Tuesday, March 25, 2008

But what does it have to do with Yeats?

That is no country for old men. The young
In one another's arms, birds in the trees
---Those dying generations---at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unaging intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God's holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

William Butler Yeats, Sailing to Byzantium

So DW goes off to church on Sunday morning, and I sit down to watch the Oscar-winning No Country for Old Men. I, of course, was expecting a period piece about Yeats's trip from his homeland to the Continent to appreciate antiquities.

Instead, I get something coming from my own homeland of West Texas. This connection notwithstanding, I spent the entire film trying to figure out whether it was an adaptation of Yeats's poem or something else entirely. Sailing to El Paso would be more like it. I just couldn't figure it out.

I really liked this movie. The plot is nothing spectacular, and it would hard to divine some kind of deeper meaning from the film. But it is an excellent film nevertheless, if not quite the masterpiece that is There Will be Blood. A Texas ne'er-do-well (Josh Brolin) comes across some drug money and steals it, only to be chased through West Texas by a crazy hit man (Javier Bardem), who, in turn is chased by another hitman from his own organization (Woody Harrelson). The local sheriff (Tommy Lee Jones) is also chasing Brolin, mostly to save him from Bardem. Bardem deserves all of the praise he's been given; his character was frighteningly crazy and delciously creepy. Tommy Lee Jones didn't have as much screen time as I would have expected (or would have liked; I'd watch Tommy Lee Jones read the phone book), but his character is the old man who realizes that he is out of his element with archcriminals like Bardem's character on the loose. It really was no country for old men. The harsh storyline was matched by the harsh country of West Texas, much of which appears hot and lifeless. I, for one, liked the Sopranos-like ending, with the now-retired sheriff chatting away about nothing important. He isn't doing anything important, but he is alive.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Louisiana's Tom Sawyer

A modern-day warrior
Mean mean stride,
Todays Tom Sawyer
Mean mean pride.

Though his mind is not for rent,
Dont put him down as arrogant.
His reserve, a quiet defense,
Riding out the days events.
The river

And what you say about his company
Is what you say about society.
Catch the mist, catch the myth
Catch the mystery, catch the drift.

The world is, the world is,
Love and life are deep,
Maybe as his eyes are wide.

Todays Tom Sawyer,
He gets high on you,
And the space he invades
He gets by on you.

No, his mind is not for rent
To any God or government.
Always hopeful, yet discontent,
He knows changes arent permanent,
But change is.

And what you say about his company
Is what you say about society.
Catch the witness, catch the wit,
Catch the spirit, catch the spit.

The world is, the world is,
Love and life are deep,
Maybe as his skies are wide.

Exit the warrior,
Todays Tom Sawyer,
He gets high on you,
And the energy you trade,
He gets right on to the friction of the day.

--Rush, Tom Sawyer

Once again, my youngest son is showing his own sense of style. I don't know how he came across this hat, but it looks pretty damn good on him. At first, I thought about the Indiana Jones movies, but then Rush's old song about today's Tom Sawyer came to mind, and it seemed to fit his personality much better, except for the notion that he might accept change as a permanent phenomonon--that doesn't fit at all.

T. had a difficult weekend at home. His obsession with elevators and airplanes led to a major behavioral meltdown at a shopping mall in Metairie, LA. Surprisingly, he was very happy when we went straight home after we dragged him kicking and screaming from the mall, and he didn't ask for elevators or airplanes again. Later, we went to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. T. insisted on going to the beach adjacent to the Pass Christian yacht club and shrimp boat harbor. We used to go to that strip of beach because it had a bathroom pavilion and a McDonald's across the street. Both the pavilion and the McDonald's were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, and neither has been rebuilt. On Friday, for the first time ever, T. insisted that he was going to walk along the harbor's concrete seawall. Unfortunately, the seawall too was damaged by Katrina, and I thought it unsafe for him to walk on it. Also, building contractors were on-site yesterday, rebuilding structures that were flattened by the storm. Again, he had to be dragged back to the car kicking and screaming.

I felt terrible for T. over the weekend. He is rapidly entering puberty, so his hormones are wreaking all kinds of havok. The OCD component of his autism seems to have intensified. Moreover, he seems to be wanting to drop his obsessions in favor of other activities, but can't quite seem to do so. Fortunately, it will be warm enough to put up our backyard swimming pool before his next visit home.

T. is learning to write his name again. When he was 4 or 5, he was able to write his name and write some numbers. We got very excited and bought an easel that I set up on a Friday afternoon. He woke up on Saturday morning and had completely lost his ability to write anything. T. has a seizure disorder--one that is so mild the best course of treatment is to just watch it instead of medicating--and we suspect that he had a seizure that Friday night several years ago. Around one-third of children with autism also have epilepsy; I really don't know how the two are connected. T. is just starting to regain his writing skills. In this photo, he has drawn an elevator with a stick figure of himself riding on it. I almost cried when I saw him writing his letters.

Monday, March 10, 2008

No cheesy smiles

T says "cheese."

Whoever designed our local mall's Easter display needs to feel the sting of the lash. Almost immediately after I took this photo, A. looked down next to the fountain and saw some large, colorful, lightweight Easter Eggs. I stopped him from actually throwing one into the fountain, but I couldn't blame him for trying. A certainly isn't the only kid who would be tempted by such a set-up. The same mall used to have small rocks in the planters underneath the trees surrounding the fountains, and those rocks had a bad way of finding their way into the water.

King Neptune raising the waves.


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Waterboarding your way to better sales!

A team leader at a motivational coaching company in Provo, Utah, is being accused by a former employee of using waterboarding to motivate the company's employees to make more sales. This is incredibly disturbing, if true, but in light of 24 and the Administration's wacky fixation on redefining torture, I suppose it's not all that surprising. Equally disturbing--again, if this story is true--is that other employees evidently just stood around and watched.

Monday, March 03, 2008

VIP across the street

Laura Bush visited a building across the street this afternoon. She left a few minutes ago. Just before she got into her Suburban, an aide sprayed some hand sanitizer on the First Lady's hands. Good gosh, the First Lady is Adrian Monk!