A tip of my cap to Buster Keaton, film legend

He was pathetic and heroic at the same time- great:

Buster Keaton – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Joseph Frank “Buster” Keaton (October 4, 1895 – February 1, 1966) was an American actor, vaudevillian, comedian, filmmaker, stunt performer, and writer.[1] He was best known for his silent films, in which his trademark was physical comedy with a consistently stoic, deadpan expression, earning him th…

Thoughts on neuroscience and art

I’m fascinated by neuroscience. I think of phrenology, though, and how it was cutting edge science at the time. The idea of pointing to bumps on the head to explain emotions and character is a lot like pointing to nodes in the brain. I don’t think science can throw a net over what makes individuals quirky. Phrenology is a laughing stock now; we don’t laugh at cave paintings, and we’ll never laugh at Homer or Chaucer. Read Hawthorne’s ‘the birthmark’: that’s what happens when you pursue beauty or happiness with science alone.

French-Canadian-Appalachian fusion cuisine recipe: Soda Bread

Preheat oven to 375, grease a loaf pan, whisk 1 2/3 cups of flour, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, half teaspoons of baking soda and salt, then stir in some dried huckleberries , then whisk in another bowl a large egg, one cup of buttermilk, half a stick of butter melted, and one tablespoon of maple syrup and honey– add to the dry stuff until it’s moistened and bake till a toothpick comes out clean- and then just add some rabbit fricassee- Bon Appétit!

I’ll muse about losers for a minute

There are few things as beautiful as a loser that makes you smile, makes you believe in strength- the real kind. The real kind of strength is in the feeling of wholeness, an irresistible feeling drawing everyone. Losers often dream of travels, and for good reason. A new place, a different place, can make the difference. Ulysses Grant had a rather poor reputation but rose in places and circumstances that broke down other men with winning reputations. So, as a teacher I really try to keep this in mind: a loser doesn’t need to win to be great, and every loser can be called to victory somewhere else. Oh, and as for Grant, I can only hope to come close to the way an agent reporting back to Lincoln described Grant: “the most honest man I ever knew. Not a great man except morally ; not an original or brilliant man, but sincere, thoughtful, deep and gifted with courage that never faltered”

I’m borrowing The Revenant from Chapters

I’m borrowing The Revenant from Chapters

Michael Punke seems (I’m still navigating my way through it) to have written a pure western- pure frontier spirit- pushing limits, the limits on geographic, physical, and moral planes, and crossing borders, the frontier and the borders between vices and virtues. What he writes about guilt is incisive: “how can you escape something that comes from inside?”

The frontier is harsh and doesn’t tolerate weakness. The voyageurs thrive because of an irrepressible spirit of optimism and camaraderie. Hugh Glass survives, though, not only because of his grit, but because of his tenderness in helping an old woman, and because of the tenderness of others like Bridger and the Sioux community. He almost beats Bridger to death and Bridger gives up his life- glass eventually shows him mercy and they both feel much better for it. That’s teaches us something about how reconciliation works here on earth. 

 In the end, a story so caught up in brutality and revenge, The Revenant leaves you with the vital experience of faith and expansion. The new Frontier is new life, and hugh glass really struggles to live again.