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Monday, December 12, 2005

This and That on Monday

Saturday morning, while shoveled snow from our walk and drive I was struck by the starkness of the sky and the sun trying in desperation to break through a tiny perforation in the cloud cover. The image was so striking that I took my camera-phone and shot a photo of it. The result seen here is very strange.

Last night, I journaled and watched my wife as she sat at the desk beading. She had an assortment of mixed beads and a long metal tool which she used to move beads into smaller groupings based upon the color. It was so cool to watch her because it struck me as through she was a paint artist making very distinctive strokes this way and that. The end result too was interesting because the groupings then resembled a painters pallet.

I am struck by how we respond to things - external stimuli. Each of our senses. Pictures, sights, or even just colors themselves. Smells - there are so many of them during the holiday season that we become accustomed to. And sounds particularly intrigue me. How some music excites us and other we just want away from.

On the drive in this morning, my wife had an Anne Murray CD on. I'm not big on country but Murray is one of those artists that has a style that I think hangs just on the edge of country but is still different. I enjoy her music. One of the songs I especially enjoy is Daydream Believer, first done by the Monkees - and I think that is one of the reasons I like it. It takes me back to "The Time" - and it has always kind of reminded me of my wife anyway. Her middle name is Jean and we were high school sweethearts. Married young, not much money. I identify with the song.

After I dropped my wife off at work - I did change the tempo a bit. Sometimes I listen to NPR when driving alone (a practice that is not sanctioned by the family as a whole) but I popped in a cheap version of The Messiah by the London Symphony Orchestra and some choir. I picked it up for a whole "buck" at Target. Handel had to be just absolutely brilliant. I love the majestic flow of this oratorio - but especially For Unto Us a Child is Born and of course most of all Hallelujah! For the Lord God Omnipoent Reigneth, otherwise known as the Hallelujah Chorus.

The Messiah was first performed in Dublin in 1742, around Easter before a more-than-capacity audience. In London, the next year the clergy attempted to close the theater because such music about God should never be performed in a playhouse. Still, the performance did occur. King George II, attending the London premiere and was so moved by the Hallelujah Chorus that he rose and remained standing until its end. This of course prompted the rest of the audience to rise to their feet (it was common that when the King stood, everyone stood as well) and so the tradition carries over to this day when this magnificent piece is played. I indeed get goose bumps and tingles up my spine when I hear this in a large group.

In a final note - I was saddened to learn today of the passing of Eugene McCarthy. He was 89, which hardly seems possible. To many I suspect Gene is simply an asterisk at the bottom of a page in a history book. But it could be argued that McCarthy had a significant impact upon this country. His 1968 campaign for President helped frame a changing view of the Vietnam War into something many came to see as "morally indefensible" (God, the more things change the more they stay the same).

McCarthy's entry into the '68 campaign stunned President Johnson when he finished second in New Hampshire with 42 % to Johnson's 49%. It was such a shock that to this day, many believe McCarthy won New Hampshire.

In his later life - McCarthy turned to poetry. He has already written and published books and essays but became a quite serious poet. The poet Robert Lowell and he became close.
Having been asked at one point to assess former President Carter's poetry, McCarthy said it could only be compared with that of other presidents: not as good as Lincoln's and shorter than John Quincy Adams. He could be brutally honest and of course that with his Irish wit was something to behold.

McCarthy authored a number of books... I recall reading The Limits of Power: America's Role in the World when I was in high school. Funny how much that book seems to make sense today.


A few McCarthy Quotes:

"The only thing that saves us from the bureaucracy is inefficiency. An efficient bureaucracy is the greatest threat to liberty."

"Nixon is the kind of guy who, if you were drowning twenty feet from shore, would throw you a fifteen-foot rope."

"As long as the differences and diversities of mankind exist, democracy must allow for compromise, for accommodation, and for the recognition of differences."
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