Tales from outer turnip head...

Tales from outer turnip head...

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Integrity, inspiration, and hope...

From Wikipedia: Black Panther is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character was created by writer-editor Stan Lee and writer-artist Jack Kirby, first appearing in Fantastic Four #52 (cover-dated July 1966) in the Silver Age of Comic Books. Black Panther's real name is T'Challa, king and protector of the fictional African nation of Wakanda. Along with possessing enhanced abilities achieved through ancient Wakandan rituals of drinking the heart shaped herb, T'Challa also relies on his proficiency in science, rigorous physical training, hand-to-hand combat skills, and access to wealth and advanced technology to combat his enemies.
T'Challa: If you weren't so stubborn, you would be a good queen.
Nakia: It is because I am so stubborn that I would be a good queen.

King T'Chaka: [to his son] You are a good man, with a good heart. And it's hard for a good man to be a king.

-- from Black Panther
"My son, it is your time": I loved Black Panther. Not a standard action hero movie, it has a level of depth and self awareness that I have found lacks in most other DC and Marvel cinema adaptations of their respective pantheons. [I still like the Batman trilogy best; I am super biased to the lack of Batman's super powers, and the darkness of his near perilous dance with vengeance vs justice compels me.] Black Panther is a close second.

The nobility of the positive leadership is refreshing. When so many stories give us moral ambiguity in the portrayal of "interesting" characters (read corrupt, corruptible, or flawed), the core positive characters of Black Panther are unyieldingly, straightforwardly, awesomely, good.

At the heart of this is a question of leadership, and neither stubbornness nor a lack of goodness is what makes T'Challa and Nakia (amounts a few others) good leaders. Edmund Burke said "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." King T'Challa is a good man who was willing to something. Driven by desire to serve and improve the lives of people, he is unwavering in his focus, and therefore offers what all great leaders offer in time of difficulty, hope.
T'Challa: Wakanda will no longer watch from the shadows. We can not. We must not. We will work to be an example of how we, as brothers and sisters on this earth, should treat each other. Now, more than ever, the illusions of division threaten our very existence. We all know the truth: more connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another, as if we were one single tribe.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Ogdred Weary...

“If something doesn't creep into a drawing that you're not prepared for, you might as well not have drawn it.” ― Edward Gorey

“Books. Cats. Life is Good.” Edward Gorey was an illustrator and author. First-most he liked to refer to himself as a person, a person who liked to write and draw. He most frequently used pen and ink, and stylistically placed much of his nonsense in Victorian or Edwardian settings. Dark (but not evil), quirky, and a little surreal, I place him in camp with Tim Burton and Shaun Tan; I love them all. I visited an exhibit of his work this weekend in Hartford and found it delightful. Much of my aesthetic in art overlaps his, as the exhibit displayed not only his pieces, but other accumulated art from his collection that ostensibly served as influence on his aesthetic. What a treat to be able to peer into the personal life of this person who happened to like to write and draw...

A is for Amy who fell down the stairs.
B is for Basil assaulted by bears.
C is for Clara who wasted away.
D is for Desmond thrown out of a sleigh.
E is for Ernest who choked on a peach.
F is for Fanny sucked dry by a leech.
G is for George smothered under a rug.
H is for Hector done in by a thug.
I is for Ida who drowned in a lake.
J is for James who took lye by mistake.
K is for Kate who was struck with an axe.
L is for Leo who choked on some tacks.
M is for Maud who was swept out to sea.
N is for Neville who died of ennui.
O is for Olive run through with an awl.
P is for Prue trampled flat in a brawl.
Q is for Quentin who sank on a mire.
R is for Rhoda consumed by a fire.
S is for Susan who perished of fits.
T is for Titus who flew into bits.
U is for Una who slipped down a drain.
V is for Victor squashed under a train.
W is for Winnie embedded in ice.
X is for Xerxes devoured by mice.
Y is for Yorick whose head was bashed in.
Z is for Zillah who drank too much gin.
                             ― Edward Gorey

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Deep, dark chocolate tones and a bold flavor...

Sunday Morning Ritual: I've been reading poems about coffee this morning while I sip my own and listen to ferocious winds rip through the tall pines of the Taconic mountains. The chimes rattle closely, and in the distance the last snows of the northern faces stubbornly hold onto their cold. I can see and hear this from my morning perch, and I sip slowly, letting the warmth of awareness in...

Here's a poem I found that I particularly like:

[Over a Cup of Coffee]
Over a cup of coffee or sitting on a park bench or
walking the dog, he would recall some incident
from his youth—nothing significant—climbing a tree
in his backyard, waiting in left field for a batter's
swing, sitting in a parked car with a girl whose face
he no longer remembered, his hand on her breast
and his body electric; memories to look at with
curiosity, the harmless behavior of a stranger, with
nothing to regret or elicit particular joy. And
although he had no sense of being on a journey,
such memories made him realize how far he had
traveled, which, in turn, made him ask how he
would look back on the person he was now, this
person who seemed so substantial. These images, it
was like looking at a book of old photographs,
recognizing a forehead, the narrow chin, and
perhaps recalling the story of an older second
cousin, how he had left long ago to try his luck in
Argentina or Australia. And he saw that he was
becoming like such a person, that the day might
arrive when he would look back on his present self
as on a distant relative who had drifted off into
uncharted lands.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

"When you have nobody you can make a cup of tea for, when nobody needs you, that's when I think life is over."

“Some people will tell you there is a great deal of poetry and fine sentiment in a chest of tea.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson:

Some time ago in the dark of the waning year, a lovely deva from afar made me a cup of tea. It was a Celon brew steeped with ginger, served with honey and cream, and offered with a smile that could tame demons; it tasted like a Nepalese morning in the courtyard of Thamel's Pumpernickel Bakery, a sweet and warm sanctuary from the earthy briskness of a Himalayan day. Now, ordinarily I thrive on morning coffee, but afternoon tea can be better, when it is brewed and served with care and a touch of magic, by another...

Magick charge and goddess bless
This potion brewed for happiness
Tears of sadness be erased
Tears of gladness take their place

― Celtic Book of Shadows: 

So on that winter day in the not-so-distant-past, a cup of tea was made for me with care and taste. The water was heated in the coolest clear-glass plug-in carafe that had electric blue under-lighting. It was a rolling-boil lava-lamp-like appliance that made the kitchen look like something out of Bladerunner. The loose tea was held in a clear one-cup dispenser that released its contents when placed upon the lip of the cup intended for drinking; the amber honey, local; the splat of cream, organic. Good god, it was excellent!

“Who would then deny that when I am sipping tea in my tearoom I am swallowing the whole universe with it and that this very moment of my lifting the bowl to my lips is eternity itself transcending time and space?” 

― D.T. Suzuki, Zen and Japanese Culture:

I was gifted one of those one-cup dispensers, and after Christmas, I bought myself an electric carafe. Although mine does not have the see-through glass body with sci-fi under-lighting, it does allow for six different temperatures for optimal brewing, and a liquid-blue illuminated volume indicator. You see, delicate teas are best brewed at 160 degrees. Green teas do not get bitter if allowed to sit in 175 degree water. White teas, with their subtle flavors prefer 185º while Oolong gets its own temperature setting at 190º. Coffee is exquisite when brewed in sub-boiling water around 200º. And of course Black tea needs a full boil (212º). And the taste improvement of variable temperatures over boiling-water-for-all is noticeable. And, BONUS, it turns out that my new machine is efficient in a way that my stovetop is not...

“Tea ... is a religion of the art of life.” 

― Kakuzō Okakura, The Book of Tea:

I noticed that my water seemed to be ready faster in the carafe than when I would put a kettle on the stove. I assume that the heat element is more efficiently putting its energy into the water than with a stovetop element. So I conducted a quick experiment. I prepared my water in the carafe and also with my old kettle on the stove. The carafe is a 1500w appliance and took 3 minutes to heat my water. The stove-top is a 2600w coil and took 4.5 minutes to bring my water to just shy of boiling. I currently pay an average $.23 per kWh ($.10708 per kWh for generation, and the balance in fees and transmission costs). The carafe thus makes my morning beverage for $.01725 at current price, and the stovetop for $.04485: a savings of $.0276 per use. The carafe cost me $80, and so should be paid off after roughly 3000 boils (5-10 years) 😂. What a deal! So, while I patiently wait for my financial return I will invite my friends to sit at my table, enjoy the taste of a well prepared brew, and find a little smile with each pour...

Sunday, April 1, 2018

"You have it in you to shout"

I am not in his club, but I like this pope... This Easter Sunday I offer his words that I found in a Reuters article from Palm Sunday...

Keep shouting, don't become anesthetized, pope tells young people by Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis, starting Holy Week services leading to Easter, urged young people on Sunday to keep shouting and not allow the older generations to silence their voices or anesthetize their idealism.

Francis spoke a day after hundreds of thousands of young Americans and their supporters answered a call to action from survivors of last month’s Florida high school massacre and rallied across the United States to demand tighter gun laws.

He did not mention the demonstrations. Catholic News Service (CNS) said Gabriella Zuniga, 16, and her sister Valentina, 15, both students from Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, where 17 people were killed in February, attended the service with their parents.

CNS posted a photo of the two holding up signs in St. Peter’s Square, with one reading, “Protect Our Children, Not Our Guns.”

The 81-year-old Francis led a long and solemn Palm Sunday service before tens of thousands in the square, many of them young people there for the Catholic Church’s World Day of Youth.

Carrying a woven palm branch known as a “palmurello,” Francis led a procession in front of the largest church in Christendom to commemorate the day the Bible says Jesus rode into Jerusalem and was hailed as a savior, only to be crucified five days later.


Drawing on biblical parallels, Francis urged the young people in the crowd not to let themselves be manipulated.

“The temptation to silence young people has always existed,” Francis said in the homily of a Mass.

“There are many ways to silence young people and make them invisible. Many ways to anesthetize them, to make them keep quiet, ask nothing, question nothing. There are many ways to sedate them, to keep them from getting involved, to make their dreams flat and dreary, petty and plaintive,” he said.

“Dear young people, you have it in you to shout,” he told young people, urging them to be like the people who welcomed Jesus with palms rather than those who shouted for his crucifixion only days later.

“It is up to you not to keep quiet. Even if others keep quiet, if we older people and leaders, some corrupt, keep quiet, if the whole world keeps quiet and loses its joy, I ask you: Will you cry out?”

The young people in the crowd shouted, “Yes!”

While Francis did not mention Saturday’s marches in the United States, he has often condemned weapons manufacturing and mass shootings.

Palm Sunday marked the start of a hectic week of activities for the pope.

On Holy Thursday he is due to preside at two services, including one in which he will wash the feet of 12 inmates in a Rome jail to commemorate Jesus’ gesture of humility toward his apostles the night before he died.

On Good Friday, he is due to lead a Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) procession at Rome’s Colosseum. On Saturday night he leads a Easter vigil service and on Easter Sunday he delivers his twice-yearly “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message.

Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Mark Heinrich