Saturday, April 26, 2008

At my parents house my mother got a tv when I was in fifth grade, I worked for two years in high school and avoided a lot of tv, and at University of Washington and University of Iowa, I had no tv. My mother thought the child actresses on Little House on the Prairie were really good. A critic pointed out that tv lost a wonderful talent when Michael Landon passed away, because Michael Landon crafted his work to reach audiences with content. A computer screen and tv screen are the same, many tiny lights that create a pattern, Michel Landon was making an effort to carry across walnut trees to his audience against a barrier- according to Jerry Mander the medium portrays a large metal object like a car successfully, while the medium cannot portray a natural place. Partly because of Jerry Mander's Four Arguments For The Elimination of Television I sold a small tv I used for a few years and since then, 1985, I have had no television.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I could not find the book, so I looked at two other books by today's author. Half an hour until Books at 12:10 talks about Judith Levine's Not Buying It - to abstain from consumer spending. Her theme occurs in her earlier book Do You Remember Me? - in the context of that book (she relates to her father, who has dementia) the date 9/11/01 arrives, and I think she dated her story to include this event.
"Life in New York," she says over the phone to someone who has mentioned a plane hitting the towers,"Call you tomorrow."
She turns on the tv to see if there is any news report.
"Five tearful hours later..."
Her own personal context and the emergency make her pity herself - she peers into water at a half-dozen bass - the simplicity of their lives seems attractive. "I'm so self-pitying that I envy fish."
........................ Perhaps the book we will read, Not Buying It, evolves from that envy of those fish...................This evening the main Tacoma Reads Together book for 2008 is featured with Vietnam Vets discussing Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Saturday Afternoon Television

1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.

3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.

5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

These rules by George Orwell, who introduced the idea of NewThink, first were written on the University of Washington blackboard for us by Mark Strand. He probably wrote George Orwell and some book reference, because he would write names of writers or books on the board as the class was starting.

The Pennsylvania primary is Tuesday. And newspaper articles even include the word track, racetrack jargon is a part of the election. In a a way this follows Orwell's rules: short words, and these are eveyday English words. But these are also jargon words from the race track glossary.

My Saturday afternoon television choice when I was young was horseraces from the track at Santa Anita. Those were great horses on black and white television. In Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, is American Bandstand -

We're goin' hoppin'

we're goin' hoppin' today

where things are poppin'

out Philadephia way

we're gonna drop in

on all the music they play

on the bandstand.

I saw American Bandstand once or twice.

My mother's family played as a dance band. But there were Lutheran ideas from the old country that discouraged dancing in time of war. However it was, I did not go to dances. When I bought records alone I would choose jazz, like Paul Horn.

Because I took an Amtrak Train from Philadelphia to Chicago via Pittsburg, images for me of Pennsylvania include Amish people plowing with horses and Amish buggies pulled by horses.

At the Western Washington Fairgrounds today there is a Spring Fair. Thoroughbred race horses were the center of the autumn fair when I was young - above a race horse in the stall was a horseshoe of brilliant roses and parts of the silks of the jockeys costumes. Those horses walked along toward the center performance area and the race track. Beautiful from the stands for the race. The beauty level is the same as the present arena features 4-H horses - the horse in the stall is accompanied by organizers who are leaders for the 4-H riders. These are beautiful horses. In the same arena draft horses do a demo (among the drivers are Amish people from Pennsylvania).

This is a deliberate choice about the wholesomeness of the race track - "not a wholesome trottin' race / no, but a race where they set down - right on the horse. And that's trouble..." from The Music Man.

How appropriate is the horse race jargon election language in a present urbane world?

A song I came across recently, sung by Jack Jones, I now remember having listened to on the radio - I am sure I heard "The Race Is On" - This is a really nice song.

Oh, I feel tears welling up from deep inside / like my heart's gonna be break -

And a stab of loneliness, sharp and painful / that I can never shake -

You may say that I'm taking it hard / since you wrote me off of the try,

Don't you wager that I'll hide in sorrow / Cause I might break right down and cry?

This compares to a version by George Jones -

You may say that I'm taking it hard / since you wrote me off of the call -

Don't you wager that I'll hide in sorrow / Cause I might break right down and bawl?

I see the first version avoiding a break - ball (/and pivot joint) reference, a barbarous reference to introduce into the square-dancey song about a horse race.

The word bawl relates back to an Icelandic word - echoic - the sound made by a cow or a calf - in English - a calf bawls. But that might be a rodeo reference.

I think I prefer to not link to one of the YouTube versions of this song here in my blog entry. To me the primary election might be much more like a draft horse demo than a thoroughbred race.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Only one squirrel outside in the cold morning, it seemed most could wait until it warmed up. I gave the squirrel a cashew nut.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

I climbed from downtown to the Main Library after the parade.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The bird I saw the other day may be a female house finch, while I was at the Green Ribbon Climate Action Task Force public meeting the other day I brought along my bird book to try to check the different kinds of sparrows. One bike rider suggested as a missed strategy that they might look into renting bikes for downtown. From one perspective this might seem amusing. There is an elevation gain from Commerce Street, where there is a main transit center, and Tacoma Avenue, where the public library has been for over a hundred years. However, from a clear perspective about all factors, your thoughts drift toward the maps of Tacoma in the Footsore Series. There is a nice bike ride all along the Eastern shoreline. The bike rental idea would offer a wonderful ride.
Wednesday early in the evening was a public meeting for the Tacoma Green Ribbon Climate Action Task Force - at the end we were to distribute our five dots (labels) near the kinds of ideas we like best - e.g.: mandate an anti-idling ordinance this year - Monday evening was a discussion by three writers about the novel by Tim O"Brien, The Things They Carried - Peter Bacho, Brent Hartinger, and Mark Lindquist on a panel. Several people asked questions. I asked Mark Lindquist about his name - his answer was that after five generations the country of national origin seems far away - he said he mostly became interested about Bjorn Borg, the tennis star. Interestingly, I could find all these writers on the internet. Mark Lindquist has recently written a book called The King of Methlehem. Now it is available for me to check out. It is about the meth problem in Pierce County. The writers to me seemed to represent ideas of social concern - I asked them about a point I read in a book featured in the library display - that the Vietnam War was wrong and the effects of the war are found in everything in our country today. The event drew a good-sized audience and many people asked questions.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Below the small tree was a sparrow with many brown and pale stripes.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

A Talk by Billy Collins, past U.S. Poet Laureate

Thursday evening Tacoma Reads Together featured four panelists discussing Protest Songs. One panelist encouraged audience members to explain about songs that had changed their lives; but they did not try to get the audience to sing. Friday afterno0n in the same room past United States Poet Laureate Billy Collins gave a free talk before he read poems at the Pantages in the evening. It stays on my mind that he talked about how a poem goes in a direction it wants to go itself. He described writing as a conversation he was having with the direction the poem wanted to go, with frequent thoughts about the reader. That he wants to take the reader into another, unfamiliar and unexpected situation. I am familiar with an approach to writing that concerns the response of the reader. It helps to think that a poem goes in a direction it wants to go. Students also go where they want to go, students find their own way. On Monday three writers will discuss The Things They Carried, this year's selection, by Tim O'Brien.