Monday, April 21, 2014

True that...

"Christmas" by Annie Dillard

In honor of National Poetry Month, here is "Christmas" by Annie Dillard.


Trees that have loved
in silence, kiss,
crashing; the Douglas firs lean
low to the brittle embrace
of a lodgepole pine.

In cities at night
tin canisters eat
their cookies; the bed;
asleep, tossing,
brushes its curtain of bead.

My wristwatch grows
obscurely, sun-
flower big. Across
America, cameras gaze,
astonished, into the glass.

This is the hour
God loosens and empties.
Rushing, consciousness comes
unbidden, gasping,
and memory, wisdom, grace.

Birds come running;
the curtains moan.
Dolls in the hospital
with brains of coral
jerk, breathe and are born.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter 2014!

Happy Easter and happy spring renewal to all! Easter developed from the Old English word Ēastre or Ēostre, derived from the Anglo-Saxon Pagan month of Eostur-monath (which roughly corresponds to our month of April). This month was named after the goddess Ēostre or Ostara who symbolized the dawn, spring, renewal, and rebirth of the earth after the long winter.

Now we celebrate by decorating eggs, a symbol of birth and fertility and new growth, and with chocolate rabbits, also a symbol of spring.

When I was little, I always loved Easter time because my grandmother (The Good Grandma of the North, as I referred to her...and yes, I actually did have a Wicked Grandma of the South, too... for real, believe me) displayed vases of daffodils and lilies, and panoramic sugar eggs around the house. And my aunt hollowed out eggs, cut a window in the side of the shell, and painstakingly assembled pastoral scenes inside using miniature trees and flowers, and tiny ceramic rabbits to make literal panoramic eggs. But the best part was the Easter Bunny who came to deliver beautifully dyed and decorated eggs in a basket full of chocolate and treats; my mom and dad would guide me through the house with clues as to where the Easter Bunny hid my basket (thanks Mom and Dad--I miss you)!

I hope the Easter Bunny brought you some treats to celebrate the rebirth of the world!

For the Easter basket...

Bunnies, Easter 2014

Happy Easter! Happy Spring Reawakening!

BEAUTY: Painting--Shao Fan

For Easter: Shao Fan's gorgeous black and white rabbits.

Top to bottom: Black Hare; Landscape Hare; Misty Winter; Rabbit At Desk; Snow Rabbit

BEAUTY: Painting--In Bloom

Top to bottom: Monet, Jeanne Marguerite Lecarde in the Garden; Childe Hassam, Apple Trees In Bloom; Gustave Caillebotte, Apple Tree In Bloom; Monet, Apple Trees In Bloom At Giverny; Pyotr Konchalovsky, Crimea Blooming Peach Tree; Stanley Spencer, Wisteria, Cookham; Theo van Rysselberghe, The Almond Flowers; Van Gogh, Orchard In Bloom; Van Gogh, Blossoming Almond Tree Branches; Victor Borisov-Musatov, A Garden in Blossom

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Friday, April 18, 2014

Vivienne Westwood and...MISS PIGGY?

I think my head just exploded.

I mean, come on, isn't this just the cutest thing? I LOVE it!

"Sycorax, Conceiving"

In honor of National Poetry Month, here is my poem "Sycorax, Conceiving":

Sycorax, Conceiving

The Raven, Deceiver, Controller of the moon,
banished to this island of guano, spores, and worms—
at first sign of deluge, she rushes to the rain,
lowers down to sodden ground, buttocks sliding in warm lichen, loam,
takes into her the fetid water of swamps, algae, slime,
twigs, rocks, lava, the core, the magnetic field.
A flash and clap, electric air compresses around her, sizzling,
a dark spark jolts her womb, chains of protein wake, spin,
flagellate protozoa, mutant mitosis, splitting, swelling,
little hands, a head, a tail, spinning, kicking
in this viscous, amniotic storm,
her beloved baby boy, scaled, pustuled,
heir to her kingdom, this island of mud.

© JEF 2014

Thursday, April 17, 2014

R.I.P. Gabriel Garcia Marquez

We have lost a literary luminary today, April 17, 2014. Colombian Magic Realist writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez died at his home in Mexico City at the age of 87. He had recently been in the hospital for infections, but had been suffering from Alzheimer's for a long while. Considered by many to be one of the most important authors ever, his novel 100 YEARS OF SOLITUDE appears on my list of "Important Books That Have Influenced Me" to the right, on this page. His was an extraordinary talent and the world is a better place for it.

R.I.P. Gabriel Garcia Marquez

"Wild Garlic" by Colour Sun

Here is the lovely, pensive, introspective "Wild Garlic" by Colour Sun...

...perfect for a warmish but still slightly cool spring morning...

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

BEAUTY: Men--The Evolutionary Beard

A report from the BBC indicates that the cycle of popularity between clean shaven faces and bearded faces has an evolutionary root! Who knew?
Original scientific research published here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Not Outward Appearance, But Inward Significance

“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things,
but their inward significance.”


Top to bottom: Brad Pasutti, Bachanal Before A Herm; Elizabeth Schuppe, Softly In The Grass; Federico Infante, Pathology of Nowhere 2; Jennifer Febbraro, Missing Children

Monday, April 14, 2014

"Translations of my Postcards" by Michael Ondaatje

In honor of National Poetry Month, here is "Translations of my Postcards" by Michael Ondaatje.

Translations of my Postcards

the peacock means order
the fighting kangaroos mean madness
the oasis means I have struck water

positioning of the stamp — the despot’s head
horizontal, or ‘mounted policemen’,
mean political danger

the false date means I
am not where I should be

when I speak of the weather
I mean business

a blank postcard says
I am in the wilderness

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Just watched...

...Wes Anderson's absolutely charming "The Grand Budapest Hotel."

A Wes Anderson film is usually a cross between some kind of fairy tale and a piece of literature that is equal parts tragedy and straight-faced comedy. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” does not disappoint in that regard. It is rife with all of the Anderson-isms which make his films so charming, memorable, and special. But in it we have the added bonuses of a crime mystery, and an adventure story!

First, it might be helpful to clarify that the Budapest part of “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is not meant to be the actual city of Budapest. It is simply the name of the hotel where the tale takes place. And this fictional hotel is located high in the snowy Alps, in the fictional country of Zubrowka.

Much like Anderson’s previous film “The Royal Tennenbaums” (a book motif runs through that film: we see pages of a book open on to chapters, the first few sentences of which describe the action we are about to see; and most of the characters in that film are authors, academics or playwrights), “The Grand Budapest Hotel” owes a great deal to literature and a literary ideal. Indeed, it is presented as a story within a story within a story within a story. Anderson, in the credits, says the film is inspired by the work of Austrian author Stefan Zweig (1881 - 1942), who used this device in many of his short stories, and in particular his novel BEWARE OF PITY.

A young girl in the present visits a monument to The Author in an unidentified Eastern European city, and sits to read a chapter of his book he wrote about The Grand Budapest Hotel. We go back in time to 1985 to see The Author before his death, about to read his story to a video camera. Then another jump back in time to 1968 when he visited the Grand Budapest and met the owner of the establishment; the owner related a fantastical adventurous story to the author. And in our final jump back in time, we see our main story itself, set in 1932. It’s a touching device that suggests the imperceptible ways our stories live on, the way we touch other lives without knowing or even guessing that we ever could.

Once we are safely ensconced in 1932, we follow the concierge of The Grand Budapest, one Gustave H, through his exploits of loving a coterie of older women who come to stay at The Grand Budapest, many of them solely to spend time with Gustave. An untimely death, a police chase, good guys/bad guys, pre-World War II references to Fascism/Nazism and the looming ethnic cleansing, a love story, a smattering of slapstick, delectable pastries reminiscent of Ladurée, and the pastry colored hotel itself are swirled together in a delightful, fast-paced fable/fictional memoir.

The cast couldn’t be more stellar: Ralph Fiennes, Adrian Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton, F. Murray Abraham, Jude Law, Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, a nearly unrecognizable Tilda Swinton, Owen Wilson, Bob Balaban, Tony Revolori, and Saoirse Ronan. All the details are stunning, as they are in every Anderson film. The production design is exquisite (marvelous color palette and costume design) and the period details are correct without being “only” a period film. Anderson’s colors, fable-like syntax, and highly stylized framing (see the wonderful Kogonanda video survey below) keeps it in Anderson-land. He manages to create entire, self-referencing worlds that run on their own internal logic; a satisfying and monumental feat for any artist in any medium.

Recommend? Yes. It is a fun romp with a sort of melancholy, unsettling core. Anderson’s vision is a quirky one to most people, so understand that you are going to see a unique experience, one that is not easily categorized or identified.

And from Kogonada, we get a glimpse of the exquisite Anderson framing.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

"Odyssey" by Dream Koala


Inspired by a dream of dying in a plane crash:
"What if there's no tomorrow?"

The plaintive repetition of the word "tomorrow" at 3:13 is  just chilling and heartbreaking...

Nineteen-year old Dream Koala (née Yndi Ferreira, Brazilian-born, raised in Paris), says of his music in an interview with Jacob Brown for VOGUE, "I love when music makes you feel like you’re in another dimension, when it transports you somewhere else, like a dream."

But even more importantly, when asked about the extraordinary video, he revealed, "I wrote this song when I woke up from a dream where I was dying in a plane crash. It’s about the fear of not reaching your goals, the fear to die without realizing your dreams. In the lyrics I say, 'All these landscapes / I wish I had seen.' So what we see in the video is the whole world representing 'these landscapes.' It is somewhere between dream and reality, between death and life. I didn’t want to put a character in it because I wanted people to feel like they were the main character. When I met Adrien Peze and Albin Merle, the two guys who made the video, I told them that I wanted the video to be like if Terrence Malick’s 'Tree of Life' was mixed with the work of Hayao Miyazaki and Moebius, and they made it happen."

A nineteen-year old who references Terrence Malick, Miyazaki, and Moebius?
Wow, indeed...

For those unfamiliar, I reviewed Malick's "The Tree of Life" in a past post here.

Friday, April 11, 2014

"We're Not Lost"

In honor of National Poetry Month, here is my poem "We're Not Lost":

We're Not Lost

This California cliff road holds a guard rail,
winds its way round, left to right, and down,
delicately balanced at the edge of the continent.
Strands of sunlight suspended over water,
a tender voice whispers secrets from behind a curtain cloud.
It makes us weep.
Final, bright, awake,
irrevocably here.

©JEF 2012

An here is the soundtrack to this poem. It sounds like what the poem feels like for me.

"I'm Lost" by Noble Oak

Day of Silence 2014

The Day of Silence is a student-led national event that brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying, violence, and harassment in schools. Students from middle school to college take a vow of silence in an effort to encourage schools and classmates to address the problem of anti-LGBT behavior by illustrating the silencing effect of bullying and harassment on LGBT students and those perceived to be LGBT.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

"Good Mistake" by Mr. Little Jeans

Mr. Little Jeans (the nom de musique of Norwegian singer Monica Birkenes) singing "Good Mistake" with a fascinating video...

BEAUTY: Graphic Design--Witchoria

Humorous but true graphic design by Brooklyn-based Witchoria.