Thursday, June 24

San Juan tragedy

Today I was going to continue the previous post on personal recollections of la vispera de San Juan (Saint John's Eve), but tragic events in Castelldefels, a town on the outskirts of Barcelona, have erased that idea. Last night at 11:30 pm a trainload of teenagers and youngsters got off at the station on their way to the San Juan bonfire and festivities. Apparently, on seeing the crowded pedestrian passageway under the tracks a large group of them imprudently decided to cross over the tracks, where many of them were hit by a speeding train. At last count there were a dozen dead and many injured.

Obviously, I haven't the heart to continue a piece on the romantic magic of this night. Nor can I find words to offer the family and friends of those poor young souls. When all else fails, I curl up in the lap of a soulful song. I leave you with Abbey Lincoln...

Wednesday, June 23

San Juan

Bonfire for San Juan. Click for source.
Although the summer solstice officially came two days ago, in Spain it is today, June 23rd, la vispera de San Juan, Saint John’s Eve, that brings the most magical night of summer. The rich variety of local traditions, rituals and myths associated with this night are too many to describe or even number. The morning dew has mystical properties for health and love, herbs gathered in the morning have romantic and curative powers beyond expression, rose petals spread on a young girl’s pillow or left floating in her wash basin at night will, in the morning, reveal the face of her future love … there are countless such beliefs, each region and town seem to have their own.

And there is fire everywhere. All over Spain people carry torches to downtown city plazas, yards, hilltops, town squares, farm fields, pastures and beaches to light huge bonfires at midnight. The deepest part of the night will largely be spent cavorting about around those flames, with much drinking and dancing, and, then, when the blaze dies down to a manageable height, the boldest and/or most foolhardy will engage in the celebratory leaping over the bonfire, an ancient rite of purification, courage and consecration.

My initial contact with this festivity came on my very first day and night in Spain as a child (not counting a visit at the age of three from which I have photos but no conscious memories). One afternoon in June 1968, at the tender age of 11, my parents took me to JFK airport in New York City to begin what they had promised me would be the most remarkable and wonderful of adventures, a trip to Spain, where I would meet and spend the entire summer with my grandmother, aunts and uncles and a dozen or so cousins at the family farm in Asturias. An exciting plan, but not without tears and nervousness for child and parents alike. It was my first time away from home by myself; I was determined to “be a man”, but still … And my parents were convinced it would be a great experience, but yet …

Everything about the flight and my arrival in Madrid the next morning is now a soft gentle blur. As I was a young boy travelling by myself, I was well looked after by kindly stewardesses on the overnight flight. At the airport one of them escorted me to the passport control point, where an unsmiling immigration officer stamped my passport and released me to be examined by a wall of faces pressed up against a huge plate glass window, each one straining to spot someone who was not me. I walked through the doors and suddenly someone stepped forward from out of the strange chattering faces, picked me up high in the air and twirled me around a couple of times before locking me into a big rowdy hug. This is perhaps the only moment I recall being truly scared: hoping against hope that the big shadow stranger was family, looking down at him to try to make out if he was friend or foe, whether he was to be hero or monster in my story. When I saw great blue eyes gushing tears down a laughing face, I knew I had just met my tío (uncle) Javier. “Larry! Larry! Larry! Larry!” he shouted over and over and over again.

Tío Javier whisked me to his apartment in downtown Madrid to meet my aunt, tía Ana, and my six cousins, Barbara, Helena, Alejandra, Javier, Cristina and Joaquín. We exchanged our shy introductions and then all of us went off to the neighborhood church to give thanks, except my tía Ana, who was busy packing the car for the trip up to Asturias. Yes, the all-night cross-Atlantic flight was to be quickly followed, except for the quick visit to the church, by a tumultuous all day drive up north.

I will not give the details on the car trip. Most of it is a pleasant fog for me now. But if you have seen classic Italian films, you can probably imagine what it was like to have nine of us packed in the car, plus the big mangy family dog, and all of our bags for the entire summer. I ask that you please suspend disbelief briefly; it won’t do you much good here. Air conditioning and leg and tush room would have been nice, but disbelief was out of place and of no use whatsoever.

The three hundred plus mile journey must have taken us over 10 hours or so in the scorching summer heat. There were not many highways back then in Spain, so it was slow going. Not that the car could have managed to go very fast with the load it was carrying anyway. There were some stops along small rivers, and I remember eating my first Spanish tortilla next to one in the welcome slender shade of a cypress tree somewhere on the endless flatlands of the Spanish meseta near Tordesillas. Later, as we neared Asturias, we had to wind up and over the magnificent mountain range between León and Asturias, with its lush green landscape and cool reprieve from the summer heat of the central plateau.

By the time we arrived at my grandmother’s farm it was getting dark. As we pulled in through the gate, I saw a couple of men throwing branches on a big pile of wood in the middle of a pasture under the watchful eye of an old grey donkey. Perhaps seeing my puzzlement, tío Javier simply explained “es San Juan”, and told me, as well as I could understand in my very meager Spanish, that Saint John’s day was tomorrow, and something about a fire. A big fire...

I’ll stop here and continue tomorrow. It is nearing midnight. I have to go pick up María from work at the hospital and then we have an appointment with a bonfire ...



San Juan bonfire, before and after being torched in Caravia, Asturias (source of photo here)

Qwerty blues

From Garrison Keillor's The Writer's Almanac for June 23rd:

"It was on this day in 1868 that the typewriter was patented, by Christopher Sholes in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There had been typewriters before, but they weren't very practical — it took longer to type a letter than to write it by hand. In 1873, he sold the patent to the Remington Arms Co., and they brought out the Remington Model 1 in 1874."

QWERT blues
Why you I owe?
Why you I owe?
Stare and flail as I may,
that’s what my typewriter keeps
asking me:
Y - U - I - O ?
© Lorenzo — Alchemist’s Pillow



Tuesday, June 22

Silence of the universe ...


God is the silence of the universe and man is the cry that gives meaning to that silence
Jose Saramago (16 November 1922 – 18 June 2010)

The mortal remains of José Saramago were cremated this weekend, with part of the ashes to be spread at his birthplace in Azinhaga, Portugal, as well as in Lanzarote, Spain, his home for much of the last two decades. The geographic, historical and linguistic affinities between the two Iberian neighbors helped make Saramago a very celebrated and beloved figure here in Spain.


His works are not as widely read in the English-speaking world. I can think of no better introduction to José Saramago and his world than the talk he delivered on December 7, 1998 when he was honored with the Nobel Prize for Literature. Below I am inserting the first paragraph of the Nobel lecture, entitled How Characters Became the Masters and the Author Their Apprentice, followed by a link to the Nobel Prize organization website where you can read the rest.

In this extraordinary passage he evokes the memory of the person he describes as the wisest man he ever met, an illiterate swineherd and storyteller, his grandfather, a man so enamored of the beauty of this world, that when he felt death approaching, he went out to say goodbye to the trees in his yard, "one by one, embracing them and crying because he knew he wouldn't see them again".
The wisest man I ever knew in my whole life could not read or write. At four o'clock in the morning, when the promise of a new day still lingered over French lands, he got up from his pallet and left for the fields, taking to pasture the half-dozen pigs whose fertility nourished him and his wife. My mother's parents lived on this scarcity, on the small breeding of pigs that after weaning were sold to the neighbours in our village of Azinhaga in the province of Ribatejo. Their names were Jerónimo Meirinho and Josefa Caixinha and they were both illiterate. In winter when the cold of the night grew to the point of freezing the water in the pots inside the house, they went to the sty and fetched the weaklings among the piglets, taking them to their bed. Under the coarse blankets, the warmth from the humans saved the little animals from freezing and rescued them from certain death. Although the two were kindly people, it was not a compassionate soul that prompted them to act in that way: what concerned them, without sentimentalism or rhetoric, was to protect their daily bread, as is natural for people who, to maintain their life, have not learnt to think more than is needful. Many times I helped my grandfather Jerónimo in his swineherd's labour, many times I dug the land in the vegetable garden adjoining the house, and I chopped wood for the fire, many times, turning and turning the big iron wheel which worked the water pump. I pumped water from the community well and carried it on my shoulders. Many times, in secret, dodging from the men guarding the cornfields, I went with my grandmother, also at dawn, armed with rakes, sacking and cord, to glean the stubble, the loose straw that would then serve as litter for the livestock. And sometimes, on hot summer nights, after supper, my grandfather would tell me: "José, tonight we're going to sleep, both of us, under the fig tree". There were two other fig trees, but that one, certainly because it was the biggest, because it was the oldest, and timeless, was, for everybody in the house, the fig tree. More or less by antonomasia, an erudite word that I met only many years after and learned the meaning of... Amongst the peace of the night, amongst the tree's high branches a star appeared to me and then slowly hid behind a leaf while, turning my gaze in another direction I saw rising into view like a river flowing silent through the hollow sky, the opal clarity of the Milky Way, the Road to Santiago as we still used to call it in the village. With sleep delayed, night was peopled with the stories and the cases my grandfather told and told: legends, apparitions, terrors, unique episodes, old deaths, scuffles with sticks and stones, the words of our forefathers, an untiring rumour of memories that would keep me awake while at the same time gently lulling me. I could never know if he was silent when he realised that I had fallen asleep or if he kept on talking so as not to leave half-unanswered the question I invariably asked into the most delayed pauses he placed on purpose within the account: "And what happened next?" Maybe he repeated the stories for himself, so as not to forget them, or else to enrich them with new detail. At that age and as we all do at some time, needless to say, I imagined my grandfather Jerónimo was master of all the knowledge in the world. When at first light the singing of birds woke me up, he was not there any longer, had gone to the field with his animals, letting me sleep on. Then I would get up, fold the coarse blanket and barefoot — in the village I always walked barefoot till I was fourteen — and with straws still stuck in my hair, I went from the cultivated part of the yard to the other part, where the sties were, by the house. My grandmother, already afoot before my grandfather, set in front of me a big bowl of coffee with pieces of bread in and asked me if I had slept well. If I told her some bad dream, born of my grandfather's stories, she always reassured me: "Don't make much of it, in dreams there's nothing solid". At the time I thought, though my grandmother was also a very wise woman, she couldn't rise to the heights grandfather could, a man who, lying under a fig tree, having at his side José his grandson, could set the universe in motion just with a couple of words. It was only many years after, when my grandfather had departed from this world and I was a grown man, I finally came to realise that my grandmother, after all, also believed in dreams. There could have been no other reason why, sitting one evening at the door of her cottage where she now lived alone, staring at the biggest and smallest stars overhead, she said these words: "The world is so beautiful and it is such a pity that I have to die". She didn't say she was afraid of dying, but that it was a pity to die, as if her hard life of unrelenting work was, in that almost final moment, receiving the grace of a supreme and last farewell, the consolation of beauty revealed. She was sitting at the door of a house like none other I can imagine in all the world, because in it lived people who could sleep with piglets as if they were their own children, people who were sorry to leave life just because the world was beautiful; and this Jerónimo, my grandfather, swineherd and story-teller, feeling death about to arrive and take him, went and said goodbye to the trees in the yard, one by one, embracing them and crying because he knew he wouldn't see them again.
From this evocative climb up his genealogical tree, Saramago goes on to gently shake out the leading characters of his works to describe how much he learned from them. In the rest of the Nobel lecture, he gives a moving tribute to those characters, the masters who apprenticed him, and concludes by saying that he only "wished to be the echo of the conjoined voices of my characters. I don't have, as it were, more voice than the voices they had. Forgive me if what has seemed little to you, to me is all".

Hopefully this will provide a glimpse of what made so many millions cherish José Saramago for his imagination, warmth, humor, irony and compassion. To see the rest of his Nobel lecture, click here. The English translation is by Tim Crosfield and Fernando Rodrigues (©THE NOBEL FOUNDATION 1998).

Adeus, maestro. Obrigadinho.

Saturday, June 19

Moon wax sonata

Photo: © John Parminter at 1x.com

Moon wax sonnet
One night I saw the bay undress the moon.
In gratitude she lit a candle shell,
And oozed her wax on choppy water dunes
That murmured songs for midnight’s breeze to quell.

The thrashing bass could splash no song as he
Convulsed and gasped, marooned on the puddled pier.
With eyes and gills agape, his dying plea:
“Return me now, my water sleeps so near”.

My heedless hand gave no release and, then,
no ripples troubled the moon’s reflecting pool.
I left him waxed in wood, went home again;
A child I was, unlearnt the golden rule.

New morning’s empty pier, my mercy to mull.
A moistened feather! Resurrected gull.
© Lorenzo — Alchemist’s Pillow

Photo: © luis filipe franco at 1x.com

Thursday, June 17

Later?

– Tickle me!
– Not now, hurry up.
– Come on mom, tickle me.
– Not here. Later.
– Now, mom. Tiiiiickle me!
– Jimmy, not now, please. Faster, there's the door.

         – Excuse me, ma’am, the oncology children’s wing is by appointment only.
         – Yes, we have an appointment, thank you.

– Tickle me.
– No! Hurry.
– Why? Are we late?
– No. Not yet.

This piece is for '55 Flash Fiction Friday' and I wish it was fiction. The idea is to tell a story in 55 words. To try one yourself and/or read others go see g-man.

Monday, June 14

Making a rainstick ...

Rain curtain — Paolo Guidici

Instructions for making a rainstick
When your hidden joy
plumps and swells
purple,
unbearable,
let the wind tickle her tiny feet
and the unicorn cloud
breeze her away.


With your baby teeth
hollow out your gourd
from the heart out,
until you are as empty
as the moon
when she smiles on
the sea and jousts
with the bobbing masts
of wandering ships.



Sweep the floor of your echoless tabernacle
with royal feathers plucked from peacocks.
Dry the bleeding walls of your vessel with a shroud
made of fleece shorn from blind goats.

You are ready now.

Fill your earth top with pebbles and beads,
grains of rice, beans and pumpkin seeds,
leave your sky bottom whistling
clear and clean and cold,
so when the shudder laugh
rolls through you,
tumbles and upends you
in the murmuring wave,
the rains will come at last,
at long last
the rain will come.
© Lorenzo — Alchemist’s Pillow
for Ruth and Terresa … (just because)
Or simply try the following ...



This poem is taking a ride on the Poetry Bus, which this week has been driven by Jeanne Iris. Click on her name to see what other poetry bus riders have done. Jeanne has asked participants to include an audio of us reading our poems; mine is below. This is the first time I do this, so there have been some technical glitches and the audio quality is not good. I'll either think about getting a better microphone or putting an early end to my recording career...


video

Sunday, June 13

Poetry Flash: Mary Oliver to work as commentator on 2010 World Cup

Mary Oliver. Summer, 1964.
Photo by Molly Malone Cook,
from Our World (Beacon Press, 2007)
The 2010 World Cup has now begun, which means that football will be the overriding obsession of just about the entire world outside the USA (where the sport is known as soccer). Here in Spain is certainly no different and, although I am not a huge football fan (I would just as soon be out riding my bike than watching any sports event on the tube), I do feel compelled to post something on the great competition that will unfold over the course of this month and be followed by billions.

So I am very pleased to announce that the alchemist’s pillow, with the invaluable support of the Lannan Foundation, has convinced Mary Oliver to give her views on the world’s most important sports competition. I am embedding a video of Oliver’s unique insights into such pressing issues as whether Fabio Capello’s defensive-minded style of play is best suited for the England team, some curious views on why Lionel Messi has so far failed to uncork the same type of scintillating scoring runs with the Argentina side as he does with the Barcelona football club, and much, much more.

A double warning, however. First, the video is longer than anything previously posted here (around 45 minutes), so some may find it overlong. I trust, however, that the real football lovers will probably find it too short! But just in case, if you prefer to see it some other time, I am including a link here so you can visit the site and watch (or download) it at your leisure.

The second warning: you will find that Mary Oliver has not completely jettisoned the baggage she carries from her previous work as a poetess. So her discussion of the World Cup is rather tangential and elliptical, with oblique references at best. Rather than a cut and dry discussion of team strengths, weaknesses and tactics, she uses a somewhat more lyrical approach, cleverly couching her analysis in metaphors … you know, wild geese, swans and roses, roses, roses, roses … that kind of thing.

But I am sure the sophisticated football cognoscenti amongst you will see through this pesky but curious poetic patina and gain much from her commentary. And as for those of you who neither follow nor give a hang about football —Ah, you hapless, laughable souls, I do so love you anyway— you may enjoy the video nonetheless. Some of my 'poety' friend who know and care much about such matters say her words stand up fairly well on their own as poetry, even if you don’t catch the subtle sports references.



The Lannan Foundation has may other podcasts of poets reading their works. Click here to browse their list of videos of Grace Paley, Robert Creeley, Octavia Paz, Czeslaw Milosz and many others.

Thursday, June 10

The darndest things, in the darndest places — Flash 55

Green Thumbs and Gardens shop, overheard on checkout line
– I know! I know, mommy!
– What do you know, honey?
– Next time ya’ find one of ‘dem lice bugs in my hair, instead of drowning ‘em dead down the toilet, let’s feed it to the man-eater plant!!
– Ssssssh.
– Can I? Please? Can I?!
– Shut up, sweeeeetie.
This is a flash fiction piece for '55 Flash Fiction Friday' (sort of, it is actually not fiction). The idea is to tell a story in exactly 55 words. To try one yourself and read others, go see g-man.

Tuesday, June 8

Rumi antz for ruminants ...

As you may have noticed on the pillow's sidebar, I have added a permanent link to Rumi Days, the blog skippered by dear blog friend Ruth (see her main blog synch-ro-ni-zing), dedicated to daily excerpts from Coleman Barks's translations of Rumi (A Year With Rumi: Daily Readings, published by HarperOne, in the photo). Ruth deftly pairs the excerpts with images from her own exquisite collection of photographs (the photo in the sidebar is hers).

I know many of you are familiar with the 13th century Sufi mystic Jallaludin Rumi; in fact, he is now said to be the best-selling poet in America today. I, on the other hand, became aware of the Persian poet and philosopher only recently. Very recently. Yes, if "ignorance is bliss", then I can truly be said to be obeying Joseph Campbell's dictum "follow your bliss".

I think my first exposure to Rumi came a few short months ago when I started following Steven's always enriching blog, the golden fish, where the poet makes regular appearances, a perfect companion for the tender eye Steven gracefully brings to his poetic walks and rides through nature and the world of art. And a couple of weeks ago I began to read Ruth's daily dose of reverie from Rumi. I am delighted with the readings and wanted to share the experience and link with you here.

Some choice twigs and leaves from this tree that Ruth waters daily:

March 13th
Friends, we are traveling together.
Throw off your tiredness. Let me show you
one tiny spot of the beauty that cannot be spoken.
I am like an ant that has gotten into the granary,
ludicrously happy, and trying to lug out
a grain that is way too big.

Photo by Ruth Mowry

April 14th
One flake from the wall of a goldmine
does not give much idea
what it is like

when the sun shines in
and turns the air
and the workers golden

Coleman Barks

April 27th
One of the marvels of the world
is the sight of a soul sitting in prison
with the key in its hand.

Covered with dust,
with a cleansing waterfall an inch away.

A young man rolls from side to side,
though the bed is comfortable
and a pillow holds his head.

He has a living master, yet he wants more,
and there is more.

If a prisoner had not lived outside,
he would not detest the dungeon.

Desiring knows there is a satisfaction
beyond this. Straying maps the path.

A secret freedom opens
through a crevice you can barely see.

The awareness a wine drinker wants
cannot be tasted in wine, but that failure
brings his deep thirst closer.

Rumi from Library of Congress
There are so many others I could cite, but you can go see Rumi Days for more if you like. The image of the ant, 'ludicrously happy' as it tries to lug a grain that is too big, and the observation 'straying maps the path' have stayed in my mind since I first read them, richly capturing much of what I feel and find in my daily wanderings and wonderings. So I am grateful to Ruth and Steven's blogs for introducing me to Rumi. I am not sure how I failed to come across that trail earlier, but perhaps in life there are paths that go unnoticed until we are finally ready to explore them.

From Slate
So in the fond hope that I am, indeed, ready to stray down that path, ludicrously happy as I lug my grain, I will continue my ramblings with Rumi as guide. As one guide, that is. The truth is that there are others who also accompany me. I have lately come to think that I go through life with Rumi perched on one shoulder and Woody Allen on the other. Yes, the ecstatic eye whispering into one ear and the snickering spleen giggling into the other. But what does this mean to go through life with Rumi as one antenna and Woody as the other? Well, beside putting a fatal flaw in any notion of becoming a competitive cyclist, it gives me an odd sense of direction. It basically means I can feel enraptured by the intoxicating marvels I find in the garden of my life, but I am quick to laugh at my own comical interaction with them. I sneeze.

Hopefully by knowing how my peculiar internal navigation system is put together, it will be easier for you to bear with me. Yes, I still heed Mr. Campbell's call to "follow your bliss", but I know full well that I would not know what to do if I were ever to find bliss. Reverie, rapture, bliss ...  such lovely words, such enticing states of the eye and soul, but for how long? Eternity, presumably. Puh-leaze, I'm not sure I could do more than 10 minutes. I enjoy meditative cud-chewing as much as anyone, but end up biting my own tongue all too soon. Anguish I can do, nirvana I would find trying. And it would not be long before the pesky jester would be poking his finger into the ribs of the venerable shaman. Mystics may light my way, but the shadow I cast will inevitably be that of the clown. So be it. Maybe they are not all that incompatible. Perhaps I carry in me both the wistful dreamer Don Quijote, tilting and flailing at windmills, and his sceptical sidekick, Sancho Panza.

Don Quijote and Sancho Panza
by Pablo Picasso
So how to follow my bliss and maintain a healthy scepticism that does not fester into cynicism? How to strive for enlightenment without wandering into the vaporous mists of self-absorbed prattle or letting the jokester become too obnoxious? I really don't know, but I will have Rumi and Woody, Don Quijote and Sancho as my guides and fellow travellers. All I know is that for all its comical senselessness, I am so enjoying the journey and I would not give up any one of these companions.

And when it all must end, when the grim reaper comes to challenge me to a game of chess, as in Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal, I will probably try to convince him to make it checkers instead. Or hopscotch, so in a distracted moment I can sneak back into the granary for one more ludicrously overlarge grain.

The Seventh Seal

Saturday, June 5

In my garden — magpie tales 17

willow's photo prompt
for magpie tales 17
When memory elopes on feathered wings, there is no such thing as an empty nest ...

Tonight
my daughters sing
soft cinquains in the wind,
while watered gardens whisper prayers
to stone.

To see what other participants have written in response to this week's prompt, click on the photo caption. This cinquain was gently inspired by willow's moving "lamb chop" poem, featured in my "Caught our eye" sidebar.

Friday, June 4

Wear white shirts

I was going to post a strait jacket, but it was in use
Today I begin an intermittent series of memorable quotes and forgettable corollaries, where I pair a famous pearl of wisdom from some luminary of the worlds of art, literature, philosophy or music with my own personal interpretation.

Madness is the first sign of dandruff
— by Dr. Winston O' Boogie (aka Nonnel Nhoj)

"Wear white shirts"
— Lorenzo






This week's Theme Thursday writing prompt was "white". Go visit the bleacher seats at other Theme Thursday participants by clicking here.

Thursday, June 3

Walk-in closet — 55 flash fiction Friday

King of Bees — © Rizal Adi Dharma
A traditional healer from Cibubur, West Java.
Finally told him
just blurted it out
really

He didn’t say nothing
for a long time
reeeeal long

Not a word

He hugged me
tight
Hard
said ‘I love you son’
and cried some

Then he told me
when he was young,
before mom
Damn! man,
was he ever sobbing
‘there was this guy
once …’

* * *

This is a flash fiction piece for '55 Flash Fiction Friday'. The idea is to tell a story in 55 words. To try one yourself and read others go see g-man.

Wednesday, June 2

Art Flash — Scaffolding removed from Parthenon

Photo by Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images

News Flash:
In a stunning and unexpected challenge to monotheism, the mortal caretakers of the Parthenon have released the temple and its divine denizens from the scaffolding that has girdled it for the last three decades. A press release from the mono-deity’s public relations office said the Almighty was unconcerned, although monitoring events “on the ground” closely as they unfold. The only witnesses present were a startled group of pilgrims on the 1st Annual Joseph Campbell "Follow Your Bliss Journey”, who had coincidentally just reached the Acropolis when the final blocks of scaffolding were removed. They greeted the news with jubilation, but would not venture an opinion as to its possible significance, instead limiting themselves to the enigmatic observation that “we have stumbled onto our treasure on the pollen path”.

In a related development, there were conflicting claims as to the true origin of the immense thundercloud that was seen gathering over the Acropolis (in photo) soon after the last of the scaffolding was carted away. As the event came on a holiday on Mount Olympus, no official statements could be obtained from any of the twelve Olympians. Initial claims that the menacing cloud was in fact the chariot of Pallas Athena (maiden name Athena Parthenos) readying her triumphal return could not be immediately confirmed. Attempts to reach the goddess’ office in Italy were likewise futile. Reporters spotted a spokes-owl for Minerva on the Capitoline Hill in Rome, but the source declined to comment on the goddess of wisdom’s opinion, saying somewhat scornfully that “all this Athena hooey is Greek to me”.

For full story go to ARTINFO.