Sunday, January 22, 2017

Peaceful In Chicago

From what I can tell, the march of women went peacefully here. Some traffic laws were probably broken, some parade permits probably ignored, but none of this burning and breaking that was perpetrated in other towns. Basically a bunch of people gathered in a park then wandered around downtown for a while on a pleasant Saturday.

Our murder rate has been the talk of the nation, lately.
So the peacefulness of this march pleases me greatly.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Peaceful Transfer of (Way Too Much) Power

I have to admit, I was amused by this:

"Here’s the thing: I’m a libertarian. I’ve been surrounded by people who don’t agree with me for as long as I can remember and it has never occurred to me to isolate myself from everyone because of our political differences. Certainly not to assault them. Nor am I filled with anxiety by the thought that people who work in my home might have different political views than mine. To me, you’re all a bunch of fascists. But I’ve somehow learned to live with you."

On the other hand, as Tom Wolfe so pithily put it:

“The dark night of fascism is always descending in the United States and yet lands only in Europe.”

Here I am, at 64, with more faith in my country than a lot of my countrymen seem to have. I don't think this will be the end of freedom here. I think Americans love freedom in their hearts, even when they embrace theories and politicians with tyrannical leanings. And I think James Madison gave them a written constitution that still, after two centuries, gives them the ability to protect freedom.

When I say that Americans love freedom in their hearts, that's a metaphor, that's metonymy, using a body part to stand for a whole self.

As Rand wrote:

'An American is an independent entity. The popular expression of protest against "being pushed around," is emotionally unintelligible to Europeans, who believe that to be pushed around is their natural condition. Emotionally, an American has no concept of service (or of servitude) to anyone. Even if he enlists in the Army and hears it called "service to his country," his feeling is that of a generous aristocrat who chose to do a dangerous task. A European soldier feels that he is doing his duty.'

I think the two-party system has its strengths, and that even though both parties have deep faults, it's important to rotate them periodically. It may not be the best method of self-rule, but it's what we've got.

This president is definitely giving me a science-fiction vibe. I under-estimated the man's ability to get elected. I don't feel that I really understand him, but he does remind me of people I knew when I lived in Queens, which is where he grew up. He's a familiar sort of character in that respect.

My countrymen do not always do what I think is sensible. They have their peculiar enthusiasms. But I grew up with them, I live with them, and on the whole I love their company, those of both parties, and those of no party at all.

Although I'm concerned and a bit perplexed,
I'm waiting to see what happens next.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Breaking Out The Costumes

Big Daddy and Big Mama
Rehearsing the Williams drama.

Tech Week starts this coming Monday, but we finally put on costumes yesterday. That's Wina Shelley and Ken Evans in the photo, and Wina is looking very distressed.

Big Daddy is a rich man
With the manners of a peasant
And when he thinks he's lied to
He's ferociously unpleasant.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Who Will Quit?

I read a report about a survey saying that a quarter or so of the federal workforce might consider quitting due to unhappiness with the Donald.

I think it's like the celebrities who threatened to move to Canada.

I'm not losing any sleep.
Talk is cheap.

Monday, January 16, 2017

A Request

Alif Muhammad made a firm request:
That my next versifying post should be
Iambic, with five feet, since that's the best
Of all the meters found in poetry.
It's what Will Shakespeare used, at any rate,
In Hamlet and the Comedy Of Errors,
And English teachers swear those worked out great.
So let me join the valiant standard-bearers!
I write this in pentameter - I hope!
At least I write it in approximation
Of rhythms used by Wordsworth, Keats, and Pope.
Each turned vague thoughts into an exploration
Of beauty, truth, and how the human soul
Can somehow, through minutiae, grasp the whole.


Now that Bob Dylan
has won the Nobel,
Will Paul Simon be next?
No one can tell.

But it just occurred to me that two of his famous songs make reference to prophetic wall writing.

Early big hit:

"The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls"

And years later:

"When I think back
On all the crap I learned in high school
It's a wonder
I can think at all
And though my lack of education
Hasn't hurt me none
I can read the writing on the wall"

So, was the second a reference to the first?

That was my "duh!" of the day.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Pitch Accent

Japanese has something we call "pitch accent". And when I say, "we", I mean people who know something about it, which actually excludes me.

Somehow it's different than the "tones" in Chinese.

Japanese has words which are the same two syllables, but mean distinctly different things when you pronounce them with different pitches.

"Hashi" can mean chopsticks, bridge, or edge, depending upon pitch.

We have some roughly parallel things in English, having to do with accent or emphasis. "Conduct" can be a verb or a noun, spelled the same, but pronounced differently: "He was supposed to conduct the school orchestra, but was expelled for bad conduct."

English isn't easy - at least that's what I've heard.
But somehow babies learn it, so I fear this view's absurd.
Best of all, it doesn't contain a single foreign word.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Waiting For The Call

I hear we're going to have a celebrity-lite inauguration.

I have to admit, I'm not a big fan of the inaugural fuss that has ballooned over the years, and I haven't paid it much attention. I mostly remember that Robert Frost read a poem at Kennedy's inauguration, and that Maya Angelou read one at somebody else's.

Trump has not yet invited me
To his inauguration.
I'd gladly write some poetry
For this divided nation.
I'll even do it all for free
With perfect punctuation,
But maybe one obscenity
To cause a big sensation.

Doc Baugh Softens

Doc Baugh's role in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof is not a big one, and functionally he's kind of like a messenger in a Greek tragedy, the guy who delivers the bad news. In this case, the bad news is that Big Daddy has terminal cancer.

I find my portrayal of him, in our new production, is different than last time. I don't think it's so much that my interpretation has changed. I think it's that everybody around me has changed.

In the prior production, Big Mama seemed less willing to accept my bad news - seemed ferociously in denial - and I countered by being ferociously assertive.

A friend of mine, commenting on my performance, said something like: "Well, everyone else was being an a-hole, so why shouldn't you be one too?"

With changes of cast, you must
Let your self adjust.