Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I'm just sayin’...

Feedjits Live Traffic Feed, that thingy in the sidebar over there that keeps track of all the comings and goings on this blog just like the station announcer in the good old days ("Now departing on track 54, the Silver Zephyr to Palm Springs with intermediate stops in Anaheim, Azusa, and Cucamonga.  Now arriving on track 29, from Pennsylvania Station in New York City, the Chattanooga Choo-Choo.") makes perfect sense sometimes.

Example:  Bay Shore, New York arrived from google.com on "rhymeswithplague: Welcome, sweet Springtime, we greet thee in song!" by searching for welcome sweet springtime song.

Sometimes it makes a certain kind of topsy-turvy sense.


And sometimes, dear hearts and gentle people, even if if you hold your tongue just so, squint, and contort your face into an expression that would put you in the running to play Long John Silver in a remake of Treasure Island,  it makes absolutely no sense at all.

Example:  Hanoi, Dac Lac arrived from google.com.vn on "rhymeswithplague: I’m Three! (on September 28th)" by searching for New England restaurants.

I suppose that last one proves the law of unintended consequences.  On second thought, though, I shouldnt point the finger at Feedjit.  It isnt really Feedjits fault.  Feedjit merely displays the results of the searching, the seeking, the wandering journeys of -- wait for it -- Google.

Somewhere deep in Googles innards, my friends, with apologies to Master Will Shakespeare, something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

Im just sayin....

Monday, September 27, 2010

I’m Three! (on September 28th)

...or rather, my blog is. So just two short years from now, on my blogaversary or my blogiversary or whatever it should be called, I can post the following:

Barbra Streisand singing (among other things) “I'm Five!”

An oddity regarding that clip is that at the end of the song “I’m Five” on her 1965 television special My Name Is Barbra Barbra said “on August 29th” but on her 33-1/3 RPM (revolutions per minute) LP (long-playing) vinyl recording also called My Name Is Barbra she said “on April 24th” and it turns out that the latter is her actual birthday.

Because it’s always all about her, her, her just as this blog is all about me, me, me.


I think Barbra may be older than five in that particular picture.

Actually, I hope I have dispelled the notion that this blog is all about me, me, me over the course of the last three years. The truth is that without you, you, you this blog is just so many words. So Barbra will just have to wait her turn.

Here instead, from 1961, are the Ames Brothers singing “You, You, You.”

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

All things being equal, the sun can be mean, but it does have its ups and downs.

Today or tomorrow (depending on where you live) is the autumnal equinox in the northern hemisphere and, I suppose, the vernal equinox in the southern hemisphere. It occurs at 11:09 p.m., September 22nd, in the U.S. Eastern Time Zone, which is already September 23rd in most of the rest of the world.

For your cultural enrichment and equinoctial reading pleasure, here are some little-known facts. Note that I do not call them trivia:

* The traditional East Asian calendars divide a year into 24 solar terms (节气, literally “climatic segments”), and the vernal equinox (Chūnfēn, Chinese and Japanese: 春分; Korean: 춘분; Vietnamese: Xuân phân) and the autumnal equinox (Qiūfēn, Chinese and Japanese: 秋分; Korean: 추분; Vietnamese: Thu phân) mark the middle of the spring and autumn seasons, respectively. In this context, the Chinese character 分 means “(equal) division” (within a season).

* In Japan, (March) Vernal Equinox Day (春分の日 Shunbun no hi) is an official national holiday, and is spent visiting family graves and holding family reunions. Similarly, in September, there is an Autumnal Equinox Day (秋分の日 Shūbun no hi).

* Wiccans and many other Neopagans hold religious celebrations of “Ostara” on the spring equinox, and “Mabon” on the autumnal equinox.

* The September equinox marks the first day of Mehr or Libra in the Iranian calendar. It is one of the Iranian festivals called Jashne Mihragan, or the festival of sharing or love in Zoroastrianism.

* In Korea, Chuseok is a major harvest festival and a three-day holiday celebrated around the Autumn Equinox.

* The Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, oftentimes near the autumnal equinox day, and is an official holiday in China and in many countries with a significant Chinese minority. As the lunar calendar is not synchronous with the Gregorian calendar, this date could be anywhere from mid-September to early October.

* The traditional harvest festival in the United Kingdom was celebrated on the Sunday of the full moon closest to the September equinox.

* The September equinox was “New Year’s Day” in the French Republican Calendar, which was in use from 1793 to 1805. The French First Republic was proclaimed and the French monarchy was abolished on September 21, 1792, making the following day (the equinox day that year) the first day of the “Republican Era” in France. The start of every year was to be determined by astronomical calculations following the real Sun and not the mean Sun.

Thank you, Wikipedia. After reading all of that, I feel like going off on a tangent, so I will, in a manner of speaking.

Here, from 1931, is Ruth Etting, star of stage and the silver screen, singing “Shine On, Harvest Moon.”

Finally, here is your science lesson for today. We all know that the moon does not shine at all; it just reflects sunlight. But if this is the earth (and it is):


and the little boy in the picture below represents where the sun is directly overhead at noon on the first day of autumn, that is, the Tropic of Capricorn, and the little girl represents where the sun is directly overhead at noon on the first day of spring, that is, the Tropic of Cancer, then the seesaw, if it were horizontal, would represent the equator, and the children would represent the first day of summer and the first day of winter.


Aren’t you glad I cleared that up?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A lot can happen in a hundred years (by guest blogger Billy Ray Barnwell)

Billy Ray Barnwell here, I’m sure it will prolly come as no surprise to you, but a lot can happen in a hundred years, and each and every year is memorable for various reasons, take 1901 for example, in that year A the queen of England, Queen Victoria, died after a long reign and B President William McKinley was assassinated in the United States and C the recent end of a war with Spain brought the formerly Spanish territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippine Islands under U.S. control, but as often happens headlines in one century wind up as mere footnotes in the next and by The Year of Our Lord 2001, which is what A.D. which is short for Anno Domini means in our old friend the Latin language, it turned out that A Victoria’s name, when it was mentioned at all, was usually followed by the word “secret” and B the mountain in Alaska named for Mr. McKinley had been called Denali for some time to please the Inuit population and C persons of Hispanic descent, far from being conquered, had become America’s largest minority group. Like I said, a lot can happen in a hundred years. Consider the case of Palm Beach County, Florida, which a hundred years ago didn’t even exist on a map, it was just the northern portion of a very large Dade County (think Miami). Even forty years ago, traffic practically evaporated in South Florida at the end of the winter tourist season, why a person could just about lie down in the middle of U.S. 1 and take a nap, a person might even see crabs crossing highway A-1-A (please, no cracks about your Aunt Mabel and Uncle Claude in Boynton Beach). By 2001, however, discussions about Palm Beach County were not about the increase in automobiles or the decline in crabs but about the disputed 2000 presidential election between Vice President Al Gore of Tennessee and Governor George W. Bush of Texas, well you may not want to believe it, but a hundred years from now people may not care about the role Florida played in the 2000 election, they may not know what a butterfly ballot was, they may not have any idea what chads, dimpled or otherwise, were because for better or worse, life does go on, as proof let me ask you this question, when was the last time you became apoplectic over the 1876 election between Samuel Tilden and Rutherford B. Hayes? Anyways, I wrote a poem called “The Ballad Of Palm Beach County (Centennial Edition, Annotated)” which you will be reading shortly which may make you smile or laugh or even cry, but I hope it will make you think about some other things as well, such as A the historical inaccuracies that sometimes creep into what passes for scholarly research and B the arrogance and self-assumed superiority of some researchers and C the way some people blindly accept as fact whatever is presented to them and D the enormous chasm between the haves and have-nots in our society and E the false impression of us that future generations may have and maybe even F the ever-so-remote possibility that our own impression of previous generations may not be entirely accurate. I realize that’s a lot to ask one poem to do, but hope still manages to spring eternal in the human breast, to coin a phrase. Whatever your reaction turns out to be, I now send my poem forth into the world, along with two more hopes, G that it will give you pleasure, pause, and enough food for thought to make a meal and H that its purpose, unlike the remains of the Key Biscayne Zoo, does not remain a mystery.


The Ballad Of Palm Beach County
(Centennial Edition, Annotated)


[Note to reader: Research by anthropologists and archaeologists at the National Archives indicates that these are the original lyrics sung by the great Nathaniel and Wyoming, the Joads, in 1994. To get an idea of what late twentieth-century audiences must have experienced, read through the entire song once, ignoring the footnotes. Then, read the song again, this time referring to the footnotes. In so doing, you will understand better the song’s many obscure references, and you will also be in compliance with President Lopez-Walesa’s executive order.]


Oh, Burt Reynolds(1) has a ranch in Palm Beach County,
And Jack Nicklaus(2) sells new cars in Delray Beach(3),
Cubans migrate north from Dade, but the people in Belle Glade
Know that livin’ in the fast lane’s out of reach.

Perry Como(4) owns a mansion in Tequesta,
And Rose Kennedy’s(5) forgotten how to die,
Lots of money down in Boca(6) is derived from leaves of coca,
But the people in Belle Glade go home and cry.

For the people in Belle Glade get mighty tired
Of workin’ in the cane fields(7) all day long,
And the children pray(8) that Daddy won’t get fired,
And they pray that God(9) will keep their Mama strong.

Oh, the snowbirds(10) come and go each spring and autumn,
And Rose Kennedy just turned one hundred five;
And they call their banks from condos while the symphony plays rondos,
But in Belle Glade people fight to stay alive.

All the fishing boats go out on Okeechobee(11),
And the tourists(12) all complain about the heat,
And some citizens of Broward say their congressman’s a coward,
But in Belle Glade there is not enough to eat.

And the people in Belle Glade get mighty tired
Of workin’ in the cane fields all day long,
And the children pray that Daddy won’t get fired,
And they pray that God will keep their Mama strong.

Oh, the honky-tonks(13) are full on Dixie Highway(14),
And Rose Kennedy’s one hundred seventeen;
Tourists sail on the Atlantic, but in Belle Glade things are frantic,
And it looks like one more year in old blue jeans.

Burt and Loni raise their child(15) in Palm Beach County,
And the Kennedys throw parties all year long,
And the rumor mill is juicy with affairs in Port St. Lucie,
But in Belle Glade people know there’s something wrong.

For the people in Belle Glade get mighty tired
Of workin’ in the cane fields all day long,
And the children cry ‘cause Daddy just got fired,
And they pray that God will make their Mama strong.

On the coast they drive fast cars and chase loose women,
They water ski, play golf(16), and just have fun;
While the folks on A-1-A(17) just grow richer every day,
Out in Belle Glade seems like work is never done.

So the tourists come and go, Rose lives forever,
And the coca down in Boca is high grade,
But the people that God sees are the ones down on their knees,
And God hears the people praying in Belle Glade.

Yes, the people in Belle Glade get mighty tired
Of workin’ in the cane fields all day long,
And the children pray that one day they’ll be hired,
And they thank the Lord their Mama was so strong.(18)

----------------------------------------

Footnotes:
(1) An actor remembered not so much for his thespian abilities as for numerous sexual liaisons with various beautiful, mostly older women. Among them were actresses Dinah Shore, Sally Field, and one Loni Anderson, about whom little is known (see “U.S. Supreme Court, Reynolds v. Anderson” in the Encyclopedia Tropicana). Unsubstantiated rumors persist even today of Reynolds’s alleged trysts with publisher Helen Gurley Brown and the legendary eight-term governor of Texas, Ann Richards.

(2) An obscure athlete, possibly a golfer.

(3) A town once located on the coast. Delray Beach and other coastal communities mentioned in this song apparently thrived in the days before the successive calamities of Hurricanes Andrew, Ivan, Hannah, Marcia, Penelope, Steve, William, Yasmin, Agamemnon, Hildegarde, Eunice, Bertha, and Claude.

(4) May have been a singer.

(5) Great-great-great-great grandmother of U.S. president Shriver Schwarzenegger Cuomo Lopez-Walesa.

(6) Boca Raton, a coastal town destroyed by Hurricane Steve.

(7) In the days before the Great Disasters caused a population shift inland, the current state capital was an agricultural center.

(8) A religious exercise formerly thought to have value, now discredited.

(9) A deity worshiped by the pre-Presleyites.

(10) Possibly tourists (q.v.) or egrets (white-plumaged waterfowl, extinct)

(11) Before public pressure caused the Florida State Legislature to convert Okeechobee into a gigantic rollerblade center, it contained water.

(12) Until marauding bands of vigilantes (see “Posse Floridus” in the Encyclopedia Tropicana) discouraged all but the hardiest of travelers, persons known as “tourists” or “snowbirds” (because of their pale skin and seasonal migratory habits) visited the Florida peninsula on a regular basis, their arrival usually coinciding with the snows in the North. Some historians believe that the great calamities hastened the demise of “tourism”; others attribute it directly to the cataclysmic earthquake along the Santa Katherine Harris fault that destroyed Janet Reno World south of Orlando in the autumn of 2025.

(13) Places where “honkies” (Caucasian pre-Presleyites, many of whom, according to The New World Order Dictionary, were rude drivers, hence the name) “tonked.” Tonking, according to the NWOD, consisted of desperate and sometimes pathetic attempts to arrange sexual liaisons with honkies of the opposite gender while dancing to Elvis Presley recordings. Many historians believe that tonking also involved the consumption of large amounts of alcoholic beverages, but this has been vehemently denied by the Society of Reformed Neo-Presleyites.

(14) The name is of unknown origin. Some scholars believe this one-time major thoroughfare was named in memory of Ms. Dixie Lee Ray, an early chairperson of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. Others of equally reputable stature believe Dixie Highway was named in honor of a paper cup. References in earlier editions of the Encyclopedia Tropicana to a “Mason’s and Dixon’s line,” alleged to have divided Pennsylvania (supposedly part of “the North”) and Maryland (supposedly part of “the South”) have now been thoroughly discredited by the diligent research of the National Archives anthropologists.

(15) Quinton Reynolds, the infamous Senator from North Dakota who led an incursion into New Cuba in 2039 in an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow King Elian II.

(16) A game, no longer played, believed to have originated in Scotland at the St. Andrew Lloyd Weber Country Club, in which players such as Jack Nicklaus (see footnote 2) used dowels to try to move small spherical pucks into a series of sandy areas, or traps, near manicured lawns. If the players, called “golfers,” succeeded, spectators often burst into applause. Thus, a new word, “claptrap,” was added to our language.

(17) Traces of this road can still be seen in a few places where rubble has been cleared.

(18) “The Ballad Of Palm Beach County” (originally called “The People In Belle Glade”) was adopted as the new national anthem on August 23, 2087, by the 150th Congress, replacing “You Ain’t Nothin’ But A Hound Dog.” The tune sung by the Joads in 1994 has unfortunately been lost to us due to the tendency of late twentieth-century musicians to record their work on compact discs (CDs). The familiar music now used with our national anthem was originally known as “To Elian In Heaven,” a tavern drinking song composed by Katherine Harris Bush a few days before the fatal 2025 earthquake that destroyed her villa on Francis Scott Key in New Cuba. Archaeologists exploring this hallowed site in 2101 discovered evidence of earlier buildings known collectively as the Key Biscayne Zoo, whose purpose remains a mystery.

...and this is Billy Ray Barnwell signing off.

Monday, September 13, 2010

And now, for a complete change of pace, here’s...

...Gladys Hardy of Austin, Texas, talking to Ellen DeGeneres (6:52).

Note. In the video clip, when Gladys tells Ellen that “you look like Alfalfa” she means this:


and not this:


I just thought you ought to know.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Do You Hear What I Hear?

This is not a post about Christmas. It is a song of sorts, though, a September song in three parts.

Part 1
And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.

And the LORD said unto Cain, “Where is Abel thy brother?” And he said, “I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?”

And the Lord said, “What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.” (Genesis 4:8-10)



Part 2
Thy Brother’s Blood
by Robert H. Brague


A poet (I forget his name) spoke
at the second inauguration
of little Billy Blythe of Hope, Arkansas,
whom the world knows as William Jefferson Clinton,
and let me just state here for the record
in this year of our Lord two thousand four
that many people would like to forget
the name William Jefferson Clinton,
many people wish his smiling face
would disappear from our national consciousness
or, to be more accurate,
that it had never appeared there in the first place,
but thanks to the wonders of modern technology
and the incessant, arrogant media,
the relentless, pontificating media,
who know with perfect knowledge
what products we should buy
and what entertainments we should enjoy
and whom we should admire
and what thoughts we should think
and do not hesitate to tell us at every opportunity,
we cannot, we are stuck with him
and his power-hungry wife,
but I digress.

I remember the poet’s name: Miller Williams.
He mentioned “the anonymous dead”
and I did not get a warm fuzzy feeling,
I did not get all cheery and hopeful,
I did not feel the way I felt when Maya Angelou,
the unforgettable Maya Angelou, urged us all
four years earlier to say, with hope,
“Good morning,”
I did not feel that way at all.

I have seen the skulls and skeletons
beneath the subways of Paris,
there in the catacombs, piles and piles
of anonymous dead
(though they are not anonymous),
photographed in living color
and published in Smithsonian magazine;

I have read of the mass graves
in Iraq and in the former Yugoslavia;
I have read of Sudan and Rwanda,
where they didn’t even bother to dig graves;
I have read of the Mekong Delta and the Hanoi Hilton;
I have read of Chosin Reservoir and Pork Chop Hill;
I have seen old newsreel footage,
black and white and grainy,
of soldiers standing before the opened oven doors
at Auschwitz, Dachau, Bergen-Belsen, and Treblinka;
I have seen the charred and broken remains
of what once were human bodies
(and they are not anonymous);
I have read of the Bulge and the beaches of Normandy,
Utah and Omaha and Pointe-du-Hoc,
I have read of Okinawa and Guadalcanal;
I have read of Iwo Jima and the death march on Bataan;
I have read of the Marne and the Argonne Forest;
I have read of Gettysburg and Antietam,
of Shiloh and Chickamauga;
I have read of Valley Forge;
I have walked through rows and rows of graves
at Arlington National Cemetery;
and one sunny September morning
in the year of our Lord two thousand one
I watched with my own eyes
on live television
as the second plane
hit the second tower;
I watched both buildings fall.

Make no mistake,
these common, ordinary people,
these so-called anonymous dead
(though they are not anonymous)
who have come to include
office workers in lower Manhattan
and commuters on trains in Madrid
and schoolchildren in Chechnya,
and millions upon millions
of aborted American babies,
they are not anonymous,
and they are not silent.


Part 3
An angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne.

The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel's hand. (Revelation 8:3-4)


Friday, September 10, 2010

aabb or abab?

In yesterday’s post I presented my poem “Canute (994?-1035)” complete with its 26 exclamation points and three question marks (four if you count the one in the title). You are to be commended for reading it, if you did, and if you didn’t, the world is still turning.

I actually made two versions of the poem, one rhymed aabb and one rhymed abab. That is, in each stanza of the first version, the first and second lines rhyme and then the third and fourth lines rhyme; in the second version, the first and third lines rhyme and the second and fourth lines rhyme. I did have to make one small change (“But it” became “And they”) but you probably would never have even noticed if I hadn’t just told you.

I know there are more important questions facing the world (Will that pastor in Gainesville, Florida, burn a copy of the Koran tomorrow? Will Tony Blair’s book reach the top of the New York Times bestseller list? Will Lindsay Lohan make it all the way through rehab?), but I can’t decide which version of “Canute” I like better. So I’m asking those of you who actually read the first version to share your thoughts with me to help me make up my mind. I am also aware that my friend and former colleague Sanford J. Epstein, a 305-lb. Jew who wore a Kelly green suit every St. Patrick’s Day and changed his name tag to read Sanford J. O’Epstein, once said, "If there’s a difference that makes no difference, then there is no difference."

For those who wish to participate, the rules of the game are simple: It doesn’t matter which version you read first as long as you read both versions.

Here’s the second version (abab):


Canute (994?-1035)
by Robert H. Brague


I, King of all the Britons, and Denmark mine as well!
More kingdoms to be conquered! And all shall be laid low!
My star approaches zenith! In Caesar’s train I dwell!
And feudal lords shall bear me liege wherever I may go!

And shall I stop at kingdoms? Nay, tarry here and see!
No more shall raging ocean erode this harried shore!
The winds and waves shall hearken, and both bow down to me!
And they shall do my bidding, as Christ’s in days of yore!

No more shall sea advance upon the gray and shifting sand!
It is Divinely ordered! You must obey my will!
Now cease your endless churning! Subside at my command!
In God’s name I command you! Hear and hearken: “Peace! Be still!”

But can I be mistaken? And can I be denied?
The swirling eddy rises! The tide attacks my knees!
My words have no effect! Still onward comes the tide!
It hears commands more regal than this lowly creature’s pleas!

God’s kingdom is eternal, mine but of measured span!
I am but mortal monarch! O, hear my fool’s heart cry!
What foolishness emerges from the haughty heart of man!
‘Tis chastened by the deafness of a greater king than I!


I eagerly await your thoughts.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The unbelievable we do immediately. The impossible takes a little longer. (U.S. Marine Corps saying)

When I was young my parents bought a 20-volume set of The Book of Knowledge and a 20-volume set of Grolier Encyclopedia from a passing salesman. During the years I lived at home, I spent many an hour leafing through those books. Every once in a while something really grabbed my attention.

One such item was a painting (published in the book in black and white, so perhaps it was a lithograph) of King Canute at the edge of the sea with some of his courtiers in the eleventh century. It showed the king speaking to the sea, telling it to stop pounding the shore with waves. I was fascinated by his temerity.

Late breaking news: The sea ignored King Canute and kept doing what it has always done (helped along, no doubt, by the gravity of the moon). Film at eleven.

Time passes.

A few years later I composed a poem about the scene in the painting/lithograph. Here it is (William Makepeace Thackeray, eat your heart out):


Canute (994?-1035)
by Robert H. Brague


I, King of all the Britons, and Denmark mine as well!
My star approaches zenith! In Caesar’s train I dwell!
More kingdoms to be conquered! And all shall be laid low!
And feudal lords shall bear me liege wherever I may go!

And shall I stop at kingdoms? Nay, tarry here and see!
The winds and waves shall hearken, and both bow down to me!
No more shall raging ocean erode this harried shore!
But it shall do my bidding, as Christ’s in days of yore!

No more shall sea advance upon the gray and shifting sand!
Now cease your endless churning! Subside at my command!
It is Divinely ordered! You must obey my will!
In God’s name I command you! Hear and hearken: “Peace! Be still!

But can I be mistaken? And can I be denied?
My words have no effect! Still onward comes the tide!
The swirling eddy rises! The tide attacks my knees!
It hears commands more regal than this lowly creature’s pleas!

God’s kingdom is eternal, mine but of measured span!
What foolishness emerges from the haughty heart of man!
I am but mortal monarch! O, hear my fool’s heart cry!
‘Tis chastened by the deafness of a greater king than I!


Okay, so William Makepeace Thackeray probably has nothing to worry about. Scout’s honor, I was not aware of Thackeray’s poem when I wrote mine.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Be Still And Know

I wrote this poem several years ago. Today seemed like a good time to share it with you. I wouldn’t call it autobiographical. You might, but I wouldn’t. The pronouns could just as easily have been feminine.


Be Still And Know
by Robert H. Brague


Somebody told him, or maybe
he read it in a book,
“God speaks in silences,”
but he, a creature of noise
living in a land of achievement,
filled his days and nights
with meaningless activities
because he had no time
for silence.

He rushed to obtain
the prize that dangled before him,
he pushed every obstacle out of the path,
he devoted his energy to running the race;
he was nearly trampled in the stampede.

He sought the spotlights and the applause,
public acclaim and celebrity,
but the gods he worshiped were fickle deities
who soon tired of him and
turned their attention
to other contestants.

Shaken, abandoned,
brushing the dust from his clothes,
he left the arena unnoticed
with the voice of the ringmaster,
the one who had urged him on,
ringing in his ears.

He turned to curse the ringmaster,
the one responsible for
all of his miseries,
but the curse died in his throat
as he saw with a shock
that the ringmaster’s face
was his own.

After a very long time,
after the unmistakable
laughter of demons
finally stopped,
there came
a silence,

an
almost
unbearable
silence.

He tried to convince himself
that the silence was empty,
that nothing was there,
but after another very long time
he realized with
another shock
that something
indeed was there,
something,
no, Someone
was most definitely there

waiting.

Finally he admitted
to the deep, penetrating sky
that he needed help,
that he could not do it on his own,
that he did not even know
what it was he was supposed to be doing,
and most important of all,
that he was not in charge.

At last,
he begin to hear,
though not with ears,
faint at first
but growing stronger,
the undeniable
singing of angels,
and the
irresistible
voice
of
God.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

And on the seventh day, God rested.

...or perhaps you think this happened by chance.

There is a story from the early days of space exploration about a Soviet cosmonaut who returned from several orbits around the earth in a space capsule and announced that he had not seen God at any time during his trip. A young girl in the audience rose and said, “Sir, then you must not have a pure heart, because Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.’”

I don’t mean to be intentionally provocative (well, okay, maybe I do a little), but that’s kind of the way I feel after watching the video at the top of this post.

If you disagree, you probably also are expecting that roomful of monkeys with typewriters to be completing the Encyclopedia Britannica any day now.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Maybe the cat got my tongue.

I can’t explain why, but for the last day or two my tendency to run off at the mouth (and out through the fingertips onto a computer keyboard) just dried up like the ocean at Southport, England.

That sound you hear coming from certain quarters is Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” (if you don’t click on that link, you’ll miss something special!).

Be that as it may, I simply cannot sit here and post nothing. As Belle Watling (Ona Munson) once said to Melanie Wilkes (Olivia de Havilland) in the David O. Selznick film Gone With The Wind, “Oh, no, ma’am. It wouldn't be fittin’.”


So whether it was the arrival of cooler temperatures and shorter days that brought with them a certain, um, I don’t know, call it wanderlust (we will now observe a short pause while you dredge up from your memory banks the sound of Frankie Laine singing “I Must Go Where The Wild Goose Goes”)...


...or a completely unforeseen event such as the sudden realization that I will never know as much about art as Katherine DeChevalle of Bay of Plenty, New Zealand, I was rendered silent and ineffective.

Speechless.

Mute.

Until now.

Now my muse has smiled on me once again and I have my blogging voice back.

That, along with the fact that yesterday would have been my parents’ wedding anniversary and today is my second-oldest grandson’s fourteenth birthday, has definitely put Mrs. RWP and me in a festive mood.


Lest you think that photo is really of us, let me hasten to assure you that it isn’t.

[Update, 9/4/2010. Originally this post didn’t end here. The original version included a recent photo of me with my family. After remarking that my goatee had recently disappeared, I added, “Maybe the cat got that too.” It tied in nicely with the post’s title, I thought. But I had second thoughts about displaying my family’s faces to the whole wide world and decided to remove the photo along with my ending words. This change forced me to remove a couple of comments that were inspired by the photo and no longer make sense. Now you know the rest of the story.]