Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Things to Worry About

In 1933, writer F. Scott Fitzgerald ended a letter to his 11-year-old daughter Scottie with a list of things to worry about, not worry about, and simply think about. It read as follows:

Things to worry about:

Worry about courage
Worry about cleanliness
Worry about efficiency
Worry about horsemanship

Things not to worry about:

Don’t worry about popular opinion
Don’t worry about dolls
Don’t worry about the past
Don’t worry about the future
Don’t worry about growing up
Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you
Don’t worry about triumph
Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault
Don’t worry about mosquitoes
Don’t worry about flies
Don’t worry about insects in general
Don’t worry about parents
Don’t worry about boys
Don’t worry about disappointments
Don’t worry about pleasures
Don’t worry about satisfactions

Things to think about:

What am I really aiming at?
How good am I really in comparison to my contemporaries in regard to:

(a) Scholarship
(b) Do I really understand about people and am I able to get along with them?
(c) Am I trying to make my body a useful instrument or am I neglecting it?

With dearest love,


From the terrific blog Lists of Note.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

In the Mail

Despite a life-long love for the mail, I don't send or receive too many letters these days. You? I thought not. Puppeteer and sci-fi author, Mary Robinette Kowal has an excellent suggestion for folks like us.

Kowal is challenging all of us to mail at least one item every day for the entire month of February. It can be a postcard, a letter, a picture, a cutting from a newspaper, or a fabric swatch. Additionally, she asks us to promise that we will write back to everyone who writes to us. Participants willing to make a public commitment can enter their names on her ad-hoc website, A Month of Letters, where you can also track your epistolary month via a calendar and request new pen pals - an old and lovely idea which is still somehow clinging to life. Of course, you don't really need a website at all to chat slow and old-school - surprise a friend by dropping a letter in the mail today.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Flicks for the Kids

Winter's dragging on, but the snow holiday is long over. Perfect timing for the annual Children's Film Festival Seattle, starting tonight and running through February 5 at the Northwest Film Forum.

This year's festival boasts as strong a line-up as ever, opening with the Seattle premiere of famed French animator Michel Ocelot's new film "Tales of the Night." The festival also features a music and movie pajama party for ages 3 and older this Friday night, a retrospective of animation from Russia's famed SHAR Studio and Animation School, founded in 1993 by a group of top Russian animators, and of course the awesome Pancake Breakfast this Saturday morning, with short films from around the world. I don't know who's more excited - me or my 3-year old. Full info on the Children's Film Fest right here.

I have no idea if this film, by Argentine illustrator and animator Santiago Grasso, will be in the festival. But it's winning all kinds of awards at recent festivals, I like it, and my kid does too. What else you want? A pancake? Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Václav Havel

By Václav Havel in his 2005 memoir "To the Castle and Back":

I’m running away. I’m running away more and more. I find various excuses to run from my study, downstairs into the kitchen where I tidy up, listen to the radio, wash the dishes, cook a meal, think something over, or simply sit in my old place by the window and stare out…What am I actually afraid of? Hard to say. What’s interesting is that although I am here alone-and will continue to be here alone because no one that I know of has plans to visit – I keep the house tidy; I have everything in its place, everything has to be aligned with everything else, nothing can be left hanging over the edge of a table or be crooked…

I have only one explanation: I am constantly preparing for the last judgment, for the highest court from which nothing can be hidden, which will appreciate everything that should be appreciated, and which will, of course, notice anything that is not in its place. I’m obviously assuming that the supreme judge is a stickler like me. But why does this final evaluation matter so much to me? After all, at that point, I shouldn’t care. But I do care, because I’m convinced that my existence—like everything that has ever happened—has ruffled the surface of Being, and that after my little ripple, however marginal, insignificant and ephemeral it may have been, Being is and always will be different from what it was before.

All my life...I have simply believed that what is once done can never be undone and that, in fact, everything remains forever. In short, Being has a memory. And thus, even my insignificance—as a bourgeois child, a laboratory assistant, a soldier, a stagehand, a playwright, a dissident, a prisoner, a president, a pensioner, a public phenomenon, and a hermit, an alleged hero but secretly a bundle of nerves—will remain here forever, or rather not here, but somewhere. But not, however, elsewhere. Somewhere here.

There's a beautiful remembrance of Havel by Paul Wilson in the recent New York Review of Books.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Astounding. Whether or not you speak Spanish, you must spend some time at the incredible new website for the International Center for the Arts of the Americas. It's a growing treasure trove of remarkable documents tracing the vast history of Latin American and Latino Art. Thousands upon thousands of scanned pages and recovered texts create a massive source of art and criticism from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, and Latino USA. It's a simply monumental digitization project, being created by the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, available free of charge to researchers, teachers, and you and me.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


by Richard Hoffman

What I have given to sorrow,
though I have poured out
all I am again and again,
does not amount to much.

One winter’s snows.
Two loves I could not welcome.
A year of mostly silence.
Another man I might have been.