May 28, 2006
The Frivolous Cake
A couple of years ago, I was just arriving in chapel
Master Moore read for me a most glorious poem entitled
“The Frivolous Cake.” The poem struck me as one
of the most deliciously funny I had ever encountered,
though most of that, I’m sure, was Moore’s
superb delivery. I didn’t remember the name of the
book he was reading, and never thought I would encounter
the poem again. Yet now I have. He was reading
Titus Groan, the first book in the Gormenghast
Trilogy. A friend of mine from work is loaning me the
books. I am finding them ... interesting, shall we say.
The books are unquestionably, undeniably brilliant. The
author, Mervyn Peake, has a command of the English language
one encounters only rarely. However, he has up to this
point in the book (87 pages in) used that power to create
the most grotesque, hideous, wretched imagery I can recall
ever encountering. It’s also quite dense, though
probably not so bad as Charles Williams. The book has been
— until the last few pages — a nightmare. I
read on in hopes that one who can conceive of such phrases
as “stenching cherubs,” “belching
angels,” “creamy faces,” “ghastly
little ineffectual fillets,” etc., can also use that
talent to create something beautiful. I’m continuing
to read on in hope of finding something good (to help wash
away the foul taste of the previous 87 pages).
Maybe this just isn’t my kind of writing. Maybe
I’m simply too unenlightened to appreciate it. Maybe
it’s all rot (though I doubt it).
But regardless, at least I like this poem. I like it
very much, actually.
The Frivolous Cake
A freckled and frivolous cake there was
That sailed on a pointless sea,
Or any lugubrious lake there was
In a manner emphatic and free.
How jointlessly, and how jointlessly
The frivolous cake sailed by
On the waves of the ocean that pointlessly
Threw fish to the lilac sky.
Oh, plenty and plenty of hake there was
Of a glory beyond compare,
And every conceivable make there was,
Was tossed through the lilac air.
Up the smooth billows and over the crests
Of the cumbersome combers flew
The frivolous cake with a knife in the wake
Of herself and her curranty crew.
Like a swordfish grim it would bound and skim
(This dinner knife fierce and blue),
And the frivolous cake was filled to the brim
With the fun of her curranty crew.
Oh, plenty and plenty of hake there was
Of a glory beyond compare—
And every conceivable make there was
Was tossed through the lilac air.
Around the shores of the Elegant Isles
Where the catfish bask and purr
And lick their paws with adhesive smiles
And wriggle their fins of fur,
They fly and fly ’neath the lilac
The frivolous cake, and the knife
Who winketh his glamorous indigo eye
In the wake of his future wife.
The crumbs blow free down the pointless sea
To the beat of a cakey heart
And the sensitive steel of the knife can feel
That love is a race apart.
In the speed of the lingering light are blown
The crumbs to the hake above,
And the tropical air vibrates to the drone
Of a cake in the throes of love.
Peake, Mervyn. Titus Groan.
© 1967, 1968. pp. 85–86
Posted by Leatherwood at 08:58 PM
This post has been classified as "Soliloquy
May 27, 2006
Changes and a Game
I’ve been messing around with the HTML on this
site for the last few hours. The changes I’ve made to
the main page should be mostly invisible, but I’ve
done a lot of revamping of the individual pages. If you
want you can
take a look at an example; I’d appreciate your
feedback on my putting comments in the sidebar instead of
beneath the post. I’ve also added the validation
links, but I’ve discovered that getting the HTML
right for the page is going to be a little tricky ... you
see, the HTML for the comments needs to be correct
as well. So in the future, I may be performing minor
editing of comments (nothing that should be visible) to fix
HTML bugs in them. I’m actually one of the
worst offenders, with my style of putting my comments in
enclosing <p> tags. Moveable Type automatically puts
comments in enclosing <p> tags, and that tag
shouldn’t be nested.
I’m far too lazy to go back and correct every
single comment on this site, so I imagine you’ll find
lots of pages that don’t validate correctly. If you
care and bring them to my attention, I’ll fix them
(or try to). If you don’t care (and I sincerely doubt
that it matters greatly in any situation you might
encounter), then don’t bother.
Now for some happier news: I’ve written a game
that you can try if you’re interested. Yes, I know
it’s rather lame; yes, I know that this game
is way better; but it’s mine. I
wrote it. And I thought it was fun, both
to play and to write.
I found out about the game at work; one of my co-workers
brought it. For lack of better things to do (and because I
actually like this sort of logic game), I played it rather
obsessively over the next few days until I had it solved.
Posted by Leatherwood at 03:55 PM
This post has been classified as "Public Address
May 20, 2006
Ramblings on My Daily Devotions
I can think of no better way to start this post than to
quote from Charlie Jones’ book
If you’re a member of the Evangelical subculture
(conservative brand of Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist,
Bible Church, etc.) then you are well aware of that
sacrosanct ritual called the Quiet Time (QT) or Daily
Devotions (DD). I will be spending a great deal of time
talking about this ritual. I believe that for many
Christians it has become one of the primary stumbling
blocks to exercising true faith.
Most of us have heard numerous talks, sermons, and
bits of advice on the importance of having a daily QT. So
for many of us, the QT has become the lifeline that both
establishes and maintains our Christian life.
Jones, Charlie. Peculiar
Favor. © 2003. pp. 59–60
My “QT” has been a key element of my
Christian life for a long time. Its power is weakening, and
I’m not sure how hard I should try to resist that
trend, or it its hold on me is something I need to let go
of. Musing on that subject (and on the value of the QT in
general) is the purpose of that post.
First, a little necessary background on my Christian
life. I was “saved” at a very young age —
somewhere around the time I was five or six years old. My
parents had a comic-book Bible that did a very good job (as
I remember it) of going through the Bible and telling the
stories by means of comics. I pored over this book for
hours when I was little and could quote large sections of
it verbatim. I wish I could find this Bible again;
I’m sure it would have a whole lot of memories in its
Later (between eight and nine years old, I think) I
started realized that I ought to start reading the
“real Bible,” so I petitioned my parents for
one. My first Bible was a little red Children’s
Bible. I liked the book itself very much; it had a
nice cover and it was very thrilling to hold and think that
this was my very own Bible. I was, however, very
disappointed by the translation; it talked down to me too
much. For the next few years, I slowly worked my way up
through translations, from the Children’s Version to
the NIV to the KJV (very briefly) before finally getting
the version I’d sort of been hankering for all along
— the NASB. I think this version appealed to me most
because it was the version my father read (my mother is a
NKJV partisan) and because it had the word
“American” in the title. I was a very patriotic
(in a rather confused way) boy.
In the interval of upgrading Bibles, when I was eleven,
I had a “Teen’s Study Bible,” a NIV with
a few color pages with wise advice. It had a Bible reading
plan for a year that suggested reading three chapters every
weekday and five on Sunday. I set my mind and determination
on reading the Bible through in a year, straight from
Genesis to Revelation. I actually accomplished it. Ever
since that year, the QT has been a part of my life. I was
never again consistent enough in observing it to make it
through in a year, but I have toured my way through the
book three or four times and have made at least as many
failed starts (generally bogging down in Leviticus or the
At the moment, I’m midway through Job. I have an
HTML file with my daily record extending back a little more
than a year to May 7, 2005. It is a measure of this past
year’s struggle that I was nearly through 1 Samuel
last year. In a year, I have only made it through eight and
a half books. At the present time, it’s been slightly
over two months since I’ve made any progress at all.
I think that’s the longest single break I’ve
had in the last decade.
In rather scary (and possibly enlightening) ways, this
erosion of my QT parallels my depression. As I have been
consistent in observing the ritual, so I have generally
done well in the rest of my life. As I have been
inconsistent, my life has generally had more imperfections
in it. Part of me wants nothing more than to zealously
re-dedicate myself to perfect observation of my QT, and
part of me holds back. This split in myself is a large part
of the whole psychological morass in which I find myself. I
feel deeply shamed by my mistakes, be they massive holes in
my QT observance, missed homework assignments while I was
in school, or wasted days and weeks now. Part of me wants
nothing more than to dedicate myself to fixing my record,
making it spotless again ... something of which I can be
Then another part of me is shamed again by my pride and
perfectionism and speaks against trying to be perfect
again. Another voice speaks, one that is deeply tired of
trying and failing to get things right, trying to be
perfect again. This internal argument has been going on for
years, and I know I’ve written about it before, so
let’s move on.
I’ve always seen my QT as the cornerstone of a
perfect life. If I can just be perfect in that
way, it has been my general observation that everything
else runs smoothly. By “smoothly,” I
mean that I get my homework done, pass my tests, do my
chores, and generally get everything on my internal
“perfect observance” list done. I’ve
spent most of my life in service to this list of things I
ought to do. A few years ago, I started to see this
tendency as something bad in me that needed to be resisted.
To this day, I haven’t yet managed to fully let go of
my desire for a perfect record. I’ve managed to let
go enough to start an internal civil war that’s
thrown me into disarray and uncertainty, but haven’t
managed to finish letting go.
I think a big part of the reason I’ve failed to
let go is that I’m not sure that I ought to
let go ... or even more crucial, that I want to
let go. Can I really let go and lay down the dream of being
perfect? And, if I do, what then do I do with the
rest of my life? If my life isn’t about crossing all
the Ts and dotting all the Is, what
is it about?
It’s not enough to see my drive for perfectionism
as a bad thing and try to stop it ... that’s just
like trying to grab the wheel from the driver and twisting
it sharply in any other direction than the one the driver
is heading for. Do that and you’ll wreck the car (or
the life). You must not only oppose the driver, but you
also need a new direction to go. If I’m not
going to live to be perfect, I need another reason ... and
I think I’m still looking.
Posted by Leatherwood at 11:02 PM
This post has been classified as "Musings
May 17, 2006
Yay! This Page Validates!
I've been tinkering with the HTML on this page for the last little while, trying to make it pass validation tests for XHTML Strict (well, I went for Transitional first and then for Strict). As you can see from the nice shiny new image on the end of the sidebar, I succeeded! Clicking on the image will run w3.org's validation service on this page, so you can keep me honest. :)
One could say that my time would have been better spent writing an entry than fiddling with a few bits that almost all browsers easily compensate for, but I've always had a perfectionist streak in me.
Of course, fixing all my other posts and other pages (like the categories and monthy pages) would be another thing entirely ...
Posted by Leatherwood at 07:22 PM
This post has been classified as "Public Address
May 16, 2006
Visiting for Graduation
I got to go back to LeTourneau a week and a half (already so
long!) ago. I really, really enjoyed it. I’d been away for
nearly a year; Nikki and I left Longview in late May last year
(2005). In that time, I hadn’t exactly pined away for LU; I
missed my friends, certainly, and I certainly wasn’t
overjoyed to have left, but I didn’t really spend much
emotional energy missing it. But going back reminded me of all
the people and places that I knew. Little waves of gladness
lapped at my soul all weekend as I would see something or —
much sweeter — someone I knew and hadn’t
thought about in a long time.
It just struck me that it’s similar to one of the hidden
pleasures of wearing glasses — cleaning them. You see, one
doesn’t really notice one’s world getting steadily
dimmer and dingier as one’s glasses accumulate dust. The
process is too gradual. Yet when one takes them off and cleans
them, the world that greets the eye when they’re replaced
is renewed. Colors are vibrant, people’s faces are clear,
and the whole world looks newly created. In the same way, I
didn’t really realize how much I missed the people I knew
at LU until I returned and saw them again. It was so
good to see you all! You really are a beautiful set of
people — a treasure indeed.
I made it to Jared and Rachel’s wedding, though I
managed to run out of gas en route. My room-mate assured me that
when his gas gauge read “empty” it didn’t
really mean “empty.” I discovered
his gas tank really does have a bottom when his car died
at the intersection of the Loop and Gilmer, about a mile away
from the wedding. I was sitting at the intersection waiting for
the light to turn green when the car died. Just like that —
no sputtering, no fuss. Just died. And refused to restart. I went
“Uh-oh!” After determining that, no, the car would
not start just long enough to get me through the
intersection, I switched on my emergency lights, shifted into
neutral, hopped out of the car when the light turned green, and
pushed with all my might and main. I actually made it across
before the light turned red again (yay!). A policeman on a
motorcycle materialized out of nowhere and helped ward off
traffic so I could steer the car out of the road (I was in the
left-hand lane) and into a parking lot. It is nice to be reminded
that the police can actually be helpful — that
they have a purpose in life beyond catching me speeding.
Fortunately for me, there was a gas station on the other side
of the road from where I turned in. I dashed across the road,
purchased a 2-gallon tank, filled it with gas, dashed back and
poured in it, skinning my knuckles and spilling gasoline all over
my hands as I did so. I had terrible visions of static
electricity setting my hands on fire when I slid into the car, so
I wiped on my hands off on the grass as best I could. I then made
it to the wedding without further mishap at approximately 1:01
(or :02), a minute after the wedding was due to start. After
washing my hands to get the blood and gas off, I saw the
bridesmaids giving Rachel her finishing touches and slid into the
last pew, directly behind Dr. Batts and Dr. Solganick.
The wedding was beautiful. It was more than beautiful ... it
was ... the kind of beauty that cuts to the heart and brings
tears. Watching the bridesmaids and groomsmen walking up to the
music (played most wonderfully by Ziggy) touched something in me.
Rachel and Jared looked genuinely good together. It was a good
wedding ... a very good wedding. I’m so glad I could be
there for it.
There were many other sweet things about being back. My
shutterbug instinct reawakened and I snapped three full rolls of
film between the wedding and graduation. I (sadly and
unfortunately) do not yet have a digital camera, but I hope to be
motivated to scan in some of the best images and post them here
some day soon.
Let’s see ... what else did I get to do. I was able to
sword-fight again, thanks to Miss Tucker and Master Flenner. I
got to talk to my room-mate. I got to eat steak. I got to visit
with some of my professors (very briefly). I got to see the
formula car. I even got to see my cousins in Dallas (missing the
plane back to Bellingham gave me another day I wasn’t
expecting). I got to see Chicken Little (great movie,
I also got to see the SC again. That was very good.
I’ve missed you guys. A lot. And it meant a lot to see that
you were glad to see me as well.
It was good. God bless all of you. Thanks for reading. Sorry
it’s been so long. I hope it won’t be as long before
Posted by Leatherwood at 06:15 PM
This post has been classified as "Autobiography