Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

Last year I missed Thanksgiving because I was sick.

This year found me in robust health, the very picture of vitality and pluck. We gathered in Harrah, America for dinner in a spacious 2 car garage. It made for lovely ambience.

Cami's grandmother Dorothy was in full glory, with freshly set hair and a morning Mimosa. She's looking good at 97!

But baby Maeve stole the show with her never ending smiles and general sense of merriment.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Grand Canyon In Winter

Henry Shukman has written about hiking into the Grand Canyon in the NY Times. The article, found here, makes me want to Go There Now.

Most of us never get to experience such an adventure, and it's a shame, because it's more than wonderful hike; it's literally a trip in the earth's bowels. Shukman reminds us of this with strong prose:

"To experience the canyon, you have to leave the rim. The frustration aroused by the bigness, the grandness, on a rim-only visit becomes a liberation once you drop down. The modern world falls away. It’s not just a trip out of the human realm, but into the deep geology of the earth. Layer upon layer of the planet’s crust is revealed, stratum by stratum: the Toroweap limestone, the Coconino sandstone, the Redwall limestone, the Tonto Group; the Vishnu schist deep down, close to two billion years old, nearly half the total age of the planet — the stuff that is under our very feet as we go about our lives is laid bare here. And in the silence and stillness, in the solitude of the canyon in winter, it’s all the more impressive."

Winter is a good time to visit; the temperatures are obviously much milder than the average highs in July and August (when most people make the trip).

It's around 25 miles to hike from the South Rim to the North Rim. Lots of crazy people do it one day. That sounds like an accomplishment, but I'd rather take my time, to savor all that stratum.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Kentucky Lawyer Decorates Entire Basement With Sharpie

Charlie Kratzer works as a corporate attorney, but he's also a very creative artist.

Using $10 worth of Sharpie permanent markers, Kratzer has drawn elaborate murals on the walls of his basement. He's drawn logs onto the flat surface of his fireplace. He's drawn an elaborate staircase leading into an imaginary room. He's drawn stacks of books to fill an imaginary library.

It's amazing, check out the 360° video here.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thoughts on Venice

As my parents traipse through Venice, I'm thinking back to the my own impressions of that city.

Venice is an old woman, once soft and ripe, but now cracked and withered. The salt air is corroding her.

Venice is an old man, creaky and decrepit. Once magnificent, he is now crumbling, struggling to avoid collapse.

Venice is no longer Tazio, Thomas Mann's tempting adolescent. Those days are long gone.

Yet Venice remains, and the throngs still visit, and still marvel. Though falling into the sea, Venice remains, proud and old, feeble, yet resolute. In a culture that venerates all that is young, Venice shouts,

"I am old, but I am beautiful! I am the only one of my kind, and when I am gone, there will be nothing to replace me!"

Venice is on life support, just as we, too will eventually need life support. Our younger loved ones will prop us up and try to extend our life for a few more months, a few more years, even though we're well past our expiration date. We will follow their wishes, just to make them happy, even though we know we've lived a good life and are ready to move along.

But before we reach that stage, perhaps it is Venice that will teach us how to grow old.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sensual Mathematics

Bach's prelude to his first cello suite is currently being used in the American Express "Smile" campaign, which, by virtue of airing repeatedly during the World Series, is currently my obsession.

I love the architecture of Bach's arpeggios. Technically, they really aren't complicated. But there's an insistent, driving determination that lulls you into this strange meditative trance, only to surprise you with some startling detour.

Math is something I really don't understand, and the mere mention of it gives me a creative sphincter contraction. But somehow, in Bach's hands, music becomes a mathematics of sensuality, of conquering the labyrinth so quickly that you find time to discover your lover playing hide-and-seek from you in the hedges.

I should listen to this when I'm doing my taxes, it'll make it seem sexy.