Author Archive

Just a Few Cool Links…

DeeTee From DeeTee:  My friend “the other Mary” (see comment for “The Magic of Mary Oliver”) sent me some really cool links last month, and I want to publish them here:

The “Falcon Cam” of the Evanston Public Library:  Peregrine falcons have been nesting there for several years (I assume because they want their nestlings to be well-educated).  Well, they have a camera set up that updates the picture of the birds, and their nest, every few minutes.  The Other Mary warned me that I’d become addicted, so I didn’t watch right away… and I missed watching the eggs appear!   😦  As the mother and father take turns sitting on the eggs, we will eventually witness the eggs crack and the chicks hatch… now how cool is that?!

Measure for Measure,” a New York Times blog, has several renowned songwriters blogging on the songwriting process which, of course, is different for each and every person.  These writers include:  Andrew Bird (Chicago singer/songwriter & amazing performer), Darrell Brown, Rosanne Cash, and Suzanne Vega (I’m not providing links to each artist, as they are already provided on that blog).  Whether or not you write songs — whether or not you know all these artists — if you are at all interested in the creative process, this is a fascinating read.

Thanks, Other Mary, for the links, and hope y’all enjoy them!

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April 11, 2008 at 11:03 pm Leave a comment

The Magic of Mary Oliver…

DeeTee From DeeTee:  Well, I do like to complain a bit, and I don’t want you to think I’m losing my touch, but… I must write about the most wonderful thing that happened last week.

On April 2nd, the Poetry Foundation, along with the Poetry Center of Chicago, hosted a reading by Mary Oliver, held at the Rubloff Auditorium in the Art Institute of Chicago.  (Wow, that’s a lot of links for one sentence!)

To be honest, I haven’t been to a poetry reading in quite some time.  Sometimes the poet who writes so beautifully is not the best reader of his/her poems, and it’s always a little iffy… but Mary Oliver writes the most amazing poems.  I first became aware of her poetry through singer/songwriter Andrew Calhoun, who also writes poetry, but whose song lyrics are also very poetic.  Andrew is in the habit of reciting a Mary Oliver poem or two in a typical set, then launching into one of his own songs that is somehow related to her poetry.  Always an amazing experience.  And now, I had the opportunity to hear Ms. Oliver recite her own work, and no way was I going to miss this… even though I was still not completely 100%, health-wise.

My friend and I met at a nearby coffee shop, then walked over to the Art Institute.  “Do you think there will be a big crowd?” she asked.  I had no idea.  I wondered if anyone other than an Andrew Calhoun fan (and Mary Schmich of the Chicago Tribune, who has quoted Ms. Oliver in at least one column) would even know Ms. Oliver’s name.  (What do I know??)

Suffice to say:  the Auditorium was packed!  My friend and I sat way up high in the balcony, as the lower seats were completely filled.  I blew my nose, sucked a cough drop, and watched as this teeny little elderly woman walked up to the podium amidst thunderous applause.  And then, complete silence…

Mary Oliver has had numerous poetry books published over the years, and now she flipped through them, searching for particular jewels to share… she said she always has a set list, but then feels compelled to stray from the list.  Her voice was quiet and steady, just like her poems.  What makes her poems so wonderful is this:  she is a careful observer of the details in life that so many of us completely miss; she is one with nature; her word choices are delicate and deliberate and reflect her world view; and although the view expressed is completely her own, the listener says, “Yes!  That is exactly how I feel about this subject!”  We feel that she is expressing our views, which, in fact, we are just learning for the first time.

About halfway through Ms. Oliver starts reading a poem about a woman she saw cleaning the ashtrays in a Shanghai airport (I do not know the name of this poem; if anyone does, please leave me a comment!).  I wish I could remember her exact words, but the gist was:  she watched the woman swishing her rag in the huge dish-like ashtrays; the woman moved neither quickly nor slowly; her hair was like the rivers; the narrator can tell that this woman is happy with her life; she wishes, somehow, to see the woman rise like a phoenix and leave the airport but knows this isn’t likely to happen.

Suddenly I had tears streaming down my face!  It was like:  This woman took the time to SEE this other woman, and feel her beauty.  Mary Oliver writes her little poems for no other reason than that’s what she does.  I.e., it’s not for power or fame, but for the act itself:  the recording of a memory in a precise language that reflects not only the event, the object, but so much else at a deeper level.

That there was a packed auditorium full of people who were here for no reason other than to hear this poetry; to have our souls revived by the magic of her words.  That in this city of cell-phone users, sleep-walkers, angry crazies, etc., there was this oasis, this stoppage of time and madness, for all of us to rejuvenate ourselves for an hour or so.

I wept for the beauty and grace of it all, for my own blindness to so much around me, and for how thankful I was to be a part of this, now.  This chocolate for the soul.  A gentle pampering of the spirit. 

After the last poem was read, the room once again erupted in applause.  My friend and I went out to the cold dark night and, when we looked really hard, we could see a few stars, just a few, twinkling so far off.

April 7, 2008 at 4:03 pm 5 comments

On Being Sick

DeeTee From DeeTee:  There is a nasty flu going around, and I caught it.  Finally, after over a week of becoming “one with the couch,” I am starting to feel a little better… and so I offer some random thoughts on being sick, feeling out of the loop of life, wondering if I’ll ever be a vital part of things again…

  • Being over-dramatic.  I don’t know about you, but each time I get really, really sick I wonder if “this is it.”  One might think that since I’ve lived through being sick many times before, I would just assume that I’ll live through this illness too.  And yet, each new illness brings those nagging thoughts… what if you never have energy and a desire to leave your home — to get off the couch — again?
  • Living alone & being sick.  When someone else lives with you, I think you tend to “suck it up” more than when you live alone.  If you have kids or pets, you have to suck it up because they are dependent on you and they don’t actually care that you’re feeling poorly:  their needs must be met!  Sure, they’ll show some sympathy, but then they make their little demands…When you live alone, you can wallow in self-pity to an unhealthy extent.  Sure, you can lie in the same place, used Kleenex littering the floor, dressed in the same outfit for days, and forget the shower!  It’s a luxury, but it’s also a curse.  It’s hard to motivate oneself to action without outside stimulus.
  • TV and being sick.  Other than the first half-hour of  The View, I don’t watch daytime TV… unless I’m sick.  Well, during this last week I watched ME-TV a LOT as I drifted in and out of my stupor…  Who would have thought, but Kojak (starring Telly Savalas) was a really good show!  I never watched when it was on originally… but while sick, I really got into a good old-fashioned cop story, where the characters were well-drawn, complex human beings and even the bad guys were drawn with shades of gray… as opposed to so many “CSI”-type shows where no one seems all that human to me, it’s pretty robotic and Science is the true hero…
  • Daytime TV advertisements.  From what I can tell, TV advertisers must think that the only daytime-TV viewers are either unemployed drop-outs or lonely, elderly, friendless people with incontinence problems.  Most of the ads are for going back to school, getting car insurance even if you don’t deserve it — “OK, I’ve had some accidents… more than a few,” one woman admits, “but I NEED MY CAR, and [name escapes me] Auto understands…” — or Life Alert commercials — “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” — or, how if you’re on Medicaid, you can have adult diapers delivered straight to your door in discreetly unmarked boxes…  Depressing, I tell you.  You’re already feeling like crap and you see your future lined up before you:  diapers and falling.  It’s OK if you live alone, the Life Alert will be your friend!

And that’s what will finally motivate you to recover, to live life while you still can… fight the darkness!  Call a friend! — or… write a blog!

March 30, 2008 at 1:55 pm 5 comments

Bonfire of the Vanities…

DeeTee From DeeTee:  The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe, published in the 1980’s, is an amazing novel of politics, crime, and corruption that is so prominent… today!

 Sorry, I’m still fixated on the Eliot Spitzer story.  Let’s compare some key points:

In Bonfire, Sherman McCoy is a Wall Street bond trader who fancies himself as a “master of the universe,” has tons of money, a lovely family, and of course, a younger mistress.  Sherman is a likeable guy with a way-inflated ego.  At first his offense is “merely” immoral (adultery) but soon becomes illegal, when his paramour (the inimitable Maria Ruskin) accidentally hits — and seriously injures — a young  black man as she and Sherman try to escape a bad scenario in Harlem.

It’s a hit-and-run.  Sherman wants to go to the police; Maria refuses, saying “They’d love to get their hands on you and me” (p. 97) — meaning the police, the press, the ravenous hounds who love to tear down the high and mighty in meaty scandals.

Of course, the more Sherman tries to hide the truth, the more it comes out.  Not only is there juicy social scandal; there is the racial aspect (wealthy white socialites hit poor black youth and leave the scene), which feeds the racial and political tension of the times.

Sherman’s world soon explodes.  Right before he’s arrested and the press zoom in like vultures, he has to tell his wife, who already had her suspicions that Sherman was having an affair:  “Her cheeks were streaked with tears.  ‘I’m going to try to help you… in any way I can.  But I can’t give you my love, and I can’t give you tenderness.  I’m not that good an actress.  I wish I were, because you’re going to need love and tenderness, Sherman.’

“Sherman said, ‘Can’t you forgive me?’

” ‘I suppose I could’ she said.  ‘But what would that change?’

“He had no answer.” (p. 454)

OK, enough:  if you haven’t already, read the book!!!  It’s a fascinating study of bureaucracy, hypocrisy, politics, and press, and amazingly was written over 20 years ago and is just as true today.

In the Spitzer scandal, we have the immorality of him cheating on his wife; the illegality of the prostitution and how much $$$$ was involved; the hypocrisy of him prosecuting the very crime he has committed; the social, public, and political scandal… No doubt when he told his wife what was about to go down it must have been very similar to the scene in Bonfire.

Unlike the book, Spitzer’s wife manages to stand by his side.  Why did she do that?  On the one hand, very noble of her; on the other, very cowardly of him to let her.

Both Bonfire and real-life show how the public simply can’t get enough of a good scandal.  In Bonfire, why does the press zoom in not only on Sherman but his 5-year-old daughter, his neighbors, his family?  Why, in real life, is the press outing “Kristin, the high-priced prostitute“?  We now know her real name, and have access to her MySpace page (well, not anymore — looks like it was (finally) removed).  

Is it necessary to ravage everyone involved?  It’s a very hungry world we live in, I guess…  and that’s it for now…

March 13, 2008 at 1:38 pm 2 comments

Why do they do it?

DeeTeeFrom DeeTee:  Lemmings jump off the cliff to their death…

Authors continue to fabricate their “autobiographies” when, most likely, it’s just a matter of time until they are caught…

Mighty politicians continue to huff and puff against crime — and sexual orientation — while committing the same acts that they decry.

I can’t speak for the lemmings, but I would like to try to tie together some of the recent liar/hypocrite phenomena, and offer my own (likely over-simplistic) explanation…

In the Chicago Tribune, March 10, excellent writer Julia Keller wrote a thought-provoking column:  “Why they lie:  Is it desperation? Panic? Hubris? Recklessness? Stupidity? Literary larceny is now an easy act to follow”  (you may need to log in to the Trib to read this). 

Ms. Keller writes of the recent slew of authors who have either fabricated their stories and or/plagiarized others’ words — in a time where anyone, anywhere, can pretty much verify anything on the Internet.   She quotes Nancy Nall:  “‘How in the world did [a particular author] think she’d get away with this?'”  To me, that’s at least as interesting as WHY anyone would try. 

Same goes for the politicians.  The “whys” are often boring, or at least predictable:  Pressure.  Feelings of inadequacy.  Needing excitement or variety.  Feeling all-powerful and deserving.  Blah, blah, blah.

But how did they think they would get away with it?  James Frey, Misha Defonesca, Margaret B. Jones, Tim Goeglein (see Ms. Keller’s article):   well, they did get away with it — at least for a while.  But, for example, the author of “Love and Consequences,” Margaret B. Jones, was turned in by her own sister.  From the Los Angeles Times:

“”Jones” is actually Margaret Seltzer. Instead of being a half-white, half-Native American who grew up in a foster home and once sold drugs for the Bloods street gang, she is a white woman who was raised with her biological family in Sherman Oaks and graduated from Campbell Hall, an exclusive private school in the San Fernando Valley.”

I’m sorry, but did she not think her family would read her book?  Did she not think people would recognize her?  Why didn’t she simply call her work a novel instead of a memoir?  Perhaps this smacks of immense hubris; perhaps it’s as simple as stupidity (more on that in a minute).

Now let’s switch to Political Scandal du Jour, “Client #9,” Eliot Spitzer. who just resigned as NY Governor.

When I first heard that Spitzer was involved with a “prostitution ring” — as so many headlines put it — I thought they meant he was, like, a pimp or something.   Then I understood that he had sex with a prostitute.  OK, bad, but not any of my business, I thought (at first)…

Then I read how he was always so tough on crime, and how he had been doing this for years, and that he may have spent over $40,000 on prostitutes in…. a year or so?  And I thought:  Resign, you fool!

There he was with his beautiful wife at his side, apologizing and resigning.  I thought:  did he really think he wouldn’t be caught?  If you’re a public figure — especially with a healthy share of enemies — especially when you are known for being HARD ON CRIME — then you shouldn’t commit public crimes!

If you’re a religious zealot politician, then maybe you shouldn’t proposition male pages!  If you’re a man of the cloth, sworn to uphold G-d’s word, maybe you shouldn’t rape your under-age flock!  If you’re a public figure known for your anti-gay stance, maybe you shouldn’t be seeking same-sex sex in public restrooms!

Isn’t this part of Common Sense 101?  Don’t they still require public figures to take this course?  Actually, aren’t people supposed to learn this before they become public figures?

So, my over-simplified theory, or at least question:  Have we as a species actually de-evolved to such a point where we are just plain stupid?  Could that be why so many public figures do so many hypocritical, illegal, immoral things without seemingly worrying about getting caught?  I.e., it’s not that they think they are above the law… it’s just that they haven’t taken the time to think things through.

Any ideas on this?

March 12, 2008 at 2:24 pm 2 comments

Mirror Mirror in the White House…

DeeTeeFrom DeeTee:  I keep hearing about how I’m supposed to want Hillary Clinton in the White House because she’s a woman; and if I don’t, it’s because I’m playing into the “gender-bias” that still exists.

Not saying that sexism doesn’t still exist… but really, does this make any sense?   Do all women have the same needs?  Because a politician is a woman, does that mean she represents — or will represent — all women?  How would that even be possible?

I’m not so naive to think that just because someone looks like me means they will represent me.  Also,  just because I don’t care for Hillary doesn’t mean I don’t support women in politics; it simply means I don’t think Senator Clinton is the best candidate.

While Senator Clinton certainly is knowledgeable and competent, she comes with huge baggage… her husband, of course, Mr. Plus/Minus:  to some he’s a plus, being a past president and all; to others — whose hatred of him hasn’t subsided after all these years — he’s the devil incarnate.  I firmly believe there’s enough Clinton-haters who will stop at nothing to thwart them, and I think that’s a major hinderance to the goal of achieving major change.

Also, I can’t help it:  something about Hillary makes me queasy.  She seems quite willing to do anything to get her way.  I keep picturing Lady MacBeth saying, “Out, out, damned spot…”

I’m looking for someone who has convictions and is willing to stand by them, unpopular or not; someone willing to listen to the input of others — not simply to modify their own image, but for major decision-making; someone who embodies fairness, decency and trustworthiness.  Someone who is able to inspire the masses to be greater than our piddly selves.

I believe that person is Obama.  I look nothing like him.  I’d like him just as much if he were my gender, race, and/or religion.  He is articulate, thoughtful, and inspiring.  Most likely he has his issues as well; but I’m not voting for the next saint, I’m voting for the next leader who hopefully has the vision, the will, and the skills, to turn this country around.

March 6, 2008 at 4:46 pm 6 comments

Hello world!

onw_logo.jpg

This is Opine ‘n Wine’s first post!  Both Chie and DeeTee are completely new to blogging, so it might take us a few tries to get the hang of it… but both of us have so many opinions we’d like to share!

 So, more later…

March 3, 2008 at 9:45 pm 5 comments

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