Archive for the Culture Category

Words Tell IT All

Posted in Arts, Bird of Time, Culture, Education, Humor, nuance, nuance, Philosophy, poets, poets, The Arts, words on July 20, 2014 by bird of time

England. The English. English. A tiny island stuck on Winston Churchill’s back.

It shouldn’t be odd to me that the scrappy Churchill with his wonderful words should be the savior of this scrappy England. What a great pair, a great icon.

I’m a poet, a writer and I love words.It doesn’t matter what they say; it’s what they are. It’s the secrets they hold.The treasures they reveal. My high school English teacher, Jane Pavey later Stephans, gave me one of  my greatest gifts when she told us to look at the root of our words. Each word is a history book. Each word can tell stories of long boats and horned helmets, of the good ship Bounty (or not so good). and even ragtime and Beatles. It can tell if the old village was Saxon or Norman, tell its age by knowing that. It can sing and boast and weep:

“And Crispin Chrispian shall ne’er go by
But we in it shall be remembered
From this day to the ending of the world,
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;”
(Shakespeare, of course. Henry V)

We band of brothers. It isn’t quite what Shakespeare meant, but the tiny island is a brotherhood of men created by the Phoenicians, by old Greek gods, Caesar, the Picts and Franks and Saxons. They, like the Happy Few have left their mark on the language and the people.  England and English itself – a happy brand of brothers. A kinship of words.

They say the language is so difficult to learn because of all the nuances, because the same word can have entirely different meanings like junk, ship, and junk, trash. There are all those ghosts in the language. But It has a wealth of expression that is perhaps unmatched.

Even the sounds of the words are like a picnic in the United Nations. Harsh sounds, or soft, sometimes lilting sounds.  Good Night. I’d guess that is German from the gutteral sound of it. Actually, the dictionary said Anglo Saxon, Germanic, of course.  gòd niht. The German is Gute Nacht. I don’t know for sure as I don’t often hear them, but I think I hear a softer gutteral sound in Polish and the Balkan states.  In England I love to listen to the accents and try to figure out where in England they are from. Some of it sounds a bit like a foreign language.

The soft, gliding sounds: sibilant, a Latin hiss. That delights me: a Latin hiss. What a picture! In spite of how much I like English I think Italian is the most musical of all the languages – it rolls and spits and kisses and even laughs. If I had to give up English I’d go dancing in that wonderful Italian  barrel of grapes marked for the finest wines.

And then there is the meaning, the nuance that makes a Shakespeare, a Browning or an Emily Dickenson. Look at the sloop, a barge, a clipper and, of all things a junk. England, the land of The Navy. Almost all of English  history can be seen in its ships. The most beautiful,  the heart-stopping clipper ship: clip – race fast, Old Norse – who better with those wonderful long boats? What a vision.  Junk, the ugliest of the ship words (not helped by its twin, junk for trash.)  It is still the most romantic:  Malay – adjong. You never hear it any more, I suppose it is not PC, but when I was young every concert singer sang On The Road to Mandalay, where the flying fishes play. Where the dawn comes up like thunder out of China ‘cross the bay.  Strangely, the beautiful song came from a definitely un-PC poem by Kipling.

Everyone jokes about reading the dictionary as the most boring pastime in the world. But I love the words, I love to see where they are from, what they can tell me what is new or remind me of the old, the romantic. They are the tag lines of history. I think if there were a University of Words, we’d have a very educated, civilized society.



Saturday Night. Another World

Posted in Bird of Time, conservative, Constitution, Culture, Humor, Opinion, Philosophy, Politics, The Arts, wordpress with tags , , , , on May 21, 2014 by bird of time

A lady never tells her age. It just sneaks out when she isn’t looking:  her manners (or lack of them), the smile that a word might bring, even the swear word she might use when she is totally annoyed. I have no doubt that by the time this bit of whimsy is finished you can tell the month, the date and the year I was born.

Well,  almost.

Someone mentioned a poem they had written about a Saturday night.

Saturday night. Another world.

In this real world, well, the Old Grey Mare, she ain’t what she used to be. Saturday night now means ho, hum. There is nothing on television until Fox’s Bulls and Bears at eleven. Don’t know where the Brit Mysteries went, but since that station only has eight months of programs (four of appeals), there is no point in looking for them. Perhaps this is one of those gifts that keeps on giving.

Saturday Nights. How I loved them. As a kid, it meant a movie. And later, a movie with that good night kiss you sang to yourself about all week

i lived in Toledo, Ohio in my sort of single days. You know, that town that everyone makes fun of. Actually it wasn’t bad then. It has one of the world’s best art museums and the theaters still had wine velvet drapes with gold thread, small restaurants in a downtown that stayed open for the movie crowd, street cars that ran only on the hour after twelve and I think stopped totally at two. Several of the nicer restaurants had a dance floor and one of the stone quarries offered dancing under the stars. I’ll take that.

Saturday actually started on Friday nights. Hair, nails, iron our special dresses and shine the shoes – an evening routine that was the equal to any “I have to wash my hair” excuse.

Then the dressing up for Saturday deal. White gloves. Highest heels we had. The latest in hats (or not). Then downtown on the bus for lunch – for which my future sister-in-law, friend was always half an hour late. Our favorite lunch place was  the restaurant in our favorite store. Later I’d take my kids there for their birthday lunch.

At Christmas time the stores filled their windows with manger scenes and angels that left you gasping. My store had the best Santa in town.

My sister-in-law was a tiny thing and there were always great bargains on the racks for her. So we’d head for the dress sale racks. There was always a clerk to greet you and actually wait on you. She’d check your dressing room to see if everything was alright, see if she could find something for you, or get a different size. For a long time, she got a commission but that disappeared about the time the clerks disappeared.

After that we’d go to a smaller but pricier place to drool over their hats.  If only I had those lovely things today. big black and huge straw, sparkling white Scarlet O’Hara hats, little straws that actually did have cherries or tiny flowers and ribbons on them, a black Ingrid Bergman hat from Casablanca, a stacked straw, a glorious pink hat with big pink roses, a white fur that the Czars’ wife might have worn. Oh my.

If I could have some reminder of those days, I’d take the hats, plus maybe one wine velvet dress, one lavender cotton with big embroidered lilacs, and one pair of gold sandals.

it was like a gigantic treasure box. No bare shopping malls. Just “Downtown” where all the good things were. I wonder if New York City is still like it was when I visited th city with Macy’s and Sacs, a .small downtown  A mall just is not the same. No romance. No big deal.

The stores then had a book and a candy department, and a yard goods department. Big bolts of heavy Skinner satin and lovely soft Pendleton wools. Huge books of patterns for beautiful dresses and fuzzy pajamas. They had one of the prettiest leopard print furs I’ve ever seen. I don’t like most they look so artificial, but this was soft (fake furry) and beautiful.  I made a coat I loved for years. It was my signature coat.

I had my first two charge cards there, down town. My behavior was never so good again as it as with them!

And that was just the afternoon.

I don’t know what Saturday night is these days. Just another day to go out?

It really was the highlight of the week. If you were lucky, your date was a good dancer. If not it was movie night. The theaters were always packed. We didn’t usually bother with the first couple of weeks of a block buster, but settled for a good one in one of the smaller theaters. And yes, there were balconies and snuggling, but those weren’t our choice of seats if we could help it.

Then waffles and coffee in one of the small restaurants that catered to the movie crowd.

I look at the block malls and the tiny bare theaters and I’m glad I’m not a kid now. I guess maybe the screen  elements are worth the excitement of going to the movies, but I can’t think of trading that for the wonderful voice of Ronald Colman, or that lovely, deep French voice of Charles Boyer murmuring in your ear.

Those were the best of times, the worst of times. The worst only because they are gone forever Another world.


Posted in Bird of Time, Culture, Humor, Opinion, Philosophy, Politics, The Arts, wordpress, words with tags , , , , on May 18, 2014 by bird of time

Words can be like little gifts that arrive unexpectedly, and if we are lucky, hang around for a while for us to enjoy.

Lilacs. That one could keep me smiling for hours. It brings in its train, home, May, blue skies and a scent even lovelier than roses..

I’m a dyed- in-the-wool romantic who believed in fairy tales and happily ever after, as a kid. While happily-ever-after days seem to be gone for a while, hope is the one thing that never fled Pandora’s box.

But this is all a bit of a tangent (one of those words that keeps on giving, you can fly off on a tangent and land anywhere).

The other day I was kind enough or cruel enough, to suggest to a friendly poet that a certain word, therefore phrase, was weak. Cry, for instance. Not that there is anything wrong with crying – we couldn’t be sane without it, but this particular image came across as whimpering, crying  like a baby. I suggested he try the thesaurus for a better word, like weep which shows the situation is serious, sad and worth crying over.

There are some who make it a point of pride not to use the thesaurus. Well, McGee, you’re a better man than I am! (You must remember Fibber McGee and Molly, the old radio program? The one with the closet where everything fell on your head, once you opened it? If you don’t, Google it and give it a try). Now that is a lovely tangent, isn’t it?

But all those words in a thesaurus! What a treasure of emotions, of life. The poet was writing about a coming storm. The picture it brings to mind is of thunder and pelting rain But that kind of storm usually passes quickly and normally a grown man doesn’t cry because of it. He said he wanted to say it was not only a physical but an emotional storm.

Ah! Then, take that word “coming”. Not very exciting, is it? So we go to the thesaurus to see if there is a word, just one, that expresses our fears, our terror, dread, perhaps only annoyance, or a meaning close to coming. a nuance like stalking, pursuing, that gives us a more emotional picture.

It puts a whole new spin on things, doesn’t it?

There is another, beckoning tangent if I ever saw one.

Our whole world is being led to disaster by nuances. The word has a new definition : a  White House spin, a place where  we are led down a garden path. A laundry enhancer which bleaches the spots to make the truth less ugly.

We don’t have to think about a war on terror. All we have is a man-caused disaster! When you think about that, there is a delicious irony in the phrase. Man certainly is making disaster. He is a disaster. And calling the Ft. Hood massacre, “workplace violence” is trying to make it sound as though someone threw a book or swore. Or perhaps one of the soldiers slept through his duty time and didn’t cut the grass around the big flag pole.

When global cooling turned into global warming, which included an ice-cold winter of discontent, the blushing faces of those in the white-house came up with climate disruption, as though climate were a mild, controllable wench who suddenly lost her cool. She forgot to take her tranquilizer!

A nuance is a fanciful partner in our life of words. You know, those things that allow us to communicate with, to charm or, sadly, to harm our neighbors? A nuance can spread the wealth (make every one rich?)  or take from the rich and give to the poor so we can all be equally poor. It can turn a coming storm into a spot of trouble or a cataclysm.

Or it can be a gigantic lie.

Perhaps, instead of nuances, I should opt for the bald truth!




Capitalism, Communism and God

Posted in conservative, Constitution, Culture, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 4, 2014 by bird of time

To begin with I am not a fundamentalist and am in many ways an almost Catholic. I say almost because it is too male centered to be honest. I trust in the goodness of God. I believe He seeks to touch each life to bring each person to him according to who the person is, the processes that make him an individual. I believe a holy Buddhist is a better man than a bad Christian.

The first problem I see is the literal view of the Old Testament. I believe it to be chiefly the history of the Jewish people and their relationship with God I don’t doubt that it was inspired, but I believe the inspiration a practical one, not a verbatim thought by God.

I think that God took into account the person writing the material. Like it or not, the person does have an influence on what is said, how it is said and the conclusions drawn. Take for instance, St. Paul and his epistles. He has a definite idea of women’s place in the world, but it is his world, his understanding of what is right and proper in that world. His idea of what God expects of people in that world. He had no inkling of any other world. I really cannot believe that God whispered in St. Paul’s ear every word to write. He gave Paul love and the wisdom to discern things in the world he knew.

God had formed Paul, seen to his conversion, his moral understanding. God just does not follow people around and put words in their mouth at every moment of their lives. He makes them understand and says “Go at it, Pal.” That understanding is filtered through what the person knows. God also understands that man is not a perfect machine, that he is the product of a fallen soul. Paul himself admits he is a fallen man.

Would God then, demand that women be silent and wear veils over their heads in this day and age? Women were the property of men then, if not literally, at least morally. Women were believed to be less than man. Is that really what God meant for today? Paul’s view of the role was conditioned by what he knew.

St. Augustine is generally accepted as a man inspired by god. Yet from Augustine comes the idea that God has predestined some men to be saved, most to go to hell. Perhaps God allows it rather than predestines it because He knows some men will choose evil. If He gave man a free will, He could not predestine him. Jesus consistently talked about good and bad choices. If you have choice, you do not, cannot have predestination.

As for God and the Jews, God and the cruelty of the Old Testament, we have again man’s understanding to deal with. God even told Job that man could not understand God. God could touch a man and make him holy, yes. But since He gave mankind free will, that is, the ability to make a choice whether to serve and love God or not, He could hardly make every man a saint. Man has to choose. Sometimes man’s intentions are better than his understanding. And, his understanding is always influenced by who and what he is.

The Jews, like Paul were a product of their time. God, then dealt with them on that basis. He knows who each of us is. I believe He deals with us on that basis.

Jesus saves. Yes, By His death He opened the door of heaven for mankind. He never said Baptists or Catholics or any special sect. He died for mankind. He did not die for a few Europeans, For many years, those were chiefly the believers. It took a long time for the word to spread to Asians and Africans. Do you think He had a great time creating all those people to cast into hell?

There is an old Catholic doctrine that claims the baptism of desire. That is, if a person truly desires God and lives accordingly, he is baptized by his desire for God.

Which brings me to the problem of homosexuality. I am not God so I can’t solve this problem. At the time of the Jews I do think that God taught them it was wrong. But He also said through Paul, “When I was a child, I thought as a child.” I personally do not have an answer on that morality. The only thing I can do is let God deal with the individual and Himself.

On the problem of marriage, I see no good reason to disturb tradition by changing the definition of a word, which is what it amounts to. I am old enough to honor tradition. It is history that can unite and enlighten a nation.

A word has meaning. I fail to see why that particular word has to apply to a ceremony that denies its meaning. What is wrong with vows, for instance? They could take a vow for a loving alliance.

I think the homosexual attitude on the word “marriage” is wrong, just as I believe their actions in their parades in San Francisco are wrong. Decency, thoughtfulness, courtesy demand something from all of us. To ask it does not make a hater. To ask the Muslims not to build their Mosque at the site of September 11, is not hate. It is courtesy and compassion.

Each of us is responsible to God. While it may be a concern in my Charity that you act in concert with God’s love – in the end you are your own responsibility.

I believe the Garden of Eden story not quite literally but emotionally and spiritually. I see no reason that when He made man, He couldn’t start with an amoeba, a fish, a monkey or whatever. At some point, God touched man and gave him a soul. That is, He created the Adam and Eve. when man was fit to receive the soul. The time between mud and man is immaterial. God, if you believe in Him, can do anything He wants, when He wants, can He not? Frankly, I think this “to do” about Creationism in schools is just that. I doubt if knowing about it hurts anyone. So, it is a theory. A lot of science is a theory. Earth warming is a theory. That is stuffed down everyone’s throat. I don’t especially recommend the teaching of Creationism but I won’t have a fit over it either. Unlike many things that are taught, it won’t kill anyone.

From the savage then, man had to grow both intellectually and spiritually. Spirituality and the Jews, and now, modern man. Man was not meant to stay at a primitive level.

The process of growth has been long and painful. Monarchy, tyranny, the Greeks the Romans, Kings, Queens, Empires, and yes the Muslims and Eastern religions and philosophies along with Christianity, these have all shaped mankind.

Aside from the politics and religion, we also have the individual character of each man, his weaknesses, his strengths, his stupidity, his intelligence. If men were perfect we might have a natural socialism, but as it is man is the victim of being a man.

Our family once entertained a man from Red China in our home. We did not discuss politics because he was a guest and we did not want to cause any discomfort. He did say that as a teacher, his big problem was the lack of incentive. There was no reason to excel in a world where everyone was by force, equal.

A man is happiest when he can dream and strive. Success is nice, but the trying is the excitement. That is the purpose of the line in the constitution that says “the pursuit of happiness”. It was intended that man be free to reach out for the stars without the interference of government.

Budding socialists or progressives want to say that capitalism is evil. No. Capitalism is only a format within which man is most free to reach the stars. If man is greedy, that is not the fault of capitalism but the fault of man. He is no less greedy under monarchies, socialism or communism. Hitler, Stalin and others of that ilk are the natural result of a system of state run power, which is what those systems are. There is little chance in those systems for man to escape it, to be himself because if he is a good man, (without revolution) he cannot fight well enough to be free. If he is a greedy, power-hungry man, he can join the system and succeed as a parasite.

Many young people claim that Jesus was a communist. Jesus was not born to change the political system of the world. He told man to give, said it was harder for a rich man to enter heaven than a camel through the eye of a needle. But, as with the Samaritan, he never suggested taking money from the rich to give to the poor. He did not go around spreading money. He fed the crowd from love and necessity, not a political example. He did not criticize the governments. He criticized the men to save their souls. If he said “share” it was for the welfare of the neighbor but not for political motives. It was for love and salvation. A communistic Jesus is too easy. It excuses the real hardship of charity.

In a capitalistic system, you have greed, yes. Brought to its final conclusion, it can end up in monarchy, socialism or communism or any other sort of dictatorship. That is what the constitution is meant to guard us from. If we are not careful and if we buy the current progressive philosophy, we are in danger of ending in tyranny.

Cole said that communism does not force. It shares. In an ideal world, perhaps. But to call sharing communism is a bit over the top.

The one fact and hope remains. Capitalism is the system which gives a man his best chance to be free and good. Take a look at technology. Because it is intensely competitive, it grows exponentially. How many in our country have become successful (and hopefully happy) because of this competition? You kids with your phones and gadgets certainly enjoy the fruits of capitalism. (The Communists, that is China, steal the technology, not invent it.)

Communism and tyrannies cannot afford competition. China is beginning to become more competitive internally, but as with Tianamin Square, that government cannot afford to let go of its control. Once the government lets go, then you have capitalism.

In our country we have no Tienamin Square. We have the left which makes fun of the tea party and the Republicans because that is the way they plan to keep them from progress in breaking free of an all too intrusive government Call a man a fool often enough and no one will pay attention to him. And the Left excels at propaganda while the right stands around with their fingers up their nose and says, “Duh.”

The left, let us say “Progressives” are numerically superior and much more dangerous. They believe themselves to be the “elite”. They have a long established plan to make the country socialist (since Teddy Roosevelt) and they have very nearly succeeded because they control the teaching content of the universities.

But, they overplayed their hand with Obama..

Why, in his first European speech, did Obama not know what language Austrians spoke ? How can you know ANY European history without knowing about the Austrian Empire?

One of his first acts was to send back to England the bust of Churchill. That was a deliberate sign, deny it though he will. He is not interested in the European society. He wants to replace it with a world where the third countries can take from the West.

The problem is that the young are so idealistic. It is good, but not practical. Their education is purposely slanted by the universities to believe that America is a villain. Check to see how many liberals vs. the right are in the universities. The numbers are available.

Experience will show that because a thing is good it is not always the right action. People who oppose it are not evil. They usually want the same goal but choose a different path.

If you want to save the world, be a congressman without ulterior motives and help the people to have the freedom to determine their own destiny by protecting the constitution.