Thursday, November 30, 2006

"The other ones would find out."

Any minute now she will walk in here.
One of my favorite writers of all time, no exaggeration.
Do I really even need to say her last name?

I am sitting in the Starbucks of a Chapters store, [different one than last night, I’m trying to mix it up, you know?] and even though it is raining out, and the traffic on the freeway is absolutely HORRID, I made it here. In plenty of time, actually. Time enough to get a coffee and get the laptop out and give you a play-by-play.
Any minute now, Ms. Atwood will arrive.

She will be signing books in a little recessed area, yonder. Things are all set up for the occasion.
I have already experienced a moment of profound discombobulation at the new way things are being done. By that, I mean the Chapters store itself. Procedures!
See, I was going to pick up a certain book for a friend, and have Margaret sign the thing. However, when I went to the shelves, the Atwood area was barren. I panicked.
I grabbed a Chapters woman and shook her by the throat.
She pointed and said, “O-o-o-o-o-ve-r-r-r-r th-th-th-e-e-rr-r-r!”

[People sound so funny when you are choking them!]

She fell on the floor and then I went to the place she had indicated, but, HORRORS, there was only a mile high stack of the NEW book, Moral Disorder…. but I don’t WANT the new book…. I want….

I went to the checkout place, the long row of cash registers.

Back there they were selling other Atwood books, but all of them were ones that my friend already has.
Ones we’ve already read together. I was getting increasingly horrified. And not only for my friend’s sake, but for my own, also.
Because I myself do not have a book for her to sign. Seriously, I thought I would buy one here. But, Cat’s Eye, Handmaid’s Tale, Moral Disorder, The Penelopiad, Surfacing, Bluebeard’s Egg, Oryx and Crake…. I think these were the only ones I saw back there, on this trolley thing. I HAVE all these books.
So does my friend. I looked around, behind me. There was no one to kick.
So I went to the Literary Biography section and there were three copies of Waltzing Again: New and Selected Conversations with Margaret Atwood.

It’s a book ABOUT Maggie!
And I’ve wanted it for a while now. I bought it for my reading partner [the friend I am referring to, above] already, and sent it to her a while back.
I myself could use a copy, though.
I went back to the checkout area with this book. They handed me a bookmark with the number 55 on it. Apparently, this is how they do book-signings now, the efficient way. Probably too many people were being stampeded to death, the old way.
So now I can sit here and calmly drink coffee and wait to hear the range of numbers called. Ms. Atwood is already here because numbers 1 – 40 were told to line up, I just heard the announcement.

I just love her. There are few of her books I have not read, and I think that Alias Grace is probably my favorite one of all. Cat’s Eye was good, too.
Oryx and Crake lost me a bit. I think The Handmaid’s Tale is a masterpiece. A classic. And Blind Assassin. How intricate was that little book within a book?
Gotta go. They just called for 41 – 80 to get in the queue.
[I ask the girl sitting across from me to guard my computer for me and she says yes, she will.]

I’m back.
And Ms. Atwood is as darling as ever. I have met her before.
So, she is signing my book, and I lean in close and I surreptitiously ask her if she herself has a book that is a [I didn’t want to use the word “favorite” so I said, like a true dork….] “Is there any one book that you felt you were at the height of your god-like power when….”
“Oh, I would never tell,” she cut me right off.
I stopped, in mid-blab.
“I would never ever tell,” she repeated. “The other ones would find out.”
She handed me my newly signed Waltzing Again.
And then I was sort of whisked away by her helper-wench, this woman that travels with her and keeps things speedy, keeps dorks like me from asking too many retarded questions.

So, this is pretty much what I did tonight, after work.
→ Drove here ninety miles an hour in the rain.
→ Half-strangled a Chapters woman.
→ Bought a book.
→ Was in the presence of one of the greatest writers in the world.
→ Made a fool of myself in front of her, sort of.

Oh wait, they’re making another announcement.
Yet another round of Atwood groupies?
No…. they’re asking if anyone has seen a certain guy in the store, and the description sounds WAYYYY too much like me!

Splash du Jour: Thursday

"The only reason I would live in the city would be so I could ramble around in the 35-cent bookracks."
-- Flannery O’Connor –

As good a reason for urban living, as any!

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Severed Pages

A really strange thing happened, just a while ago.
Strange in the sense of coincidental, I guess. I am sitting here in this Chapters bookstore after work, and I’m in the Starbucks section, reading and drinking coffee. I am still here, in fact, as I write this, the entire event I am about to describe, happening just minutes ago.
I was reading Chaucer and some poems by Mary Oliver, and sort of day-dreaming.
I began to think of Ayn Rand. Her books.
I have been anticipating reading her for so long now, and I plan to read The Fountainhead over the holidays.
For the first time though, I wondered the following question:
Did Ayn Rand write her novels in English, or in Russian?
I mean, all I really knew of her was that she was Russian, born and raised in St. Petersburg. So I guess I began to wonder if her novels were TRANSLATED into English. Whenever I wonder stuff like this, it drives me nuts.
So I walked over to the Rand section and picked the only Fountainhead off the shelf, it was one of these mass market Signets. The Centennial Edition, really nice for a paperback, actually. It is the very one shown in the photo, above.
So, I open the front cover and I am staring at page 33.
“I said forget about that. What is it?”
“You know,” said Keating honestly and unexpectedly even to himself….”

Now, I’ve heard of authors sort of launching out in what is known as “in media res”…. in other words, program in progress, but this was ridiculous. I knew that something was terribly amiss.
There was nothing, no title page, no dedication, no introduction, no opening colophon, nothing.
JUST INSTANT WORDS. And no pages had been torn out. This was my first thought, of course, that some no-goodnik tore out a bunch of pages, but no, the book was in perfect condition but for this one clean, unexplainable amputation. Surgery was done at the production level!
As such, nowhere was there any place for a statement about whether the thing was translated into English.
So I grabbed a few others, Atlas Shrugged, and Anthem, and these books were not deformed, they were normal. And none of them stated anything on the opening pages about translation. And at the back pages of one of them, it was explained that Ayn Rand was already in America by the time she was 20 years old, and, [I think] became sort of totally Americanized from that point onward, dying in her New York apartment in March of 1982.
So, I guess I got my answer. She wrote in English!

I presented the deformed book to one of the lovely Chapters girls, and she too, was astounded, assuring me she would deal with the matter. She walked away with the book.
Now some of you may be shaking your heads and saying, “Geez Cipriano, relax. It’s not like you were abducted by aliens or anything. Look at the cyber-space you are using to describe such a commonplace event!”
But that is just it. It is NOT a commonplace event.
A commonplace event would be browsing the shelves, picking a book out and noticing that it was missing front pages.
However, sitting on the other side of the store, and then thinking that you want to see the front pages of a certain book in that store, and then getting up out of your chair and walking the half-mile to the shelf and finding that the very pages you wanted to see in that specific book have been…. [hit a few minor keys, you know, the black ones on the piano…. any of them will do, we need spooky here...] those pages have been removed.
Those pages do not EXIST….. ahh my friends, no. This is not a normal situation. Not at all.
It is VERY MUCH like alien abduction. I suggest to you that it is even very much like something that aliens would do.

It’s like crop circles. None of us will ever know. We won’t know how or why it happened. Indeed, the causes of such paranormal events elude our understanding, hence the prefix “para”. → [From the Greek, meaning “more than one”, as in parasocks, and parapants.]

I have one experiment yet to perform.
I am going to go back to the shelf, just before I leave the store.
I want to see if the Chapters girl put that same mutated and alienized book back on the shelf!


Splash du Jour: Wednesday

Very little is known of the Canadian country since it is rarely visited by anyone but the Queen and illiterate sport fishermen.
-- P. J. O’Rourke –

Ummm…. very little is known of P.J. O’Rourke because he is a dourke!
That's my five cents!

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Because I Was Drinking Coffee...

I wrote a poem this evening because I was drinking coffee...


I learned what the word “arrondissement” meant
And found Nice to be really quite nice.
Merchants, they fought for the money I spent.
I laughed and enjoyed a Seine boat tour thrice.

In Dublin I drank at the Ay! There’s The Rub,
Stayed a month at a place called Rooms Plenty.
I stumbled a lot between there and the pub
Where I wrote chapters sixteen to twenty.

Muse-driven I wandered through country and clime
No bells, no alarms, not one day.
And reveling thus in unboundaried time
Lust-drenched in Madrid I spent May.

Next, [assuaging myself of such adult thrill]
I fulfilled the pure dream of a child.
And that child was me, for I flew to Brazil
And saw toucans in trees, in the wild.

The rest of year one I travelled and learned,
Losing track of my islands of bliss.
I followed the sun where it warmestly burned
And all in year one, just year one, I did this.

Yes, freedom has come in the wake of the Lotto.
Did I write my damn book? Not nearly!
But my hope is alive in the following motto,
“Repeat the above until dead, and yearly!”

© Ciprianowords Inc. 2006


Splash du Jour: Tuesday

“Pooh, promise you won’t forget about me, ever. Not even when I’m a hundred.”
Pooh thought for a little. “Hold old shall I be then?”


Pooh nodded.

“I promise,” he said.

-- A.A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Better Man

Had he lived on, my father would be turning 80 years old today.
He was born in 1926, and passed away after a prolonged battle with congestive heart failure, on December 13th, 1999.
I think of him always….

I have a picture of Dad holding my sister Donna and me in his arms.
The year is maybe 1965 or ’66?
I love this picture.
For one thing, look at how cute Donna is!
Then there's me though, in the plaid! Let’s be honest, I look a bit ragged… like I just came from a Toddler’s A.A. meeting or something.
“Hi, my name is Dzo-Dzo and I have a drinking and thumbsucking problem?”
[He used to call me Dzo-Dzo!]

But Dad is the star of this picture.

He looks so young and full of life and proud. You can tell that we mean the world to him right then. Look how he hugs us close to himself, you can even sense the pressure of his hands and forearms as he grips us around the knees.
And I remember the smell of Dad and it was a nice reassuring type of smell. It was warm and mannish.
I’m looking now at this picture and staring into my own three-year-old face and trying to project what it felt like to be that young. And guess what… I don’t get very far. I mean, it’s just impossible. That’s the one bad thing about aging… it tends to make you older.
There are a lot of years between me and this picture.
Ever notice how we are perpetually surprised at Time?
“How time flies,” we say.

That’s because time blurs specific events. It allows a general haze to float around… an overall feeling, but, for the most part, specific events fade. With this in mind, I feel blessed that I can draw upon an overall general feeling of unconditional love and security when I think of my childhood. And now in my middle-agedness I know that I am greatly indebted to my parents for this.
It takes years, it takes time and distance to realize this. It’s something that can only be fully appreciated in retrospect. Most often, kids are too full of themselves to know what they owe their parents… too young and healthy and wild to wonder where the blessing comes from, or too preoccupied and selfish to know it exists at all.
I just look back at this picture and I realize something amazing. I am right now around the very same age that Dad was in this picture! In a few days, I turn 43. That is sobering to me.
By this time he had a wife and five children.
I have a cat!

If someone were to ask me how to define “success” in life, one of the things I would want to examine in order to provide an answer would be that person’s father.
When I consider the things I know about my grandfather (Dad’s father), I realize that my Dad became a much better person than his father was. He transcended the old man! In this, he was a success, a definite success. In my opinion, he was a survivor of incredible abuses as a child.
Yet, Dad’s attitude towards his own children was not…. “O.K., it was tough for me to grow up, and so, damn it, I’m going to make it tough for you little buggers.”
No, Dad’s attitude was the opposite, he did everything humanly possible for his own children to enjoy the freedoms and opportunities that he never could as a child.
If someone were to ask me to tell them the greatest thing about my Dad, I would immediately say, “There was not one malicious streak in him.”
He wished no ill will upon any other person in the world.

Am I doing a good job of continuing in this tradition of “transcending the old man”?
(Well… you’ll have to ask my cat)… and overall I would say I am trying… but no…
Dad is the better man!
When I consider my Dad in this picture, I realize that he is the better man. When I consider the obstacles he surmounted, the things he accomplished, the moral values he somehow adhered to, his concern for the well-being of others, and most importantly, the amount of people who continue to love him even now that he is gone… I realize that he is the better man.

There is a story that Mom loves telling. It concerns the day that I packed up my car and headed off for college.
Before leaving town I was going to meet two of my girlfriends, Judy and Leanna, at a coffee place on the other side of town. Nothing past there but highway, I’d be on my way! (It was so nice back then… to have groupies I mean!)
I left the house with the usual hugs and good-byes. In fact, Dad was out front mowing the lawn.

Apparently, after I left, Dad came into the house and was restless.
Mom says he was getting all misty… and he was sad nearly to the point of “losing it” because I had actually gone. For real. Really gone!
He wanted a pretext to go see me at the coffee place. And soon, with a clang of the mailbox, he had one. The mail arrived and there were a few letters for me.
Next thing I know, I’m sitting at Smitty’s restaurant with my groupies, and in walks Dad with some junk mail.
“These came for you,” he says… and then he’s just standing there… so, of course I ask him to sit down and we have a coffee (or three)… and soon I have to leave (again).
I hugged my groupies good-bye… but then… out there in the parking lot, my Dad hugged me.

There are some things in life you just don’t forget.
Like the time your Dad raced his way to the other side of town, fresh grass mulch on his shoes, to give you one last hug before you set out on the highway.

Or the morning that your sister woke you up, and quietly said, “Dad just passed away a few minutes ago.”
No. You don’t forget that.
They are events that time has not blurred.

If I could, Dad, I would race across town to see you, today.
And even then, I would do so because you taught me how, and why, it should be done.
So much catching up to do. So much coffee to drink, with you. Letters to deliver.

Thank you for being my Dad. And by the way, you still are.
Just as much as I am, forever,
Your son.

Splash du Jour: Monday

If you’re going to do something tonight that you’ll be sorry for tomorrow morning, sleep late.
-- Henny Youngman –

If anyone out there can come up with better life-advice than this, let me know!
Have a great Monday!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Living On Fourteen

Remember two Sundays ago, when I said I slept in like a darted rhino?
Well, I did it again today.
And after the kind of week I have had, I feel not one shred of guilt about my current state of weekend hibernation!
So it is that I am hereby declaring this day to be yet another Poem In Your Pocket Day!
I wrote this one based upon the profound realization that I live on the top floor of a 14-storey apartment building.
It is aptly entitled…

Living on Fourteen

I am convinced of it.

Something adrift in communal laundry-room air

spawns the philosopher / political strategist / polemicist

in folks that are elsewhere, none of the above.

Today, two graying hens, churning more froth

than a chorusline of Maytag agitators

reminded me that in this room

we know everything.

Religion, Louise, has always been a primitive response

to the deeper, intrinsic need for superstition in mankind.

I thoroughly agree, Myrtle, and I am exceedingly glad

that both propensities have gone the way of the dinosaur.

My basket of warm towels in tow, I faintly smiled

and entered the elevator for my minute of ascent.

Reaching my own floor, I stepped out and, still smiling,

walked the length of what is really the thirteenth.

© Ciprianowords Inc. 2006

Saturday, November 25, 2006

A Six-Puddler

Have you ever read a book that was so good that you flip through it trying to find a representative passage that you would like to share with others, but you end up seeing that you are faced with the dilemna of re-writing the whole thing from page one because all of it is so indispensibly rich and worthy of regurgitation?
This is what is happening to me, here at Starbucks, having just finished reading Alain de Botton’s The Architecture of Happiness.
Oh, such an amazing book. → T.y.L.i.I.

Recently, I met a group of friends at [no surpirise] a Starbucks and because I arrived early, I brought my book in and read for a while. Soon they showed up and I set the book aside. My pal picked it up and read the title, flipped through it a bit, and promptly looked at me as though I had three heads, and all of them were Martian!
“What the hell are you reading this for?” he asked.
“I am totally immersed in the topic,” I said. And went on to explain….

It’s not about architecture, as in, how to build things.
It’s about the appreciation of the art that surrounds the process of all creative effort, architecture included.
The author discusses the development of so many things, from teacups to chairs to vending machines. Windows, bridges, water faucets, theatres, entire plans of cities, tables, factories, empty fields… the way we think [or don’t think] about all of these things. Of course, buildings, from homes to skyscrapers, being perhaps the most prominent aesthetic consideration in our day-to-day field of vision, these get the most attention.
Why do we build as we do?
What is the history, the genesis and evolution of what we have now come to consider architectural norms?
Architecturally speaking, in what ways have we progressed? In what ways have we regressed? Or, [most intererestingly] have we done both things?

Having defended myself thus, I looked back at my friend as though he had three heads, all of them very architecturally interesting!

I cannot help it. I must offer the following excerpt.
Here, de Botton was discussing the topic of beauty in strength, or the “elegance” with which so many of our magnificent structures and machines are constructed…

“It follows from this that the impression of beauty we derive from an architectural work may be proportionally related to the intensity of the forces against which it is pitted. The emotional power of a bridge over a swollen river, for example, is concentrated at the point where the piers meet but resist the waters which rise threateningly around them. We shudder to think of sinking our own feet into such turbulent depths and venerate the bridge’s reinforced concrete for the sanguine way it deflects the currents which tyrannise it. Likewise, the heavy stone walls of a lighthouse acquire the character of a forbearing and kindly giant during a spiteful gale which does its best to pant them down, just as in a plane passing through an electrical storm, we can feel something approaching love for the aeronautical engineers who, in quiet offices in Bristol or Toulouse, designed dark grey aluminum wings that could flex through tempests with all the grace of a swan’s feathered ones. We feel as safe as we did when we were children being driven home in the early hours by our parents, lying curled up on the backseat under a blanket in our pyjamas, sensing the darkness and cold of the night through the window against which we rested our cheek. There is beauty in that which is stronger than we are.” [p.205]

Every page of this book is magnificent like that.

Throughout, the author is critical of the non-critical acceptance of architectural norms. Especially toward the latter sections of the book he continues to remind the reader of the importance of being wary of unquestioningly adopting societal dictates, regarding architecture. He cautions [and I wildly paraphrase] that in order to appreciate architecture as we ought, we need to cultivate and maintain a similar ability to appreciate the beauty of an empty field. “We owe it to the fields,” he says, “that our houses will not be inferiors of the virgin land they have replaced. We owe it to the worms and the trees that the buildings we cover them with will stand as promises of the highest and most intelligent kinds of happiness.” [p.267].
Because our own culture will tend to dictate the aesthetic style we should adhere to, we ought to be diligent in expanding our horizons beyond that which we have always seen, and always known.
We should beware the veneration of the familiar. [← My summation].
So much of our sense of artistic appreciation is either innate or injected into our being as a result of our cultural conditioning. But there is this other thing to consider….. that it is possible to train ourselves “to appreciate a beauty that we were not born seeing. And, in the process, we will puncture the simplistic notion, heavily promoted by purveyors of plastic mansions, that what a person currently finds beautiful should be taken as the limit of all that he or she can ever love.” [p.261]

To train ourselves to appreciate beauty.
Reading this book is, in itself, a great step in the direction of such an accomplishment.
I rate it six puddles of a possible five.


Friday, November 24, 2006

Splash du Jour: Friday

Smoking kills. If you’re killed, you’ve lost a very important part of your life.
-- Brooke Shields

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

"It look like a woman!"

So, I did something out of the ordinary, for me.
Not the norm.
I’m sitting there at Chapters, and I talked to some girls that I do not know.
I do not do this, ever. Honestly.
And I even hate people [guys] that do it for a hobby.
But here I am, sitting at Chapters, like. A bookstore. And I am nestled away, minding my own business, in this alcove sort of area, beside a huge plate glass window, watching the cars whiz by, on Ogilvie Street.
In walk these two girls, and they settle themselves on the leather couch.
As they unswirl their scarves and wrappings and coats, the scent accosts me.
It is too much for me to ignore.
Absolutely stunning fragrance.
I simply must ask them, before I leave, what in the hell it is that they are wearing!
I must have it, if for nothing else…. to spray on my cat!

I wait.
They babble on, en francais, and I understand only the occasional word or phrase, never an entire sentence.
I am in agony, basically.

“Oh, fragrant women, tell me of thy scent,” I am thinking.

Soon, the one girl began to gather her scarf about her neck.
They were going to leave.
I could stand it no longer.
I rose, and said…. “Excuse me, do you speak English at all?”
The other, unscarfed one said, “Yes.”
I said…. “Your perfume. One of you, or maybe both of you…”
“We wear the same,” the talkative one said.
“Well, it is so beautiful. Could I ask you what it is?” I begged.
“Jean Paul Gaultier.”
“Is that it? No specific name?” I stupidly asked.
“Non. Just………. Jean Paul Gaultier.”

And the first girl said, “It look like a woman!”
“Oh!” I said, and thought → “Hmmm. Tres bien!”
So this is how I know that the decanter shown in the photo at the top of this blog is the one they are referring to, and not this one here below,
a sort of “unisex” one, designed for men AND women.

Described as Floral Oriental, on a par with Ombre Rose…. but let me tell you. I have experience with Ombre Rose, and to me, it is too deep. Too submerged…. dark. Over-musky.

But this Jean-Paul Gaultier?

Soft, spicy orange flower notes meld with piquant aldehydes and sweet spices to create the heart of a floral oriental fragrance.
Born in the 1900s, Floral Orientals came back to life again in the 1970's.
In the past decade, lively, fruity interpretations dominated the floral oriental category, but recent fragrances have developed a more subtle, muted personality.

I am not quite so delicate. If I were writing an official review, I would mention somewhere that the fragrance is overall, umm… “very exhorniating.”

This has got to be the most sexy, gorgeous, vibrant, irrestible women’s perfume I have nostrilly imbibed since, well, Calvin Klein’s Escape, or Thierry Mugler's Angel.
Just tellin’ ya…. in case you’re coming over tonight!
[And you look like a woman!]


Splash du Jour: Thursday

Someone once asked me why women don’t gamble as much as men do and I gave the commonsensical reply that we don’t have as much money. That was a true but incomplete answer. In fact, women’s total instinct for gambling is satisfied by marriage.
-- Gloria Steinem –

Forgive me, but isn’t she wickedly beautiful, when laughing?

Have a great Thursday.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half.
-- Gore Vidal –

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

The Englishman fox-trots as he fox-hunts, with all his being, through thickets, through ditches, over hedges, through chiffons, through waiters, over saxophones, to the victorious finish: and who goes home depends on how many the ambulance will accommodate.
-- Edna St. Vincent Millay –

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Poem du Jour

Finally Forgotten

A cool wind followed me home today
A golden autumn breeze
That chattered in the trees
And scattered fallen leaves
Like kids at play… in the wind.

And with something new to say
The wind whispered an old word
And past memories were stirred
Till at last, as if unheard
They flew away… in the wind.

© Ciprianowords Inc. 2006

Splash du Jour: Monday

It’s true I did get the girl, but then my grandfather always said, ‘Even a blind chicken finds a few grains of corn now and then.’
-- Lyle Lovett, on marrying Julia Roberts –

I cannot tell if Lovett’s statement is a compliment, or an insult, to Julia.
‘A few grains of corn’?
And the real question I have is this: → Wasn’t she the one that was most likely blind?

Have a great Monday!


Sunday, November 19, 2006

20% Off!

Yesterday evening, in my urban travels, I ended up at the Chapters bookstore. For those of you who know anything about me, this comes as no surprise. I practically live at Chapters, in the Starbucks area, mostly.
The picture to the left shows the actual store itself, and I sit just above the Starbucks sign, on the upper level.
I’m there all the time.
In fact, there is one specific table, and on the wall right next to it is a mailbox where I receive regular postal delivery.

So last night I got my coffee and then I was walking around, browsing the shelves.
I noticed this one display where a certain book was being featured. I cannot mention the title because I want to get it as a Chritmas gift for someone who reads this blog! But the book was there. And I began to leaf through it.
To my left, a Chapters employee was affixing the bright red 20%-off labels to a series of books on the same display.
I turned to her and said, “Now tell me. If I go and buy this book tonight, will I see it here tomorrow with a 20%-off label on it?”
She smiled and kept labelling, “No, not that I know of, sir. That particular one is not going on sale, that I know of.”
“That you know of,” I said…. “But how can I be sure?”
“Excuse me?” she said.
“Well, this happens all the time,” I continued. “I buy a few books, and then the next day or so, the same books go on sale. It is maddening.”

[I’m squinting at her now. And she is getting uneasy, probably wondering if she should refer me to the manager, or notify the circulating Security Guard… or run…]

So I grabbed her by the arm, pulled her close to me, and breathed hotly into her ear… “Promise me. Say it. SAY IT!”
Wincing, with eyes closed, head tilted to the ceiling, and a red 20%-off sticker tremulously quivering on her index finger, she whispered, “I promise you. I promise you.”
Only then did I let her go.
But I didn’t buy the book.
See, about a week ago I received an email from Chapters, informing me that on Sunday, Nov.19th, [today] everything that is regular-priced in the store is going on sale at 20% off.
So… my useless interrogation was entirely based on the fact that I love bugging Chapters girls.

NOTE: → Certain portions of the above story have been greatly exaggerated and horrendously sensationalized in the interest of better entertainment value. Like, for instance, the stuff about the mailbox.


Saturday, November 18, 2006

Pining away...

I’m thinking of her. Woke up doing so.
An old love of mine.
Still smitten am I.
Enamored as ever.
After our time together, she inspired some words from me, and these became a poem.
I have posted it for you, at the Poetrypuddle.
But if you want to know the full story, if you want the documentary version, you must go here. YOU MUST GO HERE.

Wishing you all a great weekend!
-- Cip

“We think caged birds sing, when indeed they cry.”
-- John Webster, in The White Devil, 1612 --


Friday, November 17, 2006

49 Cents an Hour

Thank God it is Friday!
If there was one more work day to this week I would end it in an asylum!
But, as it is, I worked late [again] and now I am having an evening coffee at Starbucks. The Starbucks that is in the Chapters bookstore.
I just went on a little gambol, a little stroll, and picked up a magazine I had never seen before.
It’s called PAGES: The Magazine For People Who Love Books.
It is great!
I lamented the demise of that other periodical, called BOOK, but now there is PAGES!
It looks great!
I just read the cover story, an article entitled The Lions in Winter: Insight and Reflection from Literary Legends. Fascinating stuff. Really well done.
They interview writers like John Updike, Don DeLillo, Philip Roth, Maya Angelou, Gore Vidal, Kurt Vonnegut, Ursula K. LeGuin, Tom Wolfe, et al. Writers that have been around the block a few times.
All of it is interesting.
But I think the portion I liked best was the interview with veteran author, Joyce Carol Oates.
I must admit, I have never read any of her stuff, and yet I seem to have read a lot of stuff about her, here and there. Being a great fan of Niagara Falls, I have wanted to read her novel, The Falls for a long time now.

Anyhoo, here is the part of her interview that I found especially interesting:
PAGESForty years into a remarkable literary career, why do you still write?
J.C.O.I write, basically, so that I can read sometime in the future a text that didn’t exist before, and with the hope that it will somehow amaze me. People have no idea how much I revise. It’s always thought that I write very quickly. If anyone could see how much revision I do, people would shake their heads and say, “Why would she work so hard?” My threshold of misery and frustration, it must be very high, because I do things that require a work ethic and a level of misery that is rare for anyone to undertake electively. To whip something off very quickly and send it out would have no pleasure to me at all. I would never do that. I labor over everything. Most writers are working at way below the minimum wage, if you figure out how much we make an hour. With me, it’s like 49 cents, I’m sure.

Besides the fact that this last comment reminds me of how close my own current wage is to this figure, I just found that whole idea of painstaking revision so…. intriguing. The writer, writing. The image.
I like that she does not dash something off and send it off to the printers.
In my extremely limited range of personal writing, I find that I too am meticulous and severe, as regards revision.
My biggest problem in writing is that I am trying to write the final draft from the get-go!
Reading Joyce’s response to the question reminds me of reading Anne Lamott’s Bird By Bird, where she describes, at one point, a time when she had written an entire novel, and her editor then told her to rewrite the thing from scratch.
I cannot imagine such an agonizing feat of self-speculation, and renunciation of initial treasure.
But she did it, Anne did.
She “booked” [← God, I am so hilarious] herself out on a retreat, rented a house, and on the empty hardwood floor, set out her entire book, page by page… walked in and out of it, examined it with a critical eye, picked it apart, threw certain pages in the garbage…. REWROTE it all!
I remember feeling weary, just reading of what she put herself through.
But somehow, I think that great writing must involve some measure of this. Really, I do.
Then again, there are novelists like Mordecai Richler [whom I consider a genius in both style and content] who said in a 1970 television interview, that his best writing was the stuff that flowed out from him and did not require too much revision or re-writing. Similarly, it is said that C.S. Lewis sent his handwritten work to the publisher and skipped all editing altogether. Anyone who has read him, knows that this is simply amazing. These guys were working in WYSIWYG.
[What you see is what you get!]
As for me, I seem to be still working in WYHNSIWIHNWY.
[What you have not seen is what I have not written yet!]

The article [in PAGES] went on to name the Next Generation of Lions.
These kind of listings are obviously so subjective, but yet I’m sure they reflect a significant general consensus. Those named were:
David Mitchell, Zadie Smith, Bret Anthony Johnson, Andrew Sean Greer, Jonathan Safran Foer.
I did not at all see my name among these!
God, I am SOOOOOOOOOO undiscovered!
So, does anyone out there have anything to say of the work of Joyce Carol Oates?
What is your opinion?
Should she get a raise?


Splash du Jour: Friday

It ought to be made possible for everyone to earn his living by doing work that is of intrinsic value and that is felt to be such by the worker himself. At present, most people do their work in order to earn the maximum remuneration and not for the sake of the value of the work itself. The profit motive ought no longer to be given top priority. But this most desirable change of motivation can be brought about only by a change of heart.
-- Arnold J Toynbee (1889-1975)

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Splash du Jour: Thursday

I desire so to conduct the affairs of this administration that if at the end, when I come to lay down the reins of power, I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend left, and that friend shall be down inside of me.
-- Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865). Reply to the Missouri Committee of Seventy, 30 Sept., 1864 –

Where is his like, today?
And more importantly, would anyone know enough, to elect him?

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Ahhhhh! Apartment Life!

Wanna hear something hilarious, yet not?
So I just got home from a day of horrendous overtime, as usual. I seem to be intent upon working more hours than the average sled-dog team! Anyhoo, tonight... I pick up my mail at the main floor and crack a few of the items open as the elevator takes me up to 14 [which is really 13]!

The first thing I opened was from the "Management Office" of the building.

Keep in mind that I have lived here now, same place, for almost ten years, with not ONE COMPLAINT ever being levelled at me, aside from that note under the door saying that my noisy bathroom pipes needed some attention.
So I am opening this envelope tonight thinking that I am going to receive the "Bestest Tenant© " award, or maybe the "Nobel Prize for Exceedingly Awesome Tenancy© " or whatever. Thought that maybe they would be offering a retroactive rebate on the $16 million I have paid out to the invisible landlord over the years.
Not so.
None of these things had anything to do with the letter I read.
Somewhere around the 8th or 9th floor I am reading the following balderdash...

Contrary to your lease agreement, Article 24 (h), our office has received complaints about disturbances, noises that appear to have originated in your apartment. We would like to ensure that such disturbances do not continue, as they create an imposition on other tenants. A complaint was made concerning excessive stereo volume and bass levels. Please contact the rental office if you want to discuss the situation or if the issue does not originate from your apartment please let me know and we will need to further investigate the source of the problem. Please remember apartment living requires a certain amount of consideration for other tenants.

Well, excuuuuuuuuuuuuse me!
The funny thing is that I do not even have a stereo system in here. I only listen to iTunes© from my laptop.... granted the whole shemozzle is piped into my Yamaha© speakers, consisting of subwoofer and two little speakers.
Could this be causing such a kafuffle?
Such hemorrhaging in the communal hallway? Bleeding through the walls?

Good Lord© !
Do I write out an official complaint about Mr. Hai Karate© down the hall? [see yesterday's blog].
Has my cat, Jack, been having some kind of wild raves while I am at work?
Is he on crack? [I have wondered this for a while now, honestly.]
Granted, occasionally I may get a bit carried away here, playing Pink Floyd at a bit of a comfortably numb level or whatnot.... and there was that one time when I had Joe Satriani cranked until I myself got a sort of minor brain aneurism... but overall, I think that this complaint is unreasonable© .
I am a good boy.
But [at the same time] I don't want to get turfed out of here. I think maybe they are making this stuff up, trying to ruffle my feathers because they cannot get the going rate out of me, because I've been here so long.
What I mean is, if a new tenant moved in here, they would get an extra $400 out of him and/or her.

Could this be their motive?
Would they do such a thing? Make up lies, lies, LIES, I say.... about l'il ol' me?

Gotta go.
Gonna interrogate the cat now.
And he looks damn guilty of something.... I'm just not sure of what, yet.


Splash du Jour: Wednesday

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.
-- Anne Frank (1929-1945) –

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


The guy down the hall from me wears about eighteen times too much cologne.
Every morning he wages a fresh assault upon my nasal passages, and my patience.
I don’t know what the exact brand name is, I cannot identify it, but whatever it is, he is applying it in excess!
In excessious day-oh!
How can you tell someone they are wearing too much cologne?
It doesn’t seem like a very civil thing to do. Especially since the extent of my torment is this very brief moment in the morning. Can I not endure it?
The other factor to consider is the perpetrator is a very nice guy. He and I leave at about the same time for work, and several times we’ve talked as we’ve descended down to the parking garage. Small talk, and all the while I’ve been hoping there is no sudden spark, or [God forbid] open flame, any sort of ignition, or we would both go up in a mushroom cloud.
The guy is way overdoing it with the scent.
He is a schoolteacher. Of little kids.
What is he trying to do? Impress ten-year old girls with his fumes?
I don’t get it.

Amazingly, he is NOT the same guy I mentioned once before, here on this blogpage.
No. That guy moved to an adjoining building here at the triumverate of condo/apartments where I live.
This guy is new.
And he's not my direct neighbor, he lives far over on the opposite side of my hallway.
But the fumes!
OK, so why am I mentioning this today?
Well, because today, for the first time, my annoyance level reached a new..... Annoyance Level.
I was still IN MY OWN APARTMENT, and the wretched smell seeped through, under the door I guess, as I was putting my shoes on and kissing my cat goodbye.
In wafted this ferocious odor!
my apartment!
That's going too far!
And I said to myself, “OK, this time, if he is still out there waiting for the elevator, DAMMIT, I am going to say something.”
But he wasn’t.
Hence, I didn’t.
What would you do?
Is there some way I can take legal action?

For moron, I mean, more on my own scent habits, CLICK HERE!


Splash du Jour: Tuesday

I recently had to take an emergency trip to Houston to visit my father who had developed a heart condition while on a business trip and was in the hospital. The day of the flight was extremely stressful. When I finally got to the hospital and saw my father recovering the next thing on my mind was Starbucks. I cannot tell you how calming it was to have a taste of home when I was many miles away.
-- William Stewart, from The Starbucks Experience, p.101 –

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Splash du Jour: Monday

Vimy Memorial -- Arras, France
Q. Did you want to be in the war?
A. Yes.
Q. Were you crazy?
A. Yes, we were crazy, but we didn’t know it.
Q. Did you have any idea what it was going to be like?
A. No, we didn’t have any idea of what it was going to be like.
Q. What did you think war was?
A. An adventure. We never thought about being killed, you know. I thought I was going to be able to come home and tell everyone about it. It never entered my mind that I might not come back. We wanted to get to it as fast as we could, because it might be over before we got there.
-- Interview with Vimy veteran Leslie Hadd, aged 86, August 25, 1986 –

There should never be a day that is not Remembrance Day.

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A Poet's Heart

For the second day in a row I have slept-in.
Hibernated. Zonked.
Like a darted rhino.
I love weekends. I love the freedom of waking when my body is ready to do so, and spending an hour or two just wondering what it is I may want to do with the day, and having no real prior plans, one way or the other.
For some people, that sort of scenario could precipitate panic, or something near to it. Nothing to do, and all day to do it.
They need or at least prefer a prior schedule. The day, slotted with specific things that need to be done or accomplished.
This is an entirely valid way to live, I am not slighting it. It is just not the way I myself am set up.
I prefer the opened up, undefined vista. In fact, I jealously guard the continuance of this feature of the unaccounted-for time that is allotted me. Often I wonder where this desire originated, in me. The conclusion I sometimes arrive at, is that I am inherently lazy. The thing is, there is no one I know of, that is LESS lazy than I am, during the other five days of the week!
I am working in a very physically and mentally demanding job for a minimum of 10 full hours a day, and I never ever miss work. I don’t even “use” my allotted sick days. I only call in sick if I actually have something like malaria, or worse.
Is this how an inherently lazy person lives?
I don’t know.
For now I am going to go with the following personally-believed explanation of my unrestricted access to leisure time → I have a poet’s heart!
More than anything else I treasure, I want to maintain the right to compose absolutely irrelevant poetry, without having to justify it to myself or anyone else.
Have a great Sunday, all!
-- Cip


Saturday, November 11, 2006

I'm a Beta-Blogger

Hey, I bit the bullet [after eating a hamburger] and became a beta-blogger.
The new upgraded blog format.
--- Let's see what happens!
--- Cip


Friday, November 10, 2006

My Burger Fling©

It is official.
I’m coming out of the closet on this one.
I’m addicted to Burger King and/or Burger King products.
[The first step in recovery is admitting you have a problem.]
Specifically, it is the Angus Steak ‘Shroom & Swiss Burger© [shown above] that is getting to me.
When I even think of the thing, it's like dynamite goes off in my brain.... Swiss, 'shroom, HISS, BOOM!

See, on the way to Starbucks, after work, I have lately been detouring past this Burger King and going through the drive-thru and ordering up one of these beauties.
Then I eat it, while driving down Ogilvie Street, with my car on sort of auto-pilot, out of control. → I’m breathing heavy, running reds, and steering with my knee.
It’s like I’m on crack!
No combo. No drink.
Just the burger. It is driving me mental.
Why can’t I stop?


It started a few weeks ago. Yeah, there were a couple of days where I resisted the urge. But overall? No!
This burger’s got my number.

It's the meatness of the thing…. I don’t know.
It is just so…. Angussy!
As it is, even before this current passion I only had one or two arteries unclogged, but now I am beginning to worry. What is going to happen to my youthful figure?
At work, around 5 p.m. I start shaking and [this worries me even more...] mooing!
I’ve seen the movie “Supersize Me.”
I’m scared.
Vewwy vewwy scared.


Splash du Jour: Friday

People who have a “freshness of appreciation” repeatedly, though not continuously, experience awe, pleasure, and wonder in their everyday world. They are able to stop walking down the street and all of a sudden appreciate the vertical symmetry of skyscrapers that line up vertically in one’s field of vision.
-- Cipriano

For moron, I mean, MORE ON this topic, click HERE!
Have a great Friday!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Splash du Jour: Thursday

If we are imprisoned in ourselves, books provide us with the means of escape. If we have run too far away from ourselves, books show us the way back.
-- Holbrook Jackson (1874-1948) –

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

On Flatulence

Hi, everyone.
I am chilling out and listening to Lenny Kravitz.
My work has been seriously trying to kill me and this is why I have not been around very much.
This evening, after work I went to Starbucks and read a bit in The Canterbury Tales.
I am still chipping away at that book. Tonight’s reading was positively hilarious.
The Summoner’s Tale.
Much ado about flatulence!
Oh my!
Chaucer. You little stinker!
This is the tale in the Prologue of which, we learn that there is a special place in Hell reserved for friars.
It is sort of even worse than the regular hell.
Down low, in “Lucifer’s pavillion” we are told that Satan has a tail….

“As broad or broader than a barge’s sail.”
[I was already laughing, but the party was about to get rowdier…]
“Hold up thy tail, thou Satan!” then said he,
“Show forth thine arse and let the friar see
The nest ordained for friars in this place!”
Ere the tail rose a furlong into space
From underneath it there began to drive,
Much as if bees were swarming from a hive,
Some twenty thousand friars in a rout
And swarmed all over Hell and round about,
And then came back as fast as they could run
And crept into his arse again, each one.

Wow! Quite the imagery.

Later, we find that the friar is sermonizing to an ailing man, and this parishioner is not exactly sympathetic nor blind to the friar’s gross hyposcrisies.
So, he tells him that he has a gift for him, but he must reach in back of him and get it from the place where he lies in bedridden mischiefery... and Chaucer tells us:

When the sick man could feel him here and there
Groping about his fundament with care,
Into that friar’s hand he blew a fart.
There never was a farmhorse drawing cart
That farted with a more prodigious sound.

I nearly spewed coffee all over the Starbucks.
It got even funnier from this point onward.
But suffice it to say that it reminded me of a book that was once sent to me by my reading partner a.k.a → The better half of the Surfacing Reading Club.
Being an English teacher herself, and as downright marmy as one could be, she sent me A Handbook To Literature….. more commonly referred to as the Thrall & Hibbard. It’s a great book. A classic, published in 1936.
I remember initially leafing through it and reading some of the articles therein. One that especially caught my interest was called The Divine Afflatus.
Here is what it says:

Divine Afflatus, The: A phrase used to mean poetic inspiration, particularly the exalted state immediately preceding creative composition, when the poet is felt to be receiving his inspiration directly from a divine source. The doctrine of divine inspiration for poets was advocated by Plato. Although the phrase and doctrine have been used in a serious and sincere sense by such a poet as Shelley, the term is perhaps more often used now in a somewhat contemptuous sense, to imply a sort of pretensious over-valuation in a would-be poet or a bombastic spirit in an orator, whose fervid style or manner is felt not to be justified by the actual substance of the poem or oration.

I loved that little article, instantly recognizing how many times I myself had experienced divine flatulence!
So I sat down immediately, ate a can of beans, and wrote a poem that same night.
It’s called The Divine Afflatus, and if you want to read it, fart → HERE!

Have a goood evening/day, all!


Splash du Jour: Wednesday

A character has a distinctive voice - you should be able to hear them in your head and conduct a conversation with them while you're out walking. If the answers surprise you, you know it's the character speaking and not you.
-- Jeanette Winterson

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

Now that hunting season is in full swing… the Brave Warriors emerge from the trees!
What a Mighty Hero!
What a Monument of Prowess!
Wild animals never kill for sport. Man is the only one to whom the torture and death of his fellow creatures is amusing in itself.
-- James Anthony Froude (1818-1894), Oceana, 5, 1886 –

→ A former RANT.

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Splash du Jour: Monday

Indifference, to me, is the epitome of evil. The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.
-- Elie Wiesel

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

An Afternoon In Thinkville

Did you ever have one of those days where you just want to sit at home, drink coffee, mellow out, drink coffee, turn some Tears For Fears down real low, talk to the cat a bit… muse upon life?
That’s where I am at today. I want to spend an afternoon in Thinkville.
← Feeling a bit like this fish here. That’s me, today.
There is never a lack of things to think about, if you really think about it.

One thing that is currently driving me mental involves a certain painting I discovered. I should back up a bit perhaps, to the genesis of my obsession.
A couple of weekends ago I did something quite unusual for me. I went to a coffeeplace OTHER than Starbucks. Yes, I know, it is difficult for me to believe also. I was walking down Sussex and for some reason, turned into the Timothy’s on Sussex and George, rather than walking across the street to my venerated Chapters/Starbucks.
In I went.

I ordered their strongest brew and looked around the place, doctoring my beverage with some cream and honey. Hmmm… place was filled with some real neat abstract artwork.
I sat down at this one table. And then, instead of plowing directly into the reading of a book, I looked straight ahead. And then it happened. The epiphanous moment.

I was transfixed.
And here is what I saw.
My fascination was instantaneous, but my realization of WHY, was not.
And I think this is probably a hallmark of great art.
The capture happens quite quickly, and before you have time to be fearful of what happened, your captor speaks to you, in soothing tones. Informs you that you are free to leave, and you don’t want to.
I just kept staring at the painting, and it kept speaking. It has not stopped doing so.

Soon I began to see that my fascination had a lot to do with two major factors:
1) I like lines. I have always been this way. My sense of interior decoration bears this out. I prefer sharp angles. I like “Z” or “X” better than “C” or “O”. On my wall is a very square, steel clock. My main lamp has zero roundness to it. Rectangular shade, base and body. I like definite corners, vertical symmetry.
2) My second area of fascination has to do with the fact that I see a lot of my own specific character in this work of art. It’s the red line going through the center of the grid of lines that kills me.

Perhaps it is difficult to see on my page here, but the center line is red, as opposed to the surrounding black lines.
Only one is red. I love that.
The red line is me.

I began to see that, ideologically speaking, this red line is an amazing depiction of the way my own thought processes have developed and evolved in the past tumultuous decade of my life.
At the lower left-hand corner, the red line begins (notice this) UNDER the general toothpick pile of lines. One might even say → begins under what appears to be a lot of confusion.
As it reaches upwards it penetrates (at the center, no less) all other competing lines and comes out on top of them.
I love this.
All of these other lines (ideas, for me the lines are ideas, systems) try to get to the center of the field of view, but they never do. That space remains blank, but for the red line’s presence. At some point, these others are avoiding a central issue. What results is a sort of spiraling or design that appears to have a pattern to it, but only as it is dependent on other lines to make it so. Any single line is stunted, half-baked, compared to this red line.
[Does this interpretation begin to sound arrogant? I concede that it appears to be so, but it is not so, in reality.]

There is only one other line one must speak about.
This is the black line that lies atop all of them, including the red.

See it there? Vertically leaning, to the left of center?
It is the only UNBROKEN line. Avoiding the corners, and even the center, yet declaring itself, nonetheless.
I don’t like it.
I know what that line is.
This is the line of Arrogance.
The line that does not want to work through competing systems, but would prefer to rely upon domination.
To lazily lie atop them all and say “I am King” and there is no other. I need not work with the Center, need not meet the Center, for I am the Center.

The last thing I will mention is that the red line is the only line that makes it from corner to corner. See that?
But on the way to its freedom, there was pain. There is an “Ow”… “Owww”… “Owww” in that bottom portion of its journey. It was broken.
This painting is me.

The artist is a man by the name of Bill Murray.
No, not the guy from Groundhog Day and SNL!
I URGE you to visit Bill Murray and his work. → CLICK HERE!
I desperately want to own this painting, and I will own it.
It is called Obliquity 5. Purchase one for yourself HERE!

I have a wall picked out for it. Yes I do. As soon as I resolve a minor budgeting issue here, this painting is going to be on my wall.
To remind me of who I am.

I am greatly looking forward to tonight because it is Entmoot Night.
Entmoot Night.
This is a weekly meeting where three friends and I discuss all manner of “Red Line” type things. Thankfully, none of us are The Black Line.
At our various unique stages of journey, we help each other see toward the upper right hand corner of ever-decreasing ignorance.
The land beyond the frame….
You can find out way more than you ever wanted to know about Entmoots, HERE.


In thinking about the Obliquity 5 painting this afternoon, an old poem I wrote, came to mind. You can find it HERE if you so choose to visit.
Knowing where we are always involves knowing where we’ve been.
I leave you today with this final thought.
If you are breathing, and if you are healthy, think.
This is no time to be bored.
Be the red line.