Thursday, February 28, 2008

Straight, No Chaser

It’s a Monkish day: unpredictable,

all sharp edges, a bit jagged, fitful,

repetitive but beguilingly so.

A day to be taken straight, no chaser,

no buffer. A raw day, a risky one,

a day to seize chances and be shot down.

At any time – dawn, noonday, ‘round midnight –

nothing fits exactly, but melody

somehow survives, yes, even flourishes.

Looking for a key, a legend, a clear,

notated score? Well, you needn’t. The day

stops and starts but has a quirky rhythm

of its own, one that can be felt pulsing

beneath the dulling traffic of our lives.

Mike Mahany

Sunday, February 24, 2008


I just finished David McCullough's "1776; The illustrated Edition," my book club selection for February. I am no fan of historical non fiction and was not looking forward to reading this book. I got the illustrated edition as I felt the pictures would make the journey more interesting to me. What an unexpected treat. This book uniquely features not only pertinent paintings and illustrations of this historic year in U.S history, but has bound-in envelope packets containing reproductions of original maps, letters, and documents of the year. these are placed throughout the book as the story unfolds. From Richard III's proclamations, through Abigail Adams personal correspondence, to a battle map of Boston;, these reproductions enliven the whole story enough to make this account fascinating even to the reluctant. The most interesting part for me was the way McCollough personifies the notable "players," with insights as to their individual personalities. Like General Putnam "Puts" asking one of his soldiers to remove a rock in the road , getting the response, "Sir, I'm a corporal". "Well, in that case...," said Putnam; who then got out of his carriage and removed the rock himself. This is a colorful and a rare book that brings history to life.

Lisa See

Pal Debbie from California just checked in with a "heads up" on author Lisa See. One of her novels "Snow Flower and the Secret fan" was on their book club list this year and received almost universal acclaim. She has a new book "Peony in Love" due out in March in paperback. While unknown to me, I checked on internet, and find her writing in high regard, especially among women. Her accounts of life in 19th century rural China are historically researched and well written. I just ordered one and will keep you posted as I get to it in my "to read" pile.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Winter Passing

Last night’s cinematic diversion was “Winter Passing,” a little jewel of a story full of rich character development and human pathos. While sad and somewhat bleak, it isn’t a tear jerker; but rather a poignant tug of the heart. It is quirky and slow in unraveling ; but the story is worth the effort if you (as Ebert says) “listen” rather than “hear”.
The synopsis from “Rotten Tomatoes”:
Adam Rapp makes his impressive feature film directorial debut with WINTER PASSING, an intimate, often bleak, but ultimately hopeful film about the importance of family, however dysfunctional. Zooey Deschanel carries the movie as Reese Holdin, a sullen, depressed, self-mutilating actress struggling to stay afloat in New York. When an aggressive editor (Amy Madigan) offers her a fat check in exchange for the love letters written by her famous writer parents, she returns to her father’s Michigan farm in search of a payday, but instead finds herself trying to connect with her estranged father (Ed Harris), as well as the odd surrogate family he’s assembled for himself. Rapp’s script is sharp and his direction is solid, but his greatest achievement may be the performances he coaxes from his talented cast. Ed Harris is powerful and moving as Don Holdin (whose last name makes the Salinger reference explicit), an erstwhile American icon who’s become alcoholic, reclusive, and borderline insane since the recent suicide of his wife. Will Ferrell shows off unexpected range with an effective, understated comic turn as Corbit, an odd former Christian rocker turned bodyguard and handyman, and Amelia Warner is engaging as Shelly, a pretty young former student who watches over Don and might or might not be his lover. But it’s Deschanel who propels the movie, making her character at times profoundly unlikable--as in a jarring early scene in which she drowns her terminally ill kitten in the East River--but nevertheless riveting and redeemable. While there’s never much doubt that Reese will manage to rediscover herself with the help of her father and his companions, the characters are unique and well-drawn, and watching her do so is a pleasure.

Not an epic, but a wonderfully developed effort displaying the human condition; it’s worth a viewing investment.

Friday, February 22, 2008



When you travel the seas of life

Ensure you have worthy vessel to make the journey


Wishing is fishing
for the future
But the prey doesn’t stay
put in the pond

-Jerry Wendt

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Mark of a Man

It is fact that at the turn of the 20th century, for a brief time, there was a post impressionist painting style called “fauvism,” named after the French for “wild,” because it involved using bright colors with bold strokes. Henri Matisse (pronounced “on- ree’ mat’-ease” by the anal retentive eastern seaboard set) was credited for innovating this style when he painted a green stripe on the nose of his wife in a portrait of her.

It is conjecture that he planned a nice intimate dinner party with a roast in celebration of the event; but Madame Matisse; as you might see, was not a woman to be trifled with; upon seeing this painting, was heard to remark; “Let him eat cold Quiche;” giving rise to the expression “humble pie,” as well as casting doubt as to whether Henri was a real man.

It is fact that the couch recovered from his studio was well worn.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Failed Ventures

Poised to make a million
Selling Britney Spears
On Ebay.

Until realizing
She doesn’t wear any.

Jerry Wendt


Crusts of Ice
Stony frozen earth
And a lone crocus
Proclaims right to life
With purple golden trumpet

Jerry Wendt

Bloody lemons

Bloody lemons

Cutting lemons
Sipping wine
A 22 year old boy soldier killed in Iraq
Guilt is born again
But life goes on
Cutting lemons
Sipping wine
While somewhere a Mother grieves
Jerry Wendt

Sunday, February 17, 2008

RUN to the bookstore! Seriously.

If you love lingering over books and savoring sentences, you must pick up Ex Libris - Confessions of a Common Reader. As one reviewer notes, Anne Fadiman's essays are extended love letters to language. It's true ~ each one drips with adoration for the beauty of language and words. I've been enjoying this book little by little, parsing it out in small bits to make it last. And I haven't been disappointed. It's worth being a miser for this little gem.

Musical? Drama? What?

This is the year of the musical -- Jersey Boys, the innovative movie, "Once", the tiny-bopper "High School Musical." And now there's "Romance and Cigarettes."

"Romance and Cigaretrtes" is comedy, drama, satire, love story AND musical, nudged and coaxed by J0hn Turturro into two strange and rewarding hours. Our jaded crowd gaffawed with disbelief and pleasure as surprise after surprise spun from the DVD. The credits read like a "who's who" of film (Susan Sarendon, James Gondolfini, Mary Louise Parker, Christopher Walken, Steve Buscemi, Kate Winslet, Elaine Stritch, Amy Sideris and more).

Read Roger Ebert's review, then see this truly original film with friends and a bottle or two of good wine. After all, laughter is contageous.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Let the spirit move you!

Following in the spirit of leading with a question...

You've heard of body surfing and the wave, but how about a Body Wave? I just signed up for a movement meditation called Body Wave on March 15th in Baltimore. Based on the work of Gabrielle Roth and the 5Rhythms, the Body Wave will be an opportunity for participants to move thier body with attention to the five rhythms of Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical and Stillness.

Having never participated in one of these workshops before, I'm not exactly sure what to expect, although the names of the 5Rythms offer a glimpse. What I am looking forward to, though, is the opportunity to move! It's been a long, stiff winter of little or no movement for me. Finally, I'm starting to feel the bubbling up of springtime in my blood. (Obviously, this is easier to do in a climate that allows crocus to bloom in January ~ lucky me!) I'm looking forward to letting loose and moving in connection with Spirit, the Divine, G-d (no "o" in deference to my Jewish friends), or whatever terminology you use to call the spirit that moves inside of you.

The workshop promises the opportunity to "pay attention to our bodies, to the parts where we release and the parts where we resist, where we revolt and where we remove, where we reveal and where we revel." Bring it on! I for one am ready to "move a little further into the mystery."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

"Slings and Arrows" is just plain fun.

A television review in an "arty" blog? . Yes! “Slings and Arrows,” is not only creative, fresh and funny. The program also relishes the theatre and the spoken word. This Chicago Tribune link gives you all the details. Be sure to rent Season One, Disks One and Two together. They contain the six shows that comprise the entire first season, and if you’re like I was, you’ll watch them all back to back. You’ll be astounded that something this good is actually on commercial TV.