Selasa, 22 September 2009

The Whippet--Dogs: series of 48 no. 10 (circa 1934-1939) Gallaher Ltd.

Whippet 9--Mills Cigarettes, Dogs, a series of 25 (circa 1957-1958)

Whippet 49--Wills's Cigarettes, DOGS a series of 50 (circa 1934-1939)

Whippet 50--Hignett's Cigarettes, Dogs a series of 50 (circa 1933-1939)

Whippet 27--Chairman Cigarettes, DOGS: A series of 50 (circa 1922-1927) R.J. Lea Ltd

Time Magazine, April 29, 1928

ITALY: Whippets

Romans have thrilled to all manner of races--chariot races, horse races, automobile races, airplane races. But last week Romans saw their first whippet (dog)races. Six of the fleetest whippets raced were owned by the Contessa Dentice Di Frasso, once Miss Dorothy Taylor of Manhattan. Present were the U.S. Ambassador and Mrs. Henry Prather Fletcher.

CH Manorley Maori -- "Best Dogs of Their Breed" Card #13 of 50

CH Manorley Maori

Information about CH Manorley Maori, DOB: 4/25/1902, can be found in The Whippet Archives.

CH Manorley Maori -- Ogden's Polo Brand Cigarettes Card #13 of 50

Senin, 21 September 2009

What I'm Reading

City of Thieves, by David Benioff. Oh, it's good. Russia. Winter. Leningrad, circa World War II. It's quite a story.

And Tommy is reading this:

Caesar: The Life Story of a Panda Leopard, by Patrick O'Brian. My parents got this in London at Heywood Hill. Patrick O'Brian won the Heywood Hill Literary Prize several years ago. Pretty neat.

Caesar was O'Brian's first novel. He wrote it when he was 14 and it was published when he was 15! In 1999, O'Brian wrote a Forward for the book, which appears in the edition Tommy has. Here is the final paragraph of that:

"It may seem absurd and pretentious, above all apropos of this piece of juvenilia, to say that writers, once they have experienced this intense delight, live fully only when they are writing fast, at the top of their being: the rest of the time only the lacklustre shell of the man is present, often ill-tempered (deprived of his drug), rarely good company."

Selasa, 15 September 2009

Flora the Elephant

I've finally finished my first pattern to go in my Etsy shop. She's a cute little elephant that I'd made a couple of times before so I knew I'd be able to recreate her. Having two little boys means I don't usually make things wearing pink dresses, but I do love elephants and it's fun to combine them together. I love the shape of her head and I think she looks very shy.

Sabtu, 12 September 2009

Poetry and Movies

I’ve had a strange concentration of Japanese culture in the last month or so. Yes, Tommy and I saw Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo, but I also recently read Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog, mostly set in a bourgeois building in an upscale neighborhood in Paris. The concierge in that building is fascinated by Japanese culture, reads Tolstoy, listens to Mozart, and shares a kindred spirit and a wonderful friendship with a new resident, the wealthy Japanese filmmaker Kakuro Ozu. Last week, I rented Yasujiro Ozu’s Tokyo Story. I have not seen that yet. I was going to watch it last night, but the evening was too nice to sit in a dark basement, so I walked up to Wells Hall to see Departures, presented by the East Lansing Film Society. This was directed by Yojiro Takita and won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

If you haven’t seen the film but intend to do so, skip on ahead to the next paragraph but don’t read anymore of this one. I’m heading straight to the end of the film here. It’s the endings, in part, that differentiate so many films from so many poems. (Among other things, of course. Cinematography. Popcorn. Soundtracks.) Is it fair to compare two genres? Maybe not, but I can’t stop considering the differences. That scene at the end of the film, in which Daigo is kneeling beside his dead father, preparing the body for departure, is incredibly sentimental. On my walk home last night, I kept thinking how this sort of sentimentality works in a film, but wrecks a poem. I knew when Daigo was trying to unclench his father’s hand what was inside the fist. There was this sudden swell of knowledge, which maybe every viewer felt and registered as a private knowledge. But when the stone drops out of the fist, it is not a surprise. We know it’s coming. And that is one difference between a film and a poem.

A film can still be good even when it is predictable and sentimental, but a poem must surprise the reader. There are so many ways of describing what a poem is, or what a poem does. Yeats said a finished poem makes a sound like the click of the lid on a perfectly made box. I read a review of Nicholson Baker’s The Anthologist in Thursday’s New York Times. Here are the last three sentences of that: “An essay, he says, is a glass of water. But if a few drops of that water fall on a hot frying pan and sizzle? Then you have a poem.”

I think, in a good poem, one cannot read the first half of it and figure out what happens in the second half. If there is a clenched fist in a poem, one cannot guess what is inside it. If one can guess what is inside the clenched fist, the poem has probably failed. I’m not saying a poem has to end with fireworks…or even sizzle. Fireworks can be pretty predictable. But when a poem clicks shut it ought to leave the reader feeling a little… unbalanced. Poetry is not yoga. It’s not intended to relax us or help us sleep well. It’s also, usually, not terribly cathartic. Which means it often stops short of making us cry. The thing with poems is, they will often make you ache without delivering, or inducing, the full relief of tears. Films are good for tears, and that is why I’d classify most films as entertainment. Poems, like much of life, leave us aching.

Minggu, 06 September 2009

Dream Spirit

Here is my latest creature.

She is a Dream Spirit, she herds the dreams that float through the air to make sure that each dream gets to the right dreamer. Not just for humans, either. Animals and, who knows, maybe even plants dream, and she has to make sure that dreams do not go astray.

I made her using one my favourite yarns, an alpaca mix. She's a simple shape (using the same basic pattern as my Rock Spirit) that I enjoyed embellishing with various scraps of fuzzy yarns to make her 'whiskers' and then I gave her curved horns/ears. I got a kind of witchy/shaman vibe from her when she was finished and then I could see what she was.

Here's her relative, the Rock Spirit:

Sabtu, 05 September 2009

Goodbye Summer

Kettlecorn at the farmer's market, peaches, bouquets of zinnias and snapdragons, scent of basil, clarity of sunshine, last swim... it all feels unbearably poignant. If we are lucky, we have 80 or 90 or maybe 100 summers, 80 or 90 or maybe 100 autumns. I remember standing outside with my grandma on a spring day when she said this of spring. Of all the numbers out there in this world, 80, 90 and 100 are not big numbers.

I have worked on a few poems this summer, but it is not a productive time of year for me, generally. I feel the long absence of writing and am excited to return to my work.