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Friday, 27 February 2009

Mandelstam and Stone



















I have a continuing fondness for Anna Akhmatova – my cat is named after her, a fact to which the cat has long been indifferent – but it’s been awhile since I have read her peers, and I thought I’d revisit these Russian poets.

I have been rereading Osip Mandelstam’s Stone, his first collection (1913), in Robert Tracy’s translation, a Collins Harvill edition with a maroon and sepia cover and a photograph of Mandelstam in his youth, big-eared and full-lipped, but with handsome sad eyes and expressive eyebrows. It was a debut of historical significance, a refusal of symbolism as a poetic means and a faith in language's power to name the world.

His poetry, although passionate, is not always or primarily personal. An account of his life - especially as given in the two volumes of memoirs, Hope Against Hope and Hope Abandoned , by his widow, Nadezdha Mandelstam, two of the C20 greatest and sadly necessary books, and, seemingly, out of print - make him a figure of immense elan and importance, but the poetry is less interested in autobiography.


Whereas Akhmatova, Tsvetaeva and Pasternak seem very much the subject of their poems, Mandelstam seems a lyric poet in the way that Eliot might be – the heart is there, but it is not immediately offered.

Reading poetry in translation is like washing your feet with your socks on, and its difficult to make judgments on a poet who in one translation (Tracy’s) can sound like this in his first poem:
A tentative hollow note
as a pod falls from a tree
in the constant melody
of the wood’s deep quiet.
And like this in another version (Clarence Brown and WS Merwin’s)

The shy speechless sound
of a fruit falling from its tree
and around it the silent music
of the forest, unbroken.

In Stone, Tracy's flatter diction and syntax, while less immediately beguiling, seems more apt. These early poems show a poet tethered in the concrete world. Each named thing is placed with clarity and precision.

Against pale blue enamel, the shade
that only April can bring,
the birch tree’s branches swayed,
and shyly it was evening.


In the Russian, apparently, ‘evening’ in the poem is a verb – it shyly 'eveninged' – but in English it is that ‘shyly’ that brings the evening to us. This is from the start of the sixth poem, and in the next and then the final stanza, the natural world becomes something made:

The pattern, precise and complete,
a network of thinly etched lines
like the ones on a porcelain plate,
with its carefully drawn design.

The dear artist designs creates
the design on the glaze’s hardness,
at that moment his skill awake,
no thought for death’s sadness.

Thematically, its Keats’ Grecian Urn in miniature, with, here, not a sigh at art’s insufficiency in the face of mortality, but a recognition of its power, momentarily, to stave off death.

Mandelstam is alive to nature, but not in a mystic sense; his true interest is in what is made, in things that show themselves to be crafted as poems are crafted.

Then I came to 'Silentium' and paused at these lines:

The sea’s breasts rise gently and fall.
but day gleams like a maniac
And the foam is faded lilac
in a cloudy sky blue bowl.

All day my head has held these lines as if it, too, were a cloudy sky blue bowl and the lines foam the colour of faded lilac. In another poet – in Akhmatova or Lowell or Plath - these lines would be an invitation to enter the poet’s world, but they - and Mandelstam’s work as a whole, - do not foreground a persona I am invited to become or witness. There is no personality I am being invited to understand. Rather, the lines become part of my persona as I read and remember them.

Mandelstam’s subject is the self and how poetry brings it into existence: the self, too, is made, crafted, as poetry is crafted. Mandlestam described the poems, in the inscription he wrote on the copy of Stone he gave to Akhmatova, as 'flashes of consciousness in the oblivion of days.' The poems in Stone – most often, they are numbered, not titled – suggest that, unless writing, unless filled with poetry, he is empty, a human absence:
The keen ear is a sail, stretched taut.
Eyes are blank from scanning distance,
and a choir of night birds fly past
silently, through silence.

Here (Poem 15) the poet exists in a state of attention, attention as it might be used in a religious sense, the state of a soul desirous and deserving of grace because it exists entirely in search of it.
I am as poor as nature
and as simple as the sky;
my freedom is as spectral
as the night bird’s cry.

I look at the lifeless moon
and a dead sky of canvas;
though your world is morbid and alien,
I accept it, nothingness.

Mandelstam is, in these poems, somewhat of a sea-haunted individual. There is the ‘Silentium’s foam of faded lilac; in Poem 15, his ear is a ‘sail, stretched taut’; In Poem 16:
A wave breaks deadly white and then
rears backwards and rears again,
not daring to touch the shore.

In ‘Insomnia’, Homer’s tale renders him restless and sleepless. The sea returns in ‘The Seashell’, and recalls Wordsworth’s lines in The Prelude (5.ll.71-165) with its vision of the stone and the shell, in which the shell represents vision and stone reality. There is a tension in Mandelstam’s collection - he did consider calling it The Seashell - between the two, a hope of combining them, a conviction that to look at reality truly is to be visionary, but not in a faux-religious way in which I to often read him:
Let your thin needle stab
the empty breast of the sky.

Nadezdha said that, for Mandelstam, the sky had never been the dwelling place of God:
The task of man is to bring life to (the empty heavens) by making them commensurate with the work of his hands – a cupola, a tower, a gothic arch.

And, in ‘The Morning of Acmeism’, he wrote:
To build means to contend with the void … the entire meaning is to stab the sky, to reproach it because it is empty.

Poems 30 and 75 both refer to Imyabozhtsi or Imya Bozhi, the so-called ‘God’s Name’ movement that surfaced about 1910 at the monastery on Mount Athos, which held that God’s name is itself divine: God, being approachable, cannot be glorified directly: one can only approach and glorify his name.
The word is total joy to them
and heals their pain.

And, in Poem 30, the poet tells us:
In the mist I could not come at
your shifting tormenting shape.
‘Lord’ I said, not intending that,

but the word came out by mistake.


From my breast, like a great bird

God’s name flew suddenly.

Up ahead the thick mist stirred

and an empty cage was behind me
.
Naming God promises liberation. The mist stirs in order for us to see more clearly. This lack of mystery – a dispersal of it – is there in ‘The Lutheran, where the body is laid away ‘smoothly, simply and well’, and there is:
No need, I thought, for a flowery oration.
We are not prophets nor do we prepare the way;
w
e do not love heaven, do not fear damnation,
and we burn without light, like candles at noon.

It is in this same spirit he addresses ‘Hagia Sophia’ – as a building, as an expression of stone’s grace and force, not a symbol of wisdom or power, secular or divine. Like the cathedral that is the subject of the poem it precedes, ‘Notre Dame,’ it is marvellous because it has been made.


And, in Poem 54, he tells us:
…if the song is sung truly
with a whole heart, all else disappears
and nothing remains, but only
the singer, space, the stars.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

This film has been waiting for me for years and I knew that I would like it but the actual bliss of experiencing it still came as a surprising delight at its bright colours, its sung dialogue in which hearts crack audibly and postmen deliver bills, the soaring melodies but also the musical wit of Legrand's score. It's ghost is still there, haunting High School Musical, which I caught the night before and which is also unexpectedly good. Its similarly boldly-coloured and nearly as lost in music. The young lovers mope as if in a Bergman movie, and leaving high school is akin to meeting a hooded man with a scythe: putting on a musical is the only wall to push up against oncoming oblivion. It doesn't have the wistful realism of Cherbourg, and it doesn't have Ann Vernon and Deneuve, unreal in her silvery beauty and Zac Ephron is just a prop with well conditioned hair compared to Nino Castelnuovo and Roland Cassard.

In the clip below, the final scene, the estranged lovers talk about petrol - super or standard - unable and unwilling to be what they were once to each other, the music remembers and when she drives off, the music lives life at the level they never managed to sustain - and, perhaps, the film is wise to suggest, this was for the best. Its as sad as the end of Eugene Onegin, but set in a petrol staion in Nantes.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Black and White in Colour - Il Conformista

Joining the last few entries - Bertolucci is Ophuls in colour and there is not a gesture or a detail wasted in this scene - a clip of Marcello bringing flowers to Guilia early on in The Conformist. Other than that, it's a treat.

Nether-Never-Land: Joseph O'Neill's 'Netherland'


Recently, I had to advise a student on his work, a city-based novel that seemed to me to be peculiarly blind in its telling, although it was not without other virtues. An example would be a street scene, which he described as ‘surreal’. The surrealism was entirely asserted. No instance was given, no detail was provided that convinced me of this surrealism or conjured it in my reader’s mind.

My advice was: ‘Put us in the street, rather than this generalised gesture at scene–setting. And think about what your character sees in the world. What he sees, informs us of him, his past, his present state of mind, his desires. This is a character that once had a job, a family, a suit, a car, a man who walked a city street with purpose, belonging there, and now he has made himself an exile, almost a ghost. No longer part of the life he sees, what would he notice? Stop summarising the very things that will give your novel heart and that will win our hearts.’

I then started reading Joseph O’Neill’s novel, Netherland, and came across his description of Times Square subway station (p18). It seemed to illustrate my point. The narrator, we have learned, in the aftermath of 9/11, is becoming estranged from his wife. What he sees in the station - how he sees it - shows us who he is and what is happening to him. He notices a ‘little Hispanic man dancing with a life-sized dummy.' I thought this description the kind of ‘surreal’ detail that might help the student and quoted part of it for him:
Dressed entirely in black and gripping his inanimate partner with grotesque eagerness, the man sweated and pranced and shuffled his way through a series … of fox trots and tangos and fandangos and pasodobles ... There was something dire going on—something that went beyond the desperation, intently twitching and nuzzling his puppet to the movement of the music, his eyes always sealed…. Crude features had been inscribed on her face, and this gave her a blank, bottomless look … and yet this man was nakedly in thrall to her.

This, I wrote the student, was not a major set piece in the novel; it was a passing detail, but few details in a good novel are merely ‘passing’: they are intent on indicating the novel’s consciousness. This particular detail shows us how the narrator looks out at the world through lenses shaped by what pre-occupies him – a failing marriage, a traumatised city, his own powerlessness in the face of both.

Job done, I returned to the novel, but my pleasure in it has diminished. Something nags me about the writing, and, specifically, the description I had quoted to the student. Was it only a desire for speed that led me to cut so much of it?

The hype surrounding it - and its interest in cricket - made me resistant to reading it, but I was stirred into picking it up after reading two blog entries concerning it from Mason Wyatt, in which a reader had criticised O’Neill’s style and gave this as an instance of it:
Over half the rooms were occupied by long-term residents who by their furtiveness and ornamental diversity reminded me of the population of the aquarium I’d kept as a child, a murky tank in which cheap fish hesitated in weeds and an artificial starfish made a firmament of the gravel

The reader’s objections and Wyatt Mason’s replies can be read here and here. I had no objection to the sentence quoted, but, in general, I could see that O’Neill’s prose can seem, as Mason’s interlocutor describes it, ‘fusty or ornate. Though sometimes the descriptions are precise and impressive, other times… he uses a bigger word when a smaller one would be better.’

I went back to the passage I had quoted to the student. Here it is without my edits:
Throngs endlessly climbed and descended the passages like Esher’s tramping figures. Bare high-wattage bulbs hung from the low-lying girders, and temporary partitions and wooden platforms and posted handwritten directions signalled that around us a hidden and incalculable process of construction or ruination was being undertaken. The unfathomable and catastrophic atmosphere was only heightened by the ever-present spectacle, in one of the principal caverns of that station of a little man dancing with a life-sized dummy. Dressed entirely in black and gripping his inanimate partner with grotesque eagerness, the man sweated and pranced and shuffled his way through a series, for all I know, of fox trots and tangos and fandangos and pasodobles, intently twitching and nuzzling his puppet to the movement of the music, his eyes always sealed. There was something dire going on—something that went beyond the desperation, intently twitching and nuzzling his puppet to the movement of the music, his eyes always sealed. Passers-by stopped and gawked. There was something dire going on – something discernable on the man’s damp features, beyond even the sexual perverseness of his routine. The puppet had something to do with it. Her hands and feet were bound to her masters. She wore a short lewd black skirt and her hair was black and unruly in the manner of a cartoon gypsy girl. Crude features had been inscribed on her face, and this gave her a blank, bottomless look. Although bodily responsive to her consort’s prompting – when he placed his hand on her rump she gave a spasm of ecstasy – her countenance remained a fog. Its vacancy was unanswerable, endless; and yet this man was nakedly in thrall to her.

Much of this is good, enviably good, but my memory of the passage was that it was better. My memory had retained the image of the dancer bound to his puppet, and of the ruined Escher-like stage that framed it. What my memory, also, did was censor its more obviously ‘telling’ phrases, its over-explanatory adjectives, and the way it picks on the real and the specific but then, too ardently and noisily, wants us to notice - even more - the abstract ideas they illustrate. I thought I would edit it again, and see the effect:
Throngs climbed and descended the passages like Esher’s tramping figures. High-wattage bulbs hung from the low girders, and temporary partitions and wooden platforms and posted handwritten directions signalled that around us the process of construction or ruination was being undertaken. Seemingly ever-present, in one of the station’s principal caverns, a little man danced with a life-sized dummy. Dressed in black and gripping his inanimate partner with grotesque eagerness, the man sweated and pranced and shuffled his way through a series of fox trots and tangos and fandangos and pasodobles, intently twitching and nuzzling his puppet to the movement of the music, his eyes always sealed. Passers-by stopped and gawked. Her hands and feet were bound to her masters. She wore a short lewd black skirt and her hair was black and unruly as a cartoon gypsy girl’s. Crude features inscribed on her face gave her a blank, bottomless look. Although responsive to her consort’s prompting – when he placed his hand on her rump she gave a spasm of ecstasy – her countenance remained a fog. Its vacancy was unanswerable, endless; and yet this man was nakedly in thrall to her.
If you shake the prose, words fall away and show themselves as redundant or preachy. While the state of the subway station suggests the greater ruination and re-construction of New York at that time, unfathomable and catastrophic means that this state is nailed noisily down for the reader and there is nothing to intuit. This makes a reader a passive recipient of information, either grateful or frustrated, but definitely the latter as the prose continues in this way throughout the novel. The narrator too often tells us what we must think, what the detail imports and the reader can only nod, a witness and not the shared maker of insight.

He forgets that the reader is not one of the passer-bys who 'stand and gawk; the reader looks wisely and without the need of so much overt instruction as to what that looking yields. For example, he has to tell us that the detail of the man dancing with the puppet only heightened the atmosphere (of) the ever-present spectacle, instead of letting the detail do its work of heightening without the narrator’s dulling drum roll. And was the dancer, really, ever-present, or did he seem so? One answer is an exaggeration and untrue; the other answer is precise and, better suggests that this is how the world is speaking to him, nagging at him even.

To be dressed in black suggests the dancer is dressed entirely in black: nouns and verbs rarely go lonely in O’Neill’s prose. As Gore Vidal once asked, and with less justice, of Updike's prose: might he have allowed one blind noun to slip free of its seeing-eye adjective?

And might direness, economic and artistic despair and sexual perversity be implicit in the description? Might we gleam and treasure for ourselves without being told that something dire going on—something that went beyond... desperation? Might we feel clever making that connection and so become more deeply involved in the novel’s workings? Might the reader make such intelligent wonderings without this digging in the ribs? Aren’t we paying attention enough? Or is attention all that is being asked of us - to attend to the intelligence of the detail and, more so, as we will miss it otherwise, the intelligence that explains it for us, too?

Most often what I cut were the adjectives that were redundant or thundered their meaning, as if the nouns were too small-voiced to speak, the adverbs that would not let a verb go about its doing unaided, and, mostly, phrases that ached and groaned, not wanting any connotation to go unheralded. With less to precede it, the last sentence, the doll's face, Its vacancy was unanswerable, endless; and yet this man was nakedly in thrall to her ends the paragraph both more grandly and more movingly. This higher diction, then, seems more earned and more impactful, a crescendo that slowly rises out of the prose rather than competing with the noise of every sentence as it was hammered out on the keyboard.

Zadie Smith in NYRB praised O'Neill's skill, but asked if he did his job too well.
In its quest for the perfectly wrought image... fiction like Netherland is inauthentic because life consists of so much simulacra and confusion…

How successful is the prose that must so fequently distrust its own effects? It is this that makes the fiction ring falsely, although there are many accomplished instances, such as this one noted in his review by James Wood

Around the clock, ambulances sped eastward on West Twenty-third Street with a sobbing escort of police motorcycles. Sometimes I confused the cries of the sirens with my son’s nighttime cries. I would leap out of bed and go to his bedroom and helplessly kiss him. . . . Afterward I slipped out onto the balcony and stood there like a sentry. The pallor of the so-called hours of darkness was remarkable. Directly to the north of the hotel, a succession of cross streets glowed as if each held a dawn. The taillights, the coarse blaze of deserted office buildings, the lit storefronts, the orange fuzz of the street lanterns: all this garbage of light had been refined into a radiant atmosphere that rested in a low silver heap over Midtown and introduced to my mind the mad thought that the final twilight was upon New York.

'This is attentive, rich prose' continues Woods, 'about New York in crisis that, refreshingly, is not also prose in crisis: it’s not overwrought or solipsistic or puerile or sentimental, or otherwise straining to be noticed. A steady hand and a good ear are required to dare the paradox of “all this garbage of light,” in which the noticer is both enraptured and faintly alienated, and which accurately tracks the forked European perspective of the novel’s narrator. The eye that sees the “orange fuzz” of the street lights is the eye that, elsewhere in the novel, alights on the “molten progress of the news tickers” in Times Square, the “train-infested underpants” of Hans’s little boy, “a necklace’s gold drool,” “the roving black blooms of four-dollar umbrellas,” and which sees, in one lovely swipe of a sentence, a sunset like this: “The day, a pink smear above America, had all but disappeared.”



But the scene in the subway is an example of a prose that is overwrought - it 'tells' more than it needs; it is solipsistic in that it distrusts the reader: there is something 'off' in the way it addresses us; and, while not puerile, it is sentimental, so pronounced in its intentions that it recalls Salinger's definition, in Franny and Zoey, of sentimentality: it gives a thing more tenderness than God would give it. It is the reverse of the prose sampled from Kenneth Gangemi’s Olt.

Zadie Smith in her NYRB essay acknowledges the fine descriptions that work, but Smith’s essay is worth reading for its wider concerns, and the strong suggestion that Netherland stands for what a literary novel is these days, and that habit, market forces, and, with them, a general lack of adventurousness has made the literary novel formulaic. Netherland may well conform to the present formula: high diction, high concept, well-connected fiction, troubling in its themes, perhaps, but not its handling, formally tuneful but bland, something most of us can hum.

In O’Neill’s novel, the narrator, we are told, is Dutch and speaks English with ‘a clunking lexical precision’. He has to take a driving test to gain a US Licence. I remember my own driving tests – there were more than several – and how I learned to pass only after I was given two pieces of advice; the first was not to fluster, explain or apologise - just sit and drive; and the second was to do so with great deliberation: don’t just look in the mirror, but make a conscious show of looking in the mirror. This sequence feels akin to the writing in Netherland: a conscious and deliberate series of mirror-signal-manoeuvres. I don’t think he fails the test at all. I’m just not quite happy being a passenger, but I am staying for the journey while wanting most to lose myself as I gaze out of the car window and hoping not to have keep attending the driver as he tells me how and why he is changing gear, turning left, slowing down or how we are getting there and how I will feel when I do.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Max Ophuls: Le Plaisir

The former reference to Maupassant had me reeling across to Youtube for a snippet from the opening of the central panel of Max Ophul's portmanteau film, Le Plaisir. The more I watch this film, the more I admire it and think it one of Ophul's very best - and his best is considerable. This is the opening to the central story, 'Mme Tellier's House.' It is without subtitles, but that should not diminish the pleasure. It may increase it. It may concentrate your gaze on the elaborate and hypnotic tracking shot. The opening is a black screen and remains so for awhile before it fades up and commences the tracking shot. Maupassant, well aware of you watching, speaks to you directly, the little people out there in the dark:



Youtube seems not to have any further excerpts from this part of the film or I would include the ecstatic scene in the country church - a whirling example of how grace can reverse gravity - but there are snippets from La Modele, the concluding story, the climax of which still shocks, its coda both bitter and blithe: Ophuls is a much more tender artist than Maupassant.

Maupassant, Flaubert and Kenneth Galgemi

In a review of Maupassant’s Afloat, Graham Robb in The New York Review of Books recounts how Maupassant was well-placed enough in his associations as a younger writer to come under the tutelage of Louis Bouilhet and Gustave Flaubert. Bouilhet was head librarian in Rouen and Flaubert had been a close friend of Maupassant’s late uncle. The two men put the youthful Maupassant through what, Rob suggests, was something of a Creative Writing course. For seven years, Maupassant sent everything he wrote to Flaubert, and, the following Sunday over lunch, the master 'little by little, hammered into me two or three precepts that summed up his long and patient teachings.’ One of these precepts was to be original: 'If you have any originality, you must first dig it out. If you don’t have any, you must get some.' He regularly set Maupassant the task of describing something ordinary and familiar –' a blazing fire or a tree in a plain' – but, to describe it successfully, Maupassant had to search for the ‘unexplored’ element in it. A more detailed account of this writing course is to be found in Robb’s review and, especially, Maupassant’s Preface to his novel, Pierre et Jean.


The tutoring came to an end when Maupassant wrote his first great short story, Boule de Suif. Flaubert considered it a masterpiece, He died three weeks later, and Maupassant helped prepare his body for burial, 'bathing it in eau de Cologne, dressing it in silk underwear and a suit, complete with waistcoat, cravat and skin gloves, and brushing the famous moutache.’


Flaubert encouraged concision, objectivity and the search for the exact word: 'One should never be content with approximation; one should never try to avoid the difficulty by resorting to subterfuge – even if it fools the reader – or to lingustic trickery.' In the description of preparing the body, it is the number of details - the careful accounting of them - the 'silk' underwear, the 'skin gloves' and, especially, the brushing of the famous moustache that evoke Flaubert's lingering presence, Maupassant's tenderness and the debt to be honoured. These are the details that makes a funereal moment blush into life.


Reading my way through Wyatt Mason’s blog, I came across this excerpt from Kenneth Gangemi’s Olt, a brief three sketches, hardly fifty pages in total, by a writer not much noticed, long out of print and deserving of more attention. Mason is particularly adept and tender in his search for such writers.Olt ,’ writes Mason, 'offers very little plot, very little character, and certainly no character development. In its place, we are inside the head of the eponymous Robert Olt, looking at things with him as he walks and sits. His quality of vision defies tedium; a visit to a zoo is a visit to another universe of careful seeing:




During the winter he had watched the macaques turned out to play in the snow. He had watched the keepers take buckets of neat’s-foot oil and long-handled brushes and oil the elephants. They had told him that one of the performing elephants, in order to avoid punishment for mistakes, secretly practiced her act at night.

Olt had seen a bighorn ram mount a small female, forcing her to her knees. He had walked through the Australian collection and seen the kangaroo, boobook, bandicoot, cockatoo, kookaburra, numbat, nardoo, wallaby, wallaroo, and jackeroo. He had gazed with admiration at the furry, black-and-orange scrotum of the Bengal tiger and had wanted to swap.



'Imagistic and spare,' Mason notes, 'Gangemi’s stylistic choices are so restrained as to be almost invisible. Descriptions bubble with emotion nonetheless, owing, I think, to small touches that take plain writing and color it gently: the elephant who avoids punishment through secret work practices “her” act, not “its”–a humanizing gesture. The female ram, described only as “small,” is forced to her knees, but that smallness adds perceptibly to the violence of the act. That black-and-orange scrotum, though, is the most particular Gangemi touch. The seeing of it; the rapid transit of it in Olt’s brain—his wanting to swap his with the tiger’s. I suspect that detail—the sight of it and the thought about it—gains or loses a reader.' Perhaps so – but the passage would have earned a tick from Maupassant’s tutor over Sunday lunch.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Nabokov and Trilling

Until I discover the meaning of a binary file and my site is back on, there's this. What's not to love here? One of the C20 best novelist discussing one of that century's most significant works with one of America's best critics on a 60's TV programme. Here, in two parts, and worth watching. Nabokov reads his answers from index cards. Eventually, you forget to notice until the very end when he suddenly extemporises. Trilling, as civilised as his his own prose, smokes, and the host for CBC, Pierre Berton, wears a bow tie. It's in two parts and even in its day, despite its fussy set that is meant to suggest Berton's own study and the conversation to be had there, it must have seemed offbeat and aimed at the higher brow, or perhaps it was simply unembarrassed by talk - pace BBC2 Culture Show. Its only contemporary equivalent is Clive James' Talking in the Library.



Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Website Still Down so some PS 22 and Viva La Lida

I feel as if I am disappearing from cyberland. My website is down. Apparently I must learn what a binary file is. In the meantime, this sweetness courtesy of Michael Langan - PS22 on youtube singing Viva La Vida - cute as it gets.