be dug up and discarded to make room for other, more seasonal shrubs. Such a waste. Such a gosh-darned waste. If only I could have rescued one or two.
You're either a Democrat or you're Defective.

Such has been my experience as an independent female who tends to vote with her mind more than her feelings in the land of "if it feels good, do it."

-via decision08.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Grace and Strength

I don't think I could ever call myself a feminist in the current, leftist sense of the word; I'm just not comfortable defining myself as a victim. This has partly to do with my upbringing, I'm sure, and a lot to do with my old therapist who, before coming to the States, organized women's groups in Iran. It was really hard to complain about having it rough when I gave thought to how women over there had it. Especially after the revolution, when groups like what my shrink person led were outlawed.

I've been finding a decent number of stories on the web lately about women standing up to terrible injustices and risking their lives to start improving their situations and those of their fellow country men/women. Though a lot of this can be tough reading, it's all a great antidote to the latest Harvard Tempest in a Teapot:

Sissy's post highlights Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Dutch MP and anti radical Islam activist. She is currently under police protection, as the same people who murdered Theo van Gogh are currently after her.

Neo-neocon discusses a story in the WSJ about a girl in Niger turning tradition on its head with some surprising help from her father.

Gates of Vienna has a post on some women in Pakistan who lived through and are living with the results of a particularly barbaric style of murder attempts. (Be warned, there is an image that might be hard for some to take.)

Norm has two great posts: the first is a roundup of news on the women's protest march in Tehran. Better treatment of women and more rights - not at the expense of men's rights, but rights as intelligent, sentient human beings just like men. Important to note in opposition to the whole affirmative action line of argument.

Also, payback for courage and magnaminity Pakistani-style. She sees to the education of her rapists' children, and the authorities still place her under arrest. She isn't permitted to leave the country out of fear that she will "malign Pakistan's image."

It certainly is a pity that 1/2 a population is held hostage to the other half's self-image.


I certainly hope I don't have to ever live through what any of these women have withstood. If I do, however, I hope that I do so with even a fraction of their grace and strength. My heart goes out to them.
Happy Flag Day!

 Posted by Hello

(This quite original interpretation of Old Glory comes courtesy of an unidentified student at Westminster College, UT)

When I was growing up, my mom never missed an opportunity to put her flag out - be it for Washington's or Lincoln's birthdays, Patriots' Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day...she had quite a collection, too: a Betsy Ross, a Bennington, a number of different versions of the stars and stripes (Alaska and Hawaii were admitted into the Union when she was a teenager). She took such pride in her flag collection. As a kid, I didn't really get it until I moved someplace where people didn't put flags up, people didn't generally consider serving in the military a life/career option, people generally just didn't care.

After 9/11, the woman who ran our building's copy center put out a pile of color flag prints. Since I was new to the company at that time (had just started working there maybe two months earlier), I took one for myself and then shyly asked if I could have another one to put up in my room at home. Copy Lady told me to take as many as I wanted; that was what they were there for.

I pinned my little flag up in my cubicle next to my monitor (I work in a social services agency in Cambridge, MA, and since I was new, I didn't want to attract any 'negative' attention.), and went on with my business. In spite of the inconspicuous location, people still noted my flag. Far from saying anything untoward, they started asking for copies. I directed them up to the copy center. By the next week, the Copy Lady told me that she had to print out two more runs of 100 apiece.

Since then, most of the flags got taken down. As I said, this is Social Services and it's Cambridge. My little banner eventually had to come down when I moved to a much smaller space. It (along with a little flag I picked up at, of all places, a bodega in my neighborhood) goes up for the same holidays as my mom's flags do, however. I don't have my own house, and I'd not want anyone messing with my flags anyway (That's the kind of neighborhood I live in. Some punk kid would do something, trust me.), so my little bit of reverence at work makes me happy for now.

Both Sisu and Neo-Neocon (locals!) have some very inspiring posts on Flag Day and what it means to them. Heartening for me, too, to realize that I'm not an island in a sea of blue.


Lileks has another a propos as hell post on his glorious new screedblog.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Wow, that's one heck of an algae bloom.

I remember a few weeks ago feeling the winds from the northeast in one of those freak storms we had. Wonder if they contributed any to the massive, foul red tide that's extending from Schoodic (Acadia) to Cape Cod? I read that it's moving down the coast and fanning out into international waters.
Will the new owners let us rake for blueberries on their property?

This is sad, but it's the new reality in these areas. Hardware and grocery stores become expensive galleries. A blueberry packing plant sells off its land for beachfront condos. Fishing, farming, logging or anything that might contribute to the economy of the region are called eco-hostile. Instead, the offshoring of largely nonexistent and probably more harmful to the environment manufacture jobs is blamed for the state's woes.

Such is life, I guess.
If the shoe doesn't fit...

Yes, he is a disturbed man. I've been struggling to reconcile the pop icon of my youth with this disfigured, disconnected-from-reality shell of a person who has taken his place. Could he have hurt a child at some point? Possibly. Would he? Who's to say? Probably not? Maybe not? I hope not? In any event - reasonable doubt on my part, plus the two words "Fells Acres" (when I heard of some of the outlandish stories being told by the plaintiffs) came to mind.

I hope that Jackson gets the help that he needs. I hope that he's learned a lesson from this. I also hope that there are some serious changes in what goes on over at Neverland, too. The last thing you need is some sort of group home program run by someone who probably should be in a home themselves.
This is something you never get out of your head.

I understand that suicidals aren't dealing with a full deck; that they are pathologically self-absorbed and that there is some serious tunnel vision going on. Still, I cannot but be enraged by the jackass who not only killed himself, but is messing up the lives for his family, his friends, the train conductor at Davis, and a whole bunch of other perfect strangers, as well. Think good thoughts for those folks - they're going to need them.

via Universal Hub
A Riddle for You:

What's half again as big as Bigfoot?

(I'll post the answer later.)



(thanks, Pablo!)

Today's flower is a blowsy beauty that Hal found on his walk home from work one afternoon.  Posted by Hello

Sunday, June 12, 2005


Una canoa canoa
Varando a manhã de norte a sul
Deusa de la lenda na proa
Levanta uma tocha na mão
Todos os homens do mundo
Volraram seus olhos naquela direção
Sente-se o gosto do vento
Cantando nos vidros o nome doce da cunhã:

Manhattan, Manhattan
Manhattan, Manhattan
Manhattan, Manhattan, Manhattan

Un remoinho de dinheiro
Varre o mundo inteiro, um leve leviatã
E aqui dançam guerros no meio
Da paz das moradas de aor

Ah! Pro onde vai, quando for,
Essa imensa alegria, toda essa exaltação,
ue menina bonita mordendo a polpa da maçã:

Manhattan, Manhattan
Manhattan, Manhattan
Manhattan, Manhattan, Manhattan

-Caetano Veloso, from Livro, 1999


A canoe, canoe
Cuts through the morning from North to south
Goddess of legend on the prow
Lifting a torch in her hand
All of mankind
Turns its eyes in that direction
One tastes the wind
Singing on the windows the sweet name of the Indian Girl:

Manhattan, Manhattan
Manhattan, Manhattan
Manhattan, Manhattan, Manhattan

A whirlwind of money

Sweeps the whole world, a light Leviathan
And here wars dance amid
Loves peaceful dwellings

Ah! Where is it going, when it goes,
This immense joy, such exaltation
Ah! Solitude, multitude,
That beautiful girl biting the apple:

Manhattan, Manhattan
Manhattan, Manhattan
Manhattan, Manhattan, Manhattan

-translation: Isabel de Sena

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Cranking Tunes

That's a New England term for playing loud music.
Louder than cranking tunes is "ass-cranking." My neighbors catty corner from me are currently ass-cranking rap. With the bass turned way up. It is so powerful that I can feel my chair rattling under me to the beat from across the gosh-darned street.

Gosh, I love city life.
To my girlfriend who was lamenting my lack of dress purchase documentation:

This was the dress that I first picked and actually paid full price for. (Yes, $25 is relatively inexpensive, but I'm so used to buying things at "the boutique" that I still had to work through the sticker shock.)

This was the dress I found on the clearance rack the day I went back to pick up a cardigan to wear with the previous dress. (Originally $35; I got it for $17 and change.) I ended up wearing this one to the party.

"Great design always turns heads" is absolutely correct. These dresses are rare nowadays in that they fit a woman's form. Not a flat-chested, prepubescent form - a woman's form. Bravo to Target for bringing Isaac on board. I have a couple pieces from his unaffordable collection (boutique purchases) and absolutely love his work.

Does having a line at Target make him less precious? Does it really matter? I'm happy, and I'm a pretty bad consumer. That they were able to draw in the likes of me means that perhaps they're doing something right.


Speaking of bringing in bad consumers - I actually managed to get Pablo in to try on and purchase pants at the Wellington Target. He's even worse (or better) than I am, in that he's bona fide wealthy, but hates spending on what he sees as 'fripperies.' I like to call him Howard Hughes, as he's got something like 23 plaid flannel (didn't know that flannel was a summer fabric until I met him) shirts and one pair of pants. Boy, did we fight over this, too. I never said that he had to wear Armani, but for crying out loud - at least don't look like a bum.

Anyway - Got him to Target, made him try on pants. The khakis were on sale ($11/pair), so he bought two pairs.

Thursday, June 09, 2005


The catfood tin tossed into the recycle bin roused me from my sleepy reverie into some sort of movie take on reality.

A truck with a particularly sonorous cargo almost hit me during my walk to work one morning. Rather than be angry or upset, I found myself enchanted with the gamelan-like clang of the pipes in tow.

What kind of spell has this small, "insignificant-looking" (as Stravinsky once called him) man from Japan cast upon me? What net has he cast on me from the other world he now inhabits both in body and spirit?

The wife of Peter Grilli, a close personal friend of Takemitsu's, described her introduction the Composer as "meeting ET."

 Posted by Hello

Takemitsu himself was thrilled at this comparison, because ET apparently was a hero of his. Small, otherworldly, but with a powerful personal magnetism, the fictional character was someone he identified with somehow. I agree, as even from the secondary accounts I've heard and the documentary footage I've seen, I've felt that magnetism. Having had the wonderful opportunity of both hearing some of his works performed live and getting to experience his work in film, I'm left with the feeling of both wonderment and having been cheated. Enriched as we are with his impressive body of work (both for film and the concert stage), how much more so would we be if he were still with us today?


Takemitsu described his approach to composition as similar to arranging elements within a Japanese garden - pickup, put down. Pick up, put down. Look at what you have in front of you. Rearrange if necessary. This sensibility is apparent throughout the body of his work - ranging from sentimental Broadway-like themes (Kurosawa's "Dodes'kaden") to his tour de force for biwa, shakahachi and western orchestra, "November Steps."


Recently, I treated myself to about the only collection of Takemitsu's film music I know of (outside of the complete works edition available in English sometime next year and imports which may or may not still be in print). It covers a few films I've not seen before (he scored music for 93 films in addition to writing concert music), as well as a couple films I did actually get to see, between what's available from Criterion and that amazing program at the HFA last month. In all, 10 films. Enough to present a decent overview, but only enough to whet one's appetite for his work. Though enamoured of every work on this album, I'd say my favorite two pieces have very strong French influences (Takemitsu was a fan of Messaien and Debussy in particular; he also recounted an episode in his youth of listening to a banned recording of a chanson in a military barracks during WWII as the turning point in his life - he vowed to devote himself to music after that.) The waltz from Teshigahara's "Face of Another", which bears the stamp of both Saint-Saens and Ravel, has been playing in my head for nearly two weeks straight now. Romantic, haunting, compact, it set me on a search for a score and finally the resolve to transcribe what I can so as to be able to bang it out on the piano at home. I need to exorcise this somehow.

His music from "Rikyu" has conflicts between styles - a harsher, more dissonant sound (though not so much as "Woman in the Dunes" - a fine example of musique concrete.) at odds with but also complementing a more serene, almost churchlike modality. Modernity with/against tradition...martial sensibility and priestliness. The more 'churchlike' theme had bothered me for weeks - where did I know it from? Why was it so familiar? Then it hit me: du Caurroy! It was the melody of an old chataigne of a French chanson: "Une Jeune Fillette".

These were only two scores I have looked at in any depth of the ten on the album. Maybe it's my love of French music, maybe it's my love of the vertical in music, but these snippets have contributed to a near obsessive posthumous crush on the little man from Japan who could well be considered one of the greatest composers of the 20th century; who could speak Jazz as easily as Japanese traditional; who strove to unite east and west in his music. Who, before his death, wrote to friends that he "will regain strength as a whale, and swim in the ocean that has no West and no East."
I don't know whether this account is true or not, but it certainly gave me cause to snort a bit (in the "je ris par peur d'en finir a pleurer" sense):

Last week I purchased a burger at Burger King for $1.58. The counter girl took my $2 and I was digging for my change when I pulled 8 cents from my pocket and gave it to her. She stood there, holding the nickel and 3 pennies, while looking at the screen on her register.

I sensed her discomfort and tried to tell her to just give me two quarters, but she hailed the manager for help.

While he tried to explain the transaction to her, she stood there and cried.

Why do I tell you this?

Please read more about the "history of teaching math":

Teaching Math In 1950

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit?


Teaching Math In 1960

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?


Teaching Math In 1970

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80. Did he make a profit?


Teaching Math In 1980

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.


Teaching Math In 1990

By cutting down beautiful forest trees, the logger makes $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the forest birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down the trees? (There are no wrong answers . )


Teaching Math In 2005

El hachero vende un camion carga por $100. La cuesta de production es...


Actually, something similar happened to us in a restaurant in Northern Maine last summer. A new cashier got very clearly flustered when I tried to help her with the math involved in paying the bill. She ended up abandoning me for the kitchen. A few minutes later, the owner came out to give me my change - told me next time to not be so harsh, the girl was new, etc. (Honestly didn't realize that trying to be helpful was harsh or critical). Shrugged, took my money, left.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


Though I'm not a huge fan of most major (and some minor) changes, I've gotten pretty good at learning to roll with the punches. I prefer being a "dynamist" to stagnating, after all. Still, when things hit me in succession, I do get a bit tired.

Calling for my annual physical, I found out that my doctor of ten years is retiring. I'd figured that this would happen sooner or later - he's older, he's not been happy since his practice was absorbed into the NEMC system, he'd rather be collecting art. I don't tend to like doctors (I dislike dentists even more), but I was absolutely in love with him. It took me a long time to find this Old White Ivy-Leaguer (the antithesis of everything I was taught to seek out), and I know it's going to take forever to find someone else with a similar insight, sensitivity and sense of humor.

I remember when I was suffering from a particularly severe bout of depression and the arguments I'd get into with him. I think that that was about the only time I'd ever cursed at an elder. He took it all in stride, recommended that I write for him (at the time we were talking about the term violon d'Ingres, a hobby practiced with a high level of proficiency by someone noted for another discipline) about Louis Pasteur's cast aside painting career, since I refused to go on prozac, and sent me on my way. (I'd learned later on that he prescribed similar preparations for other patients - one who was a painter had to bring back an executed canvas for the next appointment. Another patient who was a composer would be given an arrangement assignment.) When I came back after an intense period of talk therapy and milder antidepressants, calm, happy and with my biographical bit in tow, he gave me a high-five and a movie about baseball, of all things.

Though Dr. Wills has more than paid his dues over the past several years and more than merits time off to pursue other things, I'm going to miss him terribly. I'm currently looking around for another GP. If anyone knows of someone in Boston/Cambridge/Somerville, I'd appreciate the recommendation.

Also, my roommate's given me notice that he's going to be leaving sometime between mid-June and mid-July. I would love to keep the place to myself, but absolutely cannot afford it (the rent alone for July and August is going to put a serious dent into my finances - I'm figuring about 3/4 of my net will go to that. Still cheaper, though, than trying to move on the fly), so will try to find a new roommate for September first.


I realize that the above items are small enough. Combined with stuggles over whether to stay at a job I detest (to get vested in the pension plan) or to leave outright as well as figuring out financing some schooling in the fall, it all feels so...so...exhausting. I'll manage. I always do. It's just living through it all that's tough.
I've been retreating to "the garden" a fair bit lately, partly because of the weather, partly because of a lot of strain in the real-world life. I've also been very bad at following my own advice to follow my bliss here. As a result, the writing thing, never one of my stronger or preferred activites, has gotten to be somewhat of a chore.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Monday's Flower 'breathes scent into the air as heady as incense' Posted by Hello

The second wave of spring bloomers is out. During a walk on Saturday, we smelled locust blossoms, beach roses and my particular favorite - honeysuckle.
A mystery flower from the Lynn Woods. If you have any idea what this delicate, lacy little thing is - would love to hear from you. Posted by Hello
 Posted by Hello

"The kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,
a very merry king of the bush is he.
Laugh Kookaburra, laugh Kookaburra:
How gay your life must be!"
Tapis oriental Posted by Hello
Though not nearly as pyrotechnically glorious as his business end, Mr. Peacock's be-hind is still pretty impressive. Posted by Hello
Paging Doctor Freud

I was raised in a relatively conservative Polish Catholic Family, so the fact that I'm not married and breeding all over the place is of relative concern to them. In waking life I'm fine with my marital status. Sometimes, however, my subconscious leaves me little clues that point to an internalization of my family's dissatisfaction with my being a vielle fille.

A few nights ago, I dreamt that I was returning to the home town with the fiance in tow. He'd not yet met the family, an eventuality we had to deal with since the marriage date was looming. During the rounds we were making on my mom's side, I noticed a tight-lipped, cold sort of non-disapproval. Figured that the old guard were just being old-fashioned and brushed it off. However, when we got around to my dad's side of the family (normally phlegmatic Danes), they made their displeasure very well known. My father in particular was extremely unhappy with my match. I tried to placate him, to calm what I thought were fears of his losing his only daughter. He just kept getting more and more agitated. Finally, in frustration, he cried out to me, "have you even looked at him?" I turned to see and found, to my shock and horror, that my fiance was actually my dad.

Boy, did that wake me up fast.
It's been not quite two weeks since I gave up caffeinated coffee - probably the only vice I have (I drank a lot: 6-7 cups a day). Ordinarily, the headaches would be awful, but since I had other miseries, I didn't really notice them. Interesting now are the attempts by my body to adapt to the lack of chemical stimulants: though I'm less on edge, my stomach's not so upset all the time and sleeping through the night is no longer a problem, I'm noting that I do feel fatigued during the day, I don't have the focus I used to (sort of feel dreamy or muzzy-headed most of the time), and have been needing to sleep more than the usual 7-8 hours/night. I wonder how long this state will last. On one hand, the light vagueness is kind of pleasant, on the other, it's not very conducive to productivity. I'd like to be able to sleep less, too, as my time to myself is either early morning or late at night. Those hours are gone for the time being - and I used to get a lot of truly productive (as opposed to the stuff I do for a living) work done. Guess I have to just be patient and see where this takes me.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Technically it's late, but I'm up pretty early for a girl who had a bunch of drunken Tufts students playing wiffle ball out her window until the wee hours of the petit matin. Last night, I coerced Pablo into taking me out on errands. At the big Target in Wellington, I got a pretty party dress, some basics from off the clearance rack (how can a girl go wrong with $2 shirts and $4 skirts?), and a garment rack. I told Pablo that he wasn't going to leave without at least one pair of pants (more on this later).

From there, we hit the Home Depot for topsoil, pitmoss (as my neighbor calls it), large pots for the tomatoes, some clippers and a fan trellis for the front rose bush.

Last weekend was pleasant, but this one is just what we've been waiting for garden-wise: hot (in the high sixties-low seventies), dry, sunny. Perfect for clearing out last year's dead, the weeds that had an amazing growing season up till now, a bigger-than first thought ant hill. The kettles of boiling water having not worked, we're going to try borax and see if that resolves the situation.

Hopefully the weather will hold up today, as this afternoon we're going to try a short hike somewhere nearby (the Blue Hills, maybe?). Tomorrow, if all goes well, we're going to head up to Monadnock. Finally.
The US Confirms Urine Touched Koran at Gitmo...

...Thing is, they never determined whose urine touched the Koran. You can't really dust for urine, can you?

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Norm's too good an egg to have one of his polls given a "one way ticket to palookaville," so here goes for my favorite ten actors/actresses (not in any particular order):

Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura
Two of my favorite actors all around. Though both are probably best known in their samurai roles (Mifune in Yojimbo/Sanjuro/The Seven Samurai, Shimura as the Blind Swordsman), they had amazing ranges. My favorite films by both (so far) take place in postwar Japan: Mifune as the financial head of a shoe factory in "High and Low," Shimura as the aged bureaucrat who only learns to live when given a death sentence in "Ikiru."

Jimmy Stewart
What can I say about him that hasn't been said already? A girl could do worse than end up with someone like Stewart.

Peter Sellers
One of the best comic actors I can think of, whether he be playing a bumbling French detective or a diverse number of characters in one of my favorite films ever. If you're interested, Harvard Radio will be having a mini Sellers orgy this Sunday (June 5) from 12:30-2:30pm. WHRB is on the web, so the programming's not limited to the Happy Few in Cambridge/Somerville.

Gene Kelly
How he could make dancing look so effortless as he did floors me. I never get tired of watching him.

Katherine Hepburn
Extraordinary comedienne and Strong Woman. To paraphrase another groundbreaker: "She was through with equality for women before the baby boom generation knew what to do with Equality for Women."

Audrey Hepburn
Her effect on me is just like Gene Kelly's. I forget everything when watching her.

Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn gives me hope in that she's probably the only true star I can think of who has similar body proportions to mine. It's hard to look like that in a culture that worships the heroin-addicted boy look. Her characters also tend to follow a common thread: that of a woman who, though of humble means and blonde hair, is no dumb bunny (I think of a lot of her humor as Bombshell Gracie Allen), has a good heart, and genuinely wants to improve herself. This resonates very deeply with me and is partly why I love her so much.

Katherine Deneuve and Jeanne Moreau
One is the architypical Ice Princess. The other has a more smouldering sort of sensuality. I tend to think of them as two sides of the same coin.
Time Warp

<1968>...Creatively and morally bankrupt...Creatively and morally bankrupt...< /1968>

Sorry, must have gotten hit over the head with a Godard stick or something.

On the subject, though, what is it about nearly everything out or slated to come out this summer being either a sequel or a remake of an old TV show? I've even heard rumors of a remake of Kurosawa's classic Ikiru starring Tom Hanks...say it isn't so! Please!
I'm more of a Fela or a Masekela fan myself. After spending two nights with an Orgy of Abdullah Ibrahim's mesmerising music, I was wondering how it would be to see him live.

Less than stellar, according to a disappointed Norm. That's too bad.