Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Perfect Coffee

video
My friend and I decided to make a little documentary about brewing the perfect cup of coffee!
This is the process, from start to finish. The only step missing is the actual growing of the beans.
-- Cip

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Extra Ones: A Saturday Poem













The Extra Ones

We are told that he chose five smooth stones.
Young, and ruddy faced, in 1 Samuel 17:40.
I would have imagined jagged ones to cause
greater cranial damage, but who am I?
This sling was not even the type you draw back on.
It was the kind you whirl about your head.
I know, because there was an artist’s rendition
in the book my mother read, as my eyes fell shut.

So an army cowers, as the boy runs forward,
taunting this oaf! This day the Lord will hand you
over to me. He kicks the dirt and spits, And I’ll
strike you down and cut off your head. Shaking,
he shouts at a helmet that weighs more than him,
The birds shall eat you, placing a stone in the pouch.
Philistine laughter shakes the very rainclouds
loose over the heads of Israel, as the air sings.

And what I love most is not the part where he cuts
off the head. Nor even the part where Saul asks,
Whose son are you, young man?
I love the fact that David took four extra stones.
Ones he did not know he did not need.
The scene that is not illustrated in any bedtime book,
and the sound, ping-ping-ping-ping, denting helmets
as the Philistines run for the hills.

© Ciprianowords Inc. 2009

NOTE: I posted this poem previously, about a year ago... but have just made some significant changes to it, primarily with the ending. In the original, I have David dropping these unused stones on Goliath's head. In the updated version, he uses these "extras" to pick off a few more Philistines as they run away. Your comments on this revision are welcome.
*************

Friday, May 29, 2009

Getting Tartified

I'm sorry dear friends, but I must convey to you yet another food-related dilemma.
I am visiting my sister right now.
Just a while ago she came into the room where I was reading, and displayed this fine tray of freshly made tarts.
They consist of some sort of cream-cheese filling and are topped with a kiwi / strawberry / pineapple melange.
My current intentions are to eat perhaps one or maybe even two entire rows of these things AFTER our evening barbecue.

My questions become:
1) Does this desire of mine constitute some variant of the sin of gluttony?
2) If so, is this sin venial, or unforgivable?

3) If it is the former, what should my penance be?

4) If it is the latter, what shall my punishment be?

**********

Splash du Jour: Friday

Have a great Friday!
********

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Escalating Issues

An escalator can never break.
It can only become stairs.
You would never see an "Escalator temporarily out of order" sign, just "Escalator temporarily stairs. Sorry for the convenience."
-- Mitch Hedberg –

I’m going to mention a strange phenomenon I’ve personally observed, in hopes that I am not the only one who has ever observed it!
In all seriousness, I am worried because I feel that maybe this only applies to me, as in, I have something wrong with my brain, and/or the motor skills between my brain and my legs.
Here’s the thing When I get to an escalator that is not working, I all of a sudden forget how to walk on a stairway.
I’m not kidding.
First of all I sort of hesitate, hand on that nice 100% hygienically sound rubber banister rail, and my mind instantly says, “What the hell?”
But in the next second I realize the thing isn’t working and so I begin walking. But I find that I do so only very hesitantly. With reservation. And I feel off-balance, it’s the weirdest thing.
Walking up the steps is weird, but I find that the same thing happens walking down the escalator stairs, if the thing isn’t working. Something completely irrational happens. I’m scared as though all of a sudden going I’m going to pitch forward. So again, I walk ever so cautiously.
Yet when confronted with a stationary stairway I go bounding up or down the thing with nary a thought as to either of the trepidations outlined above.
Can anyone out there relate to what I am saying or is this a unique personal problem of mine?
Sincerely,
Cip

**********

Splash du Jour: Thursday

Woody: How would a beer feel, Mr Peterson?
Norm: Pretty nervous if I was in the room.


Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

“So that's the secret when you're bacheloring, boy, to keep your expenses in reason. Don't wash anything. Just let it all air. Before long nothing smells of anything."
-- From The Shadow Boxer, by Steven Heighton –

Note: From my own bachelor-perspective I find the above advice, given from fictional father to fictional son, to be very interesting. I'm going to try it out. Henceforth, I am no longer going to wash stuff, and see what happens!


Have a great Wednesday!
**********

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Vertical Symmetry Revisited

I have written about this before. But please bear with me as I once again blather on about how I really love the entire concept of Vertical Symmetry© that can be seen while walking around in any well-built city.
What I mean by “vertical symmetry” is, simply put, the phenomenon of how the vertical edges of buildings perfectly line up as one’s field of vision brings them together.
No.
I’m not saying it right.

OK… you are walking down the street and there are tall buildings in what is essentially a foreground and a background. As the outer edges of these massive buildings merge in your field of vision, note how perfectly they seam together.
I’m weird. I am addicted to doing this thing. As I walk around I can’t help but note all the vertical symmetry all over the place.
Yesterday I was in Montreal, walking down St. Catherine Street and noted the following example.

The church in the foreground is well over a hundred years old. The skyscraper behind it is many city blocks distant, yet note how symmetrical they are, the one with the other. I find this remarkable. This is not really a classic example of the vertical symmetry I am talking about as it is moreso an example of perfect vertical overlapping, but still, you get the gist.
Try it, city-dwellers. Urbanites, far and wide.
Don’t just walk down the street, staring at the sidewalk.
Look up, and over.

Marvel at the examples of vertical symmetry on virtually every street corner!
I’m sure I would fall down dizzy if I could walk around in New York or Chicago for a day, getting my fix!

See my former blog on this issue HERE.
And two other unrelated random photos of yesterday HERE.

***********

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

-- The Story of my Life --
[I am on the receiving end of that mop!]

Have a great Tuesday!
*******

Monday, May 25, 2009

WE ATE THAT STUFF!

I can’t deny it.
I like a good sandwich.
And today, wow -- spent the first day of my vacation in Montreal, Quebec.
Canada.
What a terrific city!
What terrific SANDWICHES!
There’s a restaurant on St. Catherine Street called Reubens!
Wow!

They know how to make a sandwich!
Here is some BEFORE & AFTER footage of what happened to my friend and I.

The superfluous slices of rye bread beside the mountainous piles of meat?
They are like the hubcabs that flew off the vehicle after it hit
whatever animal this used to be!

**********

Splash du Jour: Monday

I believe there is a higher power in this universe, and I know for a fact that it is not me. However, I still haven’t found a religion or orthodoxy completely consistent with the way my heart and mind process this understanding.
-- Michael J. Fox, in Always Looking Up --


Have a great Monday!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Always Looking Up

I truly loved his first book, Lucky Man.
His new one, Always Looking Up, is even better.
Subtitle → The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist.
Really, I just want to encourage you, one and all, to pick up this book and read it.
Lucky Man was a straight-ahead memoir.
In Always Looking Up, author Michael J. Fox focuses on IDEAS -- themes. These being Work, Politics, Faith, Family.
In this sense, it is more of a philosophical rendering of where he has been since Lucky Man came out in 2002. This is not so much chronology, or regurgitated journal entries, as it is the distillation of profound wisdom accrued in the crucible of courageous response to adversity. An inspiring application of his optimism.
Don’t worry.
Nothing in the book is as obtuse as my own explication of it.
Notice that I called Fox an “author” rather than “actor” or “movie-star”?
He is.
He is an author.
This is a well-written book [due nods to Fox’s literary helper Asher Spiller] --what we’ve got here between the dustjacket is witty, pithy, erudite, relevant, touching, and maybe even beyond all of these adjectives → IMPORTANT!
This is a crucial book.
I have learned so much about the political history of embryonic stem-cell research.
At the end of the “Faith” chapter, well, I was reading it in a busy Mall, and I just had to close the book because I was crying tears.
No matter who you are, or what you have gone through to get there, you can read this book and say to yourself, “Here is a guy who knows 30% or 40%, or [in my case] 96% more about it than I do.”
And no one is living a better life than Michael J. Fox.
Not a pitiful story. No.
The opposite, really.

I’ve said all this blabber, and yet not one word about what the book is really about.
I have not once said the “P” word, for instance.
You all know what makes him so shaky.
In reading this book, you sense that the Always Looking Up is going to pay off.
You want to be invited to that celebration party.
And when you're there, dancing, you will realize that it is the subtitle that made it all happen.
I encourage you to watch this
PART 1 / PART 2.
**********

Saturday, May 23, 2009

What You Gave: A Saturday Poem


What You Gave


One of my gifts to you was macaroni.
I withheld it, as those busy hands
unwrapping the inferior things, tore.
The bracelet you set to the side, and
how it swallowed the candlelight.

The Hotel New Hampshire beside it.
The button-up sweater, the very one
you thought did not exist --
how it kept your other treasures warm
as I reached, and the flame wobbled.

Handing you that rattly rectangle,
the eyes I saw seared my soul.
You were five kittens, and the laugh
that killed the candle between us
I would swim oceans to hear, forever.

© Ciprianowords Inc. 2009

Friday, May 22, 2009

Splash du Jour: Friday

video
This kitten exemplifies purrfectly, how I feel about my new work hours.
[Starting at 7 a.m., isn’t that illegal in some countries?]
At any rate, from here on out… 2 weeks of VACATION!
Bring it on!

Have a great Friday!
********

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Speaking My [Cat] Mind

I’ll be the first to admit it.
I’ve got a few issues of my own.
For one thing, I’m addicted to cat food.
And soft porn.
And the odd martini.
A bit of a hereditary hairball problem.

But then there’s my human.
This guy’s a real mess.
He drinks too much. He's going bald.
Eats like a pig. He snores!
He'll point at the litterbox, but I'm telling you the truth, he's the problem!
He's downright gaseous!
Hopeless in the romance department.
It’s known as Mid-Life Crisis, in the human world. Apparently it’s a source of profound frustration, at times, in that particular species grouping.
Hah!
What do they know about frustration?
I have to hold a beer with two paws!
And can-openers? Nearly impossible to get a good grip on!

As for the picture of me in an unguarded moment here?
Hey, I may be neutered, but I ain’t DEAD!

sincerely,
Jack

********

Splash du Jour: Thursday

Poetry, like the moon, does not advertise anything… The success of the poem is determined, not by how much the poet felt in writing it, but by how much the reader feels in reading it.
-- John Ciardi --


Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

video
One of my favorite scenes from a great movie.
Tommy Boy.
Starring the legendary Chris Farley!

Have a great Wednesday!
**********

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Turtle & The Fox

From the very moment I heard that Michael J. Fox had written a new book I wanted to read it. And I just started it today. It’s terrific, as was his first book, the memoir entitled Lucky Man.
This new one is called Always Looking Up, and continues on with the story of Fox’s experience with early onset Parkinson’s disease. Rather than being a chronological account, it is more topical, dealing with four major themes:
Work, Politics, Faith, and Family.
Early on there is a beautiful story of the very moment this Canadian-born [ had to say that there] actor decided to leave his successful career behind, retiring from his lead role in the sitcom Spin City.
It took place in the afternoon of the very last day of the twentieth century.
Michael and his family were snorkeling off St John’s in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Even though they had vacationed there before, many times, they had never yet encountered a sea turtle in the wild. But this afternoon, Michael spotted one, and proceeded to swim slowly behind it, “keeping a respectful distance.”

According to him, in that moment, “a switch had flipped.”
Oh, I love this part “When I finally emerged from the water, I kicked off my flippers, walked over to to where Tracy was toweling off the kids, grabbed a towel for myself, and informed her I was leaving the show.”
Wow!
There is only one thing that is cooler than this!
And that's her response.
She looked him in the eye, and uttered a single word.
“Good.”

-- The Foxes --
******

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

No words in today’s Splash.
The tulips should be word enough!
As seen on my walk home yesterday afternoon.

Have a great Tuesday!
********

Monday, May 18, 2009

Afterlands: A Perfect 10

Well just today I finished reading one of the best novels I have read in a long long while.
Afterlands, by Canadian author, Steven Heighton.
It is definitely the best book I have read so far this year, and I cannot imagine another one being better for me in 2009.
It is now up there in my opinion with the greats, like Alias Grace, and As The Crow Flies, and Libra, and stuff like that.
You know, when you are as multi-talented as I am […ahem…] there are times when it seems you can do anything. I can discuss junk as good as the other dude, I can sing better than this guy, I can play drums better than that guy, I can still beat Joe down the hall at tennis, and I can write…… pretty good.
But then you read a book like Afterlands.
And you realize stuff.
It is very humbling, but in a good way.
I very quickly and profoundly realize that even if my writing talents were to multiply exponentially over the next ten or twenty years, I would still never be able to write anything a hundredth as good as this guy can.

This Steven Heighton character!
The novel, God, I don't even know where to start, rather than delineate it in my own words I am going to direct you to a good synopsis of itHERE.
In this brief blog I just want to take the time to say that in my opinion, Afterlands is almost a dual novel.
After the Arctic portion of it, the author follows the protagonist Roland Kruger into Mexico, and to further adventures so epic in scope that, as I say, it is almost like reading a second novel. Yet all remains so intertwined [woven], so intricately connected to the themes of displacement and alienation, peril and rescue. Love and loss.
Kruger emerges a hero, but not a super-hero.
There is not one aspect of this novel that is flippant. Nothing is under or over cooked. And let's face it, both things can give one indigestion.
It is a thriller, but not a potboiler. Because it is based on actual events, it could be considered historical fiction, yet does not have the feel, in any typical sense, of the genre.
The perfect blend of wild invention and bone-numbing reality.

The white bird, an albino vulture, slouches in a niche in the canyon wall, like statuary in a satanic chapel. Its bald gory head is half turned away, as if feigning disinvolvement or anonymity. [p.320]

Come on now!
That is gorgeous, perfect, writing. And the whole entire book is that good.
It’s a perfect ten of a book and had me riveted from start to finish.
I encourage you one and all to trust me just this once. Afterlands cannot disappoint you.
I happen to have the inside scoop that Steven Heighton is busy at work. Even as I write this, he is squirreled away on an island writing his next novel. In the meantime, I have already picked up his former book, The Shadow Boxer.
And I am in the process of reading his poetry.
Yes, it is humbling to read stuff that is this good. And it is dizzyingly exciting.
Do not be discouraged that you will never write as good as Steven Heighton.
Neither will I.
Neither will anyone.

*********

Splash du Jour: Monday













When a person doesn’t have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity. A person can almost be defined by his or her attitude toward gratitude.

-- Elie Wiesel --


Have a great Monday!
***********

Sunday, May 17, 2009

My Neighborhood

I really like living where I live.
I enjoy the general urbanity of it.
I like city.
And I live basically in the heart of one.
A nice, relatively safe city.
Earlier today I was downtown, and snapped the picture above.
It is a photo of my apartment.
Dead center.
Just above that blue… thing, in the center.
Beside the flagless flagpole, or whatever it is.
If you can’t see it, that penthouse apartment, this means you need to get rid of your PC, and get a Mac.
If you have a Mac, and you zoom in real close, you can even see Jack there, nestled on the couch, reading the latest issue of Feline Monthly©.
Sipping his hairball-tea.
Tapping his cigar ashes onto the floor like he does.
Waiting for me to get home.

***********

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Sculpture: A Saturday Poem


Sculpture


She is one.
She breathes, moves, thinks.
Lives. But she is one. Along
with the attributes of mortals,
the side of her stuns.
Her hair will turn you to stone.
And her eyes, make you cry.

The walls of a room fall out.
She entered, and caused every
boundary to flee.
In panic?
No.
Not in panic. In a rush,
towards, not away.
Yet, with a trembling hand

one will reach, one will
peer. And neither, breathe.
Will she move, if I,
with my lips, with my lips
move her? Will I?

© Ciprianowords Inc. 2009

Friday, May 15, 2009

Splash du Jour: Monday

Bob Dylan, when asked what his songs were “about,” famously replied, “Some of them are about three minutes and some are about five minutes.”

Have a great Friday!
*******

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Re-Thinking My Mix

Umm… I’m not even sure I should confess the following story.
But here I go….
About a week ago I was told about some people that got very sick from eating pancakes made with expired batter!
At the time, I listened to this story with mild interest, while thinking “Hmmm. I have some old pancake mix in my cupboard, I know I do….”
Know what I mean?
I forgot about it entirely – until a few minutes ago.
I opened that cupboard to get some salt to refill my shaker!
Well there it is – that box of pancake mix!
So I took it out and looked at the expiry date.
Holy Moly!
And Uncle Badger!
I’m sort of embarrassed to tell you [keep in mind folks, I am an incorrigible bachelor]….. where was I, oh yeah, wicked embarrassed to tell you what the expiry date is on this stuff.
→ May 22, 1998.

I'm totally serious.
My mix is ten years old, with an 11th birthday fast approaching!
Isn’t that disgusting?
Should I be arrested?
And still [ever the “Waste not – Want not” type]… I am wondering, really having an inner battle here… should I throw this stuff out, or make a big heap of pancakes for myself and Jack tomorrow morning!

*******

Splash du Jour: Thursday

In childhood when you wake in the night it's often to fear; in adolescence it's to the engorging ache of lust. In adulthood, in the wee small hours, even a happy man or woman wakes troubled, and at first, before the full return of identity and causation, the feeling is sourceless and absorbing, as if part of a cosmic sadness every adult sleeper taps into. Wo bin ich? Where am I?
-- Steven Heighton, Afterlands

As for me, I tend to wake up in the middle of the night and want a hamburger!
At any rate, this book Afterlands, I am reading it right now and I’m telling you friends, I cannot put it down, it’s that terrific.


Have a great Thursday!
**********

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Some Poetic Advice







Do you ever try to write poetry?
I do.
And sometimes my stuff even rhymes.
It used to rhyme more frequently, but in the past five or six years I find that my poems are nearly always free verse.
I blame Billy Collins.
And William Stafford.
But mostly Billy Collins.
I’m not kidding. Since I really latched on to the wonderful poetry of Collins, I find that I’ve been going about poetry the easier way!
Free verse.
Regarding his disdain for this style, Robert Frost said “I’d just as soon play tennis with the net down.”
I love Frost, but his statement seems too dismissive for me. I prefer to think of free verse as, umm… hitting a tennis ball against a wall and having it bounce back to you.
And we all know! That is fun as hell!

I encourage you all to begin writing poetry if you haven’t done so yet.
Begin by just writing a pile of stuff and then break it up into different lines.
Let your imagination bounce out onto the page!
Or screen.
That’s another thing.
I wrote poetry long before computers were invented, and then when they came along I said [with Frostian disdain], “Hah! I will stick to paper and pen thank you very much! If it was good enough for Shakespeare…." yadda yadda.
And now, I find that I prefer tapping it all out on the keyboard.
While being drunk.
And speaking of technology, here is a little tip I will toss out to all my poet-friends.
You should all have on your desktop toolbar the following link RHYMER.
It is so cool.
On those days when you are trying to ace that serve and the net IS up, Rhymer can be a real help.
Especially if you’re a bit too drunk and stuff.


[One of mine that actually rhymes HERE.]
**********

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

The world is not to be put in order; the world is order incarnate. It is for us to harmonize with this order.
-- Henry Miller --


Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

It Makes Me Dizzy

I love contemplating the awesomeness of the fact that we are hurtling through space.
The never ending spaceness of it all, and stuff.
Every moment that you and I have been alive, we have been on the move.
And seriously so.
It is mind-boggling when you begin to research it a bit.
The earth right now as I type this is moving at a speed of 67,062 miles per hour through space, while spinning [rotating] at 1,000 miles per hour.

Even while lying in bed, fast asleep, all of us are seriously traveling.
Just how fast?
Well, it depends on a bunch of factors.
Firstly, your latitude on Earth--that is, how close you are to the equator--and the time of year make a difference. Actually, your travelocity [a word I just invented] is made up of four variables: the rotation of the Earth on its axis, the motion of the Earth around the Sun, the Sun's orbit about the center of the galaxy, and the motion of the whole galaxy.
All of this stuff taken into account, it ends up that as you and I lie in bed tonight [not together, per se, but you know what I mean…] we will be traveling at 900 kilometers a SECOND!
And all of this taking place in incredible silence.
Does that boggle your mind like it boggles mine?

Check out this real SPACED-OUT poem of mine
HERE.
*********

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

That people should aspire to read and think about great books, or even aspire to being thought of as the sort of person who reads great books, is not a bad thing for a society.
-- Susan Jacoby --


Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Splash du Jour: Monday

To me, it's always a good idea to always carry two sacks of something when you walk around. That way, if anybody says, “Hey, can you give me a hand?,” you can say, “Sorry, got these sacks.”
-- Jack Handey --


Have a great Monday!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

My Pensive Woman

I
DID
SOMETHING
TONIGHT
THAT
IS
VERY
TYPICAL
OF
ME.

I scavenged something out of the garbage!
I’m sorry – I’m sorry friends.
Someone else’s trash has become… well, a meaningful piece of art on my wall. Near the entrance, in my apartment.


I’m calling it My Pensive Woman©.
I wonder what the real name of this thing might be.
There is some artist’s name scribbled into the top right corner, looks like “Modiglam” or something like that!

Here’s how it happened.
See, from my parking space in the underground depths I have to walk right past the huge-normous garbage and recycling area. So, when I have the time, I climb right in there and just find stuff. Like, just a while ago, some perfectly good toothbrushes. Still had a lot of mileage left in them!
Stuff like that.
It’s amazing what people throw out! They obviously make more money than I do.
Anyhoo, so tonight I noticed this picture leaning against the big blue bin. Intrepid scavenger that I am, hell… this thing stopped me in my tracks.
And this is it. Above. Already on my wall.
[I had to take the photo at an angle to get rid of the glare from my flash.]

Is there something wrong with me, morally, hygienically, or otherwise? In doing these kind of things?
CONFESSION: Half of the stuff in my apartment I have scavenged from the trash at one time or another.
Should I attend some kind of Twelve-Step Program?
Scavengers Anonymous?

No matter what you say though, I’m keeping My Pensive Woman.
She just whispered to me, from her new home, “Oh, thank you! Thank you! I’ve still got a lot of mileage left in me. I’ve still got a lot….”
************

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Mother Mary: A Saturday Poem

Mother’s Day.
I know it’s not officially until tomorrow.
I have a calendar, and it says right there… Not Until Tomorrow.
Can’t say anything about moms, until tomorrow.
But really, is there anything we should be more preemptive about?
Is there ever a time we should not praise them?
Our dear dear mothers?
As some of you may be aware, my own mom, Helen, passed away an hour and a half into the New Year, 2009…. I miss her. Oh, I do. I miss her so much.
Yesterday at work, I paused, literally STOPPED what I was doing, and thought of her.
A while ago, I wrote a little poem, in honor of motherhood.
After you read this poem, please click on the link provided, which will take you to a little photographic montage of my dear, sweet, wonderful, mom.
She was a darling.
No.
Not was.
Is.


Mother Mary

It’s incongruent, the amount of unbelievers
that summon her. Mother Mary, they say,
knowing full well that even her own son
thought her but a mother. [Luke 11:27-28].
In other words, nothing special.

No. That is a misinterpretation.
She breathed the breath of God, obeying it.
As did yours.
There is no such thing as nothing special
when it comes to mothers.

© Ciprianowords Inc. 2009

Click HERE to see MY MOM!
*********

Friday, May 08, 2009

Million and 1th?

Well, I am just spending a lovely, candlelit Friday night with my book and some Old Milwaukee!
[Wow! You really know how to whoop it up there, Cippy!]
I know.
I’m totally out of control!
Don’t you just love it though when you stumble upon a book [not literally] and it just takes you in to its world?
This is what is happening with me and this book by Martin Amis, House of Meetings. I started it today, and I can’t put it down.
I have not been so taken up with a book [honestly] since sitting down with Don DeLillo’s Libra, earlier this year.
So again, the [brilliant] author uses a phrase I have seen a million times before, and have been unable to interpret, for now, the million and 1th time.
On page 12 → “deus ex machina”.
So I looked it up.
Turns out that this phrase means literally "god from the machine." It’s a plot device in which a person or thing appears "out of the blue" to help a character overcome a seemingly insolvable difficulty.
The Latin phrase "deus ex machina" comes to English usage from Horace's Ars Poetica, where he instructs poets that they must never resort to a god from the machine to solve their plots. He is referring to the conventions of Greek tragedy, where a “mechane” (crane) was used to lower actors playing a god or gods onto the stage. The machine referred to in the phrase could be either the crane employed in the task, or a riser that brought a god up from a trap door.
Which begs the question “What the hell did we do before Wikipedia?”

So there you go, my friends!
Now I know.
And so do you.
Don’t even try and tell me you already knew what deus ex machina meant.
Who do you think you are?
Alex Trebek?

*********

Splash du Jour: Friday

To cut up reality and make it more real… this is the intricate music of the art of fiction. It’s the music I have always tried to play.
-- John Steinbeck --


Have a great Friday!
*******

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Splash du Jour: Thursday

If I were overweight because I ate too much, I would have far more of a complex. I would know if I just stopped eating and showed a little discipline I would be thin. But there's not a hell of a lot I can do about being short. You just gotta run with it.
-- Michael J. Fox –


Just a reminder!
Be sure to watch it tonight [as I shall]… the Michael J. Fox special, Always Looking Up.
On ABC at 10 p.m., Eastern Time.
Watch the CLIP!


Have a great Thursday!
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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

She's Gettin' Under My Skin

This is going to be a real brief, music-related blog.
I love music.
And honestly, I don’t usually listen to this….. “young” kind of music.
Avril Lavigne?
Let’s face the “music.”
I’m old enough to be Avril’s grandpappy! [Or at least I feel that ancient and rickety after a grueling Wednesday of work…]
But, at any rate, I’ve been listening to her songs here on my iTunes for two evenings in succession and my conclusion is that there is a lot of good music coming out of this kid.
Really. Even terrific at times.
On the Under My Skin album, songs like Take Me Away, Nobody’s Home
, and Fall To Pieces…. I could listen to these on repeat mode for quite a while before switching back to something more senior-citizen like… like David Gilmour.
Admittedly, [and thankfully] the song Sk8er Boi, from the Let Go album, does nothing for me, in any sort of visceral sense, or otherwise. But then again, Complicated is excellent.
Great production, really.
Me. Cipriano© .
And Avril Lavigne.
Go figure.
Pour me another Geritol, and turn it up!
This girl makes me want to go out and buy a Ford Mustang!


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Splash du Jour: Wednesday

Here on the mountain I have spoken to you clearly… here on the Mountain the air is clear and your mind is clear; as you drop down into Narnia, the air will thicken. Take great care that it does not confuse your mind… Remember the signs and believe the signs. Nothing else matters.
-- C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair --


Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The Bag Tax©

I'm always looking for apocalyptic signs of the end of the world.
Armageddon and stuff.
And tonight, getting groceries at my favorite Loblaws Supermarket, I was once again hit full-force with undeniable evidence of the brevity of our days here on this planet we call Home.
We are living in the End Times, my friends!
I’m referring to the fact that they are now CHARGING FOR THE PLASTIC BAGS AT THE GROCERY STORE!
As in, money!
Yes.
I know it is hard to believe.

Seems like just last week the cashier was casually saying stuff like, “Do you want that chicken in a separate bag?” or…. “Do you want me to double-bag the milk?”
Well -- BLOW THE RAM’S HORN, JACOB! Those days are gone!


Now?
She gives you that icy look right up front.
Before she even starts bleeping your items she informs you that the plastic bags are going to cost you five cents apiece if you want ‘em!
So I say, “Uh-huh. No problem.”
But on the inside I’m thinking surely this must be in the Bible somewhere and I missed it. You know what I mean?


And in those days there descended upon the land great tribulation such as had not been seen heretofore. And the merchants decreed that no one, neither Jew nor Gentile, should be exempt from the Bag Tax©.
Yea, before granted access to their victuals, all must render unto Loblaws what is Loblaws, [namely five denarius per bag] and none shall be exempt. No, not one.


Or whatever.
What’s next?
Having the girl scan my forehead in order to PAY for those bags?
[Hey, wait a minute. Now I’m really scared. That part actually IS in the Bible!]


Gone are the good old days!
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Splash du Jour: Tuesday

video

Have a great Tuesday!
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Monday, May 04, 2009

Splash du Jour: Monday

It`s so attractive, too attractive. Your writing becomes more real than your reality. Acting is contained - you act for three months, then leave it - but writing is the act of creation. Writing is dangerous.
-- Sophie Marceau, after writing her semi-autobiographical novel Telling Lies, published in 2001 --


Have a great Monday!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

In Search of the Perfect Anna

I am currently reading Alain de Botton’s wonderful book The Romantic Movement: Sex, Shopping, and the Novel. [GET IT!]
It’s proving to be as terrifically good as all the other de Botton books I have read. This one is a mixture of fiction [a love story], philosophical musings and meaningful digressions. I just love the inimical style, wit, and verve of Alain de Botton.
The following is an example from the book, of one of those “meaningful digressions”…

Whenever film companies summon their courage and accountants to make a version of Anna Karenina, Emma or Wuthering Heights, they must brace themselves for the charge that they have betrayed the reader’s imagination with their choice of actress. The charm of literary characters depends on a complex interplay between suggestion and indeterminacy. Critics point out that Tolstoy never specified throughout the course of Anna Karenina what his heroine actually looked like, but this was perhaps no oversight on the great master’s part. It is the prerogative of books, freed as they are from the tyranny of the image and hence at some level of reality, to leave things to the reader’s
imagination. What need did Tolstoy have to tell us exactly what Anna looked like? If the writer thought his heroine beautiful and simply wanted the reader to feel the same way, then it was best to say she was beautiful and let readers get on with the rest – they were far better placed to know what set them salivating in this area.

I very much agree with de Botton that Tolstoy’s reticence is perhaps intentional. In not providing the reader with the exactitude of Anna, T
olstoy leaves the salivation factor wide open. The reader’s mind a playground. [I would now like to read Anna Karenina again, for the third time, and see if Tolstoy left the physiognomy of Count Vronsky equally uncorralled, for readers.] Since reading it for the first time, Anna has remained my favorite book of all time.
And so, I have thought about what de Botton is suggesting here. Film makers being charged with betraying the reader’s imagination with their choice of actress.
For Anna.
How does one choose an Anna?

There have been so many adaptations of Anna Karenina that it boggles the mind. I’ve been researching many of them this afternoon, and have chosen a few to discuss here. They are known as The Big Three silver-screen versions of the book.
I notice a definite… evolution, as it were.


The first is from 1935, and stars Greta Garbo, opposite Frederic Marsh.
Firstly, wrong hair color.
Anyone who knows anything knows that Anna has to have dark dark hair. Darker than “brunette” even.
Let’s be serious. Anna cannot be even remotely blonde.
Some shots of Garbo/Anna HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.


Then there was Vivien Leigh, in 1947.

Oh yes, much more closer to the musical truth. Vive le Vivien!
If you are in doubt, click HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.

But 1997 represented a quantum leap forward, in Anna-ism.
This was the year when Sophie Marceau was chosen to play Anna, opposite Sean Bean as Vronsky. I wonder if a single devotee of the novel could watch this movie and conclude that Sophie Marceau is not right for the role. I own the movie and have watched it time after time, mostly to watch this raven-haired actress own the part.
Excellent casting. The pinnacle of Anna-volution.
See what I mean HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.


Sometimes a casting director just gets it right, you know? And I love it when it happens. Another example, all three characters being cast with perfection, was the 1995 adaptation of Othello.
Laurence Fishburne as The Moor, Kenneth Branagh as Iago, and Irene Jacob as the perfect Desdemona.


Sophie Marceau – The Perfect Anna
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Saturday, May 02, 2009

Aging: A Saturday Poem


Aging


White at the sides, above the ears
I noticed them today. Wispy hair
Like snow fresh fallen appears
To have rested, unmelting there.

Should I fight it or become forlorn
Will neither matter, bye and bye.
I shall not fret nor have it shorn;
Shall calmly age, and never dye.

© Ciprianowords Inc. 2009

Friday, May 01, 2009

Splash du Jour: Friday

A cat cleaning his paws looks so philosophical.
Many times they will be engrossed in it (have you noticed?) and then look up into a middle distance, as though some profound as hell thought occurred to them. And they will stare, paw held in limbo, as though they are exploring the idea and maybe even considering writing a book about it.

-- L.B., in Illinois --


Have a great Friday!
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