Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Halloween Tale

One Halloween, Frederick wanted nothing more than to go trick-or-treating as a werewolf. When or how the vision came into his head is uncertain, but the apparent lack of any concrete origin - either through advertisements, films or television - did not diminish the power, the frightful vividness with which he was determined to become a werewolf, out of the blue as it seemed.

"Ah-roooooooooooh!" he howled in wolfish rebellion at his mother who had been making other suggestions to him: Why not as Harry Potter? Why not as SpongeBob? Why not as Barack Obama? Why not as a marshmallow? Oh pumpkin, a marshmallow would be so cute!

"Oh mommy, those are all so stupid! I want to go as a werewolf! Ah-rooooooooooh!"

His face was thrust up at her and ravenous with an appetite that would not be dissuaded. Frederick's mother simply had to give in. "Alright pumpkin," she said. And they searched together for a costume that very day and eventually found one at a Halloween specialty store called "Spirit Halloween".

The costume was very wolf-like and just Frederick's size. They did not need to search for long in the store, as it seemed to be put there in the open just for Frederick, like the very materialization of his vision, down to every tuft of wild, dark brown fur. He was fitted into it. It had padding inside that increased Frederick's volume, but not too much. When the wolf head - frightfully snouted with white fangs like ivory and pointy ears with hair spilling out of them like tumbleweeds - was placed over Frederick's, he became deeply excited.

"See mommy! Werewolves never need to get cold at night! Ah-roooooooooh!"

The saleslady who had helped them thought it was perfect. "Oh, how scary you are!" she said. To which Frederick made slashing actions with his clawed paws towards her while spontaneous snarling noises - new to Frederick - issued from the snout. "Oh, it's just perfect!" she said.

Then he finished by howling, "Ah-roooooooooohhh!"

"Oh pumpkin, you're so darling cute!" Frederick's mother said. "But don't go howling too much, pumpkin; you might hurt your voice."

"Ah-ROOOOOOOOOH!!!" Frederick belted back to his mother's suggestion to not howl too much.

The night before Halloween, Fredrick's mother had her girlfriends over, and they all sat in the living room discussing an episode of The View they had all watched in the morning. They were talking just like the women in The View. Frederick had just come down the stairs from his bedroom and at the living room entrance made his way quickly past like he was avoiding the piercing of horrible scanners, like he was avoiding The View. There were eight of them in The View, which was presently radioactive with a blistering feminine core. And sixteen eyes were set within The View, turning this way and that. One either avoided it or needed a radiation suit to live within its precincts - or a wolf suit.

Frederick was at the end of the hall going just into the kitchen, and was thinking of his wolf skin, up in his bedroom, where he had felt so comfortable, lying in bed reading, with the wolf skin just across from him.

Frederick's mother called to him. Frederick gave out in dread; he summoned his powers and squashed every molecule of his being into an invisible iron ball in the small pit of his stomach so as to endure The View. All the women's faces turned towards Frederick when he came to the living room entrance, that just a second ago he had slid past as a flitting shadow. And all eyes in The View had seen the shadow flit past.

There at the entrance he materialized and became immaterial at the same time. His mother asked him questions about school, about homework, about chores - and then about his wolf costume, which made his face burn red.

"Oh, you should have seen him in the store when he first put it on, howling this and that; he certainly likes being a werewolf! Maybe he'll put it on and scare us."

Frederick went up the stairs to his bedroom in a cloud of humiliation. When he came back downstairs to the living room entrance, the women were immersed again in The View, and were not quite prepared for what they saw. For Frederick came downstairs without the costume on, but just the wolf head enclosing his head. This effect, clashing against his normal clothes, was strangely creepy. He stood there.

"This is my wolf mask", he said. His head inside of it was a blazing hot pink thing.

"I hope this werewolf doesn't get shot with a silver bullet!" said one of the women in The View. "Where's the rest of it? Or are you in the middle of transforming? It is after all a full moon tonight!"

"Oh, it is too!" said another of the women in The View.

Frederick became excited. "And then I'll come back down here in all my hair and gobble you all up, you pack of witches! Ar, ar, ar, ah-rooooooooooooohhh!"

The night of Halloween came. School that day was tingling with excitement and anticipation and a crisp blue sky. The winds were blowing through town, and increasing as day wore on. No rain was expected. The first of sundown spilled about. Leaves blew along the streets; as evening came down and families had finished their suppers, jack-o-lanterns were lit in front of doorways and bowls of candies were got ready.

The streets received the outfitted children and their parents. There were Spider-men and Bat-men; Han-Solo appeared, and his enemy Greedo - who in the film Star Wars Han Solo shot dead without Greedo ever shooting first. Princesses of many types went out into the night. Frodo came with the Ring; Gandalf also. One lanky high-schooler was wrapped in toilet paper, head to toe. Many, many, many zombies lolled about with little imagination. Abraham Lincoln came forth with a hammer and stake and a distinguished stovepipe hat; southern Gothic vampires in league with the national bankers fled from him and his powerful, stable, efficacious Greenbacks. That night, in the midst of all, there was one werewolf, prowling. Always the wildest among the wild: the Werewolf, lone as the solitary mad moon.

Frederick never said, "Trick-or-treat" when people opened their doors. He always unleashed a rousing, "Ah-roooooooooohhh!" instead, without thinking about it. His excitement drove him on and on, from house to house, his mother always some ways behind with her girlfriends some ways behind their own children.

Then Frederick approached one primly kept house with a neat solitary jack-o-lantern, warmly lit: a frightened cat with erect, electrified tail, was carved into it. The little Wolf-man rang the bell. A sturdy old lady opened the door immediately, and Frederick howled before her with his sack already three-quarters filled, opened up to receive more goodies.

The old lady was calm and steady, and she could see through masks. Her eye was not sharp and keen - only steady. She said, "Now, I thought you were supposed to say 'trick-or-treat!' young boy. That's the only way you get candy on Halloween."

Something about her slow steadiness irritated the little Wolf-man. That, plus she did not give vocal attention to his costume, which so many others that night had complimented through many a 'Ooohh, ahhh! A wild werewolf is on the loose!'

Frederick reared and howled some more. Then he growled fiercely as only a Wolf-man knows how.

"Now surely a good dog can say 'trick-or-treat' on Halloween night", said the old lady.

"I'm the Werewolf of the night and I want candy or I'll blow your house down!"

"But this is made with bricks! Now only say, 'trick-or-treat!'"

"Ah, shaddup you old bag!"

And with that, Frederick put his foot through the face of her jack-o-lantern, then pulling it out he brought it smashing down on top, extinguishing the flame inside, stomping and stomping the pumpkin in a kind of dance, with an insane giggling laughter; then he madly ran off down her driveway with his wolf face thrust up towards the moon, howling, "Ah-rooooooooooooooooohhh!!!"

Unfortunately, at that moment, a silver Mercedes was coasting at a fair speed down the road, and Frederick, his head turned up to the moon, ran to meet the car: issuing out of the driveway's end Frederick did not know what the blow was, what struck him. For all he knew, some monstrosity from behind the night appeared and grabbed and hurled him and his "ah-roooooooooohh", which, being caught dead, was brought to a sudden stop. He flew through the air. And only this did his mother just see, starting in her periphery as she talked with the neighbour ladies: a car screeching and a lorn wolf shape. Then she saw all of it. His body struck the pavement like a canvas sack filled with porcelain plates. His candy was scattered.

An instant of night quiet hung over the street, into which suddenly burst his mother screaming, "FREDERICK!"

When the ambulance came, two latex gloved lady paramedics were stealthy in getting the broken werewolf into the vehicle that had set the street dancing with red lights. It wasn't there for more than a few minutes.

As the ambulance drove away, the old lady came out from her house and gathered up Frederick's scattered candy.

Fortunately, the medium padding within Frederick's costume, in the end, saved him, though only just. Even all that hair went into saving his life. If he had dressed up as Harry Potter or as Barack Obama, it would've been game-over for Frederick.

"And if you had dressed up as a marshmallow, everything would have been A-okay, wouldn't it pumpkin!" Frederick's mother was beside the hospital bed in which he lay, bound in various bone-healing structures.

"Some more candy mommy!" said Frederick. The old lady had managed to get Frederick's candy bag to his mother at the hospital. His mother had been bringing out candies every now and again for him to eat.

"Oh, here's a tootsie-roll, pumpkin."

"Gimme a tootsie-roll, mommy." Frederick thought about this for a moment, then he added, "Give me a tootsie-roll, Toots."

"Now pumpkin, you shouldn't call your mother 'Toots'. It's not appropriate." She held aloft the tootsie-roll.

"Tootsie-roll, tootsie-roll, tootsie-roll! Gimme, gimme, gimme!"

"Alright pumpkin, here you go."

She unwrapped it and fed it to Frederick. After chewing on it, he opened his mouth saying, "Gaaaawww - look mommy - a turd! In my mouth! Gaaawwww!"

"Ugh! Pumpkin, that's so naughty!" she said. And she started tickling him, saying, "Tickle, tickle tickle tickle!!!"

"Stop it mommy, that hurts, that hurts, that hurts!!!"

"Oh, yes, sorry pumpkin."

"What other candies are there mommy?"

"Well, here's some Sweet Tarts."

"Sweet Tarts, sweet tarts, sweet tarts! Gimme, gimme, gimme!"

Frederick's mother held it aloft like a carrot before a donkey, and said by way of extortion, "And what are you going to dress up as next year?"

"A marshmallow! Ah-roooooooooooohhh!!!"


Drawing - Extreme Humility

Drew the above in B and F pencils after the below prototype. Drawing it out all the way to final highlights, just for its own sake, helps to get a feel for an icon, to enter into it prayerfully, and thus to develop certain changes, "organic" changes.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Arvo Pärt - From the depths

From the depths I have cried out to you, O Lord;
Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my supplication.
If you, Lord, were to mark iniquities, who, O Lord, shall stand?
But with you is forgiveness, that you may be revered. I trust in the Lord;
My soul trusts in his word.
My soul waits for the Lord,
more than watchmen wait for the dawn. More than watchmen wait for the dawn, let Israel hope in the Lord.
For with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption.
And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

Psalm 130

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Medium: Pencils HB and F

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Copernican

Henryk Gorecki's Symphony no. 2 is probably my favourite of his music. I posted it before, here, which has better sound quality, but I thought it was nice to see it being played and orchestrated.

Symphony no. 2, the Copernican, was commissioned to celebrate the 500th. anniversary of the birth of the astronomer Copernicus.

To most who know of Gorecki, his name is probably synonymous with his Third Symphony, the Sorrowful Songs (link there has the full symphony but the vocals of the singer on it to my mind aren't the best). Most probably haven't even listened to his Symphony no. 2, and probably wouldn't put up with the first five minutes of the first movement before giving up. Their loss.

Here's what one reviewer wrote on Amazon:

"The second symphony, written to mark Nicolaus Copernicus' 500th birthday in 1972, contains just as much emotion as Gó'recki's far more popular third symphony. But it's not too difficult to figure out why the second didn't make the charts: the first movement blares out a rhythmic hammer blow timpanic cacophony. It conjures up images of huge objects inexorably shifting and changing while the helpless listener sits in raptured awe. The music of the planets shifting, descending, or presenting themselves in full view slaps the listener right in the cochleas. It's not restful nor peaceful: it's disturbing. Here lies a representation of what the Copernican revolution of the 15th century might have felt like: Pregnant with strife, doubt, challenges, accusations, violent arguments, heresy, the very dignity of humankind at stake. No serenity, no calm summer day. A revolution is underway. The entrance of the choir towards the end of the movement provides a knock-down sonic experience. Something unavoidable has happened and the listener gets transported to that experience.

By startling contrast, the second movement provides the listener with a calm, peaceful, heartbreakingly beautiful landscape with which to ponder the violence that preceded it. Fans of Gó'recki's Third symphony will likely love this movement. Copernicus' own words float above the bubbling strings which wax and wane with intensity. The movement fades out slowly and almost silently. A relaxation of almost insurmountable tension fills the relatively harmonic and lovely second movement. Apparently the happening of the first movement has ended peacefully.

This symphony presents challenges that the third doesn't touch. The range of emotions is startling and even unnerving at times. The juxtaposition of the two movements creates deep meaning. Add to this a monumental historical event and a great symphony emerges. It also points the way towards the Third (finished some four years later in 1976)."

Turn volume up, as the recorded volume is not great:

Golden Oldie III

"In September 1931 England found it impossible to maintain her gold reserves and was forced off the gold standard. Since then, every other gold-standard nation has either been forced off gold or has abandoned it voluntarily. Those countries which bowed first to this pressure were also the first to recover from the depression. France was among the last to abandon gold; and she is still suffering from her mistake in waiting so long.

The depression experience of all countries under the gold standard has shown that it is scarcely worthy of being called a “standard” at all. It has shown that the so-called “stability” of gold and of foreign exchange destroyed the stability of the buying power of money and thereby the stability of economic conditions generally. In fact, the effort to retain gold as a “standard” has had such disastrous results all over the world that, for the time being, international trade has been deprived of some of the useful services which gold might sill render it...

After the experience of the past decade, it is improbable that many countries will want to give their currencies arbitrary gold values at the cost of domestic deflation and depression...

Some countries, especially the Scandinavian and others included in the so-called “Sterling Bloc”, have gone further than the United States in formulating and in carrying out these new monetary policies.

On abandoning the gold standard in 1931, the Scandinavian countries took steps to maintain for the consumer a constant buying power for their respective currencies. Finland’s central bank made a declaration to this effect. The Riksbank of Sweden has done the same, and its action was officially confirmed by the Swedish Government. As a result, since then people of those fortunate lands have never lost confidence in their money. The buying power of their monetary units have been maintained constant within a few per cent since 1931. At the same time, these countries have made conscious use of monetary policy as an essential part of their efforts to promote domestic prosperity. They have been so successful as to have practically eliminated unemployment, to have raised their production figures to new peaks, and to have improved steadily the scale of living of their people." --From A Program for Monetary Reform, July 1939

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Medium: Pencils F and B


By Arthur Stilwell

Inert and cold are the stones and cemeteries of earth,
Receptacles beyond reach, irredeemable;
How different the graveyard of our heart,
For there beloved beings lie interred,
Without disrepair to favour, eyelight, look, frown
            Or characteristic mirth,
And there the people and times that have gone away,
Find a good place, of everbright rising.
Oh mute and lifeless are the shapes and sweetnesses
                    Encased in clay,
                  Or dispersed in ashes;
How alive the things and persons buried in our heart.

(Originally published St. Joseph's Messenger, Jersey City, N.J.)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Golden Oldie II

"Now, we will step down through the pages of history to 1873 in the good old U.S.A., when silver was demonetized and gold was made the standard money. If you think that the price of money can't be changed, just get your business graph and see what happened to the prices of 'things' in the longest 'depression' the U.S. had ever experienced up to that time. As it worked with the 'half-shekel of the sanctuary,' so also it worked with the Gold Standard." --Fabious Melton Butler writing during the early thirties.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

New Dappled Things

The Sts. Peter and Paul Dappled Things is out: here.

I quite like the artwork by David Anthony Harman.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Golden Oldie

"When I was moved by many arguments and forces in 1925 to return to the gold standard, I was assured by the highest experts, and our experts are men of great ability and of indisputable integrity and sincerity, that we were anchoring ourselves to reality and stability, and I accepted their advice. I take for myself and my colleagues of other days whatever degree of blame and burden for having accepted their advice.

But what happened? We have had no reality, no stability. The price of gold has risen since then by more than 70 per cent. That is as if a 12-inch foot rule had been stretched to 19 or 20 inches....Look at what this has meant to everybody who has been compelled to execute their contracts upon this irrationally enhanced scale. Look at the gross unfairness of such distortion to all producers of new wealth, and to all that labour and science and enterprise can give us. Look at the enormously increased volume of commodities which have to be created in order to pay off the same mortgage debt or loan. Minor fluctuation might well be ignored, but I say quite seriously that this monetary convulsion has now reached a pitch where I am persuaded that the producers of new wealth will not tolerate indefinitely so hideous an oppression....

I therefore point to this evil, and to the search for the methods of remedying it as the first, second and third of all the problems which should command and rivet our thoughts" --Winston Churchill, 1932

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Oft my feelings towards certain pieces:

You know, like Smetana's Vltava (The Moldau).

And not just towards certain musical pieces.

Towards certain artworks too.

Most of Raphael and most of Botticelli.

So sublime.

Gold medal. Blue ribbon.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wood Cross

I had forgotten about this carving I did from the scrap end of a two-by-four. Just cheap soft wood, probably spruce. I carved it more after this picture was taken awhile back. But I gave it away, so don't have a photo of it from the most final stages, which were still pretty rough. It's primitive. Didn't know I was going to carve the corpus when I started whittling, so didn't account for room for hands.

And I hold on to peach pits from peaches I eat. So there.

Medium: Pencils B and F

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Medium: Pencils H and B

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Medium: H and B pencils

Medium: H and B pencils

Monday, October 1, 2012


"Blasphemy kills even the ashes in the fireplace." --St. Padre Pio repeating what the old Italian wives say

In addition to the list of telltale signs of a neo-conservative, one can add the astounding ability to abide blasphemy, and to make clever apology for it. Someone insulted your mother? Well, says neo-con, the fact is, that person does not believe in the existence of your mother, and therefore is unaware of what he is actually saying; therefore how can it be an insult? I mean, after all, for the insult to be an insult, it would presuppose that the person has some sort of relationship to your mother, a relationship to betray through insult, right? Well, that person does not have a relationship with your mother, so his insult is really just an unawareness of your mother's existence.

Likewise, someone does not really believe that the Eucharist is sacred, that it is truly the body of Christ? Well, if that person flushes it down the toilet precisely to show that he does not believe it to be sacred, then what he is doing is not really an act of profanation. Nobody blasphemes Thor, because Thor isn't real - as Chesterton said, and what people do blaspheme goes to telling us what is sacred. Thus, when someone who does not believe that the Eucharist is actually the Body of Christ (which is what makes it sacred) flushes the Eucharist down the toilet to express the fact that he does not believe it to be sacred, that he believes it no more than a variation of Thor, then it is not really profanation.

Yes, that must have been what G.K.C. was saying. Isn't that wonderful? Doesn't it make you breathe a comfortable sigh of modern day relief? You don't want to be mistaken for a reactionary religious fanatic by expressing horror, dejection, discomfort and anger (and atonement/reparation) when faced with people blaspheming - indeed, greater and greater waves of blasphemy - the God you claim to believe in? Well, now you have your nice, clever, pat little excuse out of this one, don't you? So don't get all chivalrous in defending Christ's honour and the honour of our Lady and of the Saints; after all, they don't need you to defend them, and the blasphemy and profanations are quite easily explained, you see.

For, you see, even when the neo-con Catholic Apologist recognizes that blasphemy carries its own objective weight of punishment, like a self-inflicted curse, for some strange reason the neo-con Catholic Apologist still goes on to say that the blasphemy committed by those today, those who make it plain to say they are blaspheming, and do so, is not really blasphemy, but only the fake, cowardly, hermetically-sealed, envelope-pushing attempts of a dung-heap culture that keeps melting the snow off of itself by the heat of its own self-destruction.

You will notice how when Jesus was being crucified and mocked, He did not say, "Father, do not bother forgiving them, for they know not what they do, and therefore what they are doing to Me is not really sin."

Too bad it won't work out for the neo-con explanations, since Christians claim the belief that our God is an actual Person - and not just a "sacred thing" - so that, you know, when someone blasphemes, profanes, insults this God of ours, even if that someone does not believe in this God's existence by not having a relationship with Him, there is still materially a blasphemy committed; and then the question of your relationship - you, the Christian - with this God comes to the forefront, and the question is asked of you and of the neo-con Catholic Apologist, "Who do you say that I am?"

And certain people believe that waterboarding is not really torture. I guess that means that when people are waterboarding a prisoner, and they don't believe that what they are doing is torture, then they are not really torturing someone.

Oh, by the way, this has nothing to do with state-sanctioned measures and whatnot anti-blasphemy laws and all that boring crap that I couldn't care less about. It has to do with neo-conservative pundits and their clever apologia.