Yesterday we watched a 2009 documentary called ‘Objectified’, which explores the ethos of design — from an object’s concept to its destiny in the landfill — through interviews with a number of international designers.  Toward the end, one designer says something like, ’Enjoy the objects you already have’, and the film ends on a shot of an old wooden wall plate rack with the title of this post painted on it for reasons known (perhaps) only to the owner.


The film is available to rent on Apple iTunes for 99¢ and of course for you television-impaired (I envy your courage), you can watch it on your computer. The film is far more engaging than the trailer I’ve included here, but click on the image above to watch the trailer anyway.

Otherwise, on a completely unrelated matter, I offer a photograph from 1932 of actor Spencer Tracy and a lesser-known actor by the name of George O’Brien.  A little research led me to the lore that Mr. O’Brien was known as a ‘Man’s Man’ in Hollywood.

Now, this ‘Man’s Man’ is one of those terms that could be seen to mean exactly the opposite of what it was intended to mean.  What with the controversial rumor that Spencer Tracy may have been [gasp!] gay, I don’t know if he and Mr. O’Brien were ‘an item’, or not.  Bless them if they were.

Unseemly gossip aside, I am including the snap here because, with just the slightest hint of doofus in Mr. Tracy’s expression, and Mr. O’Brien looking all stalwart, I find the photo lovely.

Pardon me for using the word ‘lovely’.  It could have been far worse, I could have said ‘charming’.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Gregory Peck said in an interview circa 1962 that Maycomb, Alabama, the fictional setting for the novel ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, was a lot like the small Southern California town he grew up in.  Even with the word ‘Southern’, I find that utterly impossible to believe.

My mother was born about the same time as Mr. Peck, and grew up in a tiny community in Georgia called Philomath.  The name ‘Philomath’ comes from the Greek word φιλομάθεια or filomátheia, which means ‘love of learning’.  You will ask yourself how did this ‘wide place in the road’ in Georgia come by such a lofty name.  Did you imagine I wouldn’t tell you?  There for many years was a school for ‘young ladies’ called Philomath Academy, and the surrounding burg eventually just assumed the name.

I have very emotional memories of Philomath, knowing all the while they are to some degree based on what I think of as ‘inherited nostalgia’.  Science tells us that blamelessly, with no ‘method’ involved, our minds smooth and rearrange our memories to the point that they end up bearing little resemblance to the reality they suppose to recall.  Pile on top of that reveries and longings overheard from parents — some of which came from their own parents — and you’ve got a real fiction soup.  Pardon my recent preoccupation with ‘fiction’.

Fans of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ are very territorial, it’s ‘their’ book.  However, people like myself who have in their lives known the real models for the characters in the book always feel their claim is more ‘legitimate’.  My mother was, like Scout Finch, very much a tomboy, her own mother a school teacher, her father a pharmacist.  The nearby town where they worked could have been lifted straight from ‘Mockingbird’ — courthouse, town square, citizens, the works.

To make comparisons even closer, I remember as a child hearing my grandfather telling of a local black man being taken to jail, bolting and being shot by a bailiff of some sort.  The story supposed that the man had fired a ‘warning’ shot in the air, and that it had ricocheted off a tree branch.  When I heard the story twice more during his lifetime, being a sensitive queer child, I had an inkling that he was subconsciously trying to convince himself the ‘accident’ was true.

Click on the picture below for quite a good video on the subject of the recent publication of ‘Go Set a Watchman’, a rejected ‘proto-Mockingbird’ manuscript apparently wheedled out of the hands of the elderly author who had steadfastly said she would never publish again.

Click this image for the video

Click this image for the video

Let’s call this a follow-up to Wednesday’s post.

For the longest time, I nursed a twist in my knickers over a perceived pomposity that was simply not there.  It had to do with legendary documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman.  I imagined that in his straightforward and unadorned style, he supposed he was presenting ‘reality’.  I didn’t obsess over it (I swear), but I did harumph (quietly) on occasion.  Many years passing, I read on his website:

“Documentaries, like theatre pieces, novels or poems are forms of fiction.”


Does it go without saying that by abstracting (is that the right word?) your experiences and placing them on a blog, you are creating a kind of fiction?

I think so.  Beyond that, of course, there’s the ‘out of whole cloth’ option.

I once did a nice favor involving concert tickets for a blogger I’d never met; the subsequent short chronicle on his blog about the evening scampered pretty far afield from the facts.  What struck me was his disregard that I was bound to read the post.

Since we’d had the pleasantest interaction to that point, I wrote a perfectly civilized email to him saying that whereas I was onboard with his Blanche DuBois approach (“I want magic! I don’t tell the truth, I tell what ought to be the truth”) surely this was some sort of proof of the Oscar Wilde-ism that no good deed goes unpunished.

Now, I’m guessing that you’re one step ahead of me: ’What does it matter, since we’ve established that blogging is fiction anyway’.  The least this did was make me suspect the rest of his blog, which I distinctly did not want to do.

My virtual dialog has had its ups and downs.  I’m so much less conflicted in three dimensions.  Let’s test that at lunch one day.  Give me a call.

Rainbow White House?  There really are no words.  Yet, here are some anyway.

The Jefferson Memorial in Washington DC

The Jefferson Memorial in Washington DC

I was about to inflict upon you a [charming] photo of four ficus leaves that had dropped randomly from the plant into a nestlike little circle on the floor of our sleeping porch.  For the sake of good communication, a quick investigation has revealed that ‘sleeping porch’ is not strictly a Southern term, though it certainly still sounds like one to me.

Instead, I thought a ‘food selfie’ of a culinary obscenity Stephen forced me to create last week.  It is a perfectly serviceable beef meatloaf, with onions, mushrooms, and fresh thyme, but it has been ‘enrobed’ in a blanket of bacon.

The term ‘enrobed’ came into popular advertising parlance, as best I am aware, pitching anything covered in chocolate.  I’ve used it here just to be obnoxious.  The other term I really hate is ‘crafted’.  Nothing is ‘made’ anymore, it’s ‘crafted’.  Even burgers are ‘crafted’.

No they’re not.

Anyway, I’ve never even done a lattice top for a pie pastry before, and here I am weaving bacon.  It was surprisingly easy to do, though I don’t think I’ll be doing an encore.

Now, for those of you concerned about Stephen’s heart and mine — or just mine, if you don’t care about Stephen.  Bacon fat aplenty below the roasting rack, so that’s where that went, and feature how little bacon would still be attached to each serving slice, so put your worries away.

Did I mention that it was grotesquely tasty?



I want to confess that I fidget the bejesus out of the things I finally press the button to ‘publish’ here on WordPress.  To what good end, I don’t know, given my microscopic readership; let’s just call it obsessive, or prissy.  Or, both, why not.

I have a three-person email round-table fairly regularly with my best friend of 48 years and a mutual friend of ours.  The email the past couple of days asked: Should an insane person ending nine lives be called ‘terrorism’, or is this more CNN cheapening discourse for sensation?

The last email I received began with the following:

Well, considering that the asshole’s official statement is that he wanted to start a race war, I guess ‘terrorism’ turns out to be a fully justified description of his actions. …

If for nothing more than reading something I write that’s more off-the-cuff, here’s what I wrote back.  I hope this has any value beyond that.

–   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –

I fear any response to this message will seem insensitive if it agrees with your original reaction, that calling this ‘terrorism’ was somewhere on the side of histrionics.  This is a crazy, brainwashed person.  How much of the desensitizing effect of first-person-shooter video games, etc., who knows.  I don’t know enough of the historical record to know if these kinds of massacres occurred in ‘gentler times’.  I’d be surprised to find that to be true, which leaves us with this being a product of our own age.  There were ‘always’ guns around, but not as many crazy people?  I’m just stumbling through an ignorant haze here.

I got this from my ‘Truth-Out’ feed yesterday.  I cannot  b e g i n  to process these ideas.

Let me muddy the waters at this point.  Our [straight] friend, sculptor and carpenter David ‘C’, a far brighter and more sensitive person than I, was here yesterday finishing a small portion of a couple of unfinished jobs here on the house.  In the course of back-and-forth, it came to light that on his work crews, frequently involving fundamentalist rednecks and Christian blacks, he announces at the onset of a job, ‘We don’t discuss politics or religion on the job, leave that at home, no exceptions, no tolerance’.

A small part of this, he said, was not wanting to hear any more about black intolerance of gays.  Of ‘didn’t-see-that-coming’ statements, like praise for Putin being a ‘strong man’ for putting down the gays in Russia.  Chew on that briefly.

I got into an unfortunately-timed exchange with my brother on the telephone last year right before Stephen’s and my trip to Greece.  He has become a big Presbyterian here late in his life, and wanted to affirm that the ‘split’ in the Presbyterian Church USA was not as ‘the media’ would have it over ‘gay marriage’, though his ‘half’ still felt that marriage was ‘between one man and one woman’.  I said that was fine, my aspirations had nothing to do with ‘a church wedding’.

But whereas I just wanted to get out of a stupid dialog saying ‘fine’, his beliefs do poison the rational culture.  We are all completely fucked.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Hosting the International Olympic Games is not to be taken on blithely.

Athens, Greece lost its bid for the 1996 Summer ‘Centennial Olympic Games’, games that should by all rights have gone to Greece, host of the 1896 ‘Birth of the Modern Games’.  Instead, the ’96 Games were staged in Atlanta, Georgia.

Hosting the 1996 Games in Atlanta was the brainchild of William ‘Billy’ Payne, who ironically was born in Athens, Georgia.  Chairman of the Augusta National Golf Club, home of ‘The Masters’ golf tournament, he is the very definition of Southern ‘Good Old Boy’ booster.  After gaining the Games, it soon became clear he was out of his depth.

Though they were intended to showcase the city, the state, and the South in general, the ’96 Olympics were an embarrassment at every turn.  Quoting an ‘Appraisal’ in a Wikipedia online article:

At the closing ceremony, IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch … simply called the Games ‘most exceptional’.  This broke precedent for Samaranch, who had traditionally labeled each Games ‘the best Olympics ever’ at each closing ceremony, a practice he resumed at the subsequent Games in Sydney in 2000.

Is there anything as satisfying as a sly, almost imperceptible comeuppance?

Greece eventually hosted another Olympic Games in Athens in 2004.  The games themselves were a success, but apparently not equal to the cost.  Have a look at photographs which perhaps illustrate a quote on the webpage upon which they appear: “We simply made the biggest mistake in our history.”

Viewing these pictures is every bit like my visit to my abandoned Air Force base on Crete last September.  I imagine athletes returning to these ruins.

Since my own return last year to Greece after 46 years, I have been following the economic meltdown there, the cost of the 2004 Games being a small part of the country’s debt — if you can call 8.5 billion Euros ‘small’.

The opening ceremony of the 2004 Olympics is one stunningly positive legacy of those Games.  It was conceived of and directed by Dimitris Papaioannou.  Please read the accompanying post about him, which I felt best be situated on the blog separately from this downer.

‘Performance Art’ can be pretty wretched.  I’m not talking about the titanically wrong ones like the 1970 ‘performance suicide’ of Yukio Mishima, or even the grotesquely dumb ones like Chris Burden’s ‘Shoot’.  Rather, I think I mean the mind-numbing, ‘I-want-that-hour-of-my-life-back’ kind.

A universe apart (well, maybe not an entire universe), in my opinion, are the choreographed pieces of Dimitris Papaioannou.  I’m not sure of his acclaim before staging the opening ceremony for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, but that event certainly pushed him into the international spotlight.

Visit a sampler of his performances here.

Of course, you’ll want to suggest that this only about naked men — again! — and that apparently any artistic appreciation I possess never rises above the carnal, but that would be, plain and simple, entirely because you’re mean.

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Click to enlarge

I just finished seeing and hearing a short interview with Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’.  I quasi-invaded his privacy via Wikipedia, and confirmed the signals from my gaydar.

As the interviewer bid him adieu, Mook himself signed off with the expression ‘Take care’.  In these kinds of ‘talking head’ long-distance TV interviews, I think this is the first time I’ve ever heard anyone say that.

‘Take care’ is a wonderful salutation, and really in a way, sort of ‘all-purpose’.

Short, sharp, sweet.

On the other hand, I discovered last week calling FedEx that the loathsome expression ‘No problem’ has found its way into recorded customer service messages.

As an antidote to this troubling news, I offer for your consideration:

‘The pleasure of your company’

Let the expression luxuriate in your mind for a minute.  It is maybe my favorite collection of words, positively impervious to negativity.

Take care.


Why am I telling you this?

I started blogging in 2009, but recently ditched all the posts before June of this year. I think I'm going to blog until October, a tidy six years, then 'retire'.
August 2015
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