Sunday, January 27, 2013



“It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living, I want to know what you ache for. It doesn’t interest me how old you are, I want to know if you are willing to risk looking like a fool for love, for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive. I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine. It doesn’t interest me where you live or how rich you are, I want to know if you can get up after a night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and be sweet to the ones you love. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and truly like the company you keep in the empty moments of your life.” 
                                                          — Jon Blais


by Michael Creese

Saturday, January 26, 2013


I was the middle child:  the center coat button that never got done up, the navel that caught all the lint, the voice drowned out by the higher and lower registers.  Anything left undone by the elder and younger was foisted upon me, who seized and performed every lowly and demeaning detail, happy to be noticed.  I couldn't afford to be lazy and mischievous like Marko and Yanko, my younger twin brothers, or vain and aloof like my older sister Mirela.  If I wanted Papa to notice me, I had to be servile and available, capable and resourceful, and of course, watchful and crafty.  Perhaps above all, I had to be smart, and in this respect owed a debt of gratitude to Fortune for having given me the brains and my siblings the looks and the talent, so called. It was due mainly to the charm and performing abilities of my siblings that we were able to scratch a living out of the stingy natives of the tiny burgs we passed through.  We threaded our way through the larger cities more quickly, and at times could take in a pretty sum while there, but those cities boasted shows far grander and more entertaining than anything our small family circus, with our modest talents and antiquated tricks, could stage along the roadside or on a vacant parcel of land.  In those places, what we did amounted to begging, and Papa was too proud to abide much of that, however empty our bellies.  Besides, often we'd hardly even begun making camp when city authorities appeared to give us the bum's rush.  So we spent the majority of our time playing to the rubes; our performances drew little from their pockets, but much from their hearts and tongues in the way of appreciation and advertising, which made all the difference in our ability to persevere and even thrive, both physically and emotionally.  For it didn't take one long to discover, especially in our line of work, that it was not only the body but also the spirit which required nourishing.  There was a time when Papa had known it better than any of us.
But Papa hadn't been the same since the day Mama died while bringing the twins into the world.  He became a shadow of his former self and it seemed all he could do just to rise each morning and greet a new day, much less lead and care for his children as he had always done.  So Mirela and I had been forced to become parents to the twins and nursemaids to Papa, who, in time, emerged from his fog enough to resume his role as master puppeteer, once again manipulating the strings upon which his offspring danced for the public's pleasure and for their own survival.  Thank goodness we possessed the credulous and resilient nature common to children the world over, combined with the far less common pluck and flair for histrionics.  And one cannot discount the motivational power of hunger alone.
The twins grew older and became skilled at juggling, tumbling, dancing, and comic improvisation.  They did somersaults both forward and backward, they could walk on a wire, balance upside-down on a ladder, walk on their hands, and perform many other amusing acrobatic stunts.  Mirela danced on her toes and glided with the grace of a swam, she floated like an angel in flowing white with her pretty face and nails painted, her pert young breasts set off to advantage, and with an appearance so pure and chaste that she would cast a spell over the men in the audience and bring ugly grimaces of scorn and envy to the faces of the peasant women, prematurely aged by lives of drudgery.  But all the faces would change when Mirela would flit ethereally to the large wooden disc attached to the back of our cart to which Papa would then bind her hand and foot, spread-eagled as the saying goes, and begin throwing his large knives.  You could hear the gasps of the audience each time a blade sank with a sharp rap into the wood only inches from Mirela's soft and supple flesh.  Anyone looking at her at any other time could never begin to suspect the sort of iron nerve that lay hidden beneath that delicate feminine exterior.
Then there was me.  And what did I contribute, one might well ask.  In a word:  magic.
I had begun with simple card tricks, then progressed to tricks with fire, tricks with rings and scarves, tricks with small animals vanishing and reappearing, tricks that could be done with cheap and easily available materials and performed in front of a small crowd on the side of a road or in the center of a town square.  I was good, I knew it and the audience knew it.  But more importantly, I performed the magic that held the show together in the absence of Papa's strong leadership.  I created the slate of acts and the order in which they were performed, I drove my siblings to rehearse until they cursed the ground I walked on, I planned the places where we would perform, charted out the itinerary according to which we made our slow and laborious way through the often bleak and desolate landscape of eastern Europe.  I managed our finances, obtained and prepared our meals, and became the family spokesperson when dealing with village authorities who were initially antagonistic and eager to see our backs.
I did all of this and moreme!frail little Angelina!
But everything I had done before paled beside all I would do after.  After what, you ask?
It was a very cold morning in February, near the eastern Macedonian border, one month before my fourteenth birthday, when Papa failed to awaken. And in spite of all the magic I had learned and could perform, I simply could not restore life to his cold stiff corpse. What I could do, however, was give it a proper burial and keep the show going, keep his children fed and cared for, and never surrender to the demons of despair, never acknowledge the mists of misfortune that had claimed Mama and Papa and continued to loom threateningly all around us. We, after all, were The Amazing Miroshnikovs!
And so, we forged ahead without Papa. By this time, Eduardo with his fiddle had joined us. One rainy evening in a village somewhere along the eastern hem of Hungary, he had appeared out of nowhere, taken one look at Mirela, and been with us ever since. There we were, five young people, all still children really, but unified by means of some mysterious alchemy that turned our modest endowments and efforts into something that kept us alive and relatively content.
It was a sad day when our old nag Jakob, who had pulled our cart for many years, suddenly keeled over dead. He had been ill, it was true, but the end still came as a surprise. There we were, the five of us, discussing our next move. Where would we go and how would we get there? I had no doubt we would prevail. I would work a great magic, if need be. And when the shabby looking gentleman came up, kindness in his eyes, and asked if he could make a picture of us, what reason had we to refuse? Our plans were, at that moment, somewhat uncertain.
D.E. Sievers

Monday, January 21, 2013


by Chris Gilmour


   by Brian McCarthy


 Hats off to someone who possessed a level of courage and determination rarer than kindness in the face of persecution.  Our world is a better place today, no small thanks to him.   



by Katherine Ace


Here's a chair just waiting for you to fill it.  Open the case, remove a title that snares your interest, and disappear into it.  You won't be missed while you're gone, enjoy your time away, you deserve it, we all do, and when you return be sure to tell us of your travels and inspire us to go there too.

Saturday, January 19, 2013



Good intentions and a bottle of good red wine produced this improvised blues one dark and stormy night.




Sculpture by Anna Gillespie


“And I knew that it was better to live out one's absurdity than to die for that of others.”
Ralph Ellison


 Loredania Catania


The summer of the pale young gentlemen had begun like any other London summer. The weather maintained a comfortable temperature while it hurried through the streets, keen to the everpresent possibility, not to say likelihood, of rain. But rain was as much a part of London life as the Thames and the traffic and the tourists, and rarely did anyone have cause to raise an eyebrow at any of them. Few raised an eyebrow at the pale young gentlemen who appeared that summer, with a suddenness noted only after the factthe fact being the behavior that brought them forcibly to the attention of the general public, when they were noticed for more than simply their peculiar demeanor and manner of dress, which was common to them all. They dressed in short pants and tank tops, a sort of swimming costume, or type of athletic attire for sprinters and the like. It was odd to see chaps dressed in such a manner striding along the bustling streets of London. They wore very grave expressions on their faces, which, to a man, were thin and pale and sharp-featured. Their eyes seemed to take in every detail of their surroundings without dwelling on any particular one. Certainly they never made eye contact with another Londoner for any longer than their eye might rest upon a corner dustbin, a twin-level, or a pigeon. But Londoners are a busy lot, with little time for troubling themselves over young blokes with peculiar manners and attireafter all, they'd seen far more peculiar through the decades.

Then came the day when the pale young gentlemen gave Londoners, and anyone else who happened upon the story and accompanying snapshots in the London Gazette, a rather compelling reason to pay them some attention. On that late Saturday afternoon, near Battersea Park, and just south of the Chelsea Bridge, in full view of street urchins, bench-warming codgers and pram pushers alike, a handful of the pale young gentlemen suddenly, in perfect unison, as if in obedience to some internal clock common to all, set to the exact same moment, hopped neatly onto the river wall, and without preamble of any sort, dove into the Thames. At least, that is what, to all bystanders, it appeared they were about. Imagine the surprise of those bystanders when, instead of watching those lithe, springy figures vanish beneath the wall and hearing the multiple splashes of their immersion, beheld those figures not descending and vanishing beneath the wall, but to the contrary, ascending with outspread arms and, well, for lack of a better term for there really is no other way to say it, flying round like birds in the air above the Thames.

What a show they put on that day for those who were out and about to see! They flew high and low, soared and swooped and looped round and round and up and down, threading the London Eye, circling Big Ben, whooshing past Buckingham Palace without so much as a bow or curtsy, and dropping back down to zip beneath the Tower Bridge as though it were a feat no more taxing than kneeling to buckle a shoe. After entertaining gaping onlookers in the vicinity with this unprecedented aerial display for an approximate hour, and some claim it was precisely one hour, the Birdmen (for such they have been dubbed) of one accord rocketed northward, leaving London transfixed and rubbing her incredulous eyes.

Multiple reports agree that the London Birdmen joined up with another contingent of their kind just north of York, numbering as many as fifty all told, and from there all together, as a single body, flew off over the North Sea. Witnesses watched their extraordinary cruciform figures pierce the sky until they grew vague and indistinct, indistinguishable from any other winged creature (though they themselves lacked wings), and finally disappeared completely. They left as suddenly and mysteriously as they had arrrived, and to our knowledge, were never again seen by human eyes upon the Earth. Perhaps the Birdmen had come to teach us that truly anything is possible, and that just because we have never seen or imagined something, doesn't mean that it might not one day become a reality that leaves us forever changed, seeing the world from that moment on with new eyes.

D.E. Sievers

Thursday, January 17, 2013


by Tzviatko Kinchev


 "Worrying is praying for something you don’t want."
  Bhagavan Das


"Yes," I said to the gray-whiskered man with the purplish nose that resembled a bulb of garlic, "I realize the price is written on the tag and that it's thirty five dollars, but I'm asking for a favor, I'm asking for you to take twenty eight.  I'll be back on Friday with the rest, honest Injun."
"He looked down the capillary-webbed ruin of that great bulging nose at me with the very definition of skepticism written in those well-read eyes, magnified like old worn coins behind his thick-lensed spectacles, as if viewed through a numismatist's loupe.

"See here," he said.  "I've yet to make the acquaintance of an honest Injun, nor do I have the slightest reason to regard you as a whit more honest than one.  You do understand that this is a place of business."  The question was spoken as if merely rhetorical, but those old magnified coins looked up at me as if awaiting a reply.

"Yes, indeed," I replied.  "It's just that, well, the book is very important to me just now.  You see, it's for a birthday gift, and well ... my paycheck doesn't come until Friday.  If I could only, I mean, I would do almost anything and, well ... say, listen, you're a bookseller, isn't that right?"

The man behind the counter made a great show of looking to his left, at the tables and stalls displaying all the newest titles, to his right at a row of tightly packed carts revealing the multi-colored spines of his used stock, behind him at the book-laden shelves rising from floor to ceiling, andwith an especially slow and sardonic species of ostentatiousnessat the large cash register just to his left on the counter before him, before turning back to me and saying, simply:  "There seems sufficient evidence to support that hypothesis."

Not one to be so easily deterred, I replied,  "Then, being on such intimate terms with books and the written word, you must be a man who likes a good story.  How's this:  if I tell you a story, and at the end you feel it was well worth the telling, then you give me this book for twenty eight dollars today and seven more on Friday.  But if, on the other hand, you find my story to be an insufferable bore which you expect to forget before I've even closed your shop door behind me, then through that door I shall go empty-handed and trouble you no more.  If I win, you make a sale and hear a good story in the bargain.  And if you win, I'm out the door, never to pester you further so long as we both shall live.  What do you say, will you be a sport?  Do we have a deal?"

A subtle curl at the corner of the bookseller's lip and a mildly amused twinkle in his eye suggested my pitch had found a fertile patch of credulity in an otherwise barren field of cynicism.  We were alone in the shop and he did not seem especially busy at the moment.  I suspected it was for these reasons alone that he appeared somewhat to consider humoring me and allowing whatever brief diversion I might provide, however inane and fruitless.

"I'm a dealer in books and books alone," he said.  "But if this deal with you will hasten your departure and my return to the practice of gainful commerce with paying customers, then by all means, tell your story and make an end of it."

He tempered the sternness of his words with the somewhat softened expression he wore as he spoke them, which helped put me more at ease as I prepared to speak.

"There once was a young and very pretty woman," I began.

"There always is," came the bookseller's wry riposte.

"And this young and very pretty woman used to sit and look out her window every evening, plucking petals from the bright yellow daisies that filled her window box and tossing them to the pavement below.  She was a dreamy and romantic sort of girl, and it seemed that she had taken a fancy to awaiting the appearance of a handsome young gentleman who walked by her house at the same time each evening."

“I daresay I’ve heard this one before,” the bookseller said, with a cavernous yawn that threatened to swallow all my hopes without further ado.

“I confess it may be one of many stories begun in a similar fashion. A young man and a young woman and what happens when fate brings them together. I’ll expedite my story and spare you details of the leisurely courtship of the handsome young gentleman and the girl with the yellow daisies. They coyly observed one another each evening, from window to pavement and from pavement to window, and before long their observations grew smiles, sprouted words, and blossomed into a lovely flower of intimacy and happy evenings spent dancing, laughing and planning a future together. Yes, they married. Yes, they had a baby girl, then another. Yes, the young man worked by day and hurried home each evening to be with the family he cherished, the three fair ladies who adored him just as much. And their life together was filled with gladness and joy until the day that she of the yellow daisies fell ill and the specter of tragic potential began haunting the rooms of their home. The doctor paid frequent visits and the poor young mother was confined to her bed with poor odds of recovery and a devastated husband who knelt tearfully at her side, night after night, his heart falling to pieces behind the cheerful façade he put on for his sweetheart’s sake.”

The bookseller’s face had turned somber and I cannot say he looked pleased with the turn my story had taken. Nevertheless, I continued.

“The couple’s two sweet daughters were quite distraught over their mother’s condition, but their father consoled them each night by gathering them together at their mother’s bedside, and as they snuggled with their father, one on either side of him, he read aloud from a book beloved of them all. The father was a skilled and expressive reader, having something of the thespian in him, and the little girls’ eyes would glisten moistly as he dramatized literary episodes which struck awfully close to home, as the characters they so identified with endured hard times, painful separations from loved ones, and yes, dire illnesses. The man’s darling daughters, and yes, his darling wife as well, were spellbound as he read, night after night, filling the small and somber room with all the varied vicissitudes of life as experienced by the family in the story— their hopes and dreams, their joys and sorrows, and the many changes and challenges that arose to test their strength and capacity to endure.”

“And speaking of the capacity to endure … ” the bookseller snidely interjected.

“Just a moment or two longer,” I assured him, “if you’ll only bear with me. The man’s family so loved to hear the story issuing from his lips, but I understand perfectly if you’re not quite as fond of hearing their own story from mine. After all, the story he read to them was a work of art, written by a gifted author, whereas my story lacks the eloquent and romantic polish of a fictional work. My story, sadly, is merely the relating of factual events, the crude and unvarnished details of real life, which are not as enjoyable to hear. The man’s wife died and those who survived her were heartbroken. The two little girls could scarcely imagine a life without their dear mother. But they were fortunate in that their devoted father remained, who wept with them, dried their tears, and consoled them as only a loving father could. As they together prepared to bid their loved one a final farewell, the youngest girl made a suggestion that brought a tear to her father’s eye. ‘Daddy,’ she said, ‘I think we should let Mommy take the book with her, so that when she gets to heaven she can read it again and again, and remember the nights we all sat reading it together, and maybe then she won’t be so sad that we’re not there with her.’ The little girl’s father clutched her in his arms and hugged her to his breast, and it may have been best that she could not see the tears flowing down his cheeks.”

I had to stop and catch my breath before continuing, and I could see the bookseller was looking off in another direction, pretending that he hadn’t been listening. But I could see the glassy shimmer of his eye in profile, gleaming there behind his thick spectacle lens.

“When the father laid his wife to rest, two sweet daughters by his side, the poor young woman had the company of a beloved book with her in the casket, tucked underneath an arm, to accompany her into Eternity. Her one hand rested upon the other and beneath them both lay a cluster of yellow daisies, tied together with a bright blue ribbon. With an arm around each of his daughters, the man led them out of the funereal setting and back to their home, where they could attempt to resume living happy lives. Memories of their mother, and their abiding love for her, would remain in their hearts forevermore, and they were more than a little comforted by knowing that the dear sweet woman had a good story to read in the Afterlife, and that it would always remind her of them.”

I paused then, and the bookseller turned his head, not yet facing me directly but with his head held at an angle, as though a book on a distant shelf required his attention just then.

“As you can see, the conclusion of my story leaves the man and his daughters in something of a quandary.”

“Well,” he replied, “bereft is the word I would use, or a state of mourning, but— ”

“No, you miss my meaning,” I said. “However comforting the company of that book may or may not have been to the dead woman, the unfortunate result I’m referring to is that the survivors themselves no longer possessed a copy. Perhaps now you can appreciate the keenness of my desire to take that book on the counter with me today without another moment’s delay. Perhaps now you can understand how much it would mean to those dear sweet little women.”

While speaking these last words, I glanced over at the shop’s large front window which faced onto Broadway. The bookseller’s glistening eyes followed my glance until they lighted upon the two impatient faces peering in from the sidewalk outside. He looked from those faces back to my own, back to them again, back to my own, and without saying a word picked the book off the counter and thrust it into my hands.

“I can pay you twenty eight today— ” I began, but he stopped me cold by holding up both his hands, palms forward, and with both eyes tightly shut, loudly commanded: “Take the book, take those girls, and go home and read.”

I couldn’t hold back the broad smile that broke upon my face. Book in hand, I headed for the door, but turned back one last time before leaving. The bookseller’s eyes were open and he was smiling.

“It was not an insufferable bore, young man,” he said. “But I daresay Miss Alcott makes a better job of it.”

D.E. Sievers

Sunday, January 13, 2013


“Don’t only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the divine.”

―Ludwig van Beethoven


I knew we'd only been dating for three weeks but the connection between us felt so strong as we lay together night after night, fusing like a covalent bond, our atoms and electrons merging. More than simply physical or emotional, our union felt deeply chemical and inevitable. So I took the plunge and asked if I could come with him that afternoon; all he could say was no. But he was such a sweet and tender soul, so giving and kind and loving, that of course he did not refuse, as I had known he wouldn't. Maybe I was flattering myself with an overinflated notion of my own importance, but I gambled that I wasn't, and when he took me along that afternoon he vindicated my feelings. I knew he had been hurt in past relationships and was very careful in navigating new ones. He was careful in all aspects of his life: he buckled up promptly when we got in his car, looked carefully and signalled before pulling away from the curb, and drove with the cautiousness of a teenaged student driver. It was cute and endearing. I gazed at his profile adoringly as he drove, at the up and down shuttering of his long lashes as he blinked while looking left and right before making a turn, at the gentle curve of his nose, at the bulging of his firm and tanned bicep as he moved the steering wheel this way and that, and at his coral lips which were as comforting to me as the sea and which never spoke harsh words. When I kissed those lips time stopped and I felt a warm wave of safety wash over me, as though I'd finally found a sheltered cove in which to drop my anchor. I know how silly I must sound, but that's just me, a silly and romantic ocean-loving girl who may have found something to love beyond the ocean.When we've gone surfing or just swimming together, he has watched me like a hawk every second.  Don't go too far out, he'll say.  Don't take chances, he'll say.  And I just laugh.  The ocean is like my second skin, but he says that accidents happen when you get too complacent, that even the ocean can be deceptive and pull you down if you're not wary and circumspect every single second.  Circumspect.  I like the words he uses.  And I like how he watches over me and tries to keep me safe.
So we arrive at the set and sit around for what seems hours as they work on getting the lighting set up just right.  At one point, I realize that we in fact have been sitting around for five hours!  But I'm with him and it is exciting and we are able to talk a lot and strengthen our bond even more.  I see a couple of big name actors, but I play it cool, even when one comes over and chats with us.  But the small town girl inside me is hyperventilating!  How did I ever get here! 
Finally, the lighting is right, the scene is set, and my handsome guy is wearing the same close fitting jeans and red-and-white striped shirt as the lead actor.  I feel so proud of him just for being who he is.  The director cries Action!  And there goes my guy, crashing through a plate glass window!  I know there is only a few feet for him to fall on the other side of the pane, and I know the glass is not really glass but something they call sugar glass, which can't hurt him,  and I know he does this sort of thing for a living, day in and day out, often stunts that appear much more dangerous than this, even if he says they're not.  But I can't help how I feel and at the moment he goes through the window my heart stops.  Time stops.  Like when we kiss.  And I'm sitting there holding my breath, my hands clenched together, my eyes popping from their sockets, my mouth hanging open, wanting only to see him again, waiting for him to appear, and wondering how long will it be, how long, how long ...
D.E. Sievers


Well made and visually arresting film of a story one wishes did not have to be told.  It seems that in the world of human beings there will always be stories like this, but one can always hope that, in sharing them through film and written narrative, they will one day cease to exist. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013


It was in Berlin, in May of '48, when I said goodbye to the woman I had loved with a love I'd never known possible, all through the war years, not knowing how it would end or how we would come through it, how scarred we would be, how torn by unspeakable fears and wounds and emotional betrayals, how capable of resuming a life with the semblance of normalcy.  As it turned out, we were not capable at all, at least not of resuming such a life with each other.  I booked passage on a ship to America and we held each other in the cold morning on the doorstep of her home, of what had been our home, and then without looking back I crossed the Kunz Bunt-Schuh Strasse, a name I was no more likely to forget than the name of my beloved Liesa, and I walked through the park as the tears ran from my eyes.  A man was standing in the cold playing a violin.  The war was reflected in his eyes and in the melody he played, the lover's lament Lili Marlene that everyone had heard sung by Marlene Dietrich.  I set my suitcase down in the snow and stood listening.  The notes from the man's violin, deadened by the previous evening's snowfall and the fog that hung all around us, seemed to reach right into my heart and pierce it, so that my blood spilled red and hot on the snow at my feet.  I nodded to the man and he blinked acknowledgement, then I picked up my bag and walked slowly on.


Oil Painting by Loredania Catania


If you want to see what someone is about, you look at what people do. What they say is how they want to be seen.

--David Fincher

Friday, January 11, 2013


Or, in English:  A Happy Event

Fun, short teaser clip, but you're on your own translating the titles of the videos shown.  But that's half the fun!


She was a quadriplegic, confined to her bed for life and resigned to her limitations, thankful for the limited satisfactions available to her.  She had known the man was different the moment they'd begun talking, different from anyone who had come to visit her in many years.  Her sister had met him in a mall where he was sitting at a piano playing holiday songs, they'd got to talking, and she'd suggested the visit.  He too had a sister who was a quadriplegic.  Small world.
So he came to visit Hannah Reichstadt in her third floor apartment, where she lay in bed beside the window and watched the sun rise, watched it shine throughout the day on the busy, fruitful lives of others, and then watched it set in the evening.  Clive Woerhoeven wound up talking to her for hours that first day, and came back to sit beside her and talk for two or three evenings each week.  They never spoke directly about her sister, and whether Clive continued to see her or not, but Hannah assumed he did.  And yet how his face lit up every time he arrived and laid his eyes on Hannah!
One of the things Hannah confided in him was how much she would love to see an actual concert--to watch someone like himself sitting at a piano and making the wonderful music she could only experience second hand.  But getting her out of the apartment was not practical, it was risky to her safety, too much effort was involved, and the list of prohibitive reasons went on.  But Hannah wasn't complaining.  She was reconciled to what she could and couldn't do.  She could see and hear and smell and taste, she could feel warmth and coolness on her skin, she could think and dream and write wonderful stories in her head, and weren't all these things marvelous?  Yes, they were, she knew.  So she didn't foolishly lust after things she could never have, that would have been pointless.
Then one day while staring up at the ceiling, awakening from a nap, Hannah began to hear the sound of falling raindrops, a tap-tap-tapping at her window.  It was the twilight hour, when nothing much ever happened and not much of interest was generally heard.  But she listened to the sound of the raindrops and soon began to perceive a strange kind of rhythm and even a melody of sorts forging a path among the tap-taps and the drip-drips and the rap-raps.  And then she suddenly perceived that the melody was not composed merely of the sound of raindrops, but that it was a separate melody, a distinctive sound, very much like the notes of a piano, plinking and plunking along, regardless of the rain.  She lifted her head and gazed out the window, and way down there, in the middle of the street, she saw a man standing at a piano.  A piano -- in the middle of the street!  In the pouring rain!  It was the most fantastic thing!  And then it dawned on her that the man was her friend Clive, Clive Woerhoeven, hammering on the keys, throwing his head back as he sang loudly enough for her to hear.  She heard the notes, the chords, the melody, and the gradual buildup of intensity until the music reached a brilliant crescendo, accompanied by the sound of the rain and the occasional crack of thunder like an accent supplied by a skilled percussionist.
Hannah bathed in the sound of the piano and it refreshed her like nothing ever had.  Gazing down at the street she would never walk upon, she noticed people with umbrellas walking to and fro, as though a man playing the piano in the street in the rain were something that happened every day.  And she noticed a cat sitting in the street, looking back up at her, directly at her, as though wanting to tell her something.  Why did the cat just sit in the rain, why didn't it run for shelter?  And that was when she realized what the cat was trying to tell her.  She might just as well have asked why Clive Woerhoeven stood in the rain, why he had arranged for a piano to be placed in the street beneath her window, why he came back to sit with her night after night, and why--while looking fondly into her eyes--he never ever mentioned her sister.
Though Hannah couldn't make out the words of the song Clive was singing, and didn't recognize the melody as anything she'd ever heard before, she knew in her heart what kind of song it was.  And knew it was being played and sung for her and her alone.
D.E. Sievers


Thursday, January 10, 2013


Finally got around to watching this one.
All I have to say is:



Here's the kind of rugged desk lamp I need, like something out of Victor Frankenstein's lab, industrial quality light that snuffs shadows like hitmen snuff their marks, with the flick of a finger.  Love the brick wall background too. 


Painting by Christopher Thompson


Saturday, January 5, 2013


Bloody fantastic tribute to The Last Waltz last night in Minneapolis ... one of the greatest fareweill concert films of all time (how many are there anyway?).  Anyway, lots of amazing local talent in this town.  We were smiling and singing along until the last moment (1:15am).  Good times!  The spirits of Levon, Rick and the others were in attendance.



Fresh baked bread anyone?
What in this photo taken by René-Jacques (some French dude) does not shout Old World charm?  The plain signage, the weatherbeaten shutters, the worn cobblestones, the iron railings, the pockmarked stone wall, and of course the bread-bearing urchins themselves in their ragamuffin appearance, bearing loaves that if stood on end would almost be taller than them.  Charm ... rustic ... homespun ... Old World ... and lovely.  The sight of which is not a bad way to start the day.



Oil painting by Ilene Meyer


Wood sculpture by Willy Verginer

Friday, January 4, 2013


Photo by Rick Scheibner

The photo is a study in perspective.  The cart, the tree, the house, the weather vane and the small shack behind it.  And the cloudy sky glowering over all.  The cart is actually in the middle of an empty field, quite some distance from the tree that seems to loom over it.  It's a gloomy day and few people are up and out of doors.  James Jordan, however, is up and about to propel himself out of a door.  He is, in fact, way way up, kneeling on the floor of a small aircraft some 12,000 feet over the field in this picture, he has a parachute strapped to his back, and he is smiling.

Jordan has been waiting weeks for this moment.  Six weeks, to be exact.  That is a long time for an adrenaline junkie whose drug of choice is skydiving.  Any disposable income that remains after his basic necessities have been paid for is poured into jump fees.  He has made over a thousand jumps and knows what he is doing.  He has packed his chute himself, slowly and carefully, and is never hasty or overconfident.  He wants to live to jump again.

He cannot see another human soul as he scans the earth below.  Only the small farmhouse and a nearby road that cuts across the land and, after a half mile or so, passes another small farmhouse.  A tractor here, a barn there, a thresher, and empty fields everywhere, the perfect place for a jump.  Some fields sport mid-season crops, waist-high corn, wheat, barley and hay to feed livestock, but Jordan will avoid the crop-filled fields.  He briefly discusses the desired location with the pilot and the plane banks to the left and circles back around.  Jordan makes a final check that his pack is well secured, puts on his game face, and gets himself in the zone physically and mentally, the unique place where a person must put himself before jumping from a plane 12,000 above the earth.

Then, with a word of farewell to the pilot ("Sayonara!") who blurts a one-word reply ("Godspeed!"), Jordan is out of the plane and tearing through the ether, tumbling through a few aerial cartwheels at first and then straightening out, spreading his arms and letting the Superman exhilaration wash over him as he plummets, riding the slipstreams that ripple across his body and massage him from head to toe.

Thought is feeling and feeling is thought.  They are one.  His heart is a fastball hurled by an ace pitcher, by Nolan Ryan.  He is no longer a plodding, earthbound human being:  he is a bird, a freak, a god ... doing what few do, going where few go, feeling what few feel, and knowing what few know.  There is nothing like it.  Words are pointless as a means of description.  Soaring, looping, diving, breathing beside the point, all bodily functions forgotten, all earthly responsibilities non-existent.  The air in his face is cold, then warm, occasionally hot, but always vibrant, like a quivering, all-embracing hand that holds him, tighter then looser, gradually lowering him toward earth even as he resists the thought of arriving there.  He wants it to last forever, a perpetual freefall, here in this effervescent place between heaven and earth.

But it doesn't last forever.  It can't.  He deploys his chute at about 2,000 feet as he knows he must.  He could wait longer but this is his preferred juncture, for being lazily swung to earth on the chute is a pleasure all its own and 2,000 feet permits a thorough enjoyment of this stage.   He sees the empty field below, sees a farmhouse here, a farmhouse there, a weather vane tower taller than the houses but that to him looks miniscule.  He swoops through the air and is already feeling the letdown, emotional as well as literal, of his descent's conclusion.  He would like to get right back in the plane and go up again.  But there is a price for that and he cannot pay it.  He will make the exhilaration of this jump carry him to the next time, when more money comes in.  And then he will come back.  Again and again.

But for now, he must face the business of landing.  The empty field rises to meet him.  But only now, a few hundred feet from the surface, does he notice the cart.  A weathered and broken down old thing just sitting there in the middle of the field.  Why?  He tries to turn himself to avoid it but it's too late, at this height there are no longer any helpful currents to ride.  He pulls his knees up to his chest as best he can, but his trajectory brings him into direct contact with the cart, there is no avoiding it, as though some malicious god has drawn his line of descent in permanent ink, incapable of being erased or changed or circumvented.  His left leg catches on the cart near one of its old rusty wheels, between the wheel and the cart bed in fact, and yanks the leg back while the rest of his body tumbles into the adjacent grassy field.  The pain is immediate and fierce and brings him down to earth in a hurry, far from the exhilaration of a few moments earlier.  He lies there, stars spinning in his head, gazing up at the sky, filled with diabolical clouds that seem to smirk and sneer at him.  The last thing he remembers thinking about before passing out is the pilot's reply ("Godspeed!") and the jolt of ecstacy ripping through his chest as he tumbled out of the plane ... nothing like it, nothing at all, this is all mine ...

Jordan hobbles into church on crutches the following Sunday beside his wife and two daughters.  Quite a number of people approach and ask him what happened.  Broken leg, he says.  Took a bad fall.  And leaves it at that.


Wonderful early Blondie performance, but not too early for Debbie to have perfected her sex kitten chanteuse persona.

Blondie, In the Flesh

Thursday, January 3, 2013


I believe this photo should appear in the dictionary beside the word WAIF.   Where is he, I wonder ... England, following a WWII shelling?  The look is priceless ... is he sitting on what is left of his home?  Where is he today ... alive?  Famous?  Forgotten?  A moment in time from one life among the millions that come and go on this crazy spinning ball we call home.


Oil Painting by Maria Brunner


As one who does it for a living, I appreciate the value of planning;
as one who appreciates the unpredictable nature of life,
I recognize the necessity to play it the same way I play music:  by ear.


Here - have a little color to start your day!

Oil Painting by Robert Savignac


Lovely photo that reminds me of something I know only too well:  Woman is a puzzle.  One I have yet to completely solve:  Hope I never do.


“Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat.”

―Ralph Ellison, in Invisible Man


Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Wonderful oil painting by Ray Caesar


Photo by Stéphane Berla

Wonderful photo, love the tutu.  Guy reminds me of Stanley Kubrick.  Looks like one of those happy times in life, those magical times, for both man and girl.
Dance dance dance!


It has been suggested to me recently, by one who knows me well, how easy it might be for people who do not know me well to form a judgment, based on my uninhibited behavior, in both the cyber and physical realms, and on my willingness to share my interests and activities, that I am some sort of megalomaniacal egomaniac.

It is true that I seldom stop to consider this possibility, worry about it, or let it temper my natural propensities.  It’s also true that I encounter and open myself up to many people, both online and in person, who do not know me well. Who, in fact, know me very little. They did not know the little boy growing up in Brooklyn, who endured the cruel taunts of childhood peers, who was ostracized, beaten up, and almost persuaded by the forces of darkness that he possessed little talent worth cultivating, barely enough intelligence to make it through high school, and so obvious a shortage of personal attractiveness and charisma that he could scarcely expect to have a life containing romance and love.

There are some who did know that little boy back in Brooklyn but know nothing or very little about where that little boy went, what he did and who he became in the thirty years since. They were not there to watch him obtain a higher education, become a husband and father, and develop a career. They did not watch him squirm with a sense of his own inferiority while interacting with professors and intelligent students in a University setting in Utah, nor did they see him come into his own and distinguish himself in that setting. They did not see him stress and sweat in the workplace, while attempting to manage projects and lead teams of seasoned technology experts and business people, feeling every bit the undeserving and incapable little boy from Brooklyn, and yet somehow persevere and develop a career that has lasted nearly twenty years now. And they did not see him raise two children, weather the perpetual financial struggles to make ends meet, hold his wife’s hand and sit by her side through seven miscarriages, and yet continue to fulfill leadership roles and responsibilities in church, at home, at work, and in his community.

The challenges of life continue.  I am not what I was yesterday, but everything I have been still lives somewhere inside me.  It’s true that with an empty nest, my wife and I have been enjoying the freedom to pursue our interests and spend time doing things that bring us joy. But the challenges of life continue, and however much else I may share, these challenges are not necessarily shared with others. Today I appreciate life in ways I never have before. I pursue the things I love with abandon, passionately, because I know that life is fleeting and joy is worth chasing, obtaining and sharing.  The little boy in Brooklyn, the wayward adolescent in Brooklyn—he never had an inflated sense of his virtues, his talents, his charisma, and he still doesn’t.  He knows what it feels like to be undervalued, threatened, doubted—he has had knives placed against his throat and guns pressed to his head, he has spent enough nights in a jail cell to know what it’s like to feel foolish and worthless and abandoned, and he has ingested and inhaled enough intoxicating agents to kill a lifetime’s worth of pain.

Does he think these things make him special in some way?  On the contrary, he thinks they merely testify to his own stupidity and solidify his own humility.  If that little boy grew up to be someone who believed he had enough talent to draw pictures, to write stories or poems, to play and sing songs, it is only because two women—his mom, and later, his wife—believed he could and somehow—through their constant love, support and encouragement—made him believe it too.  I have always believed this of my own children—that they are capable of anything—and hope I have succeeded in making them believe it.

When I create and share something with others, it is not out of pride that I do so.  In a very real way, it may simply be my way of saying:  Hey Mom, hey babe, look what I did—in spite of all my shortcomings—this stupid little kid from Brooklyn!  It is also my way of saying:  Hey gang, look what I did, I loved doing it, it was fun and gave me joy!  And you know what—you can do it too!

And finally, my sharing reflects the desire to identify those who love the same things I love, to share with them things I have found or created—usually consisting of words, music or images—and in so doing to bring a smile or an insight to others, to invite and foster meaningful friendships or collaborations. I am someone who values love and friendship and beauty, art and literature and music, laughter and diversity and travel. If you value these things too, I hope you won’t hesitate to let me know and to consider me a friend.

If someone thinks that all of this makes me a megalomaniacal egomaniac—or that this unsolicited self-disclosure itself makes me one, then all I can say, quoting one of my mom’s frequent expressions, is:  so be it!