Monday, November 15, 2010

This post is for my Jewish Readers. Dead Sea Scrolls trial of Raphael Golb

giant "menorah of freedom," lit around the world


Yud Kislev   י כסלו       
Wednesday November 10, 2010

Yud-Tes Kislev   י"ט כסלו
New Year of Chasidut
Friday November 26, 2010

פדה בשלום נפשי מקרב לי כי ברבים היו עמד
Tehillim 55:19  He has redeemed my soul in peace . . .

A webpage describing the detailed, day-by-day progress, from the Alter Rebbe's imprisonment to his release:

from the initial complaints of the Misnagdim of Vilna; day-by-day details of the interrogations and responses; simultaneous historical events; dates of specific documents and petitions, etc.:


You may recall this event in Brooklyn, exactly a year ago:

Why choose the most physically dangerous place to send skinny 125 lb bookworm Raphael Golb, fellow Jew, and son of an academic rival? In my understanding, please correct me if I'm wrong, even a felon can be eligible for rooming with other non-violent, minimum-security inmates.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Facebook page for 13 Young Gay Suicides- Wear Purple Oct 20

6 of the young- very young- men
fr facebook
Join a Facebook page, and commit to wear purple Oct 20.

two Facebook pages honor recent suicides of very young gay girls and boys:

*facebook page honors 6 young gay suicides:
*facebook page honors 13 young gay suicides:

Tyler Clementi, Asher Brown, Seth Walsh, Justin Aaberg, Raymond Chase, Alec Henrikson, Sladjana Vidovic, Eric Mohat Zach Harrington, Phoebe Prince, Meredith Rezak, Jennifer Eyring and Billy Lucas.

info tip thanks to gawker: article at

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Long Night's Journey Into Day

age 17, Nancy Bird Walton
1933, first Australian
woman flyer

State Library of
New South Wales
Last summer I packed two giant suitcases and stuffed a large backpack and dragged them bravely out to Kennedy Airport. I was headed to Toronto to see friends.

I had an "enhanced state-driver's license," which I understood was good in place of a passport to get to Canada.

my passport?
1970 ad

I stood in line 45 minutes. Between the taxi, the dragging and the waiting, this was quite a brouhaha for a 41-minute flight. I was feeling a little nervous noticing that every single other person had out a traditional passport.

the fine print
I finally reached the guard who pointed out to me the fine print that said the card was good for travel to Canada "by land and sea." That did not include the medium of air.

 I had to drag my baggage all the way back home.

My vacation was ruined. Not only could I not get to Canada, but how was I to catch the plane I was reserved on from Toronto to Chicago, my next stop to see more friends, if I wasn't in Toronto to catch it?

by land or sea
I accepted defeat, left my bags at my house, and went to visit my neighbor for her commiseration over my ruined vacation, by land or by sea, but not by air.

Her husband happened to be home, which was unusual as he was often away driving a long-distance bus. He was at the computer now, ordering tools online. I told them my story and without looking away from the screen he said "Take a bus."

That's ridiculous, I said. You can't take a bus to Canada.  Not from New York. How is that possible? That's nuts I said.

I do it twice a week, said the bus driver. 
minutes fly by

What can I do? It's too late to take a bus, I said.

Nonsense, said the bus driver. Run home and get your stuff.

What??! I said. 
You'll see, it's easy, he said.

9:30 p.m.   Friend's husband tells me to run home.

9:35 p.m.   I arrive at home, open my suitcases and throw everything onto the bed.

9:40 p.m.   I stuff the most important items into a smaller suitcase

9:45 p.m.   I call the bus station and buy a ticket

"Me and my suitcase"
9:50 p.m.   I run out the door to the subway

Horsecab 19th century.
Cheapest seats were
on the outside.
10:30 p.m.  I arrive at Port Authority bus terminal

10:45 p.m.  I AM ON A BUS.

Ok, you'll say, You're exaggerating. You didn't REALLY just run home, grab a suitcase, make a call, run out the door, and boom! you're on a bus, all within an hour and 15 minutes.

Ok- you're right, I exaggerated. An hour and a half.

My friend's husband told me the old traveler's trick: traveling overnight, you efficiently combine travel with sleep, saving countless hours, and you arrive tired- but early. A series of overnights can save you days of vacation.

Wagon Train, Oregon Trail
I was told the trip would take over ten hours. I could not believe my ears. Who on earth could travel for so long? By air it's 41 minutes. What was this, a horse and buggy? How would I endure it? Why had I listened to my friend? What was I doing here in this bus seat?

It would take me awhile to figure all that out.

Christopher Plummer 
prepares to play Cyrano 1973
Larry C. Morris NYT
In the meantime, I took out one of the books I had brought. I had no faith that a book could get me through the unendurable time ahead of me, but what else could I do.

The book was about a young actor's struggles in New York. 

It had a strong plot and strong characters who were always doing things. It was contemporary and clever, and at home it had been great fun to read. I tried reading it now for about an hour or two, but the concentration it took was exhausting.

I put it away and took out my other book, a gift, having grabbed the books closest to the door on my way out. I never would have taken it on the trip otherwise, because it was a book completely without a plot. It was just a scattering of thoughts, vignettes and descriptions. I thought it would be too dull to focus on for a bus trip.

Diane Ackerman the poet had written a non-fiction book about the five senses (six actually, including synesthesia). It was an experiential science book written as sensuously as only a poet can.

At first I wondered how I was going to concentrate but soon I found myself wallowing in her descriptions of scents and perfumes and following the butterfly as it plunged into the fragrant garden flowers. 

"An ancient Egyptian socialite attending a party would wear a wax cone on the top of her head; it would melt slowly, covering her face and shoulders with a trickle of perfumed syrup." I had accidentally discovered the right sort of book for a bus trip. First of all it had, for sure, to have no plot.

I looked with glazed eyes
from the window
After an hour I felt a little fatigued and set aside the book. I didn't know what I would do next, maybe look out the window. To my surprise I found I didn't care what I did. I looked with glazed eyes from the window at the trees passing by and thought about nothing, not even what I was looking at.

WHEELS illusions
I could hear the sound of the wheels of the bus. No I mean I could feel the wheels of the bus. Well it was an odd kind of combination. I was feeling the revolving of the wheels through my whole body. I relaxed into it.

I was aware that I was riding along a highway. Or maybe just a road is more what it felt like. I didn't even notice other cars, I was only aware of being as much on the road as was our driver. Then I realized I'd been dozing on and off.
Omnibus 1865
Honore Daumier

Walters Art Museum, Baltimore
tent revival
Oklahoma City 1963

We were all on a level together, a walking level, ground level, the same level I would be on were I walking amongst the trees I saw out the window. We were all together and all joined in this rhythm.

The driver was in charge of it all, the wheels rolling and the trees passing and the people sleeping, and this rhythm that had become part of us. Was he the bus? Was the bus us?

Paul Heussenstamm
How many hours was it. . . wait. . . it's only been. . . well only a couple of hours. . . what? six hours? That was six hours? I think I must have been meditating. 

time warp
If anyone had gotten on that bus and busily taken out his laptop, or if we could hear his ipod through his earphones, or if he took out his CELL PHONE to call-

could you please
quiet down your brain

I feel fully confident that the driver himself would stop, get out of his seat and come help us shove the noisy fellow out the window, it being more convenient than getting him to the door.

night riding

We were lucky: there were seldom many of us, all these endless hours; each person had his own set of seats to sprawl across, spread his bags, sleep or sit. It was uncomfortable but that just became another part of the warping of time.

in and out of consciousness

Drifting in and out of awareness of discomfort, like an invalid slipping in and out of consciousness.

When the driver interrupted our reverie to send us down to the border guard, this was our only contact with reality. The guard was surely trained to spot suspicious signs and I was afraid I might exhibit some of those. This was the only shadow upon my waking dream.

bucket ride
We were now on the Canadian side. It was still night but I was sitting awake for awhile. A few roadside stops, when a very young man got on and sat in the seat just ahead of mine.

His hair was dripping wet and he was wringing water out of his shirt. He hung it along the seat to dry. I watched dreamily, unaware there was anything unusual about this. It took quite awhile for it to enter my consciousness that this was odd. I leaned forward.

screen siren
"You're wet," I informed him.

He was coming from upstate New York to see his girlfriend, who he had not been with in quite some time. He wasn't exactly moving in, but he was planning to stay for an undetermined length of time, depending on how it went. They were excited.

'Through the night she calls to men'
Maxfield Parrish 1901

At the border to Canada he was turned away, something out of order with his passport. He was 22 and very eager to be with his girlfriend. He went home to Buffalo and took his kayak and crossed the border, where he said they didn't watch very well.

Samuel J Dixon crossing
Niagara 1895
niagara falls public library

He hid his boat in the weeds and caught the Toronto bus on the Canadian side. First by sea and now by land. He swims rapids to get to her.

I know his adventure has little to do with my topic but it was too good not to tell. If by some cosmic chance the fellow I am speaking of happens to stumble upon this blog- give a shout out, please!

We arrived in Toronto first thing in the morning, with the sun. Disembarking to ground level was only one step down. Once on the ground, I found myself still carrying on the bus journey, the rhythm in my steps.
'crooked house' (Poland)
Walking along felt no different from the soothing rocking sensation of riding along. I had the same distortion of time and place, the same sense of placidly observing a world passing by. I was only a little surprised by the change in scenery "out my window" so to speak- I was now on sidewalks, moving among people. All in a dream. Toronto is a great city to step into after a ten-hour bus ride, it is so low key. It scarcely disrupts the dream.

Airports and flying will never seem the same again, the preparation, the agitation, the uncertainty, the crowds, having to make reservations weeks ahead, checking online for changes, checking-in online, measuring baggage, labeling baggage, checking for liquids, figuring out the right lines, figuring out the gate, checking the monitor for changes, walking from terminal to terminal. . .
Bayswater Omnibus, Victorian
Jeremy Paxton

I remember my hour and 15 minutes- or hour and a half- all it took from suitcase to seat- and I remember the rhythms, the detached dreaminess. 

Back in the days before flight, anyone would have welcomed the chance to abandon the horses and wagons and worn-out walking shoes to get 2000 miles in five hours rather than five weeks. In old novels, characters are always walking miles and miles.
hayride, Poconos 1900s

It's easy to look back nostalgiacally now that I can choose my method of transport, and as I board an airplane. Romantic memories gloss over the monotony and discomfort. But it was such a beautiful monotony, someday I really may choose to repeat it.

Monday, August 30, 2010

i've been on vacation

actual writer writing
I'm so sorry I have not put up a new post lately- I've been on vacation. I didn't want to say that- why say it, when I was so sure I would keep up?

I did write two new posts on the airplane because my seat mate would not talk to me!
She was a teenager engrossed in her Harry Potter. She did not even want to talk about Harry Potter. What is that, generation gap? You know how much we embarrass them when we prove that we are just like them.

So, I thought, well Miss, you may be reading a book. . . But I am WRITING one.

THREE POSTS are nearly finished- but will be delayed for the search for pictures. It takes me longer to find pictures than to write.

OK I won't make promises. Let's say NEXT WEEK. But you know it will be sooner.

Monday, August 16, 2010

still promising a post about hollywood monsters!

Eventually I will post, as promised, my comparison of the sad monsters of Hollywood as archetype and presence.
"Gothic" directed by Ken Russell 1986

at Byron's manor the Villa Diodati:
"A menagerie, with eight enormous dogs, three monkeys, five cats, an eagle, a crow, and a falcon: and all these, except the horses, walk about the house, which every now and then resounds with their unarbitrated quarrels, as if they were masters of it."
— Percy Blythe Shelley 1816

image found: website link
quote found on frankenstenia blog: website link

Please send me your suggestions for your favorite sad monsters. If I use it I will cite you.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I am a Race Car Driver

You might remember, how in a previous blogpost (Aug 10), I discussed "The Lists":

Playboy, 25 Sexiest Celebrities
Esquire, Sexiest Woman Alive
FHM, 100 Sexiest Celebrities
Details, Sexiest Woman
Stuff, 100 Sexiest Women

I must take this opportunity to brag proudly, that I myself have been on such a list:

My name is on the run-off ballot for "Sexiest Woman Alive 2004."

That's me, in a Porsche.
I am a race car driver
Also in run-off for "Sexiest Woman Alive"
I am on wikipedia
                               didn't you know that?
                               don't you recognize me?

Really. Check it, you'll see. In fact I'm in a voting run-off with Kate Beckinsdale for 'sexiest woman alive':

1) Sexiest woman alive, run-off:  Link: (ostfc message board)
I am not in the first list but in the second, #51
2)  My website link

I am a race car driver. It's so exciting. Porsche has made me their chief model, and as their representative, I also give presentations for them.

I am also an actress. I was in Interceptor II. I played the alien, who is disguised as a beautiful young blonde woman. I have also been on Love Boat. That was fun.

By the way, I thought I'd mention- sorry to get off the topic- there is a German actress named "Eve Scheer," and, poor dear, the media is always getting us mixed up.

It's so annoying- she gets half my fan mail.

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A Brief Note on my Revisions

When you notice I have a new blogpost, it's probably best if you wait at least a week before you read it.

-I edit for that long, I'm a perfectionist; and always thinking up something new.

Yesterday I revised: "Why You Can't Find What You Want at the Library" and broke it into two parts.  (from July 27, 2010)
Part 1 is the revised part; Part 2 remains largely the same.

If you love books, please take another look at the revised library post! In Part 1 I've connected all the dots.

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Why you can't find what you want at the library, PART 1

'The Library of Grand Vizier Ragib Pasha' 
engraving in Tableau général 
de l.empire othoman
by Ignatius Mouradgea d.Ohsson
Paris late 1700s
I was at my favorite branch library last week. My inaugural post, my very first post of this blog, was about the Battery Park branch library of the NYPL system.

I gushed about how the literature section was full of not just classics but modern classics, and even newer books, on their way to becoming modern classics, pre-classic I guess.


It’s not enough just to know only Dickens and Conrad and Boccacio, "the Canon," the books agreed on as being the greatest literature, then taught in colleges.

Hamish ed, UK 1951
Between 1961 and 1982, The Catcher in the Rye was the most censored book in high schools and libraries in the United States.

Everyone reads them, and then everyone writes about them- think of the tens of thousands of dissertations dissecting the greatest to the smallest of the Canon.

I'm not saying there is something wrong with continuing to mine the classics. I agree, in great works of art, the wealth of things to discover is bottomless. Things the authors put there on purpose and—more often—things they didn’t know they’d put there, just following their instincts.

more interesting than the original? 
And I agree that every new reader brings all their own stuff into the trigonometry of allegory. 

I myself can endlessly hold forth on what a story means, or a book, or the movie they made from the book and how it failed (or didn’t). And enjoy myself thoroughly.

It's just that. . .
. . . Is that all there is? Surely great books have been written in the meantime! How it surprises me to see highschoolers on the subway still reading Catcher in the Rye for English class. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Something Rich and Strange

"The Lists." This is a post about lists. And Shakespeare, eventually that is.

She thinks he hasn't got a chance. . .
"The Lists"- they read kind of like the first ten pages of your high school yearbook. You know, the pages with the cheerleaders (hey, I’m from Texas), as they’re caught walking out of Civics class, or on the bleachers snuggling in their football hero boyfriend’s letter jacket.

Just a typical day at high school-- represented page after page by that little Club of the beautiful people. Plus maybe one picture of the geek who won nationwide for the Debate team; and the guy in Band who plays tuba.

from Fresno yearbook, p. 79
Mervin Whealy & John Goss, Fresno State College,
beat USC & Stanford to win Debate championship, 1960

link is here
There’s no explaining their popularity. They aren’t the prettiest (some are), the smartest (some are), the classiest (some are). How selection works is completely mysterious. And the same thing goes for "The Lists."

These are "The Lists":

Playboy, 25 Sexiest Celebrities
Esquire, Sexiest Woman Alive
FHM, 100 Sexiest Celebrities
Details, Sexiest Woman
Stuff, 100 Sexiest Women

Of absolute fascination to an English teacher. Said without irony.
I must take this opportunity to brag proudly, that I myself have been on such a list:
My name is on the run-off ballot for "Sexiest Woman Alive 2004."
Read all about it in my post I am a Race Car Driver.

him again
I know I promised you the most beautiful MATHEMATICAL theorems of all time. I’m sorry I didn’t get around to that yet, so can you settle for these lists, for the time being?

And don't worry, Shakespeare IS coming up.
OK right now tell me the names of the first ten women or girls or ladies, on every one of those lists. Count them on your fingers right now. And ask your friends in the room.
Did you come up with the same ten as I did? Did you come up with the same ten as your friends did?
Yes you did!
Let’s start with Angelina Jolie. Don’t forget Jessica Biel and her frenemy Scarlett Johansson.

Cameron VS. Jessica, in case you didn’t know
and then [reportedly] Scarlett
I'd like to interrupt this post for a moment to ask- What the heck is the big deal about Justin Timberlake?

Anyway back to my story. Who else? YES! Jessica Alba! Eva Longoria! Megan Fox! Giselle B.! Bar Refaeli! Kate Beckinsdale! Halle Berry!

Even Jennifer Aniston! voted #2 "TV Beauty of All Time" in a British supermarket poll! Let’s even throw in Lindsey Lohan, Paris Hilton and Britney Spears-- for old time’s sake! -how embarrassing!
[ANOTHER] Jessica, Scarlett, Angelina:
Choose A, B, or C
Why even bother to mention last names? Angelina! Scarlett! Megan!

While I was "studying up" for this blogpost (yes there's research, as always),  I named a desktop folder of images "Jessicas & Jennifers."
And I’m always getting my Kates mixed up. Gosh there are so many Kates.

Just like in high school, the mystery of why this girl was voted cheerleader and not that one- there are many on “The List,” face it, no prettier than any other girl passing by. The real “movie stars” aren’t always the ones on the screen, they’re the girls at the office, the bakery, the Boardwalk, every bit as pretty.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE the A-list girls and I do follow celebrities and their stories, like eating candy. I get much of their news in a glance as I pass by a newsstand on the street.

Hedy Lamarr
to remind you of the old screen goddesses
Ziegfeld Girl, 1941
They are our cheerleaders, our kings and queens- heck, our gods and goddesses (along with music stars)-  of our lowest common denominator. They fill the hole of mythology that we thought we'd become too sophisticated for.

But most of all- celebrities are our FRIENDS. It feels that way because we see them on the screen and we watch their lives unfold before us.

Gossip rages over: does she have
 8 tattoos or 9? (Megan Fox, 23)
And what’s so bad about that? They are our glow in the dark. We speculate on whether they will stay together, split, adopt, secretly marry, or get a tattoo- until we lose track of the sixth degree of separation- so-and-so went out with so-and-so who ALSO went out with so-and-so before so-and-so even KNEW so-and-so. . . didn’t they? Like mix-and-match.

If you read "The Lists," I’m sure you simply cannot keep track of which one was number one in 2006, 2007, 2008-- they switch off with each other from poll to poll.

(You think I’m being ironic!)
This is not the point of this post. I’m not here to make fun. I’m here to be amazed--

Latest Fashion, bunny ears:
Louis Vuitton runway, Paris Fashion W
eek 2009 

The Guardian; Photo, Stephane Cardinale/
People Avenue/Corbis
-by Playboy’s 2010 winner of their annual "25 Sexiest Celebrities." And if you pay attention at all to this kind of thing, you have NOT forgotten which young lady was the winner. . .

Katy Perry?

I remember in the 80s walking down the street in a dress 20 years ahead of its time -and I knew it- when my eye was attracted by a black and white poster which I could barely make out from across the street. Something compelled me to cross and look.

It was a poster of Madonna, her album Like A Virgin, just out. OMG, I thought. She's a little bit like me. But very different. Not sweet like me.

That was when I realized that "Girls" were changing. Punk had swallowed rock (Madonna notwith- standing). The culture had diverged left. Me, and everything that I was, avant guard dress or no, was headed for a topple.

Katy Perry- Why?

I’m not going to claim that I am qualified to talk music. I’m a book nerd. I can’t figure out who is better, Lily or Katy or Gaga or whoever. But I do have rather strong reactions to Katy (which is why she’s popular).

Her voice is pretty enough, but is it her voice I like, or just the up-down slide of her melodic hooks? You can sort of hear her voice, she's not as digitalized as some, but she's still digital enough to hurt my ears like the clatter of metal.

just "One of the Boys"
It’s her “brand” that distinguishes her (in jargon). She gets by as “One of the Boys" girl-next-door skateboarder, who suddenly shows up at the prom in bubblegum decollete.
Rolling Stone this week claims that in her personal life Katy is the second-most innocent music star after Taylor Swift.

From her infamous interview about not posing for Playboy: "I think there's a fine line between being a tease, and just giving it away. I like to be considered more of a tease  . . ." Katy's riding the Candyland Pinup craze.
new video: California Gurls

(For the curious, I think this is her newest video):

Yes she's sweet, like a virgin teen wearing the latest peek-a-boo: look, don't touch. But to me there’s a harshness in her sweetness. Could that be the attempt of a generation, to hop the hurdle of the cynicism around them? -with harshness as the residue. Is Katy Perry another flash in the pan, or- as the media seems to squak- she's leading the way?

I’ve seen her called “bubblegum punk,” “princess of pop,” “commercial punk-pop.” While we're talking labels, to my mind she also qualifies as "hipster."

Which explains why in my research, I discovered that one cannot read about these young ladies for long before the topic of tattoos starts popping up all over.

Which explains why a 2006 survey by the Pew Research Center found that 36% of Americans ages 18 - 25, and 40% of those ages 26 - 40, have at least one tattoo.
And why in 2002, Lycos web searches for the word "tattoos" came in as the number two most-requested search term on the internet. It was so popular, that Lycos put it on the list it has stopped counting. (More on that list another time.)
Whew I made it
I believe that 2010 is the first year the readers of Playboy chose a "Katy" over a "Megan" or a "Scarlett" (Scarlett won 2007).

I see this as a "sea change" (that’s Shakespeare. I said I would get to Shakespeare in this post).

painting: Henry Fuseli c. 1800
Ariel's Song, from The Tempest
Full fathom five thy father lies:
Of his bones are coral made:
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.

tattoo stats:

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