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Monday, July 25, 2005

outside on the sidewalk now: an excerpt from Wind in the Willows

Breathless and transfixed, the mole stopped rowing as the liquid run of that glad piping broke on him like a wave, caught him up, and possessed him utterly. He saw the tears on his comrade's cheeks, and bowed his head and understood. For a space they hung there, brushed by the purple loosestrife that fringed the bank; then the clear imperious summons that marched hand-in-hand with the intoxicating melody imposed its will on Mole, and mechanically he bent to his oars again. And the light grew steadily stronger, but no birds sang as they were wont to do at the approach of dawn; and but for the heavenly music all was marvellously still.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Hebrew vowel system (An update)

What have I started. Do I need this headache?

Seinfeld on the Airport

Do you think that the people at the airport that run the stores have any idea what the prices are every place else in the world? Or do you think they just feel they have their own little country out there and they can charge anything they want?

"Little hungry? You want a tuna sandwich? It's 28 dollars. If you don't like it, go back to your own country." I think the whole airport/airline complex is a huge scam just to sell the tuna sandwiches. I think that tuna profit is what's supporting the entire air travel industry. The planes could fly empty, they'd still make money. The terminals, the airplanes, the parking, the giftshops, it's all just to distract you so you don't notice the beating you're taking on the tuna.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Another thing

I lost an earlier version of that post about Hebrew, and in trying to reconstruct it I forgot to say that there are perfectly good historical reasons for the weirdness of the spelling system of English, and all the other idiosyncracies you may have noticed, which I won't tire anyone with here. No, really, I won't. But you have only to ask.

I love the language and would defend it "to the pain"( in the immortal words of Wesley in The Princess Bride), if not to the death. In no way should it be considered ridiculous, or silly, or randomly dorky, as do some writers of popular books/internet dross about "that crazy, mixed up English!" (yuk yuk! Why do we drive on a parkway and park in a driveway! yuk yuk!) All those commentaries do is perpetuate misinformation and display the writers' ignorance (whether genuine or disingenuous) of their own subject. English is not crazy or mixed up-- if it were it could not function as a language, much less become the most dominant language on the planet -- okay, that has had something to do with many of its speakers' overweening lust for power, love of money and moral turpitude, but you get the idea.

And let's stop claiming that English is 'less expressive' than x or y language. Pure twaddle/ poppycock/pish tosh/rot/rubbish/crapola -- that claim says a lot more about the speaker than it does about English. "Er, yeah. The reason I can't express myself is I speak this useless language. If only I were Greek/French/Italian/Vanuatuan I could tell you how I /really/feel." Tell Shakespeare that English isn't expressive enough! Tell Dylan Thomas and Bob Dylan! W.H. Auden! Or just about any Irish person with a writing instrument and not very much money, apparently.

If English were a garden it would be a slightly wild, unkempt garden, a welcoming garden: Hey! Wanna grow here? Come on in! There's room for all you weirdos! -- an English garden, in short -- no less beautiful in its weedy way than the more orderly Japanese or Italian gardens.

Okay, I must slink off to do something constructive before King of the Hill comes on. Don't laugh, it's brilliant.


Started learning the Hebrew alphabet for kicks -- I suspect it is really work avoidance (aka Resistance!) . It is very challenging, though -- I have a pretty good eye for little visual details (calligraphy), an ability to make truly shocking noises with my throat when the need arises (high school drama), and a degree which included phonology, dialectology and comparative linguistics, and I /still/ have a dickens of a time telling my 'Aleph from my elbow! It's great though -- like a really challenging puzzle. What's especially difficult -- besides the fact that the letters are so different from anything European and the fact that many of them look almost identical -- is that the relationship between the letters and sounds seems so counterintuitive. This is of course only because we are essentially brainwashed from an early age to believe that there is a necessary connection between letters and their sounds -- in OUR language, of course. Naturally all other languages are just /dumb/ (goes the thinking). All the stranger an attitude inspeakers of English, a language which has a seemingly endless lack of respect for anything resembling consistency.

In reality letters (of any alphabet) and their sounds have a completely arbitrary relationship, and it is fun to tackle a system so foreign that one is confronted with this fact again and again.
I mean, how can it be that upon this little tail-y thing depends the difference between a 'b' and a 'k'? How can this dumb little dot make an 'f' sound like a 'p'? How can a molecule-sized difference in length turn a perfectly good 'w' into an 'n', but /only at the end of a word/!? Arrrrrrgh!

And I haven't even attempted the vowel system yet. In my naivete I thought there wasn't one. Sigh.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Thinking of London and Gleneagles - -this suits both

Here's the great Woody Guthrie; it's called 'Feed of Man'. It is one of dozens of lyrics found after his death, some of which have been recently set to music by Wilco and Billy Bragg on the 'Mermaid Avenue' cds (there are two volumes), which I cannot recommend strongly enough without hurting myself. I have divided this text into 'lines' for readability here, basically according to his own capitalizations, but other than that I have preserved his amazingly, passionately original diction, syntax, spelling, punctuation, etc.

Anyway, events in the UK being somewhat beyond /my/ words anyway, I'll let this towering genius of a dead American speak for me.

If you beat up, butcher and you bleed a man:
If you bang up and badger and Bloodlet a man;
And then I come along on the feet of a man
And half way laff and cry 'bout The meat of man,
And I do what I can to Bale string and tie some ballad truths Up
cured out for the feed of man
And folks try to tell me That it's on God's orders that you bleed your man;
It's on God's good word that you Bleed your man;
On God's plan print That you dead a man;
or you spit and curse and whip your man;
I say I'll help you fix and squeeze yourself up a new God of some kind;
One that tells you Fertilize and multiplye;
One that tells you: Outsow and outblow,
Outplant and outgrow; outdo and outrun and outclimb,
and out spread Every other tree and bush and bushyfruits and flower petalls;
Outfruit them all for the feed of man;
Outstalk and out hunt and out think For God's own sweet sake, out think!
Out think! Outthink the fruits Outgrow these animal kind and shapes of man!
If you miss and go down
Your dust will turn up on that long hot job
Once more again To help in the feeding and the seed of man
And not in the bleeding and the end of man.


That should have said "I never knew how to hold this /kind/ of paintbrush -- though it does seem sort of kingly in the photo, doesn't it? I'm still not holding it right in the picture though!

For those wondering, Dylan (who just moved back to London 2 weeks ago) is fine. He says ironically he bombed onstage last night.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Renovating the church basement, Canada Day weekend. . .funny how I never knew how ot hold this king of paintbrush! Facial expression representative of. . .I don't know what. My brother and I both have a very hard time being serious in front of a camera. He' a professional comedian and I'm a -- priest's wife! Yikes.

Time for some Ruskin

Here are some golden lines of his from Elements of Drawing:

BOLD, IN THE SENSE of being undaunted, yes; bold in the sense of being careless, confident, or exhibitory, --no, --no, and a thousand times no; for, even if you were not a beginner, it would be bad advice that made you bold. Mischief may easly be done quickly, but good and beautiful work is generally done slowly; you will find no boldness in the way a flower of a bird's wing is painted; and if nature is not bold at her work, do you think you ought to be at yours? So never mind what people say, but work with your pencil point very patiently. . . though there are all kinds of art there is one quality, and, I think, only one, in which all great and good art agrees; -- it is all delicate art. Coarse art is always bad art. . .you do not yet know how much tender thought, and subtle care, the great painters put into touches that at first look coarse. . .

Here's the latest thing -- the logo for the BC Orthodox youth camp. The stars represent 12 apostles, the four cabins are the four Gospels, three mountains for the Trinity, two hills for teh two natures of Christ, and the countless trees representing the saints. There ya have it -- hidden meaning in everything! The style is deliberately sort of funky and not too serious; the lettering is sort of esoteric-Versal to appeal to the many young Harry Potter/ Lord of the Rings enthusiasts. . .the cross of course is central and to stand out it had to be very dark. I didn't figure this was a problem, since being Orthodox we are not afraid of black! If it's good enough for monastics. . .

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


Welcome to the (outside) world, baby Simeon Peter! Born today, July 5, 2005. He had the good sense to be

A) a boy, thus adding to the future pool of cute Orthodox boys for my two daughters to choose from (yes, I know I am ending with a preposition; I don't care)

B) born to two of the most wonderful parents I can think of (ditto)

Way to go cool cat Simeon! Okay, before I said C) he was born on a Monday, which was just plain wrong as it was Tuesday. All day I thought is was Monday for some reason. Sigh. Anyway, he did have the manners to be born on a weekday so his parents could enjoy their weekend together first and Dad could ditch work for a couple of days!