Monthly Archives: February 2013

“One of Us” released by Joan Osborne

So one of these nights and about twelve o’clock
This old world’s going to reel and rock
Saints will tremble and cry for pain
For the Lord’s gonna come in his heavenly airplane

If God had a name, what would it be?
And would you call it to his face,
If you were faced with Him in all His glory?
What would you ask if you had just one question?

And yeah, yeah, God is great
Yeah, yeah, God is good
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us?
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make His way home?

If God had a face, what would it look like?
And would you want to see
If seeing meant that you would have to believe
In things like Heaven and in Jesus and the saints
And all the prophets? And…

Yeah, yeah, God is great
Yeah, yeah, God is good
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

What if God was one of us
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make His way home?

(Just?) tryin’ to make His way home
Back up to Heaven all alone
Nobody callin’ on the phone
‘Cept for the Pope, maybe, in Rome

Yeah, yeah, God is great
Yeah, yeah, God is good
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

What if God was one of us
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make His way home?

Just tryin’ to make His way home
Like a holy rolling stone
Back up to Heaven all alone
Just tryin’ to make His way home
Nobody callin’ on the phone
‘Cept for the Pope, maybe, in Rome

picture-OneOfUs-Osborne

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Excerpt from “The 33” by Jonathan Franklin ~~Rescued~~

picture-The33-FranklinFor one miner, Florencio Ávalos, freedom was just minutes away.
Ávalos was ready. He had slipped into the tailored green jumpsuit with his name stitched across the chest. A pair of Oakley sunglasses protected his eyes. On his right wrist a monitor measured his pulse and sent wireless updates to the rescue team on the surface. His left index finger was inserted into a device that measured oxygen levels in his blood. Tightly wrapped around his chest, a sophisticated electronic monitor transmitted another half dozen vital signs to the technicians and doctors above ground.
The other miners gathered around to watch, photograph and make home videos of the scene. Despite their nervousness, a strange calm filled the chamber. Like professional athletes in a locker room before a big game, the men joked and paced but their confidence was evident. The men momentarily forgot the terror of the collapse and the lingering sensation that death had been stalking them. For now, the scene was more like a party as cumbia music blared from farther down the mine. White balloons bounced around the floor as the men ambled nervously – naked except for pairs of clean white pants.
The prospect of escape filled them with a dose of adrenalin. The men now felt as if they were actually going to win their ten-week battle with the mountain. Along the length of the dark tunnels, the miners made last-minute explorations, the bright beams from their flashlights dancing in the distance. The clanking of carabiners was a reminder that rescue workers from Codelco, GOPE and the Chilean Navy had arrived.
González placed a white plastic credential – like those used backstage at rock concerts – over the neck of Ávalos. The rescue was filled with formality, orders and procedures. Every detail has been rehearsed for weeks. Yet the mountain could still throw a monkey wrench into protocol. Even the deepest calm at 700 metres was a superficial escape from the claustrophobic reality.
At 11:53 PM Ávalos stepped into the capsule, and the rescue workers latched the door shut. The miners all listened impatiently to the chatter between Otto, the Austrian winch operator, the communications centre, and Pedro Cortés, below. Meanwhile Ávalos nervously anticipated the imminent family reunion: the two sons who had not seen their father for two months; the wife who had been writing letters and watching videos but had not touched or looked into the eyes of her husband. Ávalos had left for work on a cold winter morning; now it was spring.
As the capsule slid upward, Ávalos’s compañeros screamed, cheered and whistled. Then, instantly, he was alone. For fifteen minutes, Ávalos peered through a metal mesh that sliced the world into diamond-shaped viewing holes. A light inside the capsule illuminated the smooth, wet rock walls. The spring-loaded metal wheels clanked as they rolled along the rocky path. The capsule dipped and bobbed as it followed the uneven tunnel and slowly brought Ávalos towards freedom.
When he was just 20 metres from the surface, Ávalos could see the first signs of light and hear the first sounds of life. Rescue workers were now screaming down, asking if he was OK. Then suddenly he was in the light: a hero to the waiting world, a father reunited with his crying sons and a huge boost in the polls to President Piñera, who waited in the front row.
As Florencio was pulled from the capsule, his nine-year-old son, Byron, broke down in tears. Rescue workers jumped and celebrated. The cameras flashed on a wrenching scene – for a moment the nine-year-old boy was alone, awash in emotions. First Lady Cecilia Morel, health minister Mañalich and Rene Aguilar, the second in command of the rescue operation, swept in to calm the child. Then true comfort arrived – a hug from his father.
Ministers, hard-hat rescue workers, doctors and journalists all openly wept at the beauty of the scene. Then men had defined themselves from that first note as Los 33 and had been adopted by the world as a beloved collective, now famed for their ability to work as a team. In a world so often defined by bloody acts and individual egos, Los 33 remained united while entombed, a brotherhood of working-class heroes. Teamwork had kept them alive, and now they would all be rescued together.
Florencio hugged first his family, then President Piñera, then the rescue workers. Next he was placed on a stretcher and wheeled into the field hospital. The entire hospital staff erupted in applause. They assumed Ávalos was healthy – he had been chosen to journey first based on his mental and physical strength – but nonetheless he was given glucose and a nurse took his blood pressure. As he lay in the bed, Florencio thought about his younger brother Renán, still trapped below.

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Excerpt from “Peter Pan” by J.M. Barrie ~~Flight~~

picture-PeterPan-Barrie‘It’s all right,’ John announced, emerging from his hiding-place. ‘I say, Peter, can you really fly?’
Instead of troubling to answer him Peter flew round the room, taking the mantelpiece on the way.
‘How topping!’ said John and Michael.
‘How sweet!’ cried Wendy.
‘Yes, I’m sweet, oh, I am sweet!’ said Peter, forgetting his manners again.
It looked delightfully easy, and they tried it first from the floor and then from the beds, but they always went down instead of up.
‘I say, how do you do it?’ asked John, rubbing his knee. He was quite a practical boy.
‘You just think lovely wonderful thoughts,’ Peter explained, ‘and they lift you up in the air.’
He showed them again.
‘You’re so nippy at it,’ John said; ‘couldn’t you do it very slowly once?’
Peter did it both slowly and quickly. ‘I’ve got it now, Wendy!’ cried John, but soon he found he had not. Not one of them could fly an inch, though even Michael was in words of two syllables, and Peter did not know A from Z.
Of course Peter had been trifling with them, for no one can fly unless the fairy dust has been blown on him. Fortunately, as we have mentioned, one of his hands was messy with it, and he blew some on each of them, with the most superb results.
‘Now just wiggle your shoulders this way,’ he said, ‘and let go.’
They were all on their beds, and gallant Michael let go first. He did not quite mean to let go, but he did it, and immediately he was borne across the room.
‘I flewed!’ he screamed while still in mid-air.
John let go and met Wendy near the bathroom.
‘Oh, lovely!’
‘Oh, ripping!’
‘Look at me!’
‘Look at me!’
‘Look at me!’
They were not nearly so elegant as Peter, they could not help kicking a little, but their heads were bobbing against the ceiling, and there is almost nothing so delicious as that. Peter gave Wendy a hand at first, but had to desist, Tink was so indignant.
Up and down they went, and round and round. Heavenly was Wendy’s word.
‘I say,’ cried John, ‘why shouldn’t we all go out!’
Of course it was to this that Peter had been luring them.
Michael was ready: he wanted to see how long it took him to do a billion miles. But Wendy hesitated.
‘Mermaids!’ said Peter again.
‘Oo!’
‘And there are pirates.’
‘Pirates,’ cried John, seizing his Sunday hat, ‘let us go at once.’
It was just at this moment that Mr. and Mrs. Darling hurried with Nana out of 27. They ran into the middle of the street to look up at the nursery window; and, yes, it was still shut, but the room was ablaze with light, and most heart-gripping sight of all, they could see in shadow on the curtain three little figures in night attire circling round and round, not on the floor but in the air.
Not three figures, four!
In a tremble they opened the street door. Mr. Darling would have rushed upstairs, but Mrs. Darling signed to him to go softly. She even tried to make her heart go softly.
Will they reach the nursery in time? If so, how delightful for them, and we shall all breathe a sign of relief, but there will be no story. On the other hand, if they are not in time, I solemnly promise that it will all come right in the end.
They would have reached the nursery in time had it not been that the little stars were watching them. Once again the stars blew the window open, and that smallest star of all called out:
‘Cave, Peter!’
Then Peter knew that there was not a moment to lose. ‘Come,’ he cried imperiously, and soared out at once into the night, followed by John and Michael and Wendy.
Mr. and Mrs. Darling and Nana rushed into the nursery too late. The birds were flown.

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“The Shadow Knows” by Sergio Aragonés ~~Faithless~~

Who Knows What Evils Lurk In The Hearts Of Men?

 

comic-Shadow-Aragones-Faithless

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Excerpt from “A Rumor Of War” by Philip Caputo ~~Giao-Tri~~

picture-ARumorOfWar-PhilipCaputo“I’m going to get those bastards,” I said aloud, rushing down into the bunker. Jones looked at me quizzically. “The VC, Jones, I’m going to get them.” I was laughing. From my map case, I took out an overlay of the patrol route which 2d squad was to follow that night. It took them to a trail junction just outside the village of Giao-Tri. It was perfect. If the two VC walked out of the village, they would fall into the ambush. I almost laughed out loud at the idea of their deaths. If the VC did not leave the village, then the squad would infiltrate into it, Crowe guiding them to the house Le Dung had pointed out, and capture them – “snatch” in the argot. Yes, that’s what I would do. A snatch patrol. The squad would capture the two VCs and bring them to the outpost. I would interrogate them, beat the hell out of them if I had to, learn the locations of other enemy cells and units, then kill or capture those. I would get all of them. But suppose the two guerrillas resisted? The patrol would kill them, then. Kill VC. That’s what we were supposed to do. Bodies. Neal wanted bodies. Well, I would give him bodies, and then my platoon would be rewarded instead of reproved. I did not have the authority to send the squad into the village. The patrol order called only for an ambush at the trail junction. But who was the real authority out on that isolated outpost? I was. I would take matters into my own hands. Out there, I could do what I damned well pleased. And I would. The idea of taking independent action made me giddier still. I went out to brief the patrol.
In the twilight, Allen, Crowe, Lonehill, and two other riflemen huddled around me. Wearing bush hats, their hands and faces blackened with shoe polish, they looked appropriately ferocious. I told them what they were to do, but, in my addled state of mind, I was almost incoherent at times. I laughed frequently and made several bloodthirsty jokes that probably left them with the impression I wouldn’t mind if they summarily executed both Viet Cong. All the time, I had that feeling of watching myself in a film. I could hear myself laughing, but it did not sound like my laugh.
“Okay, you know what to do,” I said to Allen, the patrol leader. “You set in ambush for a while. If nobody comes by, you go into the ville and you get them. You get those goddamned VC. Snatch ‘em up and bring ‘em back here, but if they give you any problems, kill ‘em.”
“Sir, since we ain’t supposed to be in the ville, what do we say if we have to kill ‘em?”
“We’ll just say they walked into your ambush. Don’t sweat that. All the higher-ups want is bodies.”
“Yes, sir,” Allen said, and I saw the look in his eyes. It was a look of distilled hatred and anger, and when he grinned his skull-like grin, I knew he was going to kill those men on the slightest pretext. And, knowing that, I still did not repeat my order that the VC were to be captured if at all possible. It was my secret and savage desire that the two men die. In my heart, I hoped Allen would find some excuse for killing them, and Allen had read my heart. He smiled and I smiled back, and we both knew in that moment what was going to happen. There was a silent communication between us, an unspoken understanding: blood was to be shed. There is no mystery about such unspoken communication. Two men who have shared the hardships and dangers of war come to know each other as intimately as two natural brothers who have lived together for years; one can read the other’s heart without a word being said.
The patrol left, creeping off the outpost into the swallowing darkness. Not long afterward, I began to be teased by doubts. It was the other half of my double self, the calm and lucid half, warning that something awful was going to happen. The thought of recalling the patrol crossed my mind, but I could not bring myself to do it. I felt driven, in the grip of an inexorable power. Something had to be done.
And something was done. Allen called on the radio and said they had killed one of the Viet Cong and captured the other. They were coming in with the prisoner. Letting out a whoop, I called Neal on the field phone. He said he had monitored Allen’s radio transmission. He congratulated us:
“That’s good work your men did out there.”
I was elated. Climbing out of the bunker, I excitedly told Coffell “They got both of ‘em! Both of ‘em! Yeeeah-hoo!” The night was hot and still. Off to the west, heat-lightning flashed like shellfire in the clouds that obscured the sky above the mountains. It was clear directly overhead, and I could see the fixed and lofty stars.
Waiting by the perimeter for the patrol to return, I heard a burst of rifle fire and the distinctive roar of Crowe’s shotgun. Allen called on the radio again: the prisoner had whipped a branch in Crowe’s face and tried to escape. They had killed him.
“All right, bring the body in. I want to search it,” I said.
They came in shortly. The five men were winded from their swift withdrawal and a little more excited than such veterans should have been. Allen was particularly overwrought. He started laughing as soon as he was inside the perimeter wire. Perhaps it was the release from tension that made him laugh like that, tinny, mirthlessly. When he calmed down, he told me what had happened:
“We sneaked into the ville, like you told us, sir. Crowe guided us to the house where he’d talked to the informant. It was empty, so we went to the hooch where the VC lived. Me, Crowe, and Lonehill went inside. The other two stayed on the trail to guard our rear. It was dark in the house, so Crowe turned on his flashlight and there’s the two Cong, sleepin’ in their beds. Lonehill goes into the other room and this girl in there starts screamin’. ‘Shut her up,’ I said and Lonehill cracks her with his rifle barrel.” Allen started to laugh again. So did Crowe and a few of the men who were listening. I was laughing, too. How funny. Old Lonehill hit her with his rifle. “So about then, one of the Cong jumps up in his bed and the broad starts screamin’ again. Crowe went in and slapped her and told her to keep her damned mouth shut. Then he comes back into the room and pops the Cong sittin’ up with his forty-five. The dude jumps up and runs – he was hit in the shoulder – and Crowe runs after him. He was runnin’ around outside yellin’ ‘Troi Oi! Troi Oi!’” (Oh God) “ and then Crowe greased him and he didn’t do no more yellin’. The other dude made a break for the door, but Lonehill grabbed him. ‘Okay, let’s take him back,’ I said, and we moved the hell out. We was right at the base of the hill when the gook whipped the branch in Crowe’s face. Somebody said, ‘He’s makin’ a break, grease the motherfucker,’ and Lonehill greased him and Crowe blasted him with the shotgun. I mean, that dude was dead.” Madly and hysterically, we all laughed again.
“Okay,” I said, “where’s the body?”
“Right outside the wire, sir.”
The dead man was lying on his belly. The back of his head was blown out, and, in the beam of my flashlight, his brains were a shiny gray mass. Someone kicked the body over onto its back and said, “Oh, excuse me, Mr. Charles, I hope that didn’t hurt,” and we all doubled over with laughter. I beamed the flashlight on the corpse’s face. His eyes were wide and glowing, like the eyes in a stuffed head. While Coffell held the flashlight, I searched the body. There was something about the dead man that troubled me. It was not the mutilation – I was used to that. It was his face. It was such a young face, and, while I searched him, I kept thinking, He’s just a boy, just a boy. I could not understand why his youth bothered me; the VC’s soldiers, like our own, were all young men.
Tearing off his bloodstained shirt, shredded, like his chest by shotgun pellets. I looked for his papers. Someone quipped, “Hey, lieutenant, he’ll catch cold.” Everyone laughed again. I joined in, but I was not laughing as hard as before.
There were no documents in the boy’s pockets, no cartridge belt around his waist. There was nothing that would have proved him to be a Viet Cong. That troubled me further. I stood up and, taking the flashlight from Coffell, held it on the boy’s dead face.
“Did you find anything on the other one?” I asked Allen.
“No, sir.”
“No documents or weapons?”
“No, sir. Nothing.”
“How about the house? Did you find anything that looked like booby-trap gear in the house?”
“No, sir.”
“And no forged papers or anything like that?”
“No, sir. We didn’t find nothing.”
The laughter had stopped. I turned to Crowe.
“Are you sure this was one of the two that kid pointed out?”
“Yes, sir,” Crowe said, but he looked away from me.
“Tell me again why you shot him.”
“Whipped a branch in my face, like Allen said.” Crowe would not look at me. He looked at the ground. “He whipped a branch in my face and tried to make a break, so we wasted him.”
The air seemed charged with guilt. I kept looking at the corpse, and a wave of horror rolled through me as I recognized the face. The sensation was like snapping out of a hypnotic trance. It was as jarring as suddenly awakening from a nightmare, except that I had awakened from one nightmare into another.
“Allen, is that how it happened?” I asked. “The prisoner tried to escape, right?”
“As far as I know, yes sir. Crowe shot him.”
He was already covering himself. “Okay, if anyone asks you about this, you just say both these guys walked into your ambush. That’s what you’ll say, and you stick to that, all of you. They walked into your ambush and you killed one and captured the other. Then the prisoner tried to escape, so you killed him, too. Got that? You don’t tell anybody that you snatched him out of the village.”
“Yes, sir,” Allen said.
“Shove off and pass that on to the others. You too, Crowe.”
“Yes, sir,” Crowe said, hanging his head like a naughty child.
They walked off. I stayed for a while, looking at the corpse. The wide, glowing, glassy eyes stared at me in accusation. The dead boy’s open mouth screamed silently his innocence and our guilt. In the darkness and confusion, out of fear, exhaustion, and the brutal instincts acquired in the war, the marines had made a mistake. An awful mistake. They had killed the wrong man. No, not they; we. We had killed the wrong man. The boy’s innocent blood was on my hands as much as it was on theirs. I had sent them out there. My God, what have we done? I thought. I could think of nothing else. My God, what have we done. Please God, forgive us. What have we done?
Clicking off the flashlight, I told Coffell to get a burial party together. I did not know what else to do with the body of Crowe’s informant, the boy named Le Dung.

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“His Station and Four Aces” by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge

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‘His Station and Four Aces’ shows the train conductor advising the passengers it is time to disembark. Unfortunately, one of them is very alarmed, he has almost no chips left, he’s holding four aces and it is time to get off!
From the mid-1900s to the mid-1910s, Cassius Marcellus Coolidge created sixteen oil paintings, all of which featured anthropomorphic dogs, including nine scenes of dogs playing poker.

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Excerpt from “Far from the Madding Crowd” by Thomas Hardy ~~Together~~

picture-FarFromTheMaddingCrowd-Hardy-Book‘Marrying me! I didn’t know it was that you meant.’ she said, quietly. ‘Such a thing as that is too absurd — too soon — to think of, by far!’
‘Yes; of course, it is too absurd. I don’t desire any such thing; I should think that was plain enough by this time. Surely, surely you be the last person in the world I think of marrying. It is too absurd, as you say.’ “
‘“Too — s-s-soon” were the words I used.’
‘I must beg your pardon for correcting you, but you said, “too absurd,” and so do I.’
‘I beg your pardon too!’ she returned, with tears in her eyes. ‘“Too soon” was what I said. But it doesn’t matter a bit — not at all – but I only meant, “too soon.” Indeed, I didn’t, Mr. Oak, and you must believe me!’
Gabriel looked her long in the face, but the firelight being faint there was not much to be seen. ‘Bathsheba,’ he said, tenderly and in surprise, and coming closer: ‘if I only knew one thing — whether you would allow me to love you and win you, and marry you after all – if I only knew that!’
‘But you never will know,’ she murmured.
‘Why?’
‘Because you never ask. ‘
Oh — Oh!’ said Gabriel, with a low laugh of joyousness. ‘My own dear — ‘
‘You ought not to have sent me that harsh letter this morning.’ she interrupted. ‘It shows you didn’t care a bit about me, and were ready to desert me like all the rest of them! It was very cruel of you, considering I was the first sweetheart that you ever had, and you were the first I ever had; and I shall not forget it!’
‘Now, Bathsheba, was ever anybody so provoking?’ he said, laughing. ‘You know it was purely that I, as an unmarried man, carrying on a business for you as a very taking young woman, had a proper hard part to play — more particular that people knew I had a sort of feeling for ‘ee; and I fancied, from the way we were mentioned together, that it might injure your good name. Nobody knows the heat and fret I have been caused by it.’
‘And was that all?’
‘All.’
‘Oh, how glad I am I came!’ she exclaimed, thank fully, as she rose from her seat. ‘I have thought so much more of you since I fancied you did not want even to see me again. But I must be going now, or I shall be missed. Why Gabriel,’ she said, with a slight laugh, as they went to the door, ‘it seems exactly as if I had come courting you — how dreadful!’
‘And quite right too.’ Said Oak. ‘I’ve danced at your skittish heels, my beautiful Bathsheba, for many a long mile, and many a long day; and it is hard to begrudge me this one visit.’
He accompanied her up the hill, explaining to her the details of his forthcoming tenure of the other farm. They spoke very little of their mutual feeling; pretty phrases and warm expressions being probably unnecessary between such tried friends. Theirs was that substantial affection which arises (if any arises at all) when the two who are thrown together begin first by knowing the rougher sides of each other’s character, and not the best till further on, the romance growing up in the interstices of a mass of hard prosaic reality. This good-fellowship — camaraderie — usually occurring through similarity of pursuits, is unfortunately seldom superadded to love between the sexes, because men and women associate, not in their labours, but in their pleasures merely. Where, however, happy circumstance permits its development, the compounded feeling proves itself to be the only love which is strong as death — that love which many waters cannot quench, nor the floods drown, beside which the passion usually called by the name is evanescent as steam.

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