dual personalities

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“Was Ringo there?”*

So Kirk Douglas died–at age 103. He had quite a life. Rising from humble beginnings as “the ragman’s son,” he went to St. Lawrence University (where my DP’s DH teaches) where he was a division III wrestler, and became a movie star.

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Fun fact: in 2014, St. Lawrence University named its newest building and residential facility Kirk Douglas Hall. The residence hall also includes the popular Spartacus Café. What more could you want?

Well, I think Kirk Douglas wanted an Academy Award–one for acting, not for having a long career. He could have won for Lust for Life (1956)…

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…but that was the year of Yul Brynner in The King and I. It happens, although I don’t think Kirk was robbed. He just didn’t win. There’s a difference.

Anyway, this weekend we should all watch our favorite Kirk Douglas movies. And you know you have them. My favorite would be The War Wagon (1967) because John Wayne is in it.

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(Or you could watch Blazing Saddles where Gene Wilder parodies  Douglas’s western persona so well.)

I just watched The War Wagon recently, however, so it will have to be something else. I am thinking of watching Cast a Giant Shadow (1966) because I have never seen it (and John Wayne is in it and coincidentally, also Yul Brynner).

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So many decisions.

Speaking of the Academy Awards, I think they are on Sunday night. But who cares? I suggest watching one of the really great movies that did not win the Oscar for Best Picture–such as The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) or The Searchers (1956). I would even suggest watching a Kirk Douglas potboiler where he is giving 110% and chewing the scenery in a not-very-good movie, such as Gunfight at the OK Corral (1957) or The Vikings (1958). You’d get your money’s worth.

Have a good weekend!

*Kirk Douglas as Doc Holliday in Gunfight at the OK Corral.

Food for thought

For the past couple of weeks, this book has been calling to me from the shelf:

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It is a wonderful annotated selection of Emerson’s works that is as pretty to look through as it is inspiring to read. If I recall correctly, my DP aunt sent it to me the first Christmas that I was in graduate school.

il_794xn.1516765690_6fqpReading a paragraph or two of Emerson is always a good idea. Without further ado…

What I must do, is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.

–From “Self-Reliance”

Books are the best of things, well used; abused, among the worst. What is the right use? What is the one end which all means go to effect? They are for nothing but to inspire. I had better never see a book than to be warped by its attraction clean out of my own orbit, and made a satellite instead of a system. The one thing in the world of value, is, the active soul, — the soul, free, sovereign, active. This every many is entitled to; this every man contains within him, although in almost all men, obstructed, and as yet unborn. The soul active sees absolute truth; and utters truth, or creates. In this action, it is genius; not the privilege of here and there a favorite, but the sound estate of every man. In its essence, it is progressive. The book, the college, the school of art, the institution of any kind, stop with some past utterance of genius. This is good, say they, — let us hold by this. They pin me down. They look backward and not forward. But genius always looks forward.

— From “The American Scholar”

Dream delivers us to dream, and there is no end to illusion. Life is a train of moods like a string of beads, and, as we pass through them, they prove to be many-colored lenses which paint the world their own hue, and each shows only what lies in its focus. From the mountain you see the mountain. We animate what we can, and we see only what we animate. Nature and books belong to the eyes that see them. It depends on the mood of the man, whether he shall see the sunset or the fine poem. There are always sunsets, and there is always genius; but only a few hours so serene that we can relish nature or criticism. The more or less depends on structure or temperament. Temperament is the iron wire on which the beads are strung.

— From “Experience”

“When riches take wings and reputation fall to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens.”

Well, it’s Tuesday night and mid-MO is in the midst of another will-it-won’t-it Winter Storm. I left work at noon to run to Schnucks to restock my wine and chips because of course the predictions that previously called for winter weather Wednesday/Thursday shifted it to Tuesday/Wednesday this morning. I should never have less than a bottle in stock the way this winter is progressing.

As I’ve mentioned, one of the best things about my job is getting to see small Missouri towns and learning about what is important to the people who reside in them, the history of those towns, and the sometimes bizarre stories that become town and state lore.

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It was a brisk day. 

Last week, I travelled to Warrensburg, home of the University of Central Missouri Mules. This was a work trip and we had glam box lunches in a board room so we didn’t get to partake of the local dining in the town square. No palonzas for us in Warrensburg. However, our host insisted we make a pit stop to see the statue of Old Drum, Missouri’s Historical Dog.

Old Drum was a good dog who was shot by a neighbor angry about his dead sheep. A famous lawsuit and speech ensued, going all the way to the Missouri Supreme Court. I’m definitely not a dog person, and speeches like this make me want to roll my eyes, but I did like the statue.

I hope you click on that link and read the dramatic tale that is truly a story of love, betrayal, and revenge. Also, the drama did not begin and end with the dog–please also note that the lawyer who made the tear-jerker, made for tv movie speech about the dog, left Missouri to support the CONFEDERACY. You can not make this stuff up.

It could be a Reba McIntire song. That was the night the lights went out in MISSOURI.

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Any excuse for a Sugarbaker Woman gif.

 

A little fishing village where there are no phones

The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,

well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

–Billy Collins

Older readers will relate to this poem. I certainly do. Billy Collins wrote it when he was 58 and he is still going strong twenty years later, so take heart, right?

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In other news, my vestry retreat went well. It always helps when half the group stops at the Hofbrauhaus in Belleville, Illinois for happy  hour on the way to the retreat. (This is an Episcopal Church vestry after all.)

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I got home in time on Saturday to relax and recover, and on Sunday I got my laundry/ chores/puttering done. But I could definitely have used another day off. The wee babes came over for dinner with their parents and we had a merry time. At one point we were discussing the fact that the governor was in Florida for the Super Bowl and Lottie told me that her Noni and Papa (the other grandparents) were in Florida. I said, yes, I know. There are a lot of people in Florida. She looked at me and repeated what she had said, definitely with a tone.

I am a blockhead.

We did not watch the Super Bowl. Instead, after everyone had gone home, the OM and I watched The Matrix (1999) at the recommendation of the boy. I had never seen it! I enjoyed it, although I cannot say I really understood what was going on most of the time.Screen Shot 2020-02-03 at 1.43.34 PM.pngWell, I am trying to enjoy the warm spell we are experiencing until the next wintry mix assails us on Wednesday. Par for the course in flyover country!

Keep re-reading those books you’ve forgotten.

“We deliberately forget because forgetting is a blessing. On both an emotional level and a spiritual level, forgetting is a natural part of the human experience and a natural function of the human brain. It is a feature, not a bug, one that saves us from being owned by our memories. Can a world that never forgets be a world that truly forgives?”
― Tim Challies, The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digital Explosion

Painting by Jacob D. Wagner (American, 1852-1898)

“Everyone runs in her own way, or his own way. And where does the power come from, to see the race to its end? From within.”*

Did you have a good weekend?

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View from the Kennedy Center rooftop

The highlight of ours was seeing the Sleeping Beauty ballet at The Kennedy Center Opera House. We had given tickets to the show to DN’s parents (and ourselves) for Christmas and seeing the matinee was a genius choice. We had a lovely afternoon out and could still change into pajamas at home by 7 p.m.

We really loved the ballet — the Tchaikovsky performed by the house orchestra was a treat, and the National Ballet of Canada dancers were superb, from what I could tell. Everything seemed classic (no 21st-century updates, here!) and the sets were simple but quite impressive. I was happy to see lots of little girls, dressed up, who seemed to be taking it very seriously that they were at the ballet. For once, the crowd did not make me think, “People are the worst.”

As mentioned, we were in pajamas by 7 p.m., and I convinced DN to watch Chariots of Fire. While I’ve seen it many times, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen it as an adult, capable of paying attention (and appreciating it) the whole time.

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Not surprisingly, it was so good! I knew DN would love it, since it is about running, though of course it is more than just a “sports” movie. I was struck by how well the movie tells a story and develops characters who share a common goal but have different motivations. In that way, it reminded me a bit of Ford vs. Ferrari, or even Moby-Dick. Well, I enjoyed it. Plus, you know, you can’t beat the 80s synth music.

Now onto another week — in a new month! Hang in there. Run swiftly.

*Eric Liddell in Chariots of Fire

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need*

Those wonderful Romans of the late Republic and early Empire were a sophisticated lot. They had artistic talent

Garden fresco from Livia’s villa at Prima Porta

or at least the taste to recognize it.

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Although it was a turbulent time, some people had their priorities straight. Take Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC), for example. An old-school intellectual and statesman, he understood the importance of reading,

“Read at every pause; read at all hours; read within leisure; read in times of labor; read as one goes in; read as one goes out. The task of the educated mind is simply put: read to lead.”

and of books.

“For books are more than books, they are the life, the very heart and core of ages past, the reason why men worked and died, the essence and quintessence of their lives.”

He also realized that if the Republic were to last, its citizens must know their history.

“To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history?”

I could quote on and on, but you get my drift. Aside from technology, there’s nothing new under the sun — or at least not much new since Roman times. Unfortunately, the classics are no longer considered ‘relevant’ and have dropped out of most school curricula. Did they fill the resulting void with something equally wise and useful? I think not.

Why not get curious and read some of the Latin classics? There’s so much to choose from, including The Aenead, Caesar’s Gallic Wars, Catullus’ love poetry (not my thing), Livy’s History of Rome (wonderful, wonderful storytelling), Ovid’s Metamorphosis (kinky myths), Plautus’ comedies (middle Republic), and loads of stoic philosophy. In other words, there’s something for everyone. But if you don’t have any literature handy, you can always watch Gladiator, which, though not historically accurate, kind of gets the flavor right.

In any case, have a wonderful weekend!

*Cicero

 

 

Today is beautiful

Thinking positive!

I don’t know about you, but we have hardly seen the sun in January here in flyover country. They are saying it may come out on Sunday…That would be nice. It will be February!

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I guess the Super Bowl is coming up, and I guess I’ll root for the Chiefs since they are a Missouri team.

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The boy thinks that is sacrilegious or something. But he has still not gotten over the Rams moving to L.A. I probably won’t watch either.

It was Crazy Hair day at the wee babes’ school…

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The wee laddie wins I think.

Yesterday at work we had cake to celebrate the end of my cancer treatments!

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Wasn’t that  nice?

Do you have plans for the weekend? I am going on a retreat with the vestry at my church. I am the newest member since I was elected at the annual meeting last Sunday.

I know. I said I would never again after I went off the vestry 11 years ago. But never say never. It’ll be fine.

I thought this was good. I like Chris Stapleton, don’t you?

And, oh…

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27)

Thursday meme

Have you come across the #dollypartonchallenge? As we’ve discussed before, Dolly Parton is very cool right now, and her Instagram presence in particular is thriving. After she posted a version of the below (representing herself), celebrities followed suit in droves.

DN sent me the T. S. Eliot version this morning. “Is there is anything more blog-appropriate than Dolly Parton x T. S. Eliot content?” he asked. Hmm, not really. So there you have it — a slice of meme culture for your Thursday morning!

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“How about another bottle around? Jolly good idea.”

Well, I had plans to write a blog post about how I don’t understand the amount of alcohol consumed by characters in books and movies, but I couldn’t find the quotes I wanted. I’m reading The Sun Also Rises, so booze consumption is on the mind. I mean, I had two glasses of wine at a party ten years ago and I’m still described as so fun. We all know that is latin for lush.

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Pardon my french. 

That screengrab is making me laugh too hard. But I digress.

Jake Barnes aside, I’m also thinking about Jane and Dagobert in Delano Ames mysteries. And Nick and Nora in The Thin Man. I do not understand how these characters function, let alone function the next day. I mean just watching this montage makes me want a drink and gives me a headache. Regardless, Nick and Nora are the ultimate in style and over-drinking. They make me wish I drank martinis.

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I’ll have to remember this trick at work.

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And speaking of over-drinking, on Monday, I coerced my co-workers into crashing the photo op in the Governor’s Office with the Stanley Cup. It turned out our invitation had been lost in the mail. I was impressed because they said the trophy visited Springfield (I’m assuming at the Bass Prop Shop) and 6,000 people came. That’s a lot of non-St. Louisans!

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I think it is so nice when everyone in the picture is looking at a different camera.

Of course, I shudder to think of the inelegant drinking associated with that 37 pound trophy.

 

*The Sun Also Rises

“Go not to the Elves for counsel”*

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A good name is better than precious ointment;
and the day of death, than the day of birth.
It is better to go to the house of mourning
than to go to the house of feasting;
    for this is the end of all men,
and the living will lay it to heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter,
for by sadness of countenance the heart is made glad.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning;
but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise
than to hear the song of fools.
For as the crackling of thorns under a pot,
so is the laughter of the fools;
this also is vanity.
Surely oppression makes the wise man foolish,
and a bribe corrupts the mind.
Better is the end of a thing than its beginning;
and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
Be not quick to anger,
for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.
10 Say not, “Why were the former days better than these?”
For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.
11 Wisdom is good with an inheritance,
an advantage to those who see the sun.
12 For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money;
and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it.
13 Consider the work of God;
who can make straight what he has made crooked?

(Ecclesiastes 7: 1-13)

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“Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.”
― William Martin, The Parent’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents

“Sometimes it’s not enough to know what things mean, sometimes you have to know what things don’t mean.” –Bob Dylan

“Mark it, nuncle.
Have more than thou showest,
Speak less than thou knowest,
Lend less than thou owest,
Ride more than thou goest,
Learn more than thou trowest,
Set less than thou throwest,
Leave thy drink and thy whore
And keep in-a-door,
And thou shalt have more
Than two tens to a score.”
― William Shakespeare, The Fool in King Lear (Act 1, scene 4)

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Be prepared.

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*J.R.R. Tolkien