Monday, November 30, 2015

news that 'cares' so much

Grouchy old man alert!

Sometimes it drives me batshit to come into contact with yet another person or entity that "cares so much" and cannot seem to refrain from repeating how much s/he or it 'cares.' This caring is, to hear the excuses given, for my benefit ... it's like some mewling spiritual apologist pretending not to interfere with my lifestyle or convert me in any way while all the time coo-ing sweet nothings in my ear. It's all self-serving hogwash.

Consider the Associated Press, an organization that describes itself as the world's largest news-gathering organization. I read its headlines and occasional stories every morning. And on its index page, the AP has taken to adding something called "10 Things to Know for Today."
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:
How helpful.

How caring.

How incredibly pablum-esque and self-serving!

Because I am so busy with the twitdom of Twitter or the vacuous facelessness of Facebook, the Associated Press is obviously trying to make my life "easier." Wouldn't like to look like a dummy in conversation, right? I need to keep up with current events if only according to what someone else says. Well, the Associated Press is there to care.

My crabbiness relates to the fact that I think news is important and keeping abreast of your own world is sensible. But popularity is not the point. The point is not to be any stupider than you were in the first place. It may change absolutely nothing to read the news, but it indicates a willingness to take some responsibility and shoulder your own life.

Beliefs and opinions only reach so far. Of course the same can be said for news, but at least news has the potential to inject another point of view ... when it is not, as of late, too busy skipping salient points or selling something. News is not a hand-holding enterprise. Popularity is thin tea.

What I "need to know" is something I can figure out for myself. What I don't need to know is that some ersatz do-gooder is there to lend a caring hand.

incognito in life; 'cognito' in death

Funny how those who once strove and sweat to achieve and maintain the spotlight in life can slip away post mortem and simultaneously those of no particular, flood-lit stature can spring to life after suffering a similar fate.

Case in point:
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) -- A reclusive great-grandson of Russian Tsar Alexander III had a funeral in the northern Australian city of Darwin after living his final years in obscurity and alone with his dog in an Outback trailer park where he was known by locals as Old Nick.
Here's another limping-attempt story to reconstruct what had been so carefully deconstructed in Leonid Gurevich Kulikovsky's lifestyle. He's news now ... what the hell: The Romanovs (the last of the tsars) and the English house of Windsor have family links that go back forever (and I can no longer retail) but as I recall, those links of European royalty make the inbreeding of the American South look positively pristine.

No matter what the links or my faulty memory, still this guy was part of royalty and royalty is definitely on the 'kool' scale of American consciousness ... when it's not busy being excoriated. How could he live with a dog and keep his mouth shut and not capitalize on his roots? What sort of decision-making process went into his low-key life that he seemed to follow with determination? Why won't he be famous for me, preen and strut in that lordly realm that cannot conceive of being ludicrous.

Only his dog knows now.

George V
Alexander III

Sunday, November 29, 2015

a kinder, gentler Islamic State

It's a bit thin by argument, but an article suggesting that Islamic State's acts of charity could prove decisive in its war with the western infidels is interesting. Who, after enough bombing and hunger and death, wouldn't settle for a little charity?
Although Islamic State rejects democracy, if it continues to rally public support through works of charity and governance, it could become entrenched in society and be that much harder to defeat. Even the group’s draconian treatment of women may not be enough to stymie public support.
Is such decency nothing more than a political ploy? Perhaps so, but put yourself in the place of the recipient: If someone promised you a better life after dropping salvo after salvo on your neighborhood (and seldom if ever actually delivered) and someone else suggested they would limit liberties but wouldn't kill you in the meantime ... which would you choose?

the phone book

The land-line phone book was tossed up on the porch this morning -- a waxing anachronism in a day and age of more-cell-phones-than-people-and-each-'smarter'-than-the-last. The book is thin, given that it covers two counties in my neck of the woods. In New York City, the phone book used to be so thick that strong men would show off by ripping it in half and police officers would sometimes whack reluctant suspects as an encouragement.

Fifty-five pages devoted to throwbacks like me who have an address and a phone. Thirty pages devoted purely to businesses. I used to like having a cell phone for in-the-car emergencies and quick connections with family members, but otherwise, the fidelity was poor and the price not worth the possession. Most of the devices devoted to "connection" these days strike me as ways of driving people further apart and I don't like it. ... Facebook, Twitter, an "app" for this and an "app" for that ... horseshit.

But I can recognize my own anachronistic being in all of this. If everyone is doing it, I must be wrong, though I decline to agree with the assessment. I'll just keep on waiting for all those lonely-and-getting-lonelier people to tune in to something serious.

I will do what I can not to converse with anyone holding a cell phone as we speak, wearing expensive sun glasses s/he neglects to take off or hidden behind a barbed-wire beard.

Talk about lonely, right?


Yesterday, a friend called to say his son was being transported to a Boston hospital from Maine. The son had apparently overdosed on Tylenol and needed a liver transplant or he would die. My friend is old and tired, so the news was redoubled in its intensity: He could not go with the son he was trained to love and protect.

How things stand this morning, I have not yet found out and, from afar, I too feel the sympathetic winds: How would I feel if one of my children were threatened with death? There is no answer but that doesn't mean the question can likewise go unasked.

It's a gob-stopper and yet this gob does not stop. Your kids aren't 'supposed' to die first. In fact, your kids aren't supposed to die. They're supposed to stay around and wave goodbye when you die, right? There are a million assumptions like this, climbing out of hidden lairs where they were assured and went unchallenged except in an occasional intellectually-distant fashion. How can the protector no longer protect? Could he, in fact, ever have truly protected? Well, he tried and perhaps convinced himself that he had somehow, in whatever small way, acted as a firewall for what is loved.

But now it's all shot to shit -- shot to shit and the bald fact is that it was ever thus ... uncertain, approximate, and sometimes flat-out wrong. So then there is the situation itself underpinned by a long-standing inaccuracy that passed as accuracy.

Everything seems to be blown up... and I am just imagining where my friend is living the explosion.

It's all too much...

... and there is more.

escorting the elephants

If a man's profession were to escort elephants from the dance hall, I wonder by what circuitous training he would have achieved this rooted calling.

Strange how resumes, within and without, seem to command the present and yet, while not exactly wrong, never touch the sweet spot.

In the face of such odds, what else is there but to escort the elephant?

Lord, I would give a million bucks to have learned to walk like an elephant!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

"dismal swamp"

Like some unpitted and polished ball bearing, there are words in my mind that hold an almost-treasured place. These are words that, in their time, are perfect and whole and fill the bill, though I am not entirely sure what the bill is or will be. They are brilliant friends whose light source is elusive.

"Shit" is a pretty good example.

And, this morning, floating burnished in my head are the name and words, "Dismal Swamp." How I wish I had contrived so perfect a perfection. I realize I cannot "have" it in any literal sense. It is like looking into the eye of a hawk -- present, fierce, and the more challenging because I know it doesn't give a shit about "challenges." But it is perfect somehow ... and what are perfections for if not an improvement that is utterly impossible?

Dismal swamp. Its literal size and location and being are just the tip of the iceberg. What goes unseen is the redolence and suggestions in my mind. What a fine word "dismal" is. What a tall tale "swamp" can tell.

Part of what beckons to me is that there is no beckoning. It is some unpitted and polished ball bearing that seems to await its time: And how could it possibly be "waiting?"

Wish I'd said that ... but grateful to have made its acquaintance: Dismal swamp.

Friday, November 27, 2015

writing for the waste basket

I am still gnawing on the iron spike -- the one that suggested to my younger son that if he were going to be deployed with his National Guard Unit, the first thing he should do was to learn 100 words of the language of the country he was going to be sent to.

Gnawing and trying to write it and ... here is what I wrote this morning as an intro ... and realize is too long and will have to be thrown out. Nevertheless, the memory was fun...

Once upon a time, a long time ago, in the early 1960's a fellow German linguist and I sat on the terrace of a Berlin cafe and eased through an afternoon on which we were not tasked with spying on the administration of  the then-dread government of East Germany.

We sipped beer, soaked up the sun, admired women, and mentally put aside the sheets of paper that were integral to our weekday work -- the papers marked "Top Secret" (code word) at top and bottom; the ones on which we translated governmental phone calls.

"If you had to choose a single word to know in any foreign language," Bill said, "what would it be?"

This was a topic worthy of a lazy afternoon -- frivolous and yet serious, somehow. Communication had to begin somewhere, didn't it? So ... was there a Rosetta Stone of some sort, a jumping off point between those who spoke and those who listened from different perspectives? The question hung in the air and then we began throwing out possibilities.

One after another, we tried them out and then discarded them. They weren't exactly right. They weren't encompassing enough. They weren't bulls-eye enough. We were just about to give up when Bill hit the nail on a head we could agree on:

"Toilet" he said simply.

And somehow, perhaps because the beer was good, that was that. A single word. No matter that there were cultures that had no literal toilets: The function was the same with or without the porcelain.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

criminal thinking

Once, the yardstick of a crime was the crime itself. Now, bit by bit, even considering a crime has apparently become a crime:
Under U.S. law, federal prosecutors do not have to “establish a link with specific terrorist activities” in order to charge a suspect with a crime, but only show a suspect intended to “support or join” a group the government has already labeled a terrorist organization, the paper noted.
The quote comes from a Reuters story outlining U.S. efforts to encourage foreign countries to ramp up their efforts against not just the criminals called "terrorists," but pre-emptively to ramp up the efforts against 'apparent' or 'wannabe' extremists.
The U.S. Justice Department has provided specific suggestions to governments in Europe and elsewhere on how to strengthen counterterrorism laws in order to arrest would-be foreign fighters before they join groups like Islamic State, according to a policy paper reviewed by Reuters.
And bit by bit. like the tortures at Abu Ghraib, the lawyers line up to declare it all legal and, no doubt, desirable.

pillow fights banned at West Point

"Huge pillow fights among US cadets to mark the end of summer training at the prestigious West Point military academy are to be banned, officials say.
"A recent event at the end of August left at least 30 soldiers injured."

If pillow fights are injurious and therefore to be banned, how much more injurious is war and should consideration be given to banning that as well?

life "like chicken"

Am I wrong? Well, it wouldn't be the first time....

How much of what passes for communication relies on implicit or explicit use of the word "like" or the phrase "it is as if?" When referring to experience, there is no direct transmission. There is only what the fact or situation is "like" or "is as if." And it is on this basis that "communication" rests.

Everything "tastes like chicken." Speaking to others, speaking to oneself ... everything tastes "like" chicken. God is "like," wealth is "like," love is "like," joy is "like," depression is "like...."

In communication, one with the next, this strikes me as an ordinary compromise. Experience cannot be transmitted and yet human beings are social critters, so I'll live with your approximations if you will allow mine.

But what is acceptable compromise in one instance may rankle when alone. Just once in this life-like-chicken, wouldn't it be nice to know not what something was "like" but rather what it actually was? Just once: What is it? Without the bangles and baubles of solemn or serious consideration ... just what the hell is it? Pick your "it," any "it."

What is it, even for just a nanosecond, to lead a life that doesn't taste like chicken? Where god is god, who is god?

Just once.

Everything else tastes like chicken.

"The Pilgrims"

Happy Thanksgiving.

I was watching a Public Broadcast System documentary called "The Pilgrims" yesterday. It's worth a watch, I think. As you might expect since today is Thanksgiving, it was about the Puritans who landed at Cape Cod in 1620 and managed to weave both a true and over-ornamented history for this country. I found it interesting by way of history I retain poorly and also by way of standing as an example of the human DNA strand that seems to insist on the realization of dreams -- a realization that never lives up to the brightness that once sucked the dreamer in.

The Puritans, described at one point in the show as the religious "nutters" of their time, suggested that man might set aside the church as the portal to their God. In the time that they did this, the church and the monarchy were of one cloth, so the monarchy saw these nutters as a threat and persecuted them. It was the Puritans, if I got it right, who planted the seed-notion that church and state could and perhaps should be separated.

They set sail at the wrong time of year, landed at Cape Cod in the cold, did a lot of starving and dying and appeared strange to the indigenous peoples who had recently suffered a terrible case of plague that had decimated the villages that the Puritans chose to see as a place their God had prepared for their righteous adventure. Bodies and skeletons were strewn about....

The first Thanksgiving was as much a sorrowful remembrance of all in their membership who had died as it was any sort of festivity of food.

 What a risky and determined effort they made. But how different are they from today's man or woman who sets out to make some sort of reality out of their fondest dream? Are these latter-day pilgrims not "nutters" as well? Are they any less informed and corrected by the attempt to actualize/realize their bright, pure visions? Are they any less capable of refusing to ask the obvious questions that might dim the brightened landscape? For example, if my god is "good," on what sustaining evidence can and do I make that observation? I'm not playing the snarky atheist or humanist here. I mean the question as a question anyone with a dream of purity might set out to realize ... to make real.

Lenin with communism; Jesus with Christianity ... or anyone else: Which one foresees the dimming of the much-praised light when the rubber hits the road and the dreamer steps off his or her cliff and into the abyss of practical realities?

Realization is expensive, but the nutter has no way of seeing the cost. S/he dreams and is dared and ....

Not to choose the nutter's way will not suffice. And yet choosing the nutter's course means that the get-go purity is bound to dissolve into ... something fruitful and rich, perhaps, but likewise attended by what is grim and grisly.

No, Dorothy, we're not in Kansas any more.

holiday spending

Passed along in email together with the correction -- this kick-off to the holiday-spending season:

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

additional Eido Shimano tapes

Two additional recordings has been appended in the Shimano Archive to the two earlier-posted tapes of Eido Shimano's meeting on Nov. 21 at All Souls Unitarian Church Chapel, 1157 Lexington Ave., New York City. The following is a list of all four tapes:

PS. And here is a comment from Genjo Marinello on Facebook:
"I've just listened to the last two installments of the recording of this event (posted just above this comment) and feel disgusted. I heard not one woman speak that was directly used sexually by Eido Shimano, except for Shinge who spoke last. She assured us if we could all just be honest and come from our hearts we could all heal together. Of course she was hand picked to succeed Eido Shimano, and lied about her own affair with him for years, waiting for him to expose it at this event. I don't know, but it seems to me he threw her under the bus, as he has done to so many others. She asked the group if she should resign.
"Like - Reply - 42 mins"

tightening the thumb screws

In the wake of a Turkish shoot-down of a Russian fighter jet a week after suicide bombers claimed 130 in Paris, tensions in the Middle East and elsewhere appear to be ratcheting up.

-- Russia has sent advanced missiles to Syria in order to protect its aircraft. The pilot of the downed fighter claims, after being returned to a Russian safe haven, that no Turkish warning was received.

-- Ukraine has banned all Russian airplanes from its skies and Russia has choked off all gas supplies to Ukraine.

-- A French philosopher is under heavy criticism for suggesting that the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris were brought about by the French themselves.

-- A top U.S. military commander conceded that the Oct. 3 bombing of a hospital in Afghanistan was a "tragic mistake."

All of this -- small potatoes, perhaps, when taken individually -- comes against a backdrop of a migrant movement of thousands streaming out of the various war zones and flooding mostly into Europe. In the U.S., there is a drumbeat of incidents in which black people have been shot and killed by police under what others consider suspicious circumstances. Republican candidates for the presidency are notably gunshy or profoundly ill-informed about such larger issues that include income disparity and global warming. Their irrelevance is staggering.

Things seem to fall apart and there is no warming philosophy to still the waves ... or am I just being a pessimist ... couldn't I just dredge up some cuddly bit of Buddhism to explain and ease?

Sorry, I'm out of "cuddly."

letter re. Eido Shimano meeting

OK -- I have to admit that my mind dwells and dawdles in a meeting in New York a week ago -- a meeting at which Eido Shimano ostensibly demonstrated his contrition in the face of repeated and credible charges that he maligned his position as a Zen Buddhist 'teacher' with his sexual and financial finaglings. I did not attend the meeting and admit I have not summoned the energy to listen to the recordings made of it. But others (including Genjo Marinello) listened to the recordings and commented and ... well, my mind dwells and dawdles.
Dear Genjo -- Just a note to say I appreciate your comments on the latest incarnation of the effort to absolve and resurrect Eido Shimano and to confirm Roko's Vatican-esque legitimacy. I'm pretty well worn out on the topic, but appreciate your stick-to-it-iveness. On a guess, I doubt seriously that calling out a liar will assure that the lying will be acknowledged or mitigated.

To my mind, the meeting on the 21st rested on one salient fact: Eido called and created the meeting. (A small note from Christine Hickey, the 'mediator,' confirmed this point.) It was his impetus and hence it is to his benefit. The whole thing is a bit like Yogi Berra's malaprop observation, "If the people don't want to come out to the ballpark, you can't stop them:" Those determined to create a god will do it, come hell or high water. This fits with my own appreciation that "all religion is a lie and it is up to the student to winkle out the truth within it."

As to the koan-esque quality that Eido's lifestyle and its fallout has, I think my teacher, Kyudo Nakagawa, cut the knot when, in the course of telling me a couple of unsavory anecdotes about his own connections with Eido, he concluded briefly, "I am finished with him." What other fruit can be taken from this tree?

Ah well, I'm rambling. This is just a note to say thanks.


Beethoven disrupts anti-migrant rally

"[BBC] German police are taking legal action against theatre staff in Mainz for disrupting an anti-migrant rally by singing Beethoven's Ode to Joy.
"About 300 people gathered over the weekend near the theatre in the south-western city to protest against the government's "chaotic" asylum policy.
"But speakers were interrupted by the theatre staff singing "All people will be brothers" from the symphony.
"Police say the right to free assembly is guaranteed by the constitution.They argue that it is therefore a criminal offence to disrupt such events."

Japan waiters' race

More than 120 waiters have taken part in this year's Waiters' Race Japan, held in Yokohama on Monday.
Contestants had to run down a 300m (985ft) course, balancing trays of glasses and bottles filled with water. The winning waiter in the individual race, Kento Sasamoto, took just 49 seconds.
Hundreds turned up to watch the race, which originally began in Paris in the 1930s as a way to boost the profile of the profession.
Organisers say they hope to organise a World Waiters' Race ahead on the Tokyo Summer Olympics in 2020.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

staying alive to enjoy it

A millionaire with nothing on his dinner plate is still a hungry man. There is something to be said for assuring the foundations of any project, whether national or personal:
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- As skyscrapers and gleaming towers rose with lightning speed across the United Arab Emirates over the past two decades, the Gulf nation's thirst for water grew at an enormous rate - so much so that today, it threatens to dry up all of the country's groundwater in as little as 15 years, experts say.
To quench that demand, cities across the seven emirates that make up the UAE rely on desalinated seawater to supply 98 percent of their drinking water, but that comes with a tremendous environmental and fiscal cost.
A millionaire asshole, just like a poverty-stricken one, is still an asshole.

Monday, November 23, 2015

award-winning photo

A school of tropical clupeid fish avoid a black-tip reef shark in Claudia Pogoreutz's winning photo in the Behaviour category [of the Royal Society's photo awards.]

solar power for 1 million people

"A giant plant using energy from the Sun to power a Moroccan city at night will open next month.
The solar thermal plant at Ouarzazate will harness the Sun's warmth to melt salt, which will hold its heat to power a steam turbine in the evening.
"The first phase will generate for three hours after dark; the last stage aims to supply power 20 hours a day.
"It is part of Morocco's pledge to get 42% of its electricity from renewables by 2020.
"The UN has praised Morocco for the level of its ambition. The UK, a much richer country, is aiming for 30% by the same date.
The Saudi-built Ouarzazate solar thermal plant will be one of the world's biggest when it is complete. The mirrors will cover the same area as the country's capital, Rabat."

Eido Shimano forum recordings

As noted below in a blog response, here are two audio recordings of the forum held last Saturday (11/21/15) in the matter of Eido Tai Shimano and his 50 years of 'teaching' and his financial/sexual depredation in America. The recordings were provided by Kobutsu Malone who said that the source wanted to remain anonymous.

I have little or no energy to listen to and evaluate the recordings, but post them as a matter of possible wider interest. The quality of the recordings is mixed, but I think those with an interest can probably winkle out the gist.

Recording 1.

Recording 2.

I would still appreciate some sequential description of the meeting. How many attended, how long did it last, how many addressed either positive or negative aspects of the issue at hand, did anyone get angry, were there any come-to-Jesus epiphanies, was anything resolved or healed or improved, did the mediator mediate  ... just some description of the whole.

I know, I know ... if I wanted to know that stuff, I should have gotten up off my own ass and gone. But it's a long ride to New York and a long ride back and I tire easily ... not to mention the fact that I really, really, really had a hard time imagining some air-clearing result.

I wish I were nicer, but I have tried that and, to turn a phrase on its side, "If the shoe doesn't fit, don't wear it." Compassion as some ginned-up altruism may be popular, but that doesn't make it true.

PS (11/24/15). On Zen Forum International, there was this comment from Genjo Marinello:
One of the most interesting revelations coming out of this event is Eido Shimano admitting, apologizing for and warmly remembering his past affair with the current abbot and Roshi of DBZ and the Zen Studies Society, Shinge Roko Sherry Chayat. [emphasis added]. Shinge was hand selected to be the next abbot by Eido Shimano and now I better understand why. Shinge has repeatedly denied that she ever had an affair with Eido Shimano. She told this lie to me on multiple private occasions, in public on multiple occasions, and shamed and angered other women when she denied to them that she had told them at one time the truth about a previous affair with Eido. Shinge said in 2011 that she was starting her new administration with honesty and transparency. I could care less that she had an affair with Eido Shimano, but to lie to the sangha and the public is inexcusable, and I believe she now has no credibility to lead DBZ or ZSS. She could have used the truth for healing, instead she choose to protect herself and be loyal to Eido Shimano.
Once again, I feel as if the eye-stinging dust storm is girding up its loins for another go. Genjo says something true and apposite at the same time that a part of his own credibility as a Zen teacher rests on Eido Shimano's recognition of him as a Zen teacher. That doesn't detract from the truth of Genjo's statement, but it cuts another facet in the gem.

'defeating' the Islamic State?

Whether apt or inept, this Associated Press analysis of the chaos in the Middle East does point to a sense of futility: Bombs and death and privation happen at light speed and, simultaneously, the ability to still the waves rests on nothing so much as a willingness and capacity to slow down and deconstruct what once was constructed. Even the best-intentioned approaches bump into and contradict each other. It is disheartening.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The chaos and violence gripping the Middle East are not likely to evaporate even if the forces arrayed against the Islamic State group manage to crush the brutal army and its drive to establish an Islamic caliphate in Iraq and Syria and beyond....
"The level of damage that has been done by the United States in Iraq and the civil war in Syria is probably irreparable," said Wayne Merry, senior associate at the American Foreign Policy Council.
How much of any problem, whether simple or endlessly complex, does not rest in a willingness to say "I did it. I was complicit ... and now I will make an effort to undo what I have done?" As long as anyone insists on believing "my hands are clean," how can those hands be even partially washed?

It feels like a time when the Hindu god Shiva will reign.
Lord Shiva is the destroyer of the world, following Brahma the creator and Vishnu the preserver, after which Brahma again creates the world and so on. Shiva is responsible for change both in the form of death and destruction and in the positive sense of destroying the ego, the false identification with the form. This also includes the shedding of old habits and attachments.
Or maybe not.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Eido Shimano forum

Did anyone reading this blog attend yesterday's meeting at All Souls Unitarian Church (1157 Lexington Avenue; 2-5 p.m.) in New York? The meeting seems to have been orchestrated by Eido Shimano in a Nov. 2, 2015, letter:
I would like to meet with you face-to-face on Saturday, November 21, to speak openly from the heart. I know that many of you discontinued your practice at the Zen Studies Society, but I hope you will participate in the meeting from 2 to 5 p.m. Judy Chang, minister at All Souls Unitarian Church, is kindly making her chapel available to us for this. The address is 1157 Lexington Avenue (at 80th St.), New York City. 
My wish is to express my ignorance and sincere regret for hurting the hearts of the Sangha. It is my hope that through this face-to-face meeting, our heavy burden can be laid to rest, for you and for us all.
My sense is that a blanket absolution and resurrection of Shimano was the intent of the meeting, but I would be happy to be corrected based on actual events.

where "huge" is huge

I am having a hard time reading even a few pages at a time of "In the Heart of the Sea" by Nathaniel Philbrick. It seems that the walls of the reasoning adult that might allow me to keep a distance from this tale of a ship rammed and sunk by a sperm whale (all in 10 minutes) are somehow tattered and useless. Am I not also a man who might starve; who might have the comforting control of civilization stripped away as surely as these whalers once stripped blubber from their quarry; and who might, in the far reaches of desperation, resort to cannibalism?

An adult reader might keep a careful distance -- be somehow reassured by the fact that it was "just a book" that I was reading from the slouched comfort of my bed. An "adult" might absorb and yet keep a distance. But the distances seem to lose their credibility. Cannibalism, for example, is not so much horrific or anti-social or 'inconceivable' as it is reasonable in such desperate straits. The far reaches of human capacity draw near. I am wider than I supposed and the most surprising thing about it is that there is little or nothing surprising in it.

One of the things I admire in Philbrick's non-fiction presentation is what feels like the ability to walk the Hindu's "razor's edge." On the on hand there is the arid and self-serving world of the semi-colon, all factual and full of academic specifics. On the other is the vastness of the ellipsis and exclamation point -- full of living, human capacity and suffering and quirkiness. The vastness of the situation matches the vastness of the Pacific Ocean on which the survivors and cannibals were set adrift. Reason and adult-hood is lost -- or badly tattered -- in this vastness. Reason cannot reach any more than astounded emotion can. Vast is vast ... period.

I would like to stop reading "In the Heart of the Sea," but I know I won't. I dislike being stripped and stretched. I would love to reassert a reasoned and reasoning and semi-colon-littered control and simultaneously know there is something informative in the world where "meaning" dissolves. However fragile and incapacitated and raw I may feel, still, there is something in it.

In a world where "huge" finds no purchase, it is huge.

When or if I finish this book, I have promised myself some bite-sized murder mystery or Disney-esque adventure story. Even a diet of good medicine can be overdone.

Saturday, November 21, 2015


[Mississippi] law prohibits any kind of demonstration of condom use during sex-education classes. In many districts, the classes teach abstinence only.

An English teacher who oversaw a student presentation in which the proper use of a condom was demonstrated with the aid of a cucumber has been given leave to return to her classes.
STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — A Starkville High School teacher is returning to the classroom after being suspended over a student’s vegetable-based presentation for how to properly put on a condom.
The Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District released a statement Friday saying the teacher, Sheree Ferguson, can return to work.
Given the sexual realities that anyone who has passed through the teen years experienced, this incident has a feel of utter ludicrousness. And yet there are people who do not see it as ludicrous at all ... why else would Mississippi have a law that targets the topic?

Bring on the storks!

Belgium clamps down

In the wake of the anarchic assaults in Paris that left 130 dead on Sept. 13, Belgium battened down its hatches today.
BRUSSELS (AP) - Belgium's capital entered a security lockdown Saturday as the government warned of a threat of a repeat of Paris-style attacks, with subways in Brussels closed and heavily armed police and soldiers deployed. At least one suspect from the deadly Paris attacks is at large, and was last seen crossing into Belgium. Prime Minister Charles Michel said the decision to raise the threat level was taken "based on quite precise information about the risk of an attack like the one that happened in Paris ... where several individuals with arms and explosives launch actions, perhaps even in several places at the same time."
For a week, the world has been in a confused thrall to the horrors visited on innocent people who the so-called Islamic State imagines are not so innocent at all. Sorrow, outrage, political advantage, proposals that swing wildly from the righteous to the inane ... the airwaves are full of disarray. Can it be stopped and if so how? Everyone's mind is edgy and begging for a surcease that will reassert a civil society. Everyone seems to be out of emotional breath, panting for some restorative balm ... but there seems to be no balm ... only bombs.

I agree with the pope -- it is a war, but a war without front lines or trenches or calculable targets. Like the forest fires in California, one objective may be achieved only to see the embers re-ignite elsewhere. It is a lousy feeling -- one that anyone might long to escape and yet there is no escape. Those who step into the batter's box and propose reactions that might still the waves ... well, there's so much information and there are so many possibilities, the the power that once was credible dissipates before the speaker has left the podium.

In the midst of bursting conflagrations, migrants pour out of the Middle East, headed for the relative safety and sanity of Europe. But suddenly Europe too is not so sane. The economic disparities between rich and poor add desperation. The insanities are insane and yet positing sanity seems impossible ... the insane run the nut house but the nuthouse no longer exists in any credible form. Those whom the state might once have cared for are pushed further and further from the watering holes of housing and education and safety and sustenance and  commerce. It is beyond a simple matter of being depressed or immobilized. Nobody wants to die and yet death hovers and hums and ... well, maybe it'll be someone else... but not me.

Belgium, like anyone else, wants to assure some more reassuring future.

But when has the future ever bent a knee to being known or assured?


Like a sleepy man who stubs his toe in the darkness when making his half-awake way to the bathroom in the night, somehow the word "yclept" stubbed my mental toe the other night when reading "In the Heart of the Sea." The word was strange and insistent and not at all comfortable in the vocabulary of my mind. Even the look of it was almost runic. The question, "Who gives a shit?" did not enter my mind.
(archaic, poetic) Called, named. 
past participle of clepe

While clepe is obsolete, yclept is still occasionally used for humorous or archaic effect; as in the set phrase aptly yclept, which is an idiomatic expression.

  • A holdover from Middle English, yclept is one of the few English words where 'y' figures as a vowel at the beginning of a word. Others include yttrium and yngling.
Why was this word not part of my user-friendly world? It wasn't that I didn't recognize it, but rather that it had no comfortable, casual usage on hand. Once it had been in use, I imagined: How then had it lost its savor and currency? To the best of my knowledge, I had never used it in a sentence. Its presence in my mind was a bit like a dog with a porcupine quill stuck in his nose ... it was bearable, but it was nattering and somehow annoying. I wanted to be at ease and was not.

On a scale of things-to-consider-and-worry-about, this certainly ranks somewhere in the basement of concerns worth being concerned about. How I wish my old army buddy Bill McKechnie were still alive: This is something the two of us might toy with and giggle about and take seriously, all without drowning ourselves in the solemnity of a Ph.D.

Time passes.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Eido Shimano meeting tomorrow ... gearing up

In anticipation of tomorrow's meeting at All Souls Church in New York and called by Eido Shimano, here are some preparations. I haven't the wherewithal or desire to sort it all out. Others may wish to see what was passed along here, however.

Subject: Fwd: Trust but verify (joe dowling email)
Date: November 19, 2015 at 3:14:28 AM HST

Dear Sangha,

Having served on the Board of the ZSS (2006-12) before and during the crisis that started on June 21, 2010, as of today, I’ve never gone public on the Internet or blogs or the infamous Shimano Archives in any way. It didn’t seem right. There were too many people opining who had no real knowledge of the facts, plus others with axes to grind. Over these 5 years about 20/25 people stuck it out and have attended Shoboji on a regular basis, and lately some new, younger people are very active. Up at DBZ, Shinge Roshi’s monks, residents and Kessei students, have kept the zen lamp alive at our beautiful, well-kept mountain zendo. The new boilers were recently installed.

I will be at All Souls on 11/21 for the meeting and ask all of you to consider what I have to say and take a look at the attached documents before then.
The last time the entire ZSS sangha was called to a special meeting like this was in July of 2011 to hear “an important announcement” from Eido Shimano. (see attachment, #1). The problem with this statement is that it was proven totally false. After announcing his retirement, Mr. Shimano left and went directly to Europe to hold sesshin, and since then he has actively cultivated a group of student followers (many of whom were at the July 2011 meeting and heard this announcement.) This fact alone would make me skeptical about another special meeting of the Sangha, but there is more.

The real reason for that meeting quickly surfaced. Mr. Shimano, along with his supporters who were a vocal majority, tried to force those directors of the ZSS Board in attendance to have an immediate public vote on amending a recently adopted Board Access Policy. That July day the Board ultimately decided there would be no vote. It was against the ZSS By-laws to have a meeting with no prior notice and not all directors were there to waive that provision. In addition, as president, I felt it was totally out of bounds for anyone to try to coerce the Board this way. That’s when homophobic slurs and threats of violence started. Someone grappled with Kanze (R.I.P.) who was trying to protect others. A video recording of this chaotic scene was taken by Zensho Martin Hara.

Thus, we need to be wary of what will transpire on the 21st. We can’t let Mr. Shimano control the agenda or his followers to pack the meeting. So I urge all who want the Zen Studies Society to flourish to come to All Soul’s Episcopal Church on Saturday afternoon.

We also can’t allow Mr. Shimano to give another generic apology. (See attachment, #2) To regain our credibility in the contemporary Buddhist community and the wider cyber-connected world the Society needs to totally clear the air of past cover-ups, lies and downright dishonesty (e.g., Roshi-letter 2/1). There will be no healing and no real peace until Mr. Shimano comes clean and rectifies as much as he can of the hurt he has caused the present and historical sangha. If he remains stuck in the belief that he himself is simply one of the injured parties with no attempt at taking responsibility for specific things he did and said; then there’s no hope for real reconciliation. Making amends means talking to real individuals, apologizing in private, not uttering generalities in open meetings.

Some will say, hey Soun, it’s time to forgive and forget. Yet we know those who ignore the past are certain to relive it. Of course, I’d like to see a final peace descend over our still active sangha. But not at the cost we will incur if we let Mr. Shimano get by with a general apology, skipping over all particulars. There are some specific names and dates I know I’d like to ask him about. Maybe Mr. Shimano is planning on holding private meetings with those he has used and hurt; perhaps he already has. I hope to hear that at the meeting.

Soun Joe Dowling

#1 ________________________________________
Eido T. Shimano
The Zen Studies Society
Dai Bosatsu Zendo · Kongo-Ji
223 Beecher Lake Road
Livingston Manor, New York 12758-6000
Telephone (845) 439-4566
Facsimile (845) 439-3119
December 1, 2010
News Editor
The New York Times
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, New York 10018
Re: "Sex Scandal Has American Buddhists Looking Within" - published
Saturday, August 21.2010, The New York Times National section
Dear Sir,
It has been three months since the article written about me appeared in your
National Section. In this day and age, it quickly spread all over the world and, I am told, was translated into Japanese. I was hurt deeply. However, I endured for more than three months and endeavored to calm down. Since this is the year that I am planning to retire, I do not want this article and my retirement to be linked. One has nothing to do with the other – there is no cause and effect.
As the date for my retirement is nearing, I think that at the very least, I need to
point out the inappropriate attitude of the writer of the article and the misinformation contained in his piece. I highlight the following:
1. Mr. Oppenheimer did not inter-View me for this article, nor did he speak
with Mr. Aitken or the young woman who is referred to in the article. The article states that he attempted to contact me and that I did not return several phone calls - this is just not true. I was never contacted by Mr. Oppenheimer, nor did I receive any correspondence from him at either my Livingston Manor address or my New York City
2. It is clear to me from reading the article and knowing the facts, that Mr. Oppenheimer obtained his information from second and third hand sources and the opinions expressed therein are neither factual nor backed up by proof. In fact, none of the individuals who have been quoted in the article were at-the dinner table when the purported statement was made and therefore they could not have "overheard" what was said.
3. In addition, I have not resigned because of these false accusations. At the
beginning of this year, during a meeting of the Board of Directors in January, I made an announcement that 2010 was the 50 year anniversary of my being in America and that I planned to do a final fund .raising for a mountain gate entrance for the monastery and would step down from the Abbot. This fundraising was to be the final act in a 50 year career in the United States. The article falsely states that I am stepping down from the Abbot because of allegations. Moreover, I would like to mention the following: When the article appeared, I was in Switzerland doing a silent retreat. When I returned to the United States, many people brought this article to my attention. The effect has been profound. Many people are hurt and confused. As an aside, minutes from our Board of Directors meetings are private documents. If they wound up in Hawaii or in Mark Oppenheimer's possession, they were improperly obtained and/or delivered. Did anyone question why Mr. Aitken would write about a Buddhist monk for 50 years, when I have had contact with him only twice since 1964? I shall look forward to hear what your journalist, Mark Oppenheimer,
has to say about the contents of my letter.
Very truly yours,
EidoT.Shimano, Abbot
The following statements were made on July 2nd, 2011 at Dai Bosatsu Zendo Kongo-ji, with about 45 sangha members from DBZ, New York Zendo Shobo-ji and the Zen Center of Syracuse in attendance.
Eido Roshi:
Good afternoon. Thank you for coming to Dai Bosatsu Zendo for this rather important meeting. The day after tomorrow will be July 4th. In 1776 this nation became independent, and just two hundred years later, in 1976, this Zendo was dedicated. Last year, on July 4th 2010, Aiho and I resigned from the Board of Directors after forty-five years of service.
Of course, everybody knows that this Zendo and Shobo-ji in New York were established because of thousands and thousands of people's help. But Aiho and I are the only two still here from the beginning to this point, still thinking and dedicating—rather, combusting—our Dharma passion.
We are in the midst of a transition period. This transition is nothing new for other places: in a monastery from former abbot to new abbot, in a
company from former president to new. What is unique in our case is that The Zen Studies Society has never experienced an official transition.
When I took over the inactive Zen Studies Society from Dr. D. T. Suzuki, he had gone to Japan. During the transition from Dr. Suzuki's time to my time, the secretary was very happy to give to me all the documents and the corporate seal. In this case, during the past year – particularly the past six months – we all suffered. The Sangha suffered, the Board of Directors suffered, and I suffered. Unless we come to some kind of positive, corrective, and peacefully harmonious solution today, The Zen Studies Society, Dai Bosatsu Zendo and New York Zendo will all be in trouble.
Please do not think you are the only ones who suffered. We all suffered in one way or another. In my case, many sleepless nights continued and finally I got shingles, full of pain, which still continues. In the midst of this pain I asked, what is the best way to solve this painful situation – not only my physical pain, but the Sangha's pain? I thought this way and that, and came to the conclusion – and naturally everyone would agree – that the Dharma is the most important and it must continue.
In the meantime, I have received about sixty letters, telephone calls, faxes and person-to-person contacts saying, "Please continue to teach. I will miss you. Don't abandon us." I thought, this might be true, but suppose I were dying. If that were the case, these kinds of phone calls, faxes and letters would not have been written. Then I thought, it must be a kind of attachment in the Rinzai Zen tradition.
As you know, there is dokusan. That is a unique practice, and by doing so we struggle and we grow. Sometimes during sesshin we have dokusan three times a day. The more we meet, the more some kind of deep emotions may develop along with the Dharma. This could be called
attachment. Then I thought, wait a minute – if I accept their request, their "Please continue," for one more year, two more years, three more years, then the problem is the same, maybe even worse. I introspected and asked myself, am I attached to my students or not? The answer was yes. Some of you have been doing zazen and dokusan with me twenty years, thirty years. Naturally what could be called attachment by both parties grew. I thought, this is not the way to solve this transition period. I have to retire. I have to sacrifice and they have to sacrifice. Sometimes things have to be sacrificed.
After long days of thinking, I now have the following attitude: starting today, I highly recommend – I strongly suggest – that all of you become Shinge Roshi's students. That is the only way that One Sangha, like it used to be, can be created under her leadership. Of course, my style of teaching and her style of teaching are different, our personalities are different, and many other things are different. But the Dharma – which has been transmitted from Hakuin Zenji, to Gempo Roshi, to Soen Roshi, to me and to her – is not different. She is the only one, at this point, who can take on this big task and responsibility. I have confidence in her, and we are also responsible for encouraging her growth so that The Zen Studies Society's Chairman of the Board and Abbot will be Shinge Roshi only.
I have retired, but some of you may think, "Are there any exceptions?" No. I will stop doing dokusan and giving teisho in a formal way. Some of you may feel uncomfortable at first because you are not used to Shinge Roshi. I have experienced this personally. When I first went to Heirin-ji as an unsui, the Roshi over there was Shirosu Keisan Roshi. Three years later, I moved to Ryutaku-ji and became a student of Soen Roshi. Their teaching styles were very different, and for a while I was "not together." But there was karmic congeniality between Soen Roshi and myself, and later I thought that my period of confusion was a gift. By
passing through that confusion I became stronger. In Japan, if an old Roshi is going to retire—for either health reasons or some other reason—there will be confusion among the training monks. Some leave, some stay, some are confused...but it ends up most of the time that half of them remain and half go somewhere else.
I don't want this to happen at Dai Bosatsu Zendo, but if I completely retire and you don't support Shinge Roshi, the life of DBZ will come to an end. This is nobody's wish. When I think of the fifty to sixty students who wrote me such passionate letters, I feel so bad. But if I am weak now, and take them back, this will not work. So, my thoughts and my feelings are always with you, whether you love me or hate me. This is the only way we can recreate One Sangha, with harmonious togetherness. For some of you it must be quite difficult to hear such a declaration. You may say, "How mean you are!" But this is the only way. This is the only way.
When I come here, Shinge Roshi and the residents always cheerfully welcome me. Although I don't attend sesshin anymore, and I will not do dokusan anymore – in any place – I do visit from time to time. This is my life! I gave my life to the Dharma and I hope that this can peacefully be continued here and at New York Zendo Shobo-ji. I think I have said clearly what my attitude is from now on, and beyond that, it is up to you.

Thursday, November 19, 2015


Perhaps because I am neither convinced nor successfully cajoled by my own excuses, I am less forgiving than I might be about the excuses others may offer.

But if that is true, how could it help but be anything other than another excuse?

The only excuse I ever gave that came close to the bulls-eye was when my mother caught me pulling wings off a fly. Her tone let me know I was in trouble and due for a verbal drubbing. In the course of the adventure she told me about years later, as the tears began to course down my cheeks, she asked me simply, "Why did you do that?" And, equally simply, but in anguish, I replied, "I did it on purpose."

monthly column

The monthly newspaper column ran today. It was poorly edited, but I can't say I didn't ask for it: It was a piece of fluff and I referred to it that way and invited the editor to have at it. The result is that it is more muddled and unfocused than it was in the first place. Oh well, the good thing about newspaper shit is that it is forgotten almost as soon as it hits the page. If I can't be more careful, why should I expect others to do so?

I guess if you're going to do something badly, it's worth doing well.

love and marriage

Unresolved and tantalizing in the mind...

I once heard a woman historian-sociologist-or-something adding her two cents to a discussion that included the "arranged marriages" of an earlier (American?) time. The interviewer was clearly dubious about marriages that did not rest on the "love" one partner might feel for another: Today's marriages are more often premised in or argued from the basis of such love.

And the historian said approximately, as if thinking out loud, "Today, people marry because they love each other. Back then, perhaps they loved each other because they were married."

I would like to consider whatever that might mean ... not assert a truth or falsehood, but simply consider that it might mean something in the human warp and weft and if so, what? And in whatever way I come at it, in whatever way I try it on for size, somehow I come up stymied... stymied and yet unwilling to dismiss it out of hand.

It's sort of like a piece of bubble gum, inviting the chewing process and yet never reaching the natural conclusion of swallowing.

A peculiar little nugget.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

"Modern Educayshun"

Passed along in email:

line of the day ...

In January a man on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula was fined $1,476 for riding an unlicensed ice box on the footpath.
 Riding an unlicensed ice box ... be still my heart!

another monthly column ... not

Well, I was outvoted and outflanked....

Over the weekend just past, the prospect of writing a monthly column presented itself and nagged and let me know again how lethargic my mind had become when confronted with the chore. The column was due, according to the original mandate, to run on the third Wednesday of the month, which is to say, today.

Over the weekend, I fiddled and fussed in my mind. I looked over previous false starts for ideas. And as I chewed my Calvinist cud, I realized I really didn't want to write about the "terrorist" attacks that claimed more than 125 lives in Paris last Friday and left people around the world edgy and uncertain and scrambling to put the bombings to their own personal and often political uses. Everything about the bombings and shootings was vastly inconclusive and I was and remain unwilling to shape the events with conclusions that fall apart as soon as they are adduced. Being confused may be unpleasant, but it is a burden worth learning to bear.

No, I didn't want to write about Paris.

And, because of the pall the events of Paris seemed to cast, I also didn't want to write some whiny plaint about some knee-jerk social inequity or unjust fuck-up... you know, the usual column-focus fodder. That felt too inconsequential as well.

Somehow, I wanted something that had a smoothness to it. Smoothness and, if only imagined, a certainty and warmth. A hot pad for a bad back. Something with a conclusion.

Being the age that I am, I did what old people do and high-tailed it into memory. Memories have periods on the sentences, or so it seems. On examination, memories reveal themselves as persistently inaccurate and self-serving, but now and then, hugging the teddy bear of the past, feeling its comfort and certainty ... well, it may be false, but it has a truth that may only last a while, but "a while" is better than nothing, better than Paris, better than sorrow, better than fear, better than uncertainty.

No, I didn't want to write about Paris, but the newspaper did and so, looking at the newspaper this morning, I see the rolling greenswards of Paris and not a word of what I submitted. It was a longshot  anyway and I am not especially offended. How can memory contend with current and horrendous events. News outlets are nothing if not conformist so my diverging rivulet was simply outvoted.

What I wrote is below. It is unfocused and a bit vapid and yet I am willing to live with the premise and possibility. I may wish it were more focused and had more of a point, but it doesn't ... except perhaps that "it's not Paris" and it's somehow important that what is not Paris, what is unfocused and frivolous, has an importance as well. A serious bit of unseriousness.

There are no periods on sentences, but I'm not likely to admit that any time soon:


When I was a kid, my single-mom mother would read me stories. There was no television and there was no Internet. There were tales to be heard on the radio, but somehow that was never the same as when I snuggled up next to her on the couch as she turned the pages and transported me to strange and imaginative places. I suppose I was six or seven or eight.

As far as I could figure out, there were no boundaries to what she picked out for an evening's pre-bedtime adventure. She read me the uncensored version of "Grimms' Fairy Tales." There was "The Wind in the Willows" and "Stuart Little" and the action-packed tales from Robert Louis Stevenson. There were Rudyard Kipling and e.e. cummings. She also read me the whole of "Frankenstein" and I learned that it was not the "monster" that petrified movie-goers who was the villain; rather, it was the doctor who created him.

On my occasional visits to my father's house, he too might read to me. "Oliver Twist" made me cry. But his made-up stories of "Googlamont and the White Knight" were always my favorites. I suspect he robbed Greek and Roman mythology blind as he stitched together tales of derring-do. Googlamont and the White Knight were good guys who thwarted evil and Googlamont himself had a magical ring that allowed him, in a dangerous pinch, to say "Whisk! Whisk! Whisk!" and then disappear. How kool [sic] was that?!

It took some years to realize I too could make up stories and from time to time I would give it a whirl. Stories allowed you to go anywhere, imagine anything. A story-teller is the god of his universe and, in one way or another, who doesn't want to be god?

Twenty-five years after my early adventures in listening to stories, I was painting lockers at a school in New York. It was a good gig for a house painter -- tedious, perhaps, but with the potential to put a lot of spaghetti on the table. People passed to and fro in the hallways where I worked, but mostly, like a lot of break-a-sweat-workers, I was invisible.

Or at least I thought I was invisible until one day, I sensed that someone was staring at me. I turned around and there, thumb planted firmly in her mouth, stood a little girl of five or six. Something about me seemed to mesmerize her and the only thing I could think of was my paint-spattered clothing. How could anyone be that messy and get away with it?

Finally, to break the ice, I said, "I hope you'll be careful sucking your thumb."

She took her thumb out long enough to ask, "Why?"

"Because," I replied, "I wouldn't want you to swallow it."

"C'mon!" she said, not wishing to be considered a dummy.

"Well." I said, warming to my fairy tale, "there have been kids who swallowed their thumbs."

"C'mon!" she said again, but I could tell she was feeling a little less certain. Adults wield the power and confect the truth in life -- any kid knows that.

"You know what happens if someone swallows their thumb," I said, laying my paint brush aside for a moment. "If you swallow your thumb you might accidentally swallow your hand. And if you swallow your hand, you might swallow your arm. And if you swallow your arm, you might just end up swallowing your whole body. How could your parents find you if you did that?"

Her face took on the look of anyone who was seriously considering the implications and possibilities laid before them. She wasn't frightened, but this was serious.

After a couple of minutes, I realized I had to get back to work, so I gently led her away from the land of the ouroboros, the ancient mythological snake that eats its own tail. We parted, I think, as chums.

Later, it occurred to me that the tale might be a story worth writing. So I wrote it and dutifully sent it out to possible publishers, most of whom sent the one- or two-line rejection notes that writers got used to in that time.

But one day, a plump business-sized envelope arrived. Inside was a three-page, single-spaced, type-written rejection of what I had thought was a whimsical tale of a disappearing child whose parents had to jump through hoops in order to get her back.

The letter was full of outrage. It positively shrieked at me. How could I possibly imagine this was suitable fare for a child?! The object of children's stories was not to wound children; it was to reassure them that the universe was a friendly, warming place. The letter went on and on with this oh-so-sensitive outlook from a political-correcticrat [sic].

It was a torrent of psychobabble and yet too a warning to any like me who might tell a tale in a universe where they were god: Don't create a heaven if you are unwilling to shoulder the responsibility for hell.

That said, is there anything more exciting than a tall tale?

Whisk! Whisk! Whisk!