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Preview: still muttering

other wise

Updated: 2018-03-14T07:42:24.454-04:00




I think it's time to start again.  I keep saying I want to write and yet I don't write.  Blogging isn't "real" writing because it's informal, but it's more writing than not writing.  (How's that for an opening?) . . . .  So happy seven years, almost to the day.

As much as the current political atmosphere begs for discussion, I do not want vituperative comments or nastiness and will shut down again if commenters can't restrain those (very understandable) impulses.

I have two purposes in writing here.  One is simply to write.  Get those fingers moving.  The other is to put thoughts or comments out there and elicit reactions.

I am fairly sure that the only way that the horrible tone of current public discourse will be changed is by each of us listening to -- and hearing -- others, particularly those with whom we disagree.  Those who live in distinct parts of the world and even within a country, often hold different convictions and beliefs, which they feel certain are correct and good.  They often act appallingly, convey utter disrespect, and speak with disgusting anger about and to each other.  Changing ideas is often difficult but if you look back even a few years, major changes have occurred in some ways.  We recycle cardboard, glass, and plastic now without even thinking it's amazing, but it was unheard of before it started.  Relationships between individuals of the same sex was a subject of jokes, at best, and disgust, at worst, only a few years ago.  Wearing sneakers or flipflops to commute to work was regarded as classless and unacceptable when I was just starting to work; perhaps those of us who got our heels stuck in heat-softened sidewalks were more groundbreakers (ha) than we realized.  So many examples.

So how about if we yell a little less loudly and listen to the ideas motivating "them."  All that stuff means a lot to them so let's find out why.  There are some violent and prejudiced people out there, but many of them may be motivated more by fear of the unknown than by hate.  It's worth considering.  Not that "they" will go along with this, at least not at first, but someone has to start.



Alex Trebeck.

Mad Men


It upsets me sometimes because it has the same emotional tone that the real time had and I found that era tense and difficult to get through, but I like the show Mad Men quite a lot and its new season begins next Sunday (7/25) and I am very much looking forward to it.



This is not a post about liturgical or cannonical disbelief.  It is a post about disbelief - nay, open-mouthed astonishment - at this week's Vatican pronouncement.  Disbelief because although the Pope is rumored to be dismayed and angry about pedophile priests, the statement was vague and weak about what the institution of the Church will do about and/or to them.  There apparently will be no automatical dismissal or removal, no banishment from the fold.  Which seems odd to me, having grown up in an intensely Roman Catholic household (my parents were converts in their late thirties).  Banishment from the RC fold over the years has resulted from transgressions both puzzling and, to some, not transgressionally important.  Some examples: getting married outdoors; getting married in a not-RC-sanctioned/blessed church; a woman not covering her head, elbows and knees in church; marrying someone who's been married before; eating meat on Friday; a priest fondling the private parts of a little girl; not putting money in the collection tray; not going to a Catholic college; a priest having an affair with a married woman. . . .   Since ordaining women has punishment attached (defrocking), and pedophilia does not, the logical conclusion is that the Vatican thinks women are sui generis more sinful (or sin-inducing) and more dangerous.  Great.

To add to the confusion and moral morass, the new Vatican document which supposedly focuses on pedophilia tosses in a few presumably well-chosen thoughts about women being ordained as priests.  Always an interesting subject, but why join ordination of women and pedophilia?  It can't be that in their heart of hearts they want women to "resume" their "place" in the kitchens and bedrooms of the world because pedophilia actually was worse back in those good old days.  Yet this document calls both pedophilia and ordination of women “graviora delicta” (grave offenses).  It seems to me that one can only stare at the words in disbelief.  Ah, but wait, there's more: clerics who attempt to ordain women will be defrocked.  Yes, defrocked.  Be stripped of their careers and lives.  It's almost as serious a punishment as what's afforded bishops who approve saying mass in Latin (but that's a subject for another day).  Well, the next obvious question is what this document says will be the punishment meted out to pedophile priests.  Unbelievably, the document does not say.  It fails to suggest even a possible punishment.  Bottom line: women priests would be dangerous beyond the moral, metaphysical and criminal pale; pedophiles, not quite so much.  Got it?



Note: I've added comment modification and word verification to my comments.  Word verification by itself did not eliminate the Chinese-character spam.  Nor did comment-modification-on-posts-after-2-days.  Apologies for the inconvenience and annoyance.

P.S. I hate to admit it but I like - well, I used to like (who knows since I haven't let myself eat it in years) - Spam (the fatty, salty, ugly-pink food product), especially lightly sautéed with roasted vegetables - for contrast, I suppose.  How dare these people trash Spam's good name.

NY Philharmonic


(image) Whatever else may be true about him, Alec Baldwin is terrific as host (announcer) for The New York Philharmonic This Week, the Orchestra’s weekly (every week) nationally broadcast radio series.  His voice intones just the right combination of gravitas (a/k/a gravelyness), humor and intelligence.  Plus, whether it's written for him or extemporaneous, what he says has been downright interesting - not merely "here's Beethoven's Fifth piano concerto" or words to that effect.  Anyway, whoever thought of him for this deserves praise and thanks.

Knitting socks


(image) (image) (image) I've been learning and then becoming obsessed with knitting socks (a) from the toe up and (b) two at a time.  It's an amazing amount of fun to do as you watch the things become real, actual socks right in front of your eyes -er- needles.  Here are three examples from my recent blitz - all in Cascade's Fixation which is a slightly elastic, cotton, washable joy to work with.  If you click on a photo, you can see it nice and big and in more detail.  Please especially check out the nifty patterns and heels!  Aren't they delightful?!  What do you think?  Want a pair?



One of my earliest and best blogging friends died Friday in the early afternoon.  He once told me I was his blog daughter, a remark that made me ridiculously happy at the time.  And which probably partly explains how sad I feel now.  In fact it astonishes me that I and the others who regularly read and commented at Fresh Bilge feel so bereft.  Most of us never met Alan and become acquainted with him "only" virtually.  But this wild new world is different from one where you only care about people you meet in person, and that's part of his legacy.  He was insanely interested in many things - climate, weather, politics domestic and foreign, poetry, science fiction, films, sailing, photography, geography, language, and (particularly as his illness progressed) matters of the spirit.  All this drew in readers who are, happily, widely read and interesting, too, if not as acerbic and pointed as he often could be.  For evidence of the energy, intelligence, wit and passion that his blog contained, reflected and generated, just glance at the hundreds of comments at the last four or five posts. I eventually will (maybe) write something adequate to memorialize Alan but in its stead and in the meantime here are some lines from Richard II (h/t, as they say, to one of Alan's commenters).  This is apt partly just because it is.  It is also fitting because of Alan's love of words and his remark that Shakespeare makes fools of all other poets.  As a poet himself, he would have claimed he said so with more authority than most of us (and I very much look forward to the publication of his own poetry and book of psalms, for which Richard Wilbur will write the preface).  As a final note, for now, let me say that I hope there truly is a place called heaven and someone/ thing called god, if only because Alan would so be enjoying himself as he explored and discovered and expounded. Update - As he sails off into the sunset (heh, as he would say), a band of "rare readers" have set up a successor blog, "Sullivan's Travelers."  The name reflects Alan's literary proclivities (Jonathan Swift's Gulliver) along with his wit, sense of humor and political passion (Preston Sturges' Sully).  The url is which adds another association. I must say that the family / friend / reader / follower phenomenon seems unusual and lovely and, dare I say, a tad eternal. "For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground And tell sad stories of the death of kings; How some have been deposed; some slain in war, Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed; Some poison’d by their wives: some sleeping kill’d; All murder’d: for within the hollow crown That rounds the mortal temples of a king Keeps Death his court and there the antic sits, Scoffing his state and grinning at his pomp, Allowing him a breath, a little scene, To monarchize, be fear’d and kill with looks, Infusing him with self and vain conceit, As if this flesh which walls about our life, Were brass impregnable, and humour’d thus Comes at the last and with a little pin Bores through his castle wall, and farewell king! Cover your heads and mock not flesh and blood With solemn reverence: throw away respect, Tradition, form and ceremonious duty, For you have but mistook me all this while: I live with bread like you, feel want, Taste grief, need friends: subjected thus, How can you say to me, I am a king?"[...]

Asian spam??


What's the deal with all the Asian spam recently?  I've deleted it "forever" as Blogger puts it but another one pops up in its place soon thereafter.  Now I've changed my commenting restriction to "registered" users which I thought was necessary to comment on Blogger blogs anyway but perhaps there is less restrictiveness to all this than it seemed.  We shall see.  And by the way, someday I hope someone explains satisfactorily why spammers even exist.  Another subject for another day....

Update - Still getting some.  Now I've added that word verification will be required to comment on posts that are 2 or more days old.  I'm hoping that will help.  And I still do not know what people get out of this?

Violence against girls


It is astonishing and literally unbelievable that this editorial needed to be written.  How is it possible that female genital mutilation was banned in the U.S. in 1996 - a mere 14 years ago??  And why did it require banning?  Who need laws saying that people shouldn't jump off the roofs of tall buildings?  Or laws saying not to serve the kids dinner in the middle of Interstate 80?  (Wasn't that exactly why George Carlin's "present" for the kids was so funny?!)  And did the American Academy of Pediatrics really consider for one nanosecond that nicking female genitalia would be useful in some way?  Forgive me because it sounds ridiculous to point this out, but if male genitalia were the subject, there would be no discussion of this and would never have been.  And don't try to sell cultural or political or medical or social or any-adjective-al rationale or logic about this.



R.I.P. Spock, my son's lovely, sweet, calm, attentive, soft, all-black, utterly charming cat. He brought joy to members of his immediate and extended family for a very long time (22 years!).

I loved the clickety-clack of his nails when he walked on hardwood floors. And how dutifully he played with toys bought for him.  And how he basked in the family room window's sun with his front leg extended like a resting ballerina, watching birds and insects, apparently content to observe.  And how he always came to greet me minutes after I arrived, even in recent months.  And always let me scratch between his ears.  And I loved his bright green eyes.

It was wonderful to know him.

July 4


A bit corny but celebratory, irresistible and lovely, each in its own way.

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Prima ballerinas


Last week, an extraordinarily enthusiastic review of new-comer (to New York), Alina Cojocaru.  A prima ballerina at London's Royal Ballet, she has a starry future ahead of her in the U.S.(image) (image)
Today, a startlingly harsh review of Darci Kistler's retirement performance. The many roses might belie the writer's opinion but maybe the petal-strewers just had better seats. Same writer, same passion for the art form.  Not sure why the ad hominemism of the second but I guess he really really didn't like her dancing.



I had dinner at a restaurant called Gigi, in Rhinebeck, NY. My entrée was fava beans on big wide spinach noodles with wilted spinach and feta cheese and a breath or two of a very light olive oil for moisture. It was just fantastic.

Prince Harry


It seems that Prince Harry will be at West Point this weekend.  He's becoming quite the goodwill ambassador with that infectious smile and eager cheer of his.  He'll be in a polo match on Sunday which I'd go see if (a) I were invited and (b) the strain on polo ponies didn't bother me quite so much.  Anyway, it's nice to know he'll be around.

New beginning?


Tempted to try again.  I'm somewhat bored by the layout but don't know what I would prefer.  I'm somewhat bored by what I have to say but not sure what I'd like to want to say.  I like the activity of blogging and I like the alertness.  I want to "talk" with people out there.  On the other hand, I do not like being yelled at for thinking out loud or for posing thoughts that may be "wrong minded" or seem just plain wrong to people.  I'm not sure why people can't have wildly differing opinions without being angry at each other.  Arguing about ideas can be fun and needn't be mean.  I'd like to think that different points of view make for a more interesting world.  Who wants to eat the same food or wear the same clothes all the time?  (Well, I like to wear black most of the time but that's partly about hiding, I'm told.  And I like to eat Greek yogurt for dinner a lot but that's about digestion and light meals.  But who likes to read the same book or watch the same movie every day, right?  Whatever.  So let's wind this thing up and see what happens.