Monthly Archives: January 2010

If a body catch a body

J.D. Salinger is dead. I just saw someone Tweet that they had powerful memories of the first time they read Catcher in the Rye.

I remember my second time better than my first time.  The first time I think I stayed up quite late reading it – couldn’t sleep til I finished it.  I believe it was some time in the summer between my Junior and Senior year.  Maybe it was the year before.  Doesn’t matter.

I vividly remember the second time I read it or sorta read it.

Senior Year AP English our last assignment was to read and review some book of our choice.  We’d had plenty of notice.  The choice of books was long, two columns on a page if I recall correctly.  I chose Heart of Darkness because of all the great literary works on the list it had the fewest number of pages.  But it turns out it wasn’t a very fun read.  Who could have predicted?  By that point I’d done my SATs, been accepted to the college of my choice, and I no longer had much patience for the trivial demands of secondary education.

The night before the assignment was due I panicked. I did need to graduate.  And I probably also needed a reasonable grade in AP English or else I wouldn’t have been able to comp out of Freshman English in college (although I don’t think that occurred to me at the time).  I couldn’t face Heart of Darkness. Couldn’t have finished it and written up the report in twelve remaining hours either.

To make matters worse, I received a panicked phone call from my friend Keli.  She hadn’t read her book either.

Although neither of us still had the list of books in our possession, I remembered Catcher in the Rye was on the list and I had read that a year or two before (see at the beginning of the term I was still scholarly, elsewise I’d have picked something I’d already read from the start).  I resolved that we would write our book reports together.

I no longer even had a copy of the book – and since I grew up in a town without a bookstore and in an age without Internet or e-readers – this was a problem.  I called around and found someone with a copy. (Thank you John!)

We sat at Kentucky Friend Chicken and wrote the report paragraph by paragraph.  Or rather, I wrote both reports – varying them only slightly.

We handed them in in the nick of time the next morning.

Of course, we were seriously chancing our luck turning in nearly identical papers.  And to make matters worse, it turns out that Catcher in the Rye was not one of the books on the list.


It was a phony list anyway.

Commanding presence

Our Bill is a bossy boots. He’s quite insistent that things are done acertain way. He’s not evil with his power, but it’s clear that he’s the one who needs to be in charge. He’s generous with his favorite treats (for example, blueberries) – but only if he’s the one who’s doling them out.

It’s not just us he bosses around. When I pick him up for nursery in the evening, it takes us forever to get out of there because he’s making sure that the right parents take home the right child.

Two days ago when one father arrived, Bill pointed at him sternly and said “Simone” (the name of his child) – and then promptly rounded up Simone and steered her into the legs of her father. We had to wait around the nursery gate so that Bill could hold it open for Simone and her father and ensure the gate was properly shut behind them.

Yesterday, a car pulled up as we were leaving and Bill insisted on opening the car door for the woman and then informed her that her son was in the nursery with much emphasis and gesticulation.

Judging by the reactions of the other parents, it’s cute… now. But how long will that last?

Would you like fries with that?

As if cake weren't quite unhealthy enough….this cake is fast food themed, the fries and nuggets are baked goods.   Pretty amazing work.

Giving to Haiti – donating to the Salvation Army

One of the sermons that has made the biggest impression on me was delivered by a member of the Salvation Army’s Caribbean territory to the non-denominational congregation we attended when we lived in Puerto Rico. They did some amazing, innovative and often counter-intuitive work there. For instance, they ran a jail. A jail for illegal immigrants. That sounds pretty rough. But rougher still were the prisons that these illegal immigrants would have been placed in – alongside real criminals. It was truly a mission of mercy to house these non-violent breakers of civil law, economic refugees from places like the Dominican Republic or Haiti.

The Salvation Army has a history of working with people that others won’t. They already have a long term presence in Haiti, running an orphanage – among other things. They are running medical clinics, they are bringing aid to Haiti. And they have a reputation for doing a lot of the second stage disaster relief – helping people clean up and get their lives back together.

I donated money to the Salvation Army to help their relief and long term efforts in Haiti. I hope you will, too. Although there are many other places that could make good use of your money.

Read more about the work of the Salvation Army in Haiti and donate online.

Sacred made real

I’ve been meaning to go see the Sacred Made Real exhibit at the National Gallery for quite some time, but couldn’t quite convince anyone to go with me.  I knew that it was an exhibit of creepy Spanish religious art, but I fully underestimated the level of torturous hyper-realistic portrayal of the suffering surrounding the Passion of the Christ or the fanatical (?) religious devotion of saints like our friend Francis Borgia below.

Click on the pic to see other images from the exhibition  courtesy of The Guardian

I’ve long been a fan of one of the principle artists in the exhibition Francisco Zurbaran whose masterly painting of saints demonstrate a sense of drama as well as realism.  We even have a reproduction of his Santa Margarita above our fireplace.  (She was a saint often called on by women to provide help in childbirth, but despite holding a position of honor in our house it didn’t work for me.)   I knew I would kick myself if I didn’t take the chance to see some his work that I hadn’t seen before.

And I wasn’t disappointed.  But I hadn’t realised that the point of the exhibition was about how Spanish polychrome wooden sculpture influence painters like Zurbaran.  But it’s an influence that we don’t often recognize because these scultptures – astonishing works of art – aren’t recognised as art in the same way that paintings or other sculpture are. And that is because many of these are still used in religious processions and are part of the sacred decorations of churches in Spain today.

The realism of the sculptures is amazing.  The muscles and windpipe in the neck of the severed head of John the Baptist.  The scourge marks, bruises and blood on the back of Jesus.  The unwashed body of a Dead Christ.  The detail of all this so painstakingly captured.  The curator of the exhibit described them as so perfectly rendered as to become beautiful, but I’m not sure I’d go quite that far.  It was fascinating for certain – a glimpse into religious grotesquery like a Flannery O’Connor novel.  But yet it was also oddly stripped of its religious significance within the exhibit space of the National Gallery.

There isn’t much time left to see this exhibit, it closes on the 24th of January.  It was creepy, but brilliant.  And very popular with the ecclesiastical set.  As I was leaving tonight, I saw more dog collars than I’ve seen in some time.  Clearly a hot ticket for vicars and the morbid like me.

Alabama Displays National Championship Trophy at Walmart [Photos] > Buster Sports

OK, you knew I couldn’t keep up the congratulatory stance for long. I hate Bama. (Less than Lane Kiffin, but still). I did have to LOL on this one


Snow in the garden

It’s a winter wonder land! Wish I’d had the foresight to hide the compost bag on the right and the inflatable children’s pool on the left. Still the snow covers an amazing amount of failing-to-tidy the garden

Some people said I spent too much thought, money and energy on my shed. (Paul Barlow) Some people (James Bowman) thought that my color scheme was ‘brave’ to say the least. But I love my big red shed.