Monday, June 21, 2010

Monday, June 07, 2010

Monday's Verse, Basho

Beside the road
Mallow flowers bloom-
Now eaten by my horse!


How cool it feels
To take a noonday nap
With my feet against a wall!


First cold rain-
Even the monkey seems to want
A little straw coat.


Summer grasses
all that remains
of soldiers dreams.

Reading Project, Great Expectations

The biggest worry I have in doing this project is that all I'll say will have been said before or is painfully obvious. These are books that just about everyone has read or heard of and some have a personal library of commentary and criticism on them. But I started this project for various reasons, such as to get back into the habit of reading and to get a grounding in the classics. I might read criticism after but I'm going to try to read these books with as fresh eyes as possible and respond to them as stories first.

A fitting first title, Great Expectations is wonderful. Earlier attempts at Dickens where hobbled by sentimentality and a bramble patch of prose, Great Expectations is surprising me by just how funny and sharp it is. I'm over a 150 pages in and I've reached the point where I'm starting to want to give the narrator a cold slap but a slap that comes from a painful recognition of my own behavior.

A quote from Italo Calvino, "A classic is a book that has never finished saying all it has to say," could be the unofficial motto for this project and it's true. This project is also to help keep me awake. I'm finally swimming out of what I'll euphemistically refer to as my lost decade. I lost my way back in 2002, where I went from being able to knock back a book in a week to not reading for months and months and it showed, did it ever. You can be a wild overgrown garden but you're going to still have to have a regular supply of rain and sunshine or you'll wither.

Art is so important, books were the first to show me that and Pan's Labyrinth might have saved my life (but that's another story). And the arts are all connected. Reading about Miss Havisham I get the strangest deja vu to "Mrs. Bates" in Psycho, and falling in love with a persona created to destroy you looks ahead to Vertigo. Books have an uncanny magic, I'm looking forward to places I'll be going with them.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Friday Change Jar, Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research

Of all the heartbreaking images from the Gulf oil spill the ones that have gotten me the most are of the birds. Call it a never suppressed wish that I could fly but I love birds. Especially sea birds. Gulls squabbling among themselves, the humorous dignity of a pelican, watching sandpipers dart with lighting quickness on the shore, and cranes that move and look as living works of art.

Tri-State Bird Rescue is leading the effort to save, clean, and relocate the Gulf coast's avian wildlife. So click, look around, and see if you can spare a tuppence for the birds.