Archive for November, 2008

A Thanksgiving Tale

November 30, 2008


“Now let us pray,” I said, and the blind man lowered his head. My wife looked at me, her mouth agape. “Pray the phone won’t ring and the food doesn’t get cold,” I said.

Ray Carver




“Look, he practically begged me to invite him. He’s alone, he’s lonely, but in truth, he’s a nice guy, we shoot the breeze now and then, he’s very smart. Once you get past the silly mustache…

“Yes, I did know he can be contentious…

“Yes, I did know he can be overbearing…”

“And he brought those horrid sausages.”

Well, yes.

“And that beer….”

Okay, yes.

“…which incidentally had everybody so blitzed there was no one to drive me to the hospital.”

Yes, true, but…


A short segment of a very long conversation I had with my sister after I committed the enormous faux pas of inviting Friedrich Nietzsche for Thanksgiving dinner.

Yes, I should have told her I was inviting a stranger, but it was a last minute thing. The man’s a famous philosopher, after all. Okay, a philologist. I still think it was more about turkey gravy in his mustache, then about what probably is a stupid idea—that which does not destroy me, makes me stronger. Sure, everybody had a little too much to drink, but that whole ‘grace thing’ my cousin May does every Thanksgiving set him off. It doesn’t mean that much to me. May wants to pray; I’m cool. But Friedrich Nietzsche…it’s obviously… you know, he’s made a name for himself, Mr. Anti-Christian.

“Father Sprit, blessed Jesus, Lord of the land, sea and air—please bless this table and those who sit in common communion at its portals…”

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Cathedrals in Spain

November 21, 2008

Pancake people?

The image is arresting: Pancake people. Yum. Melting butter, syrup dripping off the edge of the plate, coffee, sausages, the Sunday paper cracked open, Dick and Jane playing with Spot on the front lawn… Such an attractive metaphor—W e are pancake people. Doodle a little face with chocolate sauce and dig in.

mount-mike3aOkay, this is not what Richard Foreman has in mind when he writes about his new play The Gods are Pounding My Head in Edge. (New in 2005; and new to me; ideas are eternal, right?) Rather, he has something perplexing to tell us. ‘Pancake people’ is being contrasted with ‘cathedral people’ and it is the thinness of the pancake that he is emphasizing, not the sweetness of the experience. We as a people, he suggests, are being spread too thin by the very wealth of our resources, spread wide and thin as we connect with that vast network of information accessed by the mere touch of a button. Does this make sense? Pour water into an 8 ounce glass and the water will amount to a cool refreshing drink. Pour it into the ocean…

I come from a tradition of Western culture in which the ideal (my ideal) was the complex, dense and “cathedral-like” structure of the highly educated and articulate personality—a man or woman who carried inside themselves a personally constructed and unique version of the entire heritage of the West.

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Out of Sight

November 10, 2008

Okay class, there’s a surprise quiz today. Click here and no talking.

Time’s up. How did you do?

Now, I don’t know about you, but I ran out of common words rather quickly. Come, but, can, the, and, how, have…  I did okay for a while concentrating on the modal verbs, but my mind kept going to zebra and tilly—and ‘tilly’ isn’t much of word at all, is it? It can be a slang word for utility and it can refer to one Johann Tserclaes von Tilly, who was the general who commanded the Holy Roman Empire’s forces during the Thirty Years’ War. The Wikipedia has a nice article on the man, but I’m going to have a hard time working ‘tilly’ into my conversation. It ought to be a verb in any case.

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Black President

November 5, 2008

You know about Fela Kuti? In 1979 he ran for president—of Nigeria. He didn’t win, but in 1981 released one of the great albums, Black President. Itunes has it listened at The Best of the Black President. It might make a nice download today. Listen to Sorrow, Blood and Tears, and I.T.T. (International Thief Thief).

And congratulations to our first Hawaiian President…