“There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”—
“Poetry is part of everything. You can’t have a really good work if it’s not touched by poetry. Poetry manifests itself in millions of ways: as rhythm, metaphor, mood. Sometimes it’s a type of emotional outpouring or necessity that’s not expressed through characters but through feelings. To me, poetry is the tragic sense of man. It’s a way of seeing things in the most complete way, the most absolute, and, to a certain extent, the most perfect. Where there’s no poetry, there’s no beauty, and without beauty no kind of artistic work can exist.”—The late Cuban author Reinaldo Arenas in a 1983 interview: http://nyr.kr/1f4dEJd (via newyorker)
How do I still know yobbos who think Whedon’s shit doesn’t stink?
Imma cut Joss the tiniest bit of slack because it’s bro and sis-in-law who are actually running Em.A.Arrrr.Vee.Eeee.El.Es. (fuck it…that’s too much typing for a lame-ass joke.) Shield crapfest…but the fact he’d allow his name to be associated with it…
This week’s episode did the “…He’s standing right behind me, isn’t he?” bit. That shit’s so old, it’s fossilized. Who and What were in Little League when that joke was graduating from college.
I’m barely paying attention when I finally watch it or I’d be tearing out my eyes.
“Code is only the latest in the classic American / Horatio Alger dream that hard work and the right education will by the golden key that ensures everyone has a job. Go west, get a farm. Learn chemistry. Become a mechanic. Learn how to fix computers. So on and so on and so on. Now: Learn to code! It fits very nicely with the current disruption/app/techie focus of the economy and suggests that the companies and donors that comprise it are necessarily the country’s future. They’re not.”—
Rough Monday. I think things ended up better than before the day started, but really…that’s just a guess.
And this followed after running a short experiment that ended up with exactly the results I’d expected to see. There’s nothing wrong with an experiment that confirms a theory, but it’s the experiments that go completely sideways that make life and Science worth living. The fact that my initial hypothesis was borne out…sort of sad. I’d have really liked to have been proven wrong.
I could have let the experiment run longer — maybe I just didn’t give it enough time — but I think that eventually would have just depressed me. I’m more confident in my original analysis than I am in the world.
On the plus side, I did just this very instant tell my dear friend that I’m gassy in an attempt to cheer her up. Ie: “At least you didn’t eat split pea soup last night!” (In my defense, it was homemade split pea soup.)
Let’s go to some cabin in the woods, you and I,
some hand-hewn room of golden pine
glowing warm with the lifeblood of the trees
and of the craftsman whose hands fit the pieces
together so snug.
I’ll stoke a fire in the old iron stove
and fill a kettle with fresh white snow
while you snuggle under an old quilt
deciphering stitches and reading faded fabric.
With two giant mugs of steaming tea,
a spot of honey for you,
I’ll slide my stockinged feet across the waxed boards
and slip next to you on the cozy couch under the soft old quilt,
suffused with your warmth
We’ll sit there a while
hugging the mugs with our hands.
I’m cranky this morning - NOT angry - and I’m not going to be especially eloquent here. Neither am I going to be especially nuanced. I’m riffing in frustration.
Henry Clay. The man who did so much to “preserve” the union. The Great Compromiser. In a later era, he’d stand side-by-side with other greats of his ilk: Quisling and Chamberlain.
It’s easy to point to slaveholders and proponents of slavery as villains, but Clay and his lifelong obsession with stroking the cocks of the slaveholders to make them happy…he’s a true villain. No mustache-twirler, he. Nope. His was the sane and rational face of 19th century discourse. He just wanted everyone to get along, to preserve the rotten, crumbling foundation of the Republic.
Lincoln preserved the Union by blowing it the fuck up.
The cancer set in when the shitheel founders (except Franklin, who basically told them all to go fuck themselves in as friendly and Quaker a manner as possible) codified the 3/5 Compromise. That cancer festered for the next 70+ years, getting regular boosts of carcinogenic love every time Henry Clay opened his fucking mouth.
I’m not as black-and-white a person as I was when I was younger, but if y’all want to know why the notion of compromise gets my hackles up…Henry Clay is it. My first instinct whenever anyone is compromising a position of principle is to fight against it. It is very often the right thing to do, but there are times when you might as well be admitting another slave state into the Union.
Oooh…I can do a twofer here before bed. I can come late to the party with a HITG - John Diehl - and make a quick comment on my most recent poem.
There’s this scene in the final season of Friday Night Lights where Matt Saracen shows his portfolio to the crude, obnoxious, but brilliant artist he’s been interning with (played by John Diehl who bravely wore dingy tighty-whities for the role). The artist (named Richard coincidentally) quickly glances at and tosses aside each drawing calling them all crap. Then he finds one, tears a small corner of it off - it’s a charcoal of a hand - and says that this doesn’t completely suck. Do more like that.
I liked a line in that last poem and should really figure out how to throw out all the rest and do more like… …meet and touch and share moist, hot, jurassic breath
terrible thunder pounding in our ears
I wasn’t in a prose/memoirish mood tonight, so here.
Prologue, prelude, preface,
Lips on lips, tongues tied tongue-tied but just that.
Not a kiss; never a kiss, this bumping of parts one to the other
in the dark fumbling with clasps
or under the midday sun, squinting to see your face in this one’s eyes
or that one’s nose or the upturned corner of her smile.
Echoes; shadows of tomorrow, of you.
Memories of my first kiss are fantasies of you.
Until we meet and touch and share moist, hot, jurassic breath
terrible thunder pounding in our ears
I’ll not know my best kiss.
Because I was asked about Christmas and answered earlier, I’ve been streaming my Christmas music playlist. This version of a classic UK carol keeps the spirit of the original but cuts more modern. Works on both levels for me.
There is a horrible, painful truth I’ve shared with maybe a half-dozen people in my life. I’ll not be sharing that here in public, ever, but know that it is a permanent pulsing wound that defines and delineates huge aspects of my flawed character. It is basically the worst thing that could happen to a person who is like me and amplifies every terrible hurt and weakness in my soul.
And from the perspective of many, it’d just be fucking karma.
At what age did you realize Santa wasn't real? How did you find out? Do you like/dislike/love Christmas and all the pageantry that surrounds the holiday? Are you a fan of Christmas music? What was your most desired gift as a child that you just asked and asked Santa for, and did you receive it?
Hmm. Imma try to answer this, but it’ll all be so vague and unsatisfying.
I don’t remember when I realized Santa wasn’t real, but I’d guess around four or five. I don’t recall any great trauma associated with it, so it’s possible I always *knew*.
I have a weird relationship with Christmas. As an atheist child of a non-practicing Jew and lapsed Catholic…well…it’s very much a secular thing to me. And I hate some aspects of it, particularly the forcible insertion of religious iconography into the public sphere and the majority’s expectation/insistence that everyone should celebrate/believe as they do.
However, I adore Christmas music - both modern/secular and traditional/religious. There’s a great spirituality to some of that music that can elevate the (for lack of a better word) soul. Since I don’t believe in anything magical/mystical/supernatural (Sam and Dean aside), music like that is a welcome friend this dark and dreary time of the year.
I *also* love Christmas movies. I could lie, and say it’s TheWife who forces me to watch the endless parade of (usually very bad) Christmas movies each year. But that’s not true. They’re all formulaic, but the better of the bunch manage to hit the formulas perfectly. For the past couple of years I’ve thought I should grab a couple of my writer friends and put together a small specialty studio to crank out a dozen Christmas movie scripts each year, maybe grab some other people we know in the industry and turn ourselves into a tiny production company…and then I don’t. Because lazy.
I’m a spoiled rotten brat, so I can’t think of any particular gift that was more important, more desired, than any other. I’m a *little* less spoiled of an adult; I have no idea how that happened.
I’ve not done this in a few weeks…let’s see if I can remember how to be honest.
See, the problem with honesty is that it can be incredibly unattractive/unappealing. No one wants to hear of someone’s aches (physical and meta-physical) and pains (of the body and of the soul) and injuries (material and spiritual).
And when the great gaping maw in your heart is how unattractive/unappealing you feel, well…
Y’all see the conundrum? I tell you my truths and then I’m just feeding the fire.
So how about a picture of a happy baby otter instead?
This actually did happen to a real person, and the real person was me. I had gone to catch a train. This was April 1976, in Cambridge, U.K. I was a bit early for the train. I’d gotten the time of the train wrong.
I went to get myself a newspaper to do the crossword, and a cup of coffee and a packet of cookies. I went and sat at a table.
I want you to picture the scene. It’s very important that you get this very clear in your mind.
Here’s the table, newspaper, cup of coffee, packet of cookies. There’s a guy sitting opposite me, perfectly ordinary-looking guy wearing a business suit, carrying a briefcase.
It didn’t look like he was going to do anything weird. What he did was this: he suddenly leaned across, picked up the packet of cookies, tore it open, took one out, and ate it.
Now this, I have to say, is the sort of thing the British are very bad at dealing with. There’s nothing in our background, upbringing, or education that teaches you how to deal with someone who in broad daylight has just stolen your cookies.
You know what would happen if this had been South Central Los Angeles. There would have very quickly been gunfire, helicopters coming in, CNN, you know… But in the end, I did what any red-blooded Englishman would do: I ignored it. And I stared at the newspaper, took a sip of coffee, tried to do a clue in the newspaper, couldn’t do anything, and thought, what am I going to do?
In the end I thought, nothing for it, I’ll just have to go for it, and I tried very hard not to notice the fact that the packet was already mysteriously opened. I took out a cookie for myself. I thought, that settled him. But it hadn’t because a moment or two later he did it again. He took another cookie.
Having not mentioned it the first time, it was somehow even harder to raise the subject the second time around. “Excuse me, I couldn’t help but notice…” I mean, it doesn’t really work.
We went through the whole packet like this. When I say the whole packet, I mean there were only about eight cookies, but it felt like a lifetime. He took one, I took one, he took one, I took one. Finally, when we got to the end, he stood up and walked away.
Well, we exchanged meaningful looks, then he walked away, and I breathed a sigh of relief and sat back. A moment or two later the train was coming in, so I tossed back the rest of my coffee, stood up, picked up the newspaper, and underneath the newspaper were my cookies.
The thing I like particularly about this story is the sensation that somewhere in England there has been wandering around for the last quarter-century a perfectly ordinary guy who’s had the same exact story, only he doesn’t have the punch line.
I picked up stitches for the second armhole at lunch. The first had been 123 stitches that I’d increased to 124. I was hoping for ± 4, so 120-128. I stopped counting around 130 with a lot left to go. Huh. So now I’ll have to look at the first armhole and determine if I skipped too many stitches or if I just did something ridiculous with this second one.