Snow, Dontcha’ Know
It is winter after all. In
the midst of pulling this Muse together, finally
here in NYC, the season’s first snow started to fall.
A redundancy I realize, as snow rarely starts to rise. And
I was actually in the midst of sleeping at the time, not pulling
anything together really. And upon awakening, and throughout
most of that Saturday, the Blizzard of 2016 (it already had
its own branding and logo on some telecasts), went on and
on and on. And when it was over, the National Weather Service
reported that “26.8 inches fell in Central Park.”
(Presumably, outside of the park as well). That made it the
second highest total since such record keeping began in 1869;
just one-tenth of an inch below the all-time high in February
Of course it snowed heavily in 11 other states
as well. But I’m a New Yorker. And therefore I have
“New York Values,” of which you may have heard
tell. And therefore, I don’t care about the snow of
others. Just ours.
Anyway, it seems apropos to reprise a poem
that I wrote three years ago and posted at this site, inspired
by another such sort of a day. Though who knows, it could
be 72 degrees here this month, what with the weird weather
patterns these days.
What the... "L"?
I was so looking forward to the “L”
in the logo, and in every promotion and ad. But in announcing
Super Bowl “50” this year, “they”
have decided to deep six this whole Roman number thing from
here on in, and go Arabic.
Though given the troubles in the Middle East,
don’t be surprised to hear someone declare: “When
I’m President we won’t be using Arabic
numbers, I can tell ya’ that right now.”
I was so ready to point out that this would
be the last time that a single Roman numbered letter would
be used to designate a Super Bowl, until “C”!
In other words, until 2066. When those of us of a certain
age, will certainly be dead. (Don’t you hate when that
happens?). And that it has now been 40 years since the last
single letter marked still another over-hyped and much anticipated
Sunday—“X” (a game played in MCMLXXVI).
With “X” being an unknown factor,
it is unsurprising that I have no recollection of that game.
But really, by that point I had stopped caring, what with
so many more important life events just up ahead. Like Divorce
“I” and then just prior to Super Bowl XLV, Divorce
Of course I remember the first Super Bowl
very well. It was trumpeted in all the on-air TV promos, as
if the Second Coming. Though hype is not exactly something
that hasn’t existed throughout the ages. (“Mary
Stuart gets the ax tomorrow. News at XI!”).
also remember Super Bowl II, and most especially “III”,
when Joe Willie Namath guaranteed that his New York Jets from
the upstart American Football League would—and did—
defeat the powerhouse Baltimore Colts of the supposed superior
National Football League. The Jets were 17 point underdogs
that day. That’s a lot of points. Even in Latin. Though
I had forgotten how dorky its logo.
The other single letter one, “V,”
was the first following the AFL-NFL merger, and it would forever
serve as the official league championship game. For the record
and for those keeping score, those aforementioned Colts, on
a field goal by Jim O’Brien, beat the Miami Dolphins
in the final five seconds, 16-13.
While I often lean towards nostalgia and love
traditions and rites of passage—I even look forward
to my annual flu shot—the loss of those Super Bowl designations,
are really no skin off my un-Roman nose. (All my Italian roots
aside). The use of Roman numbers in titles, events, sequels,
dates and the like, has always struck me as a bit pompous.
As if to announce that, “This is really important.”
Whereas, in its rather convoluted alternative to Arabic numbers,
it suggests just the opposite to me.
MCMLXXXVIII as a date for example— which
is about the length of a freight train and looks like something
foreboding out of ancient history—is simply 1988; the
year that Who Framed Roger Rabbit? was released.
That’s why I wryly suggested once, that given the humility
of Pope Francis I, he might consider referring to himself
as Francis1. Or even better, using lower case…francis1.
You don’t even want to know about a
Roman calendar and how it is organized, and its days counted.
But if you do, you can reference it in a short piece I once
offered on the subject called, Kalends and Nones and Ides
Oh My! (MARCH,
To cut to the tackle, the monthly date for
this year’s Super Bowl would be expressed via a Roman
calendar as “VII Ides.” In English and Arabic…February
7. And as I’ve also said before, (with a license I got
down at the DRM; the Department of Repeating Myself), this
method of date keeping also suggests still one more reason
for the fall of the Roman Empire. (Though not of the Roman
As for the game itself? Like so many who
will watch—and are not in any betting pool— I’ll
have no rooting interest in the participants or the score.
Or even the ads really (“been there; done that”).
Just pass the chicken wings and let’s raise a Bud (remember
the “Bud Bowl?”), to the days of Roman numbers
past. Who the “L” needs ‘em!
Quote of the Month
used to be on top of the world.
Now the world is on top of me.”
Thinking Inside the
Box; Coloring Inside the Lines
I got a few gifts this past
Christmas, forewarned by the giver before I would unwrap them,
that they were not intended to be some sort of a gag. Though
she need not have worried that I would mistake her intentions,
so sublime and thoughtful were these surprises.
At three score and a decade, I am now the
proud owner of a box of 96 Crayola crayons and two books:
“Alice in Wonderland: Vintage Coloring Books for
Adults” and Disney Princess: Art Therapy, 100
Images to Inspire Creativity and Relaxation.
Let’s start with the crayons. When I
was a kid, there were only eight colors in the box.
Though schooled in the color wheel, I learned how other colors
could be created. Which pleased the nuns immensely.
I guess I might have later owned a box of
32 when they were introduced in ’58, though at age 13
by then, well, puberty has a way of suggesting an alternative
activity to coloring. (Which would not have pleased the nuns
But I once proposed in a piece, with no tongue
in cheek, that you could trace The American Experience
Through a Box of Crayons (SEPTEMBER,
2010 MUSE-LETTER). And though I could question if we really
need 96 colors—Crayola actually puts out an “ultimate”
box of 152?! —as I once also concluded in a poem…
Why the mourning the death of Raw
It is quite apparent
the world wants Fuchsia
and there will be no turning back.
So it’s not the crayons that blew me
away. (At first, anyway). It’s the coloring books. Because
as so often happens when you come upon a trend or phenomena
of which you had previously been unaware, suddenly you start
seeing references to it everywhere. As if in confirmation,
or some sort of validation, right there in The New York
Times in The Arts section on Christmas Eve (which I didn’t
get to read until a couple of days after opening my gifts)…
“If 2015 stands out for nothing else,
it will be remembered as the year when millions of adults
unabashedly regressed to their pre-school selves and rediscovering
the allure of coloring books.”
Really? I read further.
“Scottish illustrator Joanna Bashford,
whose intricately patterned adult coloring books have sold
more than 16 million copies in some 40 countries
“There are more than 150 adult coloring
books on the market according to Publishers Weekly…
“…the chief executive of Barnes
& Noble recently singled out adult coloring books as
an important revenue stream for the chain.”
A confirming piece on CNN added to my sense
of wow, with all of this:
“… the first commercially successful
adult coloring books were published in 2012… the once
niche hobby has now grown into a full-on trend, with everyone
from researchers at Johns Hopkins University to the editors
of Yoga Journal suggesting coloring as an alternative to
OK. Enough validation. I’m in. This
ought to be easy. And fun. And “right up my alley.”
For one thing, I’m not a meditative
type. I think it’s too stressful to force oneself
to sit and relax. And isn’t sitting unhealthy and dangerous
as we’re now being told? So what a wonderful substitute
this coloring business could be. And I could even color standing
up I suppose, if I chose. And so, united with all the unabashed
adult colorers of the world, I opened up the Alice book all
set to let my creativity flow. At this age, I could be unrestricted
by lines or conventional limitations, while in the process
reaching nirvana to boot. Aah.
Immediately, I sensed a problem.
Schooled in Disney’s vision of “Alice
in Wonderland,” Alice had to be blonde. Or in kindergarten
terms, have YELLOW hair. I could not bring myself to consider
any other color. My hand, almost with a will of its own, could
not bring itself to pick up an alternative, say a brown, or
black, or orange crayon. Even though in the reality of today’s
hip fashion, hair comes in a rainbow of colors. Sometimes
on the same head. But this is Alice. But now, which yellow?
Do I dare go with “Laser Lemon”?
“Gold?” “Goldenrod”? “Dandelion”?
“Macaroni and Cheese”? (cute). Something in the
box, looking yellowish and designated as “Gel FX”?
Too many choices.
Then there’s the White Rabbit who by
very definition has to be white, no? But is that being racist
in some sense?
And what do you do about the Queen of Hearts?
That card suit is RED. What other color can hearts be? This
presented a problem far in excess of those yellow choices:
“Jazzberry Jam,” “Red Violet,” “Cerise”
(as in Cyd Charisse?), “Wild Strawberry,” (ah,
Ingmar Bergman) “Magenta,” even “Hot Magenta,”
“Maroon,” “Razzmatazz” (give me a
break), “Brick Red,” “Scarlet,” and
of course, fuching “Fuchsia.”
All this reminded me of just the other day
when in Duane Reade, I was confronted by fifty, FIVE-O, choices
of brands and variations of toothpaste. No poetic license
taken here, I actually counted them. Toothpaste, for chrissake.
But I digress.
My stress level at this point was almost palpable.
Taking a deep breath (and halfa’ Xanax),
I had to come to grips with the fact that I’m not only
a stay-inside-the-lines kind of guy, but I’m not exactly
a Jackson Pollack either when it comes to “thinking
outside the box” in choosing color, deciding where it
goes, and then how to apply it. Which of course got me to
wondering if Pollack ever colored when he was a kid. I imagine
him melting the crayons and letting them drip on the paper
…or floor. (“Jackson, you’re gonna’
set the house on fire.”). Also as an aside, how did
Pollack know when one of his paintings was done?
Anyway, “submitted for your approval,”
as Rod Serling used to say in introducing every “Twilight
Not bad, huh? Though in the interest of full
disclosure, finding it too taxing to re-color the top third
of the illustration to match that of the bottom, I “Photoshopped”
it. Which I found to be an extremely relaxing thing to do.
And yes, the Queen of Hearts is wearing purple. It’s
Word of the Month
noun par•kour \pär-'ku?r, 'pär-?ku?r\
sport of traversing environmental obstacles by running,
climbing, or leaping rapidly and efficiently
As in a sentence I recently read:
“We’re trying to invent
parkour for the mind.”
As in a sign I recently imagined:
January 26, 2016 at 7pm: Artists
Without Walls Showcase at The Cell Theater,
338 W 23rd St, New York, NY 10011
This as it appears on their site www.artistswithoutwalls.com
“Ron Vazzano opened the night with a series of seven
poems collectively entitled, ‘Notes on Slumming
Through the Continuum,’ which was accompanied
by a dramatic visual presentation. The poems were said
to be inspired by a quote of his own making, “Time
waits for no man in its mad rush to infinity” (to
which he noted, “Yes, in a ‘Trumpian’
fit of self-adoration, I’m actually quoting myself”).
It was all highly applauded by an audience that seemed
to hang on every word.”