December 2009

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I just finished this complex fiction based on truth, The Semantics of Murder, by Aifric Campbell, a young Irish writer living in England. John Kelly sent the book as an Xmas gift and wants to compare notes; he bought an extra copy for himself.

It’s about two brothers 18 years apart in age and a mother who loves only one, and it’s also based on a real murder that happened to a brilliant professor of philosophy and language by the name of Richard Montague. The younger (unloved) brother, Jay, becomes a psychoanalyst and is scoffed at by the older (loved) brother, Robert, who is deep into mathematical analysis of language and has become famous, although controversial, in his field (similarly to Richard Montague). He’s also a risk taking homosexual and this is in the 1950’s and 60’s, risky times for gays. This is what gets him killed. Jay eschews science and prefers art, the exact opposite of his brother Robert. In fact Jay writes a book of short stories based on his sessions with clients. Jay too has become highly respected in his field, that is, before he gets to publishing his short stories. When one of his former clients actually lives out her story things go rapidly downhill for Jay.

At the end you realize that neither science nor art, neither medication nor the “talking cure” can save certain people from themselves. Medication can at least keep these people from self-destruction, at the price of a loss of personality.

PS. The Semantics of Murder website is worth checking out. You’ll be greeted by a video of a young person on a bike (represents Jay when young checking Robert’s disappearances) with captions spelling out “the end is where we start from”. (Quote from T.S. Eliot) On the site there’s a link to another video: the book in 36 seconds. Plus there’s lots of info on the lovely author.

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Time Marches On

Yes, that’s the old saw. Everyone agrees with that. But here it is Christmas morn and I’m free for a bit to write a note or two here for posterity.

We had a great Xmas eve service last eve at the Norway UU church. Big attendance. Lots of enthusiasm. Well led by Richard. Coherent and non-stressed candle light service at the end. And I had fun belting out the carols. Heather had me do a little jazzy ah men after it was over. Gad, do I love her!

Got to thinking, as perhaps I do every Xmas time, about the years past, about the people who brought me up. My mother, father, and the aunts and uncles, cousins. During the 1930’s and 40’s we had those great old Christmas get togethers at Aunt Marjorie’s or Bernice’s place. There was the long motor ride in to one of them on Xmas day. My mother liked to count the Xmas trees in windows on the way. I was the hero to my girl cousins. The adults would chatter away and laugh. They’re all gone now, except for three of the cousins.

Where are we going? I’ll be 81 next month and how many years will there be? But I’ll enjoy every last bit of it, even though I’m concerned at the moment about my upcoming cataract operations, my necessary pause on the Coumadin, and Cynthia’s cognitive problems re numbers and planning.

Today around 1pm, Kate and Don, Clarissa, Sean and Nick will all arrive for our opening of presents and our consuming of mammoth fish chowdah! Kate is doing the chowdah. We’ll open the presents from 1 to 2pm, then have the chowdah. We did a modified Yankee swap this year, thanks to a suggestion by Eryn, who with Nat can’t be here because this year they’re at Eryn’s parents. I drew Clarissa in the swap and got her a coffee maker. Also, I’ve purchased a bunch of small items, stocking stuffers, which will satisfy the needs of people to open presents. We’ll see how it goes. Should be fun.

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OK, I finally cut loose after lunch today on that Christmas Song and feel better about it. I think it’s getting under my skin, as it were, meaning it’s becoming part of me like “When the Night Wind Howls” is part of me. But still, I’m not quite there yet with it. Have another week to go before our Dec. 20th concert so, hopefully, that should give me time to really nail it down.

Thought I would put my snow shoes on this afternoon and go for a hike down back. But when I faced the outdoors with its wicked wind and icy coldness, I said the hell with it and came back inside. No use of torturing myself. I’ll wait for a better day. (Maybe we’ll have rain and then a freeze so I can walk on top of the snow?)

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Let us introspect a bit. The purpose of this blog is? Answer in 25 words or less. OK, it’s to say whatever I please AND preserve it for posterity. I’ll provide slices out of time and thought. OK, why don’t I start doing that? Here goes.

We got some fairly substantial snow on Wednesday with a prediction of high winds which didn’t materialize until yesterday, Friday. When I went out Thursday morning to start the snow thrower, the electric start conked out on me. Panic! Kate was out on the road when it happened. She may have told Don. But I called him anyway and also called Carol Rhodes. Had a good talk with her and she said she’d get Jeff. So, a little while later there was Don, and then Jeff. Don managed to start the thing by rope pulls and Jeff with his scooper tractor cleared out the front of the driveway. So, it wasn’t much longer before our driveway was nice and clear….. Over and out. Good.

What else?

I’ll need to sing “The Christmas Song” at our Dec. 20th choir concert. I have the words memorized but there are a couple places where I’m having difficulties with the tune. Not too serious, but still. Also, the song is a bit on the high side for me, so, I’ll need lots of good breath. I should be practicing the thing here at home but it tends to bother Cynthia, or I think it does. Today I really should sing it out a few times in any case.

The world?

Was reading Charles Blow’s Op-Ed in the NYT this morning. Here’s the first sentence:

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released a report on Wednesday that is bound to stir conversation about the increasingly complicated cacophony of spirituality in America — a mash-up of traditional faiths, fantasy and mythology.

Yup, the New Agers are on a tear. Here’s his last sentence:

Cue the harps, and the sitars, and the tablas, and the whale music.

Pretty good, huh? I hope I’m not leaving the impression that I approve of this New Age crap because I don’t. I think the New Agers are nuts.

And here I am reading Karen Armstrong’s “The Case for God”, and listening to her being interviewed by Bill Moyers and Terry Gross. I even put a comment into somebody’s comment on her book in Amazon. Why don’t I reproduce that thing I wrote here? OK.

I haven’t finished the book but have been listening to Armstrong being interviewed by Bil Moyers and Terry Gross. But what I have gathered so far is that God is not a “thing” at all but a wonderment, a mystery, and a need. Ha Ha Ha How stupid, huh? Well, of course, I’m stupid and naive, but I believe it gets back to the Why are we here? question in the sense that nothing might have been here. Get that? The connection between this and the mere “Golden Rule” which she espouses as the most important thing anyone of us can practice is what I’m interested in understanding. I do favor the empathy and the attempt to put oneself in the others’ place, i.e., the “Golden Rule”, and I’ve affirmed her Charter of Compassion. But I’m further intrigued by her concepts of the ultimate mysteries. God?

I probably shouldn’t have included Ha Ha Ha How stupid, huh? Well, of course, I’m stupid and naive, but oh well, it’s there now.


More later on him. That’s it for now.

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I can’t believe this! This here blog of mine is being inundated with Pearl Harbor searchers. Over 350 visitors so far today. Of course none of them leaves a comment. But that’s OK.

Did I say in this blog somewhere where I was on Pearl Harbor Day, December 7th, 1941? Maybe I did mention it, and of course I have other stuff on that “Day of Infamy” on this blog that evidently people are finding.

Anyway, I remember being in our living room in our little house in Westford, Mass., and hearing H. V. Kaltenborn report the “dastardly attack” by those Japs on Pearl Harbor. My mother was there with me in front of our big old radio in the corner of our living room. My father came home later and I believe we were still listening.

UPDATE: I checked my own blog here and I see that I had links to recordings of people on the street and some photos. This was just two years ago today, December 7, 2007. This can be found easily using the Archives feature on this blog, that is, if anyone gives a shit. aHaHaHaHa

I still remember that old song, “Remember Pearl Harbor!” that was popular during the 1940’s. It keeps running through my head even to this day. Amazing, eh? aHaHaHaHa

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Just read the latest NYT Op-Ed by my buddy, Uwe Reinhardt. See Paying for Health Care (and War, by the Way).

He mentions that David R. Obey, a Democrat from Wisconsin, has introduced the Share the Sacrifice Act of 2010.

All this does is call for an explicit war surtax to pay for our continuing wars. Not a bad idea, is it? (I bet Frank Zappa would agree.)

If we’re all going to have to pay for every last cent of Health Care Reform, why don’t we all also pay for every last cent of our wars instead of letting only the military families bare the burden?


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If you can’t rant where can you cant? What kind of cant is a rant? Or can a cant become a rant with a slight change in emphasis? Or is a rant already a cant? I cant believe I wrote this rant! :shock:

(Where’s Frank Zappa when you need him?)

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