Friday, June 20, 2014

German Connections, Labyrinths and Muscular Prose

Every once in a while certain words seem to become trendy. You don't notice them at all and then suddenly they begin to appear everywhere. About 25 years ago it seemed like the phrase hunker down was being used everywhere, from camping to politics. The word of the day right now seems to be muscular. Last weekend I noticed the word in an essay about Walt Whitman's poetry. Nearly every day this week I heard something be referenced as muscular. "The U.S. needs to make a muscular response to the situation in Iraq," was on the news this morning.

If you hear someone use the word muscular today, let me know how it was used.

On this day in 1877, German artist Kurt Schwitters was born. Next Thursday Germany will face off with the U.S. in the World Cup. My story "Two Acts That Changed the World" is about a German scientist during WW2 who discovers the solution to the atomic bomb but feels compelled to thwart Hitler while conveying the solution to American scientists pursuing the same objective. The story, which originally appeared on my website in the mid-nineties, is the lead story in my first volume of stories Unremembered Histories.

I began building my first website in 1994-95 as a way to learn about the World Wide Web and also as a means for sharing some of my creating work, similar motives for the development of this blog. I usually learn new skills by reading books, buying a few for my personal library, and then applying through doing. One of the books I purchased was titled How to Learn HTML in Two Weeks. I am not a great programmer, but the rudimentary HTML that I learned at that time has gotten me out of many a jam, including here on Blogger.

When Adobe Pagemill was introduced in the mid-nineties, they were in such a rush to get it to market that they forgot to include certain important information inthe User Guide. The day I got it, I went online to a PageMill user group to find out this crucial information. The author of the instructions was in the group! She said that they would add that info immediately.

My website included articles, art and short stories, plus a Labyrinth which I created as a tribute to Jorge Luis Borges, the Argentine short story writer perpetually fascinated by labyrinths. I am certain he would have loved the labyrinthine hyper-linked connectedness of the web, pages with links to other pages with links to other pages, much like a house with infinite rooms. Don't see a room to your liking? You simply create a new room, fill it with objects and hyperlink it to the rest of this cyber-construct, an amazing, ever-expanding virtual universe.

This weekend, more than 8,000 marathoners will be in town for Grandma's Marathon. If you like crowds and activity, there will be plenty here in the Northland. For what it's worth, John Bushey of Highway 61 Revisited will be all set up at Valencia's on London Road, playing Dylan music for the runners as they pass the half way point, reminding all those out-of-towners that one of Rock's great singer-songwriters was born here up on the hillside. Valencia's is across the street from the Duluth Armory where young Robert Zimmerman at age 17 had come to hear Buddy Holly and the Crickets and when Buddy Holly looked at him "he felt a spark tingle to his bones."

Meantime, life goes on all around you. Embrace it.

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