Tuck and roll.
Chin tight against chest.
A light kick.
Over you go.
Sometimes coming back,
Around a gravid,
Columbia Journalism Review, in one of its weekly e-mail updates, included a link to a collection of stellar writing, titled “The Lives They Lived.”
The link showcases stellar writing for the special web feature by The New York Times Magazine. Pick any of the pieces. You’ll be rewarded.
Particularly gripping for me are the stories of Cheo, a Puerto Rican at heart, and the short story on Maggie Roche.
While I would much prefer to hold a printed volume in hand, I have no bookstore handy and I’m far too impatient to order on line. Thanks to the web, I have a fix.
“Butt ugly.” That’s the word a school official used to summarize the action of a recent basketball game here in town.
After 30+ years with a small weekly, I’m finding myself wool-gathering at times, and tonight, the summary “butt-ugly” sticks while I muse.
I’m a little more charitable myself when describing less-than-graceful high-school basketball. I lean more towards “character-building,” which is more of an evasion than a description.
I’ll have to go with the school official and his description of the evening’s play after tonight’s game, though. Add to the general ho-hum-ness of the action a trio of officials that made more poor calls than good: an out-of-bounds call when the ball was stopped inches within the sideline — dozens of hand-check fouls, some called, some not, mostly not — body checks that sent players to the floor — three or more steps allowed on a drive to the hoop… the list goes on.
When the shoulders of the head coach from each team slump almost in unison on call after call, you realize you’re not the only one noticing. When a couple of parents that patiently endured the junior varsity game give up and head for the door rather than yell at the refs, you realize you’re not the only one noticing. When the cheerleaders for either side just raise their voices a notch hoping not to be noticed, you realize you’re not the only one noticing. When there isn’t enough high spirits among the players to tempt a technical-foul call, you know it’s time to put the game to bed and hope for a better showing next time out.
When the game’s over and there are no high fives or commiserations among the players, you realize it will be best just to write off the evening and hope for not-too-many wind sprints for the players in the next practice.
Well, upon a moment’s further reflection, both terms can apply. If the coaches can communicate effectively the butt ugliness of the play there is hope for character building.
When it’s not cloudy, those pinpricks of light at nightt when I look up are wonderful reminders of the vastness of our universe and of a great love we celebrate at Christmas.
A glance upwards on a clear, cold night is a great reminder of the mystery of the birth of the Christ child in one particular place in space, the goal the redemption of a race of people that populate one little globe.
When clouds cover that sight, remembrance helps, thanks to the reminders of the faithful.
The white lights that my town celebrate are also a fine reminder, whether a single candle in a window, a line that follows a roof, an outline that traces a home or an ornament, the riot of lights on a Christmas tree or a higgledy-piggledy splash stuffed in an unlikely place.
I follow a writer who says (in a response to the previous blog of mine) that a single star on top of a windmill in the countryside of our nation is enough to trigger a well of gratefulness.
And, I imagine the dedication of the magi as they followed that singular manifestation in the heavens to the place where the family of that child lived.
And, I’m also reminded of that singular first chapter of the gospel of John, verses four and five. “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome [understood] it.” [New International Version]
I’m grateful for the annual observance of the Christmas, for the spoken and unspoken promise of the season, and I hope to be true to its light.
I’m being reminded that the lights strung during the Christmas season are reminders that light pierces the darkness.
We need the reminder.
NASA and Google AI have found an eighth planet in a system far beyond our own, the outermost planet in an orbit similar to the our earth’s rotation around Sol. If I remember correctly, that far-away star is slightly larger than our own, so the whole system is cooking.
That whole system probably glows, filling its huge but small portion of its space. It’s signals reached us, thousands of light years away, but we had to be paying attention.
Closer to home are the white lights the folks in our little town so treasure. Some follow the outlines of the homes they light. Some are higgledy-piggledy strung, a few seemingly just flung onto a porch, a bush, a tree. Some properties just blaze with white light. Other homes and lawns eschew white lights in favor of as many garish LED strings as possible.
Whether careful or haphazard, places glow in communities everywhere during this holiday. Unconsiously or deliberately, we humans are drawn to light, whether it be pinpricks from distant stars, the warmth of our own sun’s fusion or the riot of electrically-induced orgies of glow.
I am reminded.
Just saw the movie “Loving Vincent.” If you are a Van Gogh fan, it’s a must see. Limited theatrical release. Maybe it’s coming to your neck of the woods! Here’s a link.
The arc of the story is done well, and the film incorporates animation with scenes from Van Gogh’s paintings.