Sunday, November 8, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
I have always been enchanted by our National Parks but I never knew much of the history. A few months ago I went to a screening and lecture by Kens Burns as he began promoting this documentary. If you do not know him, he also did the "Jazz" series, the "Baseball" series and "Quakers" sereis, all on PBS. Being a history buff and being fascinated by the parks, this is a great medium for me. I am ridiculously excited to watch this tonight. The series willb e broken up into regions and explores the history of how the parks came to be, the stories of how they grew, stories from those who lives near or in the parks, stories from the rangers who watched that land. What's not to be excited about!?
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Linda MacDonald-Lewis 07/20/2009 05:56 AM
The following is an article by the author including excerpts from the above book released this month world-wide available soon on Panalba.
‘It's a woman who wears the mantle of being the progenitor of the Scots people. Scota was her name...'
In the far reaches of Scotland's history... before the Picts and the Scots became one, before Christianity or feudalism set in ...there was a theme of equality, rights, freedom, and choice.
Skatha (Scota) taught the young men of Ireland, including Cuchulain, the skills of being a warrior, from the Isle of Skye. As for the Picts, the other cultural people who inhabited Scotland's shores, their system of inheritance and of rule is believed to have been passed through the line of women. Within this Scots/Pictish culture, many stories have been passed down of female warriors, leaders and advisers.
There never seemed to be a question of "man or woman" in this early history. Ability outranked gender. Equality, choice and consideration of others rights, in the race and social structure, was the result. This basic foundation of equality was a difference that would go on to influence history for many centuries to come.
Many, to this very day, will say, ‘the feudal system of rule reigned over the Middle Ages throughout the Western world.' But in Scotland, the clan systems that descended from the Celtic and Pictish tribes still held the power. Within this realm, the chiefs were not ‘rulers' in the feudal sense, but were considered to be the ‘first among equals'. There was a bloodline connection between the chieftain/chieftainess and the people they viewed as their clan. Not so in the feudal world, where through treachery or war the throne could and often did fall into the hands of a foreign power.
Those same clans were once again to rise up as late as the 1600s and 1700s, to bring their ‘chosen king' back to the throne. They all carried within them, in their hearts and their spirits, that long-held belief in equality and the rights that each person is given at birth.'
The Jacobite Rising is often held out as being fueled by the struggle of Protestant vs. Catholic, which can be misleading. On further study we see many Jacobites were in fact Protestant and Episcopal not struggling to bring back their King (James Stuart) because he was Catholic, but because he was the choice of the people, the ‘chosen king', ...their "rightful king". (Such was the circumstance of those souls the MacIains, on that fateful morning 13 February 1692, known as the Massacre of Glencoe.)
And these Jacobites were not just in Scotland, but throughout Ireland and England as well.
When the Jacobite Rebellion failed at Culloden Moor, many say, this defeat brought about "an end of the Scottish Clans and their way of life". Still, many left Scotland's shores for the Colonies of North America, seeking the right to live in peace and freedom. (Hugh Mercer, was at Culloden with Bonnie Prince Charlie's army and later died on the battlefield in the fight for Independence, at the Battle of Princeton. ). The reasons for fighting on both shores were much the same, ...the ideals surrounding rights of man.
These ideals of basic rights for all go back through millennia; the right to be involved in the choice of leadership, the code of ethics contained within the code of Highland hospitality, and the general way of life. And these same ideals, held fast by the Scots, have helped to deliver up to us, our freedom.
The freedom that we take for granted today was given to us by the sacrifice and endurance of those that came before. This freedom, and the democracy that grew from it, was over 500 years in the making.
This book will take you from the days of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce during the Wars of Independence in Scotland, to the days of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and their fight for freedom in America during the Revolutionary War. Follow the thread from Scotland to America, and come to understand how important one ended up being to the other.
We will see how and why a ‘wordsmith' (writer) in Arbroath, Scotland, created a document in 1320... and the influence it had 450 years later, and thousands of miles away, on a new people, in a new land.'
The similarity between these two documents: The Declaration of Arbroath and the Declaration of Independence did not happen by chance. Both reflect the basic beliefs the race of Scots carried with them no matter where they travelled. These beliefs, held fast by the Scots people, influenced all those that came in contact with them, like the later "Wordsmiths of Freedom"...George Buchanan, John Locke, and Thomas Paine. And, can be also be seen in the satement made by George Washington below, as compared to the most famous quote from the Declaration of Arbroath.
For so long as a hundred of us remain alive,we will never submit ourselves to English dominion.We fight not for glory nor riches nor honours;but only and alone we fight for freedom,which no good man gives up,but with his life.
DECLARATION OF ARBROATH, SCOTLAND 1320
If all else fails, I will retreat up the valley of Virginia, plant my flag on the Blue Ridge, rally around the Scotch-Irish of that region and make my last stand for liberty amongst a people who will never submit to British tyranny whilst there is a man left to draw a trigger...
GEORGE WASHINGTON AT VALLEY FORGE, WINTER 1777-78
The book launch for 'Warriors and Wordsmiths' will be held at 11am, Wednesday 29 July at the Smith Art Gallery and Museum, Dumbarton Road, Stirling FK8 2RQ, please RSVP to 01786 471917 or to firstname.lastname@example.org .
LINDA MACDONALD-LEWIS lives mostly in Seaside, Oregon and has dedicated herself to teaching America about Scotland. She visits Scotland frequently, and in 2005 she represented the USA at a conference on William Wallace at the Smith Art Gallery and Museum, Stirling, Scotland.
Linda is a Life Member of the Clan Donald Lands Trust in Scotland and is currently the Convener for the Clan Donald-USA, Pacific Northwest Region. She often performs at Highland Games and gatherings as a poet, historian and storyteller.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
Micheal Jackson has always been his own best story. This post is a brilliant and genuine look at it.
"Michael Jackson will be remembered, most likely, as a shattered icon, a pop genius who wound up a mutant of fame. That's not who I will remember, however. His mixture of mystery, isolation, indulgence, overwhelming global fame, and personal loneliness was intimately known to me. For twenty years I observed every aspect, and as easy as it was to love Michael -- and to want to protect him -- his sudden death yesterday seemed almost fated.Two days previously he had called me in an upbeat, excited mood. The voice message said, "I've got some really good news to share with you." He was writing a song about the environment, and he wanted me to help informally with the lyrics, as we had done several times before. When I tried to return his call, however, the number was disconnected. (Terminally spooked by his treatment in the press, he changed his phone number often.) So I never got to talk to him, and the music demo he sent me lies on my bedside table as a poignant symbol of an unfinished life.When we first met, around 1988, I was struck by the combination of charisma and woundedness that surrounded Michael. He would be swarmed by crowds at an airport, perform an exhausting show for three hours, and then sit backstage afterward, as we did one night in Bucharest, drinking bottled water, glancing over some Sufi poetry as I walked into the room, and wanting to meditate.That person, whom I considered (at the risk of ridicule) very pure, still survived -- he was reading the poems of Rabindranath Tagore when we talked the last time, two weeks ago. Michael exemplified the paradox of many famous performers, being essentially shy, an introvert who would come to my house and spend most of the evening sitting by himself in a corner with his small children. I never saw less than a loving father when they were together (and wonder now, as anyone close to him would, what will happen to them in the aftermath).Michael's reluctance to grow up was another part of the paradox. My children adored him, and in return he responded in a childlike way. He declared often, as former child stars do, that he was robbed of his childhood. Considering the monstrously exaggerated value our society places on celebrity, which was showered on Michael without stint, the public was callous to his very real personal pain. It became another tawdry piece of the tabloid Jacko, pictured as a weird changeling and as something far more sinister.It's not my place to comment on the troubles Michael fell heir to from the past and then amplified by his misguided choices in life. He was surrounded by enablers, including a shameful plethora of M.D.s in Los Angeles and elsewhere who supplied him with prescription drugs. As many times as he would candidly confess that he had a problem, the conversation always ended with a deflection and denial. As I write this paragraph, the reports of drug abuse are spreading across the cable news channels. The instant I heard of his death this afternoon, I had a sinking feeling that prescription drugs would play a key part.The closest we ever became, perhaps, was when Michael needed a book to sell primarily as a concert souvenir. It would contain pictures for his fans but there would also be a text consisting of short fables. I sat with him for hours while he dreamily wove Aesop-like tales about animals, mixed with words about music and his love of all things musical. This project became Dancing the Dream after I pulled the text together for him, acting strictly as a friend. It was this time together that convinced me of the modus vivendi Michael had devised for himself: to counter the tidal wave of stress that accompanies mega-stardom, he built a private retreat in a fantasy world where pink clouds veiled inner anguish and Peter Pan was a hero, not a pathology.This compromise with reality gradually became unsustainable. He went to strange lengths to preserve it. Unbounded privilege became another toxic force in his undoing. What began as idiosyncrasy, shyness, and vulnerability was ravaged by obsessions over health, paranoia over security, and an isolation that grew more and more unhealthy. When Michael passed me the music for that last song, the one sitting by my bedside waiting for the right words, the procedure for getting the CD to me rivaled a CIA covert operation in its secrecy. My memory of Michael Jackson will be as complex and confused as anyone's. His closest friends will close ranks and try to do everything in their power to insure that the good lives after him. Will we be successful in rescuing him after so many years of media distortion? No one can say. I only wanted to put some details on the record in his behalf. My son Gotham traveled with Michael as a roadie on his "Dangerous" tour when he was seventeen. Will it matter that Michael behaved with discipline and impeccable manners around my son? (It sends a shiver to recall something he told Gotham: "I don't want to go out like Marlon Brando. I want to go out like Elvis." Both icons were obsessions of this icon.) His children's nanny and surrogate mother, Grace Rwaramba , is like another daughter to me. I introduced her to Michael when she was eighteen, a beautiful, heartwarming girl from Rwanda who is now grown up. She kept an eye on him for me and would call me whenever he was down or running too close to the edge. How heartbreaking for Grace that no one's protective instincts and genuine love could avert this tragic day. An hour ago she was sobbing on the telephone from London. As a result, I couldn't help but write this brief remembrance in sadness. But when the shock subsides and a thousand public voices recount Michael's brilliant, joyous, embattled, enigmatic, bizarre trajectory, I hope the word "joyous" is the one that will rise from the ashes and shine as he once did."
Thursday, June 25, 2009
My parents were the kind that said things like, "What are you doing inside?" Which was their way of saying "Go find something to do instead of following me around the house all day." So my brother and I spent lots of time outside and I loved it. I don't know how we ended up with an outdoor cat named Misty but it eventually had kittens. I was allowed to keep one. He was black with little white feet. I called him Stinker. Some boy in the neighborhood took one of the cats, maybe it was Stinker. I remember that my brother knew who did it, promptly went to his house
and took his dog. The cat eventually came home and but the dog refused to leave. That's how I got my first dog, Sheba. Well, the second really. Apparently, when I was 2 or 3 yrs old, I was given a toy poodle. Mom found me holding the thing over the commode by the scruff of his neck with one hand and a washcloth in the other. She came to see what all the flushing was about. I was being a responsible pet owner and giving him a bath. Mom felt that maybe I was too young and gave it away but I am sure she was afraid that I might accidentally take more matters into my own hands. Sheba, I came to adore. In the beginning, she was dad's dog. But I had her until I was 24. She was a Manchester Terrier. I have only ever seen one other like her and that was in a picture. There is a picture of Jacqueline Bouvier when she was about 5 yrs old with an exact replica of my Sheba. She looked like a doberman with a long thin tail, if it were the size of a terrier.
Sheba followed us all over the neighborhood which really just consisted of the street we lived on as we weren't allowed to play on the other streets. It wasn't very long but had a cul de sac. We lived toward the main street end. Our neighbor had a pet skunk that had been descented. I was never allowed to pet it. Mom felt about skunks the same way she felt about possums. Creepy. Brian Wagner lived in the cul de sac. He would later graduate high school with me as his family moved back into the county the same year we did. His mom was also the loon who ran over Misty, the outdoor cat. It was 80 degrees out and she was napping on the hot asphalt in front of our house. Mrs. Wagner stopped her car and stated she thought she just hit our cat. I remember my uncle, Danny Ray, saying to her, " Well move your car then." He went to the street and got her and brought her to me. Her neck was broken and she had died instantly. Danny Ray would bury 3 more of my pets for me while I was growing up. He hated doing it every time. He was scared to death to make me cry.
We had a car port with a shed built in. we had the best Halloween Ever in the car port. My Dad spent at least a week constructing "something" in there and no one else was allowed in. Then the day came and The Boo House came alive. In order to get candy from our house, you had to go through the Boo House. My parents have evil senses of humor. They KNOW that kids want free candy no matter what and will go to great lengths to get it. When you are way under poverty level, Halloween is Christmas for your mouth. The backyard was transformed into a holding pen for those of us who were to chicken to go through the Boo House, yet. Powdered donuts hung from strings and were tied to tree branches. A giant metal tub held apples and gallons of water that no one was ever going to convince me to shove my head into. There was a constume contest. I won, of course. I was dressed as a gypsy, courtesy of my mother's closet. I seem to recal my brother was dressed as a football player. My Dad loved the Dallas Cowboys.
But the Boo House...
You entered through the backyard into the car port door. It was dark except for the red and green overhead light. You were greeted by several rubber snakes hanging from the ceiling. You had to follow to the left, along a cardboard hallway which was almost 6 ft tall. When you rounded the corner, at the end of the next walkway was a man holding his head in his lap. He was wearing my Dad's clothes. Ew. I think I recall the head talked to you, with my Dad's voice no less. Creepy. The next corner was full of rattling chains held by a tall glowing white faced woman who was laughing hysterically. Frightening. The last corner brought you to a larger area with a coffin. In it, lay a person in a long brown robe with a crooked face and hood on it's head. It's hands were wrapped around my Mom's favorite metal mixing bowl which was only noticed but it was full to the brim with candy! As you approached to get your candy, the person sat up and held the bowl out for you! Run, run! But wait, if you left then you had to start all over again and you wanted that handfull of candy. Grab it and run! Every kid in the neighborhood came. It was awesome. The pictures are great. I will post them if I can find them soon.
I didn't go in. I let Dad walk me through it the next day, during daylight, with him holding my hand. Turns out my mom's best friend Betty, who is pale already and had a big beehive of black hair, covered her face in Noxema and borrowed loggin chains to shake at us. And it was my Mother scarring the bejezuz out of everyone in the coffin. My parents and their friends laughed at our adolescent expense for weeks. Kids have great entertainment value.
My love of storytelling, and scary things, began on Lovelles Road. I remember sitting in Lee's front yard on the main corner of our road at dusk listening to everyone take a turn telling a scary story. Betty's daughter, Brandi, was my main girlfriend growing up. She was a spoiled brat and bullied me until I was in 4th grade. This particular night she had decided to stay inside and take a bath so she could wear her pretty new nightgown and robe. It was floor length, pink and had ruffles. My brother was there with a friend of his who was telling a story about a girl who was taken from her home in the middle of the night into the woods by an axe murderer. He chased her through the woods and tormented her then finally killing her. "It was said that the girl could sometimes be seen running through the woods screaming for help." The moment the boy said those words, Brandi comes running down the dark street (no street lights) in her new flowy nightgown yelling for my brother and I. In less than three seconds, every single kid scrammed like cockroaches. I remember my brother said something to her in a tone that had to include eye rolling but it was too dark for me to be sure.
My parents rented a saxophone for my brother, at his request. He was awful. He ended up with drums instead. They also rented an organ for a time. I think it was meant for my brother but I took to it immediately. I was in 2nd grade and could play 'Aloha Oy' all the way through. The newspaper even asked if they could write about me. I have no idea if that ever happened. I should try looking that up. We also had air conditioning. In 112 degree summers, my house felt like the Arctic. No matter who was coming in the house, Mom could you hear from whatever room she was in and would yell, " Close the Door!" She was trying to trap the Arctic and no one was invited I guess. I loved that wall of icy air when you first came into the house. I was therefore yelled at a lot.
At some point, the attic became my brother's room. I think it was about the time the drums arrived. Smart parents of mine. You could get into the attic two ways. 1) the pull down trap door in the ceiling that magically became a ladder or 2) the linen closet. Some brilliant planning had hidden a built-in wall ladder on the inside of the linen closet just below option #1. If you took out all the linens and shelves, I think, the ladder was usable. I recall my brother shouting to us through the open top of the linen closet in hopes that we would let the ceiling door down so that he might be able to eat breakfast or just leave the house. It never dawned on me to find way to lock him up there. My brother and I always got along great for siblings and so if I did that, I probably wouldn't have anyone to play with anymore.
While eating breakfast on morning at the kitchen table, there was a huge crash above us. Then there was one of my mother's legs dangling through the ceiling in front of the fridge. She had mistepped and fell through the insulation. All I heard then was lots of curse words. But I am pretty there was some laughter mixed in there too.
My brother was once rushed to the doctor for tearing into his inner thigh after crashing his bike in front of the house. He was sure to show me how gross it was before he left. Ew.
We had cable for the first time ever. It was one of those mammoth cable boxes that had 30 or so of those push down buttons. Every Saturday morning the USA Network showed 9 to 5, The Incredible Shrinking Woman and Popeye. I think we saw those movies 90 times.
I loved that house. Those friends. Those pets. That school. That yard and the radishes that I was allowed to eat right out of the ground.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
“Nuptials. Sounds like something you get a case of. See: I felt a case of the nuptials coming on so I had a full-body fiancé.”
Sloane Crosley has written a debut book of humorous essays. A coworker dropped this book off at my desk, which I promptly read on the bus ride home. All the while the man next to me kept asking if I was ok. I was laughing so hard that I had tears running down my face. He apparently thought I was having a fit of some kind. Well, I kinda was.
Fondle this book if you can or visit her website www.sloanecrosley.com
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Mary is an american poet who has lived in Provincetown, Mass. for 30 some odd years with her parnter, Molly, who recently passed a couple years ago. Mary has won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry which has a great focus on nature. Think Leaves of Grass but with no whining. She writes about ravens, turtles, ponds, cattails, hawks, bears, marshes and beaches with her dog. Her poetry enchants my spirit and inspires my senses.
Her books include Owls and Other Fantasies, House of Light, DreamWork, White Pine, West Wind, The Leaf and The Cloud and What Do We Know. She has also written five or so books of prose which include Blue Pastures, Rules for the Dance and Winter Hours.
From Thirst, her most recent book (written after Molly's death):
When I Am Among The Trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
I am so distant fromt he hope of myself, in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.
Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, "Stay awhile."
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, " It's simple," they say,
"and you too have come
into this world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine."
From New and Selected Poems, Volume Two
Little Dog's Rhapsody in the Night
He puts his cheek against mine
and makes small, expressive sounds.
And when I am awake enough
he turns upside down, his four paws
in the air
and his eyes dark and fervent.
Tell me you love, he says.
Tell me again.
Could there be a sweeter arrangement? Over and over
he gets to ask it.
I get to tell it.
Also, Why I Wake Early:
Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and the crotchety -
best preacher that ever was,
dear start, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darknness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light -
good morning, good morning, good morning.
Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
A few years ago, I went to see an exhibit at the Frye Museum. It was about the work of Henry Darger (1892-1973), a recluse whose artwork was found after his death. Upon clearing out his apartment, his landlord found hundreds of pages of handcrafted art and notes. Once they were put together, it was realized that it was a story, no an epic. The story revolves around the seven daughters of Robert Vivian. They are princesses of a Christian nation called Abbieannia. They help rise against the evil John Manley who maintains a regime of child slaves imposed by the Glandelinians. Children fight in their own defense, sadly often slain or viciously tortured by the Glandelinians.
Henry was orphaned very young and spent his childhood in institutions. He lived in the same Chicago apartment for 40 years. He collected newspapers and magazines, mostly from the trash. Henry used cutouts and trace pieces to create pictures then he went over them with watercolors. Throughout his life, he did this and created the epic story of the rebel Vivian Girls in what would become known as "Realms of the Unreal".
As I walked through the exhibit, I was fascinated by his repetitious drawings and tracing. He used a lot of the same images again and again. I was also curious about the story and why he was such a fierce defender of abused children. I found out that Henry named one of his characters, Annie Aronburg, after a girl he read about in the Chicago Times in 1911. This five year old girl had been found strangled and her murderer never found. That story thouched him enough that he included her in his story, maybe as a way to defend her. The final portion of the exhibit was several very large panels of The Vivian Girls rise and battle scenes showing two different endings to the story. If you have time, read about this gentleman or see the documentary done about his work and the quiet man who created a world of his own and stood up for what he believed in the only way he could.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
All I did know was that I was in Warrior mode when I was reorganizing my netflix queue. The preview however caught me. As it should, that is it's sole purpose.
So what I got was this: clear, crisp, sweeping, artful beauty, and lines intended to make you laugh out loud. Mongolian culture is not something I know a lot about but I was completely enchanted by them in this film.
Foreign films are mostly beautiful to me. However sometimes the story lags and either there is not enough happening on screen to tell the tale or there is little useful translation to make it worthy.
Mongol is the first of three installements regarding the life of Temudjin. If you know nothing of this man, watch this. You can understand him, fight along with him, feel the honor of him.
Tremendous storytelling and beautifully done. I watched it a second time through.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
NPR is my home page and they have a series called Picture Show. It's the first thing I look at just before the Monkey See blog. Today's picture show had me shrieking like a girl and was immediately forwared to my favorite obsure-loving friends. A photographer by the name of Lyndon Wade was featured much to my delight (note the above shreiking). Lyndon is lyrical, fantastical , theatrical. He is vibrant, twisted, funny, clever, dark and light. He has composed a series as his homage to Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds which flat out kicks ass. He uses frightened children. As a child, I remember being very afraid after seeing that movie. He has also done a series called Room 107 that follows several possible scenarios of happenings in a cheap motel room. Lyndon has a keen eye that makes me feel like I am looking at a collage or pop up book. I can't express my new found love for this man's work without more shrieking. So to save you all from that nonsense, check out his site http://www.lyndonwade.com/ or at least read check out today's Picture Show on npr.com.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
I remember trying to follow along with my older brother's books when we were in elemtary school. I was brilliant, or so I thought, and when I began officially learning to read I plowed through the A book, skipped the B book and fell head first into the C book. Who knew that there were so many stories I had not heard? Who knew that the key was being able to read them myself. Instant motivation for a first grader with an imagination the size of Wyoming.
Talking. Check. Reading. Check. Writing. Check. All things I love to do. So here we are. I have a huge list of books I want to read and mountains of things that catch my eye daily. My love affair is an addictive thing. I enjoy writing and need an outlet so what better to do than share some stories and talk about others? I want to write about what I am reading, talk about my favorite books and stories and hopefully have you pitch in and make my reading list even longer.
The best stories are the ones that leave you standing in the window waiting to see who will visit next.