Monday, March 01, 2010

RWPE #8 - Self-Portrait

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Last week's theme was SELF-PORTRAIT. Although there wasn't any new people to submit pictures, there were still several submissions. I would be lying if I didn't say that I was hoping that more men would submit pictures now and again, but we aren't very far into this project, so maybe a few more guys will ante up in the future.

This week's submissions:

Monica Henning (Fairweather Friend)

Julie Johnson

Dawn Krause

Becky Perkovich

Dawn's Weekly Poem includes an Artistic Adaptation.

Self Portrait

A rose
yearning to be a daisy
vulnerable and
open for the world to see

shattered into pieces
broken, mended
brought together in new form

smooth and resistant
with scars
damaged but still strong

full of hope
warming souls
joy with simple pleasure

The theme for this week is:


That is a theme that would have probably been more fun to do in the summer, but what can you do? The Random Generator has spoken!

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Friday, February 26, 2010

Personal Photo Project of the Week No. 6

Hearts Beat High with Joy

When I took this picture I went down quite the long journey of family history in family Bibles. One of the most important things I discovered was that I was born special.

The Bible in the picture belonged to my Grandma Bennett. My birth announcement was taped or glued to the front of her Bible. I wasn't the first grandchild born. I wasn't even close to being the first grandchild born. However, I am the only grandchild that had a birth considered worthy of having the birth announcement glued into the front of the Bible.

The Bible used for Hearts Beat High with Joy was my Grandma Bennett's Bible. The smaller Bible pictured in the last picture was my Dad's Bible. The Bible in the middle of the stack was my Grandpa Bennett's Bible.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

RWPE #7 - Out of Focus

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Last week's theme was OUT OF FOCUS. I'm very excited to have Monica Henning as a first time contributor. Monica was so excited that she submitted four photos. She did violate the one and only rule of RWPE and that is that the picture has to be taken during the week of the theme, but I will let it slide.

Monica Henning A (Don't Take Me for a Loop)

Monica Henning B

Monica Henning C

Monica Henning D

Dawn Krause

Christopher D. Bennett

Dawn's Poem of the Week

Out of Focus

The future’s a blur
and rather hazy
Energy gone
and feeling lazy

The edge is gone
turned to soft gray
Watching the hours
pass away the day

Next week's theme is:


I hope there are plenty of first time contributors next Monday. After all, almost everybody owns a camera and everybody has a "self"!

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Personal Photo Project of the Week No. 5

The Lovely Silhouette

I finally found a use for this window that I like. Sara agreed to pose for this picture before we went to the movies one snowy Monday night. This pose was not without some danger. The lights behind Sara are extremely hot, but she managed not to burn herself. This was a victory of some kind.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

RWPE #6 - Adventure

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The theme for last week was ADVENTURE:

Jesse Howard

Michael Vest

Christopher D. Bennett

It is my custom not to explain much about my RWPE photos and I will not break with that tradition, but I will at least state that there is a small back story as to why I took a picture of me scrubbing the toilet for the theme ADVENTURE. This picture was not out of laziness it exists for a reason.

Dawn's Weekly Poem


Let’s skip a stone on the pond
And run the forest wild
Have a sword fight in the woods
And fight the king so viled

Build a clubhouse in the tree
And mighty dragons slay
Lay in the meadow to watch the clouds
And pass away our day

Let’s push the limits of our minds
And spill our hearts desire
Play in the spirit of our youth
And pray we never tire

This week's theme is:

Out of Focus

Hopefully some fun can be had with that!

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day (A Day Late)

I hope everybody had a marvelous Valentine's Day weekend. I spent Saturday night seeing the last Academy Award Best Picture Nominee that I needed to see with Sara. We went to see An Education and then ended up at Skip's, home of the best nachos in Des Moines. They really are fantastic and they are worth the trip to Des Moines.

Now I've seen all 10 Best Picture Nominees, I feel a need to rank them. Even though I think that it is a rather tragic oversight by the Academy that they failed to nominate (500) Days of Summer. I also feel that Julie & Julia should have been nominated for Best Picture, but other than those two omissions, I can't complain about the list too much. Okay, Fanastic Mr. Fox should have gotten more love as well. I also understand that the Oscars this year will hold very little suspense. Avatar will win Best Picture. That being noted, here is how I rank the 10 Best Picture Nominees from Best to not so good. Also, in case a person was to get invited to an Oscar Party, the movies that are currently available on DVD have been noted.

  1. The Hurt Locker (DVD) - Most action movies have one big bomb diffusing scene at the end of a movie. Now imagine a movie with 4 or 5 of those scenes. On the surface it sounds like that could get boring, but every sequence is slightly different and slightly more intense. I'm not usually a huge fan of war movies, but this movie about the final few days of a bomb squad in Iraq is original and intense.
  2. Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (Released on DVD March 9) - For starters, Mo'Nique should win the Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role. This movie is strangely uplifting even though I can't think of a more depressing story. Precious follows the story of an illiterate teenage girl that is approximately 150 pounds overweight and is pregnant for the second time with her father's baby. As bad as that sounds, the mom might actually be the worse parent. Her first child is born with Down's Syndrome and you never actually learn the name of the child because they call the child Mongo. Yes, that is short for mongoloid. Despite how screwed up everything is in this movie, it somehow works extremely well. Even the casting of the normally wretched Mariah Carey even works.
  3. Up (DVD) - Perhaps the least impressively animated Pixar offering to date, but who cares? It has the most heartwarming and beautiful story. Finding Nemo is the most beautifully animated Pixar film (besides WALL-E) and it is their worst movie.
  4. District 9 (DVD) - For the most part I've parted ways with science fiction. Rarely does anything interesting or original come out any longer. This movie and Moon were two releases this year that have helped slightly restore my faith in the genre. Now if I could only wash memories of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Terminator Salvation out of my mind. This is science fiction how it used to be - smart. It also comes with a sociological message. Reminds me of the glory days of The Outer Limits.
  5. Avatar (Still playing in Ames) - James Cameron certainly deserves to win Best Director for this movie. It is a technological milestone in cinematic history. Unfortunately it isn't really a great movie. It is great to look at, but the story is only so-so at best. It is basically Dances with Wolves in space. Dances with Wolves is the 2nd worst movie to ever win Best Picture, next to Annie Hall. This movie isn't bad. In fact it is good, but the majority of me just wishes that the story was half as good as the visual effects.
  6. Up in the Air (Released on DVD - March 9) - I was a little disappointed in this movie. It is a good movie, but it was better in my mind. All of the really great sequences in the trailer were better in the trailer than they are in the movie. The movie is also filled with great characters, but I don't think the story is as great as the characters deserve. There certainly aspects of the story that are fascinating. Just the thought that it is okay to lay people off over video conferencing and that anybody can do such a thing by following a simple flow chart was a perfect snapshot of corporate America. The performances are all great. In particular J.K. Simmons and Zach Galifanakis are superb in small roles.
  7. An Education (Currently playing at The Fleur) - A good little movie that probably would have scored higher on this list if the ending wouldn't have felt so rushed and thrown on. An Education is the story of a 16 year old girl with dreams of going to Oxford that begins a romantic relationship with a much older man. The movie never really reveals his age but the actor that plays him (Peter Sarsgaard) is 39 years old. It is the type of movie that is frustrating because the parents of the girl completely sign off on the relationship because they think the man is suave and sophisticated and is good for the future of their daughter. The thoughts of the dad are best illustrated when he points out that David (the older man) is better for his daughter than a love interest that is her same age because he know C.S. Lewis. The daughter points out that the "boy" could become a famous author some day. Her dad retorts: "Knowing a famous author is better than becoming one. It shows you're connected." It is my hope that Carey Mulligan wins the Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role for her performance as the 16 year old girl that gets seduced by an older man. It is certainly a better performance than Sandra Bullock's overhyped performance in The Blind Side. Olivia Williams is also brilliant (as usual) in her performance as the girl's school teacher and seemingly the only adult that sees what a colossal mistake this relationship is going to be for the girl.
  8. A Serious Man (DVD) - Funny, quirky and a return to form by the Coen brothers, after the dreadful Burn After Reading. Not anything particularly great though. Funny in parts. Solid performances, but probably not Best Picture nominee worthy.
  9. The Blind Side (Not playing anywhere that I know) - This is a decent and well made feel good movie. Sandra Bullock is good, but this isn't an earth shattering performance. There is nothing decidedly original about this movie and there is a very painful sequence where football coaches play themselves. Not one of them is a thespian of note. It is a good movie and I will no doubt watch this again on some sleepy Sunday afternoon, but that is about it.
  10. Inglourious Basterds (DVD) - This movie is a collection of great scenes that does not end up to a great movie. There is Tarantino's normal addiction to violence and gore and he does do it in an artistic manner, but at the end of the day, it is still just violence and gore. This movie easily has the worst ending of any movie I've seen in a very long time. But the hype surrounding Christoph Waltz's performance is well deserved. I do hope that he wins the Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role.

Here is Saturday's love letter from The Writer's Almanac:

Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote Puritan-inspired, New England-based works of dark romanticism, and he was largely a recluse. But he was cheerful about his personal romantic life. In his 30s, he fell in love with another reclusive person, Sophia Peabody. She and Nathaniel Hawthorne secretly became engaged on New Year's Day in 1839.

They got married in her family's bookstore in Boston. She was 32; he was 38. The newlyweds moved out to an old historic mansion in Concord, Massachusetts, where Henry David Thoreau made a vegetable garden for just the two of them. Hawthorne wrote to his sister: "We are as happy as people can be, without making themselves ridiculous, and might be even happier; but, as a matter of taste, we choose to stop short at this point."

Then, on his first wedding anniversary, he wrote to his wife: "We were never so happy as now — never such wide capacity for happiness, yet overflowing with all that the day and every moment brings to us. Methinks this birth-day of our married life is like a cape, which we have now doubled and find a more infinite ocean of love stretching out before us."

Writer James Joyce said things like, "A man of genius makes no mistakes; his errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery." But he often apologized wholeheartedly to his wife, Nora. And he said things like, "I've put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant, and that's the only way of insuring one's immortality." But to Nora Barnacle, he wrote things like — on October, 25th, 1909 — "You are my only love. You have me completely in your power. I know and feel that if I am to write anything fine or noble in the future I shall do so only by listening to the doors of your heart. ... I love you deeply and truly, Nora. ... There is not a particle of my love that is not yours. ... If you would only let me I would speak to you of everything in my mind but sometimes I fancy from your look that you would only be bored by me. Anyhow, Nora, I love you. I cannot live without you. I would like to give you everything that is mine, any knowledge I have (little as it is) any emotions I myself feel or have felt, any likes or dislikes I have, any hopes I have or remorse. I would like to go through life side by side with you, telling you more and more until we grew to be one being together until the hour should come for us to die. Even now the tears rush to my eyes and sobs choke my throat as I write this. Nora, we have only one short life in which to love. O my darling be only a little kinder to me, bear with me a little even if I am inconsiderate and unmanageable and believe me we will be happy together. Let me love you in my own way. Let me have your heart always close to mine to hear every throb of my life, every sorrow, every joy."

From Sunday's The Writer's Almanac:

Today is Valentine's Day, the day on which we celebrate love, especially romantic love. The holiday was named after an early Christian priest, St. Valentine, who was martyred on February 14 in 269 A.D.

The tradition of exchanging love notes on Valentine's Day originates from the martyr Valentine himself. The legend maintains that due to a shortage of enlistments, Emperor Claudius II forbade single men to get married in an effort to bolster his struggling army. Seeing this act as a grave injustice, Valentine performed clandestine wedding rituals in defiance of the emperor. Valentine was discovered, imprisoned, and sentenced to death by beheading. While awaiting his fate in his cell, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with the daughter of a prison guard, who would come and visit him. On the day of his death, Valentine left a note for the young woman professing his undying devotion signed "Love from your Valentine."

Poets Robert Browning (books by this author) and Elizabeth Barrett Browning (books by this author) carried out one of the most famous romantic correspondences in literary history. They first introduced themselves by epistolary means, and fell in love even before they had met in person. The letter that began their relationship was written by Robert in January 1845; it was essentially a piece of fan mail to esteemed poet Elizabeth Barrett. He wrote:

"I love your verses with all my heart, dear Miss Barrett — and this is no offhand complimentary letter that I shall write — whatever else, no prompt matter-of-course recognition of your genius and there a graceful and natural end of the thing: since the day last week when I first read your poems, I quite laugh to remember how I have been turning and turning again in my mind what I should be able to tell you of their effect upon me ..."

Elizabeth Barrett responded right away: "I thank you, dear Mr Browning, from the bottom of my heart. ... Such a letter from such a hand!"

She continued, "I will say that I am your debtor, not only for this cordial letter & for all the pleasure which came with it, but in other ways, & those the highest: & I will say that while I live to follow this divine art of poetry, ... in proportion to my love for it & my devotion for it, I must be a devout admirer & student of your works. This is in my heart to say to you & I say it."

They continued writing to each other, clandestinely, for a year and a half, and then they secretly got married in 1846. Right before the wedding, Robert mailed off to Elizabeth a letter that said: "Words can never tell you, however, — form them, transform them anyway, — how perfectly dear you are to me – perfectly dear to my heart and soul. I look back, and in every one point, every word and gesture, every letter, every silence — you have been entirely perfect to me — I would not change one word, one look. I am all gratitude — and all pride (under the proper feeling which ascribes pride to the right source) all pride that my life has been so crowned by you."

And then, the day after the wedding, she wrote to him:
"What could be better than [your] lifting me from the ground and carrying me into life and the sunshine? ... All that I am, I owe you — if I enjoy anything now and henceforth, it is through you."

During their courtship, she was composing sonnets for him, which she presented to him as a wedding gift. The sonnets were published in 1850 and include one of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's most famous poems ever:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints — I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! — and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

I know that there are some Scrooge McDuck's out there that loathe and hate Valentine's Day. I hope you can at least appreciate the great writing that was posted last week.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Personal Photo Project of the Week No. 4

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(500) Days of Winter

This picture is an homage to one of my favorite scenes from my favorite movie of 2009 - (500) Days of Summer.

Derrick posed for this picture when he was forced to vacate his abode for Girls Night on foggy Saturday night in January.

As it turns out, there wasn't a blog on Thursday, so here is the love letter from Thursday's Writer's Almanac.

There are many prevailing popular perceptions of Emperor Napoleon of France — most of which began as British propaganda. While his name doesn't often conjure images of a sweet hopeless romantic who pined for an older woman, the letters he wrote to his beloved Josephine reveal as much. In December 1795, he wrote to her:

"I wake filled with thoughts of you. Your portrait and the intoxicating evening which we spent yesterday have left my senses in turmoil. Sweet, incomparable Josephine, what a strange effect you have on my heart! ... You are leaving at noon; I shall see you in three hours. Until then, mio dolce amor, a thousand kisses; but give me none in return, for they set my blood on fire."

Napoleon and Josephine were married in 1796; he was 26 and she was 32, a widow. He wrote to her from all across Europe, when he was out waging military campaigns. The year they married he wrote to her:

"I have not spent a day without loving you; I have not spent a night without embracing you; I have not so much as drunk one cup of tea without cursing the pride and ambition which force me to remain apart from the moving spirit of my life. In the midst of my duties, whether I am at the head of my army or inspecting the camps, my beloved Josephine stands alone in my heart, occupies my mind, fills my thoughts. If I am moving away from you with the speed of the Rhone torrent, it is only that I may see you again more quickly. If I rise to work in the middle of the night, it is because this may hasten by a matter of days the arrival of my sweet love. ... I ask of you neither eternal love, nor fidelity, but simply ... truth, unlimited honesty. The day you say 'I love you less,' will mark the end of my love and the last day of my life. If my heart were base enough to love without being loved in return I would tear it to pieces. Josephine! Josephine! Remember what I have sometimes said to you: Nature has endowed me with a virile and decisive character. It has built ours out of lace and gossamer. Have you ceased to love me? Forgive me, love of my life, my soul is racked by conflicting forces.

My heart, obsessed by you, is full of fears which prostrate me with misery ... I am distressed not to be calling you by name. I shall wait for you to write it. Farewell! Ah! If you love me less you can never have loved me. In that case I shall truly be pitiable.


P.S. — The war this year has changed beyond recognition. I have had meat, bread, and fodder distributed; my armed cavalry will soon be on the march. My soldiers are showing inexpressible confidence in me; you alone are a source of chagrin to me; you alone are the joy and torment of my life."

And from Friday:

Zelda Fitzgerald, née Sayre, was F. Scott Fitzgerald's great muse and more. He modeled many of his characters after her, and he even included lines in his books that were from letters that Zelda had written him.

The two went on their first date on her 18th birthday. Her family was wary of him, and she wouldn't marry him until his first novel was actually published. Zelda was still 18 when she wrote this letter to Scott in the spring of 1919:

Please, please don't be so depressed — We'll be married soon, and then these lonesome nights will be over forever — Maybe you won't understand this, but sometimes when I miss you most, it's hardest to write — and you always know when I make myself — Just the ache of it all — and I can't tell you.

How can you think deliberately of life without me — If you should die — O Darling — darling Scott — It'd be like going blind. I know I would, too, — I'd have no purpose in life — just a pretty — decoration. Don't you think I was made for you? I feel like you had me ordered — and I was delivered to you — to be worn — I want you to wear me, like a watch-charm or a buttonhole bouquet — to the world. And then, when we're alone, I want to help — to know that you can't do anything without me.

One week after This Side of Paradise appeared in print, Zelda and Scott got married at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. They became known as the quintessential Jazz Age couple: beautiful, flashy, with money, and often drunk in public. The year they married, Zelda wrote to Scott:

"I look down the tracks and see you coming — and out of every haze & mist your darling rumpled trouser are hurrying to me — Without you, dearest dearest, I couldn't see or hear or feel or think — or live — I love you so and I'm never in all our lives going to let us be apart another night. It's like begging for mercy of a storm or killing Beauty or growing old, without you.

Lover, Lover, Darling — Your Wife"

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Happy Birthday to the Wentworth Warrior!

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There is good news on the commenting front. Now when you leave a comment on this blog you will have the option of checking a box that will subscribe you to future comments left on the blog. That means that when a comment is left after your comment, you will get an email notification and you will find out the answers to questions like: "Did you name the fish from 'Open Mic Night'?"

Today is Bill's Birthday. Unfortunately I have not seen Bill for 2 years now, so this is the most recent picture I have of Bill:

Fortunately, Jesse and I are heading out to Omaha on Friday to celebrate the anniversary of Bill's birth with Bill's Omaha Crew. We have never met Bill's Omaha Crew, so this could be an encounter for the ages. Or not... We will find out on Friday.

Today's Love Letter from The Writer's Almanac:

Playwright, poet, and Dublin wit Oscar Wilde was married with two children when he met Lord Alfred Douglas, nicknamed "Bosie," an Oxford undergraduate student who edited the school's literary magazine, The Spirit Lamp. Bosie had written a glowing review of Wilde's play Salome (1891, Wilde first wrote it in French), and the poet Lionel Johnson introduced Wilde and Douglas later that year, in the summer of 1891. The first six months of their relationship wasn't physically intimate, but during that time Wilde wrote to Douglas letters like this one:

"My own dear boy — Your sonnet is quite lovely and it is a marvel that those red roseleaf lips of yours should be made no less for the music of song than for the madness of kissing. Your slim gilt soul walks between passion and poetry. You know that Hyacinthus, whom Apollo loved so madly, was you in Greek days. Why are you alone in London, and when do you go to Salisbury? Do go there and cool your hands in the grey twilight of Gothic things, and come here whenever you like. It is a lovely place; it only lacks you ...

Always with undying love, yours, Oscar"

The two went off on vacation in February 1895, and Douglas's father, who disliked his son and detested Wilde, left a visiting card at Wilde's social club in England accusing Wilde of being a "posing sodomite," though he famously spelled the latter word wrong. Douglas didn't like his dad and encouraged Wilde to sue for criminal libel. The trial went badly, and his dad's detectives hunted up all sorts of evidence against Wilde's sexual doings, even bringing forth male prostitutes to testify. Wilde dropped his lawsuit, but was then charged with "gross indecency." He was convicted and sentenced to two years of prison and hard labor. From prison in May 1895, he wrote this letter to Douglas:

"My sweet rose, my delicate flower, my lily of lilies, it is perhaps in prison that I am going to test the power of love. I am going to see if I cannot make the bitter warders sweet by the intensity of the love I bear you. I have had moments when I thought it would be wise to separate. Ah! Moments of weakness and madness! Now I see that would have mutilated my life, ruined my art, broken the musical chords which make a perfect soul. Even covered with mud I shall praise you, from the deepest abysses I shall cry to you. In my solitude you will be with me. I am determined not to revolt but to accept every outrage through devotion to love, to let my body be dishonored so long as my soul may always keep the image of you. From your silken hair to your delicate feet you are perfection to me. Pleasure hides love from us, but pain reveals it in its essence. O dearest of created things, if someone wounded by silence and solitude comes to you, dishonored, a laughing-stock, Oh! You can close his wounds by touching them and restore his soul which unhappiness had for a moment smothered. Nothing will be difficult for you then, and remember, it is that hope which makes me live, and that hope alone. What wisdom is to the philosopher, what God is to his saint, you are to me. To keep you in my soul, such is the goal of this pain which men call life. O my love, you whom I cherish above all things, white narcissus in an unmown field, think of the burden which falls to you, a burden which love alone can make light. ... I love you, I love you, my heart is a rose which your love has brought to bloom, my life is a desert fanned by the delicious breeze of your breath, and whose cool spring are your eyes; the imprint of your little feet makes valleys of shade for me, the odour of your hair is like myrrh, and wherever you go you exhale the perfumes of the cassia tree.

"Love me always, love me always. You have been the supreme, the perfect love of my life; there can be no other..."

I would just like to add that I hope that at some point in my future, somebody writes a sentence about me that ends with "... and Iowa wit Christopher D. Bennett..."

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Amazing Weekend

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I did have a couple of late submissions for RWPE. Here are a couple of bonus FRAMING pictures.

Julie Johnson

Michael Vest

I had an amazing weekend. I would just like to share a few of the highlights. In no particular order, besides chronological:

  • I ate supper on Friday night at Jeff's Pizza with Teresa and Jesse. I love their pepperoni rolls.
  • I got to watch Jesus Christ Superstar at Stephens with Mom, Jesse and Teresa. It was an awesome production, with the exception of the geriatric Ted Neeley, who has continued to suck it up into his 60s. I firmly believe that the only acceptable definition of Hell is "separation from God". But if I were to believe in a personal punishment vision of Hell, it might be that I get up to what I think is Heaven because Jesus is there. But then he opens his mouth and sounds like Ted Neeley. I would have to pump my fist and scream, "You win this round vengeful God! You win this round!" Sorry Shannon, but that is the way it is.
  • I got to chauffeur Jim out of the Cyclone State for only the 2nd time since 1987. It was the first time he has left the state for an "extended" period of time since 1987 when he took Nate to see a St. Louis Cardinals game. I think he might have enjoyed it as he is considering leaving the state again this Summer to see the Twins play the Braves on June 12 & 13.
  • I got to see Bethany's new house. It is pretty sweet. They have managed to put down a new wood floor, new tile in the kitchen and new carpet in the rest of the house. Her new fridge is the coolest fridge I've ever seen. They painted all the rooms and they got the paint for free because they bought it on Christmas Eve and the Sherwin Williams employee just gave it to them as a Christmas Present because they were the only customers he had that day.
  • I got to try my first (and won't be the last) Jucy Lucy. Yes, there is no "i" in Jucy. There are two restaurants that lay claim to having invented the Twin City curiosity. We went to Matt's Bar based on the recommendation of Becca's boyfriend Gelli. He insisted that they have the superior Jucy Lucy. A Jucy Lucy is a cheeseburger that has the cheese inside the meat patty rather than on top. A piece of cheese is surrounded by raw meat and cooked until it melts. The end result is a hamburger with a molten core of cheese. The sandwich is both incredibly tasty and slightly dangerous. You have to be careful with the first bite because if you bite into it too aggressively you are rewarded with an explosion of boiling cheese. This cheese explosion is both tasty and painful. A rare combination. The two restaurants that claim to have invented the burger are only a few blocks apart. Matt's Bar does not use the "i" in juicy. The 5-8 Club does use the "i". They both have used this spelling in their marketing. Matt's Bar boasts "if it's spelled correctly, you're at the wrong place." The 5-8 club boasts "if it's spelled right, it's done right". In a future trip to Minnesota, I will give the 5-8 Club a try. I might also venture into St. Paul to try the Cajun Lucy served at the Groveland Tap.
  • Stopped at a quaint little store called Tom's Popcorn Shop. I picked up 4 types of popcorn. A chocolate popcorn that ended up being terrible. Jill compared it to Cocoa Puffs and that was a very accurate assessment. A double caramel and mixed nuts variety ended up being very tasty. A caramel and peanuts variety was tasty. The banana popcorn I am munching on right now isn't too bad.
  • I got to see the bank where Bethany works and pick up two new pairs of shoes at a nearby Burlington Coat Factory. My injured foot is already starting to feel better since I switched shoes.
  • I made Sara's dream come true by wandering around IKEA with Bethany and Jim. Okay, mostly with Bethany. I think Jim was ready to go 5 minutes after stepping in the door. I didn't get to see all of IKEA, but I did get to see a group of girls acting out the scene from (500) Days of Summer (have I told you lately how much I love that movie!) that is set in IKEA. That warmed my heart a bit. I also fell in love with their collection of butcher block tables and I have decided to get rid of my kitchen table and replace it with a small butcher block table. To create both some space and so I have a food prep area if I ever decide to cook. Or the more likely scenario, for the next time somebody comes over and cooks for me.
  • I got to see Jill's apartment. It was disgustingly clean. Meaning if I spent now until my birthday party cleaning my house it still wouldn't be half as clean as Jill's apartment. But it is a well-known fact that the Gorshes are cleaners. Anybody that ever worked a closing shift at the Boone outpost of the Evil Clown Empire with Derrick can tell you stories about the cleanliness of the grill area when he was done. They can also tell you other stories, but I'm concentrating on how much that guy liked to clean for now. I got to meet her cat. I don't think it is a major surprise that her can't didn't like me, but the theory is that this was just laying the groundwork. The next time I visit, the cat will think I'm swell. It is similar to my theory that the next time Jupiter gets together with Jackson and Bailey they will get along swell because of the groundwork I did on Dog Playdate when I was borrowing Jupiter for Sara's trip to Florida. I also got to ride in Indy for the first time since I got to drive her several months back. We ate at this sweet restaurant called Jade 88 Chinese Cuisine. We were the only people in the restaurant. Literally. My favorite aspects of this restaurant were that they called crab rangoons - cream cheese powder puffs, they had a chair sitting in the women's bathroom stall (Jill reported this fact, I did not go into the women's bathroom) and they had the largest collection of cleaning supplies I've ever seen sitting on top of the toilet in the men's room. That isn't to say the food wasn't good, because it was great, but to know me is to know what type of weird things tickle my fancy. After the meal, Jill returned my copy of the 2 Disc Special Edition of A Clockwork Orange that she had borrowed a few weeks back. My Stanley Kubrick boxed set is complete once again! I was also able to loan her The Departed and give her the final piece of Halloween candy. A piece of candy that almost ended up in Willy's stomach.
  • I had lunch with Jim, Becca and Nate at one of Becca's favorite restaurants Quang. It is a Vietnamese restaurant that reminds me of one of Sara's favorite restaurants, A Dong. (Yes, immature people, that is really the name of the restaurant. Stop giggling. I know who you are.) While we waited for a table, Becca and I checked out an Asian grocery store across the street. Now just going to a normal grocery store is kind of an adventure for me. (If you don't believe me, ask Jay) But going to this grocery store was a special kind of adventure for me. I actually didn't take my camera out of my backpack on the whole trip. Even though I thought about doing my FRAMING picture for RWPE up there, but in the end I admittedly just kind of phoned that project in. However, at the bottom of this list, you might just find a few low quality images I captured with my phone in this market. The food at Quang lived up to Becca's hype. We had some kind of fried yam things called Banh Tom Chien. They called crab rangoons cream cheese wontons. Tasty, but not as cute as cream cheese powder puffs.
  • After Quang, I allowed Becca to drive my car (without a small amount of consternation on my part) to give us a tour of Uptown Minneapolis. I really liked Uptown. We got to drive by Gelli's parents' restaurant "It's All Greek to Me..." (a place I will no doubt try in the future) and hear Becca's sermonizing on how much she doesn't like hipsters. Nate liked to point out that Becca is a borderline hipster, but she doesn't see the similarities. Even though she does want to drive a Prius, she is not a hipster she insists. Mostly because she doesn't ride a bike. But perhaps the most exciting part of the Uptown tour was driving by the Uptown Theater. Although I had missed it, they clearly proclaimed on their marquee that they had a midnight showing of A Clockwork Orange. Jill is going to look into this phenomenon and hopefully a midnight showing of A Clockwork Orange is in our future.
  • After the Uptown tour we stopped at a grocery store so Nate could buy the ingredients for gumbo. On the surface that doesn't sound particularly exciting, but in fact it is like watching Van Gogh buy paintbrushes or Eric Clapton buy a guitar.
  • Becca made a Coastal Seafood Salad that included shrimp, squid and roughie. It was incredible. Nate made gumbo (no need to point out how phenomenal the gumbo was) and we settled down to watch the Super Bowl. I would have to say that my favorite Super Bowl commercial this year was the commercial with the beaver playing the violin. Like Jen, I'm partial to beavers. The team I was rooting for also won. That was a surprising bonus. Nate also tried to convince me that Metallica had redeemed themselves with their most recent album. I've never been much of a Metallica fan, but at some point I will be giving their new album a listen in order to make my own assessment.
  • I pulled into my driveway at 1:30 in the morning. It had been a successful weekend on many levels.

Here are a few low quality pictures from my phone:

Mmmm... Pork brains. But you can't prepare that without edible beef blood!

Fresh clams!

Lobster. I wanted a picture of the crabs, but the water in their tank wasn't clear enough to get a good picture.

Of course I also wanted to share today's love letter from The Writer's Almanac:

Franz Kafka wrote stories about human beings transformed into vermin; unsettling legal battles over unspecified crimes; and a father who sentences his son to death by drowning. Kafka is often thought of as neurotic, and rarely as romantic, but he wrote a great many love letters — many of the anguished, helpless variety — to a Berlin woman to whom he was engaged for five years. Their relationship was carried out almost entirely by letters.

In the autumn of 1912, he wrote to Felice Bauer about how much she had become inseparable from his composition process, and also how anticipation of her writing kept him awake at night. He wrote:

"Lately I have found to my amazement how intimately you have now become associated with my writing, although until recently I believe that the only time I did not think about you at all was while I was writing.

In one short paragraph I had written, there were, among others, the following references to you and your letters: someone was give a bar of chocolate. There was talk of small diversions someone had during working hours. Then there was a telephone call. And finally somebody urged someone to go to bed, and threatened to take him straight to his room if he did not obey, which was certainly prompted by the recollection of your mother's annoyance when you stayed so late at the office. — Such passages are especially dear to me; in them I take hold of you, without your feeling it, and therefore without your having to resist.

... [It takes] every imaginable effort to get to sleep — i.e., to achieve the impossible, for one cannot sleep and at the same time be thinking about one's work and trying to solve with certainty the one question that certainly is insoluble, namely, whether there will be a letter from you the next day, and at what time. The night consists of two parts: one wakeful, the other sleepless, and if I were to tell you about it at length and you were prepared to listen, I should never finish.

Eleven days later, Kafka wrote to her:
"Fraulein Felice!
I am now going to ask you a favour which sounds quite crazy, and which I should regard as such, were I the one to receive the letter. It is also the very greatest test that even the kindest person could be put to. Well this is it:
Write to me only once a week, so that your letter arrives on Sunday — for I cannot endure your daily letters, I am incapable of enduring them.
For instance, I answer one of your letters, then lie in bed in apparent calm, but my heart beats through my entire body and is conscious only of you.
I belong to you; there is really no other way of expressing it, and that is not strong enough. But for this very reason I don't want to know what you are wearing; it confuses me so much that I cannot deal with life; and that's why I don't want to know that you are fond of me. If I did, how could I, fool that I am, go on sitting in my office, or here at home, instead of leaping onto a train with my eyes shut and opening them only when I am with you?"

And a week after that, he wrote to her:

"Dearest, what have I done that makes you torment me so? No letter again today, neither by the first mail nor the second. You do make me suffer! While one written word from you could make me happy! ... If I am to go on living at all, I cannot go on vainly waiting for news of you, as I have done these last few interminable days ...

I think the thing I've liked about these letters is their common theme of thinking constantly about the woman they love and how that gets in the way of their work.

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Monday, February 08, 2010

RWPE #5 - Framing

Basic housekeeping:

This page will be moving at the end of February. Don't forget to update your links, bookmarks and RSS Feeds to the new URL:

Astute and technically savvy subscriber Angie did remind me that Blogger Dashboard is just an RSS Feed reader and anybody that follows An Artist's Notebook on Blogger Dashboard will still be able to follow it through Blogger Dashboard by simply updating the URL.

Dawn and Angie both raised concerns that they would not get email alerts when responses to their comments are left on the blog. I am currently looking into coming up with a fix for that and I will let you know when I come up with a solution.

This week's submissions for Random Weekly Photo Experiment:

Christopher D. Bennett

Dawn Krause

Shannon Bardole's Art Appreciation Picks of the Week:

Dawn Krause's Weekly Poetry Entry:

Dawn went for the "psychological concept of Framing" with her poem.


A social theory of interpretation
It helps us along in communication

Reference points making up our lives
Fitting together till every piece jives

Outline of who we believe we are
Continually makes us raise our bar

Compare our lives to what we know
Fitting our frames to friend and foe

This must have been a tougher concept to tackle as the fewest people contributed, but hopefully more people will be able to tackle this week's theme:


As many of you know, I am a huge fan of The Writer's Almanac. It is my favorite thing on the radio. I wanted to share a little tidbit from today's Writer's Almanac as it is rapidly approaching Valentine's Day. In fact, The Writer's Almanac is celebrating this week with love letters.

Poet John Keats (books by this author) lived to be just 25 years old, but in that time he wrote some of the most exquisite love letters in the English language. The letters were to Fanny Brawne to whom he became engaged.

He was 23 years old, recently back from a walking tour of Scotland, England, and Ireland (during which time he'd probably caught the tuberculosis that would soon kill him), and had moved back to a grassy area of London, where he met and fell in love with Fanny Brawne. During this time, he composed a number of his great poems, including Ode to a Nightingale. And one Wednesday in the autumn, he wrote this letter, considered by many the most beautiful in the English language:

My dearest Girl,
This moment I have set myself to copy some verses out fair. I cannot proceed with any degree of content. I must write you a line or two and see if that will assist in dismissing you from my Mind for ever so short a time. Upon my soul I can think of nothing else. The time is passed when I had power to advise and warn you against the unpromising morning of my Life. My love has made me selfish. I cannot exist without you. I am forgetful of every thing but seeing you again — my Life seems to stop there — I see no further. You have absorb'd me. I have a sensation at the present moment as though I was dissolving — I should exquisitely miserable without the hope of soon seeing you. I should be afraid to separate myself far from you. My sweet Fanny, will your heart never change? My love, will it? I have no limit now to my love ... I have been astonished that Men could die Martyrs for religion — I have shudder'd at it. I shudder no more. I could be martyr'd for my religion — love is my religion — I could die for that. I could die for you. My Creed is Love and you are its only tenet. You have ravish'd me away by a Power I cannot resist; and yet I could resist till I saw you; and even since I have seen you I have endeavored often "to reason against the reasons of my Love." I can do that no more — the pain would be too great. My love is selfish. I cannot breathe without you.

Yours for ever
John Keats

The following spring, Keats wrote: "My dear Girl, I love you ever and ever and without reserve. The more I have known you the more I have lov'd. ... You are always new. The last of your kisses was ever the sweetest; the last smile the brightest; the last movement the gracefullest. When you pass'd my window home yesterday, I was filled with as much admiration as if I had then seen you for the first time."

Keats and Brawne became engaged. He wanted to earn some money for them before they got married. But then he began coughing up blood. When he saw it, he said: "I know the color of that blood; it is arterial blood. I cannot be deceived in that color. That drop of blood is my death warrant. I must die." He wrote to tell her that she was free to break off their engagement since he would likely not survive. But she would not, and he was hugely relieved. But he died before they married.

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