"I am not one who was born in the custody of wisdom. I am one who is fond of olden times and intense in quest of the sacred knowing of the ancients." Gustave Courbet

20 June 2024


"Hang care!" exclaimed he. "This is a delicious evening; the wine has a finer relish here than in the house, and the song is more exciting and melodious under the tranquil sky than in the close room, where the sound is stifled. Come, let us have a bacchanalian chant—let us, with old Sir Toby, make the welkin dance and rouse the night-owl with a catch! I am right merry. Pass the bottle, and tune your voices—a catch, a catch! The lights will be here anon."

Charles Ollier, from "The Haunted Manor-House of Paddington" 

For best results, listen to this ... Rose Tattoo, "Rock & Roll is King"

The euphony transformed me and inundated my soul in a roguish countenance, the likes of which I had know well in younger days. Such impishness soon drove out the complaints of the day. 

Umberto Limongiello


The Police, "Driven to Tears"


An excellent album ...


The introduction to Dandelion Wine, by Ray Bradbury


This book, like most of my books and stories, was a surprise. I began to learn the nature of such surprises, thank God, when I was fairly young as a writer. Before that, like every beginner, I thought you could beat, pummel, and thrash an idea into existence. Under such treatment, of course, any decent idea folds up its paws, turns on its back, fixes its eyes on eternity, and dies.

It was with great relief, then, that in my early twenties I floundered into a word-association process in which I simply got out of bed each morning, walked to my desk, and put down any word or series of words that happened along in my head.

I would then take arms against the word, or for it, and bring on an assortment of characters to weigh the word and show me its meaning in my own life. An hour or two hours later, to my amazement, a new story would be finished and done. The surprise was total and lovely. I soon found that I would have to work this way for the rest of my life.

First I rummaged my mind for words that could describe my personal nightmares, fears of night and time from my childhood, and shaped stories from these.

Then I took a long look at the green apple trees and the old house I was born in and the house next door where lived my grandparents, and all the lawns of the summers I grew up in, and I began to try words for all that.

What you have here in this book then is a gathering of dandelions from all those years. The wine metaphor which appears again and again in these pages is wonderfully apt. I was gathering images all of my life, storing them away, and forgetting them. Somehow I had to send myself back, with words as catalysts, to open the memories out and see what they had to offer.

So from the age of twenty-four to thirty-six hardly a day passed when I didn’t stroll myself across a recollection of my grandparents’ northern Illinois grass, hoping to come across some old half-burnt firecracker, a rusted toy, or a fragment of letter written to myself in some young year hoping to contact the older person I became to remind him of his past, his life, his people, his joys, and his drenching sorrows.

It became a game that I took to with immense gusto: to see how much I could remember about dandelions themselves, or picking wild grapes with my father and brother, rediscovering the mosquito-breeding ground rain barrel by the side bay window, or searching out the smell of the gold-fuzzed bees that hung around our back porch grape arbor. Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don’t they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.

An then I wanted to call back what the ravine was like, especially on those nights when walking home late across town, after seeing Lon Chaney’s delicious fright The Phantom of the Opera, my brother Skip would run ahead and hide under the ravine-creek bridge like the Lonely One and leap out and grab me, shrieking, so I ran, fell, and ran again, gibbering all the way home. That was great stuff.

Along the way I came upon and collided, through word-association, with old and true friendships. I borrowed my friend John Huff from my childhood in Arizona and shipped him East to Green Town so that I could say good-bye to him properly.

Along the way I sat me down to breakfasts, lunches, and dinners with the long dead and much loved. For I was a boy who did indeed love his parents and grandparents and his brother, even when that brother “ditched” him.

Along the way, I found myself in the basement working the wine-press for my father, or on the front porch Independence night helping my Uncle Bion load and fire his home-made brass cannon.

Thus I fell into surprise. No one told me to surprise myself, I might add. I came on the old and best ways of writing through ignorance and experiment and was startled when truths leaped out of bushes like quail before gunshot. I blunwas somehow true.

So I turned myself into a boy running to bring a dipper of clear rainwater out of that barrel by the side of the house. And, of course, the more water you dip out the more flows in. The flow has never ceased. Once I learned to keep going back and back again to those times, I had plenty of memories and sense impressions to play with, not work with, no, play with. Dandelion Wine is nothing if it is not the boy-hid-in-the-man playing in the fields of the Lord on the green grass of other Augusts in the midst of starting to grow up, grow old, and sense darkness waiting under the trees to seed the blood.

I was amused and somewhat astonished at a critic a few years back who wrote an article analyzing Dandelion Wine plus the more realistic work of Sinclair Lewis, wondering how I could have been born and raised in Waukegan, which I renamed Green Town for my novel, and not noticed how ugly the harbor was and how depressing the coal docks and railyards down below the town.

But, of course, I had noticed them and, genetic enchanter that I was, was fascinated by their beauty. Trains and boxcars and the smell of coal and fire are not ugly to children. Ugliness is a concept that we happen on later and become self-conscious about. Counting boxcars is a prime activity of boys. Their elders fret and fume and jeer at the train that holds them up, but boys happily count and cry the names of the cars as they pass from far places.

And again, that supposedly ugly railyard was where carnivals and circuses arrived with elephants who washed the brick pavements with mighty streaming acid waters at five in the dark morning.

As for the coal from the docks, I went down in my basement every autumn to await the arrival of the truck and its metal chute, which clanged down and released a ton of beauteous meteors that fell out of far space into my cellar and threatened to bury me beneath dark treasures.

In other words, if your boy is a poet, horse manure can only mean flowers to him; which is, of course, what horse manure has always been about.

Perhaps a new poem of mine will explain more than this introduction about the germination of all the summers of my life into one book.

Here’s the start of the poem:
Byzantium, I come not from,
But from another time and place
Whose race was simple, tried and true;
As boy
I dropped me forth in Illinois.
A name with neither love nor grace
Was Waukegan, there I came from
And not, good friends, Byzantium.
The poem continues, describing my lifelong relationship to my birthplace:
And yet in looking back I see
From topmost part of farthest tree
A land as bright, beloved and blue
As any Yeats found to be true.
Waukegan, visited by me often since, is neither homelier nor more beautiful than any other small Midwestern town. Much of it is green. The trees do touch in the middle of streets. The street in front of my old home is still paved with red bricks. In what way then was the town special? Why, I was born there. It was my life. I had to write of it as I saw fit:
So we grew up with mythic dead
To spoon upon midwestern bread
And spread old gods’ bright marmalade
To slake in peanut-butter shade,
Pretending there beneath our sky
That it was Aphrodite’s thigh…
While by the porch-rail calm and bold
His words pure wisdom, stare pure gold
My grandfather, a myth indeed,
Did all of Plato supercede
While Grandmama in rockingchair
Sewed up the raveled sleeve of care
Crocheted cool snowflakes rare and bright
To winter us on summer night.
And uncles, gathered with their smokes
Emitted wisdoms masked as jokes,
And aunts as wise as Delphic maids
Dispensed prophetic lemonades
To boys knelt there as acolytes
To Grecian porch on summer nights;
Then went to bed, there to repent
The evils of the innocent;
The gnat-sins sizzling in their ears
Said, through the nights and through the years
Not Illinois nor Waukegan
But blither sky and blither sun.
Though mediocre all our Fates
And Mayor not as bright as Yeats
Yet still we knew ourselves. The sum?
Waukegan/ Green Town/ Byzantium.
Green Town did exist, then?
Yes, and again, yes.

Was there a real boy named John Huff? There was. And that was truly his name. But he didn’t go away from me, I went away from him. But, happy ending, he is still alive, forty-two years later, and remembers our love.

Was there a Lonely One? There was, and that was his name. And he moved around at night in my home town when I was six years old and he frightened everyone and was never captured.

Most importantly, did the big house itself, with Grandpa and Grandma and the boarders and uncles and aunts in it exist? I have answered that.

Is the ravine real and deep and dark at night? It was, it is. I took my daughters there a few years back, fearful that the ravine might have gone shallow with time. I am relieved and happy to report that the ravine is deeper, darker, and more mysterious than ever. I would not, even now, go home through there after seeing The Phantom of the Opera.

So there you have it. Waukegan was Green Town was Byzantium, with all the happiness that that means, with all the sadness that these names imply. The people there were gods and midgets and knew themselves mortal and so the midgets walked tall so as not to embarrass the gods and the gods crouched so as to make the small ones feel at home. And, after all, isn’t that what life is all about, the ability to go around back and come up inside other people’s heads to look out at the damned fool miracle and say: oh, so that’s how you see it!? Well, now, I must remember that.

Here is my celebration, then, of death as well as life, dark as well as light, old as well as young, smart and dumb combined, sheer joy as well as complete terror written by a boy who once hung upside down in trees, dressed in his bat costume with candy fangs in his mouth, who finally fell out of the trees when he was twelve and went and found a toy-dial typewriter and wrote his first “novel.”

A final memory.

Fire balloons.

You rarely see them these days, though in some countries, I hear, they are still filled with warm breath from a small straw fire hung beneath.

But in 1925 Illinois, we still had them, and one of the last memories I have of my grandfather is the last hour of a Fourth of July night forty-eight years ago when Grandpa and I walked out on the lawn and lit a small fire and filled the pear-shaped red-white-and-blue-striped paper balloon with hot air, and held the flickering bright-angel presence in our hands a final moment in front of a porch lined with uncles and aunts and cousins and mothers and fathers, and then, very softly, let the
thing that was life and light and mystery go out of our fingers up on the summer night air and away over the beginning-to-sleep houses, among the stars, as fragile, as wondrous, as vulnerable, as lovely as life itself.

I see my grandfather there looking up at that strange drifting light, thinking his own still thoughts. I see me, my eyes filled with tears, because it was all over, the night was done, I knew there would never be another night like this.

No one said anything. We all just looked up at the sky and we breathed out and in and we all thought the same things, but nobody said. Someone finally had to say, though, didn’t they? And that one is me.

The wine still waits in the cellars below.

My beloved family still sits on the porch in the dark.

The fire balloon still drifts and burns in the night sky of an as yet unburied summer.

Why and how?

Because I say it is so.

Ray Bradbury
Summer, 1974

Your hymnal is here.

Fire balloons afloft in Thailand.

Basic fire balloon how-to is here.


Passion. As you can see, I've lived quite a long time, which is to say I've been working for quite a long time, which is the same thing. And you know what? In the whole silly business, the only thing that really matters is passion. It comes and it goes. At first it just comes to you free of charge, and you don't understand, and you waste it. And then it becomes a thing to nurture.

Tove Jansson, from The Woman Who Borrowed Memories: Selected Stories


Courbet, Girl in a Hammock, 1844


In slow motion, I'm reborn
I need a week to mow the lawn
I eat dinner with my flip-flops on
Now that the summer's here

With my chores, I only flirt
Hung in my hammock reading Kurt
Struggling to remain inert
Now that the summer's here

Now that the summer is here
I laze all day, my work can wait
And I behave like a firefly
And oscillate with my mate

I can spare some wherewithal
Listening to Ahmad Jamal
"Poinciana" says it all
Now that the summer's here

One thing is crystal clear
I won't be going anywhere
Except my Adirondack chair
Now that the summer's here

Michael Franks

19 June 2024

DEVO, "Gates of Steel"

Give in to ancient noise
Take a chance, a brand new dance ...


It has always been one of my main endeavours as a teacher to persuade the young that firsthand knowledge is not only more worth acquiring than secondhand knowledge, but is usually much easier and more delightful to acquire.

C.S. Lewis, from The Reading Life: The Joy of Seeing New Worlds Through Others' Eyes


Sully, The Student, Rosalie Kemble Sully, 1848

We are accustomed to understand art to be only what we hear and see in theaters, concerts, and exhibitions, together with buildings, statues, poems, novels.  But all this is but the smallest part of the art by which we communicate with each other in life. All human life is filled with works of art of every kind — from cradlesong, jest, mimicry, the ornamentation of houses, dress, and utensils, up to church services, buildings, monuments, and triumphal processions. It is all artistic activity. So that by art, in the limited sense of the word, we do not mean all human activity transmitting feelings, but only that part which we for some reason select from it and to which we attach special importance.

Leo Tolstoy, from What Is Art?


Can you win anything better than the useless rewards of a fantastical imagination?

Tove Jansson, from Moominpappa's Memoirs

Happy Birthday, Sully

Sully, Self-Portrait, 66 Years-Old, 1850

Thomas Sully was born on this day in 1783.

Handel, An Occasional Oratorio, HWV 62

The Sebastians, under the flailing baton of Patrick Dupré Quigley, perform the Overture ...

Happy Birthday, Pascal

Unknown, Blaise Pascal, c. 1660

Sometimes, when I set to thinking about the various activities of men, the dangers and troubles which they face at court, or in war, giving rise to so many quarrels and passions, daring and wicked enterprises and so on, I have often said that the sole cause of man's unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room. A man wealthy enough for man's needs would never leave home to go to sea or besiege some fortress if he knew how to stay at home and enjoy it. Men would never spend so much on a commission in the army if they could bear living in town all their lives, and they only seek after the company and diversion of gambling because they do not enjoy staying at home.

Pascal, born on this day in 1623, from Pensées


The first demand any work of any art makes upon us is surrender. Look. Listen. Receive. Get yourself out of the way. (There is no good asking first whether the work before you deserves such a surrender, for until you have surrendered you cannot possibly find out.)

C.S. Lewis, from The Reading Life: The Joy of Seeing New Worlds Through Others’ Eyes

18 June 2024


Readers aren’t viewers; they recognize their pleasure as different from that of being entertained. Once you’ve pressed the on button, the TV goes on, and on, and on, and all you have to do is sit and stare. But reading is active, an act of attention, of absorbed alertness—not all that different from hunting, in fact, or from gathering. In its silence, a book is a challenge: it can’t lull you with surging music or deafen you with screeching laugh tracks or fire gunshots in your living room; you have to listen to it in your head. A book won’t move your eyes for you the way images on a screen do. It won’t move your mind unless you give it your mind, or your heart unless you put your heart in it. It won’t do the work for you. To read a story well is to follow it, to act it, to feel it, to become it—everything short of writing it, in fact. Reading is not “interactive” with a set of rules or options, as games are; reading is actual collaboration with the writer’s mind. No wonder not everybody is up to it.

Ursula K. Le Guin

Victor Feldman Trio, "Swinging on a Star"

With bassist Rick Laird and drummer Ronnie Stephenson ...


Oh say, where lies true lasting happiness?
In evening rest? In friendly glance? 'Tis more:
In sailing from the mire, the reeds, the mast,
The mighty ocean's vastness to adore.
Oh what is life? 'Tis nothing but a dream,
A vast and enigmatic flowing stream.
Such tender feelings fill my heaving breast
I know not how or where they'll come to rest;
My cares are multitudinous and sore,
I long to feel the friendly rudder in my paw.

Tove Jansson


Stewart Copeland discusses reggae's structure at 4:42 ...

The Police, "One World (Not Three)" ...

Sting and Ziggy take a shot ...

The Style Council, "Shout to the Top"

Then ...

And Weller now ...


Libraries are not childcare facilities but sometimes feral children raise themselves among the stacks.


From the low white walls and the church’s steeple,
From our little fields under grass or grain,
I’m gone away to the fairy people
I shall not come to the town again.

You may see a girl with my face and tresses,
You may see one come to my mother’s door
Who may speak my words and may wear my dresses.

She will not be I, for I come no more.

I am gone, gone far, with the fairies roaming,
You may ask of me where the herons are
In the open marsh when the snipe are homing,
Or when no moon lights nor a single star.

On stormy nights when the streams are foaming
And a hint may come of my haunts afar,
With the reeds my floor and my roof the gloaming,
But I come no more to Ballynar.

Ask Father Ryan to read no verses
To call me back, for I am this day
From blessings far, and beyond curses.
No heaven shines where we ride away.

At speed unthought of in all your stables,
With the gods of old and the sons of Finn,
With the queens that reigned in the olden fables
And kings that won what a sword can win.

You may hear us streaming above your gables
On nights as still as a planet’s spin;
But never stir from your chairs and tables
To call my name.  I shall not come in.

For I am gone to the fairy people.

Make the most of that other child
Who prays with you by the village steeple
I am gone away to the woods and wild.

I am gone away to the open spaces,
And whither riding no man may tell;
But I shall look upon all your faces
No more in Heaven or Earth or Hell.

Lord Dunsany, from The Elfland King's Daughter

Sullivan, The Yeomen of the Guard

Camerata Cantilly performs the Overture ...


The classroom is a torture chamber, interrogating poetry until it confesses.

Grieg, Lyric Pieces, Op.71

Øyvind Sundsvalen wanders through Number Four, "Piece of Woods"...


Rameau, Naïs

Frans Brüggen and the Orchestra of the 18th Century perform a suite of orchestra music from the opera ...


Philosophers have said that music is most divine, that music, like God, is invisible. You can't see it. It's intangible. And yet it has this most penetrating of effects. And so it is a direct emanation of the transcendent beauty of the beloved.  Music speaks concordantly to a troubled world, dispelling loneliness and discontent, its voice discovering in it those deep recesses of thought and feeling where truth implants itself. Music offers no quarter for compromise, no excuses, no subterfuge, no shoddy workmanship. And we sense in music an extension of ourselves, a reminder of our own potential for perfection.  Life has conflicts and pleasures, harmony and dissonance. That's how life is. Can't escape it. By the way, the same thing occurs in music. There are dissonances in harmony, and resolutions. I believe that you won't enjoy the resolution unless you have that dissonance. What would it be if we didn't have the dissonance? We wouldn't know the meaning of the resolution.

Seymour Bernstein

On espressivo ...

Upbeater or downbeater?


You can lead a person to culture, but you can't make them think. 

Tom Wolfe

I got half-a-dozen paintings from that shattered plate.

Georgia O'Keeffe

Someone's knockin' at the door
Somebody's ringin' the bell
Someone's knockin' at the door
Somebody's ringin' the bell
Do me a favor
Open the door 
And let 'em in

The Crowned Head of Anti-Music

17 June 2024

Adam and The Ants, "Killer in the Home"

Now's the time I must digress
From going through the motions
Take my head out of its sling
Free the warrior

You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.

Jack London


Some years ago a writer not much older than I am now told me (not bitterly, but matter-of-factly) that it was a good thing that I, as a young writer, did not have to face the darkness that he faced every day, the knowledge that his best work was behind him. And another, in his eighties, told me that what kept him going every day was the knowledge that his best work was still out there, the great work that he would one day do.

I aspire to the condition of the second of my friends, I like the idea that one day I'll do something that really works, even if I fear that I've been saying the same things for over thirty years. As we get older, each thing we do, each thing we write reminds us of something else we've done. Events rhyme. Nothing quite happens for the first time anymore.

I don't agree, but Gaiman always makes me think.


Grieg, Lyric Pieces, Op. 43

Clare Hammond flutters away on Number One, "Butterfly" ...

Eddie Vedder, "Far Behind"

The mind has plenty of ways of preventing you from writing, and paralysing self-consciousness is a good one. The only thing to do is ignore it, and remember what Vincent van Gogh said in one of his letters about the painter's fear of the blank canvas - the canvas, he said, is far more afraid of the painter.

Sir  Philip Pullman, from Dæmon Voices: Essays on Storytelling

The world begins where the road ends.


There’s no blank spots on the map anymore, anywhere on earth. If you want a blank spot on the map, you gotta leave the map behind.

Jon Krakauer, from Into the Wild

16 June 2024


de Jáuregui (attr.), Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, 1600

“Destiny guides our fortunes more favorably than we could have expected. Look there, Sancho Panza, my friend, and see those thirty or so wild giants, with whom I intend to do battle and kill each and all of them, so with their stolen booty we can begin to enrich ourselves. This is nobel, righteous warfare, for it is wonderfully useful to God to have such an evil race wiped from the face of the earth."

"What giants?" Asked Sancho Panza.

"The ones you can see over there," answered his master, "with the huge arms, some of which are very nearly two leagues long."

"Now look, your grace," said Sancho, "what you see over there aren't giants, but windmills, and what seems to be arms are just their sails, that go around in the wind and turn the millstone."

"Obviously," replied Don Quijote, "you don't know much about adventures.”

Miguel de Cervantes, from Don Quixote


The Smiths released The Queen is Dead on this day in 1986.

"Some Girls are Bigger than Others" ...


Stewart Copeland and Daniel Levitin explore music and memory ...


His hand would cover my head like a stocking cap and guide my travel through the congregation after church.  

My Great-Grandpa Karl, born eighty years to the day before me ...

There is divine beauty in learning.  To learn means to accept the postulate that life did not begin at my birth. Others have been here before me, and I walk in their footsteps. The books I have read were composed by generations of fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, teachers and disciples. I am the sum total of their experiences, their quests. And so are you.

Elie Wiesel

15 June 2024

Happy Birthday, Hinds

David Hinds was born on this day in 1956.

"Uncle George" with Steel Pulse ...


Joy Division released Unknown Pleasures on this day in 1979.

"Day of the Lords" ...


As was often the case with Emma Goldman’s work, there was great wisdom in her words. Her framing of the issue was both poignant and pointed. Even a century later, Emma’s statement remains entirely accurate—it was, it seems, a down-to-earth application of “AI” that makes me smile, embodying good, old-fashioned “anarchist insight.” To Emma’s point, many of us (certainly me) struggle regularly with how to stay true to ourselves while still being an active member of a group in an authentically meaningful way. In my experience at least, it’s neither easy nor the norm. Going against the current, being a lone voice in an organizational wilderness, is nearly always challenging work. Group dynamics and social pressure can make doing so very difficult. As Emma wrote in that same 1910 book, “The most unpardonable sin in society is independence of thought.” 

For many years—like when I was a newly arriving student here in Ann Arbor—I saw the two as being in opposition. I could only “be me” by pushing away everyone else. Others I knew took the opposite path—they were so skilled at fitting in that it was hard to figure out who they were without the socially sanctioned roles they had rolled right into. Over the years though, I have altered my understanding of all that significantly. What I’ve come to believe is that I will not successfully be myself without being engaged with other people. But at the same time, of equal importance, is not to allow ourselves to be suffused by the group. Done well, there’s an effective and uplifting creative tension between the two. As Adam Grant says, “We look for ways to both fit in and stand out at the same time.” Writer Terry Tempest Williams tells the same story more poetically, asking: “Can you be an insider and an outsider at the same time?” Her answer is also my own: “I think this is where I live.”

I'll never forget the time Ari came into the deli where I worked.  The owners of Katzinger's had worked with Ari in Ann Arbor and had been friends for many years since.  

One late afternoon, I was tidying up the shelves of the specialty food section, when I heard the front door creak open.  I turned to greet our guest and was surprised to see Ari walking through the door.  As the deli's general manager, I had been to many seminars at Zingerman's, so we recognized each other.  The thing that still sticks with me was that he wasn't there to see me, but for the next hour we walked through the deli and talked about merchandising, tasting, demos, and even about Jim Harrison.  I was humbled by the number of times he complimented us on our systems, service, and presentation.  By the end of that hour, my feet weren't touching the ground; all from conversation.

That was nearly thirty years ago, but, as he quoted from Greenleaf's Servant Leadership ...
The first order of business is to build a group of people who, under the influence of the institution, grow taller and become healthier, stronger, more autonomous. 

I didn't work for him but he saw us as working together. 

Happy Birthday, Grieg

Edvard Grieg was born on this day in 1843.

Øyvind Sundsvalen performs Lyric Piece No. 2, "Summer Evening" ...

14 June 2024


Biva, La Rivère, 1903


Anything can happen. You know how Jupiter
Will mostly wait for clouds to gather head
Before he hurls the lightning? Well, just now
He galloped his thunder cart and his horses

Across a clear blue sky. It shook the earth
And the clogged underearth, the River Styx,
The winding streams, the Atlantic shore itself.
Anything can happen, the tallest towers

Be overturned, those in high places daunted,
Those overlooked regarded. Stropped-beak Fortune
Swoops, making the air gasp, tearing the crest off one,
Setting it down bleeding on the next.

Ground gives. The heaven’s weight
Lifts up off Atlas like a kettle-lid.
Capstones shift, nothing resettles right.
Telluric ash and fire-spores boil away.

Seamus Heaney


Through neglect, ignorance, or inability, the new intellectual Borgias cram hairballs down our throats and refuse us the convulsion that could make us well. They have forgotten, if they ever knew, the ancient knowledge that only by being truly sick can one regain health. Even beasts know when it is good and proper to throw up. Teach me how to be sick then, in the right time and place, so that I may again walk in the fields and with the wise and smiling dogs who know enough to chew sweet grass.


An excellent album ...


A decision is a judgment. It is a choice between alternatives. It is rarely a choice between right and wrong.

Peter F. Drucker, from The Effective Executive


On this day in 1777, the Continental Congress in Philadelphia adopted the Stars and Stripes as the national flag.

With a great flag comes great responsibility, so here's a reminder of how to respectfully display The Flag.

13 June 2024


On the banks of the Seine, passers-by stopped and looked up to contemplate the new ballet offered by the Notre Dame construction site. On Friday, May 24, the cathedral of Paris regained the cross on the roof over the apse. (The cross and rooster-shaped reliquary over the transept were replaced earlier.) As this cross was the only roof ornament to have miraculously escaped the devastating flames of the tragic fire of April 15, 2019, it was a particularly symbolic moment before the cathedral's scheduled reopening on December 8, 2024.

Suspended in the air at the end of a crane, this work by Viollet-le-Duc has returned to its original position at the top of the apse of the choir roof, once again watching over the capital and its inhabitants.

From above, a clamor rises: The ironworkers and roofers who worked on its restoration turn to the journalists with a shout of victory. From below, cheers and applause respond, as if to thank the hard work of the craftsmen who have spent more than 1,000 hours restoring this two-ton cross, dented by its fall.

Bach, Violin Concerto in A-Minor, BWV 1041

The Allegro assai, performed by Katha Zinn and llya Filshtinskiy ...


W.B Yeats recites his work ...


We're going at night.

They say the seeds of what we will do are in all of us, but it always seemed to me that in those who make jokes in life the seeds are covered with better soil and with a higher grade of manure.

Ernest Hemingway, from A Moveable Feast


Our intention is simply to instruct the young, reform the old, correct the town, and castigate the age: this is an arduous task, and, therefore, we undertake it with confidence. We intend for this purpose to present a striking picture of the town; and as everybody is anxious to see his own phiz on canvass, however stupid or ugly it may be, we have no doubt but the whole town will flock to our exhibition. Our picture will necessarily include a vast variety of figures; and should any lady or gentleman be displeased with the inveterate truth of their likenesses, they may ease their spleen by laughing at those of their neighbours — this being what toe understand by poetical justice.

Like all true and able Editors, we consider ourselves infallible; and, therefore, with the customary diffidence of our brethren of the quill, we shall take the liberty of interfering in all matters either of a public or private nature. We are critics, amateurs, diletanti, and cognoscenti ; and as we know " by the pricking of our thumbs," that every opinion which we may advance in either of those characters will be correct, we are determined, though it may be questioned, contradicted, or even controverted, yet it shall never be revoked.

We beg the public particularly to understand, that we solicit no patronage. We are determined, on the contrary, that the patronage shall be entirely on our side. We have nothing to do with the pecuniary concerns of the paper: its success will yield us neither pride nor profit; nor will its failure occasion to us either loss or mortification. We advise the public, therefore, to purchase our numbers merely for their own sakes; if they do not, let them settle the affair with their consciences and posterity.

To conclude, we invite all editors of newspapers and literary journals to praise us heartily in advance, as we assure them that we intend to deserve their praises. To our next door neighbour, "Town," we hold out a hand of amity, declaring to him that, after ours, his paper will stand the best chance for immortality. We proffer an exchange of civilities ; he shall furnish us with notices of epic poems and tobacco — and we, in return, will enrich him with original speculations on all manner of subjects, together with " the rummaging of my grandfather's mahogany chest of drawers," " the life and amours of mine uncle John," anecdotes of the Cockloft family," and learned quotations from that unheard of writer of folios, Linkum Fidelus ...

If any one should feel himself offended by our remarks, let him attack us in return—we shall not wince from the combat.  If his passes be successful, we will be the first to cry out, a hit! a hit ! and we doubt not we shall frequently lay ourselves open to the weapons of our assailants. But let them have a care how they run a-tilting with us; they have to deal with stubborn foes,who can bear a world of pummeling; we will be relentless in our vengeance, find will fight "till from our bones the flesh behack't."


“Have you really courage enough to go out into the wide world with me?” said the chimney-sweep; “have you thought how large it is, and that we can never come back here again?”

“Yes, I have,” she replied.

When the chimney-sweep saw that she was quite firm, he said, “My way is through the stove and up the chimney. Have you courage to creep with me through the fire-box, and the iron pipe? When we get to the chimney I shall know how to manage very well. We shall soon climb too high for any one to reach us, and we shall come through a hole in the top out into the wide world.” So he led her to the door of the stove ...

Hans Christian Anderson, from "The Shepherdess and the Sweep"


An excellent album ...

Happy Birthday, Yeats

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead

And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

W.B. Yeats, born on this day in 1865

12 June 2024

Modern English, "Long in the Tooth"

Glenn Tilbrook, "Some Fantastic Place"

For my Mum ...


An excellent book ...


An excellent album ...

Robin Guthrie, "Imperial"


I had a little table on which I had my pile of books and, by the end, they were nearly as high as the studio ceiling. I used to get all the song titles from them. Even the album titles, as it turned out, because "A startling tale of power, corruption and lies" was a review quote from the Daily Telegraph on the back of 1984 by George Orwell. "Leave Me Alone" came from Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and  "Ultraviolence" was from A Clockwork Orange, to name but a few.

Peter Hook, from Substance: Inside New Order


Somebody who only reads newspapers and at best books of contemporary authors looks to me like an extremely near-sighted person who scorns eyeglasses. He is completely dependent on the prejudices and fashions of his times, since he never gets to see or hear anything else. And what a person thinks on his own without being stimulated by the thoughts and experiences of other people is even in the best case rather paltry and monotonous.

There are only a few enlightened people with a lucid mind and style and with good taste within a century. What has been preserved of their work belongs among the most precious possessions of mankind. We owe it to a few writers of antiquity (Plato, Aristotle, etc.) that the people in the Middle Ages could slowly extricate themselves from the superstitions and ignorance that had darkened life for more than half a millennium.

Nothing is more needed to overcome the modernist's snobbishness.

Albert Einstein, from Ideas and Opinions


Defy categorization.
Resist group-think.
Be ungovernable.

Thanks, Kurt.


It is a strange and magical fact to be here, walking around in a body, to have a whole world within you and a world at your fingertips outside you. 

It is an immense privilege, and it is incredible that humans manage to forget the miracle of being here. 

It is uncanny how social reality can deaden and numb us so that the mystical wonder of our lives goes totally unnoticed. We are here. We are wildly and dangerously free.

John O'Donohue

Happy Birthday, Wetton

John Wetton was born on this day in 1949.

"Afterglow" with Steve Hackett ...


From Christopher Alexander's A Pattern Language ...