A sampling, updates occasionally:



A Remembrance: Faith in Pen


                                                                        I

Harry Dean Stanton, the actor you should know from the movies Paris Texas, Repo Man, and Blue Velvet, died in September 2018. He was 91, smoked a ton, believed in predestiny and was a crossword puzzle addict. He lettered his puzzles in pen after carefully reading all of the clues. Well, he’s dead now. And perhaps he would prefer that rather than saying passed away, we say he has passed through somewhere.

                                                                      

                                                                        II


I don't want to force a connection but is there better evidence of one's attunement with the universe than doing your crossword puzzle in pen? I should correct that --is there a better show of faith in the universe than doing a crossword puzzle in pen? But then again, did anyone ever check his answers? Did he need to?


                                                                        III


I really do respect your time but, I am backtracking here once again. Maybe it is not remarkable that he was doing complex crossword puzzles in pen. After all, to act is to be definite. Stanton was a tremendous actor, a willful creature. He absorbed the lines (clues) and then played the role of the problemsolver.


                                                                        IV


I don’t think we would be surprised if great historians or legal experts had the same crossword practice. Is my wonder at his penmanship, a symptom of undervaluing the potential of acting as a field of inquiry? I think not, but more a previously unconsidered article of faith I had that any artist needs to have doubt or embrace ambiguity in order to be open to the universe. I am proven wrong once again. Luckily, I keep a giant eraser strapped to my hip like a cowboy’s sidearm.


An Appreciation: What Is Too Silly To Be Spoken, Is Sung


It’s always a Voltaire quote. I don’t begrudge him his success but the man crowded out the sun. Everyone thinks he said it all, but he didn’t say this: “ Nowadays, opera writers aren’t any good --what is too silly to be spoken, is sung” actually it came from Beaumarchais, writing the Barber of Seville when it was only a play and not yet a Rossini opera; Beaumarchais gave the phrase to Fiorello who was writing a love poem. Satisfied with the terrible rhymes he blurts it out. And so somehow, this fictional dis written for a foolish character got attributed to Voltaire and magically it was transformed into a witty put-down. Typical, no?


When it is in Voltaire's mouth it mocks the overwrought, low-brow sentiment of Italianate opera. Now of course, we laugh at opera lovers for their dusty high brow pretensions. But the barb was aimed at the artists who believed that pleasure and beauty were worth heroic efforts to realize. Pageant-makers, gallants and fantasy weavers that only tickle the brain to distract it from ruining the heart’s pleasures. We know his type though; I wouldn’t be surprised that besides being a quote thief, at night, in the dark, Voltaire was a sentimental mess.