Monday, June 28, 2010

Overheard in Booth Three: St Augustine in 90 Minutes

and she said, "I found this new series, about philosophers - in 90 minutes. Really slim books you can read them on the bus on the way in to work, practically, and I had always wondered about this St. Augustine guy, I mean, he's someone you always hear about, every once in a while, in church or Sunday school, and so I picked up the one about St. Augustine, b'cz I'd always kinda wanted to know what that was all about, and it turns out that he's really just another one of those uptight Catholic guys who could never get it through his head about sex and couldn't get out from under the influence of his mom - lord haven't we had enough guys like that! - so this momma's boy has a great time in Carthage in college, has a mistress and a son, and tries to drag her back home to mom, who doesn't like that one bit and sends her off and marries him and eventually he winds up in North Africa fighting off the Vandals or whatever those guys were who were finally hacking their way through what was left of the Roman Empire,

but you know, the best thing about the book is it told about all the different heresies he had to deal with at the time, all these little offshoots of Christianity - somebody who thought they were the embodiment of the Holy Spirit, others that thought Jesus Christ was just a 'nice guy' but not much else, and it really kind of showed me that all this stuff that we're facing today about people not really believing in Jesus at all,

well, that's nothing new. I mean, if you look at it, nobody's really followed him, like, really, in like, well


It's kind of comforting, and sad, all at the same time."

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Overheard at Table Two

Henry David Payne: I thought it was prtty decent, seemed like your standard Arabian adventure tale, it had all the elements of those old Thousand and One Nights . . . you know, boy from the street, becoming a prince, a damsel in distress, some magic amulet . . .

Niall Carter: . . . you mean the knife?

HDP: Yes, of course I mean the knife.

NC: Because the knife was cool. With the button in the hilt, click, sands take you back in time, that was sweet!

Lucky Moran: The name of the movie: The Sands of Time. I must just be me, but I've never liked movies that have two titles. The Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. I mean, which is it? The Prince of Persia or the Sands of Time?

NC: It's both. That way, when they come out with The Prince of Persia: The Scimitar of Gold, you know which one you're downloading off the 'net.

HDP: I really don't see why you would pan a movie for the title that it has - that's like judging a book by the cover.

LM: You have your critique and I have mine. I had a problem with the dual title, it just felt like it was too much. But Gemma Anderton made a nice aside.

HDP: Actually, that's the only problem I had with the movie . . . I mean, we have so many heroines who are proud and haughty but feisty and firey and eventually fall in love with the hero, that it all just seems so trite?

LM: Would you rather go back to the old movie days when all they do is swoon. "Oh! Oh! Save me, hero! Lest I die tied to this train track!"

HDP: Of course not. But it would just be nice if they weren't all stereotypes in a different way.

NC: You can't have that in movies. Maybe she couldn't play that if she did have a role like that.

HDP: Not true! I saw her in a Masterpiece Theatre presentation of Little Dorrit. She was fantastic in that. That was a wonderful show. That would be nice to see on the big screen.

LM: That would be. Imagine. Little Dorrit fighting her way out of the debtor's prison, scimitar in one hand and the dagger with the Sands of Time in the other.

NC: Nice!!

Verble (walking up to the table with refills all around): Except you're totally wrong. It's Gemma ARTERTON, not Anderton, and she didn't play in the BBC Little Dorrit - that was Claire Foy . . . but she did play the lead in Tess of the D'Urbervilles, which was in the same series of classics ran on BBC and Masterpiece Theatre during 2008.

LM: Well, that certainly makes a difference.

NC: Sure does. Imagine Tess with the Sands of Time dagger! I can see a lot of slicing and dicing there! All that pent-up rage. Ugh, just makes me shiver t'think of it!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

"The Moon" by Carl Sandburg

The Moon
Carl Sandburg

The moon is a dish of light.

The moon looks dirty with smoke and cloud wisps,
then changed till it looks washed and wiped.

The moon is a big penny got lost in the sky
one windy night.

The baby moon sings low, sings soft.

The harvest moon grins, "Howdy."

The half moon says neither Yes or No.

The lonesome moon talks to the lonesome
child saying, "Me too, me too."

The silver moon seems cold, not shivering but

The moon is a looking glass you see your face in
if you climb high enough.

The peeping moon jumps out from clouds and goes back.

The rising moon dares you to push it down.

The rising moon can't help laughing a little as
it says, "I don't why I do this over and over
always the same way."

The full moon says it is good to be full and he
would be sorry for the empty if he was empty himself.

The late setting moon says, "I forgot something
and I'll be back when I remember what it was.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Hard Truths

Here are some hard truths about Jesus Christ that you may not want to hear, but they must be said:

First, Jesus Christ loves every single living human being on the face of this planet. From the first human to the last, everybody alive at this moment, everybody in the past, everybody in the future. He loves them all. Equally.

Yes, that includes the person YOU hate the most. Yes, that includes Hitler, Osama Bin Laden, and yes, even Neal Boortz.

And yes, for you hard right wing conservatives, that even means girls who get abortions and gay people. Even liberals too.

Second hard truth, all you people who think you don't need Jesus, you do. He is the only way to Heaven, both here on earth and after you've shuffled off this mortal coil. But not to worry: the only reason why you can't bring yourself to believe in him is reason three - watch.

Third hard truth - Christianity can only be destroyed by ill-tempered, smug, hyer-pious, self-centered, hypocritical, insensitive Christians. It can not be destroyed by outside forces, not Islam, not the Devil, not athiesm, not secularism. None of that is strong enough. But get enough people who claim to follow Jesus and make them so stuck up and bigoted that they drive everybody away from Christ, well, that'll make sure eventually NOBODY hears the message of love.

There are many more hard truths, but I don't think any of us can handle any more for tonight.

Perhaps in a few days, when I've got my strength back, I'll be tough enough to dish out some more HARD TRUTHS.

(maybe just one more: Jesus did say that in the end, when all is said and done, there's going to be a WHOLE LOT of people who go up to Him saying, "Jesus Jesus let me into Heaven, I talked about you all the time!" and He'll say, "Get yourself away from me. I never met you before in my Life!" . . . and maybe, just maybe, He's talking about Christians. Think about it!)

At the Counter

John Steppenwolf, Henry Allen Payne, and Lucky Moran all sitting at the counter, asking the Barista about Verble's outburst the other day.

"Is he gonna be all right?" asks Lucky Moran.

"Oh yeah, he's just fine," says the Barista. "As soon as his wife got here and dragged him to the back and shoved a couple of Valiums down his gullet, he went out like a light. I think he's still sleeping it off."

"Hate to see him when he wakes up," says John Steppenwolf.

"Why's that?" asks Henry Allen Payne.

"Because he'll probably turn on the news and hear about that Republican Senator from Texas - who apologised to BP for their inconvenience - called it a $20 Billion Shakedown."

"Yeah, but he was forced to apologize," says Lucky.

"And he retracted it," says the Barista.

Steppenwolf says, "But the point is: he said it. And all the little followers believe it. You know what Verble will say: the American people are being told to believe by Fox News that BP is actually the good guy. And that to make them pay will be a bad thing."

Lucky adds, "I read today an article that posited that the spill might actually be good for the environment."

"How do they say that?" says Henry.

"Something about slowing or preventing hurricanes this summer. Hurricanes get their source from warm ocean water, and apparently there's been this theory that putting a film of vegetable oil over the surface of the water to try to prevent hurricanes from sucking it up. They think this'll be a natural test."

"Wow," says Henry. "Bet that Republican Senator from Texas will probably want to pin a medal on BP and give 'em back their 20 bil if there ain't no hurricanes this season!"

Steppenwolf says, "Sounds about what they're likely to do. And they're so good at it, America will blindly agree."

"I know," says Lucky, "I'm still in shock that they've convinced Americans that it's actually better for your health NOT to have dependable health care coverage. What a country!"

"It is, indeed!" agrees Steppenwolf, drinking deeply of his morning coffee.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Faith Hope and Charity

Verble storms into the cafe, and before anybody can ask him what's wrong, he angrily declares, "I built this Cafe to be a good place to show the love of Jesus Christ, but I swear to all of you if Glenn Beck ever walks into MY cafe,

he gets charged DOUBLE PRICE!

How DARE he ! How DARE HE! who does he think he is? Stealing the images of the Founding Fathers, and STEALING THE WORDS OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

and twisting them in his own sick little mind for his own sick little game? Faith, Hope, Charity! That's the clarion call of the Bible - everything that Jesus taught us in a nutshell, and he's misusing it to promote an agenda of destruction and hate.

And you Yanks are BUYING IT! how utterly misled and myopic can you BE?!

Don't you understand that Glenn Beck has nothing to contribute to America but a rant of bile and hate and filth? He knows nothing of the words and the slogan that he's espousing - and MAKING MONEY FROM!!!!

He has openly admitted that he does what he does to make money, and yet he sells T-shirts with the images of Washington and Franklin, and the words FAITH HOPE CHARITY.

What Glenn SickBeck obviously does not understand is that the Founding Fathers would have had him horsewhipped for being an idiot, and also that the only time Jesus was ever visibly angry, to the point of hurling tables against the walls, was when people dared to MAKE MONEY from His Father's house!

Faith, means faith in God, something beyond ourselves that we can never truly know.
Hope, means the belief that better things are ahead,
But the greatest of these is Charity - which means a love that is so strong that you will give it away without any care of ever getting anything back. Charity is a complete giving of SELF, wanting no payment in return, wanting nothing than for somebody else to have something.

What does Glenn Beck know of that kind of Charity? what to the Republicans know about that kind of charity? what do the Conservatives know about that kind of charity? what does the Religious Right know about that kind of charity? and for that matter, what do Americans know about that kind of Charity?

Glenn Beck - stop making money off of God. Stop making money off of the founding fathers. Stop making money off of lying to Americans.

and to all Americans.

WAKE THE HELL UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Overheard at Table Four

I just read on my news alert today, this blurb, it said:

A student makes a rude gesture at a group of Hell's Angels motorcycle group, hurling a puppy at them and escaping on a stolen bulldozer.

It was one of those times when I just couldn't bring myself to read the whole article, because I just knew that the story would ruin the mental image!


did you hear about the tumbler in the eiderdown?

after all that's tragic, what remains is unempty

I don't really know if she was really into him or just ran somewhat into him

Bleachers, it was behind the bleachers! It was always behind the bleachers.

I can't believe she just showed up after two months maternity leave and suddenly starts telling me what I supposedly did to frakkup her G/Ls!

Scratch it, don't scratch it. Who's really to say which one is right and which one's wrong?

You find ten for every eleven pennywhisltes in the pudding.

and I told her "I don't know, I just live here!"

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Overheard at Table Two

- did you hear about the Harvard student who's gonna be deported back to Mexico? Tried to get on a plane with an old consulate ID and ICE caught him. Doesn't even remember coming here - he was four!

- so where'd he grow up?

- San Antonio.

- Ah. San Antonio. Half the population is from Mexico. Why don't they just deport him back to San Antonio?

- Legal, illegal, dude, that's not the point. The point is that he's going to Harvard. Gangbangers and small time crooks and people who spend a lifetime in and out of jail don't go to Harvard. It's not like the US has such a great wellspring of super-intelligent people - we're gonna deport our college students?

- why not? They're probably gonna get jobs in foreign countries anyway.

- Dude, there has GOT to be a path to getting citizenship - college degree in some field that will help the country, I mean, if these kids are doing something to contribute, why should we send them off?

- How about joining the military? I'll agree with you only about that - some guy or girl's willing to serve in the military and die for this country, I think they should get automatic citizenship. Because there are millions and millions of natural borns who won't lift a finger to defend 'er!

- Amen to that, my brother!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Zither or Guitar

Verble holds up the canvas of the new Picasso he has just purchased at auction in the Netherlands. "Isn't she beautiful?" he asks.

"What is it?" says Niall Carter, sitting a few stools down, warming his hands around his steaming mug.

"It's called 'Woman with Guitar or Zither' - Picasso, circa 1911," says Verble proudly.

Steppenwolf snorts. "You mean even he couldn't tell?"

"He got lost!" shouts out Lucky Moran, sitting at table four with Otis Redwing.

"Philistines!" growls Verble, as Steppenwolf and Niall burst into laughter.

Verble picks up the painting, somewhat roughly, and begins to start toward his office, when the Barista says to him, in a rare serendipitous moment, "Come on, Verb, why don't you put it up here behind the counter? There's a good spot by the espresso machine."

Verble stops. A pause. A smile begins to pull up at the corners of his mouth. "Why, my dear," he says with true amazement, "surely there IS indeed one of you who can appreciate art."

"Sure, I have a good eye for art," she says. "Plus, it'll go just right with the colour of chalk I'm going to use on the board to advertise the new cherry mocha grande!"

A few notes on bracing

Bracing: a bracing wind is a strong wind, usually very chilly. To brace yourself means to prepare yourself for something difficult, such as bad news or a hard physical assault of some kind.

Bracing, in the world of the Acoustic Guitar, is something more graceful, more structurally beautiful.

I found a good explanation on another website ( from a post on April 8, 2008):

Whereas the back braces are a bit more structural in nature, the top actually has a more complex bracing pattern that keeps it strong but also allows it to vibrate giving the guitar its unique tone.

Just the description itself leads me to imagine this guitar, I can feel the warmth emanating just from the words around that most wonderful instrument that God himself gave Humanity the ability to create.

So, the next time you hear a guitar playing a song so incredibly beautiful that your breath stops short, just remember that all its parts are working in unison, even down to the bracing inside.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Overheard at the Counter?

Was it Lucky Moran who was talking about the book he'd just read? Or was it Steppenwolf who was talking about the book the Barista had just read? Or Payne? Or Verble? Or even John Canada, who had so many books on his reading list, dating back decades, that he never would be able to get around to reading anything anybody ever suggested to him?

Were they even sitting at the counter? Would you, if you had the chance, go down to the Zen and Tao Acoustic Cafe to listen to Ani DiFranco play every Thursday night, the Waifs all weekend on the rare weekend they made it to town, and even Warren Zevon, who still, even after death, still manages to make it by on the occasional Monday evening?

Was the book they were reading even a novel? Or was it just a series of questions, like those I am asking you now? Was it both a series of questions AND a novel? What, these days, even IS a novel? Can we really describe it? Does it matter? Do we care? If we do, then why? Or conversely, why not?

Was it Payne or was it the Barista who noted that the one point at which it seemed as though there might be a plot was the point at which the author mentioned a girl who asked an unusual question, and then pages later posed the question as to whether you might be seduced by a girl who asked such a question? Was that intentional or was it a slip? Was the author inserting an indescretion from his near past of which he may or may not have been somewhat proud?

And you would agree, as I would agree, that Lucky Moran and Steppenwolf both, in unison, concurred that the apex of the novel, which lay toward the end, and was well worth the wait, was the expansive, extensive series of questions that lasted for two and a half pages and centered around every possible reaction that you might have should Jimi Hendrix suddenly show up and begin to play guitar?

Also, wouldn't you no longer be surprised, especially having read the Barista's comments regarding The Shining, that she was the one who noted that the author told much more of himself through his questions than he obsfucated? Would you now nod your head in understanding when she pointed out that the very choice of questions revealed a white American male most likely in his mid to late fifties, simply by noting that his questions focused on what was important to that age group, that ethnicity, that gender, and even mentioned rather nostalgically certain cultural icons that were icons only in the fourth preceding decade?

Could you even follow that last question? Would you be surprised if I told you I myself don't even want to re-read it, as it scares me so?

Will you go find that book now? Have I even told you the title? Is it The Interrogative Mood, a Novel?

Monday, June 7, 2010

God is Not Good . . .

. . . .

It's just that sometimes it's hard for us to conceive.
You know . . . we've only got about eight pounds of grey matter, and we are limited by synaptic responses, a mixture of electrical charges and chemical messages. And while the brain is still a fantastic universe of improbabilities on its own, it's still limited by the physical restraints: electricity can only go so far. Chemical reactions have only a finite capability.
Basically, I'm saying that's where faith comes in to play: to know that there is something that can't be understood, and to follow that something. That's faith.
But! To be SATISFIED with that, well, that takes courage!
Some would call that ignorance. Some would call it blind stupidity. I completely understand those who feel that way; I understand those who would call me to the mat for my own hypocricy, weaknesses, failings, angers, anxieties, and disbeliefs: me, who supposedly calls myself a Christian! What an idiot! What a fool! Believing in something that we can't begin to understand.
I could say, "Well, we believe in the universe. We believe in the billions of years it took for dinosaurs to become oil. We believe in nuclear reactions. And even the experts can not truly understand it - and the experts are only a tiny tiny fraction of all us wiggly little humans down here.
So I suppose I'll just end with this: I've been stupid for a lot of things. I've been stupid for girls, I've been stupid for cars, I've been stupid with my money, I've been stupid with jobs (that I've lost!), so I figure that if I'm going to run around being so stupid, well, it might as well be for something greater than anything ever conceived.
And someone who tells me that He knows exactly what kind of idiot I am . . . and who loves me anyway!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Shining

Verble sitting at the counter with Lucky Moran and John Steppenwolf, talking about nothing at all, when for no apparent reason, blurts out,

"You know, there just come those moments on a Saturday night, when it's getting late, and you just have to watch The Shining."

Steppenwolf says, "Now that you mention it, I think you're right . . .. 'Honey! - I'm home!' - classic!"

Verble says, "And really, I don't even know why, it's just one of those things."

Lucky Moran says, "My dad let me watch it when I was a kid - scared the pee out of me. I mean, I was a kid myself still riding around on my big wheel. and those girls! 'Come play with us - forEVER and EVER and EVER!' Man, that still gives me the heebie jeebies!''

"Know what you mean," says the Steppenwolf, "Every time I stay in an old hotel, with carpet and REALLY long hallways, I keep expecting to see those girls."

"In many ways it was a pinnacle production for three great talents, and that's why I think it was so powerful: Stephen King really exploded onto the horror story scene with that one, and in many ways it is still the standard for all his books. Stanley Kubrick, I mean wow! The guy had already blown the world away with A Clockwork Orange and 2001, and now here's this horror story, and then, of course, Jack Nicholoson!"

"Nickolson was the only guy who could have done that part," says Lucky. "I mean, heck, people don't even remember the characters name!"

"Wasn't it Jack?" says Steppenwolf.

"All I can remember is him sticking his head through the hole in the door saying, 'Heeeerre''s Johnny!' - What is it about that face through the door? Why has that become such an icon?"

"It's got to be that look," says Verble. "That look on his face . . . pure malevolent evil."

The Barista, walking up to the men, offers this, "You are essentially accurate when you state that it was the culmination of work by three masters of their craft: the story, the art of the film, and the actor. But at the heart of it all, really, the key to the continuing popularity of the film is that it enacts the secret fantasy of every man . . . which is to chop his wife and children to bits with an ax."

The three men are silent for a few moments. Finally, Verble asks, "Your film study class is being taught by a feminist, isn't it?"

The Barista's mouth curls slightly. "She does have a Master's in Women's Studies, yeah."

The men groan loudly, "Oh yeah!" "Knew it" "Good god!" and moving their arms and turning their heads side to side.

"But that doesn't mean it's not a valid point!"

"All feminist interpretation and no sheer fun make Barista a dull movie watcher!" says Lucky.

"Thanks a lot!" says Verble. "I don't think I'll be able to watch it again, not after hearing that! Tell your feminist boss thanks for ruining a perfect guy movie"
The Barista replies dryly, "And I'm sure she'll be happy to know that she's put one more notch in her belt!"

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Book Club at the Counter

and Henry Roderick Payne is telling the Barista about the latest book just finished, in his unfailing attempt to get her to read ("I do read," she told him a few days ago, "I read every text message ever sent to me!" - then she smiled coyly and sauntered away, while he bled out all over his mocha grande):

"The Lighthouse, the Cat, and the Sea, subtitled A something Fable, but told from the point of view of a thirty-year-old cat - God I love cat narrators! It goes from the birth on the boat to different characters of the shipmates . . . and I swear the mariners were just like the characters on the flying pirate boat from Stardust - did you ever see Stardust?"

"Actually, I did," the Barista says. "Loved it! Absolutely loved it."

Verble says, "That's right - that was one of those movies that someone tells you to watch and you think 'Ah I've got nothing to do on a Sunday afternoon but kill a few hours until sundown' and it suddenly slaps you over the head and plants itself in your top twenty favorites."

"Exactly what I thought when I saw it," says the Barista. "Didn't expect much, but it's fantastic!"

"This book will give you the same kind of feeling," Payne says, "because it has the same sweetness, kindness, decency - a little suspense, a little danger, but nothing truly malevolent. It's also set in Key West, and you can tell that the writer lives there, just based on the loving depiction of the island and the way of life there - even though it's set back at the turn of the 19th/20th centuries."

"But you say it's told from the point of view of the cat?" asks Verble incredulously.

"It works," says Payne. "It really works. Listen, it'd take you maybe an evening or two to read it. This is definitely one of those books that will leave you feeling all warm inside, like a cup of hot chocolate on a stormy evening. And who knows," he says, with an offhand wave in the Barista's direction, "maybe they'll make it into a movie, like Stardust."

"Then I can wait for it then," she says, with a wink and a smile.

Overheard at Table 4 - Ree: Klee

. . . and if you say Klee you're wrong it's pronounced CLAY - my fourth grader just told me that and I thought it was so cool that his teacher's teaching the students about Expressionism!