Sunday, April 30, 2006

My 1st Blogiversary!

Exactly a year ago today, I was out with The Ents.
The Ents are three friends of mine, and we get together every month or so for coffee and critical conversation. Basic discussions concerning the state of the world. We call ourselves The Ents [a la Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings] because well… we all look like trees.
No, moreso, because The Ents [as you know] were so dangity wise!
Our meetings are thence called Entmoots, as were theirs, in the story.

At the end of one of these Entmoots, one of the Ents [he goes by the name of Cold Molasses] mentioned the phenomenon of blogs.
At the time I thought maybe he was just barking up some sap [as can happen]. “Blog – blog – blog.”
I was just about to slap him on the back, but he raised a branch and deterred me.
Honest to God, I had never heard the word “blog” before that moment.
So he explained it, and my eyes went wide! My leaves shook!
Me: “You mean I can have my own basic sort of webpage in minutes? And for free?”
He: “Yep!”
And right then and there he began creating one for me, on a laptop.
He was at the creation stage, asking me what I wanted to call it, and I was like, “Whoa whoa whoa…. let’s not rush things. I need a good name. A good name.”
I was excited as three bags of kittens.

While driving home that night I thought of a name.
And I quickly wrote the tentative-infantile blog, shown here.

That was exactly a year ago, today.
Since then I have submitted 522 postings, and have had nearly 12,000 hits on the puddle.
And it’s been real fun. A really great outlet for me, and I have met so many great people as a result of being a part of the blog-world.
So today I say, in all sincerity…. thank you for reading me!

Happy 1st Blogiversary to me!

If you are so inclined, you can click on the following link and actually hear me continue to yak about my blog-rationale. --> Why Do I Blog?


Saturday, April 29, 2006

What is Wrong With Me?

A while ago I got one of the most thoughtful gifts ever, from my friend Hermione.
She sent me one of these micro-cassette voice recorders.
The picture to the left is not only like the thing, but it is a picture of the exact model. It’s a real beautie!
And I have wanted one for a long time. I cannot recall if I had dropped any kind of hints, or if she used her usual ESP to get me the thing. But it’s perfect.
Why would I want a voice recorder?
Well…. because I have such great and stupendous ideas all the time, and often, no place [or time] to write them down. And she knows this, Hermione does. Hence, if I carried this thing around with me at all times, I could record these flashes of inspiration, and not lose them, as I nearly always do. By the time I find a scrap of paper and a pen, my Tolstoyan turns of phrase are lost in the ether.
My Browning-like stanzas are lost…. and worse… gone!
My Harold Bloomian wisdom… where did it go?
My Richler-like witticisms are pretty much irretrievable!
As they say, “The Muse knocks but once per visit. Then vanishes.”
The voices whisper… and whispers don’t echo.
You’ve gotta catch ‘em.

I’ve got the perfect gadget here, to catch ‘em.
How many MORE great dramas would we have, if Bill Shakepseare had one of these voice-corders?

Now, here is the part where I hope Hermione is not reading….

I have not ever used the thing. What is wrong with me? This is what I need to know.
Can anyone tell me why I have not used this thing yet? It is perfect, in every way!
Am I just a lazy, good-for-nothing bum? Is that it?
Should she quit ever giving me gifts?

Jack just looked over and is shaking his cat-head.
Even he is disappointed in me.

“Message to self,” [spoken into my voice-corder]…. “umm… do not clean Jack’s litter box for three days!”

Speaking of voices in the head, [I have at least fourteen of them, constantly yipping away] check out this excellent blog on the topic.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Splash du Jour: Friday

Today, April 28th is the birthday of Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Harper Lee.
Lee was born on this day in 1926, [the year my own father was born] in Monroeville, Alabama.
Below are a few of my favorite quotes from To Kill A Mockingbird:

“When a child asks you something, answer him, for goodness' sake. But don't make a production of it. Children are children, but they can spot an evasion quicker than adults, and evasion simply muddles 'em.”
-- From Chapter 9, spoken by the character Atticus

“I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks.”
-- From Chapter 23, spoken by the character Scout

“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”
-- From Chapter 11, spoken by the character Atticus

See my own brief review of the book here.

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, April 27, 2006


Perhaps one day, [but not today] I will divulge the story of why the following book review is the most important one I have ever written.

Margaret Atwood’s second novel (1972), Surfacing.

On the exterior many lives are impetuously lived, in constant motion, constant flux, demanding change... while on the inside, important wheels have long since stopped turning. Crucial questions languish, not so much from being already answered as from never having been asked. Another type of person floats along fairly steady, and constant diversion is not really an issue... but on the inside, they are a whirligig. Always asking and re-asking, backpedalling, and here in the unseen realm the action is taking place, like a duck's feet underwater.
The nameless protagonist in Atwood's Surfacing is of this latter variety, contemplative and introspective. Together with three friends of the former type of personality (a married couple and her boyfriend Joe), these four drive off into the remote Quebec wilderness for a few days of R & R. This whirligig character however, has a far greater purpose in mind. She is returning here to her childhood home in search of her father who has mysteriously vanished without a trace. While these other three suntan, fish, and bicker, she is on a quest that calls forth a recollection of her entire upbringing and childhood. We sense that if she finds her father at all, it will be in a way that is as surprising to the reader as it will be to herself.
She's a great character. If it wasn't for her the others would seemingly starve to death, seated at the table and surrounded by victuals but unaware of how to prepare lunch. She's the organizer, the fish-filleter, the decision-maker... hourly explaining to her friends what will happen next. She is the individual who surfaces, thinks for herself, and finds an identity within. In stark contrast are her friends who seem to only find sustenance in the pieces they can bite off of each other and ingest.
As in so much of Atwood's work, these men are soon to reveal their inherent nasty dogness. On two occasions Whirligig avoids being (essentially) raped by each of them only by reminding them that it is "the right time" for her to get pregnant. But she is not a heroine without her own foibles. She realizes her own problems, the greatest of which may be her her inability to return the "love" that has been offered her throughout her life. Her detached coldness. But the importance in becoming whole (self-actualized?) may lie right there in this word "realizing", which, in the case of this novel MAY be synonymous with the word "surfacing". Throughout the book a central question seems to repeat itself... what does it mean to love? What if I don't "feel" love when someone says "I love you"? What does it mean to love one's past, one's history? To love your parents, your self... to love your lovers. And what does it mean to withdraw, to UTTERLY withdraw? These are the kind of meaty questions that surface in this book, brilliantly written and permeated with dark symbolism and a misty/ethereal 70's New-Ageyness to it. In Atwoodland, anything and everything can be a talisman.
"It's true, I am by myself; this is what I wanted, to stay here alone. From any rational point of view I am absurd; but there are are no longer any rational points of view." Is Whirligig sane or insane on the last page? Surfacing or submerged? The author leaves the verdict in the hands of the reader.

I enjoyed meeting Margaret Atwood at a reading one wintry night at the Chateau Laurier, and having her sign my copy of Surfacing [the very one shown above, a first edition] on behalf of my reading partner. Atwood was [to me], swan-like in her elegance, and so patient and attentive [as I gushed forth in my oblations] even though the lineup behind me was at least three miles long.
When she saw the book, she said "Oh how nice, a first edition."
I fainted, and then when I awoke, she personalized my Oryx and Crake.
She remains my favorite female author, along with Alice Munro and Jane Urquhart.
What is it with these Canadian girls?

For a bit more of my Atwood Adoration....


Splash du Jour: Thursday

Obviously the facts are never just coming at you but are incorporated by an imagination that is formed by your previous experience. Memories of the past are not memories of facts but memories of your imaginings of the facts.
-- Philip Roth --

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

There's an expectation these days that novels - like any other consumer product - should be made on a production line, with one dropping from the conveyor belt every couple of years. I've written only two novels, but they're both long ones, and they each took a decade to write.
-- Donna Tartt --

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

Many people genuinely do not want to be saints, and it is probable that some who achieve or aspire to sainthood have never felt much temptation to be human beings.
-- George Orwell

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, April 24, 2006


I am currently reading [among other things] Alice Munro’s (1986) book, The Progress of Love. As expected, it is fabulous. The woman does not have a clue how to write bad! The more I Progress through the thing, the more I Love it.
Sitting here after work at the Starbucks in Chapters, I have just read the fourth story in the book, and then, as I set it down, for some reason I re-read the dedication page.
For my sister Sheila.

I like that.
For my sister Sheila.
What does it mean to “dedicate” something to someone else? What are authors meaning when they do it? What does it signify?
As far as definition, when we look at the verb form “dedicate” the word implies devoting something to a particular subject or purpose.
But I prefer to look at the adjective form… “dedicated” where it focuses more on the description of a person, someone having single-minded loyalty or integrity, as in “a team of dedicated doctors.”

Alice Munro writes this compilation of stories and then, before anyone reads a word of it, wants to say “for my sister Sheila.” What does the “for” part mean?
What……….. for?
So that Sheila will appreciate these stories?
So that Sheila will benefit from them somehow?
So that Sheila will take a greater pride in how good her sister Alice can write?
To make Sheila feel special?

No, I think that all of those reasons have nothing to do with why an author thoughtfully dedicates their book to someone. These reasons [and many more like them] are woefully inadequate because of one main flaw -- they all focus upon what the writer can do for the reader.
But I think that authors dedicate their books to someone because of what that person has done for the writer!

The dedication page is not a place where we inform someone that they are the lucky recipients of how much good stuff we want to now pour into them.
The dedication page is the place where we acknowledge how much good stuff that person has poured into us.
The writer is the lucky one. The writer is the recipient.

It is similar to saying, “While I wrote what you are about to read, you were never far from my thoughts.”
It is similar to saying, “If not for you, I could not have accomplished this.”
It is like saying, “You are my inspiration.”

As such:
Yann Martel dedicates Life of Pi, “a mes parents et a mon frere.”
Anne Marie MacDonald dedicates The Way The Crow Flies, “for Mac and Lillian – ‘So many remember whens.’”
Russell Banks dedicates The Darling, “To C.T., the beloved, and in memory of Anne Trachtenberg Hughes (d.2004) and Charles Pratt Twichell (d.2004).”
Susanna Clarke dedicates Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, “In memory of my brother, Paul Frederick Gunn Clarke, 1961 – 2000.”

I have never had anything published, but if I did, I think that as of right now, the dedication page would read something like:
“For Queen Alcor – my muse.”

Who is this person?
It shouldn’t matter to anyone but the person and me.
None of us know who Mac and Lillian, or C.T. are, in the above dedications… but you can bet that they know who they are! And the writer knows.
And that’s all that matters.

If you were to publish something, to extricate that great novel that is inside of you… or to place between covers that great collection of poetry… who would you dedicate it to?
Who would it be for?


Splash du Jour: Monday

"The true felicity of a lover of books is the luxurious turning of page by page, the surrender, not meanly abject, but deliberate and cautious, with your wits about you, as you deliver yourself into the keeping of the book. This I call reading."
-- Edith Wharton

Have a great Monday!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Splash du Jour: Friday

A conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue. That's why there are so few good conversations: due to scarcity, two intelligent talkers seldom meet.
-- Truman Capote

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Bad Hair Day!

Hey, have you ever gotten a haircut that just….. I don’t know, did not work out?
All I know is…. as much as GQ magazine was not at all interested in me BEFORE tonight, they certainly are not interested NOW!
After work, I went to Starbucks and drank a pile of coffee and then I said to myself… “Maybe I should go and get a haircut.”
Well, to make a long story shorter…. the photo there to the left is the new “me”.
See, I knew that my usual hair-care professional [Carla] goes home early. But see, I have to go out tomorrow night and I didn’t want to go out with these poofy wings that have seemed to sprout from the side of my head in the past little while.
So, I just stopped in at the nearest Mall and went into the nearest barber shop I could find and threw my fate into the hands of……. fate!
[Don’t ever do this!]
This woman sat me down in her chair and commenced snipping. No small talk.
Early on, it just wasn’t looking right. I said to her after a while…. “Umm, yeah and whatever... I don’t seriously part my hair like that.”
“Like what?” she said.
“Well, like the way you have it parted there!” pointing at myself in the mirror and flashing her my most convincing “Do you think you are Moses or something?” look!
She was not convinced.
And kept going.
She said, “I’m going to give you what’s called the Messy Look©. It’s really…. popular.”
She pointed to a picture of some fashion model guy on the wall, who, if I were to look like him in any way imaginable, I would first have to somehow de-age at least two or maybe even three decades….
Then she started cutting furiously, like she’s getting paid by the pound or something… or maybe she’s some fanatical missionary, using all hair clippings to make wigs for underprivileged hairless people overseas…..
All I know is I was already too committed…. I was already making a HUGE donation to the wig-effort, and whatever the hell she had on her MIND, was soon going to be on my HEAD!
OK, I could go on, but really…. for the past hour or so I’ve been looking in the mirror while holding a mirror, looking at every possible angle of my cranium, and no matter what kind of optimism I employ, I keep saying to myself…. “Nope! That is just not going to heal itself by morning!”
And dammit! I already looked not very good to start with!
This is really the problem.
So this is not good. I'm not kidding. It has NOT been a good day, hairwise.
I am not saying this hairdresser woman was like, the actual Devil or anything [necessarily]…. but all I am saying… all I am saying people, is…. umm… when it comes to things like the removal of your spleen, or major surgery of any kind, or HAIRCUTS….. it may be a good idea to stick with the familiar.


Splash du Jour: Thursday

No child on earth was ever meant to be ordinary, and you can see it in them, and they know it, too, but then the times get to them, and they wear out their brains learning what folks expect, and spend their strength trying to rise over those same folks.
-- Annie Dillard

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

Starbucks goes to a great effort, and pays twice as much for its coffee as its competitors do, and is very careful to help coffee producers in developing countries grow coffee without pesticides and in ways that preserve forest structure.
-- Bestselling author, Jared Diamond

Kudos Starbucks!

Have a great Wednesday y’all!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Hollering Scheme©

Have you ever wondered why The Simpsons© are yellow?
Seriously though, think about it, they are all a bright yellow.
Plague of jaundice, you suppose?
Hell no!
It’s all about marketing.
The fact is, the creators did extensive research prior to developing the sitcom, and they discovered that yellow was a channel-surfing inhibitor! As TV-viewers flipped through channels, they tended to stop for longer periods of time when something yellow appeared on their screens.
Hence, The Simpsons© and most other characters on the show are enfleshed in bright yellow. [I wonder why Marge’s hair is blue though? Must be a reason!]
So much of what passes by us every day is all about marketing. We seldom think of it.
Unless you are me.
I am forever trying to uncover The Secrets of Marketing.
Like for instance, here I am sitting at a Starbucks, writing this.
If anyone knows anything about effective marketing, it is Starbucks. [They sure have reeled me in!] I am convinced that Starbucks will one day take over the world, basically. Recently they have announced that they are expanding to 50,000 locations? [I plan to try and visit them all!]
First lunar coffeeshop?
It will be a Starbucks, for sure.

OK, my current investigative work involves their procedure when you actually ORDER a coffee.
Here’s what happens, as if you don’t know the gameplan yourself.
There is a ubiquitous lineup of caffeine addicts, and then buddy in front places his order.
The cashier then hollers this order out to the barista that is already preparing the thing because they heard the original order anyway, and then, the barista [needlessly] hollers it back to the cashier.
It’s like this:
Guy ordering: -->”Yeah, I’ll have a Double-Tall sugarfree vanilla non-fat no-foam lactose-intolerant extra-hot caramel machiatto?”
Cashier hollering: --> “Double-Tall sugarfree vanilla non-fat no-foam lactose-intolerant extra-hot caramel machiatto.”
Barista hollering: -->“Double-Tall sugarfree vanilla non-fat no-foam lactose-intolerant extra-hot caramel machiatto.”

Then he pays the cashier the $19 or whatever it is, and the next person is up to bat.
And there’s going to be more hollering going on!
OK, freeze-frame!

What’s the deal with all the hollering?
[I was born at night, but not last night!]
It’s marketing.
See, I know that if you actually ask a barista why they holler back the name of the beverage, they will say it is to ensure that they heard the order correctly. It is a form of confirming that they make the correct drink for the customer.
But I know better!
I’m thinking of the lucrative fringe benefits of the hollering!
Now everyone within a mile radius has heard all about this fancy beverage the guy just ordered. Get it?
It’s called advertising. Of an almost subliminal nature!
If the Starbucks is attached to a bookstore [as this one is here]…. people on the other side of the place who were not even thinking about coffee, hear all the hollering going on, and they say to themselves… “Dang nab it. That sounds right good. I think I’m gonna get me one of them there Double-Tall sugarfree vanilla non-fat no-foam lactose-intolerant extra-hot caramel whatchamahooeys!”
It’s like The Simpsons thing with all the yellowness and whatnot.
Someone, you can be assured, has thought this through!

The main reason I think that the hollering has to do with sales, is because no one ever hollers what I order!
See, I just get a normal coffee.
Never once has the cashier ever turned to the side and got out an airhorn and hollered, “This guy just wants a normal coffee” while someone else hollers back, “No problem, I’m all over it, I’m pouring the guy a totally normal coffee at this very moment!”
See what I mean?

No, the cashier just looks at me. Like I just fell off a cabbage truck.
And there’s that look in the eye. The look that says that if the world were full of cheapos like me, Starbucks would never be on the moon!

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

I realized early on that the academy and the literary world alike , and I don't think there really is a distinction between the two , are always dominated by fools, knaves, charlatans and bureaucrats. And that being the case, any human being, male or female, of whatever status, who has a voice of her or his own, is not going to be liked.
-- Harold Bloom

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Splash du Jour: Monday

The longest absence is less perilous to love than the terrible trials of incessant proximity.
-- Edna St. Vincent Millay

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy New Year!

About an hour ago my phone rang and I answered it.
On the other end was my mom, in hysterics. And by hysterics, I mean “in a state of uncontrolled laughter.”
I had to wait to allow time for her to breathe, and tell me what was going on.
While I was waiting for her story to come to the surface though, I was already happy about whatever it was. My mom, who is now 74 years old, has not had an easy last few years. Her health has not been all that great. About two years ago now, we very nearly lost her. Ever since my dad passed away [her husband of 48 years, just to clarify] in 1999, my mom has not been the same. Shortly afterwards, she was diagnosed with a mild type of leukemia. She was on the pill-form of chemotherapy, lost her hair as a result, and at times, she was so feeble that well, quite frankly, it scared us all quite a bit.
She sold her house [the house I grew up in… that is, if I ever did grow up, the jury is still out on that point] and several subsequent living arrangements simply did not work out for her. Feeling a recurrent sense of displacement, she ended up way out on Vancouver Island for a while, and then now, has returned to our home province of Saskatchewan, where she has recently moved in to her own apartment. It seems she has finally found her spot! Her health is on the rebound. She is looking and feeling great, and thoroughly enjoying her new place. It is within walking distance to her church, as well as several shopping malls, and, to use a hen-like analogy, she is near to about half her brood. I am the furthest away, geographically speaking.
So the phone rings.
And there’s my mom, I can tell that she is crying from laughing. Her voice is squeaking, she’s trying to tell me something, I can tell, but she is worse than a 16-year old that has just seen someone slip on the ice and land flat on their back.
Finally, she gets it out.
Apparently, it being Easter Sunday and all, she had just called her old neighbor, Mary, to wish her a Happy Easter.
But instead of saying “Happy Easter” dear old mom said “Happy New Year.”
And she hasn’t been the same since.
She squeaked out to me that she could not even finish any sort of coherent sentence with Mary after that blunder.
So, [of course] she phoned me immediately afterward.
And she never finished any coherent sentence with me, either!
While she was killing herself laughing, I said to her…. “You’re just a bit early mom, that’s all. What you need to do is call Mary back in 270 days and wish her a Happy Easter.”
Then I think my mom passed out on the floor.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Splash du Jour: Thursday

A poet's work is to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it going to sleep.
-- Salman Rushdie

[Rushdie, shown here, with his wife, Padma Lakshmi. Ahem! ← Me clearing my throat. The man obviously knows something about poetry!]

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

What Would You Do?

I am perplexed.
See, I love living downtown.
The picture to the left is a northwest view from my kitchen window. Views from the balcony are much grander.
Bridges. Boats.
City lights. My entire main room and bedroom wall is window! I am an urbanite to the core, when it comes down to it.
I like the underground-parkingness of where I currently live.
I can just saunter out the door of my building and within minutes, I am amid the babble of tourists and all manner of people asking me for money. Within walking distance of an Art Gallery, a hundred Starbucks locations, a beautiful river with its long winding walkway and bikepath. Tennis courts across the street. A quiet neighborhood. Swimming pool right here. Extremely quiet building, of which I have the coveted top floor, corner apartment.
Yet, I am considering moving.
But I do not WANT to.
I LOVE living here!
It is just that it seems that I could save a fair amount of money, living elsewhere. Lately I have been looking in the newspaper and also in the Real Estate magazine and there are all sorts of places I could rent for less of an amount than I am paying here.
I shudder to think what a NEW tenant would be paying for my place right now. I am currently enjoying the reduced rate because I have been here so long of a time [nine years]. If I was a new tenant, I would not be able to afford this place.
But as it is… it is sort of getting expensive.
To make a long story short, if I moved to another similar apartment, in a less-desirable [to me] location, I could probably save about $200 a month. Or, [wait, let me consult my abacus]…. $2,400 a year.
What would you do?
I’ve asked Jack about it, but all he does is meow!
He loves it here too, I know he does, and this is how I interpret his most recent meows.
Is 2,400 clams a year a fair price to pay to live where you want to live?
[Keep in mind that this $2,400 is not an investment, I never will see this money again, plus, I am not in a position to buy a place. I must continue to rent, until the royalties from my invention… The Zero-Flatulence Pill© begin to roll in.]


Splash du Jour: Wednesday

If I have to take a two-hour bus trip, I will spend an hour beforehand just figuring out exactly what I want to read. A magazine? A short story? Poetry? Why don't I just settle back in my seat and think? Actually, I very often end up doing just that. But I need to know that I have something that I want to read - for security. With that knowledge I can give free rein to my thinking. Indeed, in resisting the temptation to open the book, I am somehow sharpening my thought."
-- Sven Birkerts

I too, am very Sven-like, in my travels….

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.
-- Naguib Mahfouz

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Splash du Jour: Monday

After a lifetime of affectionate regard for dogs and many years of close observation and reflection, I have reached the conclusion that dogs feel more than I do (I am not prepared to speak for other people). They feel more, and they feel more purely and more intensely.
-- Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson --

Have a great Monday!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Figaro! Figaro! Figaro!

Just the other day I noticed something about myself. It is this:
I like all kinds of music. As in, a wide range of styles.
Like, you know when you are with people and certain types of music come on the radio and they are instantly horrified? Switching the station as though it is a matter of life and death, or otherwise instantly berating the stuff?
Saying things like, "Oh my God, country music.... twangy. Depressing. Turn it, turn it, turn it!" [Holding their hands over their ears]. They do not stop to realize that not all country music is twangy, nor is it all depressing.
I noticed about myself that I am really never that way with music. Thing is, I can listen to any radio station and just appreciate what is there, given that my mood corresponds, in that moment. What I mean is, in any given half hour, I could be absolutely 100% TOTALLY into something by AC/DC, then Alan Jackson, then Beethoven, then Sting, then Metallica, then Gregorian chants, then Shania Twain, then some Brahms clarinet quintet in B minor. Followed by Nickelback.
It’s all good!

But then there is opera.
I can honestly say that there has never yet been one moment in my lifetime when I could tolerate more than three seconds of opera music.
For one thing, it is not even in any known actual language, is it?
And to me, it just seems very devoid of style. I know this is not fair at all, but the image I cannot shake is that of an assortment of overweight people trying to outdo each other in the art of hitting notes that no one really wants to hear. Some big dude, cummerbund maxed right out, cradling an enormous provolone cheese, and bellowing in agony.
Ten bears with their legs in ten traps!
As relaxing as dry railway brakes!
Soothing as a pin in the eye!

Please, no opera tickets for me!
Unless it’s that old Bugs Bunny “Barber of Seville” show!
Now THAT I would like to see, performed live!

La la la la la la la la la!


Splash du Jour: Thursday

But when the self speaks to the self, who is speaking? - the entombed soul, the spirit driven in, in, in to the central catacomb; the self that took the veil and left the world - a coward perhaps, yet somehow beautiful, as it flits with its lantern restlessly up and down the dark corridors.
-- Virginia Woolf

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

If you have abandoned one faith, do not abandon all faith.
There is always an alternative to the faith we lose. Or is it the same faith under another mask?

-- Graham Greene

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

Just a little bit of….. trivia for you.
[Thanks to Celine for forwarding this information to me].
Something to tell the folks at the next cubicle, this morning.
On Wednesday, April 5th [like, tomorrow] at two minutes and three seconds after 1:00 in the morning, the time and date will be:
01:02:03 - 04/05/06.
That won’t ever happen again.
Well, not unless you live a really long time!

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, April 03, 2006

The Emptiness of Prodigality

Peer Gynt, by Henrik Ibsen.
Originally published in 1867.
I highly recommend it. What a great book.
Often funny. Often bizarre. Always deep.
You know, because of the biblical parable of the Prodigal Son, people often think that the word “prodigal” means “one who returns” or something like that. But in fact, the word means “spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant.”
Peer Gynt is the consummate prodigal son.
He first appears to the reader as this self-centered youth who cares only for himself and the satisfaction of his impulses and whims at any cost. He is the quick non-thinker, who leaves a life of relative conventionality to roam as a dissolute wanderer. He is indeed all of these things, but all the while his "self" is not "centered."
At the end of his adventures as a libertine, the grey-bearded Peer Gynt is at a cross-roads, and he asks the character of the Button Moulder this question: "What, after all, is this being one's self?"
The Button Moulder replies that being one's self means slaying one's Self, and furthermore, "observing the Master's intentions in all things."
Peer Gynt contemplates this... restraint and delayed gratification have never been manageable themes with him. In my opinion, this whole idea of the search for the "self" is what Peer Gynt is all about. At the very final crossroads he is redeemed by the undeserved forgiveness and love of Solvieg, the woman he has once abandoned... this scene being a beautiful picture of redemption, equally available to the Peer Gynt in every reader.

Ibsen originally wrote Peer Gynt as a poem, and therefore we lose the Norwegian rhyme and metre in any English translation. To compensate if at all possible, I suggest reading the play while listening to the incidental music of Edvard Grieg, specifically composed to accompany the live performance of Peer Gynt.


Splash du Jour: Monday

So, so you think you can tell
Heaven from Hell,
Blue skys from pain.
Can you tell a green field
From a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?

And did they get you to trade
Your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange
A walk on part in the war
For a lead role in a cage?

How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls
Swimming in a fish bowl,
Year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have we found?
The same old fears.
Wish you were here.

Lyrics to the Pink Floyd song, Wish You Were Here. Lyrics – Roger Waters, © 1975

Have a great Monday!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

"Product, product, product!"

We have all heard (and used) that phrase “Location, location, location!” have we not?
I am sure that in general matters of real estate there is great pragmatic value and relevance in the employment of those words. However, I want to suggest another important phrase….
“Product, product, product!”
Fellow Puddlers, you know by now that I spend most of my lifetime in a coffeeshop and/or bookstore. I know, I know… it’s a dream-life I am living! I am the Urban Urchin. I spend more time in the downtown core than do most actually homeless people!
I am the consummate Street Hermit of Indefinite Tenure.
[NOTE: Some people are more familiar with the abbreviated form of that title]!
OK, so here I am, I am actually even writing this from downtown. Sipping coffee at Chapters.
Thing is, half of the food I have ever consumed in the past decade has come out of the Foodcourt in the Mall across the street. I could walk around in the Foodcourt BLINDFOLDED and still get to within one or two feet of any intended destination.
All of this is the long way of saying “My God, I eat there a lot.”
Especially on weekends.
And I’ve done them all… Roasty Jack’s, A&W, Teriyaki Experience, KFC, Manchu Wok, Subway, New York Fries…
I mean, if it were not for that Foodcourt, I would have long since died of malnutrition.
Or wait a minute… maybe I am saying that wrongly…. Umm… maybe it is closer to the truth to say “Because of that Foodcourt, I will one day die of malnutrition.”
[Somehow, this latter thing may be more like it.] We will have to await the autopsy and subsequent coroner’s report, after I one day keel over ten feet from the Burger King. The official conclusion will probably be quite succinct….. “There was more grease than blood in this man’s veins!”
Anyhoo… moving onward…. lately I have been frequenting the newest addition to the plethora of carcinogenic food joints at the Mall.
Jimmy The Greek.©
It is good.
It is good stuff.
Probably, as Roberta Flack sings… it is “killing me… killing me softly,” but hey. What can I do? I gotta eat! I gotta keep the furnace stoked! I’ve got no Stepford Wife at home, clad only in an apron, quietly making me supper!
Thing is, back to my premise…. about location versus product, and all.
See, Jimmy The Greek just moved into the last stall in the long line of food joints. Sort of inconspicuous. It’s new, been there a month, if that.
Now, the thing that once occupied that space was a place called “Soup-It-Up”.
They sold soup.
Who in the hell really wants SOUP when you are walking through a mall?
No one does.
That is why the place is not there anymore. It went under. The soup pot ran dry. Or rather, remained too full…. of SOUP!
I remember, I used to be sitting there and looking over at the folks behind the counter of Soup-It-Up. I felt bad for them. No one was over there. A few times I went over (I really did) and I would get their “Works Baked-Potato”…. it wasn’t soup. It was an actual baked potato, but LOADED with stuff that has surely knocked a few more months off my already threatened lifespan!
So… thing is…. in comes Jimmy The Greek…. swaggering and proud.
Flashy signs. Menu staring at you in bright neon. Pictures. My God, you even want to eat the signage!
Everything looks so good. And note…… NO SOUP!
No soup is offered. The place is totally soupless.
And it is totally good food. I should know. I’ve eaten there about thirty times already!
Sooooooo…. this is where my theory comes in.
It’s all about PRODUCT man!
Same location!

Think about it:
Soup Place: No paying customers whatsoever. The guy who owned that place has probably had to cut his losses and open up a bicycle repair shop or something.
Greek Place: You’ve gotta get advance tickets to ensure yourself a place in the lineup! Soon they will install those “pull-tabs” and you will have to sit there and wait until your number is called. Then you will throw your money at Jimmy, you will gladly throw it at him as he hands you that styrofoam plate, heaping with rice and tasty junk and garlic sauce and salad and whatever.

It’s all about what you’re selling!
Location shmocation!