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Race Relations in Seattle

So I’m waiting for my ride at 5th and Jackson, when my bus driver friend Gary (older black gentleman, very nice, but very formal) drives up in the #14. A lady with tattoos on her face staggers towards the bus as I’m talking to him, so I step back to let her on, rolling my eyes to let Gary know he’s got a real winner coming on board. She’s just trashed, and being Caucasian, I guess that makes her White Trash (in this part of town, it’s probably 50/50 odds the inebriated person is black or white. The Asians are rarely wasted, or they never show it, and I won’t even mention the Native Americans).

Anyway, after the drunk Caucasian lady stumbles past Gary, he looks at me and says, “That’s one of your people, Finnegan.” Then he closes the door and drives on up Jackson.

Maybe you’d need to know Gary, but it was funny as hell.

Now, if our roles were reversed, could I say the same thing, and would it be funny? Obviously no, and I think it could be justifiably considered a racist comment. Doesn’t that mean that Gary’s comment is racist as well? What’s fair (or unfair) for someone on the basis of race must be fair or unfair for someone of a different race, right?

Only if you’re an idiot. The manner in which people of different races, especially blacks and whites, view one another has a long history in this country, and ignoring it, or trying to ignore it, turns us into fools. People are different. We treat different people differently, and that’s just the way it is.

No, it doesn’t mean racism is a laughing matter. Neither, in most or at least many circumstances, are drunkenness and tattooed faces. And I’m not sure how well this story would play in front of a crowd, told by a comedian. In fact, this seems like a pretty good illustration of the difference between what’s funny for professional comedians, and what it means to have a sense of humor in the midst of whatever life happens to throw at you. The former can be enjoyable, but the latter is necessary so that life doesn’t become unbearable.

Liberalism, as the recent attacks on La Ville Lumière have shown, cannot provide the basis for a sustainable society.

800px-Jacques-Louis_David_-_Marat_assassinated_-_Google_Art_Project

By liberalism, I do not mean Democrats versus Republicans, or the ideology of invite the world versus that of bomb the world. I mean all of it together.

Maybe next year, Cormac…

This year belongs to a Belarussian – that is, a bella Belarussian

Svetlana Alexievich

And I have no doubt that Fables of the Dead will soon be up for nomination as well – as soon as it appears in print…

From the YouTube Music Video Archives: Thus Sprach Zarathustra, by Richard Strauss

The most abstract idea conceivable is the sensuous in its elemental originality. But through which medium can it be presented? Only through music. Kierkegaard, Either/Or

Along with a few Beethoven symphonies, Handel’s Wassermusik and Messiah, and Pachabel’s Canon in D, Zarathustra is one of the most well known pieces of music ever written. So thank you, Stanley Kubrick, because it really is worth knowing, and by “knowing”, I mean the whole thing. The sunrise is awesome and beautiful, but it’s worth listening all the way to convalescense and night wandering. And spiritually speaking, it’s worth hearing Wagnerian exvess (Strauss is counted among the greatest conductors of Wagner who ever lived) brought to heel by Nietzschean megolamania (Strauss obviously a fan of the philosopher), and thus closing a chapter in the history of music, or simply history, period, in which a majority of Germans were drunk and distracted enough to immolate as many Jews as they could—Jews, the people who, spititually speaking, made the whole European project possible.

Good thing we’ve moved beyond all that, right?

Listen, and feel triumphant.

Einleitung, oder Sonnenaufgang (Introduction, or Sunrise)
Von den Hinterweltlern (Of Those in Backwaters)
Von der großen Sehnsucht (Of the Great Longing)
Von den Freuden und Leidenschaften (Of Joys and Passions)
Das Grablied (The Song of the Grave)
Von der Wissenschaft (Of Science and Learning)
Der Genesende (The Convalescent)
Das Tanzlied (The Dance Song)
Nachtwandlerlied (Song of the Night Wanderer)

See also: Eumir Deodato’s funky electronic version from 1972

On Clouds of Sils Maria

written and directed by Olivier Assayas, starring Juliet Binoche and Kristen Stewart.

A very good movie about an aging actress, Maria (Binoche), and her personal assistant, Val (Stewart), who have their ups and downs as Maria prepares for a stage role in a play she first performed in twenty years earlier. Then she played the conniving and even cruel young bitch, now she is to play the mature, knowing woman. It’s all seriously meta, but the problem is that Maria can’t quite see through to that, preferring to see both Val and Joanne (Chloë Grace Moretz) as the ingénue she can’t admit she might have been—something like Irene Papas as Elektra in the 1962 and then Klytaimnistra in the 1977.

The first thing that needs to be said is that Kristen Stewart gave an amazing performance, and though I doubt I’ve seen the films for which the other actresses were nominated nominated, she has to have deserved the César award that she won in France. See the movie just to see her. I’m not a Binoche-hater, but Stewart stole every scene they shared and then some. Not to give too much away, but when she’s not on the screen, the movie seems to go seriously wrong.

The second thing I’ll note is that is that the movie is built on a decent premise (the actress and her PA practicing for a play that pretty accurately depicts their current real-life circumstances), but still and all seems awfully obvious at times. I can’t help but wonder that it would have been helped along if there was just one line spoken by either actress acknowledging the strange roles which they find themselves playing. Would that have seemed to obvious? Maybe, but it’s so obvious already that by not mentioning the obvious parallels both women seem impossibly or at least unlike-ily unprepared for the problems they experience.

Another thing I’ll note is that Assayas has made decisions with his direction that are sometimes questionable, sometimes just plain lousy. The just plain lousy includes a driving scene (Kristen Stewart, through the Alps) in which time and travel are emphasized by means of double exposures alternating between close-ups of the driver and the car in a fog … the whole thing is right out of TV series episode from the 50s. Also not so hot are shots of some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, the Swiss Alps, included in a series of postcard-like profiles that seem completely listless. The best shots were borrowed, black and white archival footage from a documentary eighty or more years old.

Still another thing I’ll add is that there are more threads left hanging than I can see on my ten year old shirts. What happened to the actor with whom Maria first shared the stage years before? What about the piece of paper she handed him as he was stepping out of the limo? What about the wife of the deceased playwright? What exactly happened between Val and her boyfriend? At times it’s all fairly frustrating, but for all that I still enjoyed it, a lot. It might be the meta aspect of it all, even if I wasn’t sure what to make of it at the end, and it might have been the many good choices I think Assayas made (matter of fact portrayals of technology such as phones and ipods, as well as the new media, plenty of Girardian perspectives on desire, unfussy dissolves between scenes) … and of course that Stewart performance was just excellent. See it to see her, as well as a fine story and some tired old shots of the Alps.

Speaking of short poems about things…

Yep, this seems right…

Kennedy’s majority decision:

Hark! Love is love, and
love is love is love is love.
It is so ordered.

Novelist as Barefoot Trinitarian

It was Miguel de Cervantes’ dying wish to be buried inside the walls of Madrid’s Convento de las Trinitarias Descalzas — the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians — where a dozen cloistered nuns still live today, nearly 400 years later.

As a young man in his early 20s, he fled Spain for Rome, after wounding a nobleman in a duel. By 1570, he returned home and enlisted in the Spanish navy. He went to war to defend the pope — and got shot in twice in the ribs, and once in the shoulder — an injury that left his left arm paralyzed.

And it was only then that he got kidnapped by Algerian pirates …

How’s that for a cliffhanger? Read the rest of the story at NPR, here.

The Casa Missives – I

casa-building

Older Son graduated high school this year and instead of heading straight into college – perhaps to join his sister, Oldest Daughter, here – he has decided to take up an invitation from one of our diocesan priests who happens to be director of our diocesan-sponsored orphanage, Casa Hogar Juan Pablo II in Lurin (suburb of Lima), Peru. I will occasionally be posting updates as he plans to Youtube his experiences; so call it a guest posting or or call it a running narrative of a non-traditional trajectory to higher learning or call it a first hand account of a young man discerning his vocation. Whatsoever it turns out to be, there are some folk in southwest Wisconsin pretty proud right now…

 

Dear Papa, Mama, Barbara,Bernadette , Norah, Liam, Annie, Mara, Lucy and Claudia!!

I am just letting you know that I made it and that I am settling in fine. My Spanish is very rough but I’m working hard on it!! All the kids are incredibly cute even though I can’t understand most of what they say!! I took some videos of my plane flight but I wasn’t able to get any pictures of Lima because apparently people sometimes break the car windows just to steal cameras out of your hands.(yeah that’s a thing here) but I will try to get some pictures/videos of Casa Hogar and get them to you ASAP. It’s really hard getting used to not hearing my name so much because I had to pick a new name (they don’t have the SH sound) and I decided on Patricio (Spanish for Patrick) now before you go around saying my new name wrong remember to roll the R and the P doesn’t really make a P sound its sorta a genetic hybrid between a P and a B and the best way to know if you’re saying it right or not is to hold your hand a little ways away from your mouth and if you can feel the air you’re probably saying it wrong I miss you lots and love you that much more!!

~ Love Seamus (a.k.a. Patricio)

Is the question mark the journalist’s greatest asset?

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San Diego in the news.

monkbot_

Not my town, but the original San Diego – San Diego de Alcala. Or rather, his corpse. And a praying robot made in his image. A little something for anyone who has ever felt the least bit automatic during recitation of the rosary.