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Armies of the nought

I was impressed when Johnny knew without a pause who has the 4th largest army in the world: North Korea.

And who has the 4th smallest?

Ding ding ding:
It's tiny, tropical, Portuguese-speaking Sao Tome and Principe, with 600 soldiers to guard it's 187,000 people.

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Monday Quote (on Thursday)

I've finished Albright's book, Fascism: A Warning. Here are the last quotes (see also June 18 & June 20).

"When arguing that every age has its own Fascism, Italian writer and Holocaust survivor Primo Levi added that the critical point can be reached 'not just through the terror of police intimidation, but by denying and  Read More 
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House repairs

Do people who own homes have to spend all their time fixing things?

Saturday the tub backed up with gray greasy water. Two bottles of poison & lots of plungering later, the water ran freely.

Yesterday I got stuck inside my office when the outside door wouldn't open. Tomas came over when I called, pried the pin up & taped it, and someone came from the management company this morning and replaced the whole lock.

Today I changed a light bulb, all by myself.

I can't imagine living where there's no one to call. I can't imagine having to know how to do that stuff.  Read More 
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To Queens go I

Have I ever seen Andrei smiling in a photo before?!
I trekked to Forest Hills for lunch, talk, & collaborative poems with my dear lifelong friend. So happy he is living in New York, but perpetually restless, who knows how long he'll stay.

This is his house in Forest Hills Gardens, a rich area with private roads & actual lawns that are not behind walls. It's like the neighborhood I grew up in in Sioux Falls, but nicer & richer. Much richer.

(It's not really his house.)  Read More 
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Monday Quote

The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping old ones.
~ John Maynard Keynes

Up until recently, I felt au courant with the mores of my day—aware, changing as needed, instinctively & through discussion on the side right. I realize when I write this that it can't possibly be true— Read More 
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Girls' championship softball

Con Ed field, 16th & C.
From where we sat, we could barely see, but our 13-year-old granddaughter is out there somewhere, playing some pretty high-level ball!

It was almost as exciting to discover the M9 bus, which goes from 27th & 1st to Battery Park City by way of Avenue C.
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One of the most rewarding parts of karate is the opportunity to work with students with learning disabilities. I've been doing this for close to 10 years & have gotten to know quite a few of them. The other night one of them invited me to a performance that several turned out to be in, based on a poetry/theater workshop with a group called CoLab, Creative Opportunities without Limits And Boundaries; they work with YAI and similar organizations.

It was great: enthusiastic, welcoming, fun.

They made a little chapbook of poems the students wrote during the workshop. My favorite in a series of four-word poems was by Jen:

Huge cat listens pink.
 Read More 
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Monday Quote (Wednesday edition)

Just 2 months after the Germans surrendered, ending WWII in Europe, President Truman said this to representatives of the brand-new United Nations:

Fascism did not die with Mussolini. Hitler is finished, but the seeds spread by his disordered mind have firm root in too many fanatical brains. It is easier to remove tyrants and destroy concentration camps than to kill the ideas that gave them birth. Read More 
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Soup, beautiful soup

This is B&H's cold cucumber soup, only served in the summer. That's Johnny's hand—we're sharing. Delicious as it is, I can't finish a bowl, & if I ask for a cup, they still give me a bowl.
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Monday Quote

If I could, I would copy out Madeleine Albright's new book, Fascism: A Warning, in its entirety.

If I had to choose, would it be Mussolini vowing to "drain the swamp"? The reminder that both Il Duce and Hitler "arrived in the nation's highest office without ever having won a majority vote, yet by constitutional means"? How about this: "His murderous ambition, avowed racism, and utter immorality were given the thinnest mask, and yet millions of Germans were drawn to Hitler precisely because he seemed authentic."

"... [C]aring about others and about the proposition that we are all created equal is the single most effective antidote to the self-centered moral numbness that allows Fascism to thrive." Read More 
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A day trip

This will have to count for both Friday & today. Kathleen & I took off early on Friday in her convertible Miata for Poughkeepsie & the Mid-Hudson Bridge, a former railway bridge turned into a pleasant mile-long walkway over the river. We ate a terrific lunch at the Culinary Institute of America, briefly stopped at Hyde Park, and drove through Vassar College & Cold Spring.

Remind me why I don't explore New York State (or even NYC) more.  Read More 
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The Blue Sky Boys

When I've written about other musicians—the Nu-Grape Twins, Henry Thomas, Pink Anderson—it's that something in the way they sing caught me & didn't let go, & eventually I wanted to know more about them. Sometimes that was easy (Pink Anderson) & sometimes not (the Nu-Grape Twins—although people continue to track down bits of info about them & I know considerably more than I once did).

The Blue Sky Boys follow the same pattern. I found I couldn't stop listening to a couple of their songs ("I'm Just Here to Get My Baby Out of Jail," "Are You from Dixie") & then more & more till I could hardly listen to anyone else. They are the ultimate in blood harmony, although like many brother acts, they weren't so friendly offstage. There's a funny anecdote in Charlie Louvin's autobiography, Satan Is Real,when  Read More 
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From the vault: The Journal of Juan de Friscon

I used that elaborate handwriting throughout & can still do a version of it.
Oh my! This was a project from when I was in sixth grade. I just found it in a box. I remember it well, although I had no idea it still existed.

It begins with a typed letter telling a museum director in Ohio about the "major discovery" of a cabin boy's diary in a waterproof container in Panama. Clearly, it's real, the letter insists, because his description of Balboa matches the historical record. (The fact that it was written in English had no bearing, it seems.)

There follows 12 pages of Juan's adventures, followed by a bibliography: The World Book Encyclopedia, the Encyclopedia Britannica, and Understanding Latin America.

I wonder that what grade Mrs. Lease gave me.  Read More 
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Lewis Carroll was born at this church(yard) in Daresbury, 20 miles from Liverpool; I visited with my wonderful cousin Hazel a couple of years ago.
Some left-handed writers:
Eudora Welty, James Baldwin, Jean Genet, Lewis Carroll*, Mark Twain, Franz Kafka

Some writers who were/are Aquarians:
Langston Hughes, Charles Dickens, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Virginia Woolf, Robert Burns, Lewis Carroll*, James Joyce, Toni Morrison, Byron, Edith Wharton, Elizabeth Bishop

I'm not a lefty but I wondered if they had anything in common, or if Aquarians did, or if left-handed Aquarians did. On this list, only Lewis Carroll is both, so I don't see anything there.

I don't know where this came from but I kind of dig it:
The Mighty Word Warrior. Pioneer of literary movements and defender of the new and the righteous. The Aquarian writer is impossible Read More 
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Monday Quote

Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness.
~ Bertrand Russell

This was me, with Johnny as my second, back in 1981 or 82, at an event called "More Party Than Arty" at Charas. It's mud on my face because we had billed our fight as Mud Boxing but couldn't figure out a way to have a pit. I fought Rose Lesniak, & what I remember is her saying, "Don't hit me in the face, I'm an actress." So there was no way to actually fight. Finally we both fell down together, eliciting cries of "fix! fix!"

I loved that lamé outfit!

Marty Sutphin had a shirt made for me: Elinor "Bam Bam" Nauen & a few people have called me Bam Bam ever since.

I wish I had leapt for Johnny when we first met.  Read More 
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"Much of art is the struggle to make emotion less embarrassing," Douglas Crase writes in an essay called "The Leftover Landscape. "Camp brings love down to size, kitsch turns it rancid, but an artist somehow refines what was merely endurable until it becomes a surprise to be enjoyed."

I've always thought that my work  Read More 
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New poem

Den Store Appelsinen

Jeg farget håret mitt rødt
fordi baseballens rødtopper
Rusty Staub og Red Schoendienst
var kjent for å være fine og
jeg vil bli kjent
som en kjempefin spiller

The Big Orange

I dyed my hair red
because baseball’s redheads
Rusty Staub & Red Schoendienst
were known for being nice &
I want to be known
for being a great infielder Read More 
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Buster talks back III

It was pretty hilarious to watch him trying to catch the mouse. As I've said before, Buster is the most loving cat in the world but not exactly a brainiac.
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Buster talks back II

This is one of my favorite pictures of Buster (taken by Johnny). Buster is so pure, in everything except his sneezing, which he manages to do all over me. He purrs & yelps when I bring out his favorite snacks. Buster loves to curl between us & sigh as he falls asleep, just like Johnny.
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Buster talks back I

I feel like I live with the most glamorous movie star in the world. This handsome being, who is devoted to me. O Buster, hail Buster!
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Monday Quote

I always thought old age would be a writer's best chance.... Now my memory's gone, all the old fluency's disappeared. I don't write a single sentence without saying to myself, "It's a lie!" So I know I was right. It's the best chance I ever had.
~ Samuel Beckett

All my friends who are older poets feel the same, I would guess.

Terence Winch is writing better than ever, in his sad Irish way, when even a funny poem of his makes you realize how tragic life is.

He's not the only one. Read More 
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In Memoriam

Ah dear, but come thou back to me:
Whatever change the years have wrought,
I find not yet one lonely thought
That cries against my wish for thee.

In Memoriam is our summer book (along with Emily Wilson's translation of the Odyssey, which is currently on hold again). A lot is moving, a lot isn't. Despite the thumpy meter & rhyme, there's plenty of Tennyson gorgeousness.

Ford Madox Ford as a child was forced to listen to Tennyson's grandiloquent style & that's part of what led him into modern literature.  Read More 
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June & Edie

And what is so rare as a day in June
Then if ever come perfect days.

OK, today isn't perfect—it's cloudy & the air is thick. But I got on with things & it's a perfect month in general.

Also, today is my sister's yahrzeit so I am toasting Edie and her champagne personality, as her daughter always says. My favorite remark of hers: "I got married 3 times in Vegas. Vegas is lucky for me!"  Read More 
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