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The Sturgeon’s Leap

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I was stacking wood Saturday when my plumber, Bud, stopped by. He was checking on the work of Loquacious Hank, his new subcontractor, who had replaced my kitchen ceiling. This related to the resolution of what Bud tactfully refers to as my plumbing “dilemmas,” which came with the house and never end. We talked about…

Ars Poetica

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At the beginning of the score of his Valses nobles et sentimentales, composer Maurice Ravel placed a dedication based a quote from Henri de Régnier: “le plaisir délicieux et toujours nouveau d’une occupation inutile” (to the delightful and always novel pleasure of a useless occupation). Ravel’s sly and somewhat dandyish acknowledgment of the apparent uselessness…

The Sight of Silence

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In a film without words (or more precisely, with only two minutes of them), it’s a tautology to say that the visual experience overwhelms all other cinematic considerations. If the cinematographer doesn’t do his job here, then the experience is no better than thumbing through a very long coffee table book. But after the first…

Upper Room Productions

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It was time to incorporate. Given the tax incentives to do so as a screenwriter, it was time to become a company of one. To be sure, the spiritual correlatives were not lost on me either, for which reason I had decided well in advance that when the time came to make it official, I…

Beauty in the Cube

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My last Good Letters post lamented the surreal appetites and remedies of the bureaucratic hive, as well as that world’s great need for beauty. I may have left you wondering: if life in the L’Enfant Plaza Canyon is so dire, then why don’t I just ditch it? Aside from my lot as the family breadwinner,…

Housekeeping

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When my mother-in-law was a bride in 1968, she discovered that one of her new responsibilities was to iron my father-in-law’s army uniform. First she dipped the freshly-washed pants and shirt in a solution of water and starch. Not a can of Niagara, but the powdered kind in a box. She’d squeeze it, then roll…

Why Reading Arthur C. Clarke is like Going to Church

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I think Reihan Salam is correct in dubbing the novels of the late Arthur C. Clarke “devotionals,” and his characters are indeed “wooden,” though that doesn’t take anything away from Clarke’s beguiling and seemingly unbounded imagination. This past summer, on whim, I picked up Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama and thought it an impressive feat that…

Further Thoughts on Paul Scofield

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All will be judged. Master of nuance and scruple, Pray for me and for all writers, living or dead: Because there are many whose works Are in better taste than their lives, because there is no end To the vanity of our calling, make intercession For the treason of all clerks.” —W. H. Auden, “At…

Truth and Memory

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O my love, where are they, where are they going The flash of a hand, streak of movement, rustle of pebbles. I ask not out of sorrow, but in wonder. — From “Encounter,” by Czeslaw Milosz Recently, there has been some interesting and important discussion in this blog about the latest creative nonfiction debacle concerning“Margaret…

Waiting for Godot in New Orleans

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When a production of a classic play gets reported by Yahoo News, NPR, The New York Times, and the Seattle Times (off the AP wire), you know something powerful is going on. And so it was with the Classical Theater of Harlem’s performance of Waiting for Godot in New Orleans last November. Setting the play…

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