Watch This Now! “Live From Daryl’s House” Aug23

Watch This Now! “Live From Daryl’s House”...

It probably happened by accident. I couldn’t have known quite how good things could get. My memory of it is this: I happened upon a YouTube tutorial on how to set up an electric guitar given by Joe Walsh. “Setting up” a guitar means servicing it so that it’s ready to play and will perform reliably. I knew this guy. Where’ve I’ve seen him before? He’s some ageing rocker who speaks with a  slight slur. Wasn’t there something about a career of drug abuse and near-death experiences? I think curiosity led me to his performances on a show hosted by Daryl Hall of whom I was only peripherally aware theretofore. He was half of one of the most successful songwriting duos of all time, Hall and Oates, who’ve had a plethora of their own hits and have written for other people too. They did “Out of Touch,” “Maneater,” “Private Eyes” and “Sara Smile.” There is a lot more. It turns out Joe Walsh was in TheEagles for about a decade until the band spit up. He’d had success before that with James Gang and some solo stuff. When The Eagles broke up he spent about fifteen years drinking heavily (vodka) and taking drugs (cocaine). His other vice was Camel Light cigarettes. And here he was in a room with Daryl Hall on YouTube playing songs from his new album like “Wrecking Ball” (a welcome rival to Miley Cyrus) and old ones like “Funk #49” (a must listen for anyone but especially for fans of guitar). It wasn’t all about Joe. Daryl Hall invites people to come and play, some legendary artists and lesser-known ones. They all get in a room and they play. It’s a simple formula but utterly compelling. There’s the talent for...

Manchester United? Jun06

Manchester United?

There’s a lot today about the Manchester bomb. The Irish Times carries front-page photos of two pretty young girls, Saffie Rose Roussos (8) and Georgina Callander (18) who were both murdered by the suspected bomber, twenty-two year-old Salman Ramadan Abedi, “a Manchester-born son of Libyan refugees.” Simon Carswell writes of how Nadia Abdulmalek and Deborah Henley “embraced and cried among a crowd of thousands at Manchester Town Hall at a vigil” even though culturally they are very different. Donald Trump called the bomber a “loser.” Fintan O’Toole writes that “mass murder is easy and the more outrageous it is the easier it gets. Flesh is soft and easily shredded. Lives are fragile and easily shattered. Decency, humanity, compassion are flimsy and precarious. The barriers that separate earth from hell and civilization from barbarism are porous and full of holes…” “Porous and full of holes”? The editorial says that “even by the standards of the decade…[Manchester] was an atrocity of singular, unspeakable cruelty.” (Goggy used to pronounce it “cruelity” with an added syllable.) Britain, it goes on, “must again confront two grim realities: that the threat of indiscriminate atrocities has become a regular feature of daily life in the world’s major cities, and that free societies cannot entirely eliminate that threat without undermining the very freedoms that define them.” I’m reminded of something Solzenitsyn wrote about America, something about why there was so much (or any) joy and triumph. I’m thinking of The Proud Tower too and how more than a century ago the people we now called Islamic terrorists were known as Anarchists and hoped to changed society or undo it altogether with a single deed, one that would initiate a further series of earth-shattering events and a total realignment of forces and structures....

The face of evil? The Rosenberg Executions Jun06

The face of evil? The Rosenberg Executions...

I’m reading the death sentence handed down to Julius and Ethel Rosenberg by Judge Irving Kaufman in April 1951. The Rosenbergs were accused of spying, of passing nuclear secrets to the Russians. The judge argues that, by his own admission, Julius Rosenberg got a better and fairer trial in America than he could have hoped for in Russia. This galls Kaufman who says that “It is to America’s credit that it took the pains and exerted the effort which it did in the trial.” Still, the defendants devoted themselves to “the Russian ideology of denial of God, denial of the sanctity of the individual, and aggression against free men everywhere.” No wonder then that Judge Kaufman considers the crime for which the Rosenbergs are about to be sentenced to death “worse than murder.” After all, as he argues, “Plain deliberate contemplated murder is dwarfed in magnitude by comparison with the crime you have committed.” The charges expand as he speaks, getting so large as to blame the Rosenbergs for the death toll (at that stage 50,000) in the Korean War: “I believe your conduct in putting into the hands of the Russians the A-bomb years before our best scientists predicted Russia would perfect the bomb has already caused, in my opinion, the Communist aggression in Korea.” And it gets worse because “who knows but that millions more of innocent people may pay the price of your treason.”   Julius and Ethel Rosenberg went to the electric chair in June 1953. Before they died they wrote letters to each other, to their children. In one letter Julius wrote to his sons Michael and Robert. To Michael he wrote: “I want to tell you that I am confident in the end we will be set free...

My Feelings About Cheese Mar22

My Feelings About Cheese...

My feelings about cheese aren’t straight-forward and why should they be? Who amongst the general populace, least of all vegans perhaps, could feel utterly secure in eating what is the animal equivalent of breast milk? And yet, despite the fact that cheese is exactly this, it is a most popular food stuff, eaten every day by myriad people and in a dizzying array of forms. One can’t help referencing Borat here where he asks the unsuspecting store attendant “What is this?” The answer of course is “Cheese.” But he keeps on asking anyway despite the iron predictability of the answer. The reason he is able to ask repeatedly without seeming to be too unreasonable is because of how many types of cheese there are. The display must be thirty feet long and there is row upon row of cheese products with different packaging, different applications, different demographics. One can easily imagine that there is the block of cheese for the man or maybe the no-nonsense single adult who likes to wield and knife and who enjoys eating chunks of cheese, to choose his own width of slice you might say. You know there’s going to be the sliced cheese with the robust and rigid and wholly wasteful plastic packaging for the mother of two who hasn’t time to slice the cheese for her little darlings and who can never judge the appropriate width of slice anyway. The sliced cheese is also directed I suspect squarely at the lover of the toasted sandwich. Then there’s the grated cheese, I mean the stuff that’s grated for you. This is for the pizza makers, the hipsters. Very few eat the grated stuff in fistfuls while you can well imagine plenty of people enjoying a slice – whether...

THE DEPLORABLE DAMNATION OF THE MODERN LUNCHEONING MAN by Cian Morey Mar22

THE DEPLORABLE DAMNATION OF THE MODERN LUNCHEONING MAN by Cian Morey...

One of my few solemn and unwavering beliefs is that mankind has never been graced with a greater stroke of genius than The Ham Sandwich. In 200,000 years of – for want of a better word – life, the human race has accomplished nothing approaching the culinary creativity, the artistic acumen or the sheer splendid simplicity of that most cherished foodstuff. It is (in short) the ideal intersection of all the efficiency, economy and ease that modern life necessitates, and the rich, rewarding rapture that fine dining bestows, sprinkled throughout with just a little dash of getting the job done and filling you up damn well for the rest of the good old diem until you get your literal teeth into the next one. Fast, functional and fairly fully flavouricious, It has never once let us down. Woe betide, ladies and gentlemen, were we ever to find ourselves bereft of the good work of The Ham Sandwich, woe betide. Unfortunately, we find ourselves increasingly bereft of the good work of The Ham Sandwich. It must be realised here that the crisis in question has been steadily simmering toward an eruption for years. This is not a sudden, unstoppable catastrophe; this is rather the minimum point of a gradual plunge in global standards that society not only failed to prevent but actively encouraged. Even I allowed this plague to fester under my not-inconsiderable nose for too long without taking notice or action. We are all to blame for the downfall of The Ham Sandwich, and this is a tragic truth up to which we must face if we are to make any vertical progress out of the whacking big hole we’ve so effectively eaten ourselves into. Allow me to illustrate this approaching apocalypse with a...

OUR ANNUS HORRIBILIS: A Few Words On 2016 by Cian Morey Jan01

OUR ANNUS HORRIBILIS: A Few Words On 2016 by Cian Morey...

At last. Rarely if ever will the words “Happy New Year” be uttered with such genuine goodwill as they are now, as the world bids good riddance to 2016. In decades to come, grandchildren will flock to the feet of their fireside elders to lap up the legends of “the year it all went wrong”. Poems will be penned; songs will be sung; the history books of the future will look back on all this, say, “So yeah, that happened” and skip sheepishly on to the next twelve months. 2016 was literally the most hated year of the century. I’m reluctant to talk about this as a sort of detached, omniscient narrator declaring all manner of things like, “Meanwhile in the Cincinnati Zoo, Death was making yet another guerrilla strike”.  This year has had a deeper effect than that on most of us. But I’m also reluctant to get too personal, as too many of us already have. God’s landline isn’t in the Golden Pages (trust me, I’ve looked) and no amount of screaming down the sidebars of Facebook can change a single thing. Maybe a sort of analysis, then. Not a bland police report, not a bloodbath. A case-study, if you will. Who knows? Maybe 2016 can teach us one or two things. Politically, most people would find some way to agree that the last twelve months didn’t exactly cut the proverbial mustard. From our current perspective in our new post-Obama world, it might be hard to remember just how hopeless it all felt back in February’s General Election, when we thought we had seen the worst of it with the prospect of a Gerry Adams-led Ireland. Ha. The latter half of 2016 began with the bloody end of a reasonably steady period...

From Jack to Jack by Jack Kelleher Dec02

From Jack to Jack by Jack Kelleher...

Dear Jack (age 18) I want to be ready to go to college to study business technology. When I am eighteen, technology will be an even bigger part of everyday life than it is now.  When I finish my degree, I want to progress to an M.B.A. Then I would love to venture into the vast open world out there, and set up my company here in Ireland and eventually go global.  I would then become a millionaire. I suspect you may not believe me but you will see. I read a great quote from Eric Thomas: “When you want to succeed as much as you want to breathe then you will be successful.” If I was given a magic wand I would make it much easier and more accessible for people with these so-called learning difficulties to access assistive technology. I do not like to categorise people in such a way; I like to refer to them as people who have a different style of learning. I would also provide courses to help people to use this technology. This will allow people who learn differently to reach their potential. Yes, people might say, “Why don’t you just take away their learning difficulty?” but if we were all the same we would get nowhere in life.   From Jack Kelleher (aged...

Afterword to the First Year Flash Fiction Competition by Cian Morey...

There once was a man called William Cuthbert Faulkner, whose writing was almost as deep and meaningful as his moustache. He was a man who liked to say things as they were, with no frilly bits thrown in to make it sound more interesting. He just smoked a pipe to give himself some much-needed gravitas instead. Faulkner dealt in the simple facts of life. This was one of them: “If a story is in you, it has got to come out.” Now, Faulkner lived way back in the first half of the 20th century when things like meaningful moustaches and pipe-smoking were commonplace. Some might claim that he would be thoroughly out of place today. But his writing is relevant even now, and Coláiste an Spioraid Naoimh’s first Flash Fiction Competition for 1st Years has proven that. When we launched this competition, we knew that there was a story in each and every 1st Year, even if they didn’t know it themselves. Our job, on behalf of the moustachioed Faulkner, was to find away to “get it to come out”. And to our delight, the response to the competition was overwhelming. We received over two dozen excellent submissions in total, all of an exceptionally high quality, across a wonderfully wide range of themes and genres from clowns to inept house burglars, from malicious Weetabix to stranded children. It was a joy and a privilege to read them all, and a great challenge to decide on the three best. In the end, though, the decision was finally made. The three prize-winning stories are available to read on this very website. But it wouldn’t be right to just leave the competition with such an abrupt end as that. At CloudofThink, we encourage both writing and learning. The great thing...

Open Night 2016 Sep22

Open Night 2016

The end of the world The Apocalypse (anonymous) I was walking down an alley at the side road to my school when I saw something, a flashing green light. I walked up to it. It was what looked like a mine bomb. It was labelled “The End of the World”. (Ross McCarthy)   Your dream vacation My dream vacation is to go to Africa so I can see the wildlife and safari parks. (Ryan Durkan) My dream vacation is to go to Hawaii and go to all the beaches, go swimming and go to a hotel. (Kate)   A lie you told and got away with I broke my brush at home and I hid it under the shed and I got away with it for a week. 🙂 Ha. Ha. Ha. (Leah Durkan.) My name is Billy. (Niall)   Describe one of your bad habits and why you secretly get joy out of it Biting my nails (anonymous)   What’s the stupidest thing you used to believe whole-heartedly? I used to believe that I had two imaginary friends called Kevin and Arnold who lived in Mexico. (Luke Cremin) I thought in 3rd class that I had too much homework.  (Brendan Mee)   Explain the off-side rule If you are behind the last defender when the ball is played then you are off-side. (David Byrne)   The glow of success I like this school but more importantly… Messi is the best player in the world. He has won five ‘Ballon d’Ors.’ He is better than Ronaldo. (Troyo Romith)   That snappy reply I never had a chance to say I think golf is stupid; it’s up there with the ‘Ban the Wheel’ campaign!   My hopes for the future A happy life, a good...

This is an essay by Cian Morey Sep03

This is an essay by Cian Morey...

I don’t write essays. I don’t write crosswords in pencil either. “Desperate times” etc. * ‘Mr Morey,’ I hear you ask, ‘why are you so resistant to the idea of “the essay?”’ ‘Ah,’ I reply, ‘I’m glad you asked that, because I was going to answer it for you anyway whether you liked it or not. My reasoning is quite simple – I don’t know what they are.’ ‘But Mr Morey,’ I hear you inquire, ‘how could you have no knowledge of so common a style as “the essay?”’ ‘Ah,’ I suavely reciprocate, ‘it is not that I have no knowledge; it is that I have too much.’ ‘But Mr Morey!’ I hear you tempestuously expostulate. ‘How can there be such a thing as “too much knowledge?” Surely there is no limit to learning!’ ‘Ah,’ I ratiocinatively riposte, ‘that, my eager but obtuse friend, is where you are gravely mistaken.’ Knowledge, you see, is an excellent thing when it builds on previous knowledge. You learn one thing, and then you learn another, and the second adds something to the first. Step by step, your information becomes more advanced. Knowledge is not an excellent thing, however, when it builds beside previous knowledge. If you learn one thing, and then you learn the same thing again in a different way, you have still learned only one thing. Step by step, your information becomes more confused, but no more advanced at all. Consider the way in which I just wrote the words “ask” and “reply” in increasingly elaborate forms. By the time I arrive at “ratiocinatively riposte”, three things have happened to the reader: They are now 100% certain that I am the most linguistically intelligent man alive. They have now learned how to write two ridiculously...

Roger Casement’s Bones Aug09

Roger Casement’s Bones...

It was one of those coincidences that happens to me every so often I think because I like to read. I picked up a copy of The Irish Times (Wednesday August 3rd 2016) and saw an article by Eileen Battersby: “Casement: romantic defender of the oppressed.” I knew a little about the man. He was a colourful figure, although that phrase “colourful figure” troubles me a little now as I write it. I always liked his face for some reason; it was the visage, I liked to imagine, of a man with compassion, a misunderstood man, maybe even a tormented soul. There was his involvement with the Rising of 1916, his gun-running, his subsequent arrest and execution. Hadn’t he delivered one of those masterful speeches while in the maw of destructive justice, akin to Robert Emmet? He’d served, I knew, as some kind of investigative civil servant in areas of the world still considered to be God-forsaken backwaters like Congo. His story read like a Hollywood script: a man going from being one of the Empire’s own to a wretched, traitorous homosexual with a complicated story. Battersby tells us that it’s been a hundred years since his death, “a horrible death.” He was hanged at Pentonville Prison in London at the age of 51 despite several very famous figures intervening on his behalf such as W.B. Yeats and George Bernard Shaw. Battersby predictably enough argues that his homosexuality probably didn’t help his case, being what she calls “a Victorian homosexual.” It’s hard to imagine she’s wrong. One thinks of Oscar Wilde and others who were treated shamefully because of their sexuality. Perhaps it didn’t matter that Casement was a humanitarian who exposed injustices in parts of the world most people at the time as...

Amy Winehouse Jun16

Amy Winehouse

The death of Amy Winehouse in 2011 was tragic of course; there is no “but.” It was tragic in ways that perhaps many people don’t understand. This may be because they weren’t into her music or didn’t follow her career – because those two things are not identical. If Amy showed us anything it is that her music and her public self weren’t the same though they came close to converging upon the release of Back to Black in 2006. Amy’s tragedy was twofold: firstly, it was her descent into what Elton John apparently warned John Mayer about: “the world of bullshit.” Amy was not best suited to it; she was troubled from a young age anyway and I suspect the level of talent on which she operated didn’t render her especially amenable either to what the rest of us know as ordinary life. She said herself she feared fame and defined success not in terms of money or exposure but rather the freedom to record her music as she saw fit. Her fame exploded when her troubled life became more interesting to the public than the music. This perversity is encapsulated perfectly in the song that made her a household name: Rehab. She had finally conformed to the dreaded rock ‘n’roll stereotype: she was skinny and had that “heroin chic” appeal – she looked like a drug addict; she had a destructive relationship with a drug-addicted boyfriend, later husband, Blake Fielder-Civil; she had that so-called “difficult relationship with the press” that people find so alluring; she was over-exposed, on TV all the time, “in the news,” a commodity. Her first manager, Nick Shymansky perceived that a time came when the world wanted a piece of her. He’d seen the signs of her possible self-destruction...

Cian Morey, writer May12

Cian Morey, writer

It’s my privilege to know Cian. He’s 15 but when you’ve got what we like to call “talent” (one word just doesn’t seem to contain adequately that cocktail of qualities, of enviable attributes) age doesn’t matter. Wasn’t it JFK who said that someone’s age should not necessarily factor in our assessment of them. Though we can all hope to attain greater skills and understanding with time, some – the chosen few – have it at a young age and Cian is one of those. He was published recently in “The Irish Times” (Fighting Words supplement, Wednesday, May 11th). The excerpt is from his novel “Aether.” The prose is phenomenal, dense but with a scarily ferocious energy; reading Cian’s description is like being there – no, it is being there. Take this, my favourite bit from his published excerpt: “Sinister figures stalked the alleyways; fallen women flocked in the shadows; intoxicated, boisterous brutes surged in and out of alehouses and gin mills, to stagger or brawl their way across the street. An assortment of buildings pumped an assortment of fumes into the sky from their chimneys. Silhouettes of airships and aircabs floated slowly past the lunar corona.” I know what some might say: they’ll think it’s overwrought, all that alliteration and hyperbole. But it’s like Baz Lurhmann’s movies: it’s wretched, it’s exciting, it’s lurid, it explodes with colour and darkness in equal measure and black is not a colour, technically; I bet Cian could make it so – he’d put the words to it. He’s like a conjurer in that way: “The man clasped a wine glass in his spindly hands, but I noticed that none of its contents had yet met his mouth. He stood quite still, but his eyes roved about expeditiously, settling...

Parisienne scene Apr26

Parisienne scene

No. 1 Rue Auber, 75009 Paris: Entracte Opera opposite the Academie Nationale de Paris. There’s some kind of commotion, a congregation of youths on the steps. I spot a Chinese tourist with one of those awful selfie-sticks, a boy with wide-brimmed black hat, a performing hat, takes it and attempts a photo with the facade behind. Locals walk by and look down at our table and see a breadbasket, a beer, a glass of wine and the little dish of butter and me, writing this, in my little black notebook. A black guy with a silk scarf and blue headphones wears cool sunglasses and saunters past; a mother and daughter hold hands, trailed by their husband, father respectively at a distance of ten feet. A moustachioed man rubs his jaw at the bus stop to our left; a rickshaw pursued by a bicycle; talk of how delicious the bread is; three Asian women cackle in the corner behind us as the food arrives. An old guy comes along to talk with our waiter. The hair on his head is erect, deliberately so – bouffant? – like he’d just come from a bungee jump or maybe he jumped off a high wall and passed through a bucket of hair gel on the way down. A girl passes with tissue shoved up each nostril; another man who looks a lot like Ho Chi Minh passes two Asians who smile at his appearance. One of them has a duck packpack, trying to stand on her boyfriend’s heels as a joke. Because of the tables, pedestrians have to slow as they bunch up in front of us and they take a moment to look at us looking at them. There’s a pink 81 and black 95 bus stop...

2016 Unfinished Business by Graham Harringtom Feb24

2016 Unfinished Business by Graham Harringtom...

The idea that 1916 was a simple blood sacrifice or a romantic and spontaneous uprising by a group of fanatics will be parroted out to no end in the coming months. It doesn’t help that this is a revisionist myth. The reality is the Easter Rising was a product of certain conditions, conditions which the Establishment certainly won’t want admit today. The question must be asked, what makes 1916 different from other uprisings like 1798, 1803, 1867? All showed grand feats of heroism and sacrifice. All failed from a military point of view. However, 1916 stands out because it ignited a series of events afterwards – the rise of Sinn Féin, the 1918 election and the first Dáíl, the Tan War and Civil War. Collectively, these events can justly be called the Irish Revolution. However, it would be ridiculous to say a revolution can be caused by the executions of 16 individuals. 1798, 1867 and others  all had executions  and in their own way inspired other uprisings, but yet they did not lead to revolution. But why? It wasn’t that 1916 stood apart in terms of its egalitarian demands – “cherish all the children of the nation equally” and so on. It could be argued the Fenian Proclamation of 1867 was superior to the 1916 proclamation in terms of its social radicalism, demands for the end of the exploitation of labour, appeals to English workers and so on. The firm reality is that  1916 did not set off a revolution;  rather it was itself an event in a wider revolutionary period, in Ireland and Europe. 1916 could not have happened were it not for the Gaelic Revival which began as far back as the late 1800s. This led to a new-found pride in the...

Enda’s Been Shouting Again Feb22

Enda’s Been Shouting Again...

Recently, Enda Kenny, our Taoiseach, shouted. Loud. Ly. He was, erm…exhorting us, the electorate, (people who can vote) to ensure that Fianna Fail don’t get into power after the next election. They’re the bad guys; you’ve heard the argument by now. Many. Times. Loud. Ly. Don’t do it! said Enda. That would be bad. His shouting. Loud. Ly reminds me of what all teachers are told when they’re training: “Don’t smile til Christmas.” Well Enda hasn’t forgotten that sage advice and now he uses it to run the country, or to win elections: are they the same thing? I don’t know. Do nurses win elections? Or engineers? Teachers do! There are many of them in government: Enda Kenny; Michael Martin; Michael Noonan and lots more. I recall a scene in Blackadder the Third. Edmund, butler to the Prince Regent, is disguised as the Prince Regent; the Prince Regent is dressed as Edmund; Baldrick can’t tell the difference now. Enter Stephen Fry who plays The Duke of Edinburgh. They discuss tactics; Edinburgh is assured of one thing at least – the only way to win a war is “Shout, shout and shout again!” It be may that Enda shouts Loud. Ly because of his teacher training all those years ago. Was he told way back when that you don’t smile til Christmas and shout every so often, Loud. Ly to scare the bejayzus out of them? And who is “them”? Enda seems to think that people fall for that shouting routine; it’s the words, Enda…the words and the speaker. Not the volume. Churchill didn’t shout; he just chose really great words. But Enda ain’t no Churchill I guess. Who in the Dail is? And isn’t that the real issue here? Isn’t this why shouting is...

The National Front by Daniel Dilworth Dec24

The National Front by Daniel Dilworth...

  The past couple of years have seen meteoric rises of the political extremes; we have seen the likes of Syriza (the Greek socialists) ascend to power under Tsipras and more recently a bloc of leftists in Portugal. Simultaneously, the far-right has also gained popularity: many cite the examples of Golden Dawn in Greece, Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, and Nigel Farage’s UKIP in the UK. And amongst these is one of the original “far-right” and “bigoted” and “racist” of all European parties: the infamous Front National in France. The Front National (FN) was founded by Jean-Marie Le Pen in the early 1970s as just another small political party. Influenced by the nationalist Action Française, FN gradually moved to its extremest incarnation. Immigration and racism soon became entwined in party doctrine, FN espoused a France where immigrants from North Africa were to be returned to their native lands and immigration from such areas ended.  For many years, FN remained a minor party, seldom troubling the more mainstream parties in France. Le Pen cut a divisive figure, one who could never realistically ascend to the French presidency, a position he coveted.  In 2011, he stood aside and was replaced at the top by his daughter, Marine. Le Pen Senior remained in the shadows witnessing his daughter change the party’s xenophobic image to a much more republican one whereby the traditional secular values were to be defended first and foremost; the previous racism which had been associated with FN was shed. It hung on, and still does. Earlier this year, Marine Le Pen was involved in a spat with her father over his alleged remarks that the Holocaust was a “detail” of World War Two. Marine wanted a retraction but Jean-Marie refused. In the end daughter had to...

A Beautiful Life Dec14

A Beautiful Life

While at Arles, Van Gogh tore his pants and used them as a canvas. He improvised reed pens and drew on the material. He was aware that he was broken, damaged. Art was a means for him to join the world, to manage. He sat in fields in Arles and painted “A View of Arles with Irises in the Foreground.” What could be simpler? Most of his paintings have similar titles: “Irises;” “Almond Blossom;” “Wheatfield with a Reaper;” “Cypresses and Two Women.” I imagine the silence of his work, the patience and the hope that he’d be okay, at least for today. When inspiration didn’t come so easily he’d ask his brother to send to him copies of paintings by Millet and he’d paint them; one such endeavour is known as “The Sheepshearer, after Millet.” His brother Theo loved him and supported him, perhaps understanding that without his paintings, Vincent would be destroyed. Vincent wrote him letters, articulate and tender, and they are a great example of brotherly love. He ended his life in a village outside Paris. His last painting is called “Tree Roots;” later that day he walked into the countryside and shot himself. Then he walked back and spent the evening talking and smoking with his landlord even though he was in great agony. On July 29 1890, he died in his brother’s arms. He said, “I want to die like this.” The local priest refused to bury him because he was a suicide so they waked him at his little hostel where he had finished 80 paintings in 70 days. One of his last paintings is called “Wheatfield with Crows,” and it depicts a wheatfield and a winding road and of course some crows. But what the title doesn’t advertise is the troubled blue sky – dark, uneven, laden with tears. I wonder if he painting it with the decision to end his life settling on his shattered soul like rain on a campfire. Six months later, Theo died too. Vincent is reputed to have said, “Art is long and life is short.” His life is a beautiful testament to such truth....