That’s me. My name, spelled out by the reservations clerk over the phone last week.
It could also be the Julie Roberts character line in Larry Crowne. Campus lush to Juliette luscious in two easy hours of movie magic.
Or, make it a writing challenge: use whisky-echo-bravo-echo-romeo in a song set in Dodge City 1848, sans cliché. Good luck.
In times past, members of the masses, those with very little clout to start with, were neatly packed in God and Country. These two cellophanes remain, reminding us to be humble, idealistic and resigned. We work, we pray, we soldier on.
Artists are the ones we get to gawk at.
I was born in Cincinnati. My father sang Barbershop and made sure the local pool got built. Mom taught me to paint and read and how to make puppet plays and beautiful cakes. Mrs. Wynn showed me how to make mistakes. I taught myself to dream.
Gramma carried Europe on her tongue and pitted cherries for Swiss pies. Grampa built his stone house under white pines and taught his sons construction.
My mother’s standard answer when complimented on her cooking was, ‘I just use good recipes.’ As though, with the right recipe, tasty food just makes itself.
When we listen (click on the player above) to Edward R Murrow's November 1939 broadcast, we find ourselves in London's underground Central Control Station of its Air Raid Precaution System. Americans of his day hung on Murrow’s disembodied words. In well conjured worlds, our minds decouple from literal time and space.
In 1941, poet Archibald MacLeish praised Edward R. Murrow for his overseas radio reporting during World War II. He said Murrow had destroyed a superstition:
'...the most obstinate of all superstitions - the superstition against which poetry and all the arts have fought for centuries, the superstition of time and distance.'
David Halberstam, The Powers That Be
This morning, mired in the laws of physics, I drove 39 minutes and 26.33 miles to Strongsville to ply children with songs and stories. Once we got going, we abandoned the here and now. No one stopped me from shepherding forty campers to a river in West Africa where Turtle was teaching Anansi to fish.
We are children of story. Are we born en route to untethered regions; do we learn the language of fact only when asked?
Babies can’t think outside the box because, for them, there is no box. It’s all inside - everything. That’s what I gather from a Boston Globe look Inside the Baby Mind.
Person in flow: completely involved in what we are doing - focused, concentrated
Baby: utter absorption in the moment
Person in flow: A sense of serenity - no worries about oneself and a feeling of growing beyond the boundaries of the ego
Baby: incredibly aware of what's happening - experiences are very vivid - not self-conscious at all
Because of an undeveloped prefrontal cortex, babies lack the ability to filter. They absorb whatever comes their way, voracious egalitarians.
And flow is not just the province of babies and creatives. Consider the study of adult brain states when captivated by a work of art. Scans of viewers engrossed in a Clint Eastwood movie showed patterns of activity where their prefrontal cortexes were suppressed, similar to those of jazz musicians in the midst of improvisation:
The scientists compare this unwound state of mind with that of dreaming during REM sleep, meditation, and other creative pursuits, such as the composition of poetry.
Jonah Lehrer Boston Globe
You don’t have to be making something yourself to experience flow. If the art is engrossing enough, you can get your flow on from the peanut gallery.
This might explain why a listening audience can infuse live performance with flow-on-steroids, amping up the unwound state of mind for creators and receivers of music. We are enabling each others’ childlike openness to new experience.
A Laker’s fan to a radio man on how he feels about his team:
“I get so excited, I got butterflies down my neck!”
Poetry in picturesque places gives me a longing for life, well within and far beyond reach.
Mary, a mother, wife, friend to all, passed away this week. She was to me a distant acquaintance whose life, I thought, would purr along into peaceful old age. She was a true mensch.
We know there are all kinds of people, right? On the one extreme you have the teams-of-one variety, who suck the living daylight out of you to focus it on them. Longevity teaches you to move to warmer climes. Which doesn’t take too long if you’ve met a class act, like Mary. Such a person lays out a blanket big enough for you and all your weary bones; you stand there dripping on her generosity; she beams at you from someplace peaceful, ego free. And the light she brings is everywhere.
You carry this to the next place, and the next, and in the course of time, you learn how to be a more hospitable soul.
In The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, a lovely film in many ways, the old-young boy asks why people have to die. “So we know how much they mean to us,” the answer comes. This is cold comfort. Given a choice, I’d rather bumble along with my loved ones, imprecisely prescient of their preciousness than, suddenly enlightened, find them gone.
So much for Hollywood treacle. I don’t want death, or Hallmark, to line my cloud with silver. But death is, I think, in some careful ways, a gift.
Is piracy a lost art, recently revived by industrious Somalis and Wall-Streeteers?
Pirates are bold, adventurous, swash buckling advocates of social change. So far, so good. Except for the nature of change they seek, amounting to millions in cash delivered to their treasure vaults. They're in it for the booty (not the beauty).
I complimented a swimmer on his elegant stroke yesterday, to which he replied, 'Elegance doesn't win races.'
'Why do swimmers compete with speed instead of style?' I asked him.
'You can't measure style,' he said.
Lately I've been out on the deep blue sea of Drupal, the content management software that makes a site like this possible. Setting up a podcast within the site is not a streamlined process, but the elegance of having it here keeps me going. When I get this entrenched in something I have no business learning (I studied theology and nursing, not computer science) I have to ask, 'what's the payoff?' Clearly, it's not about dollars, euros or Somali shillings.
Then, of course, I need look no further than the latest inspiring bit of art to remember this: technical skill is the life blood of any artist. Without it, the necessary work of art dangles in thin air, without a clue.
When you capture my imagination, you liberate my soggy brain. Like sheets alive on the line outside, my mind is scrubbed with wind and sun.
Not so with other kinds of capture. Last year, Obama and McCain swung through the swing states touting 'clean' coal to supply half the electricity of the nation. Superhero technology to clean up coal-fired plants involves carbon capture. In theory, dirty CO2 emissions get pumped 2 miles underground where they do no harm. Unless a seismic shift creates fissures leading up up and away into your basement, to kill you with odorless, poisonous fumes.
It’s never been tested here. Florida and other states refuse to indemnify coal companies against potential law suits. So ‘clean’ coal technology lies dormant, a futuristic maybe that power plants and politicians use to their advantage.