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Life, a Preparation for Death

In January, I had the privilege of taking twenty Torrey Honors Institute students to Rome, Italy for two weeks. Not only was I impressed by these students’ attention, interest and appreciation for great art and architecture, but I was also impressed by their appreciation for

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Golgotha (paper and ink)

This is a little drawing (about six inches square) given to me by Verna Smith, an artist who works in hand-made paper. She must have made it around 1975, but gave it to me thirty years later. Photos don’t quite capture the delicacy and suggestiveness

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*Give Your Life to Mani*

Recent Converts! Are You Confused? Does your inquiring mind raise questions the authoritarian church just can’t answer? . *** ASK MANI! *** . He Can Explain True Christianity To You! **************************************** **************************************** **************************************** **************************************** **************************************** **************************************** ALL THAT IS … is light and darkness. But

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How To Make Cartoons

Cartooning is fun, and anybody who’d like to try their hand at it should probably go buy Scott McCloud’s excellent book on it. But if you don’t want to spend the money on McCloud’s far-reaching description of comics technique, here’s a fun free intro: Barnacle

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The Day After Christmas

Here’s a song, here’s a gift for the day after Christmas When the presents have been opened And your spirit has crashed. When all the colored lights are turned off And the yule log is an ember And you’ve returned that crap to K-Mart And

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Meowl

Last month was the fiftieth anniversary of the obscenity trial for Allen Ginsberg’s beat poem Howl. The verdict back in 1957 was that there was plenty of artistic and social justification for the poem to be as nasty as it was. There’s no denying the

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Worst Coleridge Poem Ever!

Samuel Taylor Coleridge was one of the greatest minds ever to write in English. But aside from the justly famous Rime of the Ancient Mariner, he didn’t manage to finish very many extended poems. That mind should have produced an English epic, but instead he

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Cramming for the French Test

Back in 1995, I found myself in a situation that is common for graduate students: needing to demonstrate basic reading knowledge of a modern language in case I should need it in my future research. The kind of knowledge required isn’t exactly what you’d call

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Medieval Gazing and Eating

A couple of weekends ago my wife and I took our kids up to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. The opportunity to visit the Getty at will is certainly one of the perks of living in southern California. We were invited to go to

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Making Comics with Scott McCloud

Cartooning is an art form that communicates with great immediacy. We don’t rely on comics for the best literary writing of all, and we don’t look to cartoonists to be the greatest visual artists. Good as the writing and art may be in a comic,

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Moby-Dick: Inscrutable Tides

(Spoiler alert: the whale is mean and the captain is crazy.) What a book is Melville’s Moby-Dick! Everyone knows that it’s a whopping leviathan of a novel. There are almost four hundred words just in the titles of the chapters. Melville, rarely subtle, spends more

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On Great Artistic Ages (Like the Athens of Aeschylus)

How did Aeschylus do it? His plays are so powerful and engaging that he will never lose his place in the front ranks of dramatists. We only have seven of his plays extant –a tenth of what he produced– but even if we had only