Writers Muse Blog: Trinity: It is my contention that a really great novel is made with a knife and not a pen. A novelist must have the intestinal fortit...
Writers Muse Blog: Characterization is an accident that: Characterization is an accident that flows out of action and dialogue. Jack Woodford You don’t write because you wa...
Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can. Dalai Lama
Underwater Ancient City of Corinth in Greece Unveiling Its Mysteries
Article by Harshna S.. Published on December 25 2015. Categorized under Science and Health News
A team of researchers behind the Lechaion Harbor Project (LHP) has unveiled some of the mysteries of the partly-submerged ancient ruins of Lechaion, which used to be the harbour town of Corinth, Greece. Great monuments and structures of architectural value have been documented together with a discovery deemed to be surprising.
Aerial photo of part of the site being studied by archaeologists. Photo credits: K. Xenikakis & S. Gesafidis.
The evidence gleaned from the underwater ruins points at Lechaion’s development as a harbour town whose importance was nearly as pronounced as nearby city, Corinth, says archaeologist Bjørn Lovén, from the University of Copenhagen, and one of the authors.
Lechaion used to be one of the busy ports of ancient Corinth from the 6th century BCE to the 6th century CE. Ships setting out from there would sail to ports all across the Mediterranean, and other areas. This is what has allegedly contributed to Corinth becoming a wealthy city; archaeologist Lovén explains that it was thus commonly known as “Wealthy Corinth”.
Lechaion used to be one of the busy ports of ancient Corinth from the 6th century BCE to the 6th century CE. Ships setting out from there would sail to ports all across the Mediterranean, and other areas. This is what has allegedly contributed to Corinth becoming a wealthy city; archaeologist Lovén explains that it was thus commonly known as “Wealthy Corinth”.
The submerged part of the harbour was excavated and studied using technologies such as a 3D parametric sub-bottom profiler to carry out a digital, geophysical analysis of the area.
The researchers were surprised to find wooden chests that were well-preserved. They explain that they might have been barges that would contain concrete cargoes to be sunk together so that a strong base would be built, thereby blocking the force of the sea from the exposed region of the coast. This type of technology has been discovered for the first time in Greece. Otherwise, it is known that Roman imperial engineers adopted a similar approach in the first century BCE.
The caissons seem to have existed at the time of the Christian church Leonidas Basilica, as per carbon dating. The church was constructed during the middle of the 5th century CE, and so, this finding challenges the common assumption that harbour facilities were put together during the Greek and Roman times which were then only repaired and maintained during the Byzantine period.
The team also found that the original location of the ancient harbour might have been further seaward, around 45 meters from the modern shore. The researchers are currently studying the geophysics of the area to shed light on the sea-level change.
Lovén says that their research will provide additional information as to the evolution of the harbour contributing to the establishment of Corinth as an important economic and military power during the Greek, Roman, and Byzantine era.
HERE'S PLEASANT POEM FOR YOU TO ENJOY................
By C.K. Williams
A middle-aged woman, quite plain, to be polite about it, and
somewhat stout, to be more courteous still,
but when she and the rather good-looking, much younger man
she’s with get up to dance,
her forearm descends with such delicate lightness, such restrained
but confident ardor athwart his shoulder,
drawing him to her with such a firm, compelling warmth, and
moving him with effortless grace
into the union she’s instantly established with the not at all
rhythmically solid music in this second rate cafe,
that something in the rest of us, some doubt about ourselves, some
sad conjecture, seems to be allayed,
nothing that we’d ever thought of as a real lack, nothing not to be
admired or be repentant for,
but something to which we’ve never adequately given credence,
which might have consoling implications about how we misbe-
lieve ourselves, and so the world,
that world beyond us which so often disappoints, but which
sometimes shows us, lovely, what we are.
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. Martin Luther King Jr.
I FOUND A WONDERFUL PHOTOGRAPHER, VIVIENNE GUCWA
ART PRINTS BY VIVIENNE GUCWA
Beethoven sheet music found in Connecticut home sells for $100K
By Associated Press
December 20, 2015 | 1:44pm
GREENWICH, Conn. — Sheet music written by Ludwig van Beethoven and found in a Connecticut home has fetched $100,000 at auction.
The Greenwich Time reports that appraiser Brendan Ryan spotted the sheet music when he visited the home of a Greenwich woman looking to sell some belongings. He recognized Beethoven’s handwriting in the German words, directions and symbols on the page because he’d seen it before.
Research authenticated the music and determined it was from a sketchbook dating to 1810 and used by the composer for brainstorming.
It’s unclear what happened to the sketchbook after Beethoven’s death in 1827. It was sold in portions, with fragments turning up.
Ryan says finding a complete sheet is rare. It was purchased by a German antiques dealer.
It’s unclear how the page found its way to the Greenwich home.
Why Ancient Greek Heroes Are Still So Appealing In Today’s Culture
By Halen Allison
Heroes of antiquity still have a lot to teach us about our own virtues and flaws.
The connection service members and veterans have to those who’ve served before us runs deep. We venerate the likes of Lewis “Chesty” Puller, Audie Murphy, and John Boyd, not only for their heroism on the battlefields of yore, but for their contributions to our warfighting profession. They inspire us and set the standards by which we judge ourselves. We take the heritage they’ve given us very seriously. But the draw we have to the warriors of the past extends further back into history as we also feel a tremendous kinship with and respect for the soldiers and heroes of the classical world.
Antiquity is resplendent with heroes both real and mythical. Alexander, King Leonidas, Hannibal, and Caesar stand out as legendary military leaders and tacticians whose impact on the world can still be seen today, and we idolize the hard, rough men they led into battle. Greek mythology has given us Perseus, Theseus, Hercules, and Jason to name just a few. And any discussion about heroes of the past has to include Achilles, Ajax, Odysseus, and other figures from Homer’s “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey.”
What about these heroes do we find so appealing? They were, of course, heroic. But they were more than that. They personify the martial spirit we seek to emulate. Alexander defeated a vastly larger enemy and reduced the powerful Achaemenid Persian Empire with a mere 35,000 men. He took his army from the Levant to the Baes River in modern India. Hannibal’s double envelopment and destruction of the Roman army at Cannae is viewed as the gold standard of battlefield victories. Ajax single handedly held off the Trojan army, saving the day for his Greek comrades.
The appreciation for the martial spirit of the ancients is further evidenced by the adoption of many of their symbols and sayings by military units, companies that cater to the military community, and individuals in and out of uniform. We’ve all seen the malevolent-looking Corinthian helmet, for example, with its plunging cheek guards, dark eyes, and flowing crest, adorning patches and logos.
While these legendary men sometimes seem larger than life and were idealized in many ways, they were also very real, and like us, very complex. It is clear from reading ancient sources that these heroes held dear many of the same virtues that we value: honor, loyalty, courage, perseverance, ingenuity, and adaptability. For example, Homer tells us that Ajax and Odysseus fight the Trojans by themselves to recover Achilles’ body so they can give him a proper burial. This echoes the sentiment that we leave no man behind. Odysseus, during a decade-long trip home from his deployment to Troy, exemplified ingenuity and cunning. When captured by the Cyclops Polyphemus, Odysseus tells him that his name is Nobody. After blinding Polyphemus so that he could escape, the Cyclops cried out for help saying, “Nobody has blinded me!” The other cyclopes ignored him and he went on to endure, and triumph over, more hardships. This says nothing of Odysseus’ most famous act of cunning, that of ending the ten year siege of Troy with a wooden horse. It is interesting to note that while the Greeks adored Odysseus, the Romans reviled him, thinking that such deceit and deception had no place among honorable men.
Our military, however, has a long history of using deception to achieve victory, from ever-evolving camouflage to the creation of the fictional First U.S. Army Group in Operation Fortitude. Odysseus would be proud.
Despite their many virtues, these figures had flaws and were vulnerable. While in many ways no less powerful, and certainly blessed by the gods, they lacked utterly the aura of invincibility that many of our modern mythological figures have. This is part of the reason they are so accessible and feel so much like us even after thousands of years. One has a hard time believing that Superman or Wolverine will ever achieve such lasting appreciation among future warfighters. Significantly, it is difficult for us to think of our own war heroes as being vulnerable because they are too close to us; being known almost solely for their laudable acts of heroism in battle, they become one dimensional.
We have no such issues with those from antiquity. They are literally described as being flawed, and in some cases, their flaws, despite their virtues, actually define them. Achilles famously had his heel. He was also ruled by his rage. After killing Hector in single combat, Achilles, in his grief, hooked the Trojan’s body to his chariot and desecrated it, dragging it through the funeral games being held for his friend Patroclus.
These myths and legendary men remain relevant today despite the two millennia or more that have passed. Not only are their victories and defeats studied by military tacticians and strategists, but their stories show us that the nature of war and its impacts on the warriors who fight hasn’t changed even with all our technological advances. At the heart of these myths and the accounts of wars in antiquity are fighting men engaged in life or death struggles. They shared with their comrades the same intimate bonds and struggles that we share with ours today.
Dr. Jonathan Shay, in his books “Odysseus in America and Achilles in Vietnam,” suggests that the heroes in Homer’s works may have suffered from post-traumatic stress, or what he calls moral injuries, from their exposure to the rigors of combat. Homer’s works were not tales of adventure and glory, but tragedies describing men touched by war. And these myths are helping today’s veterans deal with their experiences. The organization Theater of War performs readings of classical plays and poems, such as Sophocles’ “Ajax” and “Philoctetes,” for veterans to help them understand that PTSD is a condition suffered by even ancient warriors. Founder Bryan Doerries recently published a book with the same name. Another organization, Voices for Veterans, uses mythology to encourage veterans to talk about their experiences among their peers.
We know that we owe a lot to those who came before us, from Patton and Petraeus to Alexander and Odysseus. It is our martial heritage, and we admire the heroes and warriors of antiquity. While we can appreciate them for their virtues and flaws, we can acknowledge that they have a lot to teach us. Not only about war, but about ourselves.
Halen Allison is a former Marine intelligence analyst who currently lives in Western New York. He is an amateur historian with a keen interest in writing about current affairs, politics, and veteran issues.
The narcissus: a flower rooted in mythology
By Ishrat Hyatt
The narcissus is a pretty, small, creamy white -- there are yellow varieties as well -- flower on a long stem, somewhat like a miniature daffodil and it has a strong, heady scent which fills the room if you put a bunch of them in a vase. The narcissus blooms in winter, especially around Christmas time, so now they are available in plenty and you can find them at flower shops and clutched in the hands of small boys and girls, men and women, who try and sell them at traffic lights or by the roadside, besides being available in flower shops. Come to think of it you rarely see these roaming flower sellers during daylight hours, maybe because they could be considered beggars and would be whisked away by the police, who are trying to control the menace of begging. They can be seen, though, in the evening and at night, unmindful of the cold but hoping you will buy a bunch at the inflated prices they quote – which is okay, I guess, considering not many people succumb to their pleas.
The word Narcissus is derived from the Greek word 'narke', meaning numbness or stupor. Some attribute the naming of the flower to its narcotic fragrance while others debate that it is associated with the poisonous nature of the Narcissus bulbs but according to Greek mythology, Narcissus or Narkissos was a hero of the territory of Thespiae in Boeotia who was renowned for his beauty. Several versions of his myth have survived: it is said that he was so enamoured of his looks that he kept looking into a stream until he turned into the flower known by his name! Another story is a lesser known variant in which Narcissus had a twin sister. Both dressed similarly and hunted together. Narcissus loved her a lot and when she died, Narcissus pined after her and pretended that the reflection he saw in the water was his sister. Yet another story is that the Narcissus flower was created to entice Demeter's daughter Persephone away from her companions to enable Hades to abduct her.
There are many other myths and legends in the same vein -- mainly about his good looks and the effect they had on people and himself they make for fascinating reading if you into mythology. The term ‘narcissus complex’ has been coined from his behaviour and applies to those who think that they are the most beautiful people on earth and therefore have a superiority complex about their looks -- I’m sure you know a number of such people. I do!
MUSIC FOR THE SOUL
Count Basie and Frank Sinatra, 1965
In the footsteps of Aristotle: A Greek walking tour around the stomping ground of the one of the world's greatest philosophers
• The world famous thinker used to go to the forests Halkidiki to ponder
• New walking trails are opening up in the area, suitable for varying abilities
• Paths are lined with plants which inspired the Aristotle’s interest in botany
By LIZZIE ENFIELD FOR THE MAIL ON SUNDAY
‘I’m waiting for an epiphany,’ says my daughter Kitty as she sits on a rock by the Varvara waterfall. If there were a place for a moment of revelation, then this is it.
In the forests of Greece’s Halkidiki region, this is where Aristotle used to come and ponder.
Kitty is studying philosophy at school. She enjoys it, albeit mostly when not in the classroom. If we go out for a walk and her younger brother hides, she’ll quote Descartes: ‘He who hid well, lived well.’ And if we pause by a river, she’ll remark: ‘You cannot step in the same river twice. That’s Heraclitus!’
The main Aristotelian Trail affords spectacular views of the Gulfs of Ierissos and the Mount Athos peninsula
Ancient Greeks also philosophised on the move. Aristotle walked so much that his brand of philosophy was known as the ‘peripatetic school’. So what better way to inspire a student than to take her to the birthplace of Aristotle and walk on the mountain that bears his name?
This area has three distinctive ‘fingers’. Aristotle’s stomping ground was on the eastern finger, where latter-day Greeks have been busy opening up several new walking routes. There are eight trails around the Mount Athos area, previously best known for its men-only monastery.
One follows the border of the monastic state, another the route of the Persian King Xerxes, and the longest – the 13-mile Aristotelian Trail – allows walkers to track the ancient philosopher’s thought process from the modern coastal village of Stagira to the ruins of Ancient Stagira, where he was born in 384 BC.
Before we begin, we visit the Aristotelian Park, an outdoor interactive circuit in Stagira, where you can test some of the great man’s scientific discoveries.
The main Aristotelian Trail winds around the densely forested hillsides of the eponymous mountain, occasionally emerging into clearings which afford spectacular views of the Gulfs of Ierissos and Strymonikos, and the Mount Athos peninsula.
The terrain is not unduly arduous, and the path is wide and lined with plants which stimulated the youthful Aristotle’s interest in botany. Pines, chestnuts, oak and juniper trees provide shade and the air is thick with the scent of thyme and oregano. Wild cistus flowers proliferate and, in late summer, mauve flowers of Erica heather give the mountain a vivid hue.
It’s a fertile area and has provided locals with sustenance for over 2,000 years: fruits, berries, mushrooms, chestnuts and herbs. And it’s not just plant life that thrives. We pass a family of goats as we walk and spot a wild pig foraging in the undergrowth.
Pork in sandwich form is on the menu, along with honey and feta filo pie, and a baked quince pudding, when we stop to picnic – all part of the service provided by staff at the Liotopi Hotel in nearby Olympiada.
Olympiada is a gem of a village, named after Alexander the Great’s mother, and a perfect base from which to explore the surrounding area. From the fishing port at the foot of Ancient Stagira, it runs along the shore past a tiny chapel and a strip of hotels and seafront tavernas. Standing on the sweep of sandy bay, you look out to Kafkanas Island.
Running off and alongside the Aristotelian Trail are several smaller paths. One takes us to the majestic chapel of Agios Nikolaos, perched on the top of the mountain. Another leads up to a clearing and a clutch of beehives, positioned to take advantage of the late-flowering heather. And the most spectacular sees us scrambling over rocks and crossing a stream to reach the Varvara waterfall.
Kitty has yet to have a philosophical epiphany but she’s getting into the spirit and quoting Nietzsche: ‘All truly great thoughts are conceived whilst walking.’ And when we pause to taste wild figs, she pipes up: ‘The roots of education are bitter but the fruit is sweet!’
That quote came straight from the mouth of the Stagirite, as Aristotle was known. Although in his adult life he studied under Plato in Athens and later tutored Alexander the Great in Macedon, he was born in Stagira. As the trail heads out of the forest and we see the stone walls of the ancient town flanking the hillside and pick our way to the Hellenic forum, I get a spine-tingling waft of the past.
This is not just a beautiful part of Greece, but the place where a man who has influenced political, philosophical and scientific thought for more than 2,000 years was raised. I get a further sense of déjà vu when we later take a fishing trip and anchor in a sheltered cove to swim before winding nets out across the bay, just as the inhabitants of Ancient Stagira would have done.
When we return to Olympiada to dine at a seafront restaurant called Akroyiali, I ask Kitty: ‘Happy?’
‘Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life,’ she says, quoting Aristotle back at me, and my 21st Century cynicism slips away.
So what if happiness is slippery and elusive a lot of the time? Here, watching the walls of Ancient Stagira glow in the dusk and the Aristotelian Mountain fade in the setting sun, it’s hard not to be.
Where to Find Gourmet Food at NYC Airports When You're Waiting for Your Holiday Flight Home
By Madina Papadopoulos
Traveling conjures up images of extreme relaxation, juxtaposed swiftly by feelings of complete stress. The culprit of those panicky feels: the airport. Air traffic, delays, weather—all of these can ruin the start of a trip. But New York is one of the great food cities, and luckily its amazing chefs (and one brewmaster) have consulted with the airports to bring a slice of that culinary culture to the hubs. So if your flight gets delayed this holiday season, see it as an opportunity to explore one of these refined venues.
The Happy Clam, Consulting Chef Mario Carbone
As a native New Yorker of Italian heritage, chef Mario Carbone has been surrounded by good food from an early age. Manhattanites are familiar with his delectable restaurant, Parm, and can enjoy the red sauce he’s known for at Newark’s The Happy Clam. The space’s weathered oak bar, designed by the Rockwell Group, is inspired by the seafood shacks of the Jersey Shore. Newark Liberty, Terminal C
SURF, Consulting Chef Josh Capon
New Jersey is known for its great seafood offerings, but what’s less well known is how Newark Liberty brings that Jersey flavor and quality to life. Beloved seafood chef Josh Capon of Lure Fishbar has produced an incredible menu for SURF in Terminal C. The décor pulls from Montauk’s beaches, and diners can enjoy their sushi and seafood on tables decorated with natural driftwood, while taking in beach imagery. Newark Liberty, Terminal C
Deep Blue, Consulting Chef Michael Schulson
Didn’t have time to visit one of chef Michael Schulson’s amazing sushi restaurants while in NYC? No biggie, as he created the tempting menu at JFK’s Deep Blue. The subdued atmosphere and blue lighting are the perfect way to chill before a long flight. JFK, Terminal 5
AeroNuova, Consulting Chef Mark Ladner
Whether your JFK flight is destined for Italy or not, Italian food is always appetizing. Consulting chef Mark Ladner’s restaurant, Del Posto, (co-owners are Mario Batali, and Joe and Lidia Bastianich), recently received a Michelin star and the Relais & Chateaux Grand Chef distinction. Needless to say, chef Ladner’s airport concept is worth a visit. The restaurant’s palatable food is coupled with its sleek and elegant design, making it the perfect place to get some R & R before a long flight. JFK, Terminal 5
Cotto, Consulting Chef Michael White
Chef Michael White of the Altamarea Restaurant Group is responsible for a host of elegant food and fine dining restaurants throughout Manhattan. He consulted on the menu at Cotto, LGA’s prime pizza hot spot. Each savory pie is cooked in a wood-fired oven, and guests can choose from a host of toppings. LGA, Terminal C
Biergarten, Consulting Brewmaster Garrett Oliver
Beer aficionados will recognize the name Garrett Oliver—he’s the charismatic brewmaster behind the Brooklyn Brewery. At LGA’s Biergarten, Oliver has developed an airport venue that offers 24 beers on tap. That selection, coupled with delicious bar bites, refined leather stools, and flat-screen TVs make this spot a sportsman’s slice of paradise.LGA, Terminal C
HERE'S SOME NICE ART FOR YOU TO LOOK AT....ENJOY!
Woman with a Newspaper
Hard time Boris Kustodiev, 1917
Henri Le Sidaner
Latin Word of the Day
Example sentence: Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscripti catapultas habebunt.
Sentence meaning: When catapults are outlawed, then only outlaws will have catapults.
conservare: to preserve
Example sentence: Libertatem harum urbium artibus belli conservavimus.
Sentence meaning: We preserved the freedom of these cities by using the arts of war.
exspectare: to expect
Example sentence: Propter tempestatem mortem exspectavi.
Sentence meaning: Because of the storm, I expected death.
DON'T YOU WANT TO SEE THE ENTIRE WORLD?
Burg Eltz Castle above the Moselle River between Koblenz and Trier, Germany by Yifei Tian
Never-before-seen Abbey Theatre papers show how it fought against censorship
The minute books have been digitised and transcripts made.
WHEN THE ABBEY Theatre was founded in 1904, it was a pivotal moment for the Irish arts.
In its first 30 years, it was there to witness – and respond to – many changes in Irish society, and these are all reflected in its minute books.
But those minute books – which contain the thoughts of people like WB Yeats and Lady Gregory – had never been seen by the public, until now.
Thanks to NUI Galway, which has spent six months digitising and transcribing the minutes, we now know what went on inside the theatre from 1904 – 1939.
The work was completed as part of the larger work NUI Galway is doing in digitising the Abbey’s extensive archive.
As NUI Galway Professor of Drama Patrick Lonergan explained, the minute books give a fascinating insight into how the Abbey fought against censorship in the early days of the Irish Free State.
A Committee on Evil Literature was set up by the State in 1926, and set about banning books that did not sit with Ireland’s deeply religious culture at the time.
One of the plays that almost fell foul of the censors was Sean O’Casey’s The Plough and the Stars, which is about the 1916 Rising, but the Abbey’s minutes show that the theatre fought against any attempts at censorship.
There were protests on the night of the fourth performance of the play in 1926. During them, WB Yeats himself said to the audience:
You have disgraced yourselves again. Is this to be an ever-recurring celebration of the arrival of Irish genius?
Professor Lonergan said there are around 1,000 pages in the minutes, which feature leading figures from the Irish Literary Revival, like Yeats and Gregory, but also John Millington Synge, Frank O’Connor and Teresa Deevy.
“The Abbey was set up in 1904 and was very much involved in the movement towards Irish independence,” said Lonergan. “These minute books tell the stories of the theatre.”
In them, we see how the management decided how much to pay actors and what shows to put on – but also how to deal with the aforementioned censorship issue. This originally raised its head when the newly-formed government of the free State gave the Abbey a subsidy.
It became the first theatre in the English-speaking world to be subsidised by the State, which showed how important it was. They were obviously worried about the threat of censorship from the government. One of the first decisions they had to make was whether to let the government pull the Plough and the Stars.
The Abbey stood up for the play, which had far-reaching results.
“We associate the first decade of the Free State with banning novels - one thing they never censored or banned was the theatre. The Abbey played a key role in standing up to the government. Every other country in the world had censorship [of the theatre],” said Lonergan.
Fumbling in greasy tills
We also learn through the minute books about Yeats and his relationship with money. His poem September 1913, with its line about ‘fumbling in greasy tills’ would have made some think he thought he was above money.
But Lonergan pointed out that the minute books show that Yeats discussed in detail how to fund the theatre.
He was very aware of the importance of money, and knew how to negotiate.
“Nearly everything was surprising as we had never seen it before,” said Lonergan. “What really struck me was the imp of Lady Gregory in running the theatre, really her importance as an artist and administrator.” The latter will no doubt be of interest to the newly-formedWaking the Feminists group.
Looking at the Abbey’s past is also a way of looking at Ireland’s past. “It’s like a microcosm of the State,” said Lonergan.
The archive is open for consultation in the library at NUI Galway, and these minute books are the first opportunity to make some of the digitised material available to the public. (Some items are copyrighted or sensitive material and so cannot be digitised). The minutes can be viewed here.
It is anticipated that the archive will be finished the digitisation process in late 1916.
(boo-yuh-BAYS, BOO-yuh-bays, BOOL-yuh-bays, bool-yuh-BAYS)
1. A rich and spicy fish stew or soup. 2. A mixture of incongruous things. From French bouillabaisse, from Provençal bouiabaisso, from Latin bullire (to boil) + bassus (low). Earliest documented use: 1855.
I'm a child of the sixties
Why Japan is Obsessed with Kentucky Fried Chicken on Christmas
Thanks to the successful “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!” (Kentucky for Christmas!) marketing campaign in 1974, Japan can't get enough KFC on Christmas Day
By K. Annabelle Smith
It’s Christmas Eve in Japan. Little boys and girls pull on their coats, the twinkle of anticipation in their eyes. Keeping the tradition alive, they will trek with their families to feast at … the popular American fast food chain KFC.
Christmas isn’t a national holiday in Japan—only one percent of the Japanese population is estimated to be Christian—yet a bucket of “Christmas Chicken” (the next best thing to turkey—a meat you can’t find anywhere in Japan) is the go-to meal on the big day. And it’s all thanks to the insanely successful “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!” (Kentucky for Christmas!) marketing campaign in 1974.
When a group of foreigners couldn’t find turkey on Christmas day and opted for fried chicken instead, the company saw this as a prime commercial opportunity and launched its first Christmas meal that year: Chicken and wine for 834 2,920 yen($10)—pretty pricey for the mid-seventies. Today the christmas chicken dinner (which now boasts cake and champagne) goes for about 3,336 yen ($40).
And the people come in droves. Many order their boxes of ”finger lickin’” holiday cheer months in advance to avoid the lines—some as long as two hours.
The first KFC Japan opened in Nagoya in 1970 and quickly gained popularity. (There are now over 15,000 KFC outlets in 105 countries and territories around the world.) That same year, at the World Exposition in Osaka, KFC and other American fast food chains like McDonald’s were met with great market testing results and helped jump start the westernized “fast food” movement in Japan. After the big commercial push in ’74, the catchphrase “Christmas=Kentucky” paired with plenty of commercials on TV caught on.
The “Americaness” and simplicity of the message rather than any religious associations with the holiday is what makes it appealing. The Financial Times reports:
“Japan is well known for taking foreign products and ideas and adapting them to suit domestic taste, and Christmas is no exception. A highly commercialised and non-religious affair, lots of money is spent annually on decorations, dinners and gifts. KFC is arguably the biggest contributor, thanks in part to its advertising campaign.
‘One of the reasons the campaign lasted so long is that the message is always the same: at Christmas you eat chicken,’ said Yasuyuki Katagi, executive director at Ogilvy and Mather Japan, the advertising agency.”
These days, KFC records its highest sales volume each year on Christmas eve. Back office staff, presidents and execs come out to help move the lines along. Fried chicken and Christmas have become synonymous: KFC’s advertisements feature major pop cultural figures chomping on drumsticks, the company website even has a countdown until Christmas.
And this year, the company launched a campaign that takes the holiday hype to new heights. From December 1 through February 28 passengers on select trips between Tokyo and eight U.S. and European destinations can enjoy KFC in-flight.
But Japan’s love of American fast food does not dim with the Christmas lights once December 25 has come and gone—KFC’s ability to take it’s traditional foods and adapt them to Japanese culture has made a bucket of chicken a meal worth having year round. This April, they opened a three-story restaurant at the south entrance of Shimokitazawa station in Tokyo which offers the company’s first-ever, fully stocked whiskey bar—what their website says gives visitors a taste of “Good ‘ol America.”
Though, if you ever find yourself in Japan and not in the mood for fried chicken, Wendy’s Japan offers a $16 foie-gras-and-truffle burger.
KUMU KAHUA THEATRE/UHM THEATRE AND DANCE DEPARTMENT PLAYWRITING CONTEST
Each year, Kumu Kahua Theatre conducts a playwriting contest with three categories:
Plays set in Hawai`i
Plays set in the Pacific Rim
Plays of any topic, written by residents of Hawai`i
Winning playwrights receive cash prizes and are regularly offered the opportunity to see their scripts included in a future Kumu Kahua season.
Words of Choice, a theater company in New York City, announces the Reproductive Freedom Festival.
1-The Reproductive Freedom Festival is a theatrical event supporting reproductive freedom, rights, health and justice. We are pro-women’s rights, pro-human rights, pro-reproductive justice and pro-choice.
At this difficult time for reproductive rights, we are producing this festival to share the elegant, funny, poignant, powerful words supporting reproductive freedom.
Lunchbox Theatre is currently inviting playwrights to submit one-act plays for consideration. All plays must eventually run approximately 50 minutes. Submissions are not limited to comedies and musicals but content should be suitable for Lunchbox Theatre audiences – excessive use of foul language or nudity may limit the possibility of production.
*** FOR MORE INFORMATION on these and other opportunities see the web site athttp://www.nycplaywrights.org ***
The art and joy of cinematography
See Francis Ford Coppola's Potential Cast List For The Godfather
BY CONNER SCHWERDTFEGER
It could be argued with significant validity that The Godfather is the most iconic film in the history of cinema, on par with very few others. Everyone knows the theme, the characters, and especially the actors who inhabited those characters. The performances of men like Marlon Brando and Al Pacino have become so iconic that it would be difficult to imagine anyone else in those roles. Francis Ford Coppola’s potential cast list for the film has leaked online check it out below to see for yourself:
This list showcases the potential choices for some of the film’s headlining roles like Vito, Michael and Sonny Corleone, as well as Tom Hagen. Coppola admittedly has some pretty shoddy handwriting, but its clear to see that the actors chosen for the roles are present among numerous others – some famous, others not so much.
One of the most noteworthy alternatives for the role of Vito Corleone (which eventually went to Marlon Brando) is the option of Lawrence Olivier. Brando’s depiction of the titular mobster has become legendary in its own right, but we can’t help but feels as though Olivier would have brought a certain Shakespearean sensibility to the silver screen icon.
The list also features some potential choices for the part of Michael that would have been truly fascinating. Particularly noteworthy are Robert DeNiro, Marin Sheen, andDustin Hoffman. While DeNiro would eventually go on to play a young Vito Corleone in The Godfather Part 2, Pacino seems like the better choice for the franchise’s main character primarily due to his more sensitive take on the character. We love DeNiro, but he characteristically brings more darkness and intensity to his characters- something that made him better suited for the part of Vito. On the other hand, Hoffman reads as though he would have had almost too much innocence to sell the darkness that overtakes the young Michael Corleone by the end of the film. This is made all the more intriguing by the fact that Al Pacino originally didn't want to take part in the film in the first place.
This list provides some interesting hypotheticals for us to ponder, but at the end of the day we feel confident saying we think Coppola made the rights calls for all of his actors. The Godfather is a timeless classic, and it owes that reputation very much to the stellar turns from its deep roster of thespians. If you haven’t checked out the picture of the list, do yourself a favor and give it a look, but be thankful that The Godfather exists as the iconic film that we know and love.
Shades of the past at a ski-in, ski-out spectacular: Ugly duckling Avoriaz resort in Portes du Soleil celebrates 50 years in style
• Avoriaz ski resort, in Portes du Soleil, soon celebrates its 50th anniversary
• It now has a £9.4 million indoor waterpark including hot tubs and flumes
• The Hotel des Dromonts has been given a makeover by the Sibuet group
By MARK PALMER FOR THE DAILY MAIL
People have been sniffy about Avoriaz — me, included.
But as this purpose-built resort in the Portes du Soleil prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary, it’s time for a reappraisal. And it comes up trumps.
Many of the futuristic, wood-clad apartment buildings have weathered tastefully; a £9.4 million super-duper indoor waterpark (hot tubs, flumes, tropical plants) opened a couple of years ago; various smart restaurants and bars have improved the apres-ski beyond recognition.
When French architect Jacques Labro came up with his master plan for Avoriaz in the early Sixties, the idea was to create the ultimate ski in, ski out resort.
Reborn: The Sixties-built Hotel des Dromonts in Avoriaz has been given a makeover by the Sibuet group
He decreed that it should be possible to pop your skis on outside every single building at the start of the day and return there on skis in the evening. There would be no cars, no queues, no hassle.
You pitch up at a drop-off station at the top of the town — with an underground car park — and then jump on horse-drawn, bell-ringing sleighs that whisk you off to your apartment or hotel.
The hotel side of things is interesting. There is only one — Hotel des Dromonts — and it’s just been given a makeover by the Sibuet group. It is already attracting a glamorous crowd.
I’ve never seen a building like it. Either Monsieur Labro was on something, or he’s a genius.
Shaped audaciously like a pine cone, the rooms fan out so that all have uninterrupted views. The whole structure leans backwards and juts out at the same time. There is no roof as such — or rather the whole of the front is a roof, albeit covered in cedar shingles.
Inside, there’s barely a straight line. Everything’s at a tilt or circular or at different levels.
Rooms (34 in total) feature the best of the Sixties with all the rock ’n’ roll luxury of 2015. It has two restaurants, both informal, but the top-notch one makes it a culinary destination in itself.
You can be here a week and hardly cover the same ground twice — but always at its centre is Avoriaz, looking down at satellite towns and villages such as Morzine, Les Gets and Chatel on the French side, Champery, Morgins and Champoussin on the Swiss side.
All things white and beautiful: Whatever the limitations of its construction, Avoriaz enjoys a fine setting
We were a group of six, and for two days we acquired the services of Lionel Morosato, who has been teaching and guiding here for more than 25 years.
He took us through forests, into deep-powder bowls, along untrammelled ridges, through snowy valleys. Some of his shortcuts were a little eccentric, but he knew the mountain so well he could have done it blindfolded.
He didn’t skimp on lunch, either, insisting that we should stop one day at La Cremaillere in little Lindarets, a family-run restaurant where booking is essential, especially at weekends.
Come on by: Lindarets has a super family-run restaurant. Booking is essential, especially at weekends
Lionel skis hard and fast. One evening, we celebrated surviving with no major scrapes at La Cabane, a terrific bar which only gets lively after midnight. The next day, near the famous Wall (a steep and bumpy black run down from Les Crosets), he led us down a path to a small hut called La Pisa, with a roaring wood burner and fondue bubbling on the stove.
Afterwards, if you ask nicely, the proprietor will rev up his Ski-doo and pull you on a long rope back to where you can ski down to a lift.
Avoriaz is purpose built, for sure — but unquestionably fit for purpose.
Sculpture this and Sculpture that
Mish Mash: noun \ˈmish-ˌmash, -ˌmäsh\ A : hodgepodge, jumble “The painting was just a mishmash of colors and abstract shapes as far as we could tell”. Origin Middle English & Yiddish; Middle English mysse masche, perhaps reduplication of mash mash; Yiddish mish-mash, perhaps reduplication of mishn to mix. First Known Use: 15th century
AND NOW, A BEATLES BREAK
TODAY'S ALLEGED MOB GUY
"Two Gun" Louie Alterie, Chicago prohibition hood, later killed by the Chicago mob when he moved in on the union rackets.
DON'T YOU JUST LOVE POP ART?
GOOD WORDS TO HAVE…………
Latin Word of the Day
salus: safety, health
Example sentence: Salus populi suprema lex.
Sentence meaning: The safety of the people is the supreme law.
I LOVE BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOS FROM FILM
THE ART OF WAR............
AND HERE'S SOME ANIMALS FOR YOU...................
From sublime Soviet bus stops to the Liverpool terrace that won the Turner, our critic picks his 2015 design and architecture highlights
The architecture collective Assemble, who won art’s Turner prize for their project to regenerate housing in the Toxteth area of Liverpool. Photograph: Murdo Macleod for the Guardian
1. Granby Four Streets, Toxteth – Assemble
Since this unlikely project won the Turner prize, throwing the established art world into existential turmoil, there’s been much hand-wringing over whether the community-led regeneration of a bunch of terraced houses in Liverpool counts as art. But such a question is of little concern to either Assemble or the people of Granby Four Streets, who don’t really have time to dwell on such things. They’re too busy getting on with transforming their long-neglected streets into beautiful, affordable new homes.
The work going on in this corner of Toxteth stood out as one of the most important projects this year because it represents an alternative model of bottom-up development, after decades of “managed decline” and failed top-down regeneration attempts, by both the council and private developers. Following years of broken promises, the residents have taken the future of their streets into their own hands. “Assemble are the only ones who have ever sat and listened to the people who actually live here,” said Erika Rushton, chair of the community land trust that lobbied to take ownership of the empty homes from the council, and which has been working with the young design collective for the past two years. “They’ve translated the community’s own vision into drawings and models, and now into reality.”
Granby Four Streets – greenhouse view. Photograph: Assemble/Tate Britain/PA
Rather than razing the tinned-up streets to the ground and replacing them with mean modern rabbit hutches (as has happened on many streets nearby), the project takes a finely tuned house-by-house approach, making the most of what is already there and celebrating the generous scale of the Victorian buildings. If a floor is missing, why not have a double-height space? If there’s no roof or no floors, and the whole house is reduced to a ruined shell, why not transform it into a magical community garden? The proposals are full of inventive hand-crafted touches too, with fixtures and fittings produced by Granby Workshop, a social enterprise that employs local trainees. They are producing everything from baked ceramic door handles to trestle tables and mantlepieces made from the crushed rubble on the site, and using the Turner prize exhibition as a platform to boost sales – profits from which are all pumped back into the project.
“I just love Assemble’s attitude,” said resident Eleanor Lee, when I first visited the area last year. “They are so bold and fearless in their designs, and their vision for housing isn’t limited to the usual cream-coloured boxes. They are architects working truly as artists.” Well, that debate at least is guaranteed to rumble on.Read our feature
2. Fondazione Prada, Milan – OMA
Proof at last that OMA can make exquisitely crafted buildings when they put their mind to it – and when the budget is big enough – this mini city of art provides a spectacular variety of exhibition spaces in a former distillery in Milan. There’s a Miesian glass-walled sculpture hall, a trio of sunken concrete grain silos, a hovering metal hangar and a spiralling tower clad in shimmering gold leaf – not forgetting the cafe designed by director Wes Anderson, conceived as a shrine to 1950s Italian kitsch.
3. House for Essex – FAT & Grayson Perry
A ceramic gingerbread house crossed with a Thai wat, built in the middle of a field in Wrabness, the House for Essex was one of the stranger buildings to appear this year. The brainchild of Grayson Perry and FAT architects, for Alain de Botton’s holiday homes company Living Architecture, it is an intriguing matryoshka doll of a house that rewards close inspection, revealing multiple layered narratives the longer you look. Comes complete with lurid wall hangings likely to induce nightmares.
4. The Foundry, London – Architecture 00
An intelligent model of how to make a tight budget go a long way, the Foundry opened in May as a brilliant transformation of an old shoe polish factory in Vauxhall into shared office space for charities and NGOs. With a sleek new extension made of simple concrete “shelves” with faceted glass inserts, and topped with a cluster of pitched-roof sheds, it provides a beautiful and useful addition to London’s increasingly endangered species of affordable workspaces.
5. African Modernism – Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein
From a cluster of concrete wigwams in Dakar to a monumental ziggurat in Abidjan, the buildings showcased in this fascinating exhibition and book shed new light on a region too often written out of the history of modern architecture. Mostly the products of big, state-sponsored initiatives in the 1960s and 70s – heroic parliament buildings, imposing central banks, daring universities and vast stadiums – they embodied the ambition of Africa’s “big man” leaders, all built for propaganda purposes as much as anything else.
6. Flint House, Waddesdon – Skene Catling de la Peña
A chiselled geological fissure of a building, the Flint House erupted from the grounds of Waddesdon Manor this summer as the latest addition to the Rothschild family seat. Worthy winner of the RIBA House of the Yearcompetition, it is a beguiling flinty wedge wrought with exceptional craftsmanship. Its materials – roughly hewn boulders, raw flint nodules, crisply cut chalk blocks – exude an unusual sense of timeless magic, absent from so much flimsy contemporary architecture. A building you can’t help but fondle.
7. The World of Charles and Ray Eames – Barbican, London
One of the most comprehensive and meticulously researched exhibitions ever staged on the Californian design duo Charles and Ray Eames, this sprawling retrospective rifled through everything from their early chair prototypes to their films and immersive multimedia exhibition designs. One highlight was a recreation of the vertical ball-powered xylophone from the Eames Office – embodying Charles’ advice to his staff: “You must take your pleasure seriously.”
8. Soviet Bus Stops – book by Christopher Herwig (Fuel)
From voluptuous concrete seashells on the coastal roads of the Black Sea to wooden tepees in the forests of Estonia, the bus stops of the Soviet world embody a rich seam of experimental architecture, as Christopher Herwig’s beautiful photo-book revealed this year. The norm was “wild going on savage,” as Jonathan Meades writes in the foreword, each structure illuminating “the Soviet empire’s taste for the utterly fantastical”. Particularly weird highlights include the Kyrgyzstan bus shelters shaped like the region’s high-crowned kalpak hats and the mosaic encrusted sea creatures of Pitsunda.
9. Wilton’s Music Hall refurbishment – Tim Ronalds
“We didn’t want to lose the atmosphere of it being a forgotten old wreck,” said Tim Ronalds, architect of the masterful restoration of Wilton’s Music Hall in east London, a magical Tardis of crumbling Victoriana hidden behind a row of unassuming terraces, tucked down a back street in Whitechapel. Ronalds has achieved a ramshackle refurbishment in the best possible sense, retaining the ancient palimpsest of plasterwork and peeling paint, while bringing the structure and servicing up to date and opening up a series of new rooms in the labyrinthine complex. Read the full review
10. Grace Farms, Connecticut – SANAA
A silvery serpentine rooftop floating above the rolling countryside in New Canaan, Connecticut, SANAA’s Grace Farms building provides a suitably ethereal enclosure for this new centre for faith and the arts. It is the latest product of the Japanese architects’ relentless quest to make their buildings as thin and lightweight as possible, the rooftop supported on toothpick columns, and a series of glass-walled pavilions nestling beneath the canopy like dew drops under a leaf.
John William Tuohy is a writer who lives in Washington DC. He holds an MFA in writing from Lindenwood University.
He is the author of No Time to Say Goodbye: Memoirs of a Life in Foster Care and Short Stories from a Small Town. He is also the author of numerous non-fiction on the history of organized crime including the ground break biography of bootlegger Roger Tuohy "When Capone's Mob Murdered Touhy" and "Guns and Glamour: A History of Organized Crime in Chicago."
His non-fiction crime short stories have appeared in The New Criminologist, American Mafia and other publications. John won the City of Chicago's Celtic Playfest for his work The Hannigan's of Beverly, and his short story fiction work, Karma Finds Franny Glass, appeared in AdmitTwo Magazine in October of 2008.
His play, Cyberdate.Com, was chosen for a public performance at the Actors Chapel in Manhattan in February of 2007 as part of the groups Reading Series for New York project. In June of 2008, the play won the Virginia Theater of The First Amendment Award for best new play.
HERE'S MY LATEST BOOKS.....
This is a book of short stories taken from the things I saw and heard in my childhood in the factory town of Ansonia in southwestern Connecticut.
Most of these stories, or as true as I recall them because I witnessed these events many years ago through the eyes of child and are retold to you now with the pen and hindsight of an older man. The only exception is the story Beat Time which is based on the disappearance of Beat poet Lew Welch. Decades before I knew who Welch was, I was told that he had made his from California to New Haven, Connecticut, where was an alcoholic living in a mission. The notion fascinated me and I filed it away but never forgot it.
The collected stories are loosely modeled around Joyce’s novel, Dubliners (I also borrowed from the novels character and place names. Ivy Day, my character in “Local Orphan is Hero” is also the name of chapter in Dubliners, etc.) and like Joyce I wanted to write about my people, the people I knew as a child, the working class in small town America and I wanted to give a complete view of them as well. As a result the stories are about the divorced, Gays, black people, the working poor, the middle class, the lost and the found, the contented and the discontented.
Conversely many of the stories in this book are about starting life over again as a result of suicide (The Hanging Party, Small Town Tragedy, Beat Time) or from a near death experience (Anna Bell Lee and the Charge of the Light Brigade, A Brief Summer) and natural occurring death. (The Best Laid Plans, The Winter Years, Balanced and Serene)
With the exception of Jesus Loves Shaqunda, in each story there is a rebirth from the death. (Shaqunda is reported as having died of pneumonia in The Winter Years)
Sal, the desperate and depressed divorcee in Things Change, changes his life in Lunch Hour when asks the waitress for a date and she accepts. (Which we learn in Closing Time, the last story in the book) In The Arranged Time, Thisby is given the option of change and whether she takes it or, we don’t know. The death of Greta’s husband in A Matter of Time has led her to the diner and into the waiting arms of the outgoing and loveable Gabe.
Although the book is based on three sets of time (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and the diner is opened in the early morning and closed at night, time stands still inside the Diner. The hour on the big clock on the wall never changes time and much like my memories of that place, everything remains the same.
The Valley Lives
By Marion Marchetto, author of The Bridgewater Chronicles on October 15, 2015
Short Stores from a Small Town is set in The Valley (known to outsiders as The Lower Naugatuck Valley) in Connecticut. While the short stories are contemporary they provide insight into the timeless qualities of an Industrial Era community and the values and morals of the people who live there. Some are first or second generation Americans, some are transplants, yet each takes on the mantle of Valleyite and wears it proudly. It isn't easy for an author to take the reader on a journey down memory lane and involve the reader in the life stories of a group of seemingly unrelated characters. I say seemingly because by book's end the reader will realize that he/she has done more than meet a group of loosely related characters.
We meet all of the characters during a one-day time period as each of them finds their way to the Valley Diner on a rainy autumn day. From our first meeting with Angel, the educationally challenged man who opens and closes the diner, to our farewell for the day to the young waitress whose smile hides her despair we meet a cross section of the Valley population. Rich, poor, ambitious, and not so ambitious, each life proves that there is more to it beneath the surface. And the one thing that binds these lives together is The Valley itself. Not so much a place (or a memory) but an almost palpable living thing that becomes a part of its inhabitants.
Let me be the first the congratulate author John William Tuohy on a job well done. He has evoked the heart of The Valley and in doing so brought to life the fabric that Valleyites wear as a mantle of pride. While set in a specific region of the country, the stories that unfold within the pages of this slim volume are similar to those that live in many a small town from coast to coast.
By Sandra Mendyk
Just read "Short Stories from a Small Town," and couldn't put it down! Like Mr. Tuohy's other books I read, they keep your interest, especially if you're from a small town and can relate to the lives of the people he writes about. I recommend this book for anyone interested in human interest stories. His characters all have a central place where the stories take place--a diner--and come from different walks of life and wrestle with different problems of everyday life. Enjoyable and thoughtful.
I loved how the author wrote about "his people"
A touching thoughtful book. I loved how the author wrote about "his people", the people he knew as a child from his town. It is based on sets of time in the local diner, breakfast , lunch and dinner, but time stands still ... Highly recommend !
WONDERFUL book, I loved it!
By John M. Cribbins
What wonderful stories...I just loved this book.... It is great how it is written following, breakfast, lunch, dinner, at a diner. Great characters.... I just loved it....
In 1962, six year old John Tuohy, his two brothers and two sisters entered Connecticut’s foster care system and were promptly split apart. Over the next ten years, John would live in more than ten foster homes, group homes and state schools, from his native Waterbury to Ansonia, New Haven, West Haven, Deep River and Hartford. In the end, a decade later, the state returned him to the same home and the same parents they had taken him from. As tragic as is funny compelling story will make you cry and laugh as you journey with this child to overcome the obstacles of the foster care system and find his dreams.
“I am here because I worked too hard and too long not to be here. But although I told the university that I would walk across the stage to take my diploma, I won’t. At age fifty-seven, I’m too damned old, and I’d look ridiculous in this crowd. From where I’m standing in the back of the hall, I can see that I am at least two decades older than most of the parents of these kids in their black caps and gowns.
So I’ll graduate with this class, but I won’t walk across the stage and collect my diploma with them; I’ll have the school send it to my house. I only want to hear my name called. I’ll imagine what the rest would have been like. When you’ve had a life like mine, you learn to do that, to imagine the good things.
The ceremony is about to begin. It’s a warm June day and a hallway of glass doors leading to the parking lot are open, the dignitaries march onto the stage, a janitor slams the doors shut, one after the other.
That banging sound.
It’s Christmas Day 1961 and three Waterbury cops are throwing their bulk against our sorely overmatched front door. They are wearing their long woolen blue coats and white gloves and they swear at the cold.
They’ve finally come for us, in the dead of night, to take us away, just as our mother said they would.”
“Otherwise, there were no long goodbyes or emotional scenes. That isn’t part of foster care. You just leave and you just die a little bit. Just a little bit because a little bit more of you understands that this is the way it’s going to be. And you grow hard around the edges, just a little bit. Not in some big way, but just a little bit because you have to, because if you don’t it only hurts worse the next time and a little bit more of you will die. And you don’t want that because you know that if enough little bits of you die enough times, a part of you leaves. Do you know what I mean? You’re still there, but a part of you leaves until you stand on the sidelines of life, simply watching, like a ghost that everyone can see and no one is bothered by. You become the saddest thing there is: a child of God who has given .”
“As I said, you die a little bit in foster care, but I spose we all die a little bit in our daily lives, no matter what path God has chosen for us. But there is always a balance to that sadness; there’s always a balance. You only have to look for it. And if you look for it, you’ll see it. I saw it in a well-meaning nun who wanted to share the joy of her life’s work with us. I saw it in an old man in a garden who shared the beauty of the soil and the joy he took in art, and I saw it in the simple decency and kindness of an underpaid nurse’s aide. Yeah. Great things rain on us. The magnificence of life’s affirmations are all around us, every day, everywhere. They usually go unnoticed because they seldom arrive with the drama and heartbreak of those hundreds of negative things that drain our souls. But yeah, it’s there, the good stuff, the stuff worth living for. You only have to look for it and when you see it, carry it around right there at the of your heart so it’s always there when you need it. And you’ll need it a lot, because life is hard.”
“As sad as I so often was, and I was often overwhelmed with sadness, I never admitted it, and I don’t recall ever having said aloud that I was sad. I tried not to think about it, about all the sad things, because I had this feeling that if I started to think about it, that was all I would ever think of again. I often had a nightmare of falling into a deep dark well that I could never climb out of. But then there was the other part of me that honestly believed I wasn’t sad at all, and I had little compassion for those who dwelled in sadness. Strange how that works. You would think that it would be the other way around.”
“In late October of 1962, it was our turn to go. Miss Hanrahan appeared in her state Ford Rambler, which, by that point, seemed more like a hearse than a nice lady’s car. Our belongings were packed in a brown bags. The ladies in the kitchen, familiar with our love of food, made us twelve fried-fish sandwiches each large enough to feed eight grown men and wrapped them in tinfoil for the ride ahead of us. Miss Louisa, drenched with tears, walked us to the car and before she let go of my hand she said, “When you a big, grown man, you come back and see Miss Louisa, you hear?”
“But,” I said, “you won’t know who I am. I’ll be big.”
“No, child,” she said as she gave me her last hug, “you always know forever the peoples you love. They with you forever. They don’t never leave you.”
She was right, of course. Those we love never leave us because we carry them with us in our hearts and a piece of us is within them. They change with us and they grow old with us and with time, they are a part of us, and thank God for that.”
“One day at the library I found a stack of record albums. I was hoping I’d find ta Beatles album, but it was all classical music so I reached for the first name I knew, Beethoven. I checked it out his Sixth Symphony and walked home. I didn’t own a record player and I don’t know why I took it out. I had Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony but nothing to play it on.”
“The next day, when I came home from the library, there was a small, used red record player in my room. I found my mother in the kitchen and spotted a bandage taped to her arm.
“Ma,” I asked. “Where did you get the money for the record player?”
“I had it saved,” she lied.
My father lived well, had a large house and an expensive imported car, wanted for little, and gave nothing. My mother lived on welfare in a slum and sold her blood to the Red Cross to get me a record player.
“Education is everything, Johnny,” she said, as she headed for the refrigerator to get me food. “You get smart like regular people and you don’t have to live like this no more.”
She and I were not hugging types, but I put my hand on her shoulder as she washed the dishes with her back to me and she said, in best Brooklynese, “So go and enjoy, already.” My father always said I was my mother’s son and I was proud of that. On her good days, she was a good and noble thing to be a part of.
That evening, I plugged in the red record player and placed it by the window. My mother and I took the kitchen chairs out to the porch and listened to Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony from beginning to end, as we watched the oil-stained waters of the Mad River roll by. It was a good night, another good night, one of many that have blessed my life.”