Dec. 28, 2002
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Poem: "Welcoming Angels," by Pat Schneider from Long Way Home (Amherst Writers and Artists Press).
Between the last war
and the next one,
waiting for the northbound train
that travels by the river,
I sit alone in the middle of the night
and welcome angels.
Welcome back old hymns, old songs,
all the music, the rhyme and rhythm,
welcome angels, archangels,
welcome early guesses
at the names of things,
I have grown tired of disbelief.
What once was brave is boring.
Welcome back to my embrace stranger,
visitor beside the Jabbok.
Welcome wrestling until dawn,
until it is my hip thrown out of joint,
my pillow stone, my ladder
of antique assumptions.
Welcome what is not my own;
glory on the top rung, coming down.
It's the birthday of author and humorist Sam Levenson, born in New York City (1911). He said, "Lead us not into temptation. Just tell us where it is; we'll find it."
It's the birthday of Woodrow Wilson, the 28th president, who was born in Staunton, Virginia and grew up in Augusta, Georgia (1856). His earliest memories were of the Civil War, seeing Union soldiers marching into town, and watching his mother care for wounded Confederates in the hospital. His Fourteen Points, incorporated into the Treaty of Versailles, laid the foundation for the League of Nations. He once said, "Never murder a man who is committing suicide." As President, Wilson maintained a neutral position in the first years of World War I but eventually brought the U.S. into the conflict after German submarine incidents.
It's the birthday of comic-book writer Stan Lee, born Stanley Lieber, in New York (1922). He started at Marvel Comics (then called Timely Comics) at age 16, and became the editor and chief writer by age 20.
It's the birthday of philosopher, educator, and author Mortimer J. Adler, born in New York City (1902). Throughout his life and career, he advocated the reading of classic and great books as the best way to educate oneself. As an instructor at Columbia University, he held seminars on great books, and eventually developed the idea for a 52-volume set, Great Books of the Western World, which was published in 1952 by the Encyclopedia Britannica Company.
It's the birthday of novelist Manuel Puig, born in Vallegas, Argentina (1932). Manuel's first novel was Betrayed by Rita Hayworth (translated in 1971). His best-known work was The Kiss of the Spider Woman (1979), which brought him international fame. The Kiss of the Spider Woman tells the story of two prisoners who have nothing in common but who eventually bond by retelling the plots of old classic films to one another. It was turned into a film itself, in 1985.
It's the birthday of novelist Simon
Raven, born in London (1927). He produced 25 novels in his lifetime,
most notably Alms for Oblivion (1959-1976), a 10-volume saga of English
upper-class life. He said, "I arrange words in pleasing patterns in order
to make money. I try to be neat, intelligent, and lucid; let others be 'creative'
or 'inspired.'" He was an outspoken atheist and hedonist. A peer of his
later said that he "trailed an odour of brimstone."
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®