Which version do you prefer?
The bow-tie is having more than a moment. Consider this: David and I recently visited Benjamin Peters mens' clothing store in Ithaca, New York. Where just a few years ago the bow-ties would have been relegated to a small corner of a display case, they now occupy a full rack in prime real-estate near the front of the store. Every day we spot fashionable young men sporting bow-ties. At the recent celebration of Mark Strand, David and John Guare compared notes on their preference for the bow-tie, and David came to its defence recently in the New York Times .
This, in my view, is a positive development along with the Mad Men inspired return to the fedora.
So get on board, little children, and dress like grown ups! If not knowing how to tie a bow-tie is the only thing holding you back, I'm here to help. These are instructions from The Art of Manliness, one of my favorite websites, introduced to me in 2009 by Sally Ashton:
Click over to the Art of Manliness website to watch the "How to Tie a Bow Tie" video.
You will have to practice but mastering the bow-tie is worthwhile. Soon you will be as expert as Paul F. Tompkins. Richard Sherman breaks it down here:
Selected Poems by Paul Violi
published by Gingko Press,
Charles North and Tony Towle, Editors.
10 River Terrace (at Murray Street)
New York, NY 10282 (212-431-7920)
October 22, 2014, 6 to 8 p.m.
There will be refreshments, and books will be available.
This week we welcome back John Foy as our guest author. John’s first book of poems is Techne's Clearinghouse (Zoo Press). He has been busy this year, with poems, reviews and essays published or forthcoming in The Hudson Review, Alabama Literary Review, The New Criterion, The Raintown Review, The Dark Horse, Contemporary Poetry Review, Ducts.org, 823 on High and The Poetry Porch. He also has work forthcoming in Rabbit Ears, the first anthology of poetry about TV (published by Poets Wear Prada, edited by Joel Allegretti). His poetry has been featured in the Swallow Anthology of New American Poets and has appeared widely in magazines, including The New Yorker, Poetry, Parnassus, American Arts Quarterly and Barrow Street. His work has also been published on line at Poetry Daily, Kin, The Nervous Breakdown and other sites. He has an MFA from Columbia and has taught writing at Harvard Business School, Columbia and Barnard. He lives in Manhattan with his Brazilian wife (the painter Majô L. Foy) and their two children, Catherine and Chris. Find out more about John here and follow him on Facebook. He has just returned from the West Chester Poetry Conference, where he gave a paper on “A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a Child in London,” by Dylan Thomas.
Welcome back, John.
In other news . . .
Catch up with the latest on the American Scholar's crowd-sourced sonnet. . .
My mother was a grade school teacher for over 30 years. She taught both 3rd grade and kindergarten in the public school system and was one of those teachers who changed the display outside of her class room for every season and holiday. She made intricate murals that were quite beautiful and imaginative. She used craft paper and cotton fluff and whatever else was on hand and would cut out shapes with scissors and paste them to the background. I seem to remember helping her but I'm not certain that I did.
My mother was also a talented seamstress: She made aprons and a set of kitchen curtains for every season. She made a play circus tent that fit over a card table. She made fake-fur slip covers for giant rolls of bubble wrap that we used for seating (my father was a plastics salesman and "sealed air" was one of his customers). She knew how to mend things and taught me how to do the same. ("Mend" is such an antique word.) She sewed our Halloween costumes and matching outfits for my sisters and me. A lot of cross-stitch and rick rack were involved.
This is all to say that in addition to working with her mind, my mother loved working with her hands; it breaks my heart that she is unable to do so anymore because of her severe arthritis. It is only with great difficulty that she can unscrew a bottle or open a bag of frozen vegetables. Plus, she's in constant pain. "You don't know the half of it," she said, when I asked her how bad it had gotten.
When I read about the relief that marijuana brings to arthritis sufferers I was eager to find a way for my mother to try it. I didn't want her to get high -- she lives alone -- so the usual delivery systems were not an option. There were recipes online for a tincture that could be applied topically but I had no way of controlling the strength or safety of something I would concoct myself. I've followed the medical marijuana scene closely and am impressed with what the communities are coming up with in California, Seattle, and Colorado. It seemed we would have to wait for marijuana use to be legal in New York. Given that our legislature is particularly corrupt and unable to act, I'm not expecting legalization to happen any time soon.
Then, a few months ago friends visited from San Francisco. Turned out that they knew someone who knew the person behind "Doc Green's Pain Relief Cream." A few weeks after our friends returned home, a well disguised package arrived with a 4 oz jar of lavender scented theapeutic cream inside. My mother's early April birthday seemed the perfect occassion for her to give it a try.
The cream has a silky texture and is lightly scented. "It feels lovely when I put it on," says my mother. And yes, it helps a lot with the pain. She's been using it on her shoulder. The only downside she says, is that she doesn't get high. Maybe I'll bring a joint the next time I visit her. -- SDH
Young woman (25-ish) on phone: Oh my God! He was, like, your typical Jewish nerd. So Jewish looking. He had, like, black curly hair, a really big nose, and he was, you know how Jewish guys look, sort of short and stocky, and really nerdy (Ed note: You mean like Paul Newman?).
She: I know I know. And then, get this, he, like, came up behind me and tapped me on the shoulder and I turned around and like I was so. scared. And he said, no no no no no, I, I, just want to say you have this whole California thing going on and I just want to say . .
She: Can you believe it? Oh. my. God.
This week we're highlighting activities and accomplishments of friends and former guest bloggers:
Ross Martin consults his Council of Elders.
Kenji C. Liu's Your Father Tongue, one of three poens that appeared in a recent issue of Barrow Street, has been turned into a compelling video.
Alexandra Zelman-Doring's A community of mortals is a runner up for the Bodley Head/FT Essay Prize.
(Ed. note: I had just about exhausted every crime series available on Netflix when Terence Winch wrote to suggest that I check out Love/Hate, an Irish crime drama series broadcast on RTÉ Television. The show is irresistible, and I was especially drawn to Darren, a central character played by the compelling young actor Robert Sheehan. Just the other day, this poem appeared in my in-box. I love it! Thank you T.P. Winch for letting me share it here. -- sdh)
for stacey harwood
I will be upstairs in just a minute,
I promise you. But first I must
compose a long, complex symphony
dedicated to Duke Ellington, which
I have pieced together from riffs
and bits off old tinny 78s, scratched
with skips but full of musical
notes, like A, G, and E.
If I could get out of this chair,
I would. And I would ascend
then to the Throne of the
Angelic Mobsters of RTE
who are right this very moment
murdering each other on those
dark Dublin streets. It would be
a laugh and a half times two.
But I can’t get up. I am not
able to keep my promises.
The serenity prayer is a cruel
joke. Baudelaire was an alcoholic
and so’s your mother, and
that's a fact, revealed in the third
act, which I can’t stay around for.
Sorry, sorry. My bad. I’m sorry.
A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead. -- James Joyce, The Dead
kitchen vixen: These were delicious. I made them over the weekend for my husband’s game night. I made them the day before, then skimmed the fat before reheating. Then I served them with a big bowl of white rice and some spicy greens. For dessert, I made chocolate chip cookies. Everything was yummy and my husband was really happy. Plus, his team won. Can I take credit for that?
Alison: Awesome recipe! Can’t wait to try it.
Lusty_locavore I made this too and it turned out great although I had to hit three stores before I could find the chestnuts. (Thank you Trader Joes!) Plus after I served it I realized I had forgotten the garnish but nobody noticed. Deeeeelish!
MessyKitchen I followed the recipe exactly but for some reason the sauce was disappointingly thin even after letting it reduce for an hour so I mixed some arrowroot with water and added it and that seemed to help a lot but there were lumps so I put it in the blender. It was OK but I don’t think I’ll make it again.
Grill king That’s too bad MessyKitchen. I wonder what you did wrong. Maybe you added too much water at the beginning or didn’t have enough bones for collagen to thicken it up. I’m just sayin’. Mine were great.
LuvinSpoonful I went to that restaurant on my honeymoon!!!
LuvinSpoonful I went to that restaurant on my honeymoon!!!
LuvinSpoonful I went to that restaurant on my honeymoon!!!CreativeCookie My ribs are braising as I write this and my hole house is fragrant with the smell of all of the lovely . . . Continue reading here.
Denise Duhamel includes Tom Lux's "Outline for My Memoir" in The Best American Poetry 2013. Here's what Lux has to say about the poem's genesis:
Many of my friends were writing and publishing memoirs. I said to my mother one day, 'Ma, I can't write a memoir because my childhood was too normal and sane.' So she said,"You could write about that time your horse got stuck in the mud.' That's how this poem started.
You can read Lux's poem in The Best American Poetry 2013.
Jerome Robbins's new ballet, seen for the first time in its final version at the New York State theater on Thursday night is a work of such amplitude and grandeur that it can make you fall in love with the human body all over again. What a piece of work is man! And with what ballets does Mr. Robbins celebrate that workmanship!
I was in the audience with my parents for the Sunday matinee following the Thursday night premiere. It was May, 1971. We sat in the 5th ring, where the seats were $1.00 and arranged in a single row along the railing (in which, during a previous attendance, I had carved my initials with a hairpin). My father insisted that watching ballet from that vantage point was ideal; you took in the entire stage and sometimes, depending upon how many dancers took the floor at once and the variations in their costumes and movements, you could imagine you were looking into a kaleidescope with its magical changing patterns.
The other day the local classical music station played the Goldberg Variations and I finally learned the story behind Bach's composition, comprising 30 variations on a theme. According to the program host, legend has it that Count Kaiserling, the Russian ambassador to the Saxon court, commissioned Bach to compose the piece, to be performed by Kaiserling's musician-in-service, Johann Gottlieb Goldberg. Kaiserling, it seems, was frequently troubled with insomnia, and requested Bach to write some reposeful keyboards pieces which Goldberg could perform as a soporific.
It pleased me to hear this anecdote. Though I was in the audience for a historic performance, and though the original cast of the Goldberg Variations included some of the most celebrated dancers of all time -- Sara Leland, Gelsey Kirkland, John Clifford, Patricia McBride, Helgi Tomason, Karen Von Aroldingen, Peter Martins, Anthony Blum, Merrill Ashley-- I missed the show. As soon as the curtain lifted and the pianist struck the first cords, I placed my head on the railing and fell asleep, only to awaken, 90 minutes later, in time for the record seventeen curtain calls.
Readers will have to forgive Mr. Cambell his obsessions. He brings race into the book with a dull frequency, sometimes to unintentionally comic effect. We're told that black St. Louisans including Chuck Berry, Miles Davis and Tina Turner "struggled for recognition behind such noted white St. Louisans as Williwam S. Burroughs, Kate Chopin, and T.S.Eliot." This is a double-bankshot of academic claptrap. Burroughs and Eliot barely count as sons of St. Louis, and Kate Chopin--who was she again? Oh, yes: a late-19th-century fiction writer retroactively declared interesting by feminist reputation fabricators. Only a captive of the faculty lounge could be under the impression that Kate Chopin was ever so celebrated that her fame overshadowed the genius behind "Johnny B. Goode."
-- Mark Lasswell, Wall Street Journal review of "The Gateway Arch" by Tracy Campbell (May 25-26, 2013)
(Author's note: A couple of months ago Saveur.com asked for my favorite food poems along with a brief introduction. This piece ran yesterday.)
Had he but world enough, and time, Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin would have added a selection of gastronomical poems to his magnum opus The Physiology of Taste to demonstrate “the inseparable alliance which has always existed between the arts of speaking well and eating well.”
Scratch a poet, find a gourmand. “The true Muses are cooks,” writes
Charles Simic. Every aspect of gastronomy, from planting to harvest to cooking to eating, has inspired poets for centuries; poets are sensualists, and these are among life's most sensual experiences.
Like much gastronomical writing, poetry about food is often about something else: memory, sex, joy, love, shame, longing, loss. The simple detail of food can concentrate the emotion in a poem, like the couple cooking for themselves alone in William Matthews' Misgivings. A food reference can quicken our most primitive emotions: Keats's stanza-long description of wine, "Tasting of Flora and the country-green, / Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!" makes longing palpable.
Continue reading here.
What are your favorite food poems? I'd love to add to my collection. -- sdh
David finally convinced me to see Zero Dark Thirty, a movie I avoided because in general I have a low tolerance for violent movies (insomnia, nightmares). Now, having seen it, I have a theory of why there were so many complaints and objections.
Some critics claim the film is an inaccurate depiction of how the CIA, by using torture, got crucial evidence in the hunt for Usama Bin Laden. The complainers say that the CIA did not gain this intelligence as a result of using torture. Therefore, any depiction of waterboarding would mislead viewers. Does the movie raise a means-and-ends question, with torture the questionable means toward a justified ends? It’s an arguable point, but condemning the film for this reason implies a standard of political correctness by which a great many movies people cherish would fall to the wayside. Moreover, that’s not really what fuss is about.
Here’s my theory and I’m curious to know what others think: Complaints against ZDT are coded misogyny – a protest against the idea that a woman might be a CIA agent, doing a manly man’s job, with a soldier’s stoicism and fortitude in a movie directed by a woman. Maya happens to be beautiful – it’s a movie, after all – but the work she and colleagues do is as far removed as can be from the activities of acceptable feminist models, such as virtuous moms who oppose drunk driving, brainy attorneys who put up with philandering husbands, and courageous whistle blowers. Furthermore, war movies are the provenance of male directors. One such movie (Hurt Locker) is fine, but two? It’s time to go home Ms. Bigelow and make Something’s Gotta Give.
Some have gone so far as to say that Zero Dark Thirty is an advertisement for the use of torture. As proof, they point to the demeanor of Maya, the CIA agent responsible for piecing together the evidence that led to Bin Laden’s hiding place. She is, say the critics, not sufficiently undone by the scenes of torture. Did I see a different movie? Maya is repelled by what she sees. She flinches, backs away, crosses her arms in front of her body, and after one session runs to the bathroom to collect herself. What would it take for the audience to believe that she is discomfited by the torture? I know! She should have become hysterical. That is the expected reaction of a woman who is upset. Instead, she behaves like the trained CIA professional she is and uses her will to maintain her composure.
In time Maya appears to grow comfortable with “enhanced interrogation” techniques. Yet Katherine Bigelow is careful to show the psychic consequences for the interrogators. Maya’s senior colleague grows weary and has to quit to “do something normal.” But people who think this is story about torture miss the boat.
Zero Dark Thirty is a serious, gripping, and masterly telling of the long and difficult quest for a mass murderer in hiding. There is violence, but I’ve seen much worse. The only violence that I found disturbing happens at the very beginning of the movie, when over a dark screen we hear the panicked 911 calls of the people trapped in the World Trade Center on 9/11. They still haunt me.
I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark
from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman
THE RULE OF THUMB
Ringfinger was nervous
when they learned
that Hand might succumb
to the rule of Thumb.