Saturday, February 28, 2009


I have encountered a piece of writing – sent to me by a beloved friend – which I wish to share here. It is very brief and it concerns animals. A gentleman named Henry Breston, of whom I know nothing, wrote it in 1928. And so it goes:
'We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from the universal nature and living by complicated artifice, a man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having form so far below ourselves. And therein we err and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complex than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.'
'They move finished and complete.'  Oh that I could say that of myself.  Amen.

Mac Snobs & Jobs

I am not a Mac snob. They exist, I know. I am not one. I couldn’t care less what type of computer operating system you choose, the brand name you’ve picked or the size of your RAM. Frankly, if you don’t own a computer I hold you in high regard on a number of levels. I own (or have purchased) an embarrassing number of computers since our first one sometime in the late 1980’s. It began with a fascination for this new gizmo that was once the size of a gymnasium but was now able to sit on a desktop – thus the name. It could calculate, catalogue, print, store, file and assist you with all manner of correspondence, bookkeeping and games. (Every family with a child was foolish if they had not purchased this most useful educational hardware to help their little brainiacs prepare to go to MIT.) That first computer we bought was a ‘no-name,’ - put-together-components built by a friend of a friend with Microsoft applications within a Personal Computer Operating System and it functioned quite well. Since then I have owned 2 Dells, 1 Gateway and an IBM. I can’t say that I disliked any of them although the all-in-one-color printer/fax/copy/toaster/microwave that came in the Dell bundle was simply awful. Anyway, just before the turn of the century (that has a new meaning for some of us, does it not) my attention turned toward those cute and colorful iMacs that appeared on the scene manufactured by Apple/MacIntosh. I bought one – a Blueberry – and I got hooked on the Mac Operating System. Since that initial ‘Mac’ purchase I have added an eMac, a MacBook for myself, a MacBook for our daughter and one of the more recent versions of the iMac desktop – an absolutely stellar computer – to our Apple arsenal. I continue to use all of them. The reason I even outline my brief and shallow history in the world of computers is this: I just went to The Apple Store in my neighborhood for assistance in repairing a software problem that was caused by operator error; I, of course, being the operator. Yesterday I logged onto their local web site and booked an appointment for 4:00 PM this afternoon. The store was packed when I arrived with about 40 individuals hanging around ‘The Genius Bar’ waiting to have a few minutes with the Mac Magicians. But I had an appointment. I arrived at 3:55 and as I approached the hapless and helpless masses one of the Geniuses announced, ‘Tom S – 4:00 PM appointment.’ I walked through the crowd, took a seat at The Genius Bar and felt prince-like. I explained my issue and the guy understood. He said, ‘This should not be a problem.’ Ten minutes later he had re-installed a whole bundle of software that I had managed to bungle. I asked him what I owed him and he said, ‘How about a handshake?’ That is customer service.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Cinematic Ass-Kickings

Okay, so I’m a guy. Frankly, I don’t cozy up to violence in film at all but there are two cinematic scenes that get me every time I watch them. The first is the whooping laid upon Marlon Brando in ‘On the Waterfront’ by the union thugs down at the docks. The second is the ass-kicking administered by Sonny Corleone to his brother-in-law after his repeated attacks on his sister in The Godfather. These are good fights, I think.  If you disagree or have something to add to the list please post your thoughts.  (Star Wars, Matrix, Harry Potter and Rocky films are not eligible.) 

Friday, February 06, 2009

Dissecting the Poem–9th Grade English–Mr. Biden, Room 2

Praise Song For the Day
Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others' eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. (We talk like our parents from places like here. Is that right, Mr. Biden? Is that wrong? Is that what she’s saying here? I think it is.
Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair. Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum, with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice. (I don’t get the boom box thing because are they recording onto that or playing something from it that they are copying like Ussher or Tribe?
A woman and her son wait for the bus. A farmer considers the changing sky; a teacher says, "Take out your pencils. Begin." We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, (like were pissed off or not pissed off?) whispered or declaimed; words to consider, reconsider. We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, "I need to see what's on the other side; I know there's something better down the road." We need to find a place where we are safe; we walk into that which we cannot yet see. (MR. BIDEN – I LOVE THIS LAST LINE!!!!)
Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of. (The picking cotton thing is about slaves, I guess. My grandfather worked on the railroad and my mother cleans buildings. I guess this is kind of for every body then.)
Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign; (I see people – mostly dirty men – on the street on the way to school that hold these signs about working for food. That is really well imagery because I see them.) The figuring it out at kitchen tables. (Like my dad with the bills?)
Some live by "Love thy neighbor as thy self." Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need. What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. (I hear all my life that love is like what it says here in church.) Love with no need to preempt grievance. (I don’t know what this means – sorry.
In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun. (THAT’S FOR SURE.) On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise song for walking forward in that light.
There are portions of this poem that I like a lot. One thing I noticed is that it doesn’t rhyme which I know is okay but I’ve always sort of liked poems that do. I’m not sure I can give it into one of the styles you asked about because it doesn’t seem to fit into any of them that you asked about. I have a feeling it was written because of our new president was elected and pronounced this week. I still really like that line about walking into what we cannot see. In conclusion I am so excited and glad that we read this poem. I only wish I understood it better and I only wish that it rhymed better and more.