Michaelwclark.com

Just my stuff


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what’s your ism?

Image via Tumblr

Image via Tumblr – Click for larger size

Having more fun goofing around with fonts. I’m not sure this one is quite up to Earthpages’ standards. I originally wanted a smart looking woman with a slightly confused, bewildered or exasperated expression. But I couldn’t find a good image along those lines.

This one is okay. Places on a map, as it were…


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Biblical sensuality, 1959 Hollywood style

Solomon and Sheba 1959 via Tumblr

Solomon and Sheba 1959 via Tumblr

Sheba, a great pagan Queen comes to seduce Solomon, the Israelite King, with the intent of his destruction. Turns out she falls for him and vice versa. After many twists and turns, Sheba converts to Judaism and God rules that they each remain in their separate nations. This is loosely based on the Biblical account and other religious commentaries (opinions, arguments) external to the Bible.

It was nice to see Yul Brynner as a young man with hair. And Gina Lollobrigida is enchanting. I love discovering classic actors heard about in childhood but never seen in action. She is fantastic. A major Hollywood sex symbol in the late 50s and early 60s. Apparently Howard Hughes invited her to work in Hollywood earlier on, but she declined, preferring Europe. This may have delayed her career a bit. But I respect her for doing what she wanted, and not being swayed by the eccentric tycoon.

I enjoyed this movie. When historical films are well done, as this one is, it always gets me back to the books. The battle and temple scenes are especially good. Maybe they’re not entirely accurate. I don’t know. I’d have to spend weeks researching that. But overall, the excellent visuals help me to flesh out not just Biblical passages about Solomon but much of the Old Testament… a curious work of power, as Northrop Frye put it.


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The late, great David Bowie’s “‘Tis a Pity She Was a Whore”

Poor David Bowie. I think of him often. Anyone who rises that high and then slowly burns out – artistically, I mean – well, it must be hard. Classical composers generally get better with age. But it aint necessarily so with pop stars. I guess pop music is all wrapped up in the hopes, dreams and angst of youth. So when the star isn’t a youth any more, it gets harder and harder to connect.

Bowie’s final album had a beautiful song, “Lazarus,” which to me seemed heavily influenced by an 80s band called The Cure. Most people who remember rotary dial phones have probably heard “Lazurus.” And if they were listening to pop in the 80s, I think they’d recognize The Cure connection.

But today I want to talk about another song on the final Bowie album, “‘Tis a Pity She Was a Whore.”

I don’t like this song very much. When I first saw the title I thought Bowie was just being rough and crude for the sake of it, like a relic from a different age trying to be cool. After all, today we talk about “sex-workers” and the term “whore” is totally inappropriate and probably illegal to use in public.

Image via Wikipedia

Image via Wikipedia

But on Googling the song I found that, as often happens, there was more to Bowie’s work that I’d realized. Turns out there is an English play from 1629 by John Ford called “‘Tis Pitty Shee’s a Whore.” No doubt this influenced Bowie and I have to apologize to his enduring spirit for having judged out of ignorance!


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The Future is Now

Image via Tumblr

Image via Tumblr

This morning I was reading a book about ancient Roman religion. After I while I wasn’t taking anything in (it’s a pretty dense book) so decided to spark up the computer. I’m on an old computer, my Frankenstein computer. I call it that because it’s actually a combo of two broken computers. I did the operation on Halloween. So I thought it a fitting name, bringing something back to life from the dead, as it were.

Anyhow, I have Photoshop Elements but don’t want to install it on Frankenstein because Adobe tends to pack all sorts of crap/services onto your computer and it’s a hassle getting rid of them, if you can. With only 1.5 gb RAM and a Pentium 4 processor, Frankie hardly runs at all. But it’s just good enough to add text (addtext.com) to this Pixabay photo. Sometimes I like to use different software or do things online because it opens up new possibilities—like this tilted font.


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Just exploring Pixabay – some beautiful material

Image via Tumblr

Image via Tumblr


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Trying to be a good Catholic – I did an experiment, here’s the results

Follow the Star by MC via Flickr

Follow the Star by MC via Flickr

Ever since I converted to Catholicism back in 2001, I found it was a two-sided experience. I had been going through a challenging time after living in India for a couple of years. The West seemed strange, and I learned what they mean by the term, reverse culture shock.

Some people take their hard shell selves with them when they travel. And they return home as if they’d just watched a nice slide show. They know a little more about the world but remain fundamentally unchanged. Not so with me. I was going through a tremendous time of transition. So I was soaking up Indian ways – and vibes – more than most.

I was very open. This openness and sensitivity is a good thing. But I needed something to get me back to my truest self. My core.

Funnily enough, as a former Protestant who never went to church growing up, I found that Catholicism was the path that brought me back to myself. Not just to my Western ego. For me, that’s necessary but secondary. No, I mean my genuine, created self. The one who stands before God in humility and full realization of his human imperfection.

So all fine and dandy, right? I found my spiritual home after years of searching. And I didn’t have to travel miles and miles to exotic lands to feel well. Catholic churches are ubiquitous. In fact, where I live, I tend to rotate among seven, all within about 15 minutes of home. A taste of heaven in 15 minutes. Not bad.

So what’s the problem? Is there a problem?

Well, yes and no.

No, if I keep rotating and don’t get too invested in any single parish. Yes, if I try to be like regular churchgoers.

Image via Tumblr

Image via Tumblr

I’m sure a mean-spirited psychiatrist would have a field day with that. “He cannot settle down in any one parish. He needs to constantly escape to feel anonymous,” etc. etc.

But it’s really not that simple. And I think some people just don’t get why I have to do Catholicism my own way.

It gets back to my sensitivity. In any parish there is good and not so good. There are nice and not so nice people. There are priests who seem en route to heaven and others who might be in for a rude surprise when they die.

And I tend to sense vibes from all of this. Not just the heavenly graces, but also the very real human stuff. It’s always a balancing act. If I frequent one parish too often, there’s a kind of build up of the same stuff. It’s like watching the same movie over and over again. But worse, you’re also picking up the same vibes ad nauseam.

So I rotate.

Sometimes I grow disenchanted or fatigued by the overall Catholic scene. Several times I’ve tried just staying away. But after a week or two, I’m always happy to get back.

It’s a funny thing, similar to a plant needing water, but not too much water. Too much and the plant drowns, just as being dehydrated can kill too. And if you always draw your water from the same well, the same assortment of trace pollutants could build up. So it’s better to draw your water from different wells.

Splash by MC via Flickr

Splash by HC via Flickr

Today I’m feeling slightly over-watered, so to speak, by the same type of water. Last week I did a little experiment. I went to the same parish every day. There were nice things, nice people and nice conversations. But toward the end of the week, the buildup was happening again. The same old vibes, the same old stuff. And the same texture of the Holy Spirit (for me, each parish differs that way too).

I don’t really know why I’m sharing this publicly. For years I’ve kept my private experience to myself or only shared with my intimate friends. But today I confess: I can’t be a perfectly conventional Catholic but at the same time, I can’t be without Catholicism.

Perhaps some of you can relate in your own way, in your own circles.


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I rediscovered some old photo discs…

Image via Tumblr

Image via Tumblr

I used to spend untold hours playing around with 8bf filters. I never really got thaaaat good at it. But I do enjoy fixing pics. This is from a photo disc I bought years ago at FutureShop (defunct Canadian superstore bought out by Best Buy) when Earthpages was just starting out. Soon after, Flickr and other image sources became available, and I forgot all about my old discs.

Some of the pics are a bit dated. But the classic shots are always good.

So looks like I’ll be doing more dumb captions for a while!  :)