Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

Samuel Beckett


Wonkitties 2.0 - Most Recent 15
Vegetarian Good Friday PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rondi   
Friday, 18 April 2014 12:31
Just to lift the mood here -- which has been heavy on death and death camps -- a bit, I give you a chick who refuses to go down without a fight! Happy Easter, all and belated best wishes for a peaceful Passover.
Last Updated on Friday, 18 April 2014 15:58
In Paradise PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rondi   
Friday, 18 April 2014 12:04

I am reading Peter Matthiessen's last book (he died a few days after my mother) and it is mind-blowingly good and terribly upsetting. I read a couple of books a week, thanks to owning a Kindle which makes the whole process easy, and mostly I read non-fiction and most of that is history. My attitude about non-fiction is that almost none of it written after 1950 -- but for some schlocky spy novels -- is worth reading, but I may have to amend that belief. What made me purchase In ParadiseReading this Tim Parks article in the New York Review of Books. I love Parks' non-fiction about Italy, in particular his book about soccer in Italy as well as his more recent work about, speaking of death camps, Italian trains.

In Paradise is set in Auschwitz, in 1996, and loosely based on a retreat Matthiessen himself went on in the mid-90s. But I do think I have to stop reading books about death camps, fiction or non-fiction: they are showing up in my dreams, or rather nightmares, these days.  

Last Updated on Friday, 18 April 2014 12:08
Sorry, Dear Readers PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rondi   
Wednesday, 16 April 2014 22:27

I am still in death mode. All of a sudden I remembered this Anne Sexton poem, The Truth the Dead Know: 

For my Mother, born March 1902, died March 1959
and my Father, born February 1900, died June 1959
Gone, I say and walk from church,
refusing the stiff procession to the grave,
letting the dead ride alone in the hearse.
It is June.  I am tired of being brave.

We drive to the Cape.  I cultivate
myself where the sun gutters from the sky,
where the sea swings in like an iron gate
and we touch.  In another country people die.

My darling, the wind falls in like stones
from the whitehearted water and when we touch
we enter touch entirely.  No one's alone.
Men kill for this, or for as much.

And what of the dead?  They lie without shoes
in the stone boats.  They are more like stone
than the sea would be if it stopped.  They refuse
to be blessed, throat, eye and knucklebone.
La Manic PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rondi   
Tuesday, 15 April 2014 18:42

When helping my sister make up a playlist for mum's memorial service, I, of course, looked up Georges Dor's version of 'La Manic'. It was a song -- and a version of the song -- mum loved. I found it and I also found this, a Leonard Cohen cover of the same. Glorious.


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Back to your Regularly Scheduled Blogging... PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rondi   
Monday, 14 April 2014 10:18

So we said farewell to our mom this weekend. It was sad and lovely and I hope she would approve (does approve). I feel that same let-down I felt after my brother Alan's death and service and something more. With mom gone, I realize that no one will ever love me unconditionally again, and no one will ever again warn me that something might poke my eye out. This is a real tear in the page of life, especially as I realized that there are some family members I will likely never see again, people who had to see me because of our shared relationship to mom. And now that is over. You really see keenly in these situations where you place on the totem pole of family, and I not only don't place, I barely show. But I am used to that and having it brought home to me this weekend really made me grateful for some of my decisions in life. And I did good this weekend, thanks largely to the fidanzato who kept me from snapping. 

So, onto the big world out there and all its nonsense. Read Mark Steyn on the shameful behaviour of Brandeis University in regards Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

And as a bonus gift, please watch this clip from six years ago, when Hirsi Ali puts mental midget Avi Lewis in his place. 'Tis truly a glorious moment when she tells him that it is easy for him to spit on freedom, as he has never lived without it. It is also fun watching him trying to keep his head from exploding as this atheist, woman of colour -- whose life is under threat from Islamists -- challenges his sophomoric, spoiled-son-of-lefties-in-the-Annex world-view. Good times. 

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Last Updated on Friday, 18 April 2014 15:59
Mum PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rondi   
Tuesday, 01 April 2014 07:35

My mother died in the early hours this morning. The wee small hours. I think she waited till April Fool's Day so that she could wink at us with great love as she left us. For those of you who follow my blog regularly, you will see from the previous post that we have been dealing with mum's fading health for a while, so I am not in shock right now, but do feel as though I have been jack-booted in the gut and heart rather mercilessly. She was truly a force and I will miss her forever.

The Courage That My Mother Had

Edna St. Vincent Millay

The courage that my mother had

Went with her, and is with her still:

Rock from New England quarried;

Now granite in a granite hill.

The golden brooch my mother wore

She left behind for me to wear

I have no thing I treasure more:

Yet, it is something I could spare.

Oh, if instead she’d left to me

The thing she took into the grave!—

That courage like a rock, which she

Has no more need of, and I have.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 April 2014 07:36
Roz Chast: Can't we Talk about Something more Pleasant? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rondi   
Sunday, 16 March 2014 09:29
This is from last week's New Yorker and will also be a published memoir later in the year. The wonderful New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast has written/drawn about her aging parents: trying to convince them to allow help; to move into an assisted-living place; and ultimately, losing them. As the saying goes, you'll laugh, you'll cry. Simply brilliant and few people over a certain age will fail to relate to it.
Last Updated on Sunday, 16 March 2014 09:36
Alexander Hamilton PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rondi   
Saturday, 15 March 2014 14:47
Was goofing around on the internets and found this most awesome 'song' or poetry-jam thingy about Alexander Hamilton. This fellow, Lin-Manuel Miranda, is so talented.  Dim lights Embed Embed this video on your site  
Kissinger on the Ukraine, etc. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rondi   
Monday, 10 March 2014 09:49
Very good column. 
Half a League Onward II PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rondi   
Saturday, 08 March 2014 21:05

I'm apparently not the only one whose junior high teachers made her memorize The Charge of the Light Brigade. Nazi f**k Baldur von Schirach (among other things, he was in charge of the Hitler Youth) quotes from the poem in this short snippet of an interview with David Frost, from 1968. Would love to find the whole interview, btw, though the bit available here is nauseating enough. Basically, von Schirach says to Frost (who does a good job of not letting von Schirach twist the truth) that he was just so busy (because he had so much work to do!) that he never noticed that industrial genocide he was in part responsible for going on around the corner and down the block and in every country the Germans invaded. He had a job to do and hey, he wasn't perfect! (Yes, he actually says this as some kind of defence.) 

The only redeeming (and I use that word loosely) part of the exchange is at the end, when von Schirach quotes from Lewis Carroll and surprisingly, the quote is a propos and does at least indicate that he understands the scale of the crimes in which he was deeply and actively complicit.

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Last Updated on Saturday, 08 March 2014 21:06
Half a League Onward PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rondi   
Saturday, 01 March 2014 17:52

Things are heating up in the Ukraine, are they not? Will not comment on the politics, or what actions I believe Washington should take -- that being said, 'twould be nice to see Obama get some sort of spine. It's painful to see how little respect or fear he inspires. 

What I would really like to do with this post is thank my Grade 7 English teacher -- someone whom I did not particuarly like at the time -- for making us memorize The Charge of the Light Brigade. Now that everything old is new again and the Crimea is in the headlines, being able to recite it might be at least a fun time-waster, if not useful. 

Animals in Movies PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rondi   
Saturday, 01 March 2014 17:45
I don't usually plug my new articles but my latest at HuffPost is worthy, I think, especially for those of you who are animal lovers or fans of the movie 'Patton'. The latter will be the only ones who 'get' the article's last line.  
How to Tame Internet Trolls PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rondi   
Sunday, 23 February 2014 11:09

This is excellent -- both the content and the presentation. I have to say, though, that as a half-Norwegian, I don't much like the use of the word 'troll' to describe what are really just bullies. At any rate, this is advice I could have used as a child and teenager. But it's helpful now, as well. I've had to block or unfriend certain people on some social media platforms. It is rather sad when you see how desperately some folks want to be taken seriously and want one's attention or just want to fight.  

From Vi Hart:

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Last Updated on Sunday, 23 February 2014 11:14
Barf Alert! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rondi   
Saturday, 15 February 2014 11:57

I have been very sick this week -- I think it was food poisoning, but then I have a couple of friends who tell me they have had a kind of stomach virus or something. Whatever it was, it was a deeply unpleasant experience. The silver lining is that I am in my skinny, skinny pants! Yay. It won't last, though, because I have my appetite back. On Wednesday and Thursday all I could manage was herbal tea, saltines and a banana. (And I wondered, after the banana, if it had been a mistake. Thankfully, I kept it down.) 

I know I am not well when I don't want coffee in the morning or wine at night. Rare days indeed. 

It's a good reminder that one should be grateful for one's health. It truly is everything. 

Last Updated on Saturday, 15 February 2014 16:04
Ralph Waite PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rondi   
Saturday, 15 February 2014 11:50

Also Ralph Waite died! I really loved The Waltons. It was a show that got disparaged for being sentimental, but it was actually quite good. It would never fly today. It was cast with mostly not-beautiful-by-Hollywood-standards people, it was plot-and-character driven and it covered a lot of history -- the Depression, World War II -- in a sane, realistic way. I liked the relationship between the parents because you could tell they were hot for each and still got it on, even after seven kids.

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Shirley Temple PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rondi   
Saturday, 15 February 2014 11:38

Shirley Temple died -- she was so talented and obviously an intelligent woman. She became involved in politics and even ran, unsuccessfully, for Congress. I don't get how her run could have been unsuccessful, because, really, who would not vote for Shirley Temple?

My favourite Temple movie was 'Heidi', with 'The Little Princess' running a close second. I loved 'Heidi' so much that, as a child, I thought if I ever had a daughter I would name her Heidi. But then, when I worked in Japan, I had a colleague named Heidi who was really mean to me and I changed my mind, but I still love the movie, which I present in full here. 

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Last Updated on Saturday, 15 February 2014 11:51