Sunday, August 5, 2012

Hey, If You're Going to Fabricate Dylan Quotes...

Warning: This photo is not my intellectual property
Jonah Lehrer's book Imagine: How Creativity Works contained a number of fabricated and compiled quotes that he attributed to Bob Dylan. A journalistic crime to be sure, but it was also a shame that the quotes offered no new insights into Bob Dylan's thought processes. 
Here are some quotes that offer a glimpse into the real world of Bob Dylan. 
And, yes I made them up.

"It's always the lyrics that come first. When I get to the point where I think a song works, I sing the lyrics to The Hokey Pokey. If they work with that, they will work with anything else I can come up with." 

"People suggest that I have no rhyme or reason to my touring schedule. Let me just say that it's no accident that I am often playing in cities where the McRib is available for a limited time."

"I did not make a deal with the Devil. I get asked that all the time. We had lunch a couple of times, but that's as far as it went."

"I'm not afraid of my fans, my security guys are."

"I probably listen to Jethro Tull more than anything else. When Tempest is released, you may notice that the title song owes a lot of it's structure to side two of Minstrel in the Gallery"

"It's been said that I never talk to my band. That's preposterous. I talk to them all the time. I do avoid eye contact however."

"Yes, there's a song about coal plants on the new album. It reflects my desire to be the voice of co-generation"

"I'm more than just a singer and songwriter. I paint, write prose and I love to weld. Do you need a new gate?"

"No, Tempest will not be my last album. I'm already midway through an album of children's songs due out in spring. It will either be called Pre-school from the Heart or Milk on the Tracks"

"Shakespeare's last play was called The Tempest. It wasn't called just plain Tempest. The name of my record is just plain Tempest. It's two different titles."

The last item is an actual quote from Bob Dylan's recent interview with Mikal Gilmore of Rolling Stone. I apologize for the oversight. 

If I had a job, I would resign immediately.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Spot Free Rinse for the Soul

What I'm saying this month at

One morning a few weeks ago, I opened the dishwasher and thought, “Why can’t anyone learn how to load the G@# d#@n dishwasher!” Actually, I did not think that, I was reflecting on one of my father’s favorite phrases.
He was a proficient blasphemer and applied this skill to a wide range of topics. Railing about the dishwasher was perhaps his ultimate passion...

Read the rest of this post at

Monday, July 23, 2012

You Can't Fight City Hall (If they won't fight back)

The rainy season was coming to an end when escrow closed on our house. The irrigation system was turned off and it took me a couple of weeks to get around to setting the  timer up and get the sprinklers working.
IMG_0464 I noticed that there was a huge leak in the main irrigation line, resulting in streams of water gushing into the gutter and very little water hitting the actual lawn. After some digging, I found a break in the pipe under the concrete walkway to our house. It just happened to be directly under the portion of the walkway that had been cut out and replaced by the City while installing our water meter.
As I had my head buried under the walkway, trying to inspect the damage, a neighbor walked by and commented "Oh, the City did that. The guy who lived here before was fighting with them over it". "Hmm.. " I thought, "Nice of him to tell me".
For weeks, I stewed about it, but procrastinated. Rather than deal with the problem, I wandered into the front yard every morning to hand water all the dry spots that resulted from the leak.
My sprained ankle
     Things came to a head a week or so ago when I slipped on the wet grass and slid down a three foot raised portion of the lawn while watering. I landed face first in a puddle of water, The hose landed on top of me, running full force over my back. I sprained my ankle on the way down and was unable to move for several minutes.
       When I was finally able to regain both my footing and composure, I hobbled back to the house. At this point, I noticed a tag hanging on my front door. It was another day before I had the time or inclination to retrieve it.
photo-2       I pulled the tag off the door the next day. It was a message from the City. They wanted to inform me that according to the data they were collecting from my newly installed meter, they suspected that I had some sort of leak. If I wanted to call their water conservation department, they would be happy to help me determine the cause.
     OK. Enough! I spent they next couple of days preparing a testy memo to the City with photos to document the damage. The memo ended with a polite, but firm demand that the City repair my pipeline.
     Last Thursday, I finally went down to the City Water Division (several miles from City Hall).
With my testy memo in hand and having mentally rehearsed all the potential "let me talk to your supervisor" scenarios that might result, I walked in ready for battle.
      "I'm not sure who I need to talk to, but my irrigation system was damaged when you installed my water meter". The woman working at the counter looked at me and said. "You just talk to me, I'll make sure it's taken care of." She asked me for my address, looked it up on a computer and determined when the meter was installed and identified the construction company that had done the installation. "I'm emailing them right now. They'll come out and look at it."
"I have pictures" I said, "I have a memo!" She stared at me for a second, "No, I don't need any of that. They will take care of it and they will respond quickly" I walked out mildly disappointed that my righteous indignation would have to wait for another day.
     As promised, a man from the construction company that installed the water meter arrived at my house early the next day. He looked at the damage and said "Oh, I don't think that was us, this is a real Micky Mouse job. Let me call my boss and double check". He went to his truck to make the call and was back at my door a few minutes later. "It was us!" he said, "I'm sorry we did such a lousy job. I'll be back Monday and take care of it."
     Sure enough, he was back this morning, and spent two hours digging out the meter box, replacing the damaged pipe and replacing the meter cover. He even spent some time cleaning and adjusting the sprinklers that had been affected by the leak.
      It would have been more fun to write about feckless bureaucrats indifferent to my suffering and outrage. Alas, I was denied the opportunity to rage against the City at all. I have been robbed of the chance to regale others with stories about how I "let em have it!" There would be no long and winding accounts about being sent from one department to another. Most importantly, they have denied me access to the moral high ground.
     Like they say, you can't fight City Hall.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Rebuilding The Temple

I mentioned a couple of months ago that I would have to put the blog on hold for a while, but I didn't think it would be this long.

In late spring, we took on the challenge of moving into a house with one of our children and our three grandchildren. This meant buying one house, moving out of two, getting one ready for market and making the other habitable for our oldest son and his wife.

After all the packing, unpacking, cleaning and so forth, there has been the assembly. In the last two months, I have assembled a desk, a bookshelf, several chairs, a garage storage rack and a swing set. There are still several Ikea flat packs waiting for me in the garage.
A recent project

Things have been so hectic of late, I have found it difficult to read, let alone write. It was all I could do in June to write a single, brief, disjointed column for July over at Catholic Mom. ( The Cradle Rocks ).

I read almost nothing for a month or so and have gotten back in the groove with a couple of  Swedish crime novels by Theorin Johan.

I have been so busy doing other things that I have had trouble thinking of what to say, so today and in the coming weeks, I'll focus on what other folks are saying.

I participate in two reading groups. That has helped keep me from losing touch with the printed word entirely. One group that I meet with focuses largely on the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas.
I enjoy the reading and the discussions that go along with it, but I have to admit that reading the Summa  makes me feel more that a little stupid. For someone who's prior experience with reading theology ended with the Baltimore Catechism, the Summa is tough going.

Looking for a resource to help me get a better feel for Aquinas, I stumbled upon this review for The Summa Philosophica by Peter Kreeft.  Peter Sean Bradley, a member of the reading group. Although it is not a discussion of the Summa Theologica, but a discussion of Philosophy written in the style of the Summa, I think it will help me deal with the Summa itself. On the strength of his review, and by the powers of Amazon Prime, I will be reading this soon.

Lastly today, I want to share a couple of other folks' observations about the Amazing Spiderman.  First is an article by Marissa Nichols at Catholic Mom and the Theology of Laundry , The Amazingly Universal Appeal of God and Spiderman.

The other is this Movie review of The Amazing Spiderman by Father Robert Barron.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Dietrich and Donna

The Queen of disco and the King of German lieder both died this week.
Although I am neither a fan of disco or lieder, I have long had Pandora Channels named for both Donna Summers and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
Donna Summers

I dipped heavily into both Pandora channels over the weekend as I reflected on the passing of both of these great (in very different ways) singers.

Listening to the Donna Summers channel, I heard some of her hits like Last Dance, Hot Stuff and She Works Hard For the Money. I also got to hear  artists like Chic, Gloria Gaynor and the Bee Gees. (Including Robin Gibb who also died this weekend to honor the "celebrities die in threes" rule.)

Listening for a couple of hours while puttering around the house, I wondered why I disliked disco so intensely when I was younger. Most of it was pleasant and easy to listen to. I was able to appreciate why, for a time, Donna Summers was Queen of the genre. Here songs were beautifully produced and she sang with beautiful tone, effortless phrasing and real power.

Turning to the Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau channel in the evening was more of a challenge. The channel, understandably, is programmed mostly with lieder composted by Shubert, Beethoven and the like. Even though I have been a fan of Fischer-Dieskau for decades, he is most noted for music I have just never warmed up to.

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau was one of the greatest singers of the 20th century and perhaps the most recorded with over 1000 albums to his credit. My appreciation of him is based on only one of those performances.

In the early 1970's he appeared in a film version of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro. I have watched or listened to his performance as Count Almaviva hundreds of times over the last 20 years. His performance as the count is so great, it makes it hard to appreciate other interpretations of the part. To me, he is Count Almaviva.

Rest in Peace Dietrich and Donna. (Robin Gibb too)

I'll leave you with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau as Count Almaviva.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A Quiet Period

Our Future Living Room

Life has taken a strange turn over the last month or so. Since Debbie and I decided to buy a house and move in with our Daughter and her three children, life has been anything but quiet. This blog, on the other hand, has been. Very.

We got Robin and the kids moved in this week, in couple of weeks Debbie and I will move in as well. When the dust settles, I'll have more time to post.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Postcards From Florence

I have started packing my desk.

I will be moving it from my current home office to the office/den/bedroom in our new place. It will be interesting to see how the new arrangement works out.

Lippi - The Disposition
Lippi - The Disposition 
My desk is a simple, table like affair with a number of cubby holes at the back, some narrow and vertical, others are wide horizontal shelves. All are crammed with things I have felt the needed organize. Most of the items disappeared from my memory the moment they were placed there.

Bernini - Ecstasy of Saint Therese
Bernini - Ecstasy of Therese

As I emptied the compartments one by one, I assessed each item, then placed it in a box to be moved, placed it in a bag to be donated or placed in a bag to thrown in the trash. (It's surprising how much of the stuff was in category three) 

In one of the cubbies, I found a glassine envelope containing postcards we bought at the gift shop in the Academy of the Arts in Florence. The cards were reproductions of some of the art we had seen during our trip to Italy.
Bonaguida - The Tree of Life
Bonaguida - The Tree of Life

We arrived in Florence on day eight of a ten day trip that took us to Rome, Assisi, Orvieto, Sienna and Perugia as well.  By the time we arrived in Florence, we had overdosed on beauty. It was difficult to absorb one more beautiful painting, one more incredible building or stunning sculpture.

Now, two years later, I stumble upon these postcards and have a second chance to absorb what I couldn't when I had the chance to see these works of art in person.

The postcards are now sitting on my desk waiting for me to figure out what to do with them. They don't belong in a desk drawer and I can't bear to throw them away. Where and how they might fit into the environment at our new house remains to be seen.

For now, the postcards serve to remind me how much we want to go back. After two years we are ready to absorb more beauty. We are ready for second helpings of Giotto and gelato.