Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Young Victoria

An extraordinary film about an extraordinary marriage.  One of my most favorite historical couples.
Victoria and Albert.

Princess Victoria
: Do you ever feel like a chess piece yourself? In a game being played against your will. 
Prince Albert: Do you? 
Princess Victoria: Constantly. I see them leaning in and moving me around the board. 
Prince Albert: The Duchess and Sir John? 
Princess Victoria: Not just them. Uncle Leopold. The king. I'm sure half the politicians are ready to seize hold of my skirts and drag me from square to square. 
Prince Albert: Then you had better master the rules of the game until you play it better than they can. 
Princess Victoria: You don't recommend I find a husband to play it for me? 
Prince Albert: I should find one to play it with you, not for you. 

Friday, January 29, 2010

Ad Hominem

The Poet:

Fugitive lung, prodigal intestine—
where’s the pink crimp in my side
where they took you out?

The Octopus:

It must be a dull world, indeed,
where everything appears
to be a version or extrapolation
of you.

The birds are you.
The springtime is you.
Snails, hurricanes, saddles, elevators—
everything becomes

I, with a shift
of my skin, divest my self
to become the rock
that shadows it.

Think of when
your reading eyes momentarily drift,
and in that instant

you see the maddening swarm of alien ciphers submerged within the text
gone before you can focus.
That’s me.

Or your dozing revelation
on the subway that you are
slowly being
digested. Me again.

I am the fever dream
in which you see your loved ones
as executioners. I am also their axe.

Friend, while you’re exhausting
the end of a day
with your sad approximations,

I’m a mile deep
in the earth, vamping
my most flawless impression
of the abyss
to the wild applause of eels.


by T. S. Eliot

"As she laughed I was aware of becoming involved
in her laughter and being part of it, until her
teeth were only accidental stars with a talent
for squad-drill. I was drawn in by short gasps,
inhaled at each momentary recovery, lost finally
in the dark caverns of her throat, bruised by
the ripple of unseen muscles. An elderly waiter
with trembling hands was hurriedly spreading
a pink and white checked cloth over the rusty
green iron table, saying: "If the lady and
gentleman wish to take their tea in the garden,
if the lady and gentleman wish to take their
tea in the garden ..." I decided that if the
shaking of her breasts could be stopped, some of
the fragments of the afternoon might be collected,
and I concentrated my attention with careful
subtlety to this end."

A little cheesey music for the weekend. (it makes me happy)

I'm not surprised
Not everything lasts
I've broken my heart so many times
I stopped keeping track.

I tried so very hard not to lose it
I came up with a million excuses
I thought I thought of every possibility

And I know someday that it'll all turn out
You'll make me work so we can work to work it out
And I promise you kid, that I'll give so much more than I get
I just haven't met you yet."

Orpheus's journey to hell, to retrieve Eurydice.

The Greeks of the Classical age venerated the legendary figure of Orpheus as chief among poets and musicians, and the perfector of the lyre invented by Hermes. Poets like Simonides of Ceos said that, with his music and singing, he could charm birds, fish and wild beasts, coax the trees and rocks into dance, and even divert the course of rivers. He was one of the handful of Greek heroes to visit the Underworld and return; even in Hades his song and lyre did not lose their power.

The most famous story in which Orpheus figures is that of his wife Eurydice (also known as Agriope). Orpheus met Eurydice and fell instantly and deeply in love with her. On their wedding day, while fleeing from Aristaeus (son of Apollo), Eurydice ran into a nest of snakes, which bit her fatally on her heel. Undone by his wife of only a few hours death, and distraught by the idea of an eternity without her, Orpheus played such sad songs and sang so mournfully that all the nymphs and gods wept.

Consumed by grief and on the advice of the gods, Orpheus traveled to the underworld with Jason and Argonaunts. On the journey there each ship must past the dreaded and terribly beautiful Sirens, perched on the rocks waiting to lure sailors to their death.  He was the only man to ever tame the Siren's, matching their alluring powerful songs with his own. Orpheus sang and their claws retreated, lulled into a stupor by his exquisite lyre and voice. He and the ship made it safely into Hades and his music softened the hearts of Hades and Persephone --he was the only person ever to do so—who then agreed to allow Eurydice to return with him to earth on one condition: he should walk in front of her and not look back until they both had reached the upper world.

He set off with Eurydice following and in his anxiety as soon as he reached the upper world he turned to look at her, forgetting that both needed to be in the upper world, and she vanished for the second time, but now forever.

Gentleman Broncos

Thursday, January 28, 2010

in the threaded spine of my Longing Book

I`m but lust
I'm nothing but pain
I did these mistrust
but Never Again.

I edit for a living. I can’t help it. I edited this. Leonard, don’t get mad.

Leonard Cohen

I loved you when you opened
Like a lily to the heat.
I’m just another snowman
Standing in the rain and sleet,
Who loved you with his frozen love
His second-hand physique -
With all he is, and all he was
A thousand kisses deep.

Pressed against
The limits of the sea:
I saw there were no oceans left
For scavengers like me.
We made it to the forward deck
I blessed our remnant fleet -
And then consented to be wrecked
A thousand kisses deep.

I know you had to lie to me,
I know you had to cheat.
But the Means no longer guarantee
The Virtue in Deceit.
That truth is bent, that beauty spent,
That style is obsolete -
Ever since the Holy Spirit went
A thousand kisses deep.

(So what about this Inner Light
That’s boundless and unique?
I’m slouching through another night
A thousand kisses deep.)

(And fragrant is the thought of you)

And now you are the Angel Death
And now the Paraclete;
And now you are the Savior's Breath
And now the Belsen heap.
No turning from the threat of love,
No transcendental leap -
As witnessed here in time and blood
A thousand kisses deep.

The river ran black with ink.

The Mongols, fueled by their hatred for the cosmopolitan Chinese, tossed every book from their library into the Tigris when they captured the city.

For those who survived the initial destruction, the river ran black with ink for six months.

And thus was the present-day Middle East born.

The Prince of Persia

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


by: Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

       HAVE no wit, no words, no tears;
      My heart within me like a stone
      Is numb'd too much for hopes or fears;
      Look right, look left, I dwell alone;
      I lift mine eyes, but dimm'd with grief
      No everlasting hills I see;
      My life is in the falling leaf:
      O Jesus, quicken me.
      My life is like a faded leaf,
      My harvest dwindled to a husk:
      Truly my life is void and brief
      And tedious in the barren dusk;
      My life is like a frozen thing,
      No bud nor greenness can I see:
      Yet rise it shall--the sap of Spring;
      O Jesus, rise in me.
      My life is like a broken bowl,
      A broken bowl that cannot hold
      One drop of water for my soul
      Or cordial in the searching cold;
      Cast in the fire the perish'd thing;
      Melt and remould it, till it be
      A royal cup for Him, my King:
      O Jesus, drink of me.

the perfect crime

A blood diamond is forever.

Sparked by the illegal trafficking of diamonds, Sierra Leone’s civil war left thousands dead, millions more homeless, and much of the nation in complete disarray.  But it was all worth it for the look on Rachel’s face when Craig showed her that ring.

One of the worst tragedies in recent history, the war in Sierra Leone saw innocent men murdered in cold blood, and women defiled by rebel forces in front of their children, who were then taken as child soldiers for the extremely affluent army.  However, things could have been a lot worse.  For instance, Michael may never have found the perfect way to express his love for Katie.

As terrifying as the war was for the citizens of Sierra Leone, many have recently found solace in knowing that their suffering wasn’t in vain, and that Peter finally got down on one knee and proposed to Michelle like he had promised.

In fact, villagers in the town of Moyamba would likely never have wept at the sight of their burning homes had they known Tom had at last asked for Jenny’s hand in marriage, and that the two had set a date for the big day.

Well, maybe they would have—out of joy.  Today, while it’s difficult to predict what the long-term effects of Sierra Leone’s campaign of torture and brutality will ultimately be, relatives of Chuck and Linda are almost positive it’s a boy.

This year give her the gift that says, “fuck Sierra Leone”.

-Our Dumb World, the Onion

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Renee Olstead

Pennies from Heaven, with Chris Botti

Like a lion

And I remember those shoulders

Coming up under you, like a lion

And falling back down, like we were dying...

Dear God.

-Mason Jennings

As Laci would call it, "my birthright".

Missing London, as opposed to Paris, for a change.
Here are some pictures I took the last time I was there.

Classical violin playing in Covent Garden.


"She was pulling a rope out of the water and knew it was coming to the end when the barnacles started to appear and they became more think and clustered. Then it was strangely peaceful and the sound was turned off. She stood at the bow of a ship. If only she could have stood this way above the water and really breathed and let the waves go by like pages being turned and watched everything more closely and chosen things more carefully then she might have been able to read the spirit within herself and would not have spent her life as if she were only halfway in it.

For a moment she felt an astonishing brilliance and heat and light and all of herself flared up and the vibration after sixty-five years was not weakened by time but more dense then suddenly it was as if the flame had caught the flimsiest piece of paper for it flickered up and flew into the air then quickly sank down withered into a thin cinder of ash which blew off, inconsequential. Her life had not been long enough for her to know the whole of herself, it had not been long enough or wide." -Susan Minot

Wharton all day

"Misfortune had made Lily supple instead of hardening her, and a pliable substance is less easy to break than a stiff one."

I don't know if I should care for a man who made life easy;
I should want someone who made it interesting. -Edith Wharton

the fashionisto Paris Haute Couture | Christian Dior Spring 2010 Couture

Cruella de Vil meets English equestrian

Monday, January 25, 2010

Safety first. Then friendship.

"You shot me in my stomach! Imma die now probably. I had you all over here for dinner-- fish tacos!"

To My Excellent Lucasia, on Our Friendship

I did not live until this time
Crowned my felicity,
When I could say without a crime,
I am not thine, but thee.

This carcass breathed, and walked, and slept,
So that the world believed
There was a soul the motions kept;
But they were all deceived.

For as a watch by art is wound
To motion, such was mine:
But never had Orinda found
A soul till she found thine;

Which now inspires, cures and supplies,
And guides my darkened breast:
For thou art all that I can prize,
My joy, my life, my rest.

No bridegroom’s nor crown-conqueror’s mirth
To mine compared can be:
They have but pieces of the earth,
I’ve all the world in thee.

Then let our flames still light and shine,
And no false fear control,
As innocent as our design,
Immortal as our soul.
by Katherine Philips
One of the first women to acquire fame as a writer in England, Katherine Philips (1631-1664) addressed poems of love and companionship to the women in her circle, called “Society of Friendship.” She was known as “The Matchless Orinda” for the pseudonym she adopted within the group and as “the English Sappho” for her similarities to the ancient Greek poetess of Lesbos.

Your brain is pretty, and you always look smart.

And coughs when you would kiss.

Time watches from the shadow
And coughs when you would kiss.

'In headaches and in worry
Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
To-morrow or to-day.

'Into many a green valley
Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
And the diver's brilliant bow.

'O plunge your hands in water,
Plunge them in up to the wrist;
Stare, stare in the basin
And wonder what you've missed.

'The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
A lane to the land of the dead.

'Where the beggars raffle the banknotes
And the Giant is enchanting to Jack,
And the Lily-white Boy is a Roarer,
And Jill goes down on her back.

'O look, look in the mirror,
O look in your distress:
Life remains a blessing
Although you cannot bless.

'O stand, stand at the window
As the tears scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbour
With your crooked heart.'

It was late, late in the evening,
The lovers they were gone;
The clocks had ceased their chiming,
And the deep river ran on.
-W.H. Auden

Eatin' a bagel. Wearing Munkle's sunglasses. Being awesome.

Kristof talks Haiti

Haitian boy. Clearly, the face of a devil-pact maker.

"On my blog, a woman named Mona pointed to Haitian corruption and declared: “I won’t send money because I know what will happen to it.” Another reader attributed Haiti’s poverty to “the low I.Q. of the 9 million people there,” and added: “It is all very sad and cannot be fixed.”

“Giving money to Haiti and other third-world countries is like throwing money in the toilet,” another commenter said. A fourth asserted: “Haiti is a money pit. Dumping billions of dollars into it has proven futile. ... America is deeply in debt, and we can’t afford it.”

Not everyone is so frank, but the subtext of much of the discussion of Haiti is despair about both Haiti and foreign aid. Pat Robertson, the religious broadcaster, went furthest by suggesting that Haiti’s earthquake flowed from a pact with the devil more than two centuries ago. While it’s not for a journalist to nitpick a minister’s theological credentials, that implication of belated seismic revenge on Haitian children seems defamatory of God.

Americans have also responded with a huge outpouring of assistance, including more than $22 million raised by the Red Cross from text messages alone. But for those with doubts, let’s have a frank discussion of Haiti’s problems:

Why is Haiti so poor? Is it because Haitians are dimwitted or incapable of getting their act together?

Haiti isn’t impoverished because the devil got his due; it’s impoverished partly because of debts due. France imposed a huge debt that strangled Haiti. And when foreigners weren’t looting Haiti, its own rulers were.

The greatest predation was the deforestation of Haiti, so that only 2 percent of the country is forested today. Some trees have been — and continue to be — cut by local peasants, but many were destroyed either by foreigners or to pay off debts to foreigners. Last year, I drove across the island of Hispaniola, and it was surreal: You traverse what in places is a Haitian moonscape until you reach the border with the Dominican Republic — and jungle.

Without trees, Haiti lost its topsoil through erosion, crippling agriculture.

To visit Haiti is to know that its problem isn’t its people. They are its treasure — smart, industrious and hospitable — and Haitians tend to be successful in the United States (and everywhere but in Haiti).

Can our billions in aid to Haitians accomplish anything? After all, a Wall Street Journal column argues, “To help Haiti, end foreign aid.”

First, don’t exaggerate how much we give or they get.

Haiti ranks 42nd among poor countries in worldwide aid received per person ($103 in 2008, more than one-quarter of which comes from the United States). David Roodman of the Center for Global Development calculates that in 2008, official American aid to Haiti amounted to 92 cents per American.

The United States gives more to Haiti than any other country. But it ranks 11th in per capita giving. Canadians give five times as much per person as we do.

As for whether aid promotes economic growth, that’s a bitter and unresolved argument. But even the leading critics of aid — William Easterly, a New York University economist, and Dambisa Moyo, a banker turned author — believe in assisting Haiti after the earthquake.

“I think we have a moral imperative,” Ms. Moyo told me. “I do believe the international community should act.”

Likewise, Professor Easterly said: “Of course, I am in favor of aid to Haiti earthquake victims!”

So, is Haiti hopeless? Is Bill O’Reilly right? He said: “Once again, we will do more than anyone else on the planet, and one year from today Haiti will be just as bad as it is right now.”

No, he’s not right. And this is the most pernicious myth of all. In fact, Haiti in recent years has been much better managed under President René Préval and has shown signs of being on the mend.

Far more than most other impoverished countries — particularly those in Africa — Haiti could plausibly turn itself around. It has an excellent geographic location, there are no regional wars, and it could boom if it could just export to the American market.

A report for the United Nations by a prominent British economist, Paul Collier, outlined the best strategy for Haiti: building garment factories. That idea (sweatshops!) may sound horrific to Americans. But it’s a strategy that has worked for other countries, such as Bangladesh, and Haitians in the slums would tell you that their most fervent wish is for jobs. A few dozen major shirt factories could be transformational for Haiti.

So in the coming months as we help Haitians rebuild, let’s dispatch not only aid workers, but also business investors. Haiti desperately needs new schools and hospitals, but also new factories.

And let’s challenge the myth that because Haiti has been poor, it always will be. That kind of self-fulfilling fatalism may be the biggest threat of all to Haiti, the real pact with the devil"

-Nicholas D. Kristof

Friday, January 22, 2010

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dans Paris (Inside Paris)

I quirky little French musical from director Christophe Honore (2006).
It's not extrordinary, but still worth the watching.

Paul: I think we grossly underestimate our sorrows, in general. We always die of sadness, actually.
: You mean sadness is put inside us at birth?
: Yes.
: Like eye color?
: Exactly. That's why it needs our care, but others can do nothing. No one can do anything about eye color. Also, I think it would be fair to let you take care of your sorrow alone.