The satirical comedy Art School Confidential features Jerome Platz (Max Minghella) as a student at a prestigious Manhattan art college who discovers that it’s not the paradise he dreamed it would be. His classmates lack taste and imagination, his instructors are competitive and self-involved, and everyone is focused on the promise of a glitzy career rather than on education.
In the two-CD effort Why Not Sea Monsters? Songs from the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament,(CarpetSquare) Justin Roberts steers clear of any ham-fisted agenda while staying faithful to the power and majesty of the Bible stories, and making them his stories. On the “Hebrew Scriptures” CD, Roberts gets things off to a clever start with “Why Not a Spark?” Singing in a style that suggests John Lennon, James Taylor and Glenn Tilbrook, Roberts lays out the tale of creation as if God were a smiling child in a swirling cosmic sandbox: “On the fourth day / God said, Where are the stars? / Where’s Mercury, Venus and Mars?/ Where’s all those old rusty cars? / Wait, that’s later!”
Maker of galaxies, at latest count Billions! And who can say that our Big Bang Was not preceded, from your primal fount By other billions, while the angels sang? Then shall we take the word of a great Jew, That one child is more precious in your sight Than all the rocks in all the worlds you view, And loyal anima is your delight? Maker of galaxies, how then weigh out A small Iraqi eye, terror-suffused, Against the marvels you have brought about, Why are your little children so abused? “Not bread, not miracles, not use of power,” So your Son said. We must await your hour.
Spring did not officially arrive until two this afternoon, or so the weatherspinner had informed us, so that when, at morning prayer, my still wintered words were interrupted by a pair of honking calls, I laughed aloud to think that my Canadian neighbors of several springtimes had beaten nature’s clock by seven hours and more to seek their customary lot along the creek for hatching this year’s brood.
Minutes later—the creed and half a prayer, no less— and their first raucous pass to reconnoitre was followed by the splashdown run, low now across our deck and through the clustered trees onto that quiet pool stretching above the rapids where, over the next few days, they will be joined, most likely, by a familiar pair of mallard ducks who share their taste in shoreline real estate. Meanwhile a red-tailed hawk orbits high aloft in leisurely anticipation.
The diaries of World War I poet Siegfried Sassoon have been digitized and made available to the public by the University of Cambridge. Sassoon, a British soldier, was quickly disillusioned by the war and became an outspoken war critic. His diaries feature poetry, prose, and drawings and include his 1917 antiwar “Soldier’s Declaration,” which got him committed to a hospital for the duration of the war. He described the first day of the Battle of Somme as a “sunlit picture of hell” (BBC, July 31).