Thursday, October 31, 2013

'Tis the Season

Photo by Megan Karlen

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Do You Think This Career Article is Interesting?

System vs. Goals:

Monday, October 28, 2013

Slaves of the Internet, Unite

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Five Easy Pieces

I never saw it before tonight. Not kidding. And probably because anytime I ever asked anyone about it, they couldn't tell me what it was about. They would always mention the waitress scene.

Look, it was like 400 Blows, kind of. Sympathetic and harsh. The ability of this story to make you love a foolish cad.

Great any age.

They don't make movies, much, about people who are living out their demons. Not really. It's all done in shorthand these days.

Jack Nicholson, I believed his vulnerability. But even better--I enjoyed his cover up.

Silly to review a great film from 1970. It took me 43 years. Worth the wait. See it if you haven't. It surprises.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Glass Menagerie with Cherry Jones

We can make this review pretty simple: Go see it.

Sometimes, it all comes together. I've only seen a few plays do this.

Real desperation in real time. Check.
Cherry Jones going on the full ride. Check
Full realism and poetry coming through in equal measures. Check
A gentleman caller that was modern and attractive and good natured. Check
Laura and Tom were good, too. Check

There was some direction and movement and design that was overwrought. But it seems like everyone wants to visibly prove they've earned their paycheck these days. Clever. Fuck that.

This play proved that all you need is a great play and great actors, and you're set.
It's really no different than watching someone be really alive in your living room, plowing through the whole of the human condition.

This play is so good. The structure comes from the need of the people in the story. It is imperfect and clunky and completely truthful and sleek.

You get to see this sort of thing every now and again, like a comet.

Check it out. At the Booth. It's going to disappear so jump on it.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

For My Cousins: We're Sort of French


From the book Cummings Genealogy, Isaac Cummings 1601-1677 of Ipswich 1638 and Some of his Descendants, compiled and published by Albert Oren Cummins, Montpelier, Vermont, 1904.


Isaac Comings, according to tradition, was of Scottish ancestry, claiming descent from the "Red Cumin", of Badenoch, in the southeastern district of Inverness-shire, a wild mountainous country, presenting wide stretches of bleak moorland.  Here the clan flourished from 1080 to 1330, and then began to decline.  Some deduce their origin from Normandy and others from

According to the Chronicle of Melrose, the first of the name  who figured prominently, was slain with Malcom III at Alnwick in 1093, leaving two sons, John and William.  From John, all the Cumins in Scotland are said to be descended.  Sir John, the Red Cumin or Comyn, was the first Lord of Badenoch, and in 1240 was an ambassador from Alexander II to Louis IX, of France.

His son John, called the Black Lord of Badenoch, was inferior to no subject in Scotland for wealth and power, and was one of those who vowed to support Queen Margaret, daughter of Alexander III in her title to the crown.  At her death he became a competitor for the crown of Scotland, "as the son and heir of John, who was son and heir of Donald, King of Scotland".  The son of the Lord, called, in turn, the Red Cumin, as the last Lord of Badenoch of the surname of Cumin.

In 1335 a number of the Cumin clan was slain in the feudal battle of Culbleau, in Glenwick, where a stone now marks the spot.

The badge of the clan, in Gaelic, was "Lus Mhic Cuiminn", in English, The Cummin Plant.

Another TRADITION runs:  Comines - Comynges - Comyns - Comings - Cumyn -Cumings - Cummings;  "a family which rose to great power and eminence in Scotland and England.  The name was taken from the town of Comines near Lille, on the frontier between France and Belguim.

In 1445 one branch of the family gave birth, in the old chateau, to the historian, Phillipe di Comines.  Another branch followed William of Normandy to the conquest of England.

In the year 1069, Robert of Comines, or Comyn, with 700 horse from William the Conqueror, seized Durham and held it 48 hours, but the people rose up against him and he perished in the flames at the burning of the Bishop's Palace.

His nephew, William, became Chancellor of Scotland in 1133.  The Chancellor's nephew, Richard, inherited the English possessions of the family and married the Countess of Athol, grand-daughter of Donald Bane, King of Scots, and his son, William, in 1210, became Earl of Buchan by marrying the Celtic heiress of North Eardom.

By this marriage he became the father of Elexander, Earl of Buchan, who married the daughter of Roger-de quenci, Earl of Winchester.

By other marriages the family obtained the Earldom of Angus and Athol, so that by the middle of the 13th century there were in Scotland on Lord, four Earls, and thirty-two belted Knights by the name of Comyns.

Within 70 years this great house was entirely overthrown, there were none left of them, save those who took refuge in the "Monks of Deer", a monastery founded in 1219 by William Cumyns, Earl of Buchan.

John Cumyns, son of the Earl of Badenoch, who was in 1291 an unsuccessful competitor for the crown, was a descendant of Donald Bane, king of the old Celtic dynasty.  John Cumyns, Earl of Buchan, was defeated by Bruce in a pitched battle in 1306.

Such of the Cumyns as escaped the sword found refuge with their wives and children in England, where, although they were so poor as to be dependent upon the bounty of the English Court, they married into the best families, so that their blood circulated through the nobles in other kingdoms and descendants of Henry IV.

The Earl of Shrewsbury was the representative of the Lord of Badenoch, who was at the head of the race."

Another TRADITION from an educated American who spent much time in Rome, "The Cummings family is a very old family; as far as can be gathered, the family lived in Lombardy, northern Italy during, and prior to the fourth century, it then came over the Alps, and settled in Provence, and then went to the Gironde country in the southern part of France, and thence to the north of France, on the borders of Belgium, where was founded the town of Commines, where lived Phillip of Commines, whom Hallan called the father of Ancient History, thence they went to Scotland and England and Ireland.

An educated native of Rome insists that the original family of Commines was a family once well known in Lombardy, that he had traced them to France, and it is a fact established by ancient history that they were a strong family during the great’ Hearth' war, which lasted for many years, and that Earl do Cumminges was perhaps the principal factor in bringing on and continuing the war.  History tells us they went to England about the time of the invasion by William the Conqueror," etc.

Although these traditions are given as such, it will be noticed that they carry many indications of having been compiled by fertile brains from the many historical books extant.

I too well recollect of my grandfather, who was born in 1768, caressing me, in my childhood and calling me "a little Scotchman," and a large majority of the traditions, and circumstantial evidence, strongly indicate that we are of Scotch descent.  From what I have learned in the six years of my researches of the Cummings records, I have formed the opinion that Isaac came to America from England, but that he was of Scotch origin, though all my efforts to make a connection with his ancestors have been futile.

In the second tradition given is a mention of the historian "Phillipe de Comins", and there was published in Paris in 1552 a French work on a man of that name, at the close, or end, of which are many genealogical Comines trees, and I have made considerable effort to obtain a coy of the book, but it being out of print, have not been able to secure one.  Also, some 150 or more years ago there was published in England a Commins genealogy, but that is also out of print.

From the book Genealogical and Family History of the State of New Hampshire,  by Ezra S. Stearns, assisted by William F. Whitcher and Edward E. Parker, published by the Lewis Publishing Company of New York & Chicago in 1908.

"The origin of the Cummings family is uncertain;  the name was taken from the town of Comines, near Lille, on the frontier between France and Belgium. Various traditions account for earlier origin of the family, but all of them are entitled to no more credit than mere traditions.  The name has been variously spelled Comines, Comynges, Comyns, Comings, Comyn, Cumings and Cummings.  Tradition states that the emigrant ancestor of this family descended from "Red Cumin" of Badenoch in the southeastern district of Iverness-shire, a wild mountainous country presenting wide stretches of bleak moorland.  Here the clan flourished from 1080 to 1330, and then began to decline.  According to the Chronicle of Melrose, the first of the name who immigrated permanently, was slain with Malcom III, at Alnwick, in 1093, leaving two sons, John and William.  From John, all the Cumins in Scotland are said to be descended.  Sir John, the Red Cumin of Comyn, was the first Lord of Badenoch, and in 1240 was an ambassador from Alexander II to Louis IX of France.  His son John, called the Black Lord of Badenoch, was not inferior to any subject in Scotland for wealth and power, and was one of those who vowed to support Queen Margaret, daughter of Alexander III in her title to the crown.  At her death he became a competitor for the crown of Scotland.  "As a son and heir of John who was son and heir of Donald, King of Scotland."  The son of this Lord, called, in turn, the Red Cumin, was the last Lord of Badenoch of the surname of Cumin.

In 1335 a number of the Cumin clan were slain in the feudal battle of Calbleau, in Glenwick, where a stone now marks the spot.  The badge of the clan, in Gaelic, was "Lus Nhic Cuiminn," in English, the Cummin plant.


Various spellings of Isaac Cumming's name in the records include: CUMMINGS, COMINGS, CUMMENS, CUMMINS or with a single 'm', with, or without the 's', and COMYNS.  Both of the above books talk about the spelling of the name having taken on various forms over time.  The Mooar book mentions that SOME OF THE FAMILIES HAVE RETAINED THE SPELLING OF COMINGS, as if this is the original spelling in this country.

For record keeping purposes, I have used the spelling of CUMMINGS, since it seems to correspond with published works, and most of the descendants have used this spelling.  There are several exceptions that I have made for the spelling - These are the same lines that have different spellings in the Mooar book or some other book:

1.  The first is for Samuel COMINGS (Samuel, John III, John II, John I, Isaac) and his descendants.  The Mooar book uses this spelling for his descendants.  The History of Cornish New Hampshire refers to him with the spelling of COMINGS, and his children are also listed with this spelling.  It seems to be at this point that this spelling was adapted by most of his descendants.  Since this is our own family line, I want to try to determine at which point in time this spelling became the accepted spelling.  -- NOTE that per the History of Cornish, NH, Daniel Morris Comings, his grandson the son of Warren, changed the spelling of his name to CUMMINGS.

2.  The second is for Daniel CUMMINS (Jacob, Joseph, John, Isaac, Isaac) and his descendants.  The Mooar book uses this spelling for his descendants.  --  It should be noted that this is the line of A. O. CUMMINS, who arbitrarily used the 'Cummings' spelling in his own book, even for his own line!  NOTE that A.O. Cummins used the 'Cummings' spelling so consistently throughout that even when a daughter would give a first or middle name of 'Comings' or 'Cummins' to a child, A.O. Cummins would print this first or middle name as 'Cummings', while Mooar would use the actual spelling!

3.  The third is for Free COMINGS (Jacob, Joseph, John, Isaac, Isaac) and his descendants.  The Mooar book also uses this spelling for all of his descendants.

4.  The fourth is for David COMINGS (David, Ephraim, Thomas, John, Isaac) and his descendants.  According the History of Cornish, NH, this line also spelled their name 'Comings'.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Thievery Head Plonk

It has been remarkable to me that so many intelligent people use their brains for thievery, in business or even informally during soul snatching interactions...seems an odd and sad choice, this cool gift for a mostly selfish action. But yesterday, I thought perhaps it was the specie's impulse for thievery that gave rise to intelligence. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Go to Brooklyn, See Great Art, Maybe Buy Some

The amazing Megan K. is opening her studio at Screwball Spaces this Weekend. Saturday and Sunday.

Here is all the information you need.


(We live with her art and it is a great thing to experience.)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Greed, Man, Bummer

The Tea Party pretends to care about freedom and strange thoughts small and mean. But really, they do not understand the simplest workings of government and have such a silly view of how math works, that they should and most likely will happily disappear during the next election cycle.

So few of these people understand math. If your tax dollars are paying for uninsured people, inefficiently, to visit emergency rooms for asthma attacks and the flu, doesn't it make more sense to trim the money back for that? Why does this simple change make these right wing people fume so? The old system surely did not work and uninsured people live miserable lives and die, on average, five years earlier than insured people. It is heartless lunacy to be against helping these people.

Whenever I have a meal with a turgid Right Wing person, be they a Constitutional Conservative or a Libertarian, I calmly hold my place and agree with certain aspects of their argument. I don't like victim status for anyone and I would like to believe, too, like my tighty Righties, that people are better off taking care of themselves--however, some people simply don't have the means, the personality or even, the luck. So, I sit there and say, "This is the math. Some people don't have the means or ability. And why is it so important to you, anyway, this withholding? Why so punitive?" Eventually, the Rightist, if I play it right, will say something, half sheepishly, like, "Maybe I'm just a selfish asshole. I don't know."  And they chuckle. And then if I ask, "Well, should we let these people die?"--A wave comes over their faces--and it looks like they would be okay with these people dying.

It's a war for these Rightist people. The disadvantaged, to them, should pretty much fuck off and die.

I don't like to be taxed. Who does? But it's the VIG you have to pay in order to live in civilization. Freedom is not freedom from this. Whoever thought, realistically, using real math, that a nation could survive if greed and selfishness were the true roads to freedom?

Tax me, build me a bullet train from here to eternity, help out a helpless soul (or 30,000,000) and let these Tea Party lunatics suffer greatly at any and all upcoming polls. Their understanding of fiscal operations is uninformed. Their reductionist thoughts, which convert into ransoming behavior, are moronic and dangerous. Silly tantrum people. I believe the tantrum existed before the political situation. Some people just want cookies cookies cookies. If people have to die so they can gorge themselves, well, so be it. Is this really their pleasure? It seems so.

Do not vote screaming, bottomless children into office. They are rapacious, unseemly, uncouth, repellent and pathetic. They can't enjoy their banana cream pie unless they have a thousand more stashed away somewhere for a rainy day. Terrified beasts. And they want to spread their terror. Be gone, monstrous vermin.

Have I made myself clear?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


My blog began eight years ago but it seems like just a few. I do not understand time, exactly. It has always been about "finishing" something for me. If I have to paint a room, then the time it takes to paint a room is the time it takes. And if a blog is a blog, then it just carries on and really has no end, so it feels always young to me.

In the meantime, of  course, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, etc. have grown up all around the blog world rendering most blogs, especially ones of general interest (like Open Trench) into bloated twitter entries.

However, I think carrying on is not a bad idea.

Trying to squeeze bigger ideas into Twitter is impossible. And so many Twitter entries are linked up to large articles. Facebook has become about a cat meowing, "Hang in there Baby, Friday's Coming," and other things cat-like

So the blog--with its awful name and its old time format--is the only thing that really can do what it does. For now.

It was more fun when no one else was public. It felt like you were daring, to put yourself out there to be heard. It also felt more personal. Plus, the written word still was the written word then. Blogs felt like shortish articles/opinion pieces/personal essays.

I blog on. I usually do not like articles that focus on the state and ways of any sort of journalism. However, I have been feeling odd about  my blog and sometimes it is best to clear the air.

To blog is human. To forgive a blogger, divine.

Friday, October 04, 2013

At Ye Ol' Alma Mater Today...Go Jumbos

The reward for having judged the Literary Death Match last night was to take a walk through early autumn Cambridge and Somerville today. Things are looking better than ever in these parts. Fancier than when I went to school there, the neighborhood surrounding the campus and Tufts itself is quite sprucey.

I went to this school, in addition to having a solid rep, because it was in Boston and it was pretty.

Today confirmed my younger decent taste. It warms me, because so many other places I lived in my youth have turned to hell from over development or singular decay. It was enjoyable to be someplace that has actually improved.

It was a good four years. Someone asked me if I was in town for Parents' weekend. I explained that I had no children. The kind woman asked, "No little Jumbos?" And I had to say no. (P.T. Barnum gave Tufts the dead stuffed elephant, Jumbo...our mascot. The whole dead elephant burned in a fire in the old Barnum Hall. Literally obviating any need to talk about The Elephant in the Room. I spent much time in the new Barnum Hall where I majored in Biology. Jumbo was represented by a cast iron elephant the size of three bowling balls.)

Go Jumbos, anyway. Here's to a warm New England Autumn Day.