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Black Lamb

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Archive for the 'Daniel' Category

Shine on, harvest moon

February 1st, 2014

BY JOHN M. DANIEL

My short stint as a part-time, semi-professional musician began in the early 1980s, when I worked as the manager of Wilbur Hot Springs, a country inn and hot springs resort in Colusa County, Calif. Wilbur Springs was (and still is) twenty-five miles from the nearest town. Wilbur was a wonderful place to live and work, so long as I remembered that it was more a romantic interlude than a lifetime commitment. I worked hard managing the hotel, the hot baths, the grounds, and the cook-it-yourself kitchen. There I learned how to rely on lists and schedules, how to remember the names of thirty or more guests each weekend, how to manage a staff of twelve, and how to cope with weather. The weather in the Wilbur winters consisted of rain and mud. Woodstoves and hot baths. But in the summers Wilbur Hot Springs was a place of hot days and hot nights.

At Wilbur I reconnected with the moon. I learned her phases and welcomed them all. The place used no electricity, so nights were dark on the ground and brilliant in the sky. On moonless night the stars dazzled and danced over our heads. Then as the month marched on, the moon took over, first as a waxing blob already high when the sky turned dark, then growing fuller and fuller, rising later and later, until it was plump and enormous as it rose over the hills in the east as the day wound down. This phenomenon of the rising of the full moon got better each summer month until we approached the autumnal equinox, when the ambient sunlight had dimmed and the moon appeared brighter, bigger, more warm and golden. I still can’t think of this sight without hearing, as a pleasant earworm, the chorus of “Shine on, shine on harvest moon.…”

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: Daniel | Link to this Entry

The lost wonder of Oz

or, Notes for the remake of an American classic

June 1st, 2011

BY JOHN M. DANIEL

It’s a common belief that if you have read the book first, and loved it, you’ll be disappointed by the movie. There are exceptions, of course, but I’ve found I agree with the cliché nearly always.

scarecrow.pngI read L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz before I saw the MGM movie The Wizard of Oz. It was the first book-length book I ever read by myself, and I have reread it many times, at least once for every decade of my life, every time discovering new truths. I have seen the movie several times, too, and I am brave enough to say aloud that every time I’ve seen the movie I’ve been disappointed.

It is not the purpose of this essay to trash one of America’s cherished treasures. Yes, The Wizard of Oz is a wonderful movie, the Wonderful Movie of Oz. Because, because, because, because the music is great; the special effects were stunning for their time and still hold up; the joy and hope expressed were an antidote to the Depression-Era doldrums; and of course there’s Judy Garland, who deserves her tenure in American hagiography. Believe me, I like the movie. But it ain’t the whole truth and nothing but the truth about the Land of Oz, and it falls short of the book.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Book Issue, Books and Authors, Daniel | Link to this Entry

Name dropping in the Bush League

June 1st, 2010

BY JOHN M. DANIEL

My late brother, Neil Daniel, used to enjoy saying, “The last time I saw George Herbert Walker Bush, he was sitting on my toilet, moving his bowels.” (Actually, he said “Poppy Bush,” not the full four-part name, and he had a less formal way of saying “moving his bowels,” too.) Neil was a wit with a sophisticated sense of humor, so it’s curious that he would bring this matter up, and equally curious that it always got a laugh. After all, we’re talking about an act that everyone in the room, presumably, has done more than once. Even future presidents of the United States, future protectors of the Free World.

bushgeorgewh.png(In England, I’m told, the Queen does not go to the bathroom. Parliament passed a law back during the realm of Queen Victoria that the bathroom must come to the Queen.)

I don’t think my brother was simply looking for a cheap laugh; nor was he making a pompous egalitarian statement along the lines of “Everybody poops.” No, Neil was doing some sophisticated name-dropping, downplaying the long-standing close relationship our family had with the Bushes of Kennebunkport.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: Daniel | Link to this Entry

The Case of the Missing Family Tree

March 1st, 2010

BY JOHN M. DANIEL

IN THE AJAX BUILDING

A dame shaped like Centerfold Barbie glided into my office. “Mr. Blank,” she purred in an upper-class English accent, “I’m Josephine Toy. My family has lost its family tree. Can you help us?”

“I know nothing about English trees, Mrs. Toy,” I answered. “Just the ones in northern Minnesota.”

“It’s Miss.” She tossed an envelope onto my desk, then turned to leave. Her jeans were so tight I could read the tattoos on her buttocks: “Right,” “Left,” in that order.

“Those are instructions, Mr. Blank,” she said over her shoulder. “So you can get in touch with me.”

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Crime Issue, Daniel | Link to this Entry

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