Friday, June 30, 2006

A Summertime Valentine

Dad wants me to tell you that he has put another poem out there into yonder poetrypuddle.
He said, "Jack, tell 'em. You know the routine."
He's a bit bummed because the Ukrainians were no match for the Italians today!
All his wishful-thinking was for naught.
Naught bad for a cat huh? To know a word like "naught"?
Then he slithered off to the couch, where he is now heaped like a bag of potatoes, drinking a beer.
Humans are sooooooo lazy!
But on the way there he was mumbling something incoherently... [the guy is a regular Charles Bukowski, I'm telling you] and I think it was something like this, he was mumbling...
"I wrote it for you. I wrote it for you, Jack."
Something like that.
Now he's passed out.
So here's this "work of art" of his....

*********

Splash du Jour: Friday

No, this is not a photo of Jack Nicholson wondering why he ever agreed to do the movie, About Schmidt.
It is a photo of Donald Rumsfeld, wondering why he ever talks in public!
The following is from an actual news briefing, February, 2002. The statement won the Plain English Campaign’s Foot in Mouth Award…

“Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things that we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”
-- Donald Rumsfeld

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Team Ukraine©

Well, the time now comes to admit that I am not much of a soccer fan.
But I am real huge fan of BEING UKRAINIAN!
See, truth is, it is fairly impossible to be more Ukrainian than I am… ethnically speaking now. There has been no inter-marrying of any other sort of species for generation upon generation, in my family.
And now, here we are, us pedigree-Ukrainians, knee-deep in the World Cup.
Ukraine is right in there, in amongst these last eight teams.

I have been saying to everyone at work that Ukraine is going to pulverize Italy tomorrow…. like 8 – 0 !!
People laugh, but think about it. This Ukrainian team, THEY TRAIN WITH CABBAGES!
So how hard can kicking around a BALL afterwards, really be?

The above photo is an example of their vigor.
After every victory, they play Toss-The-Other-Ukrainian© !

They can do it. I believe in them.
And so I will say it ahead of time, here.
Vive l’ Ukraine!

Having said all of this… the truth is, the odds are severely against them.
[The Italians train with big PROVOLONES!]

Here is an article on the subject of tomorrow’s matchup:

By Sonia Oxley
HAMBURG, June 29 (Reuters) - Debutants Ukraine have already exceeded expectations but said they wanted to extend their World Cup run by upsetting Italy in the quarter-finals on Friday.
"We have not finished yet," coach Oleg Blokhin told reporters on Thursday.
"We understand that Italy are the favourites, but two teams are playing. We will try and get to the semi-final."
Ukraine go into the game knowing that whatever the result they have already made their mark at the tournament.
Ukraine came into the tournament after an impressive qualifying campaign in which they were the first European team to secure a place at the finals.
They bounced back from a 4-0 thrashing by Spain in their first finals game, defeating Saudi Arabia by the same score before reaching the second round after a 1-0 win over Tunisia.
They beat Switzerland on penalties in the second round after a tedious scoreless draw. Despite the achievement of getting so far in the tournament in their first outing, they have been criticised for playing uninspiring football in their matches so far.
That criticism cuts little ice with Blokhin.
"Many of the teams who played attractive football have already gone home. I really liked Mexico but they are out, Spain and others," Blokhin said.

Ukraine are almost at full strength going into the game, with the only problem being who to pair with feared striker Andriy Shevchenko after usual partner Andriy Voronin picked up a thigh injury in the previous game.
The daily Sovietsky Sport said his replacement was likely to be Artem Milevsky, who impressed with a cheeky chip into the net during Ukraine's penalty shootout victory over Switzerland on Monday.
Milevsky, distinctive with his flowing black hair, was called up for the World Cup from Ukraine's under-21 team, runners-up last month at the European Championship. The game kicks off at 1900 GMT on Friday in Hamburg and the winner will face either Germany or Argentina in the semi-finals.
*************************************************

Let’s do it, boys!
Here is a former article on My Own Personal Ukrainian-ness.

**************

Splash du Jour: Thursday

There are the women whose husbands I meet on aeroplanes
Who close their briefcases and ask, ‘What are you in?’

I look in their eyes, I tell them I am in poetry…

-- Donald Hall, in To A Waterfowl
[Complete poem → VISUALAUDIO]

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

A confessional passage has probably never been written that didn’t stink a little bit of the writer’s pride in having given up his pride.
-- J. D. Salinger

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

‘By God,’ quoth he, ‘for pleynly, at a word,
Thy drasty ryming is nat worth a toord!’

-- Geoffrey Chaucer c.1343-1400: The Canterbury Tales ‘Sir Thopas’ –
NOTE:
Image shown is actual photo of Chaucer on pony!

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Falling Leaves

Just thought I would write a few words about a really great memoir I read.
When I say “great” I mean well-written, well-paced, important…. all of those things, but because of its disturbing nature, maybe the book would not be “great” for every reader out there.
At any rate, here is a bit about what I thought of Falling Leaves: The Story of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter, by Adeline Yen Mah.

In November of 1937, Adeline was born in Tianjin China. She was the fifth child (one sister, three brothers) of the wealthy businessman Joseph Yen. Two weeks after Adeline's birth, her mother died, and her Aunt Baba was put in charge of the household. Joseph soon remarried, and with this new "Cruella de Ville"-type stepmother came the lifelong soul surgery of the entire family. Her name was Niang. Her tyranny knew no bounds, but it seemed to focus upon Adeline, and from her earliest years, the child incurred the senseless vindictive wrath of Niang.
Horrible injustices and restrictions were placed upon Adeline. As you read the story you will be amazed that she survived at all. Niang and Joseph had two children of their own, who were shamelessly favored. The rest of the family were treated as servants, in comparison. Adeline is sent to lonely seclusion in a far-off Catholic boarding school, and during very important formative years, all family contact is severed. We watch as Adeline's father is forced to go along with Niang's ridiculous rules and regulations, and she succeeds in dividing the loyalties of everyone in the family.

The story is heartwrenching. It's as though Adeline undergoes a lifelong soul surgery, repeatedly awakening from the anesthetic, only to collapse from the realized pain of reality.
Is there at least a happy ending?
Certainly in the usual sense, there is no happy ending.
For Adeline, what was wrong never ever gets fully fixed, it only gets more and more broken. But the redeeming quality of the story is the remarkable absence of bitterness or revenge that we see in Adeline at the end of it all. She is the embodiment of forgiveness, generosity and love. At the same time we see the extent of damage that a self-centered, greedy, manipulative, venomous, vindictive person can inflict upon others. Throughout the story are a host of characters who fall somewhere down the middle, not exactly evil, but swayed by evil.
Falling Leaves
causes the reader to fully examine which type of person they themselves most resemble.
Highly recommended for memoir lovers.
That is to say, people who love memoirs… not… oh hell. You know what I mean.

For more info, click.

**********

Splash du Jour: Monday

“I married beneath me, all women do.”
-- Nancy Astor

Have a great Monday!
*********

Friday, June 23, 2006

Enduring Love

An image I saw [randomly] a couple nights ago on the internet… inspired tonight’s bookpuddle blog. I was looking for photos of author, Ian McEwan, for my Splash du Jour posting, to commemorate his birthday.
I forget where it was, but I saw the following picture somewhere:

And wow… my mind immediately went back to the reading of his book, Enduring Love.
This photo SO captures the moment, at the opening of the story.
I have not seen the movie, but I can attest that the book itself, is a six stars out of five, affair.
So, I was reminded of a review I once wrote. Since this review, [originally posted on amazon] I have read many more McEwan books. He has never disappointed me.


Enduring Love
This being my third McEwan book, I would have to say it is the best so far. And I've settled on a term I would use to summarize what McEwan does with his writing. He makes us consider antecedent causes.
Makes you think about "what went before."
This happened because of this, that happened because of that, and so on.
It all fits so tightly in retrospect. Results or consequences escalate in a measure that seems impossible to predict. All good authors do this to some extent, I mean, that's what "plot" is all about... but McEwan could teach others to do it better!
With Black Dogs it is the incident with the vicious dogs on the path. With Amsterdam a lot of the consequences have to do with the seemingly innocuous pact made between the two men.
Here in Enduring Love, this ballooning accident sets in motion events that no-one (especially Joe or his wife Clarissa) would have ever been able to predict. In a MILLION years. This is truly a brilliant book about fanatical obsession and the insidious way that a loving relationship can be infiltrated and ruined by forces from outside of that relationship. This happened in a more roundabout way in the other two books I've mentioned, but here in Enduring Love it's right up front. Wow, it's just an amazing book. I unreservedly recommend Enduring Love to anyone who likes a good psychological thriller... something you just can't put down for too long.
And thanks to McEwan's book, if I'm ever part of an impromptu hot-air balloon rescue crew, I will be sure to NOT smile at any of my team members!

Quit reading me.
If you have not yet done so, buy the book.

***********

Splash du Jour: Friday

What is most original in a man's nature is often that which is most desperate. Thus, new systems are forced on the world by men who simply cannot bear the pain of living with what is. Creators care nothing for their systems except that they be unique. If Hitler had been born in Nazi Germany he wouldn't have been content to enjoy the atmosphere.
-- Leonard Cohen

See Cohen’s new book of poetry, → here.
See my own latest poetry-posting, → here.

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Splash du Jour: Thursday

Today is the birthday of thriller-writer, Dan Brown. Born on this day in Exeter, New Hampshire, in 1964. Although I have never read any of his books, his last one, The Da Vinci Code has, of last count, sold something like…. 670 billion copies!

“Writing an informative yet compact thriller is a lot like making maple sugar candy. You have to tap hundreds of trees - boil vats and vats of raw sap - evaporate the water - and keep boiling until you've distilled a tiny nugget that encapsulates the essence.”
-- Dan Brown

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

Today is the birthday of one of my favorite novelists.
Ian McEwan, born in Aldershot, England, June 21st, 1948.
He needs no introduction, but I love the way that Zadie Smith described him, in The Believer magazine, [August, 2005]:

I have often thought Ian McEwan a writer as unlike me as it is possible to be. His prose is controlled, careful, and powerfully concise; he is eloquent on the subjects of sex and sexuality; he has a strong head for the narrative possibilities of science; his novels are no longer than is necessary; he would never write a sentence featuring this many semicolons. When I read him I am struck by metaphors I would never think to use, plots that don’t occur to me, ideas I have never had. I love to read him for these reasons and also because, like his millions of readers, I feel myself to be in safe hands. Picking up a book by McEwan is to know, at the very least, that what you read therein will be beautifully written, well-crafted, and not an embarrassment, either for you or for him. This is a really big deal. Bad books happen less frequently to McEwan than they do to the rest of us.
-- Zadie Smith

I too, love to read him, for all of Zadie’s reasons.

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

A girl asked a boy if she was pretty.
He said no.

She asked him if he wanted to be with her forever.

He said no.

She then asked him if he would cry if she walked away.

He again said no.

She had heard too much.

She needed to leave.

As she walked away, he grabbed her arm and told her to stay.

He said,
"You're not pretty, you're beautiful. I don't want to be with you forever, I need to be with you forever. I wouldn't cry if you walked away, I would die."

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Smithereens!

It had to have bothered the teachers.
I’m talking about high school here, now.
It had to!
It had to bother them.
It’s graduation season. Rented tuxes have just been returned. Cummerbunds are being examined, and bright young lads are pleading with the rental place, “No, honestly, that bit of puke-stain was there when I rented the thing!”
Prom dresses have just recently been put into closets, and thousands of girls are asking themselves… “When will I be able to ever wear a dress that looks like spray-painted golden macaroni, again?”
But beyond all of these issues, I am wondering… I am thinking back to a ritual that used to go on in my own high school, the front entrance of which is shown above, in the photo.
Thom Collegiate.
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.
I myself, graduated from there in 1982.
I lived right across from the place. In fact, I could run to school as the bell was ringing, and still, I would make it to class on time. Sometimes my beagle pup [named “Bags” and all the kids knew him, because he was cute as hell, and he was actually enrolled at Thom]… he would run over with me, and I would have to take him back.
Anyway… fast forward to the last day of school. Exams are over.
It’s the day that you return, only to receive your report cards.
At Thom Collegiate, here is what would happen… everyone would immediately go to their hallway locker and haul out every single thing they had “learned” that year, and tear it to smithereens!
Scatter it in the hallway.
Notebooks in tatters!
If you ran down the hallway afterwards, on any of the three floors, you would have been knee-deep in Biology, History, English, Algebra, Chemistry…. kick it as you go [screaming is good, too]…. garbage….. ALL GARBAGE…. we are done with it. We have written the exam!
Hmmm…

What did the teachers think, of this annual mess?
Now, in my middle-aged dotage, I wonder.
Sweet Lord…. they poured themselves into us.
Regaling us with years of accrued wisdom, as though their very lives depended on the outcome [our final grade]…. upon the glories of Beowulf, upon Macbeth, the wanderings of Chaucer’s pilgrims…. my God….. to see it kicked around and torn to shreds as so much refuse, on this last day of it all!
Perhaps they were hardened to it?
You know?
You literally pour yourself out one afternoon….. spending yourself upon the glories of Harper Lee for this group of hopeless recalcitrants, only to hear some dolty, half-sleeping kid in the back row raise his hand at the end of it all and ask…. “Umm. Yeah. And like. Is this going to be on the exam?”
Maybe the teachers are savvy to it all. Maybe they are on the next page! Maybe they are emotionally prepared for the hallway mayhem, on report-card day.

All I can say, teachers of the world…. of North America, [or at least Thom Collegiate] is… may I offer a collective “I’m sorry?”
You always deserved better than I was, back then.
I saved my own notebooks for only one reason.
Because of the wonderful extra-curricular marijuana-induced artwork I had done in the pages where notes were supposed to appear!

**********

Splash du Jour: Monday

Emily: Do human beings ever realize life while they live it? Every, every minute?
Stage Manager: No. Saints and poets, maybe. They do some.

-- from Thornton Wilder's Our Town

Live this day to its fullest!
Have a great Monday!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Black Robe

I am a longtime fan of the work of Irish/Canadian/American novelist, Brian Moore (1921-1999). I've read about a dozen of his novels, and plan to read many more. His 1985 book, Black Robe, was a real departure for him (in my opinion) and a wild ride, for me as a reader!
Discussing Black Robe, the author said, "...I'd never written a book like this before. I didn't want to write an historical novel because I don't particularly like historical novels... I wanted to write this as a tale. I thought of it in terms of authors I admire, like Conrad. I thought of Heart of Darkness, a tale, a journey into an unknown destination, to an unknown ending."
He was inspired to write Black Robe through his own experience of the vast Canadian landscape, the severe winter climate, and his own travels up and down the St. Lawrence River. His discovery of American historian Francis Parkman's study entitled The Jesuits in North America led Moore on a quest of further research, and soon he began to wonder... what if he had been fool enough to become a Jesuit and land himself in this Canadian wilderness, surrounded by people who seemed highly intelligent and terrifying all at once, and near impossible to convert?
Black Robe was born.

It is set in the early seventeenth century. The zealous Jesuit missionary Father Laforgue must make a perilous journey up the Ottawa River to a remote outpost in order to to relieve an ailing priest of his duties there. After receiving permission from the Commandant, who is none other than the explorer Samuel Champlain, Laforgue sets off for Ihonatiria with his young apprentice Daniel Davost, and a convoy of canoes piloted by the native Algonkin guides. The trip proves to be even more perilous than was anticipated and Moore's tale becomes an experiment in bringing the character of the committed priest Laforgue to the limits of his beliefs and his ability to endure. And it pains him to watch Daniel's own spiritual disintegration.

This tale is superb in how it shows the clash of these two almost infinitely different cultures... the European Christian (and more specifically "Catholic") proselytizing mentality face to face with the Native belief in harmony with nature.
One of the "Savages" sums up their opinion of Laforgue by saying "...listen Blackrobe. I am speaking against you today. You and your god do not suit our people. Your ways are not our ways. If we adopt them we will be neither Norman nor Huron. And soon our enemies will know our weakness and wipe us from the earth."
These natives live by relying on the interpretation of their dreams and by the forest speaking to them etc., things which the Jesuits considered useless or foolish, and a result of ignorance. But Moore is brilliant in showing how the natives saw the Jesuit ways as being equally mysterious and ridiculous (especially the whole idea of the Eucharist, how they viewed it as cannibalism. They called baptism the "water sorcery").
So everything about the natives that seemed to be based on a sort of primitive superstition was reciprocated in their perception of Jesuit practises and rituals.
In this book we meet the Huron, the Iroquois, and the Algonkin as a handsome, brave, warlike, incredibly cruel people, who were in no way dependent on the white man and, in fact, judged him to be their physical and mental inferior. And we meet the Blackrobes, who willingly flung themselves into the midst of this culture, and unlike Conrad's exploitive colonialists, came not for the purpose of economic and political conquest, but for religious conversion of those whom they called "the Savages."

One textual note: There is an immense amount of profanity in Black Robe, enough to warn the sqeamish about. According to the author's preface, the obscene language used by the natives at that time in history was a form of rough banter and was not intended [by them] to give offense.

Click here for another Bookpuddle review of Moore.

***********

Friday, June 16, 2006

Splash du Jour: Friday

Don't say it was "delightful"; make us say "delightful" when we've read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers "Please will you do the job for me."
-- C.S. Lewis

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Enuresis?

Myrtle: Yes, actually I have recently discovered a good blog.

Jim: Really? Is it that one called Bookpuddle?

Myrtle: [muffled snorting]… Are you kidding? Bookpuddle is almost as useless as that other one, Godpuddle. Both are pretty much a complete waste of time.

Jim: Well, spill the beans Myrtle. What is this “good” blog called?

Myrtle: It’s called Poetrypuddle. Original poetry by some guy.

Jim: Sounds to me like it’s maybe the same guy. Seems to have a thing about puddles, probably a result of early childhood problems with enuresis. Like all three of these blogs are his way of overcoming some really traumatic….

Myrtle: No, no! Can’t be. Because these poems are quite good actually. Can’t be the same guy.

Jim: OK. Sounds good. I’ll check it out.


*********

OK, I would not kid you.
The above wiretapped conversation actually took place between two people somewhere. Which is the lengthy and convoluted way of saying that tonight’s blog is to be found here!

Click the thing.
Don’t be chicken!

*********

Splash du Jour: Thursday

Entirely incidentally, a little-known fact about Shakespeare is that his father moved to Stratford-upon-Avon from a nearby village shortly before his son's birth. Had he not done so, the Bard of Avon would instead be known as the rather less ringing Bard of Snitterfield.
-- Bill Bryson

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Finally! I'll be there!

Well, as you can see, in the above image, a dream has come true for me.
I WILL see Rogers Waters LIVE, in Montreal, on Sept.21st, 2006.
I can’t wait!
Those tickets are mine. And very close to the stage.
I will probably die!
I’ve written before, of how much I would love to see any show, starring Roger Waters.
It would be impossible to exaggerate just how much I love his music, and in fact, all of the music of Pink Floyd, of whom Waters is a primary player. [Even now, I am listening to the latest David Gilmour on my Mac iTunes.]
As most of you will know, Gilmour and Waters are the guitarist/vocalist and bass player/vocalist [respectively] with the legendary British phenom-psychadelic band, Pink Floyd. Both were also writers. Lyricists.

The present-day rivalry between these two musical geniuses is intense. In fact, I read one report that stated they were offered a contract worth $250,000,000 to tour together this year (2006). Instead, they have chosen to tour separately, as solo artists. That’s quite the rivalry. Quite the irreconcilable differences exist, between them.
Gilmour’s new CD, On An Island is great stuff. It is quite mellow. Poetic lyrics, spun by his wife, Polly Samson. Quiet, thoughtful pieces.
But Waters.
Waters is simply incredible. At all times! Off the scale! My preference. My preference is Waters.
His concert DVD entitled In The Flesh (2000) is my favorite concert of all time. I must have watched this thing a hundred times.


I think it is an example of the finest musicianship in the world today. And almost all of the same musicians are joining Waters for this year’s tour. My opinion is that everyone currently living should have this concert in their DVD rack. And CD rack, as well.
There was also a concert entitled Pulse (a Gilmour-run “Pink Floyd” tour, which included other band members like Nick Wright and Rick Mason) and I’ve got to admit, this concert is absolutely incredible, too. And there is good news. Finally, after more than a decade… it is being released on DVD on July 11th, 2006!
Tonight, this very night, the Roger Waters tour is in Oslo, Norway.
I keep track!
You could say I am a huge Pink Floyd fan.
You could say that I am going to see a great concert in September.
Finally! I’ll be there! In the flesh!
**********

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

“Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality but an escape from personality. But, of course, only those who have personality and emotion know what it means to want to escape from these.”
-- Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) –

Have a great Wednesday!


Above: Emily Dickinson Homestead
-- Amherst, Massachusetts --

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

Today, June 13th, is the birthday of perhaps the greatest poet of the 20th Century.
Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923.
Born on this day in Dublin, 1865.
William Butler Yeats.

Never Give All The Heart

Never give all the heart, for love
Will hardly seem worth thinking of
To passionate women if it seem
Certain, and they never dream
That it fades out from kiss to kiss;
For everything that's lovely is
But a brief, dreamy, kind delight.
O never give the heart outright,
For they, for all smooth lips can say,
Have given their hearts up to the play.
And who could play it well enough
If deaf and dumb and blind with love?
He that made this knows all the cost,
For he gave all his heart and lost.

-- William Butler Yeats

Click [here] for my tribute to Yeats.

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, June 12, 2006

POETRYPUDDLE!

For quite a while I have felt that it would be nice to have a page dedicated to my own poems.
Things I have written.
Things I will write.
A place to put them.
A place to set them down, and let them be.
I hope that you will stop by now and then and have a look at some of the thoughts, put to words, that end up on poetrypuddle.

All the best to you.
--Cip

“Poetry may make us from time to time a little more aware of the deeper, unnamed feelings which form the substratum of our being, to which we rarely penetrate; for our lives are mostly a constant evasion of ourselves.”
-- T.S. Eliot --
********

Splash du Jour: Monday

People think that I must be a very strange person. This is not correct. I have the heart of a small boy. It is in a glass jar on my desk.
-- Stephen King

Have a great Monday!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

all times have been modern

The other day I finished this novel by Canadian author, Elisabeth Harvor.
all times have been modern.
Since the title is always presented in lower-case, from the cover to inner pages, I too, will refer to it in this cummings-ish way. The phrase itself is lifted from Nadia Boulanger’s pithy saying, “In art, there are no generations, only individuals; all times have been modern.”

In many ways, this novel stays thematically joined to that quotation, which the author places up front as an epigram.
We meet Kay.
Raised by fairly bohemian, artsy parents, Kay meets Polish √©migr√© Alexander Oleski at a young and tender age. The entire courtship takes place by mail. [A process no less dangerous in real life, than in novels…]
Their marriage isn’t really horrible, but neither is it able to build anything that will sit well upon its shaky foundation. It ends.
Kay moves on with her two young boys, and her dreams of becoming an established writer. She’s appeared in The New Yorker, and written a novel.
Kay lands a job, and begins a relationship with one of the handsome architects there.
Pretty much the perfect guy. Galbraith. Even his name is perfect, no?
Will this relationship now prove to be all that Kay wants and needs?
I won’t say a word more about it, except to say that the Boulanger quote plays into all that happens between Kay and Galbraith.

In art [and what is more artful than good love?] should problems regarding age and history, in a word, generational-distance, hinder the true recipient of art, namely, the individual?
Further, if one person genuinely appreciates the art [the love] and the other person also genuinely appreciates the art [the love] does it follow that the two of them together will appreciate it [the love, the art] twice as much as they would if they consider it [the love, the art] separately?
Also, if it is true, [in art, and in things artful] that “all times have been modern,” shouldn’t the most important consideration always involve what is being experienced right now, in the present tense, rather than in what will or may be experienced in the future, by the recipient[s]….. of art? Of love?
These are the kind of questions that our protagonist asks herself in this story, even if she is not aware that she is asking them in this way.
It’s dang good, and as a whole, this book reminds me of the idea that love and power displace each other.
That is to say that love has very little to do with control. Much more to do with the loss of it. Even as one of the greatest poets of our current day and age [yours truly] put it, “love is weakness.” And “the one wielding / the most power, loves the least.”

To me it is a story of emotional perseverance and resilience.
Kay’s.
Adjustment to disappointment, as well. It speaks to the idea that no life is lived perfectly, and that while our own may seem as though it is lived in sort of a matte finish way, there are flecks of technicolor in it, all over the place.
Also, that good sex is among the greatest privileges of a well-lived life.
Also, that good sex may mean different things to different people, often very different things even between the very two people that are enjoying “it” with each other.
Also, that to be in love is to be caught in a web or cycle of freedom and dependence. Not that these words are necessarily antonyms of each other, but, rather, the coupling of them points toward the fact that there is no such thing as real “love” that doesn’t involve possible rejection. No such thing as real love that does not include a measure of vulnerability to the partner’s whims and and caprices. In love there exists the constant interplay and exchange of dependence and independence. Love itself threatens the balance of these things.

This is a mature novel, fully gestated. Brought to term. It’s not one of these love-story-type novels, written by authors that seem compelled to birth preemie after preemie every six months or so. In fact, if I am understanding the Acknowledgments page correctly at all, this book was twelve years in the making. It’s fully cooked. Good stuff.
Good because it provides no easy escape from the complexities of love.
Good because there aren’t any.

************

Friday, June 09, 2006

Splash du Jour: Friday

I get up and a button falls off.
I pick up my briefcase and the handle falls off.
I'm afraid to go to the bathroom.
-- Rodney Dangerfield
(1921-2004)

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Splash du Jour: Thursday

Blessed is the man, who having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.
-- Marian Evans, a.k.a., George Eliot

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

I am the literary equivalent of a Big Mac and Fries.
-- Stephen King

Have a great Wednesday!
“SUPER-SIZE IT!”

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

Fiction-writing's lonely in a way most people misunderstand. It's yourself you have to be estranged from, really, to work.
-- David Foster Wallace

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Splash du Jour: Monday

Today is the birthday of bestselling author, Ken Follett.
I am usually not a reader of “thriller” novels, which are the usual genre Follett is working in.
However, I must say that I am a HUGE fan of his book The Pillars of the Earth. There, he wrote a masterpiece of historical fiction that remains as one of the best novels I have ever read.
So I was very excited to stumble across the following news release on Mr. Follett's own website:

Ever since The Pillars of the Earth was published in 1989, readers have been asking me to write a sequel.The book is so popular that I’ve been nervous about trying to repeat its success. But at last I’ve screwed up my courage and begun 'World without End'.

I couldn’t write another book about building a cathedral, because that would be the same book. And I couldn’t write another story about the same characters, because by the end of “Pillars” they are all very old or dead. So I’m working on a story that takes place in the same town, Kingsbridge, and features the descendants of the “Pillars” characters two centuries later.

The cathedral and the priory are again at the centre of a web of love and hate, greed and pride, ambition and revenge. But at the heart of the story is the greatest natural disaster ever to strike the human race: the plague known as the Black Death, which killed something like half the population of Europe in the fourteenth century. The people of the Middle Ages battled this lethal pestilence and survived – and, in doing so, laid the foundations of modern medicine.

I’m hoping to finish the book around May 2007, so that it can be published in time for Christmas that year. Wish me luck!

This is good news for lovers of superb historical fiction. I will definitely be among the first in line at the cash register when this sequel comes out!
For more information on The Pillars, click → here.
To read my own brief review of the book, originally written back in January of 2001, click → here.
Good luck Mr. Follett. And also, Happy 57th Birthday!

Hey, y’all. Have a great Monday!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Weltschmerz!

Some of the more ardent Puddlers may notice that I have not been around much, lately. The reason for my absence is a combination of three things. First is the heatwave. It is wearing me out. Secondly, my work. I am overworked. Thirdly, I have not yet won the lottery, which means that I have to go to work and be overworked in a building that does not have air-conditioning during a heatwave. In short, I've been experiencing something known among the Germans as "Weltschmerz", meaning "world-weariness."
OK, having said all of that, let me say Congratulations to the girl whose picture is shown here. Her name is Finola Mei Hwa Hackett, and she placed second in the 78th Annual Scripps Spelling Bee competition, held in Washington DC.
As a fellow Canadian, [Finola hails from Tofield, Alberta], I am fiercely proud of this girl, and her achievement. If I am not mistaken, I think the contest begins with something like 12 or 13 million contestants…. then these are whittled
down day-by-day to a select number of severe brainiac kids, who stand there at a microphone and correctly spell words like “bdellium.”
Meaning, “a fragrant resin produced by a number of trees related to myrrh, used in perfumes.”
Of course!
I have three bags of the stuff right here in my cupboard, next to the Kraft Dinner©! Honestly, I saw this word asked, and the kid got it right. [You don’t pronounce the “b” by the way].
I mean… the average age of these contestants is somewhere around 12 and 13.
Shouldn’t they be spelling stuff like “hipopottammus” and “sinnamin” and “ardvark”?
These Scripps people are TOUGH! Tough as nales!

So it was the crazy word “weltschmerz” that finally eluded Finola. That innocent-sounding [but oh so evil] little bell rang out, when she missed this word. Again, it is not pronounced as it appears, but pronounced with a “v” sound.
The winner, 13-year old Katherine Close, from New Jersey, correctly spelled “ursprachne”…. another word which should be deemed unfair because let’s face it… it is just not a real word. What is it anyway? --> “A facial skin condition of bears, immortalized in the constellation Ursa Acne?”
Ursprachne!
“The sound my cat makes when he hacks up a hairball?”

What actual human being has ever used it in a sentence?
But she got it. Katherine got it!


What I loved to see was Finola’s reaction, when she realized she was beaten.
She beamed a big bright smile, and promptly congratulated Katherine. Her praise for her victor, was immediate.
It was one of the most gracious things I have ever seen.

So, Congratulations to you both, Katherine and Finola.
You bowth spellt stuf awwsumly. I cood have never spelt haff the stuff you spelt, and I myself amm rather brilyunt!

************

Friday, June 02, 2006

Splash du Jour: Friday

"Literature is where I go to explore the highest and lowest places in human society and in the human spirit, where I hope to find not absolute truth but the truth of the tale, of the imagination and of the heart."
-- Salman Rushdie

TGIF! Have a great day!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Splash du Jour: Thursday

“Time is a fact of life. In some ways it is the fact of life. It might even be considered the true hidden subject of all novels.”
-- Margaret Atwood

Have a great Thursday!