Sunday, December 13, 2015

A Review of the Play, Fire on Flaming Roads, Written and Directed by Daniel Hainsworth

Set in wealthy Belle Meade, Fire on Flaming Roads, shows the dark and occasionally comic side of what sometimes happens with those who grow up in affluence and privilege. Four young adults, friends since childhood apparently, hang out on the roof of Jake's house, or rather his parent's house, where they smoke marijuana, drink beer, and pass the time talking about whatever distractions, interruptions, or entertainments have come their way recently. None express any hint of career, education, spiritual, or personal aspirations in life that we can discern.

Jake is an extrovert who reeks of entitlement and arrogance. He is rude and crude. Dylan is Jake's close buddy--a schlemiel of sorts, whose manner of dress is an insult to fashion. Sam is a bit stoic. The lone female, Tony, obviously feels comfortable hanging out with these guys, but she has a little more self-efficacy than they do and is more self-contained.

From the rooftop, off in the distance, they notice a huge fire burning along a highway. Over time, they become more concerned about the fire, and they try and find out some news about it. Dylan expresses the most curiosity, which acts as a foil to Jake's strident apathy about anything to do with the fire or anything in life other than hedonistic pleasures. Ominously, they discover that their portable radio has failed, as well as their cell phones and T.V. The profluence of the play comes from their attempts to deal with the uncertainty, worry, and fear that the fire increasingly evokes in them.

Near the beginning, Tony is reading a book, and she suddenly reads a passage out loud, paraphrasing it in terms of terror, in response to the fuming fire on the road---a sign of an imagination and alert intelligence on her part. Not too surprisingly, she emerges as the conscience of the group. As we might expect from these slackers, most of the conversation consists of short, elemental utterances punctuated with the standard vulgarities. But in mid-play, Tony suddenly delivers a long, articulate, lecture to Dylan saying, among other things, that people will not change unless they become completely destroyed and they have no other choice.

From Jake, we learn enough about his life off from the roof. We learn everything we need to know about Dylan just from seeing him and hearing him talk. The way Tony and Sam carry themselves is excellent, but both characters would benefit from an additional detail or two about them. The build-up of tension with respect to the fire is not quite dramatic enough, but the foreshadowing and the ending worked well. This is the first script from playwright Daniel Hainsworth. It is well-constructed in a dramatic and literary sense, and I am looking forward to his next production.

Company: The Untitled Theatre Collective  / http://untitledtheatreny.wix.com/home

Producer: Carly J. Bauer and the United Theatre Collective

Cast: Matt Giroveanu (Jake),  Shawn Ferrier (Dylan),  Kyle Mumford (Sam), Mary Caitlin Kelly (Tony)

Fire on Flaming Roads: Dec. 10, 11, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20.

Arthur Seelen Theatre -- basement of the Drama Book Shop
250 W. 40th St.; New York, NY 10018

The event is not wheel chair accessible and requires going down a flight of stairs.

Running Time: 1 hour

Tickets:  $12.00 / https://www.eventbrite.com/e/fire-on-flaming-roads-tickets-19150655125

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Naked and Afraid - the Cable T.V. Series

Naked and Afraid: It's not the Garden of Eden! I do think it's an interesting laboratory of human behavior and how men and women get along in relationships. We can all take lessons from it.
After the initial meeting with each other, and exchange of conversation, most of the women do a personality assessment of the guy, relating to how well they expect to get along. The men rarely vocalize a personality assessment of the woman.
Once the stress of having to survive kicks in, almost every contestant, male or female, starts criticizing and complaining about the other about something. To some extent, they are just taking their own stress and victimizing the other with their blaming and condemning. The women are more vocal about it while the men tend to be more outwardly stoic, but each sex feels complaints about the other equally. Instead of blaming the other, each individual would be better off if they focused on what he/she could do to improve the situation. I see little positive communication about needs and wants and comparison of expectations of the self with that of the other.
As in real life, in most cases, the women prioritizes the importance of the relationship, more than the male, as well as managing the emotions in the relationship. On some level, the woman assumes that the importance of the relationship is integral to their joint survival and well-being.
In terms of being able to handle surviving in the jungle, in many ways the women do better than the men. They are more practical and in many cases seem to adjust to circumstances more easily. For the guys that take a more macho or Tarzan type attitude, it does not necessary translate into better survive-ability. The more macho, he-man types that do well, do so because of better survival skills not because they are more macho or physically tougher. Among the guys, having a lot of muscle doesn't seem to help in survive-ability. If anything, it means they need more food and water, which isn't available, which means they suffer more and lose more weight.
Upon completion, the men tend to mostly talk about having improved their physical survival skills. The women mostly talk about improving their confidence, self-esteem, etc., though some women do comment on their physical survive-ability. One women remarked about how this goes on their list of craziest things she ever did.
Often, the woman makes some sort of make-shift clothing to cover her private parts. What's the point, since they're already naked and in the jungle, the guy and camera crew has already seen all her private parts, etc., though there is a camera crew, and one woman did refer to insects attacking her, "unmentionables," as she called it. 
It find it curious that women do this naked in front of a strange man outdoors, plus a camera crew for T.V. and then they claim that they are modest. But now that I think of it, most of the men do try and fashion some sort of covering for themselves down there.
I note that many of the woman have a preference for makeup, though it has no survival value. I do give the women credit for being willing to appear on T.V. covered in dirt and bug bites.
The women do provide complimentary skills to men, in terms of what they think is important both in terms of physical survival and getting along with the other. This is subtle and easy for men to overlook/underrate. This may be me just projecting my own shit, but in most cases I feel the male is overwhelmed by the emotional & relationship outpourings of the woman. In general, we men do not have sufficiently developed skills/brains of that sort. In a few cases, the men are appropriately considerate of the women's needs/wants, but that does not necessarily mean the same male has good survival skills in terms of being able to get food, clothing, and shelter. I conclude that for long term sustainability, survival means not just skill at getting food, clothing, and shelter, but being able to co-exist harmoniously with your partner. In general, men need women, and women need men. We need to stop pointing the finger at one another and need to work harder/smarter at getting along.

The Generation Gap

The Generation Gap: the concept, the phrase, is about as dead as the Nehru Jacket, which I had kind of liked. Of course I had heard of The Game of Thrones, but have never seen an episode. I tend to confuse it with The Hunger Games. I guess I assumed it was some sort of gamer/fantasy/anime thing. Then I found out that my older son was watching it, kind of intensely, and on his laptop of course. He convinced my younger son to start watching it too, and now he's into it. Objectively, that tells me that there is something about the show. And I did accidentally stumble upon a review that said it was rather sophisticated. But strangely, given that both of my sons were into it, any curiosity that I may have about it evaporated, like this was their thing, not mine. I feel that if I were to start watching, it would be as if it was 1969, and my parents suddenly started listening to the Beatles. The other day I asked my older son if he still watched Game of Thrones. He said yes and enthusiastically told me that I ought to watch it too. But I felt like I imagine my parents might have felt in 1969 had I enthusiastically told them that they ought to start listening to Bob Dylan.

Veterans Day

My maternal grandmother Helen V. McGuire, nee Kavanaugh, was in the Marines in WWI.  She was among the second group of women to ever be sworn into the Marine Corp.  She and a girl friend had been on the subway in New York City and read a newspaper advertisement from the Marines saying they wanted to recruit women stenographers, but that so far, no women had passed the qualifying stenography exam. My grandmother and her friend looked at each other and said, "We can pass the test!" They were only the second group of women ever to be inducted into the Marine Corps. A group in Washington D.C. had been inducted earlier. The reason the Marine Corp decided to induct women was that all of the clerical and typing work in the corps was being done by male Marines, and they wanted to free as many men as possible for combat roles. My grandmother said that when she reported to her first assignment, as a typist, it was an amusing juxtaposition to see the big, muscular male Marine she was replacing, hunched over, dwarfing a typewriter, typing with two fingers. My grandmother served as a Private from 1918-1922. Three hundred and five women served in the Marine Corps in WWI.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

George Orwell on the Modern Age

"On April 6, 1940—coincidentally, the same day the first papal plot against Hitler failed—Orwell published an essay containing an insight that could stand as an epitaph for the whole modern age. He recalled a cruel trick he once played on a wasp that was sucking jam on his plate. Orwell cut him in half. The wasp paid no mind, merely went on with his meal, while jam trickled out of his severed esophagus. Only when he tried to fly away did he grasp the dreadful thing that had happened to him. 'It is the same with modern man,' Orwell wrote. 'The thing that has been cut away is his soul.' We’ve sawed off the moral branch on which we sat—divine sanction for absolute ethics—and then we’ve fallen into a cesspool, and we’re surprised. "

-Mark Riebling, author of Church of Spies: The Pope's Secret War Against Hitler.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Vineland, By Thomas Pynchon

Having never read Thomas Pynchon, I read a review of Vineland when it came out in 1990 and bought the hardcover, for twenty dollars plus tax. However I lost interest after I read the first chapter or two.  But for some mysterious reason, the image of the main character, Zoyd, watching T.V. in his living room, with the flickering of light from the T.V. casting shadows on the walls and ceiling stayed with me. Many years later and mysteriously unable to forget that image, it occurred to me that it was a metaphor for Plato's Cave. Perhaps Pynchon was going somewhere with this, that he might have something to say about modern life, and I thought that someday, maybe, I'd give the novel another try. After all, I paid twenty dollars plus tax for the damn book.

Scroll ahead to the fall of 2015. I just tried to read it again. In terms of the use of words, and the construction of sentences, and paragraphs, Pynchon is a master literary craftsmen. But I found the text even more mind-numbing than before, like trying to read wallpaper. I could not get past the first chapter. Giving the narrative every possible benefit of the doubt, every possible chance at redemption, I fingered and shuffled forward, hunting in various places at random, hoping to find some interesting image, character, or slice of narrative, and I came up dry. With mixed feelings of exasperation, failure, and resignation that a scrupulously honest college student might feel after bombing an important final exam, I lowered my nose and tail enough and read the Wikipedia entry on the book, trying to find out why the high-brow literary crowd thinks so much of Pynchon, or at least Vineland, or else, why I shouldn't find a new, more worthy home for this book in the recycle dumpster.

But as Wikipedia explains, the characters in Vineland are former members of California's counterculture of the 1960's, only one generation later, in the of Ronald Reagan's presidency, still living the un-established life.  But even I can see that every character in the book is dysfunctional.  And I'm sorry, if I failed to make the connection that former hippie but still hippie equals psychologically and socially dysfunctional.

Nevertheless, I kept asking myself, where is the literary value here?  And it occurred to me that, at least in the parts I read, not a single character in the book had any hint of an interior life, self awareness or self-knowledge. Each character is living largely from their lizard brain, trying to get through the day merely seeking pleasure and ease while avoiding suffering and pain, in the context of their own specific circumstances. Dear Lord, what a lot of sorry characters.  No wonder I can't relate.  No one aspires to be anything other than a biological blob.

Yet, I felt resolved that Pynchon will not defeat me. I felt determined to climb mount Vineland again--because it's there, of course, but you heard that coming didn't you? I know what to look for this time--I will be hunting for any character with an inner life or self-awareness, and hunting for any shred of a sign that a character has any meaning or purpose in their life.  And when I don't find any such thing, I can look down on Pynchon and the whole narrative, the modern life that it represents, feeling smug and self-righteous about it all.  But cheating again,  I just looked up and read the original New York Times Book Review of Vineland, from December 26, 1989. The critic couldn't make much more sense out of the novel than I.  But what he did see, and I missed, was the alleged humor, that this was supposed to be a zany book.  From Pynchon's perspective, the joke was on me, for not seeing that, but as far as I'm concerned, the character are too pathetic to be funny.

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Search for Meaning and Purpose

"No matter how ruined man and his world may seem to be, and no matter how terrible man's despair may become, as long as he continues to be a man his very humanity continues to tell him that life has a meaning."
...

"Our life, as individual persons and as members of a perplexed and struggling race, provokes us with the evidence that it must have meaning. Part of the meaning still escapes us. Yet our purpose in life is to discover this meaning, and live according to it. We have, therefore, something to live for. The process of living, of growing up, and becoming a person, is precisely the gradually increasing awareness of what that something is. This is a difficult task, for many reasons."

-Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island, p.xi (Prologue).

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Discernment

"This is not the time of expansion but for interiority and recollection." - Fr. Jose Sergio Sanchez, O.A.R. 8/6/2015

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Call to Conversion, by Fr. Jose Medina

http://echoes.thebostonpilot.com/article.asp?ID=174185

"We are not called to bolster the remnants of a society that was once rooted in the Christian experience, but to live it again, and in time, rebuild. Telling people what values to espouse is neither loveable, nor effective. Instead, we are called to live and share a fullness of life openly with everyone, within any circumstance -- whether they are welcoming or not. For this reason, a call to conversion is not a retreat from a hostile environment. In fact, it implies quite the opposite. While some would deem the public witnesses of our brothers and sisters ineffective or naÏve, this is the function of the Church in human history: to continuously testify that the fullness of life can only be achieved in total dependence on the Mystery. After all, as Christians we are not called to defend the Truth as a set of values, but to incarnate it."


































Monday, June 15, 2015

Love, to the Elizabethans

"Love for the Elizabethans was not simply a personal emotion, not simply a personal emotion, or a family tie. It was the glue of the whole universe. The order of society, the coherence of nature, the movements of the heavens themselves were thought of as being sustained by love, or a power analogous to love. God is love according to Saint John. And love, according to Dante, is the power that moves the sun and the stars."

- Peter Saccio, professor of English, Dartmouth, in the context of explaining fairies in Shakespeare, specifically, the role of the spirits (fairies) of love, in the play, A Midsummer Night's Dream. The Elizabethan era was 1558-1603.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Quote Of The Day

"The reason there will be no change is because the people who stand to lose from the change have all the power. And the people who stand to gain from change have none of the power."

- Machiavelli

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Quote of the Day

“In the same way that white absorbs all the colors of the rainbow, so the Gospel encompasses the faith of the prophets, the thirst for salvation in Buddhism, the dynamism of Zarathustra and the humanity of Confucius. In consecrates the best in the ethics of the philosophers of Antiquity and the mysticism of the sages of India. In doing this, Christianity is not a new doctrine, but rather the announcement of a real fact, of an event accomplished on two levels, the terrestrial and the celestial. Happening in one place and time, it transcends temporal limits. All roads lead to it. It is by its light that the past, present, and future are evaluated and judged. Every movement towards the light of communication with God is, even if accomplished unconsciously, a movement towards Christ.”
Fr Alexander Men

Saturday, March 14, 2015

A Sacramental Relationship With Reality

In our last School of Community meeting (Communion and Liberation Movement), our leader, quickly and in passing--I almost missed it--referred to, "A moral relationship with reality rather than a sacramental relationship with reality." And I seized on the latter phrase.

Despite my Catholic education and independent reading, I have always had the most difficult time intellectually comprehending the concept of a Sacrament. It was always taught to us in the most abstract way. However, I realize that at an intuitive level, I have always had a sacramental view of reality, including compared to most other Catholics, though within me the sacramental view has always been in conflict with the moralistic view.

When I read where Luigi Giussani wrote that the Medieval period was the greatest time in human history, it knocked my brain out of joint.  Life in Medieval times was primitive, full of suffering, and filthy. Most people were illiterate. Science and medicine as we know it did not exist. Neither did democracy--the ordinary people were at the mercy of those in power.

But, from Giussani, I have learned that, for medieval man, God was the center of everything. His religious orientation was that relationship was primary, with morality being derived from relationship, the honoring of the relationship. All of reality was positive. Things in themselves were not bad. Actions were judged as good or bad according to the purpose--how you use something, including yourself or other people.

The forces of humanism beginning in the 1300's (the shift from God to man as the center of all things, and from love to success as the most important goal in life) followed by the renaissance (naturalism, nature as the guiding spirit, the most transcendent entity), and then by rationalism (man is not enlightened by the inner light of God but rather his own reason and conscience, without God in the picture) had the effect of disconnecting and distancing man from God and reduced religion to moralism--making morality the point of existence rather than relationship. 

Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz were the modern rationalist philosophers, but the genesis of rationalism was actually Martin Luther before them. As a result, reformational/classical Protestantism has a more highly moral relationship with reality. By contrast, classical Catholicism--medieval man--had a highly Sacramental relationship with reality. Of course, in modern times, despite what the Catholic church teaches theoretically, Catholicism has become highly moralistic in practice, more so in America than Europe, due to the influence of Protestantism.

Descartes is famous for saying, "I think, hence I am" of which a better translation would have been "I have consciousness, hence I am. " An alternative Christian anthropology would be N.T. Wright's, "I am loved, hence I am," or the Biblical, "God made man in his own image and likeness." The subtle difference is that Descartes proclamation is self-referential and self-empowering, while the two Christian ones I just stated refer outside of one's self.  I did not make myself; therefore, something else must have made me.

Luigi Giussani quoting Henri de Lubac quoting Teilhard de Chardin:
Everything in this world, things and events, and human relationships, had for Pere Teilhard a sacramental character. ... For the Christian whose eyes are open, there is nothing in the world that does not make God manifest. Everything in the world can lead to God, the "ultimate point" upon which everything converges: everything and, more particularly in the first place, what constitutes our constant daily portion -- work. And this does not mean only the (humanly speaking) specially privileged work that makes a man feel the he is "making history," ... or, again, makes him feel that he is helping to raise higher the continually growing structure of science. It means all human work without distinction, from the humblest household task to the most spiritual activity. In this order, no instrument is specially favored: God is at the tip of my pen, my pick, my brush, my needle, of my heart and of my thought.
A sacrament is an outward sign of an inner reality (or higher or transcendental reality). To medieval man, the universe was a sacrament, a sign of God. The medieval saint saw God in all things.  I need to think about the sacramental view of reality.  It has the look and feel of corresponding much better to my "I" and to what a human being is, as opposed to the relatively moralistic teaching and environment with which I was raised.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Loving Life

“You don’t really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around – and why his parents will always wave back.” - William D. Tammeus

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Glimmer

“What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” Crowfoot, Blackfoot warrior and orator

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Greatest Generation

I took my parents to breakfast at McDonalds this A.M. We were joined by 3 of my parent's friends, two of whom, besides my father, are military veterans of the WWII period. Collectively, their average age range was mid to late eighties.

I asked one of my father's friends what his father did for a living, and this triggered a series of memories from all of them about growing up during the Great Depression. The detail was priceless; you had to be there. But here's a crude summary:
B's father had owned a hardware store which he lost due to the Depression. After that, his father went to work digging ditches for the WPA (Works Progress Administration).

B2 grew up in Queens in NYC. His father never had steady work from 1931-1940. He had to hustle for day labor jobs for 10 years.

B told me that he saw a picture that someone published that showed what a typical child looked like during the Great Depression. He said the child was dirty, was wearing clothes that people would be ashamed to wear today and that the children had holes (plural!) in their shoes. B said that when he saw the photo, he said, that was me!

B, B2, and my father told about going to the movies during the Depression. A movie ticket was ten cents. One of the advantages of going to the movies was that the theater had air conditioning (residences did not have air conditioning back then). B2 said that after you bought your ticket, they handed you a coca cola as you went in! B said in his town at every showing, the theater had a lottery with the movie stubs and the winner got a new bicycle. He said that used to drool over the prospects of winning a bicycle.

B2 told of asking people at the supermarket to carry their groceries him. For that they would tip him fifteen cents. That covered a movie ticket AND a banana split. He said that in those days, when "you didn't know where your next meal was coming from" and to be able to buy a banana split was just about the greatest treat imaginable. He said the taste was Indescribably good and you made that banana split last as long as possible.

B said the same thing about simply getting an ice cream cone--it was like the greatest thing in the world and you tried to make it last as long as possible.

B and B2 said that during the Depression they grew vegetables for food out of necessity. My father's father's job was driving a truck delivering vegetable to markets in the Bronx, so they never lacked for vegetable. But with my father's family, there were long stretches where the only time they got to eat meat was when a neighbor in the building thought to invited them over for Sunday dinner.

Have you ever seen or eaten a McDonalds biscuit? I wouldn't give you 2 cents for one. For breakfast at McDonalds Mr. B bought himself one biscuit and a cup of coffee. I watched him. With enthusiasm, he cuts the biscuit in half horizontally. Then he methodically puts butter on, then he methodically spreads jelly on top of the butter. And I'm just looking askance at this worthless biscuit while he does this. And then Mr B eats it with all of the the relish of a kid who loves it. And he tells me how great it is.

B and B2 said that during the Great Depression they ate sugar sandwiches, mayonnaise sandwiches, and ketchup sandwiches, all on white bread of course. And they told em that you always bought 2 day old bread because it was a little cheaper.

Before and during the war: My mother had previously told me that if a young man's draft classification was 4F, you would look at them and wonder what was wrong with them. B2 said that none of the girls would have anything to do with a guy that was 4F. B2 had good friend who was classified as 4F who then left home and committed suicide. B2 said that the suicide rate among 4Fs was quite high.

B stressed to me that starting even before the war, once you hit your mid to late teens, the subject of your immediate future weighed on you. You knew you had to register for the draft. You didn't know what your classification would be. You didn't know what branch of the military you would end up in. You didn't where you would be sent. And then once the war started, you started to heard that 5,000 were killed here and 8,000 there, etc. And you were being sent to the same place.

You could enlist ahead of being drafted, which many people did. That gave you only a little more control over what branch you went into but not much.
Incidentally, my father was in the 8th grade and in a movie theater when word swept through the audience that the radio had reported that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. He also said that when war officially declared on Japan, that when school was let out that day students were saying that Japanese planes were circling the Empire State Building.

Mr. B2 told me that when he was at Forrest Hills high school, that all of the gym classes were based on what you had to do in boot camp and basic training. So he said his boot camp was a easy. He went Navy. Most of the Navy guys from NYC were sent to Sampson NY for boot camp. My father was sent there too. I think it was near Utica but am not sure. My father was a multi-sport and all-NYC athlete, so for him boot camp and PT were nothing.

B2 told me that a few years ago he had been talking to an insurance company about some issue with a policy he had. The person serving him was a 26 year old girl. B2 politely asked the girl if he got any kind of discount for being a Veteran. This girl told him that they did not believe in discounts for Veterans. B2 politely told the girl that if it wasn't for people like him that she and everyone else would have been speaking German or Japanese today. B2 said that the girl did not know what he was talking about.

My father told me that one colleague who was a veteran but had not gone overseas told people that my father had not been on Guam in WWII. I assume it was meant as some sort of joke. But someone else, a third person, who heard it took extreme offense and told them that they better watch it. And even in telling it to me today, I could tell that my father was very offended by the slanderous statement from years ago.

B said that whenever anyone talks about "the good old days" the blood in his brain does a rapid boil. He says there was nothing good about the old days. I told B that I took exception to that. I said to him that it built character. He agreed with that.

All of my parents friends stressed that living through the Depression has made them very careful with money. But they all have a scrupulous work ethic which they take for granted.

B went on to say that if it wasn't for the war, and the GI Bill afterwards, none of the 3 veterans at the table would have been able to go to college. He pointed out I and my 6 brothers/sisters were all able to go to college because my father was able to.

The war changed America completely.


Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year's Eve at the Bauer's

Happy New Year to my amazingly diverse and motley crew of friends and family. God put you all in my life for a reason, and God knows what the reason was, all humorous sarcasm intended. New Year's eve crept up on me--I kept thinking it was tomorrow. New Years aspirations which I will certainly fail if, as they say, the past is prologue to the future--never put off until tomorrow what you can do today. And the key to happiness for every married man--do whatever you wife tells you to do, when she tells you. Don't talk to me about diet and exercise. 

Else: My wife cooks a great deal every day, almost always on the stove-top, including frequent stir-fry, very little baking/broiling. She is from Hong Kong after all. When we moved into our house, we had a commercial exhaust system installed over the stove which vents to the outside. Nevertheless, it is common for the smoke alarms to go off when my wife cooks. She likes to cook but doesn't clean. Cleaning the stove has been my purgatory. Between my wife's cooking and my cleaning methods, we destroyed our old stove, more-or-less. Last Saturday, my wife went to Sears and bought a new stove and a new dishwasher which were delivered yesterday. She bought a stove with an all stainless-steel top because we know from experience in the distant past that it is far easier to clean stainless steel. She got up at 05:00 A.M. this morning and started cooking for the New Year's eve party.

The smoke alarms started going off intermittently at about 6:30. I'm used to this. But I was trying to do Rosetta Stone Spanish which the alarms made impossible, and of course it woke our two sons up. Needless to say, the whole house smelled like the kitchen of a Chinese restaurant. We opened the door to the garage to get some fresh air air in which usually helps but not this time. By 07:00 the smoke alarms were going non-stop. From bed, my oldest son yelled, "What in the hell is going on!" and then kept repeating that about every two minuets. 

I remembered that the smoke alarms were all on a single circuit breaker, and so I went in the garage and after moving a bicycle, a rake, and a rototiller out of the way to get to the the circuit breaker box, I shut the breaker off, except that I accidentally threw the main circuit breaker for the house, after which my younger son, possessive of an excessive sense of entitlement, who had been playing a video game, then complained that I should have given advance warning about shutting the power off. My explanation that it was an accident didn't mollify him, but it did quiet the smoke alarms. I had previously removed the backup batteries and have procrastinated in replacing them. My wife's explanation for the smoke alarm aural torture was that the new stove is more powerful than the old, and I certainly hope it is. 

But my younger son, ever analytical, came downstairs and appraised the situation. He observed that the new stove is deeper horizontally than our old stove and that the front burners are not completely under the range hood. I tell my wife the obvious which is to use the back burners.

All of this was mixed in with illogical conversations between my wife and myself about who is going to pick up who and when, for going to the New Year's eve party. I explained to my wife what the optimal transportation plan for the day was, at which time she says no and explains to me what the plan will be, to which I respond that she is saying the exact same thing which I was saying to her, to which she replies yes and no. 

As soon as my wife was done cooking and the stove top cooled, I took a sponge and some paper towels and cleaned the entire stove top, making it look like new again. I will do this every single day. I don't need to make a New Year's resolution for this. My wife cooked six dishes this morning, five of which are for the New Year's eve party, before she left for work at 8:45 A.M.