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Good Mountain Press Monthly Digest #085
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
~~~~~~~~ In Memoriam: Ruth Peale (1906 — 2008) ~~~~
~~~~~~~~ [ Norman Vincent's Peale Wife, at the age of 102 ] ~~~~~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


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~~~ GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS DIGEST #085 Published May 1, 2008 ~~~
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Quote for the Merry Month of May:

An ulcer, gentlemen, is an unkissed imagination taking its revenge for having been jilted. It is an unwritten poem, an undanced dance, an unpainted watercolor. It is a declaration from the mankind of the man that a clear spring of joy has not been tapped and that it must break through muddily, on its own.
John Ciardi, American poet

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THE GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS DIGEST #085, May 2008
Archived Digests
Table of Contents

1. May's Violet-n-Joey Cartoon
2. Honored Readers for May
3. On a Personal Note
4. Cajun Story
5. Recipe of the Month from Bobby Jeaux’s Kitchen: Lemon Meringue Pie
6. Poem by Bobby: "The Reed Flute"
7. Reviews and Articles Added for May:

8. Commentary on the World
9. Closing Notes — our mailing list, locating books, unsubscribing to Digest
10. Gratitude

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THE GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS DIGEST #085
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1. May Violet-n-Joey CARTOON:
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For newcomers to the Digest, we have created a webpage of all the Violet-n-Joey cartoons! Check it out at: http://www.doyletics.com/vjtoons.htm Also note the rotating calendar and clock that follows just to the right of your mouse pointer as you scroll down the page. You'll also see the clock on the 404 Error page if you make a mistake typing a URL while on the doyletics.com website.

The Violet-n-Joey Cartoon page is been divided into two pages: one low-speed and one high-speed access. If you have Do NOT Have High-Speed Access, you may try this Link which will load much faster and will allow you to load one cartoon at a time. Use this one for High-Speed Access.

This month Violet and Joey learn about Hugging an Old Friend Just Met.

#1 "Hugging an Old Friend I Just Met" at http://www.doyletics.com/images/042808jv.gif

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2. HONORED READERS FOR May:
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Each month we take time to thank two of our good readers of Good Mountain Press Digest, books and reviews. Here's our two worthy Honored Readers for this month. One of their names will be in the TO: address line of your email Digest notification. Our Honored Readers for May are:

Henry Gurr in S. Carolina

Denise Clement in New Jersey

Congratulations, Henry and Denise !


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3. ON A PERSONAL NOTE:


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Out Our Way:

We had so many activities to attend this month that Del suggested that perhaps I skip these Personal Notes and instead just post the photos and that would tell the story. She was reacting to my complaint that it's rather hard to get through a busy month of doing things and still have time and energy at the end of the month to write about them. But the written narrative helps to explain the sequence of events and to cover events I didn't get any photos of for various reasons.

We have been planning to add a large flat screen TV to our Screening Room and remove two of the oldest TV's. I had offered them to my friend Brian who helps me whenever I need to move the TV's around. This month a strange thing happened. His sister-in-law needed a TV because hers broke shortly before she went into the hospital, so I offered one of the TV's to her and Brian came over to pick it up and take it to her so she'd have a working TV when she returned from the hospital. She called me to thank me for it a few days later. Then about a week or two later, I found out that her apartment and the entire twenty-four unit building it was in burnt to the ground. Looks like she'll be getting the second TV shortly when she gets into a new apartment.

CODOFIL BREAKFAST

The month began with a French-speaking breakfast with Les Amis du CODOFIL, Rive Ouest friends at a new venue, the Holiday Inn, West Bank. Any Cajuns or other French speakers who would like to brush up their french are invited, the group meets every first Saturday at 9 am. The breakfast is Cajun fare and inexpensive. This month my brother, Paul, and his wife, Joyce, brought our dad, Buster, along to enjoy the festivities. After the breakfast, the singing, and conversation, we adjourned to Timberlane for some Pay Me! That's an insidiously simple card game which is difficult to master, but we play it for fun and a chance to talk and have a good time. Del usually manages to procure some delicious po-boys from DiMartino's locally and we had a great time. Since Paul and Joyce moved to Opelousas a year or two ago, we have few opportunities to see them at the CODOFIL breakfasts anymore, so this was a special treat. We understand that they have several French-tables local to their house where they meet with friends and talk French. Joyce is a bit ahead of Paul as her parents talked Cajun in her home when she was a child, whereas our parents didn't talk it to Paul and me or our siblings. We're learning from scratch. Pour le premiere fois, Tous sais?

PURPLE & GOLD IRISES

Spring has sprung and we have lots of flowers blooming, but few are prettier than the purple and gold Louisiana wild irises which grace our North and South portico gardens. The vibrant iris blooms top out at about five to six feet tall and are a joy to behold. Hope you enjoy the photos.

ALGIERS POINT RIVERFEST

Last month we attended the Friendship Festival on the top of the Mississippi River levee at Algiers Point and this month we were back for a day of the Algiers Point Riverfest. We decided to park in front of Gus and Annie's place and walk the couple of blocks to the festival area. We walked through their garden with them and talked about plants. Annie gave us a pineapple peppermint plant and an sprout from their exotic tree. Their tree is about 25 feet tall with large streams of orchid-looking and very fragrant flowers on the top limbs. After some research, Annie and I confirmed it to be a Paulownia tree. This was the species of tree that Del's brother, Dan, used to make a living locating in backwoods Tenn and Miss and shipping to Japan. The tree is not strong enough for building houses, but when it gets very old and about 3 or 4 feet in diameter, its wood can be sliced off into veneer for making fine furniture. It is much prized in Japan for that purpose. Now we will have a small Paulownia tree in the North Portico at Timberlane, thanks to Gus and Annie. During our walk to the River we located our friend Mal's place on Pelican St. Talked to lady in front. His daughter Makayla lives in the front apartment, but neither of them were home.

The arts, crafts and food booth filled the banks of the levee across from our friend Joy's home on Morgan Street. We sat on the porch with Joy and John and watched and waved hello to their friends who passed by on the way to the Fest. We could hear the music from about 25 feet away even though we couldn't see the stage without walking into the street. A lot of their friends stopped by and talked with us on the porch. Vicki and Carol, George Aucoin (Colonel in the Marines), Norm Robinson, TV anchor came by, Wanda Rouzan, singer, and many more whose name I don't recall came by during the day. Joy's place is like an obligatory stop for the locals. Del and I walked over to the booths bought ourselves a unique crawfish, cheese, and spinach poboy. When Dr. Michael Smith's all-star jazz band with Lucian Barberan on trombone, among other players, started playing we walked over to sit on the curb and listen. Wanda, who has been relocated to the area since Katrina sang a couple of rousing songs for us. It was a special day of food, friends, fun, and New Orleans jazz.

As the sun went down and we walked back to Joy's place, we met Captain Papillon the Pirate with his small parrot who had been entertaining the kids and adults during the Fest. I asked if he knew about the Pirate Conference coming up and he said that he will have a booth there.

Later in the following week, Gus and Annie came over to Bobby Jeaux's Kitchen for dinner. I made a large mandala salad , cooked up some crab-eggplant-shrimp étouffée (Cresh), and artichoke flowers appetizers. All of the recipes for these dishes can be found on my Recipes page, by the way. Del fixed some lemonade with lemons from our tree, and bought some croissants, and strudel pastries for dessert. Gus particularly enjoyed the strudel.

I felt like I had eaten three full dinners as we normally eat only artichoke flowers or mandala salad or Cresh over rice and this night we had all three! It was delicious and good and we enjoyed showing our friends around the place. They brought over the mint ant Paulownia tree, we promised them a forsythia plant, spider irises, green striped leaf bromeliads, and a staghorn bromeliad. I brought them over later in the month when I picked up Gus to attend a breakfast at my club with me.

DEL'S BIRTHDAY

Del's birthday is April 12th and she received a vase full of beautiful multicolored roses from our daughter Maureen and her family. Her birthday comes right before the Income Tax filing deadline. I used to dread tax time as it meant spending three weekends cooped up indoors with reams of paper scattered all over the place. This was when I was working full-time and meant that those beautiful weekends out of doors in New Orleans in the marvelous April weather would slip away un-sampled by me. So I took to filing extensions so I could enjoy April outdoors and spend those sad weekends indoors during steamy August. Now we use a CPA and Del prints out all our financial data and gets it to him ahead of time, so we spend a pleasant hour or so with him, sign and mail off the filled out returns. Someone told me, "If it costs money, use it." That is great advice, especially for getting your taxes prepared quickly and easily.

Our friend Rosie has her birthday the day after Del, but was busy that day, so a few days before her birthday we took her to lunch at a new restaurant, Parrot Pete's, in the large new office area on Manhattan Boulevard. The crab bisque was particularly good, and we had a great time with Rosie.

On Del's birthday, she opened up my present for her, an HP iPAQ which is a GPS navigation aid. I test drove it to PJ's for my latte and back and did not get lost. It was interesting watching the names of the streets across the canal appear on the screen as I drove. I had never heard of these streets and I never drive over that section of town. Amazing technology. Will be very helpful for Del as she doesn't enjoy having to unfold and read maps while we're on the road driving. Took me some time to get the iPAQ registered. Was finally able to get all of Del's Outlook Contacts loaded into the iPAQ and synchronized. Now we have all her contacts with addresses, so we should be able to locate any address destination on the map and navigate directly to their location. For the time being, we are only using it to track our location while driving until such time as we learn to operate the various buttons on the touch screen.

Stoney, Sue, and Sam arrived at noon. Del had gone to get the seafood muffalottas and oyster poboys. Plus some strips of fried eggplant and shrimp potato salad. Stoney was in town this weekend from his computer job in Dallas and brought his wife and son with him to celebrate his mom's birthday. After a robust lunch, we played Pay Me!, Stoney, Sam, Del and I. I had the best round of cards ever with five Pay Me's and winning the low score at the end with only 20 pts. Nearest rival was Stoney at 55. It was an exceptional day of cards for me. The game is really about enjoying each other's company and is fun even when you lose, but winning makes it a little more fun. After they left there was LSU baseball game and Hornets game, as happened many times this past month. The Hornets and LSU games happened often on the same nights this month, especially Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

FRENCH QUARTER FEST

Hardly enough time to catch our breath after the Algiers Riverfest, when the French Quarter Fest began. Our friend Carol Fleischman invited us to her annual Feast before the Fest at her place in the French Quarter. It was a full day of fun, sky was clear, air was dry, temperature was high of 72, low of 44. The streets of the quarter and river front were as full as any Mardi Gras. How great to live in New Orleans! ! !

Del and I parked at a vacant parking meter, walked a block and took the Lady in Red streetcar. Met a couple, Hubba (Harry) Mea and his wife Cathy, who were in town from Houma for the Fest. I told them I was born in Bayou Cane, and that was the section of Houma they lived in. They knew my cousins Roxy and Brian. Got off streetcar on Dumaine St and then walked to Carol's place. Was great to see her again, as we missed her last year when we were in Anaheim during the Fest. Two of her kids, Laurie and Steve were there, also our friends, Jessica and her husband, Lanaux, and Jo Huey.

The French Quarter Fest is marvelous with small stages set up along the street on Bourbon and Royal and larger ones on the river's edge at Woldenberg Park. We stopped at several of these. Reminded me of the early days of the Jazz Fest when you could walk up to a small stage and listen to a local band play a few songs and then walk down to another stage. Del and I were on a sidewalk on Bourbon St watching the Simmons Jazz Band when an old friend Andy Lowell walked past us and Del spotted him. We talked for a long time. He works for a company a few blocks from us in Gretna now. He had come to the Fest planning to eat at the food kiosks in the Jackson Square and was facing long lines to get food. Thanks to Carol's Feast, we didn't have to stand in the long lines we saw as we walked past Jackson Square to Woldenberg where we were meeting Gus and Annie.


On the way there, Theresa Chatelain came up and said hi to us. She recognized me and then Del. Was great to see Del's old pal from SMA again. Hi, T-Chat! We found Gus & Annie near the John Boutte stage, but we were too far away to hear Boutte sing clearly. Annie and Del sat on the steps, and Gus and I stood on the railing overlooking the river as it flowed by. The Woldenberg Park area was flooded with folks for the big name stars. For me the best bands were those on Bourbon and Royal Streets. The Norwegian Seaman's Jazz Band, etal. Luckily Gus didn't like crowded areas either, so when it became time to move, he and Annie came to the Royal Sonesta's Mystick Den to hear John Rankin in indoor venue. Actually, unbeknownst to me, Gus and Annie were heading there for the restroom. Gus had stayed at the Royal Sonesta many weekends before he finally moved to New Orleans permanently. He didn't know that the guy we were going to hear was playing in the very room we sat in while waiting for the gals to return from the rest room. We ordered crab appetizer for me and asparagus for Del. Annie got a cheese plate and Gus some Kobe beef appetizer.


We ate, drank, and enjoyed John's marvelous work on the guitar and harmonica. I heard him play these two instruments and sing one year over WWOZ radio at Jazz Fest time, and I thought he was part of a three-piece band. I didn't realize he did all three parts, guitar, harmonica and singing until I later saw him do it in person at the Columns Hotel on St. Charles. I asked John if he had tried singing and playing the harmonica at the same time. He laughed and said he was "working on it." Annie talked John's wife Patrice and bought John's new CD from her. John came over at the break and I introduced him to Gus. Gus loves Brazilian music and almost became a gypsy guitar player. "I wouldn't be alive today, if I had," Gus added, a comment about the wild lives of gypsy guitar players. John loves to play Brazilian music, so they hit it off right away. Told Annie that John plays the last gig at Twilight in the Park in August and they should find a way to come to it. Hopefully the Canal streetcars will be fully operational again by then and she can get away from work early on that day.

We walked back to Woldenberg and said goodbye to Gus and Annie, fully planning to board the Lady in Red (still using green cars for now) down to the Convention Center, but the cars that came by were jammed packed with people, and we didn't have the $1.25 apiece in exact change. We walked to Canal Place and to get a latte at Starbucks (and change) and it was too busy, so we walked over to the Starbucks in Harrah's Casino instead. After that we were so close to our parking spot, we just walked the rest of the way to our Maxima and drove home.

SONIAT AND RANKIN AT TWILIGHT CONCERT

Del and I went to see and hear Paul Soniat and John Rankin at the twilight concert in City Park. Soniat sang his idiosyncratic New Orleans songs like, "Do You Have a Favorite Pothole?" or the "Girl from Kenner" (pronounced "Kenna"-- "she could be slimma.") The trios with John Rankin were marvelous, John on the harmonica and guitar, and Paul on the piano. During the break we walked over to the Train Garden to see the electric trains and streetcars clicking around the large track area, meandering among miniature sections of New Orleans, train whistles droning in the deepening twilight. The roses along the path to the Train Garden were spectacularly in bloom. We have enjoyed these Twilight Concerts in City Park immensely. The flowers in bloom, the music and song, the walks in the garden at twilight, the Train Garden, and meeting friends there add up to a huge bargain for the $6 admission and a short drive across the river for us.

PIRATES HAVE MORE FUN

How did I end up at the Pirate Conference? Last year when we were in Garden Grove, California, I met this lady who said she was coming to New Orleans in a couple of weeks for a Pirate Conference. She told me about a parade through the French Quarter which we eventually found. I bought some authentic pirate clothes and gear and decided to attend the next conference which was this year. Apparently the pirates loved the French Quarter and being able to do pirate things like drinking rum on the street, so much that they voted to return for another invasion. On Friday I was up at 6:30 and made myself a hearty breakfast of hot grits and English muffins before hitting the seas to the unknown waters of Pyrate.con at the Holiday and Hampton Inns on Carondelet and Common downtown.

Ran into Bryan Dunn and Leslie right away and they recognized me. Bryan noticed that I was wearing the leather pouch that I had bought from him last year. You buy someone's pirate handiwork and they remember you forever. Met Steve and Melody Sanders. Steve is Blackbead, "It's Blackbeard without the ARRR!" as he likes to say. He and Mel are from Fort Worth, and he was selling flintlock pistols among other paraphernalia. I bought a small Russian model from him to fit into me belt for $27 silver pieces, don't ye know.

I went to the "Devil's in the Details" lecture about finding authentic pieces for a pirate costume. After the session, the leader offered letters of marque to all participants. You could choose your time period. I chose the reign of Charles II. My pirate name is Robespierre Mathotiana of the frigate The Grey Ghost, my birthday is July 20, 1740 and other details I filled in. In coming up with the name of my ship, I chose the name I gave to my first auto, a 1949 Plymouth whose hubcaps had a sailing ship on them, and which car I had given the name The Grey Ghost to. Amazing coincidence which lets me know there's a karmic connection between me and the name. Perhaps I sailed into or from Plymouth in an earlier incarnation. I have scanned the letter of marque and added the Plymouth hubcap logo to its top.

Another old friend I met for the first time was Capt. Thom Bedlam (Barnett is his real name). The word "bedlam" came from the insane hospital in Bethlehem, England, which became shortened over long usage to bedlam and entered the language to describe chaotic conditions like those inside an insanity ward of a hospital. Thom seemed always drunk, but when I started talking philosophy to him as I did at the feast over the French Market Café one night, he was sober as a judge. He showed me a magic trick in which he passed a coin through the table. He explained how he did it. I noticed that my eyes followed the hand with the tension even when I knew the coin was in the other hand. He knocked with the coin on the underside of the table but I could swear he was knocking the upperside of the table right before the coin fell through the table into his lower hand.

This process of the eye following the tension is used to great advantage by magicians. We have no other choice as observers but to follow the hand with tension because it is a life-saving strategy for us to do so. If someone pulls a weapon on us, the hand holding the weapon will be the one under tension. I had this thought: the difference between a magic trick and a con is that the magician eventually gives everything back, but the con artist does not. Also I identified that the expectation destroyed by the magician in a sleight-of-hand trick is that the audience's eye follows the hand with the tension. This correlates with my idea that "art is the process of destruction" in my essay by that name.

The pirate feast was simply some salad and sausage jambalaya. I drank some grog made of cranberry and orange juice and had a little of the seasoned jambalaya late into the evening. The Rusty Cutlass band, some 8 members strong, jigged and banged and sang for hours, — their lyrics were indecipherable for the most part, but few cared. It was literally bedlam inside the room and a quiet, cool evening out on the balcony with tables overlooking the Joan of Arc statue section of Decatur Street.

I met Captain Shayna Vest (aka Machette Betty) and graced her costume with a Rex doubloon. She in turn gave me a pirate doubloon with her website, www.dresslikeapirate.com, inscribed on it, together with a ready necklace which she attached around my neck.

On my way to the Pirate's Fest I walked along the river front and noticed that the river's water was lapping at the edges of the sidewalk running alongside the Natchez paddle-wheeler. The water was within a couple of feet of overtopping the sidewalk there. If the flood stage got a foot higher, they would have to close the eight foot high concrete floodgates which protect the city.

The Army Corps of Engineers had opened the Bonnet Carre Spillway to divert the flood waters coming down from the Midwest into Lake Pontchartrain and by the end of April, the peak of the flood barely missed by a fraction of an inch reaching the 17 foot official flood stage mark on the Carrollton gauge. I used to work for the Corps around 1980 and we could walk out of our office on break and observe the flood gauge. When it got close to the 17 foot level all the old-timers would begin cheering and urging the waters to top the gauge so they could go onto automatic overtime pay. Seemed rather strange that some of the people in charge of preventing flooding would earnestly hope for flooding to occur. At least just enough to get them some extra hours and not hurt anyone. Anyone who knocks the Corps should keep in mind just how successful their flood control efforts have been to keep New Orleans high and dry from Mississippi flooding since the disastrous 1927 flood.

There was another day of meetings and fun topped off by our invasion of the French Quarter. Invasion is pirate-speak for parade. Our Belle Dame Grand Marshall was the inimitable Scarlett Harlot who regaled us with toasts as she wriggled in the large white carriage and led we pirates into the French Quarter.

When I stopped for my morning latte at PJ's Coffeeshop, my favorite server there, Yvonne, was taken aback by my costume. I arrived at the Holiday Inn conference room just in time to attend the Sea Chanty lecture and it turned out to be 10% lecture and 90% singing. Now the schedule wrote it as Sea Shanty, and I was curious as to what a broken shack by the sea would look like. I happened to sit next to a Mr. Henderson who was a Chanty Master himself on several sailing ships around the world. This is the guy whose job it is to lead the songs to keep the crews happy as they heave and haul their way through their jobs. Heave is to push and haul is to pull aboard ship. The capstan is heaved around to do large jobs and the various hauling jobs such a lifting the anchor or sheets of the sails. There are long haul chanties and short haul chanties as befits the job at hand. The Chanty Master has the job of varying the lyrics to amuse the crew by sprinkling in bawdy variations of the lyrics, often making them up from topical events on the ship or shore. Great fun. I bought Willoughby Caught's books of chanties when I realized that we weren't coming back for the Sunday session because we had a full day planned with our daughter and grandson.

After the chanty lecture/singalong I met Lee and Sherry from Kansas City who wanted to find a place to eat. The first place we chose wouldn't let us eat in the fine dining area because we would have to remove our headgear, plus we'd have to wait just to eat in the café. We decided to go elsewhere. So we went into Felix' Oyster House. Lee and I shared a dozen oysters and he raved about them. After he described what passed for oysters in Kansas City: "Tiny, greasy, and no flavor," I understood why he liked our Louisiana oysters so much. I had an oyster po-boy after the raw oysters. Then we headed back to the Holiday Inn. We had passed Thom Bedlam on our way into the French Quarter — he was heading back to Holiday Inn. Then, as we headed back to the Holiday Inn, Thom was headed into the French Quarter. Since I had nothing to do at the Holiday Inn, I joined Tom and said goodby to Lee and Sherry. Tom was headed for the Court of Two Sisters. On Saturday and Sunday all they serve is the $28 buffet. I led Tom through the court to Royal St. He said he was hungry so we walked around to Bourbon again and went to eat in the Court's café on Bourbon. He got a sandwich and I got a glass of water. Then we walked back to the Holiday Inn. I talked to Blackbead. He invited me into his sales area to read a poem about Danny who returns home and when he tells his stories of being a pirate, all the guys in the pub decide to become one.

I drove home to get Del for the parade. I napped as she dressed up as Camille Rose. I added the loop earring she bought for me. She also wore a long blonde wig and headband to complete the Camille Rose look. We got to Holiday Inn too late to go through the sales areas, so we waited in the middle of Carondelet for the parade to start. We talked to folks, and I was able to introduce her to most of the people I'd met during my two days. Around 6 pm, pirate time, the parade started and we marched en masse down Bourbon Street, all the way to the Tropical Isle and Funky Pirate.

Del said she wanted oysters and that required a walk almost back to Canal Street to Felix's. She had two dozen and I had one dozen. Then we walked back to Funky Pirate but we were ready to head towards home. This pirate thing was the only conference I'd ever been to which had 4 hours of events beginning at Midnight each day! The Hornets-Mavericks NBA playoff game was nearing its end so I checked the progress of the game as we walked back towards Canal Street down Bourbon.

Finally with 3 minutes left in game and the Hornets ahead we parked ourselves in a small bar and watched the end of the game. We continued our walk and reached our Maxima alongside Bon Ton Restaurant, our favorite restaurant and noted as we passed it about 10 pm that they were open on Saturday nights. We came home and I crashed after I watched the sports news of the Hornets amazing comeback against Dallas to lead the series, 2-0.

SHAKESPEARE SOCIETY

This year marked my third appearance in a Shakespeare play for the New Orleans Shakespeare Society. I played the part of the Second Gentleman whose conversation with the First Gentleman was introduced by the Chorus thus: "Now take we to Westminister. A street/To hear the comment of the common folk." My part this year was doubly easy for me: I had to speak only a dozen or so short lines and I played the part of the common folk, something for which I've been practicing all my life! It was much fun. I compare that fun to the lugubrious experience of rehearsing for plays in several acting courses I took. Many rehearsals in uncomfortable venues, memorizing lines, learning to move across stage at the right time, and the long boring waits between scenes. In the last play I did, a Poe play, I died and then I had to arise to strike the set! The ignominy of it all — a resurrection shouldn't involve returning as a stage hand! But the New Orleans Shakespear Society is great. We have only one rehearsal, in black tie (so you could call it a dress rehearsal), in the best room of the finest restaurant in New Orleans. We read the play for the first time after a fine meal topped off with Baked Alaska for dessert. Then four days later we read the play, again in black-tie tuxedos, in front of a prestigious club for our final performance! After which we top the evening off with a Bard's repast of beef and ale. Two great events and the stage is dark until another year passes and Will's birthday comes around again. I thought of how the Shakespeare Society has been doing this for over a hundred years, in the same restaurant, in front of the same club, and suddenly waves of players appeared in my mind who walked the same path as I did and whose spirits must have filled the rooms during our two readings.

FIRST of TWO 50TH HIGH SCHOOL REUNIONS FOR 2008

I went to Westwego Elementary School, grades 1-4, and then Westwego High School, grades 5-9. Those five years at Wego High was the greatest number of years I spent at any school or college. Plus, most of my classmates I had known for nine years by the time my folks pulled up roots and moved 25 miles west in the summer of 1955. That fall, if we had stayed in Westwego, I would have gone to the first year of the consolidated school for Westwego, Marrero, and Gretna students in Grades 10 to 12. I spent three years finishing high school at Hahnville High School in adjacent St. Charles Parish and never set foot inside the West Jefferson High School where my Wego classmates graduated. About ten years ago, I met a classmate, Joy Adams Beck, with whom I shared the classroom for nine years and discovered that she was on the reunion committee for West Jeff. She graciously allowed me to attend the reunions. This 50 year reunion meant for the actual graduates there, seeing perhaps some classmates they had not seen for 50 years, but for me, it meant seeing a classmate, Wayne Este, that I had not seen for 53 years, since we left school in 1955.

But before the reunion took place that night there were two events which took place, one scheduled and one unscheduled. I had invited my friend Gus from Algiers point to a breakfast at my club. I loaded up the car with some plants for him and Annie: forsythia, staghorn, green striped bromeliads, and spider iris, and brought them over when I went to pick up Gus.

Came back after the breakfast about 2 pm and the rain started. And it kept raining. That was the unscheduled event: 8 to 10" of rain which required me to clean out the drain from all the accumulated landscape mulch that neighbors have placed around shrubbery on the parish property service area. That debris stopped up the drain and the water backed up to the East Portico garden twice. Luckily, the knee boots I had recently ordered had just come, and I kept my feet wet even if the rest of me got soaked.

Luckily the West Jeff 50th Reunion was at the Timberlane Country Club, so we didn't have to worry about flooded streets to get there and it was only 5 minutes away. But Del was at her mom's place in Algiers where it had flooded and she couldn't get home until almost 7 pm. We dressed and arrived at the Timberlane Country Club at 8 pm, thinking that was the start, but it had actually started at 7 pm and the place was already full. Took some time to find my classmates in the crowd. I saw Wayne Este's name on the log, and went looking for him, and he recognized me while I was looking for him. We talk for a long time, not having seen each others since 1955. Maxine Bergeron Palmer, Carolyn Pizani Duplantis, and Tony Celino were my other classmates who were there.

I recognized Jim Palmer, Maxine's husband who also went to Wego Hi and Bobby Duplantis who went to Holy Cross, but lived around the block from me in Westwego and we used to play at his house. It was a fun evening and quite an exhausting day by the time we got home and crashed for the evening. Del and I had to get up and drive 4 hours to Alexandria to attend our granddaughter's confirmation the next day.

In October we will attend my Hahnville High School 50th Reunion. I went to a meeting of the reunion committee the other day and the question came up whether people who went to Hahnville, but didn't graduate should be invited to the reunion or not. My comment was, "Reunions are about meeting people you haven't seen in many years. I'm going the reunion of a high school I never set foot in, West Jefferson, this Saturday. If they will let me in, why should not let people who actually went to Hahnville in?" They agreed.

GRANDPARENT WEEKENDS at RUMMEL & OLPS

Our grandson, Gabriel Bayhi, joined us for Grandparents Day at his high school. He is a freshman and in his first year at Archbishop Rummel, a Catholic High School. I asked him if he knew the full name of the man his school was named after. He couldn't quite recall it, probably because he had only heard it once or twice. I had no trouble remembering it because by his age I had heard it perhaps a thousand times. Every Sunday it seemed, there was a letter from our Archbishop Joseph Francis Rummel that had to be read at all masses. It's a hard name to forget after all that exposure over 10 to 15 years every Sunday. The Sunday of Grandparents coincided with the Bayhi Family Day and Crawfish Boil across the Lake, so we picked up Gabe, took him to the Holy Mass and the luncheon afterwards, and then we hied across the Lake to Nobie and Kathleen's crawfish boil. Got there just in time to eat the last of the crawfish and talk to Maureen, Steve, Chris, Jennifer and Anthony, Tiffany and John. Plus our two great-grandsons Aven and Ben. A third great-grandson is on our way via Tiffany and John as she is pregnant again. Seems that after an early spate of girls, all the grandkids and great-grandkids are coming as boys.

The following Sunday, the morning after the West Jeff 50th Reunion, Del and I were up early to drive to Alexandria for our grand-daughter's confirmation.

As I sat in Our Lady of Prompt Succor Church in Alexandria, my thoughts went back to my confirmation by Archbishop Joseph Francis Rummel in Our Lady of Prompt Succor Church in Westwego when I was about 13. I was amazed by the symmetry of the two weekend events. First event at Archbishop Rummel High School with Gabe and second one at Our Lady of Prompt Succor church with Katie, same named church to the one where I was confirmed at Our Lady of Prompt Succor by Archbishop Rummel in Westwego.

We took Katie and her brother Thomas and their parents, Kim and Wes, to dinner at the restaurant of Katie's choosing. She chose Hana Restaurant and we were served delicious food cooked in front of our eyes and put directly into our plates. After dinner we drove back home to find the Hornets playoff game was barely into the third quarter and Wes and I watched the Hornets win their first game against the Mavericks on their home court in over ten years. By the end of the night Katie was confirmed, we were all filled with good food, and the Hornets were leading the Mavs 3 games to 1 in the NBA playoffs. As soon as the game was over, I joined Del in bed and we got up the next morning to motor back home in time for Del to attend her investment club luncheon meeting at a neighbor's home.

HOW DOES OUR GARDEN GROW?

This is the first year that we have put in a vegetable garden at Timberlane. Acquisition of our Echo Tiller, Tillie, has made it possible to cultivate and till the soil which we have bio-dynamically mulched and treated for years. For over 10 years now we have stopped using pesticides and fertilizers at Timberlane. We've watched as ladybugs came back naturally to eat away the excess aphids and other mites in the garden. You've seen my photos of ladybugs in these pages. When my first avocado tree blooms occurred, I watched their development carefully and noticed that only ladybugs crawled over the blooms. They were the likely pollinators. Katrina laid down the mother avocado that I nursed for 15 years and now several avocado trees are growing, but it will take another 5 to 10 years before I see any fruit from the new trees.

I gave a report in my Digest last month of the veggies we planted. A month later I can report that we have eaten at least one radish a day from our garden and the ones remaining are blooming and preparing seeds for our next year's batch of radishes. I have commercial seeds for the fall crop of radishes, but next year I hope to use seeds grown in our bio-dynamic soil. As I pulled the radishes out to eat, I broke out the greens and placed them alongside the growing radish plants to return their nutrients to the soil.

Have you noticed that it's almost impossible to buy bags of garden soil at local Home Depot stores? With the Miracle-Gro logo on the bags, every single one has some chemical fertilizer in it. They will only stop doing that when Americans stop buying their product. We have had Del's garden club meet here at Timberlane and several ladies asked us, "What type of fertilizer do you use?" They presupposed that our amazing results must have come from an amazing fertilizer, but the truth is it came from our bio-dynamic mulch treatment (barrel compost) and the organic mulch that we recycle back into the ground.

Our grapefruit tree drops grapefruit on the ground and if they split, bugs get in them. I used to clean away the rotting fruit, but now I allow them rot in place, shoveling dirt and leaves over them turns the fruit into soil in the course of about a week. Clean and garden does not go together. That much I have learned about gardening. Gloves and gardening does not go together. If you wear gloves to keep your hands and fingernails clean, you keep away from the vegetable plants the very information about your body's chemicals and toxins that would allow them to alter their protein structures to repair when you eat their produce. Plants have highly volatile transposable genes which adjust to toxins in the environment to counter-balance them. Who made them that way? God knows.

We've eaten the first cucumber and there are hundreds of small ones growing. I have a cucumber growing out of another cucumber's middle. Right now it's a flower, but there's a tiny cucumber between the flower and the cucumber. If you look carefully, you can see the flower stalk running along and embedded into the skin of the cucumber. The large mother cucumber made get ripe before the baby is ready to eat, but it's certainly a rare occurrence, so far as I can tell.

Our Creole tomatoes are about golf ball size now and they will be ripe by mid-May. We have the sauce ingredients ready for them: Blue Plate Mayonnaise and Wish-Bone Italian dressing, equal volumes mixed well together. My mouth is watering now as I remember the future.

What else? Bunches of parsley grown from seed. One cherry tomato plant. Three purple eggplant plants that are flowering. The bell peppers and snap bean plants are not doing well and may not fruit, but I will adjust next year. The sunflower plants are about six inches high and we should have some sunflower seeds to eat, with luck. My three okra plants are beginning to look healthy. I planted them a bit early and I will wait till later in the year next year. Hope to get some seeds from them as well. I noticed the tomatoes I planted as seedlings are growing now about as high as the ones I planted from seeds. May try only tomato plants from seeds next year.

Overall, it's been a marvelous experience to walk into the garden every morning, pull out a few weeds, eat a radish or two, pinch the suckers from the tomato plants, and breathe in the pollen and fragrant smells all around the garden.

BASEBALLS BOUNCING OFF BATS AND BASKETBALLS OFF FLOORS

Seems like the LSU baseball team has had games scheduled on almost every night that the New Orleans Hornets did for the entire month of April. Tuesday nights, Wednesday nights, Friday nights, and even Sunday noon games. Luckily my new HP laptop can receive WI-FI and I can watch the LSU games on it at my desktop while doing website maintenance tasks, and if a Hornets game comes on while I'm watching the LSU game, I can carry my LT over into the Screening Room and watch both the baseball game and the NBA basketball game. I'm amazed at how many basketball plays can be executed during the time it takes to get one batter out, especially if he fouls a lot of pitches off.

One night I watched LSU beat Nicholls State with backups, 11-2. Then the Hornets whipped LA Clippers 112 to about 90. They won going away to win their very first division crown, Byron Scott's 300th game, and to top the required attendance required to devoid the opt-out clause in the contract with the State. Not bad for one night's work.

While it rained that day of my club's breakfast and the West Jeff Reunion, I watched the LSU — South Carolina Game. Could the Tigers beat the Gamecocks, No. 7 team in the nation for the second day in a row? The game was the most exciting game of the year. In 9th inning Nicholas Pontiff hit a two run homer to tie the score at 9 and the video went out. I switched to the audio-only Internet feed and then at the bottom of the 10th the audio went out. The radio scheduled to air the game, AM 1350, didn't. Had to wait for the Times-Picayune the next morning to find the Tigers won! In the 11th inning. They went on to sweep the vaunted Gamecocks in Sunday's game, which was rained delayed until I couldn't watch the ending of that game either due to a dinner engagement with our granddaughter Katie Gralapp who had just made her confirmation! After the dinner at Hana Restaurant, we came home to watch the Hornets beat the Mavericks on their home court for the first time in 10 years.

Last night our friends, Chris and Carla Bryant stopped by on their way from Corpus Christi, TX to Gainesville, Florida.

They hit a huge traffic backup in Baton Rouge and by the time they arrived, Chris could join me in the Screening Room to watch the Hornets polish off the Mavericks to win the first playoff round, 4 games to 1. Byron Scott won Coach of the Year, and Chris Paul with his Triple Double cemented his case for Most Valuable Player of the NBA for 2008. The next team to come to town will likely also spur us on to victory . . . .

SO LONG FOR NOW . . .

And the time to say goodbye has arrived once again. I've probably left out some activities and missed taking photos of people along the way. It's hard to stop to take photos when you're having fun, and it's much harder to find time to write about what happened while you were having fun. But . . . it's always fun having you visit with us retrospectively each month, so I work hard to make sure you have a good time during your visit. Now I get a few days break after the email notification of the new Digest085 goes out. Till next month, God Willing and the Mississippi River continues to fall below the flood stage of 17 feet on the Carrollton Gauge, we'll see you in these pages formed out of blank space by recycled electrons, pixels, and fun thoughts. May you have many happy May days of blooming flowers and family blessings.

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New Quotes Added to quotes.htm this month:
  • Big talkers reach the end of their wits over and over again.
    Lao-tzu ( Chinese philosopher ) US writer

  • One ship sails east
    The other west
    By the selfsame gales that blow . . .
    'Tis not the gales,
    But the set of the sails
    That shows ye the way to go!

    — Errol Flynn Toast (a pirate's toast, author unknown)
  • New Stuff about Website:
  • My Five Favorite Novels over Past Five Years

    1. Denis Guedj's The Parrot’s Theorem

    How can a novel be a runaway bestseller in France and not be heard of in the United States? It must have something to do with mathematics, one might guess, and one would be right. Within the cover of this 344 page novel, the author weaves into the fabric of an adventure story the fascinating history of mathematics, covering every major mathematician's life and contribution. This is not likely to pull viewers away from Survivor, Dancing with Celebrities, Bridezilla, or any popular sitcom on television these days. The author is a professor of the History of Science in Paris and must be delighted at the response of his country to his tale of the origin of mathematics up to the present day.

    Don't like math, but love a good story involving pets? Don't like pets, but love mystery stories? This novel will bring you entertainment if you answered yes to any of the above questions.

    2. Yann Martel's Life of Pi

    A funny and insightful look at Hollywood funeral practices by the Englishman, Evelyn Waugh (EEVE'- LYNN WHAW). A Perennially popular ARJ Review.
    Excerpt from Review: Are you ready to be bamboozled? The author goes to India and is told by a friend that people there like words like "bamboozle." Well, by the time you've read this novel, you may have the feeling that you've been bamboozled. The Japanese representatives of the ship that sank with Pi and his family on it certainly felt bamboozled by the end of their interview with Pi. You can read the comments in their report at the end of the book.

    The essence of the story that Pi tells the author is presented on the cover of the book: a 450 lb. Bengal tiger and a 16-year-old Indian boy are adrift in a lifeboat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean for about seven months and survived to tell the story. Well, the tiger ran off into the jungle, and the boy grew into a man who told the story. And what a story it is — one to astonish, amaze, and stretch one's credulity to the limit.

    The author came across this story while sitting in a coffeeshop in Pondicherry, India and chatting with an elderly man who promised to tell him a story that will make him believe in God. The San Diego Union-Tribune said that the "Life of Pi may not make you believe in God. But it will make you believe in literature." In "The Author's Notes" Martel comments that, "If we, citizens, do not support our artists, then we sacrifice our imagination on the altar of crude reality and we end up believing in nothing and having worthless dreams." He understands that the true artist transcends what others take for reality. The true artist destroys the illusion of sameness that pervades the accepted manner of art(1). The true artist blows holes in the crude reality of accepted art and allows us to see through to a deeper world which would have never existed but for the artist's work. If we believe in nothing or have worthless dreams, we need a shock that can only be provided by a true artist existing in our own time. Yann Martel is such an artist.

    Read the novel and prepare to be surprised.

    3. Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair

    Here is an amazing book by a Catholic theologian. My friend Len Daley recommended this book to me. Got time to live dangerously a little? Read this fine book.
    Excerpt from Review:

    This book came to my attention shortly after I finished "The Time Traveler's Wife" and because it also involved time travel, I bought a copy right away. A couple of my friends and I memorized first sentences from novels, such as "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times" ("A Tale of Two Cities") and "Call me Ishmael." ("Moby Dick") This novel belongs in the pantheon of novels with great first sentences with this memorable gem:

    [page 1] My father had a face that could stop a clock.
    Try forgetting that one. Her father was a time traveler and whenever he visited her, time would literally stop during his visit, which was usually at inopportune times, but also at very opportune times as you will see when you read the novel. Did you ever wish you could change the ending to Jane Eyre and let her marry Rochester in the end? This novel allowed you to do exactly that. Read it.

    4. Marina Budhos's The Professor of Light

    "Summers we went to England." begins this novel novel which is written by a professor of light as much as it is about a professor of light. Marino using words as her palette brushes and gushes color over the pages of this book with flowing scenes of light-filled brilliance, such as this story in which her father originally becomes a "professor of light." Her father, as a boy in school, was brought back to reality by the schoolmaster's voice thundering "Warren Singh!" into his ear and slamming a ruler onto his knuckles. This is the kind of writing Marina fills her novel with — one can only believe that she lived a life balancing between Guyana and India, the United States and England herself to have written so vividly and evocatively about Meggie Singh, the daughter of the eponymous Professor of Light. The professor who works his way through the novel working his way through a book about light and its physical properties, all the while his daughter is working her way through the book describing light and its supra-physical properties.

    [page 5] My father was a dreamer, a storyteller, a thinker. Always restless, he moved from mathematics to physics to philosophy. He had a fickleness of character, a terror of the finish line. For years, he'd been struggling to complete his book, an extraordinary opus that blended the various disciplines he had trumped through, and dared to resolve the particle-wave paradox of light.
    As a physicist myself with an artist daughter a lot like Meggie, I could relate to the way he taught Meggie his craft and she reflected back his words into amazing visual images of the world of people, scenery, ideas and feelings into which her father had given her a full-immersion baptism. Are you well-washed yourself? If not, or either you will enjoy reading this novel.

    5. Mark Helprin's Winter's Tale

    The epic scope of this novel reminded me of William Cowper Powys's great novel, A Glastonbury Romance. Both involve a resurrection, but the Glastonbury one takes place in midsummer and the New York City one takes place in midwinter. Actually most of the scenes take place in winter, not just one winter, but many winters. All the action outdoors takes place in the middle of extreme cold — the Hudson River is frozen solid all the way from the ocean to its source. Helprin has written a paean to New York City and a love song to winter. Not the bitter cold, desolate winters when everyone huddles inside for warmth, but a vibrant, active winter full of evocative scenes of festive block parties on ice, ice-boating on large lakes, ice skating on frozen rivers, and midnight silvery sleigh rides bouncing over snowy hillocks or gliding silently over glassy smooth ice surrounded by quaint candle-lit Dutch villages along the fictional Lake of the Coheeries near the headwaters of the Hudson. This novel makes great summer reading as it will keep you in a perpetual chill as you read it.

    What Powys did for Glastonbury, Helprin has done for New York City — written a love story of a place — in which the place is the key character and everyone else has bit parts. Peter Lake has the biggest bit part as we follow him from orphan to Bayman, to pickpocket, to burgular, to mechanic, and to savior. We watch enthralled as he falls in love with a true ice queen, Beverly. With a terminal lung disease, consumption, she runs an intermittent fever and is only comfortable sleeping in a tent on the roof of her father's mansion in the city so she can breathe the icy air twenty-four hours a day.

    Buy a copy of this book and wait for a hot summer day and it will cool you a bit as well as entertain you.





  • ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Movies we watched this past month:

    Notes about our movies: Many of the movies we watch are foreign movies with subtitles. After years of watching movies in foreign languages, Arabic, French, Swedish, German, British English, Russian, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, and many other languages, sometimes two or three languages in the same movie, the subtitles have disappeared for us. If the movie is dubbed in English we go for the subtitles instead because we enjoy the live action and sounds of the real voices so much more than the dubbed. If you wonder where we get all these foreign movies from, the answer is simple: NetFlix. For a fixed price a month they mail us DVD movies from our on-line Queue, we watch them, pop them into a pre-paid mailer, and the postman effectively replaces all our gas-consuming and time-consuming trips to Blockbuster. To sign up for NetFlix, simply go to http://www.netflix.com/ and start adding all your requests for movies into your personal queue. If you've seen some in these movie blurbs, simply copy the name, click open your queue, and paste the name in the Search box on NetFlix and Select Add. Buy some popcorn and you're ready to Go to the Movies, 21st Century Style. You get to see your movies as the Director created them — NOT-edited for TV, in full-screen width, your own choice of subtitles, and all of the original dialogue. Often you get the Director's Cut Edition which adds back excellent footage that was cut from the theater releases.
    P. S. Look for HD/DVD format movies which are now available from NetFlix.
    Hits (Watch as soon as you can. A Don't Miss Hit is one you might otherwise ignore.):

    “Rendition” (2007), 1st Viewing, See DW157 When the accused terrorist is tortured and finally gives up a soccer team as his accomplices, it’s time for his captor to give up and release him, but not before a fine movie runs its course. Thank God his captor was a desk man and not a Jackel. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
    “World Trade Center” (2006) Nicolas Cage & fellow officer trapped in WTC collapse. Will they be rescued in time? Oliver Stone’s gripping docudrama is a DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
    “Sense & Sensibility” (2008) where Eleanor seems to be the repository of both. And gets her man Edward in the end. Farris fair. (BBC) A DON’T MISS HIT!
    “The Amateurs” (2005) Loser Jeff Bridges sans wife, job, money, and meaning for life decides to film a porno movie. He gets some idiot to write and direct it. Let me say that exactly, his friend, Some Idiot, does the job. The "dirty movie dozen" flubs the dirty movie but in the process creates a hilarious and insightful movie which has to be seen to be believed, and enjoyed.
    “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter” (2008, Lifetime Channel) An extraordinary good movie about twins separated at birth with this twist: the boy was normal, the girl had Down’s Syndrome. Delivered by the father during a blizzard, he gives the girl to his nurse to take to a home, and the nurse decides to raise the girl herself. The story of the disastrous effects of a secret on its keeper and the lives it affects.
    “The Nanny Diaries” (2007) Scarlett Johansson plays a new college graduate Annie whose name got her mistaken for a nanny, and thereupon hangs a tale of maturation for Annie and her boss, the mother of a 4-year-old boy who has no clue how to treat either her son or his nanny as human beings. Annie’s diary narrates the movie and dubs the parents as Mr. and Mrs. X and the man who wins her heart as the Harvard Hottie.
    “Juno” (2007), this is an amazing movie. Breaks all the expectations one might have for 16-yr-old girl getting pregnant. Her attitude, her clarity of intention, her joie-de-vivre all set this apart into a DON’T MISS HIT ! ! ! !
    “Gracie” (2007) Can’t ever remember watching a true story of the childhood of an adult actress who plays the child’s mother. Elizabeth Shue was Gracie and played soccer on the boy’s team when no one else had ever done it before.
    “Charlie Wilson’s War” (2007) A witty look behind a covert operation to supply Afghanis with weapons to stop the Russian copters and tanks from destroying their people. Never expected so much humor in a spy movie. A DON’T MISS HIT ! !
    “For the Boys” (1991) James Caan, George Segal, and Bette Midler fill the screen with WWII reminiscences and wide ranges of love, hate relationships running up to the present. A DON’T MISS HIT !
    “Barcelona” (1994) Navy officer moves in with his cousin and announces that,unlike fish, he will stink on the first day. He does. Miro Sorvina tells her friends, “I won’t go to bed with just anyone — I have to be attracted to them sexually.” The cousin is a Bible-dancing fool. And the fun keeps happening in Barcelona, a bachelor’s paradise.
    “Memory” (2007) Billy Zane has a “mind like a memory” as Calvin liked to say, only it’s his mother’s memory, or is it his father’s memory? A medical, scientific, anthropological mystery or is it a horror show? Get your Nancy Drew muscles ready to try to figure this one, gang.
    “Mother Teresa” (2003) Olivia Hussey stars in this amazing docudrama of the sainted nun of Calcutta. If you thought you knew about Mother Teresa, watch this movie and learn about her up close and personal. A DON’T MISS HIT !
    “Lady Chatterley” (2006) trysts with the Gamekeeper while her husband is paralyzed. Takes a while to get accustomed to French-speaking English characters in an English setting with French sex scenes. Long movie filled with lovely scenes outside and inside the cabin in the woods.

    Misses (Avoid At All Costs): We attempted to watch these this month, but didn't make it all the way through on most of them. Awhile back when three AAAC horrors hit us in one night, I decided to add a sub-category to "Avoid at All Costs", namely, A DVD STOMPER. These are movies so bad, you don't want anyone else to get stuck watching them, so you want to stomp on the disks. That way, if everyone else who gets burnt by the movie does the same, soon no copies of the awful movie will be extant and the world will be better off.

    “Hitman” (2007) was no Hit. Sure he killed a lot of people, but lacked the humanity of Jason Bourne and the flair of Wesley Snipes. Plot hard to follow and putting the gal in the trunk with her dead chauffeur was a bit much.
    “Love in the Time of Cholera” (2007) we wanted to like this one and tried to watch it, but it was soporific to the max.
    “What’s Cooking” (2000) is dysfunctional families in a multi-cultural neighborhood lying to each other and trying to have a Thanksgiving feast. Avoid this Turkey At All Costs


    Your call on these — your taste in movies may differ, but I liked them:

    “Enchanted” (2007) A funny thing happened to Giselle on the way to the palace: she climbed out of a NYC Sewer. What’s an enchanted princess to do in a city full of disenchanted people? Maybe get them to dance in the streets . . . have fun . . . it’s your call. .
    “Journey of the Fifth Horse” (1996) Dustin Hoffman in the Turgenev play about superfluous people. A clerk in a publishing firm is forced to read a diary and we get to see the event played out as he reads it. Amazing production.
    “There Will Be Blood” (2007) and Daniel Day Lewis will ensure it, time and again. Oil and Blood. A rich man gone mad and alienating his friends or killing them. A hard look at California oil fields and one immoral man who bulldozed people’s lives and squandered his own while accumulating hollow wealth. Oscar prominence and still only a Your Call from our Screening Room.
    "Dan in Real Life" (2007) Steve Carell is Dan, an advice columnist who needs a lot of advice when he falls in love with his brother's new girl friend during a Thanksgiving family celebration. You'll probably like it, too.


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    4. CAJUN STORY:
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    Boudreaux and Marie had been married for about a year. He went to the doctor for a checkup and the doctor told him, “Boudreaux, you are in bad shape.”

    “Mais, how bad is it, Doc?”

    “Boudreaux, I know you’re not feeling bad, but the tests don’t lie. Your condition is incurable and inoperative. I hate to tell you this, but you will die before daylight tomorrow morning. I suggest you go home and spend the evening with your lovely wife, Marie.”

    So Boudreaux went down to drugstore in Breaux Bridge, bought a large magnum of their best Andre’s champagne, and went home to see Marie. She was broken-hearted when he told her the news, as he expected. So he took out the bottle of champagne and said, “Marie, Ah t’ink we should drink this champagne, dance to some zydeco music on the Ville Platte radio station, and den go to bed and make some mad, passionate love! W’at you t’ink, Sha?”

    Marie looked at Boudreaux severely and said in a loud voice, “Dat’s fine for you! You don’t have to get up in the morning!”

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    5. RECIPE of the MONTH for May, 2008 from Bobby Jeaux’s Kitchen:
    (click links to see photo of ingredients, preparation steps)
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    Lemon Meringue Pie

    Background on Lemon Meringue Pie: Annette Babin Matherne, my mother, made the best lemon meringue pies. The filling was opaque, not clear like so many commercial lemon pie. Her secret was using Jello Lemon Pie Filling, the kind you cook, not the instant. Also she used evaporated milk instead of water which gave it more flavor. Her meringues were always beautiful, with droplets of vanilla extruding upon the top of the brown meringue. Give it a try. Makes two deep dish delicious pies.

    Ingredients
    3 (2.9 oz size) boxes of Jello Lemon Pie Filling
    6 cups milk (3 cups evap milk with 3 cups water)
    8 large eggs
    2 cups sugar for filling
    1 cup sugar for meringue
    1 TBSP Cornstarch
    2 TBSP Vanilla extract

    Preparation of Pie Filling
    Carefully separate egg yolks without breaking the yolk. Save clear liquid of eggs for meringue. Dump Jello Lemon Pie filling in large mixing bowl, add 1.5 cups of sugar and 4.5 cups of milk, stirring till well mixed. In a separate smaller mixing bowl add 1.5 cup of milk, .5 cup of sugar, and egg yolks. Stir well then add into Jello mixture and blend together. Quick method: Preheat filling mixture in 8 cup measuring cup in microwave for 15-20 mins, then transfer to to MED-LOW preheated pot on the stove. Stir with whisk to remove lumps until mixture has thickened.

    Preparation of Pie Crusts
    Punch holes with fork in crust, then place the two deep dish pie crusts in preheated oven at 400 degF for 10 minutes.

    Preparation of Meringue
    Place the egg whites into a bowl, begin beating the eggs and add 2 TBSP per egg. Add 1 TBSP of vanilla for each 4 eggs. Place 2 TBSP of cornstarch in cold water and stir with spoon till no lumps, then heat in microwave till it thickens and add to egg whites being beaten.

    Final Preparations
    Remove baked pie shells from oven, add pie filling to each one, spatula meringue over the tops of the pies, place in 375 degF oven, and bake about 10 to 12 mins or until meringue turns a golden brown.

    Serving Suggestions
    Let cool completely before serving. Can be chilled overnight in refrigerator before serving.



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    6. POETRY by BOBBY:
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    The Reed Flute

    Hazrat Inayat Khan points out on page 190 of “Sufi Teachings” that when Christ Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit," He was referring directly to being poor in a "self-created spirit" — that is, the little self or ego. Thus, it would be better understood today if we were to say it this way, "Blessed are those who are empty of the little ego."

    Khan wrote, “Rumi has given a beautiful picture of this. He tells why the melody of the reed flute makes such an appeal to our hearts. It is, he says, because first it is cut away from its original stem, and then holes have been made in its heart so that the heart has been broken, and it begins to cry.”

    As you read the poem, imagine hearing a lilting melody by Zamfir on his reed flute.

    The Reed Flute

    It is only when
           we become poor in spirit,
           hollowed of ego
           like the reed flute,
    That God can create melodies
           flowing through our bodies.


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    7. REVIEWS and ARTICLES for May:
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    And for my Good Readers, here’s the new reviews and articles for this month. The ARJ2 ones are new additions to the top of A Reader’s Journal, Volume 2, Chronological List, and the ART ones to A Reader’s Treasury.

    1.) ARJ2: A Life for the Spirit — Rudolf Steiner in the Crosscurrents of Our Time by Henry Barnes

    One can undertake to read and study all of Rudolf Steiner's 600 books to discover the importance of his work in the areas of medicine, architecture, dance, song, language, sculpture, drama, poetry, prophecy, government, Christianity, evolution of humanity and consciousness, and the diversity of life in the physical and spiritual realms. Or one could get bird's eye view of his life and works from this book of 308 pages by Henry Barnes. In one brief volume, Barnes provides a review of the various stages of Steiner's life (1861 - 1925) with ample quotes from his autobiography and major books and lecture series. This book would be an important research aid to anyone working on a movie about Steiner's life.

    Steiner chose one word to represent his life's work, anthroposophy. He coined from the Greek word for the complete human being anthropos and the word for wisdom sophia. Together they represent the wisdom of the full human being composed of body, soul, and spirit. Steiner called anthroposophy simply "as a path that would lead the spirit in the human being to the spirit in the universe." (Page 4) There is no better time to study Steiner's work than now, when humankind stands on the brink of a materialistic chasm which we may stumble into while sleepwalking through life. Barnes comes up with a splendid quote from Christopher Fry from his 1951 book, A Sleep of Prisoners:

    [page 7]
          Thank God our time is now when wrong
          Comes up to face us everywhere,
          Never to leave us till we take
          The longest stride of soul men ever took.
          Affairs are now soul size.
          The enterprise
          Is exploration into God.
          Where are you going? It takes
          So many thousands of years to wake,
          But will you wake for pity's sake?

    Our affairs are always soul size, but in a world that is lacking soul, what can the average person do with a soul that materialistic science claims does not exist? Instead it avers that everything which happens to a human being is explainable by atoms and molecules which simply obey the laws of physics, chemistry, genetics, physiology, geology, and so on. Such abstract thinking places soul in the category of a human delusion instead of a veritable human reality and resource. If the spirit in us is ever to find the spirit in the universe, we must each embark upon a personal exploration into God — because God is the name under which we subsume all the spiritual beings in the universe.

    Steiner was born on the border of Hungary and Croatia where his father Johann had been sent as station master and telegraph operator. Since the telegraph was the Internet of mid-nineteenth century, that would place Rudolf's father at the forefront of the latest technology of the day. Rudolf was an Austrian boy born in a Slavic region of the world, far from his ancestral roots. Steiner began writing his autobiography, one week at a time beginning in December, 1923 and, by his death in March, 1925, he had chronicled his life up until 1907. In it we meet a young man with one foot in the material world and one foot in the spiritual world, but the spiritual world was primary for him, and he early on assumed it was the same for others.

    Johann had apparently decided that his son would be an engineer on the railroad, so he sent Rudolf to a scientific-technical college instead of to a classical studies college. This was a most fortuitous circumstance for young Steiner as the grounding he received in the physical sciences and mathematics balanced well with his inherent talents in perceiving and understanding the spiritual world. From a young age, for example, he was able to follow people when they transited into the spiritual world. One the works of Immanuel Kant caught his eye in a bookstore, in the incidental, haphazard way that important karmic items present themselves to us if they are out of our planned course of action at the time. One learns that accidents are planned events by the spiritual part of ourselves. They always happen before we know it. Steiner did not have much time to study Kant's thoughts, so he tore apart the Kant book and placed its pages into the history book, so that while he was apparently following the history lecture, he was actually pondering Kant's thoughts. This reminds me so much of the various ways that I as a child and adult coped with the requirements and expectations of others while pursuing my own path of study. Steiner's ruse was never found out and he achieved an "excellent" for his history course. (Page 28)

    During long walks on vacation, he pondered often what he had read in Kant, saying, "I always needed to sit down quietly somewhere and ask myself once again how we pass from simple, clearly-surveyable concepts to the mental pictures we make of natural phenomena." Those unanswered questions he held for so long about Kant's ideas led him to formulate the ideas which he presented to the world in his landmark book, "The Philosophy of Freedom", in 1898.

    Kant was a teacher that Steiner met in a book, but there were many teachers that he met in person who had dramatic impacts on his life. One of those was the herb-master Felix Koguzki. Steiner also wrote in his autobiography about another teacher he met in books, Friedrich Schiller. Schiller discovered a realm which offered human beings inner freedom. His famous paean to freedom "Ode an die Freiheit" is most often translated as "Ode to Joy" (Ode an die Freude) for the lyrics of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony Chorale. Whatever the case, even this confusion of the original name points to Schiller's high regard for freedom. Steiner found a companion in the thoughts of Schiller on freedom. Schiller wrote about a state of consciousness in which one could experience beauty, and Steiner wondered; "Could we not also think of a state of consciousness that would mediate the truth lying in the being of things?"

    As a young man Steiner took on a tutoring job in which one of the four boys had water-on-the-brain which usually augured a life of mental retardation. But Steiner thought about mental problems the way the Swedish think about weather: "There is no bad weather, only bad clothes." For Steiner there were no hopeless mental cases, only bad teachers. Barnes sums up the results that Steiner was able to achieve with the hydrocephalic boy, saying that the boy became a medical doctor and died on battlefront in WWI.

    Steiner's understanding of the synchrony of spiritual vision and thinking was unknown to most mystics, and Steiner could explain the reason for it: mystics shunned ideas because they could not come to terms with the world of ideas, something that was natural for Steiner. Part of my attraction to Rudolf Steiner stems from my feeling of an inner warmth when some idea takes form in my thoughts which enables me to better understand some amorphous spiritual experience. He states very clearly how ideas create inner warmth in him. Steiner said that he "wanted to form ideas that pointed to the spiritual, similar to the way in which the ideas of science pointed to what was sense-perceptible." Mystics, on the other hand, abjured external spiritual reality and focused solely on their inner reality of experience. (Pages 37, 38) Those who call Steiner a "mystic" demonstrate an ignorance of this important distinction between him and mystics.

    When I read G. K. Chesterton's Father Brown Mysteries, I became aware of a deeper meaning of the word "information". Father Brown was a detective who in-formed himself into his surroundings and thereby was able to ferret out meanings in situations which otherwise left others who had the same "information" clueless. The others had the same information but not the same process of in-forming as Father Brown. Others might have mistaken Father Brown's marvelous deductions as coming upon him as an act of grace, but those who read his inner thoughts, which Chesterton revealed to us, knew that the good priest was changing himself to become at one with his environment as a conscious method of achieving his dramatic deductions. Father Brown, through the capable handling by his author, had developed a way on "standing within" the world of experience similar to the way Steiner did during his assiduous study of the archives of Goethe.

    During Steiner's years working in the Weimar archives of Goethe, he developed the ideas for and completed his landmark book, The Philosophy of Freedom. He wanted to determine if a "human being were spiritually free, or subject to the iron necessity of purely natural law." (Page 53) The subject of Steiner's book was one that I had encountered about twenty years earlier in the works of an American philosopher, Jane Roberts. She asked, "Where is the tree from which the fruit falls into mind's basket?" The answer is self-evident once asked because the question itself presupposes its own answer. The tree must reside in the spiritual world and therefore we human beings are the recipients of direct communications (fruit) from the spiritual world (the tree on which the fruit ripens) in the process of thinking (catching the ripe fruit in mind's basket).

    But there are two ways of thinking, as Barnes points out. The first way of thinking is one that I learned to do in physics and the other materialistic sciences. The second way of thinking involves thinking about thinking which is a process of meta-thinking. Jane Roberts' thought about the tree which drops fruit into mind's basket is an example of meta-thinking.

    There is no more treacherous water to navigate in the life of thought than those of the pages of Steiner's Philosophy of Freedom. One is constantly beset by the Scylla of percepts and faced with drowning in the undertow of the Charybdis of concepts. Along comes Henry Barnes to rescue us from our meager raft and to place us on a large ship to navigate safely the waters. We are confused until we are led to the prow of this ship of consciousness from where we can see the situation with clarity. Immediately we notice how the water is separated from a unity into the streams of percept and concept. We next are invited to join Dr. Steiner, our master pilot, on the bridge of the ship who explains how the process of thinking brings the outer world of perception together with the inner world of concepts.

    In The Philosophy of Freedom, we find the reality of freedom in content and in process. The content comprises the first part of the book which may be called moral insight. The process comprises the second part of the book which may be called moral action. Rightly understood, The Philosophy of Freedom was the cognitive cornerstone upon which the structure of spiritual science was to be built. That building is going on yet today. At this moment, as you read these words, you are involved in building the structure of spiritual science. Such is the nature of cognitive structures: each person considering them can add to the structure invaluable new wings of thought.

    By the time I reached the age of forty, I discovered that I would become upset by people who, when confronted with what was clearly a novel idea to me, would respond to it by saying, "I know that." Somehow they had one box for ideas into which everything went and they lived in a life devoid of contrast and mystery. Everything new was like something they already knew, so, as far as they were concerned, they could truthfully say, "I know that." Something was shaking me up, rattling my cage when they said that. I began to notice how valuable it was in my experience if, when confronted with a puzzle or a curious matter, I would simply hold the matter as an unanswered question. In Rilke's words, I learned to "live the question." I would cease thinking consciously about it and days, weeks, months, later, up would pop an answer that clearly solved the puzzle or threw light upon the mysterious matter. I was finding in my own life that it was better to hold unresolved matters fast rather than to dispatch them from my consciousness. This is a case where the modern impatience to get things done right away works to the detriment of their eventual accomplishment.

    Life appears in the conflict of opposing forces. Those who seek peace at all costs lose the creative forces which opposition could bring them. Our very sensory apparatus requires opposition in order to perceive the external world. The retina of our eyes must oppose the light which reaches it or we could not see. Similarly for our hearing, tasting, smelling, or touching — there is always opposition in our human sensing of the external world.

    The world is a riddle which requires a human being to solve it and thus human beings are an active, co-creative force without which the world would be incomplete. This is a dramatically different approach to the impact of human beings in the world than evolutionists hold. The typical Darwinian would aver humans are merely primates with a large brain. "Another animal, more or less, what difference would that make to the world?" they might say. Rightly understood, the difference makes all the difference in the world.

    During Steiner's twenty-one years of thinking about Goethe's fairy tale, The Green Snake and the

    Beautiful Lily, Steiner was struggling to "understand the meaning and reality of Christianity for our time." What had been prefigured in the thoughts and writings before Christ were enacted in the flesh, on the stage of humankind, upon the Cross of Golgotha by Christ in the body of the man, Jesus of Nazareth, as he shed his blood and gave up his life in willing sacrifice for all of humanity. Steiner predicted that humankind would soon be able to experience the living Christ directly during moments of crisis when they would call upon Him for help. This new ability, this spiritual dawning as Barnes called it, is prefigured itself by Theodora who closes the opening scene of The Portal of Initiation with these prophetic words:


    [page 7]
          Thank God our time is now when wrong
          Comes up to face us everywhere,
          Never to leave us till we take
          The longest stride of soul men ever took.
          Affairs are now soul size.
          The enterprise
          Is exploration into God.
          Where are you going? It takes
          So many thousands of years to wake,
          But will you wake for pity's sake?



    How long is it from Christmas to Easter? Everyone knows that Christmas is a fixed holiday falling on December 25, but Easter floats, being defined as the first Sunday after the first Full Moon after the Spring Equinox. Thought of as the number of days between Christmas and Easter, there is no easy answer, but thought of as the number of years between Jesus's birth to his Resurrection at Easter, the answer is a fixed 33 years. Seen in this perspective, the birth of Jesus was like a seed sprouting forth from the soil of humankind which produced its fruit on Easter Sunday some 33 years later.

    What events can you pinpoint in your life, dear Reader, whose Easter fruits appeared some 33 years after its Christmas seeds had sprouted? As I type these notes, my thoughts go back to a summer in 1975 when I was living in New England and thinking the thoughts which made it possible for me to be sitting here in New Orleans typing these words to you, exactly 33 years later. Another example: I graduated from college in 1962 and 33 years later I retired to become a full-time writer.

    Another significant event happened in 1912: the founding by Rudolf Steiner of a new form of dance that would be true to the spirit. As so often happened in Steiner's life, the impetus came to him from a question formed from the longing of someone in his presence. The Waldorf schools began that way and so did the new dance form called eurythmy. What the Waldorf school did for educators and eurythmy did for dancers, the Goetheanum did for architecture. In this book, Barnes traces "the steps that led to the intention to provide a home for the work then unfolding." The foundation stone for the Goetheanum was laid under portentous circumstances. "Distant thunder rumbled, lightning repeatedly shattered the darkness, and 'the landscape took on an eerie appearance.'" No one knew the fate of that first Goetheanum at the time, but the spirits of the air seemed to communicate to all those present, in the raging wind and lightning in the sky, the fiery fate of the wooden building.

    The Goetheanum had its roots in the spiritual world, from which Steiner brought it forth by shaping its spiritual concepts into architectural forms which people could appreciate from afar or up close and personal inside of the building. In this next passage Barnes shares a metaphor Steiner gave about anthroposophy in the next passage, but one can substitute Goetheanum for anthroposophy in the next passage and the meaning would likewise enlighten one. Each endeavor has its roots in the spiritual world, rightly understood, as Steiner himself liked to say.



    With my reviews of Steiner's books, which stand at over 150 at this time, I feel like a farmer of the spiritual world nurturing the seeds which Steiner planted, tilling the spiritual soil with my interpretations of his of works so that they may breathe in the air of modern life, and thereby bringing forth nourishing fruit into the world of tomorrow. I appreciate your kneeling beside me in this garden row, dear Reader, and digging into this spiritual soil with me. Affairs are now soul size, as Christopher Frye said, and here in this cosmic garden we are nurturing the sprouts of a new hierarchy of spiritual beings, human beings, whose ultimate fruit will be the forces of love.

    Did Steiner found a church? No, he did not, but the facts of the matter must be examined to understand what happened. There was a Christian Community church that was founded based on the principles of Steiner anthroposophy. When asked the difference between the two, Steiner replied, "The anthroposophical movement addresses the human need to know and brings knowledge. The Christian Community addresses the human need for resurrection and brings Christ."

    Steiner designed the architecture for a building which was not a church, but rather a building for human knowledge. The building was named the Goetheanum in honor of Wolfgang von Goethe. By New Year's Eve of 1922, perched atop the hill at Dornach, the Goetheanum had been in use for time. Steiner had spoken many times in the larger dome's auditorium, and his drama and eurythmy performances had graced the stage of the smaller dome. The building had yet to be dedicated, waiting for something, no one knew what, to trigger the occasion. That night he culminated a series of lectures on the spiritual communion of humanity by saying, "Spiritual knowledge is true communion, the beginning of a ritual that is appropriate for human beings of the present time. . . . Through active knowing, human beings elevate themselves in feeling and willing and become beings who offer sacrifice. The fundamental relation of the human being to the world moves upward from knowing to a universal ritual, or cosmic festival rite." Unbeknownst to his audience, a cosmic festival, a sacrificial rite was to take place on the cusp of the New Year. About ten o'clock that night a watchman noticed smoke in the wooden building that had just been vacated. A fire was found inside the walls of the structure. For a completely wooden structure this would prove disastrous. A massive effort of the firemen and hundreds of helpers was to no avail. They saved what could be carried away before the smoke prevented further entry of the building. But there was one invaluable object, a huge one, that needed saving, the wooden sculpture, The Representative of Humanity.

    Steiner spoke about a mystery school led by the Archangel Michael in the spiritual world in the latter parts of the nineteenth century. This was a time when souls preparing for incarnation into the turbulent twentieth century (such as I was) could learn about the forces of Michael and be prepared to work for the spiritual growth of humanity by using Christ as their gyroscope to maintain a balance between the soaring spiritual forces of luciferian spirits and the leaden, earth-bound spiritual forces of ahrimanic spirits. The former wants us to become moral automatons and the latter wants us to become amoral and free. These are the two aspects of the Devil and Satan which we confront or give in to in our daily lives, whether we believe they exist or not. They are equally evil because each wishes for us a good which is out of its time. Lucifer (the Devil) grabbed spiritual Light from the Godhead and wants us to share that Light, but to share it exclusively from Lucifer according to his will, and thus we will be moral, but without freedom and therefore automatons or robots. Ahriman (Satan) came to Earth to lead human beings to become free and to grow in their knowledge of the material world, so that any thoughts of morality they might have will always be conditioned by some materially inspired goal, and therefore completely amoral.

    Only by the deed of Christ Jesus on Golgotha where He willingly sacrificed His life could we have been saved from the precipitous fall into materialism which Lucifer, whose name means "Light Bearer", brought to us. We could not as mere humans recover from the gift of a spiritual being as high as Lucifer using our own resources. It required a being as high or higher than Lucifer to help us recover, and that recovery was achieved by Christ dying on the Cross on Golgotha. Christ was the only great spirit to enter a human being's body, to experience becoming flesh, and to die.

    Two momentous things happened: one in the spiritual world, and one in the physical world. In the spiritual world, the Holy Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit was formed with Christ as the Son. In the physical or human world on Earth, human beings had a Comforter, the Holy Spirit, and the promise that Christ would return one day "on the clouds in glory" — meaning on the etheric plane. Christ would thereafter become humankind's balance point, so that if we sway towards the wishes of the luciferian spirits, Christ will heed our call and help us regain our balance. Or if we lean too far towards the materialistic scheming of the ahrimanic spirits, those dark forces of mechanistic thoughts and actions, Christ is ever heedful of our call and will help us regain our footing and balance. We cannot as human beings avoid Lucifer and Ahriman, we must deal with them. If we stray exclusively towards Lucifer, we become wholly moral, but without the freedom which Christ gave his life that we might have. If we stray exclusively towards Ahriman, we will experience freedom while we are upon Earth, but will suffer immensely in a future lifetime, being unable to even think properly. It's your choice, dear Reader, airy-fairy or leaden death. But if you have only two choices you have a dilemma. Only with the presence of a third choice can you have truly a choice: and that third option is Christ. Lucifer and Ahriman will seek you out and call upon and attempt to lead you astray, but only you can call upon Christ to help yourself restore the balance to your life which will ensure a happy and successful stay in this life and succeeding lives.

    This is a summary of some of the major points of the review. Read the entire review here: :
    http://www.doyletics.com/arj/lifespir.htm

    2.) ARJ2: The Scarlet Letter - A Novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne

    Everyone after 158 years knows that the scarlet letter is "A" and that it stands for adultery. But, in an amazing bit of legerdemain, the word adultery is never once mentioned in this book. This bit of sophistry by Hawthorne is consistent with the tenor of the time of the setting of the novel. Adultery was a subject polite people did not discuss openly, but only in veiled references whose import everyone knew. In a James Michener novel, I recall the main character saying that it came time for the characters in a novel to have sex, the author generally covered the incident by writing, "And you can guess what happened next."

    In the novel whose eponymous subject is adultery, not only does the word not appear, but the act that the word refers to does not appear either. You as the reader are left to guess what happened between the Rev. Dimmesdale and Hester Prynne. By presupposition, you are left with no doubt that the act was committed, but no data is given how or when or what evidence there was that it was committed. The presence of a baby girl delivered to Hester was taken as enough evidence in the absence of her husband overseas during the year previous to the birth.

    Hawthorne seldom wrote in direct simple prose when a long tedious meandering of words could serve the same sententious purpose. Often a single thought could progress and play itself out over two or more pages, often leaving the reader wondering who was the original person referred to when the terminal period of the sentence provides the benison of relief from the tortuous trek. Why say "age brings wisdom", for example, when one can write like Hawthorne:

    [page 17] Then, moreover, the white locks of age were sometimes found to be the thatch of an intellectual tenement in good repair.

    Eventually the purpose of these long, drawn-out reminiscences is revealed when the narrator in the Custom House places his hand on a piece of cloth. It was the selfsame piece of cloth that Hester Prynne had embroidered as a symbol of her infamy. Some of the women thought the cloth and its embroidery were too fine for the adulteress, as if Hester were taking pride in what the magistrates bestowed on her as a punishment.

    Hester is taken to an interview with the man who was her husband, but whose identity is not known to the town. She refuses his request to identify the man she committed adultery with, and he says that is no matter. The man may not wear a letter like Hester's but he will be able to read it written in his heart. He makes her take an oath to keep his identity secret even as she keeps her paramour's secret.

    Hester's only means of support is the same needle that she used to so elaborately embroider her infamous letter. In an ironic twist, the letter on her chest became like the logo on the door of a car delivering pizza's today -- it advertised her needlework product, and in addition, like the plug extracted from a watermelon, gave a public sample of it to prove its worthiness. Hester's infamy broke her work in a similar way that those who appear on reality shows on modern TV acquire employment even after displaying their worst aspects in public.

    Her embroidery work developed a cachet that the rich and those in high place earnestly sought. Perhaps it pointed to the evils that such do in the course of their duties. The one place where Hester's work was never sought was to decorate the veil of a bride-to-be.

    The children of Salem would taunt Hester with the word symbolized by the large A on her chest, but Hawthorne dared nott spell out the word in his text. Was this because the people of Salem generations before him would have never said the word aloud? Surely they must have if the children were able to shrilly cry out the word as she passed in distance away from them. Even strangers caused her pain without saying anything. Instead of growing callous to the taunts, Hester grew more sensitive.

    The effect that the fiery letter had on Hester was to heighten her sensitivity to the souls of those supposedly upright people that she came into contact in the course of her day. What they hoped to hide from the public was revealed to the very person whose own sin they strove to make obviously public to all. By projecting their hidden sin upon Hester, they had opened a conduit for their individually hidden sins to leak away into Hester's heart. In addition, the lower class of the town started a rumor that the letter A glowed red as she walked abroad at night. This is a glowing example of how metaphor can often cross over into reality in the form of mythic stories.

    Her daughter Pearl, fruit of the adultry, played an important role in Hester's life. Pearl is identified as the very living scarlet letter, an ever-present symbol of Hester's infamous deed. Hester is driven to cry out these words to those officials who were threatening to taken Pearl away and place her in an orphanage. "God gave me the child! "He gave her in requital of all things else, which ye had taken from me. She is my happiness! — she is my torture, none the less! Pearl keeps me here in life! Pearl punishes me too! See ye not, she is the scarlet letter, only capable of being loved, and so endowed with a million-fold the power of retribution for my sin? Ye shall not take her! I will die first!"

    This plea placed the ministers in a dilemma. They could not take Pearl without condemning Hester to death — which deed was not allowed as a penalty for adultery unless it was actually known that her husband was alive, and that was not known by them. In fact, Hester knew her husband was alive, but had taken an oath under duress by him to keep that fact secret.

    Her husband, under the assumed name of the physician, Roger Chillingworth, is besetting the minister, Dimmesdale, with questions about his weakened nature. The minister replies that he has told him all, but the physician claims that is not the case. "No! — not to thee! — not to an earthly physician!" Dimmesdale cries and frantically runs from the room. Thus does the minister reveal to the physician in process exactly that which he strove to keep hidden in content.

    Things pick up about this time. The minister steals out deep in the night to stand upon the scaffold where his companion in adultery, Hester, stood alone and bore the stares of the crowd seven years previously. He screams out loud as if letting all of the pain he had held within himself. Hester who had been at the death-bed of the Governor was abroad that night and heard the minister's cry. He calls to her and Pearl to stand on the scaffold with him so that the three of them could be together now as they had not earlier. He pledges that they will be together again in the light of day and no sooner than he says that as a meteor flashes across the sky. The meteor lit up the sky like a gigantic "A" and created an eerie scene of portentous meaning.

    The minister and Hester plan to escape to the Old World on a boat leaving in a couple of days, but will they make it? Thereupon hangs a tale. A tale which must be read to be enjoyed. Take a trip back to the Salem of witches and stern Protestants and be glad you live in a time which has survived both.

    Read the full review here:
    http://www.doyletics.com/arj/scarletl.htm

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    I hear often from my Good Readers that they have bought books after reading my book reviews. Keep reading, folks! As I like to remind you, to obtain more information on what's in these books, buy and read the books — for less information, read the reviews.


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    8. COMMENTARY:
    = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

    In this section I like to comment on events in the world, in my life, and in my readings which have come up during the month. These are things I might have shared with you in person, if we had had the opportunity to coverse during the month. If we did, then you may recognize my words. If I say some things here which upset you, rest assured that you may skip over these for the very reason that I would likely have not brought up the subject to spoil our time together in person.

    1. Padre Filius walks into a David Pascal Cartoon in the 1989 New Yorkers this Month:

    Padre Filius, the cartoon character created by your intrepid editor and would-be cartoonist, will appear from time to time in this Section of the Digest to share us on some amusing or enlightening aspect of the world he observes during his peregrinations.

    This month the good Padre stumbles upon a Fresh Poetry Stand along the road.


    2.Comments from Readers:
    • EMAIL from Captain Blackbead in Fort Worth:
      Ahoy there, mate!

      Thanks for the link to your pic's, there were several on there that made me laugh and several that took me back to that great time. I'm hoping that you and yours are doing well and that we cross paths again in the not too distant future. Give me a call if you ever head this way — you know I'm going to contact you when I come back to NOLA!

      If you are still interested in getting a copy of the book, check out my website and follow the links to "Blackbead Books;" It has all of the poems (PLUS my newest pirate poem, "Prize Island") without the color pictures.

    See you down the road, Mate!
    Blackbead
    www.Blackbead-jewelry.com

  • EMAIL from Nephew Dean Matherne in Iraq:
    So you think the weather is bad at home. (Photo of him in sand storm.)
  • EMAIL from Debbie in Chicago:
    Bobby — very interesting article in terms of your thoughts on autism and doyletics. One might think that a premature infant would have premature consciousness due to their stressful situation — where a normal fetus would still be protected in the mother's womb.
    CHICAGO — A small study of toddlers finds that about one-quarter of babies born very prematurely had signs of autism on an early screening test. The complete article can be viewed at: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/sns-ap-autism-preemies,1,4898493.story
  • EMAIL from Honored Reader, Beverly Carroll in Gretna:
    Good Friday morning, Bobby — Beverly Carroll here — and I am impressed!!!!!!!! my name mentioned in your "Mountain" paper.
    Have you ever listened radio program "Coast to Coast, AM" ? comes on from midnight to 4 AM on WWL - 870 or WWL or 105.5FM. Also, you can log on to it at: coasttocoastam.com. A different talk show with varied interests — and not mostly politics. Thanks for your Digest.
  • EMAIL from Theresa Chatelain in New Orleans:
    You can't imagine how happy I was to see the two of you. (RJM: At French Quarter Fest, see Photo of TChat and Del.)

    I am so happy to report that I am now back in email circulation with a brand new hp computer. Shouldn't have any more problems with computer crashes !!!

    Let's keep in touch. Will write more later.

    Hugs to you both.
    TChat

  • EMAIL from Joy Adams Beck, re photo of her Grand-daughter carrying banner for Pirate Parade (See above):
    Her name is Miranda Beck-Bird. She will be thrilled to have a picture of that event.

    It was great seeing you and Del at the West Jeff Reunion. Whatever you're doing to stay young is working. You both look terrific. [RJM: So do you, Joy!]

    Keep in touch

  • EMAIL from Chris Byant in Corpus Christi:
    Bobby,

    I watched some of the game tonight and Chris Paul put me in the mind of John Stockton and Magic Johnson two of the best “team” players and passers I ever saw. He is special. I think the Hornets may well do something very special this year. Phooey on all the experts who are crowning the Lakers/Celtics already.

    Chris



  • EMAIL from Guntis (Gus):
    Hi Bobby,
    thank you for introducing us to John Rankin.
    We listened to his latest CD while having dinner tonight.
    Very enjoyable. Guntis


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    9. CLOSING NOTES:
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