Bring in the wine

Oz had a glass of wine, which got him thinking about the Oscars, translation, understanding, and Chinese poetry.

Go figure.

Lost in Translation, one of my favorite movies, written and directed by Sofia Coppola. Insert Oscar shout out here for female writer-directors. The 2003 Indie movie stars Bill Murray as an aging actor Bob Harris, who befriends college graduate Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) in a Tokyo hotel. The romantic comedy-drama plays out on many levels while the couple film a Japanese whiskey commercial.

Bring in the Wine, eighth century Chinese poet, Cen Can (aka Cen Shen and Cen Jiuzhou) commiseration about getting old and getting drunk with old friends. The Chinese characters are 將進酒 Jiāng Jìn Jiǔ, which must have been a mouthful if one was already drunk. Kind of like saying, “rubber baby buggy bumpers,” which makes no sense, but it is still fun to say.

You know, we are not so different, Japanese, American, Chinese, then and now… A little whiskey, some wine makes it easier to get along. And the hell with getting lost.

You can check out my translation here.

wine-cellar

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Ineluctable vs inevitable

When it comes to word comparisons, it is inevitable that I come to this ineluctable conclusion, sometimes something is superfluously said.

in·e·luc·ta·ble
ˌinəˈləktəb(ə)l/
adjective
adjective: ineluctable

unable to be resisted or avoided; inescapable.
“the ineluctable facts of history”

 in·ev·i·ta·ble
inˈevidəb(ə)l/
adjective
adjective: inevitable

1.
certain to happen; unavoidable.
“war was inevitable”
synonyms: unavoidable, inescapable, inexorable, ineluctable;
More: assured, certain, sure, fixed;
fated, destined, predestined, predetermined, unpreventable;

“at this point, war is inevitable”

informal
so frequently experienced or seen that it is completely predictable.
“the inevitable letter from the bank”

noun
noun: inevitable

1.
a situation that is unavoidable.

Why leave?

Why leave at all?

After all, as Dorothy Gale said, “There is no place like home.” But that was only after she “left” home to save Toto from mean Miss Almira Gulch. And along the way, she met some wonderful friends, had great adventures, learned a lesson or two, and discovered a little more about her self and the ones she loved.

Be careful. As I have learned, it can be rough out there, and a little lonely, but it beats staying at home, doesn’t it?

snow-hiker

 

Are you curious?

My one-day-to-be-famous TV reporter daughter sent me a link to Oprah Winfrey’s conversation with Brian Grazer.

The most important piece of advice Brian Grazer gave in his interview with Oprah Winfrey came when he retold about meeting Lew Wasserman, legendary talent agent and studio executive.

“Kid,” Wasserman told the annoyingly brash and young Brian Grazer, “you know nothing now.” Then, he said, “Get a legal pad,” which Grazer did. Wasserman gave Grazer a number 2 pencil.

“Now, put pencil to paper.” And with that Wasserman left.

An uncomprehending Grazer stood there perplexed until he remembered what his tiny Jewish grandmother told him as a child.

“Brian, you are curious. You will figure it out.”

Did you?

pencil and paper

 

Green is Good

Green, in all is manifestations: green in the turnips that grow in spring, in the spinach and kale of summer, and even the green of cabbage and onions in fall and winter, they are good; yes, money too, but money can not nourish the body; green, for want of a better word, has marked the upward progression of man from hunter-gatherer to urban dweller, from cold wet cave to a nice home with a family with a two-car garage, and everything one could want to become complaisant, unaware of the sad fact that we eat too little green, that we have again become hunter-gatherers happy to munch on meat an endless and ready supply off Big Mac’s and starches from supersized French-fries, ordered by those too lazy to get out of their cars, in response to faceless aggressors who ask, “Can I help you today?” Beware, my friends of these mechanical incantations. Green, mark my words, can prevent heart disease and stroke, it can be the salvation of this once great land called the USA. Thank you very much. This will be your only wake-up kale. Spud Knox: Sun-tzu: Between enemy and friend, let-tuce choose kale.

Inspired by an article on NPR and, of course, Gordon Gekko.

Not yet

It is not yet
Spring
Again
And so
The turtle is still submerged
The snake has not stuck out his head
The birds still fret and know
It is not time to make a nest
No
It is not spring
And yet
One notices
The days are getting longer
The wind is from the south
The cat is at the window
Watching
The squirrels begin to play
Along the fence as if to say
Begone you winter day
And though
The trees are brown and bare
I know it in my bones and heart
I know it as
I walk by my closet
And leave my coat inside

squirrel-nuts

The path was gone

Where the path was gone, down and through the mud and leaves, over fallen branches turtles use to sun themselves, when I am not about, then through the sedge and flowery cattails, I kept going, until at last I came to see a tall and stately egret staring back at me. His head he cocked quizzically before he soared away, leaving me to make my way back, as I had come, but the path was gone.

egret in flight over water
egret in flight over water

How to teach your brain something it won’t forget

A Priest, a Rabbi, and an Agnostic walk into a bar.

The bartender says, “Dammit! We don’t like jokes here. So, if you guys are a part of one, you’re gonna have to leave… Right now!”

So, the priest, rabbi, and atheist leave and a chicken walks in.

The bartender says, “We don’t serve CHICKENS here!”

The chicken says, “Do you know somewhere that does?”

The bartender says, “Yeah…, across the road.”

Memories

I came across this joke on the internet at about the same time I saw an article on remembering things. As Bob, my father-in-law, likes jokes and is in memory care rehab, I thought this a timely topic.

Besides, they say, laughter is the best medicine.

The point of the article on memory is that cramming, that thing we did in college before a test, works well only in the short term and sucks in the long term.

Little steps, as Bob (Bill Murray) repeated in the classically funny movie, What about Bob? The movie with Richard Dreyfus as Bob’s uptight psychiatrist, was more about coping, but the same principle applies to memory.

Little bits.

One plus one is two. It is a hell of a lot easier to remember and understand  than the Pythagorean theorem. Don’t load your plate up with lots of facts. A few at a time works better than bucket fulls,  just like a meal, or a new exercise program, or a …

The other critically important about memory is to keep it relevant. My father-in-law’s care providers are always asking who the president is, what is today’s date, etc., etc.

Who cares?

Laughter is the best medicine

Bob likes jokes, so I am going to tell him the one about the priest, the rabbi, the agnostic and the chicken.

I bet he laughs.

And even if he doesn’t remember it. I can tell it again and again and again.

Flying to Atlanta with Martin Luther

Tuesday, I am leaving Oz and flying to Atlanta with Martin Luther.

Flying time is just over two hours, which gives me little time learn about this fascinating man of faith and letters. While in Atlanta for three days, I will find snippets of time in the early morning and late evening to read Eric Metaxas’ Martin Luther: the man who rediscovered God….

This is unfair to a holy man of God, but work creates its limitations on pleasure. And Martin Luther was a man who worked much and suffered for it.

Never talk politics or religion, my mother advised me, and never speak of both. Martin Luther spoke of religion, and tried to avoid politics, but one is always forced to choose. Erasmus did, though he would have preferred to stay on the side lines observing and commenting, but not committing himself.

Martin Luther

Martin Luther had no qualms about where he stood on religion and famously said in April of 1521:

“Here I stand, I can do no other, God help me, Amen!”

“My conscience is captive to the word of God,” Luther explained. “To go against conscience is neither right nor safe.” His remarks to the so-called theologians and politicians at the Diet of Worms put forth the idea of man’s own ability to read and interpret the Bible.

This earth rattling idea made Martin Luther the first existentialist of the modern era.
I say modern era because Gutenberg printing press had thrust Europe and the world into the information age, the precursor to our own digital age. I say Luther was the first existentialist because he had the temerity to challenge the pope and state on matters of belief.

Every Man a Priest

Every man a priest he said.

He would walk back this idea in time as he realized the many “false” interpretations of scripture that man was capable of. He also chose to become an instrument of state and recognize the value of submission to authority. Anarchy was the only other choice.

Amazingly, his idea took hold. Not without centuries of religious conflict, not without heretical burnings, wars, and murders, all fought in the name of God, an irony he recognized. An irony that we still live with and perhaps always will.

Sorry, John Lennon.

Luther’s idea of personal responsibility would in time become the bedrock of the American political experience, expressed eloquently by Thomas Jefferson, All men are created equal and endowed by the Creator with inalienable rights, those being life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Freedom of thought is liberating, it is daunting, it is challenging. It is the existentialist’s mantra.

It is your choice.

Which is why I find it ironic that Martin Luther came down on the “wrong” side of the question about Free Will. We have none, he said. It is all a matter of faith and love, and nothing else.

Paradoxical, yes, so too is life. We are such imperfect creatures, made in God’s image, but poorly.

I have, you will noticed, used quotation marks around certain statements of fact. This is because very little in life is certain. We may be certain of in-certainty, but that is it.

And…

Death, as Luther observed, and our ultimate destiny to meet with God, alone.

martin luther painting cranach
martin luther, lucas cranach the elder painting

 

Today, of course, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Eric Metaxas points out the historical trivia that after a visit to Germany, a certain Michael King changed his name to Martin Luther King, and his son became Martin Luther King Jr.

In April of 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail.