I'll go with thee to the lane's end... I am a kind of burr, I shall stick. Shakespeare, Measure for Measure
I write not to teach but to learn. Rebecca West
- "Always Forever Now," Ideomancer volume 13, issue 2
- "Black Sun," Black Static # 32
- "Bread or Cake" and "Pride/Shame,"2nd Annual Philadelphia One-Minute Play Festival
- "Copper Heart," Polluto Magazine issue 5, A Steampunk Orange
- "The Accomplished Birder's Guide to Overcoming Rejection," Last Drink Bird Head, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
- "Another Night With the Henriksens," Player's Theater Halloween One-Act Festival NYC 2008
- "Hating the Lovers," and "Pipe Down!" Geez Magazine: Thirty Sermons You Would Never Hear in Church
- "Beth/slash/Nathan," Paper Fruit Blogiversary Contest
Friday, December 31, 2010
Make a wish on this daruma. Bookmark this page. When the wish comes true, return here and color in daruma's other eye with a Sharpie® marker. The original daruma was a monk from the south of India, or maybe Persia, known as Bodhidharma, and also known as "the blue-eyed barbarian." Consider a blue marker.
(Also: there's a legend that Bodhidharma cut off his eyelids in frustration after falling asleep during meditation. The eyelids became tea plants--an aid to wakefulness. Have some eyelid tea while thinking of your wish.)
I associate darumas with vocation, maybe because the one I have is from an ambitious business major friend who brought it back from Japan. He now has an office in NYC's Woolworth building! (The original of the daruma above is from Essene cafe and market in Philly, which has an abundance of organic produce. I don't know whose wish is ground into the ink of its right eye, but it hasn't come true yet).
Check out an inaccurate daruma I made for a friend. My wish for everyone this year, as Robert Frost says in his poem Mud Time, is that your vocation and avocation will become one, as your "two eyes make one in sight."
at 11:42 AM
Friday, December 24, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Who's that lady? It's Martha Graham Cracker! We saw Martha's show at L'Etage last week so it seemed a good time to post my photos from her appearance at the art museum in the spring, which was one of the most incredible things I've ever seen, along with the Doves show at the Trocadero, rain falling in sheets over Welsh hills, the trees of British Columbia's coastal temperate rainforest, and a rhinoceros shooting cylinders of hay-sutured rhino poop from its cannonical ass. How could a lone entertainer compare with these wonders and marvels? As her first-act closer, Martha Graham Cracker mounted the museum steps in towering heels singing Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me better than its author, Elton John, better even than The Who's brass-lunged Roger Daltrey.
Or just as good. I associate drag artists with disco and r&b hits that are thin and sugary as the glaze on a Dunkin' Donuts cruller, so I love it that Martha's a rock diva; when she changes key mid-syllable in Love Will Keep Us Together, it's raw, hungry, and fearsome as a lion's roar.
How happy Martha's mostly-straight audience looks! I am trying to work out why her following is so heterosexual. What do they get out of this? What do any of us get out of this? I was raised with a deeply Protestant suspicion of the culture of celebrities and entertainers, so I feel like an anthropologist in this crowd, Indy in the Temple of Doom. Is Martha's exceptional, cross-over appeal related to that tendency of transvestite and gender-straddling personas in cultures around the world to naturally step into roles as priests and shamans? She does seem goddess-like in person. (Though that may be just that she's so tall.)
At her L'Etage show last Thursday Martha opened by telling the audience she wanted to make love to each and every one of us, individually, or en masse, and it was possible to believe not only that she might want to, but that she could. Isn't that what we want from a goddess, love, more than protection, favor, fertility, or victory, just love? Whether Venus, Astarte, or Mary, it's wonderful to imagine that the most fabulous person in the galaxy might love us back. Someone said the approbation offered to celebrities is sublimated self-esteem we might more profitably have paid to ourselves (who was that?)--but the impulse to worship is a hard one to quench. The Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret lets us honor and enjoy that impulse within a protected sphere of irony, and sheer silliness. Is this why I tend to see Martha at Christmas? Our gods may want us to sacrifice Isaac for them, but they'll make do with the ram.
at 2:02 PM
Thursday, December 09, 2010
For the last day of the Festival of Lights, here's the Old New Synagogue of Prague. As a kid in 7th grade, reading a horror comic about the Golem, I did not imagine that this was a real place, or that I might go there. (The clay Golem sleeps in the attic, concealed within a trove of papers inscribed with the name of the Almighty, waiting for the day when someone restores the word emet, truth, to his forehead).
Exploring the neighborhood of the Josefov overwhelmed my avid tourism--I'm a tourist the way other people are Marxists or Anabaptists--replacing my seething curiosity with a kind of radio silence. The preservation of this neighborhood is one of the darkest ironies of human history.
I could write one of my usual elegies here, but this day is about deliverance, or resilience--depending on your metaphysical orientation--so, just in case carving words into clay really does have the power to vivify, today I'll leave the last word to resilience.
at 9:30 AM
Friday, December 03, 2010
We went to the Christmas Village at City Hall and had roasted hazelnuts and a nice conversation with a merchant who was also a Sufi mystic, and author of a book called Journey Through Ten Thousand Veils. The mystic, divining my pessimistic view of human nature, urged me not to grumble, but to replace what is bad with what is better--which she said was a paraphrase from Islamic scripture. I resisted enlightenment--it may be better to light a single candle, but it is easier and sometimes truer to curse darkness. Still, I was nearly persuaded by the mystic's demeanor, which was serene and powerful. I have to entertain the notion that some creeds may be more than just self-delusion when I meet someone who genuinely appears to have risen above angst, by means of belief--
But then I remind myself that personality is powerful, and charisma alone should not persuade a curmudgeon from his saturnine outlook. When will the good forces in the universe desist from sending their emissaries of light after me?
I kept scanning the Christmas Village for Krampus, Santa's European companion and diabolical shadow, who is becoming my favorite part of the Yuletide. (Our local, Pennsylvania Dutch Krampus is Belsnickel, who needs a better publicist). Rattling his chains at the pious, flicking his tail at sentimentality, and birching the extravagant, Krampus is the antidote for the more sickening aspects of the season. This helpful video explains Krampus with a song, this one will give you nightmares, and in this one the Krampi are mainly interested in birching strapping guys...
(Some of the shots in that last Krampus clip suggest a "running of the Krampus," similar to what happens in Pamplona with the bulls. This would be a great tradition for Philadelphia to adopt, and if something like that takes off, you heard it here first.)
The Christmas Village made us feel like we were at a real christkindlmarkt, and I plan to go again--despite the lack of a Krampus sighting, and not being able to get so much as a Krampus ornament. (Krampus's day is December 5th, so Sunday may be a good day to return). I plan to console myself with wearing a Krampus T-shirt as part of my annual quest to find a little of the true, ancient, dark, spooky Yuletide duende--most of which, in the U.S. at least, gets squashed beneath one of Santa's immense buttocks.
Though, now that I think of it, a Krampus shirt may be unnecessary if you keep the spirit of Krampus alive in your heart all year.
at 10:17 PM
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