Sunday, March 30, 2003

More Poetry Outtakes

As If It Could Save the World

Ask someone for a cup of coffee
With a song in your heart
As if it could save the world . . . .

In the land of the giants
The priests of mammon
Mingle with the clouds

It's time to start over

Saturday, March 29, 2003

Baghdad Blast

Courtesy of the BBC, here are some photos from the Baghdad marketplace explosion that you won't see on American TV.

War photography has a way of cutting through all the spin (or propaganda, as it used to be called) and revealing war for what it is to those most affected--not some distant "operation," but a miasma of blood and screams and unbearable grief.

It reminds me of a line from a Tina Turner song called "Steel Claw":

"I don't care who's right, who's wrong, it really doesn't matter when you're lying in the gutter."

I saw a documentary film last night about Jane Goodall and the chimpanzees she studies (still!) in Tanzania. One of her most suprising and disheartening discoveries, she said, was that groups of chimps make war on each other, and an entire group is sometimes exterminated. Maybe we haven't learned much in the last billion years.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Quotes of the Day

"I warrant you, you shall find the ceremonies of the wars, and the cares of it, and the forms of it . . . to be otherwise."
--Shakespeare, Henry V

"We're absolutely sick and tired of putting things out and finding they're not true. The misinformation in this war is far and away worse than any conflict I've covered, including the first Gulf war and Kosovo."
--senior BBC news source


Bad News, Good News

It's hard to find a truly objective source of news these days. Many of the US networks (cable and broadcast) seem to be either caught up in jingoism or too willing to accept information from "official" sources that later turns out to exagerated or just plain wrong (including stories about "uprisings" that turned out to be largely wishful thinking). The more objective sources, in my opinion, are British: the BBC and the British newspaper/website The Guardian. I watch BBC World newscasts on WLIW (Channel 21 in the New York City area) and check the Guardian Unlimited website frequently. The BBC website offers a live audio feed.

The BBC, by the way, has the best news theme music I've heard on TV lately. Instead of the bombastic orchestral fanfares that US news shows favor, it's electronic and funky (yet "serious" sounding), with a pulsing dance beat.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Not the Usual Suspects

Reactions to the war in places around the world that the media tends to ignore are collected here:

Global Dispatches

Monday, March 24, 2003

You Are There

Read Where is Raed?, the online diary of a man who lives in a Baghdad suburb.

Sample quote:

"The images we saw on TV last night (not Iraqi, jazeera-BBC-Arabiya) were terrible. The whole city looked as if it were on fire. The only thing I could think of was 'why does this have to happen to Baghdad'. As one of the buildings I really love went up in a huge explosion I was close to tears."

Sunday, March 23, 2003

Quote of the Day

"If the warmed-up corpse of Hitler was President of the US, and a lobotomized sheep was Prime Minister of the UK, I couldn’t be less optimistic than I am now.

On the other hand, there are more people on the planet working towards positive solutions for humanity than at any time in history. There are millions of individuals trying to balance constructive optimism with sociological realism, working behind the scenes, trying not to succumb to apocalyptic nihilism or small-minded political/social expediency. I see these people everywhere, except on TV, or in the newspapers, or inside political parties." --Brian Dean

Saturday, March 22, 2003

Haiku 729A

By the dusty path
A soldier writes a haiku
Should anyone care?

Friday, March 21, 2003

Strange Days

It’s 70 degrees (F), warm and sunny here today--as if nature actually paid attention to the calendar. I’m used to snow or freezing drizzle on the first day of spring, but today feels more like May. My son and I even went out to the park and tossed a baseball around for a while. If there weren’t so much strife on the other side of the planet, I might feel giddy about this weather. Instead, I feel a mocking contrast, as I did on 9/11, when I watched the towers burn and collapse on a day of Mediterranean perfection, as far as weather went. Somewhere, right now, someone is trudging through a sandstorm, listening to the distant thunder of bombs exploding. And that thought keeps me from feeling springlike.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

New Lingo

The Word Spy is a website devoted to catologing and explaining "recently coined words and phrases, old words that are being used in new ways, and existing words that have enjoyed a recent renaissance." Here's a sampling of new words and phrases that are cropping up increasingly in newspapers, magazines, books, press releases and on the Web (and presumably on the airwaves, too):

wife acceptance factor
leather spinster
post-mortem divorce
poo X
chewable liquor
peeping-Tom TV

Do you have any idea what these words/phrases refer to? Neither did I, with the exception of "google," but you can find out at The Word Spy. (Hint: you've probably seen some "poo Xs" without realizing what they were.)

Monday, March 17, 2003

Quote of the Day

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American Public." --Theodore Roosevelt

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Haiku 643

The wolves cease baying
As a cloud obscures the moon
War comes with the dawn

Saturday, March 15, 2003

Who nose?

Saw a production of Cyrano in Manhattan last night, starring a talented actor of my acquaintance, T. Scott Lilly, wearing a prosthetic schnoz. I seem to remember that there are umpteen children's versions of this story, all of which have a happy ending (Cyrano dies in the original), and one of which is called Cyranose, I think. Or am I crazy? Anyway, the original play, which I had never seen or read before, seems like an excellent showcase for actors.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Meet the 'Inner Beatles'

The Beatles were a wonderful group, but this site, dedicated to "the religion known as Beatlism," may go a bit too far (though it's probably a joke):

The Temple Of Beatlism

It's worth remembering that the Manson family also worshipped the Beatles and took inspiration for their "revolution" by reading too much into the White Album's (cryptic) lyrics.

(Thanks to The Presurfer)

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Voices Out of Nowhere

Sometimes when I'm bored or out of ideas, I write little dialogues between imaginary voices. (I know, I'm strange.) Here's one you may enjoy:

Behind the Eight Ball

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Quote of the Day

"But, it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different its course would have been. Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day."
--Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Monday, March 10, 2003

Worth a thousand words?

The media seem fascinated with that picture of the captured Al Qaeda terrorist who looks like an unmade bed. The photo is shown over and over again on the TV news channels, and the New York Daily News has Khalid Shaikh Mohammed's ugly mug front and center on their cover today. It's not like there aren't other photos of this fellow available--"they" occasionally show pictures of him looking wide awake, wearing glasses and a snappy head scarf. But it's the recent picture with the wild hair, the baggy T-shirt, the hairy back, etc., that's become some kind of weird icon. Saturday Night Live even did a skit last weekend in which an actor portraying the terrorist complained bitterly about the photo--which was, of course, on screen the whole time. It's as if we think we can get back at this guy by showing off his ugly picture--which seems a rather infantile response to terrorism.

Thursday, March 06, 2003

Quote of the Day

"Pain is not a democracy." --James Richardson

When I came across this quote a few months ago, it made no sense to me. Now it makes perfect sense.

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Found Art

The Royal Journal of Found Art is a website that collects odd examples of graphic art and writing that site contributors have discovered in peculiar places, or spied in advertisements and commercial products. An example of the latter is the three-armed woman found on the cover of a romance novel. Weird.

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

More Poetry Outtakes

Ariel Explained

Hostages of wonder
Have no relationship
To money in the bank.

Ariel is open to new dimensions.

Her spirit
Is made of moonmist
And deep concentration.