Sunday, November 25, 2012

Until Further Notice...

Dear Friends:
For the next little while I'm going to be unable to do any blogging at all.
I do look forward to getting back in the swing of things when I'm feeling better.
I wish you all a terrific week ahead.
-- Cip --

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

Genius in the sperm whale?  Has the sperm whale ever written a book. spoken a speech? No, his great genius is declared in his doing nothing particular to prove it.  It is moreover declared in his pyramidical silence.
-- Herman Melville, Moby-Dick --

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

Boys like it when you talk to them as if they were grown men—at least he always did when he was a kid—because they pretend that’s what they are anyhow, grown-up men, and they do it for their entire lives.
-- Russell Banks, Lost Memory of Skin --

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Splash du Jour: Monday

She was lonely without Blunt, but she was lonelier at the idea that the world went on as though she had not loved him.
-- Colm Toibin, The Empty Family --

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Four Things

Ahhh, finishing a beer, and beginning a new book.
Even though the lovely weekend is pretty much over, there is still much to be thankful for. Good books, good drinks, peace and quiet. Many civilizations would have killed for these four things. [And did].
Happy reading to ye, one and all!
-- Cip --


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Severe Distraction Issues

People who know me know that I struggle with concentration. 
I'm extremely prone to distraction. This is why I'm a slow reader. 
I practically read any book I read twice, because of the amount of re-reading I do, as I go along.
My mother had the same affliction, and my father, albeit to a lesser degree. So, I blame their DNA. 

In me, my distraction levels can be rather ominous. 
I was just afforded another example of this, just an hour ago.
I was at the local vehicle registry place, where you get the little sticker to renew your license plate validation. So I fill out the information and the girl did the processing and asked how I'd like to pay. I then insert my trusty chip-embedded VISA card in the little terminal. Sounds pretty simple, right?
She turned to go over to the place where the stickers are, and in that interval of time I drifted off to Australia or somewhere. She returned and handed me the sticker as the VISA machine spat out a little piece of paper. She tore it off and said, "Oh. You didn't do it?"
Meanwhile I'm thinking in my head, "You know? Kangaroos have to be the most amazing creature ever…." and my mouth says, "Pardon me?"
The VISA thing… it didn't work. Apparently you have to DO certain things.
I say, "I'm sorry" and re-insert the card.
Again… seconds go by, and now I'm hang-gliding somewhere, entranced by how the tops of trees from this altitude sort of look like broccoli. The machine spits out yet another piece of paper, and this time it actually says on it, at the bottom and in real small font… "What the hell is WRONG with this guy?"
I swear! That's how bad I am.
Up till then, this was almost fun, but now the girl is looking at me with an angry face. There are a lot of other people in this line, you bozo!
So again, [third time, if you're counting] I re-insert the card, profuse with apologies, and now I force myself to stare intently at the machine, not looking to the right or left. No more dreams.
It worked. I leave with the new sticker, which I had intended to apply as soon as I was outside.  

But in the interim, I forgot.
Now I am home and the sticker is still on the passenger seat of my car, sitting there.
It sometimes amazes me that I somehow make it to work every morning, instead of just aimlessly driving off into the distance…


Friday, November 16, 2012

Splash du Jour: Friday

A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue, nor suggest models of proper human behavior, nor restrain men from doing the things men have always done. If a story seems moral, do not believe it. If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted, or if you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waste, then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie. There is no rectitude whatsoever. There is no virtue. As a first rule of thumb, therefore, you can tell a true war story by its absolute and uncompromising allegiance to obscenity and evil.
-- Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried --

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

They Don't Make 'Em Like That Anymore

I like a very wide variety of music. 
From AC/DC to Dvorak. 
It all depends on my mood, and I have many moods. A wide variety of moods.
After a really trying [difficult] work day I stopped at a Starbucks and read my book for a while, and then got in my car for the ride home. I flipped the dial on my radio and landed on our local country FM station. Instantly the chorus of a song caught my attention and I appreciated the honesty and clarity of the voice. It was truly beautiful, and what the guy was singing about made me think of my own father, now passed away. So I turned the volume up and even started singing along, even though I had never heard the tune in my life before. I made a note of the refrain, which was "they don't make 'em like that anymore" -- so I could look it up on Youtube when I got home. I found it, just as I was retrieving my phone messages from the day. There was one from my sister, about some "news" -- so I quickly called her.
Turns out one of our family's dearest friends died just yesterday. Good ol' Pastor Ness -- a man I had worked with many times when I myself was in the Christian ministry, decades ago in another lifetime. 
His 88 years on earth were spent loving God as sincerely as I think anyone could ever humanly accomplish. At the time she was telling me about this, the song from Youtube was already playing quietly on my computer. The guy was singing, "There's something 'bout that generation. These days I think we need 'em… more than we ever did before. But they don't make 'em like that anymore."
I'll admit, country music [in general] can be guilty of a penchant for hearkening back to a sort of idealizing of the past, usually with a steel-guitar twangin' away at your pancreas. But, that aside, I can't help but think there is a lot of truth to the general gist of the song. And the guy's voice is just incredible. His name is Jason Blaine and he's CANADIAN!
Just like ME!
Whether or not you're a fan of country music at all, I place the song here for you to have a listen yourself. It's as "country" as a big ol' wheat field with a tractor in the distance. Maybe it will touch you in a similar way to how it has touched me, this cold Thursday night in November.


Splash du Jour: Thursday

If a composer could say what he had to say in words he would not bother trying to say it in music.
-- Gustav Mahler --

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

-- Letterman's Top 10 --
Top 10 Signs You're A Lame Spy

10. You fear heights, loud noises, air travel, and enclosed spaces.
9. You insist on wearing a cape.
8. By day, you work at a hardware store; 

by night, you work another shift at the hardware store.
7. Everyone knows you can't swim.
6. Your only gadget: Cufflinks that shoot smaller cufflinks.
5. E-mail address is
4. 10 p.m., enter foreign country. 10:05 p.m., executed for espionage.
3. Insist on being paid in hugs.
2. Ex-girlfriends call you "003 1/2".
1. Only have a learner's permit to kill.

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

No Good Irish Writers? Say What?

Here is a pic of the last two books I read.
Coraline is terrific, I highly recommend it.
I just finished the John Banville one tonight and I loved it. The totally neat thing about The Infinities is that it is primarily narrated by the Greek god Hermes. And he's a real hoot. With this book Banville has taken the omniscient narrator thing to a unique level, with Hermes as mouthpiece. Here, several "gods" [like Zeus and Pan] descend and alter the lives of the Godley family, the patriarch of which is dying.

Adam Godley, a famous mathematical genius on a par with Einstein, has suffered a stroke [while defecating] one day.
Hey! It happens! It's nearly happened to me a time or two, in those same circumstances.
Anyhoo -- the family gathers at the ancestral manor to re-connect and await the imminent demise of Adam. But the gods have much to say about the proceedings. And do

Some of the stuff they do is pretty wild, actually. Just ask the pretty daughter-in law Helen, she'll tell ya!
Banville is a genius and I love this the best of the four books by him I have now devoured.

I was walking through the office at work with the book in hand today and told a certain person, "Hey, you should really read this book, it's terrific!" And he replied, "Nope. I won't read any Irish author because none of them are any good. Except maybe James Joyce."
And in one of those sadly recurring verbal moments when I suffer a brief aneurism [or maybe it was a stroke] I failed to come up with a good response for this racist statement.
But after thinking about it, I realized there are tons of great Irish authors I love.
Like Colm Toibin, William Trevor, Oscar Wilde, and if poetry counts, what about Yeats! 

And two Irish-Canadian writers come to mind -- Emma Donoghue and Brian Moore.
I think it's wrong to condemn any country in the world as having no good authors at work in it. 

Because there are great writers everywhere.
Maybe even especially in Ireland. Or like... CANADA!

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

Gotta hand it to this guy, he may not be exactly "romantic" but he's definitely creative!
I think I'm going to use his method of marriage proposal next time I get engaged!

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Splash du Jour: Monday

Granny Godley was dying of a damaged heart and grimly turned over each new day like a playing card from a steadily diminishing deck, anticipating of each one that it would be the ace of spades, while what had come instead was this solemn-eyed coat card, this miniature queen of diamonds, swaddled and uncannily still and always looking at something far off to the side that only she it seemed could see, clutching in her white-knuckled fist the wilting flower of the future.
-- John Banville, The Infinities --

Have a great Monday!

Friday, November 09, 2012

Where Were You on Nov.22nd, 1963?

Tonight I did my regular stint at Starbucks in the Chapters bookstore after work. Finished reading Coraline [loved it!] and started reading The Infinities by John Banville. And drank copious amounts of coffee.
I also did a good deed.
A couple next to me left the place, and about a half hour later I noticed the woman had forgotten her purse slung on the back of her chair. So I carried it up to the Starbucks people and they put it aside, pending her return for it. About another half hour later I saw them retrieving it, the woman all aflutter. Ahh, another anonymous good deed by Mr. Bookpuddle.  I'm a regular Haley Joel Osment -- "pay it forward" and all that jazz. Little do they know I took all her credit cards.
Just kidding.
Then I browsed books in the Neil Gaiman section [he seems to have a lot of real interesting ones in the Fantasy genre of the store] and soon found myself among a display of Stephen King's 2011 novel entitled 11/22/63.
I leafed through it and read a bit of the book club discussion ideas at the back.
The first one was a question. "Where were you the day JFK was shot?"
Hmmm… and so I wondered where I was at that time, in 11/22/63.
And it really took me down memory lane.
Because on that day, I was in an amniotic sac. Thankfully, it was my mother's.
And I was fixin' to get out of there.
12 days later I was born into the world.
When I think of 11/22/63 though, I always think that it was also a day when two literary greats did the reverse of what I was about to accomplish by being born.
They died.
C.S. Lewis, and Aldous Huxley.
So it was an infamous day in many respects beyond the catastrophe of the assassination. 

The political world lost a great man, and the literary world lost two masters of the craft.

Splash du Jour: Friday

 Have a great Friday!

Thursday, November 08, 2012

I've Been a'Whaling...

Well, just a brief word here because I've had a very tiring day at work. But I thought I'd drop by to say I finally finished reading Moby-Dick.
Wow, it was quite the book, definitely not for the casual-type reader out there, you've got to be fairly committed.
It's not until the last 40 pages or so [of nearly 600] that they even meet up with Moby!
But when they do -- all hell breaks loose, as it were.
Melville's description of the multiple battles are really unforgettable and worth the wait, in my opinion. It's really a terrific journey.
I think, looking back, what I loved the most was how Melville endowed Moby-Dick [the whale himself] with a sort of cognizance lacking in all the other encounters. Other whales seem to be taken by surprise, but not Moby -- Captain Ahab, in his insane vengeance has been on a one-track course regarding this one whale. He's been dreaming of payback time for the beast -- as Moby had previously left town with Ahab's leg. But, in the end it's been Moby all the while -- waiting for Ahab to reappear.
I'm not providing a review here, since most of you have probably read this book at one point in your life -- perhaps you were even forced to do so, in college. 

I came at it late in the game, and of my own free will.
Now I am sort of "cleansing my palette" with some lighter fare.
A little YA thing by Neil Gaiman, called Coraline.
And it's excellent excellent. Spooky. Scary. Delightfully weird.
So far, no whales -- but a lot of talking mice and rats and cats.


Splash du Jour: Thursday

Don't ever apologize to an author for buying something in paperback, or taking it out from a library (that's what they're there for. Use your library). Don't apologize to this author for buying books second hand, or getting them from bookcrossing or borrowing a friend's copy. What's important to me is that people read the books and enjoy them, and that, at some point in there, the book was bought by someone. And that people who like things, tell other people. The most important thing is that people read.
-- Neil Gaiman --

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

Pointing somewhere, in and around, Utah maybe?
Thank you, America, for restoring my Canadian faith in, I don't know…

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Early Valentines From Robert

Some of you may recall that I have somewhat chronicled a bit of the details surrounding my Overall Horticultural Ignorance, a while back.
I love plants, but I really don't know that much about them.
I once bought a plant from my local grocery store. 

It was like -- years ago.
I had no intention of buying a plant at the time. 

I was in the store with a fairly basic itinerary and agenda:
Find the hamburger section, and buy some.
But this silly plant caught my eye and so I took him home, naming him Robert Plant before we even got in the elevator together.
I placed him in a certain corner of my kitchen area, where he immediately began climbing the walls. He attaches little sucker things on to the wall [real neat] and just… climbs. 

But after a while I began sensing that he needed more pot.
[Robert Plant needs more pot, go figure! I should have known this from the get-go!]
So I went to Walmart and bought him some dirt and pot.
Since then he's been on a real high. A new lease on life. And I just took this new picture of his upper leaves. Whether there is any rational basis for what I am about to say, or not -- I don't care.
I'm going to interpret the distinct shape of these new leaves as an early Valentine message from my dear roommate, Robert.


Splash du Jour: Tuesday

There is some relationship between the hunger for truth and the search for the right words. This struggle may be ultimately indefinable and even undecidable, but one damn well knows it when one sees it.
-- Christopher Hitchens --

Have a great Tuesday!

Sunday, November 04, 2012

On Writing: A Trifecta Writing Challenge

It's been a while since I took a shot at the ol' Trifecta Writing Challenge, but this weekend's prompt made me immediately think of the following response.
So here goes.
First, the prompt itself, and then my 33 words.

For this weekend's challenge, in honor of all of the writers throwing rationality (and perhaps sanity) to the wind and writing til their fingers bleed, we're asking for exactly 33 words about why we write.

When it comes down to it, there can be only one valid  reason to write. It is something that happens -- literally enters a fully prepared brain -- the moment that reading is not enough.

Be sure to visit Trifecta by clicking on the Trifectasaurus banner above.

Read the other entries. Play along. It's fun.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

A Nice Bookhaul: A Saturday Snapshot

I'm still wiping the drool off a few of these volumes I nabbed for a pittance, at my favourite annual used booksale. [Click to enlarge photo, you'll actually see some saliva...]
This stack should keep me busy in 2013.
"Wait a minute, though!" [This, in chorus, from several other stacks of books I have not read yet.]

Good point.
I keep buying. I keep reading, too, but I can't keep up, not even nearly, to what I WANT to read.
So look at this fine stack of lovelies. And there are several more that I picked up also, but I can't show them here because they are meant to be a gift for someone who will see them, if I show them. 
And that will ruin the surprise factor.
Suffice it to say that this, and a few more, cost me only $38.00.
What a steal. Have any of you read any of these? If so….. help me prioritize.
Tell me which should be moved to the top of the list, [or maybe avoided altogether] in my Bookpuddle intentions.
Thank you Alyce, for hosting this terrific Saturday Snapshot meme @ At Home With Books. 

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Two Words in Ukrainian

This morning I awoke, as usual, so tired that it was an agony to get out of bed and go to work. But I did it, I got out of bed.
Had a shower, made a breakfast, packed my lunch, filled my coffee mug, and got in the elevator for the descent to my car. Yawning all the way!
When the doors opened at the parking garage level, I sort of let out a great gasp of tiredness. A sort of audible grand-moan of inner fatigue escaped me.
The door to the custodian's office was open and there sat Maria.
She is a sweet sweet lady who takes care of our place, and does a fantastic job of it. Maria heard me and laughed and said, in her broken English, "Ohhh, how you are today?"
Maria is from the Ukraine. Like, as in, recently from the Ukraine.
And I myself am 100% Ukrainian, but have never been there. I know just a wee smattering of the Ukrainian language [I have a more thorough grasp of all the best swear words] and as I passed her office, where she was taking a break, I said to her, "Hochesh spateh," which, being interpreted, roughly means, "I need sleep."
Please forgive me, all other actual Ukrainians out there who may know the better phonetically-correct English spelling of this phrase. It's a bit of a tongue-twister.
What was so remarkable though, was her response. I thought she was going to fall right off her chair. She was so surprised… someone speaking to her in Ukrainian!
Her hands went up to her face and her eyes got all big and bright -- in a word, she was tickled pink! 

And she kept laughing and repeating what I had said to her, as I wished her a good day [in English] and kept walking out to my car.
I recount this little vignette just to illustrate how you can so quickly shed such joy in an immigrant's life by saying just a few words to them in their native tongue. I made her feel happy, and I myself also felt a lot better. Without this little boost, I may have turned around and got back in the elevator, pressed 14, and went back to my bed.


Splash du Jour: Thursday

Go to the meat-market of a Saturday night and see the crowds of live bipeds staring up at the long rows of dead quadrupeds. Does not that sight take a tooth out of the cannibal's jaw? Cannibals? who is not a cannibal? I tell you it will be more tolerable for the Fejee that salted down a missionary in his cellar against a coming famine; it will be more tolerable for that provident Fejee, I say, in the time of judgment, than for thee, civilized and enlightened gourmand, who nailest geese to the ground and feastest on their bloated livers in thy pate-de-foie-gras.
-- Herman Meliville, Moby-Dick --

I agree entirely, shame on you pate-de-foie gras eaters!
But hmmm… I wonder what Melville thinks of my hamburger addiction!

Have a great Thursday!