Thursday, May 31, 2007

Splash du Jour: Thursday

I guess I am still in mourning over
last night's loss by the Senators!

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Well, tonight is a very important night for the Ottawa Senators.
In the last game, Anaheim had their number, and the Sens are now down a game in the series.
1 - 0.
Every Sens fan is out in full-force tonight, the city is wild with anticipation. There are big screens set up all over the downtown core, and I am on my way out to go and take part in the mayhem and revelry.
They've really got to win tonight. There's no two ways about it.
In the world of NHL hockey, to let yourself get into a two-game defecit position in a best-of-seven series.... that's just not good.
That's gonna bruise.
So they've got to do it tonight.
There are no options.
I'll be back later with a post-game comment....

Well, there are different forms of Depression... I am currently in the midst of one of the Sports-Induced type.
Curable only by a radical reversal of fortune in subsequent games!
It is sad. Really a disappointment. Ottawa lost the game by a score of 1 - 0.
So now the Anaheim Ducks lead the series 2 - 0.
That is going to be quite the hole to climb out of, pretty much near impossible, really.
Once again, [my opinion] the Ducks outplayed the Senators, from start to finish. If it were not for the superb play of Ottawa's goaltender, Ray Emery, the score would have been miserable.
An insult.
So much for the foie gras, I guess!
Next game is Saturday, here, on home turf. Or ice, rather.
I still have hope!


Splash du Jour: Wednesday

The most unfair thing about life is the way it ends. I mean, life is tough. It takes up a lot of your time. What do you get at the end of it? A death. What’s that, a bonus? I think the life cycle is all backwards. You should die first, get it out of the way. Then you live in an old age home. You get kicked out when you’re too young, you get a gold watch, you go to work. You work forty years till you’re young enough to enjoy your retirement. You do drugs, alcohol, you party, you get ready for high school. You go to grade school, you become a kid, you play, you have no responsibilities, you become a little baby, you go back into the womb, you spend your last nine months floating… you finish off as an orgasm.
-- George Carlin –

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Heartened [?]

Just stopping by, briefly, to say that I was heartened [← is that even a word?] today to notice something in the Globe and Mail “Book” section.
Bestsellers in the Non-Fiction chart.
#1 and #2… the current bestsellers in this department [in Canada, at least] are Richard Dawkins’s, The God Delusion, and Christopher Hitchens’s, God Is Not Great, respectively.
The Hitchens one is fairly new, but the Dawkins book has been among the top ten for 30 weeks!
Why am I “heartened”?
These are the kind of books we should be reading nowadays.

I’ve written a wee bit about the The God Delusion, and the Hitchens one is something I intend to get my paws on, soon!
Both of these guys are atheists.
Am I an atheist?

But neither am I a traditional “believer”.
I am some sort of proto-heretic non-atheistic post-religion, hydra-headed hybrid BEAST!
I don’t even KNOW what I am, spiritual-wise. But, I have spent a lot of years as a fundamentalist Christian, and so I know what that is.
Whatever it is that I am now, is better.
I like to call myself a “Christian in exile” to borrow a very apropos phrase from one of my favorite avant-garde authors, John Shelby Spong.
Let me tell you something though, when it comes to some of these atheist writers. [Some, not all… one must be selective]. → They are saying relevant stuff about our existence, stuff that should be read and wrestled with, until our hips are out of joint, like Jacob’s was [Genesis 32:22-28].
People like Sam Harris.
And now, Hitchens.

Here is a conundrum.
And I admit…. it is only my opinion. After all… I am not “God”.
But I do believe that there is one. A “god” I mean.
It’s just that “it” is not the one we learned about, in Sunday school. The “god” that I believe in is the one that Paul Tillich called “the Ground of All Being.”
It is the god that defies any religion’s description.
And… strangely enough, I believe that if this “god” could speak to us, “it” would tell us to read these books, written by the very people who say “it” does not exist, to the exclusion of those books written by those who know all there is to know about “it”.
That is why I am heartened.
Because it seems… it seems to me, according to the Globe and Mail charts, that we are perhaps, finally, and at long last, listening.
And reading.


Splash du Jour: Tuesday

Your own winning literary style must begin with interesting ideas in your head. Find a subject you care about and which in your heart feel others should care about.
It is this genuine caring, and not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style.

-- Kurt Vonnegut --

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, May 28, 2007



Well, I have raced home from work, [even skipping my ritualistic Starbucks time] to go out and watch the senators play Game One of the Stanley Cup finals, against the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.
The above photo is the top line that has to really perform tonight.
Alfredsson, Heatley, and Spezza.

Winning Game One of a Best-of-Seven series is tremendously important [statistically]… and so, I am really hoping that tonight my home team pulls out all the stops and makes fois gras out of these Ducks!
Come on boys, you can do it.
All of Canada [well, except for Leafs fans] is cheering for you!

I will be back later tonight, with my post-game comments…

Post game comments:
Ummm.... that was a heartbreaker.
You know, within the first two minutes Ottawa takes the lead, I'm jumping off the couch, doing a jig... then the Ducks come back with a goal to end the first period in a draw.
Then I ate some lasgagna.
Then Ottawa scores [my beloved Wade Redden... good Saskatchewan boy, and even though he got this goal, it was definitely not his best game ever, he made quite a few defensive-play errors]... so Ottawa is in the lead again.
Third period, Ducks strike again. Now the game is tied at 2.
So I ate some more lasagna, frequently muttering things like "Dammit" and "Hell".
Then [are you listening?] with something like 3 minutes left, Anaheim shovels in another goal and hangs on to win the game 3 - 2.
All in all, I must be fair. The better team won tonight. Ottawa looked rusty after their nine days off the ice. [Since the last series]. Anaheim only had six days off. They came to the arena more prepared, it seemed.
Game 2 is Wednesday.
Now, to sleep. Full of lasagna and anger.
I will surely have nightmares.... probably involving stick-waving Ducks!


Splash du Jour: Monday

Either then or later we kissed, but when it happened it was anticlimactic. It wasn't that the kiss was bad. In many ways, it was a good kiss, even a passionate one. But if we were kissing, then we couldn't talk, and the more we talked the more there was to say.
-- Nicole Kraus, in From The Desk of Daniel Varsky

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, May 27, 2007


I have just started the reading of Theft, a novel by Peter Carey.

It begins thus:
I don’t know if my story is grand enough to be a tragedy, although a lot of shitty stuff did happen. It is certainly a love story but that did not begin until midway through the shitty stuff, by which time I had not only lost my eight-year old son, but also my house and studio in Sydney where I had once been as famous as a painter could expect to be in his own backyard.

I found it to be an intriguing start.
His wording made me chuckle, but aside from that, I found that I immediately wanted to know about this “stuff” he is alluding to.
The opening lines are such that they make me want to get a grande or venti Starbucks© coffee and entrench myself in some serious reading.

But first, I thought of other impressive first lines of novels. Books I have loved.
So, here is a QUIZ for you.
See if you can recall which books match these openings.
They are all very well-known novels.
At the end, there will be a rating scale, whereupon it shall be arbitrarily decided, based upon your answers, whether you should be allowed to live, or whether someone should pull the plug on you.


1) The boy with fair hair lowered himself down the last few feet of rock and began to pick his way towards the lagoon.

2) Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.

3) Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

4) It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

5) If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.

6) We slept in what had once been the gymnasium. The floor was of varnished wood, with stripes and circles painted on it, for the games that were formerly played there; the hoops for the basketball nets were still in place, though the nets were gone.

7) A squat grey building of only thirty-four stories. [Note: If I placed the next line it would make it too easy…]

8) On they went, singing “Eternal Memory,” and whenever they stopped, the sound of their feet, the horses and the gusts of wind seemed to carry on their singing.

9) On an evening in the latter part of May a middle-aged man was walking homeward from Shaston to the village of Marlott, in the adjoining Vale of Blakemore or Blackmoor.

10) 1801 -- I have just returned from a visit to my landlord – the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with. This is certainly a beautiful country!

11) The Mole had been working very hard that morning, spring-cleaning his little home.

12) Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.

13) Mother died today. Or maybe, yesterday; I can't be sure.

14) In the town there were two mutes, and they were always together.

15) I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a different story.

The ANSWERS can be found HERE.


13 →15 Correct Answers: You are of the upper echelon of The Literati. Your blood temperature is just slightly higher than that of mere mortals. You probably know the correct pronunciation of J.M. Coetzee.

10 →12 Correct Answers: You are still in the upper Literary Savant Status. Your friends often think you are a big know-it-all. Truth is, you are a genius. You know what the “O” in O. Henry stands for.

7 → 9 Correct Answers: You have much more Literary Savvy than the average bear, but your blood temperature is the same as that of mere mortals. You know what kind of birds Flannery O’Connor raised.

5 → 6 Correct Answers: You love reading, but if you opened your travel bag as the stewardess was doing that Seatbelt Routine, and you found that you had forgotten your book, you would NOT make the pilot stop the plane, whereas people in the above three categories would!

3 → 4 Correct Answers: You are a reader, but you prefer to read bestseller type books and classic literature does not interest you much. You think Ian McEwan is the guy who played Gandalf in the movie, Lord of The Rings.

1 → 2 Correct Answers: You are convinced that Dan Brown is the best author that ever lived. You also find it difficult to spell Dan Brown, and are sure that Jane Austen is a female WWF wrestler.
O. Henry is a chocolate bar. And Shakespeare, a brand of fishing rod.

ZERO Correct Answers → You think that Hamlet is something written by Dr. Suess. Once, when asked who Charles Dickens is, you said, “NASCAR-driver?” Tying your shoes is often a problem. The plug should be pulled.


Friday, May 25, 2007

Splash du Jour: Friday

I write quickly -- I can finish a poem in forty-five minutes, sometimes less. Then you go back to make it dance a little better.
Eighty percent of revision is rhythmical – making changes to make the right music.
Eventually, I go to the computer – you can look and see the lines that don’t work. You move furniture.

-- Billy Collins –

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

# 1,000

This is my 1,000th posting on Bookpuddle!
A thousand blogs!
Holy moly!

You may have noticed lately that the onetime superb quality of my overall bloggitry has sort of waned.
Like, I don’t know… perhaps the last 4 or 5 hundred of them? If you haven’t noticed it, well, I have!
I haven’t been feeling quite as “on the mark” as I would like to be feeling.
Does that ever happen to you?
I’ve been having hmmm…. Blog Undulations!
I’ve been neither reading nor writing nearly as much as I would want!
I’ve been overworked. Overtired. A few personal issues have been really distracting me. All in all, it makes for a poor blogging climate.

Having said this depressing stuff, I have yet one more thing to add.
It is like a combination of Exultant Joy and Concussive Woe.

First, the joyful part is that my home team, the Ottawa Senators, having defeated their nemesis, the Buffalo Sabres, are FINALLY GOING TO THE STANLEY CUP FINALS!
For those of you who may not be savvy to what I am even talking about, the Ottawa Senators are an NHL Hockey team, and umm…. hockey is the only sport in the world! [‘Specially if you’re Canadian, eh?]
And the Stanley Cup, well, that is the Holy Grail of… Hockeydom!
So, my beloved Senators will soon be starting their best-of-seven series against the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.
Now, here is the Concussive Woe part!

I have had tickets to an upcoming Roger Waters concert for about the past five months!

Wouldn’t you know it?
Murphy's Law! The Senators’ arena [Scotiabank Place] has Game Four booked in as June 4th, at 8 p.m.
Guess when the concert, booked in the same arena, is supposed to start?
June 4th. 8 p.m.
Unless that theory of parallel universes is a reality, these two things AIN'T A'GONNA HAPPEN SIMULTANEOUSLY!

In other words, the hockey game has ousted the concert.
Hockey is all of a sudden more important than The Dark Side of The Moon?
And I was ALREADY having a bad week!

So, I called the ticket place today and demanded an explanation.
Will I get a refund? Will the concert be rescheduled? Should I just kill myself?

The guy on the phone said, “We are not at liberty to discuss the matter quite yet, sir. We are expecting a press release later this afternoon.”
I said, “Yes, but…. the concert is cancelled, am I right?”
“We are not at liberty to discuss…..” he went on, like a robot!

I haven’t been this disappointed since, well, since the Senators lost to Buffalo in last year’s playoffs!
You boys BETTER win that Stanley Cup…. since you’ve now ruined my evening of psychedelic rock n’ roll!


Splash du Jour: Thursday

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

I’m convinced that if there is such a thing as reincarnation and I run into the person who was Jane Austen in a past life, I will recognize her instantly by her syntax, delivery, and turn of phrase.
-- Anna Qundlen –

I was just telling my Reading Partner© yesterday that we should read the Jane Austen series together, and [amazingly] she agreed to read all six with me!
Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

It is easy to recognise the moment when we have entered the orbit of a snob. Early on in an encounter, the subject of what we "do" will arise and depending on how we answer, we will either be the recipients of bountiful attention or the catalysts of urgent disgust. We may be endowed with the wisdom of Solomon and have the resourcefulness and intelligence of Odysseus, but if we are unable to wield socially recognized badges of our qualities, our existence will remain a matter of raw indifference to them.
-- Alain de Botton, in Status Anxiety

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, May 21, 2007

What Dads Are For

This blog will have nothing to do with books at all.
It is moreso about how, as a child, I was filled with demons!
And how my dad, [shown here] became my hero.

When I was a kid I had a cat named Joe.
Joe was sleek, black, and a real prowler. Admittedly, he had a few quirks. One was that he loved to eat locusts. And our back yard was infested with locusts. The big grasshoppers that have wings. Some of the more serious ones even make a big clacking sound as they fly erratically all over the place.
Hah! That colossal racket gives them away bigtime!
Joe would bat them right out of the air and eat them, legs hangi
ng out of his mouth. I was always astounded, and somewhat disgusted at this. But I loved him, despite his eating habits and bad breath!
His other quirk [also related to ingestion, I guess] was that, at times, he thought I was his mom.
I won’t tell you how I…. [ahem]… knew this!
Suffice it to say, I started to wear shirts around Joe, more often!

But now here are the demonic parts of the story.
Joe, as do all cats, loved to sleep. God, he could sleep good.
All curled up and toasty, say for instance, on the couch.
But I had the devil in me, I did. [I have since been properly exorcised!]
I cannot tell you how many times I crept up to Joe, so peacefully dreaming of mountainsides filled with low-flying locusts… and I would put a deck of playing cards right up to his ever-sensitive bionic cat-ear…. an ear that could hear, in that moment, a mouse blinking, across the room.

Then….. RIIIIIIIIIIP… I would rifle through the cards with a horrendous snap!
54 gunshots [including Jokers] into his poor comatose brain! Joe would leap to the ceiling, and I would laugh.
Ha – ha – ha – ha – ha!
[Because I had the devil in me!]

And I also had a drumset.
Joe loved to sleep right in the bass drum, because I had a pillow in there, to muffle the sound.
Again, visions of locusts, yadda, yadda… fields of catnip, the whole nine yards…
[Do you know where I’m going with this?]
Because I was full of Satan, I would creep…. creep…. creep…. to my trusty drumstool.
Sit down. Even wait a bit, savoring the moment, shoulders heaving.
Then, with all of my weight, along with some I never even had, I would trounce upon that bass-drum pedal.

Sweet LORD!
Joe would launch twenty feet across the room without once touching rug!

I so loved that cat!
We had him for hmmm… well over a decade?
Then, one day he was gone.
And it wasn’t LIKE Joe to be gone, ever!
Things got bad. Our back yard was becoming really locust-infested in his absence!
We finally had the sense to phone the local Pound, and ask them if they had perhaps picked up a black cat near our address.
[I can still see my dad nodding with the phone at his ear…. listening…]

They had!
They knew Joe.
But….. [grab a box of Kleenex]… because he was never claimed in time, Joe had already been euthanized.

My dad then found out that the reason Joe was nabbed in the first place was because our neighbors had TRAPPED HIM in an actual CAT TRAP, in their yard.
I will never forget what happened next, as long as I live.

My dad marched outside [I ran after him… hence you are getting an eyewitness account here]… and I listened as my dad tore a nice Saskatchewan-sized rectangular strip off our neighbor, Mr. Kreutz!
Oh God, I loved it.
I loved hearing my dad consign this guy to the future torments of hell.

There were threats given, from both sides of the fence, but my dad’s ones were way better.
In the fracas, my dad even brought up the issue of how Mr. Kreutz had once changed the oil in his car and spilled the old stuff out so close to our fence that it had leaked into our garden soil. [Personally, I thought this was reason enough to kill the guy right then and there. You’ve gotta remember, I had demons.]

But my dad did not kill anyone that day.

When he said all that needed to be said he turned and walked back to where I was. Hiding behind something.
Where I had been listening, and shaking, in a mixture of sadness and worship.
Sadness, because Joe could not be replaced.
Worship, because my dad could never be, either.

Let me say it ahead of time… a good month before Father’s Day.
I miss you, dad!

For more about him, click HERE!

Splash du Jour: Monday

"The target is faith, really, the willingness of people to believe something without reason or without evidence. And not just anything, either, but the most important things. In other words, they claim to have the authority of the divine to tell people what to eat, what to read, how to have sex. They don't just say God exists, something that not even the most brilliant theologian has ever been able to demonstrate, but that they know his mind. They know what he wants me to have for lunch, or not, or, what book to have on the shelf, or with whom to go to bed. It's preposterous. "
-- Christopher Hitchens, in a Powells interview on the focus of his book God is Not Great

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Enter My Dilemma

I’m having a moral dilemma.
I am not willing to buy all of the books I want to read.
And sometimes these are too new to borrow from the Library.
So, since I spend so much time in the bookstore anyway, I have at times read entire books in there, without purchasing them.

It’s because of people like me that one day we will have books behind glass, in stores.
Or…. wrapped in cellophane!
Or… [horrors!] Book vending machines!

My current dilemma is as follows.
See, I often receive review-books direct from the publisher.
In exchange for reviewing them, I get the books for free.
In my most recent shipment I was anticipating a certain book in the package.
However, while there were some amazingly lovely books in there, the anticipated one was absent!
In the meantime, I had bought a new copy of the thing and had sent it in the mail to my Reading Partner.
Now she will receive her copy, and [chances are] I will not have received mine!
However, I have no intention of buying a second copy.
Despite the rumors, I am NOT rich, as are my esteemed readers of Bookpuddle here.
I am a Bookpauper!

And the book is too new to be retrieving it from a Library. I would be on a waiting list ten miles long!

Enter my dilemma.©
Is it wrong for me to make successive trips to the bookstore [I am writing this very blog while sitting at the bookstore] and in periodic installments, read the entire book here, without purchasing a second copy for myself?
What would Jesus do?

And another thing.
Is there an actual word for this proposed action?
Like… is is stealing? Isn’t that a bit harsh?
Pilfering? Poaching? Purloining?
See, “purloining” still implies that the item will be kept by the… purloiner. And I have no intention of stealing [per se] or purloining, as it were.
Neither am I “borrowing”, technically.
Pirating? But, doesn’t “pirating” involve copying? Intentions of resale?

What is it? Is it “filching”? “Looting”? “Robbery”?
How does it differ from say, eating a head of lettuce while you are still in the supermarket?
Or… taking a new car for a test-drive to go GET your groceries?

Really now!
What is the word for this clandestine activity of mine?
Must I invent one, seeing as I [currently] have every intention of doing the thing?

How about “Borroining”? As in, a cross between borrowing and outright purloinitry?

Any ideas? Any moral instruction for me?


Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Rider: A Poem-Thing

The Rider

A sparrow turns its head.
Quivering, the vigilant forest edge
Yields to a gathering unease
The thump of approach.
Hooves stamp the hilltop.
A triumphant tossing of mane, a steamy huff.

The Rider, wheeling the great beast about,
Surveys the foggy terrain he has crossed.
Silence reclaims itself.
He thinks.

This man knows nothing of Parliament or Congress,
Matches or ballpoint pens. Electricity is gibberish.
Air the exclusive domain of feathers.
Television, centuries hence.

Yet the Rider knows two things
As well as you and I do.
Love and the lack of it.

© Ciprianowords Inc. 2007

Friday, May 18, 2007

Inventing Momentum

So I was almost home already.
Stopped at the red light on the corner of King Edward and St. Patrick.
The light goes green and as I move the Oldsmobile into the intersection I see this person having some sort of epileptic fit on the other side of the street.
But no. Wait!
As it turns out, it is not a grand mal seizure I am witnessing.
It’s just a guy on a skateboard.
And he’s holding one of these huge Big Gulps© or other such Gallon-O-Pop things. And from a dead stop he is now gyrating himself across the street on his skateboard.
Now, I’ve seen them put one foot down and sort of scoot themselves along a bit and then jump on and surf for a bit, but here, this guy was like…. I don’t know, INVENTING momentum or something. It was truly remarkable.
He was getting better speed for his effort than I was, pressing my lazy old boot on the accelerator!

Before I reached the other side of the street I was cranking my head back to watch this guy. My God, he was good!
But my immediate thought was something like… there has GOT to be easier ways of crossing the street!
Like, if this kid is doing the skateboarding thing because it is easier than walking, then I just don’t get it.
Because if I myself did what was going on there I’d be seeing a chiropractor for the next three months.
Or a cardiologist.
Or Jesus!

I mean seriously. I kept driving, but I was shaking my head and thinking that this is probably the kind of thing that happens when people finally get to hell.
The Devil, or whoever else is in charge of things, probably looks the new batch of inmates over and declares → “OK, from now on, when you want to get from over here to over there, you gotta use this thing!”
Then he hands you a skateboard!

But hey! The power of youth!
They know how to prepare for stuff.
On that fateful day, this kid I saw on the way home will look at The Devil and say, “Hey. Chill out, dude! I can do that while holding 4 litres of Dr. Pepper!”


Splash du Jour: Friday

The length of Picasso’s shadow crossed other art forms. He was once asked what style he was after. He said, ‘God is really only another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant, and the cat. He has no real style. He just keeps on trying other things.’ What Picasso was saying was that he would prefer to be like a deity.
-- Stanley Crouch –

Above is an image of my favorite Picasso painting, Blue Nude.
Have a great Friday!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Eight Things (X2)

Well, I was tagged by Sam Houston over at Book Chase, for one of these Eight Things memes.
This is where you simply have to say Eight Things about yourself [if I am understanding the game correctly] and then tag eight other people to do the same.
At first I wasn’t going to participate in this meme because I couldn’t think of anything to say about me… but then, as I jotted down a thing or two I found that it was difficult to stop at just eight, so I came up with sixteen!

Sixteen Things About Me.

1) → I was born in a small prairie town named after a railroad. I mean the town was named after the railroad, not me. I was named after a bright neon sign in that town. True story, I’ll tell you sometime. But the place itself, Canora, Saskatchewan [Canada] got its name from the first two letters of the words Canadian Northern Railroad, which [I guess] ran through it.
In this town I was raised by wolves.

2) → I have never bought a television in my life. I have always had one, but they have always been given to me. Just this last weekend I got a new one, the best one ever. Again, given to me, for free, like.

3) → One of my claims to fame is that I have written a better paradelle than Billy Collins has. And he was the Poet Laureate, so I think this is quite the accomplishment for me. If you are wondering how I know that my paradelle is better, well, you would just have to take my word for it. Mine is better. That’s all there is to it! For more on what a paradelle is, click HERE.

4) → I have always loved reading in general, but I can trace my love for literature to a very precise moment in time. It was my reading of Thomas Hardy’s Tess Of The D’Urbervilles in 1991. Since then, my love for reading has not been satiated. It has taken off and never landed!

5) → The people that I think have written best are Shakespeare and Tolstoy. Of contemporary authors I think I would be most excited by seeing new work from Jose Saramago or Margaret Atwood. To me, these two writers exemplify what authors should be doing, in our time.

6) → I have owned and driven only Oldsmobile products for over 26 years now. Exclusively. What will happen now that there is no longer an Oldsmobile division to General Motors? Perhaps my next vehicle will be an Oldsmohorse!

7) → I have a Bachelor Degree in Theology and was once a Christian minister, a vocation to which I no longer aspire nor even desire…. to aspire. In fact, when I think of it, I perspire!

8) → I would like to be a cat. if I had to be an animal I think a cat would be a pretty good deal. I like how they wake up to yawn, and then go straight back to sleep again. If I couldn’t be a cat, then I would like to be a falcon.

9) → The closest I ever came to being totally dead was when I was operating a gigantic steamroller and the pavement gave way underneath. The machine fell on its side and slid all the way down a rocky embankment, finally landing in a river while I was still white-knuckling the steering wheel. If I had jumped off at any point during its descent I would have been surely crushed to death.

10) → I once had a tusk. No kidding. It would be funny if it weren’t so true. I had a tooth growing, narwhal-like, between my two upper front teeth. I was just a kid. My mom took me to the dentist and he yanked the thing out with some kind of pliers.

11) → I share a birthday with a hot actress. Marisa Tomei was born on December 4th, 1964. I was born, same day, but in ’63.

12) → I have no allergies. However, when I was a kid, the smell of green peppers made me sneeze. For instance, I would walk with my mom down the aisle of a supermarket and start sneezing like crazy around the display of green peppers.

13) → I did not not attend kindergarten or any form of pre-school. I went, reluctantly as all hell, straight into Grade One.

14) → I once sat next to Sheryl Crow for about half an hour and did not at all know it was her until she walked away and I was told who it had been.

15) → June 1st, 2007, will mark the 10th year of my living at my current address.
The Penthouse Apartment©!

16) → I typed all of my mother’s recipes onto index cards long before I could spell one word. I tapped out each letter and number by individually identifying it on a typewriter keyboard. When I was done, the recipe box was filled and there was not one mistake in the lot. My mom proudly tells the story to this day. And I proudly retell it here!

There you go!
Sixteen things about me.
Way more than you ever wanted to know.
I tag no one!

Splash du Jour: Thursday

One of the reasons I so admire William Golding is that he didn’t just write ten versions of Lord of the Flies. Each of his books might almost be by a different author, though there’s a guiding intelligence and passion in each of them, and there is a line of Christian theology that runs through them that’s Golding’s own.
But people could never quite get the measure of Golding because he surprised his readers with each book, and now he’s remembered largely as a one-book man.

-- Jonathan Raban –

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Lord of the Flies

I love my thousand-year-old battered-up Faber edition of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies.
If my digital camera was working I could present a photo of its dog-eared beauty, but no, I must provide a canned image here. It’s a great book. If you haven’t read it, I am about to highly recommend that you do!

In Lord of the Flies, [published in 1954] a group of young schoolchildren [all male] are evacuated from Britain in the wake of a nuclear war. As it turns out, their airplane has crashed onto an uninhabited island, with the result that there are no adult survivors to be found. In the opening scenes, children begin to slowly emerge from the forest and converge on the beach at the summons of the book's main character Ralph. As they are now thrust together in this new environment, it becomes apparent that a new sort of social order is going to be necessary. What follows for the length of the book is an elaborate working out of this (attempted) democratic style of social order.

After an initial confrontation of two groups on the beach (one led by Ralph, the other led by Jack), Ralph is elected as leader. Early on, we see that Ralph's interests tend to be "group" oriented. His concern is with rescue, and with keeping the others focused on this objective through the maintenance of a signal fire. We see shadows in Jack however, that are more temporal, concerned with the hungry rumble in his stomach. And here we sense the beginnings of conflict, and the age-old fact looming to remind us that, even in democracy we need to recognize submission to elected leadership.
In a pivotal chapter (ch.5) one of the children declares, "We're drifting and things are going rotten. At home there was always a grown-up."
The significance here is that, by filling his island with castaway children (rather than adults) Golding allows us to consider more aspects of innate or instinctual human nature than if it had been otherwise.
Children are raw.
If this island were inhabited by castaway "grown-ups" the results and conclusions they came to would be conditioned by all of the ingenuity, resourcefulness, and maturity with which they'd have dealt with previous struggles and needs. Socially, they would have been able to draw upon the results (good or bad) of past decisions made in the clash and clang of more mature inclinations and inhibitions.
But children are not afforded this perspective of experience. Golding populates his island with children because he wants to emphasize the full range of possibilities that are INNATE in the human condition, typified in this case by Ralph's tears on the very last page. Tears, we are told, which he wept "for the end of innocence, the darkness of man's heart."
With the frenzied killing of Simon in ch.9 comes the real disintegration; a rapid descent into moral anarchy. Ralph is the only one who dares to say it... "That was murder."
He has the keenest sense of the mob mentality that will inevitably run roughshod over the individual conscience. Earlier than any of the others he understands their own capacity for evil when he says to Piggy, "I'm frightened. Of us.”

The lasting value of the book is its ability to pose the question, "What if I were thrust into a similar situation?"
Which character would I most resemble... with whom do I most identify? How is it then, that we in fact, do behave? What if?...
This story speaks to any overly optimistic answer to that question when we remember that the entire reason these children found themselves on this island in the first place, was that they were fleeing a nuclear war that "grown-ups" had started.


Splash du Jour: Wednesday

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

We could choose to live as though the best meaning and purpose we could find for our own lives is the very meaning and purpose of the universe itself. We could pay the universe a compliment it probably does not deserve by living as though its purpose were love, as one tradition in Christianity says it is. And if the universe, in the end, were to prove us wrong, who cares? Our lives then, would have been an act of defiance of indifferent power, and power is always worth defying.
-- Richard Holloway, Looking In The Distance, p.55 --

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, May 14, 2007

"What Is A Grit, Anyways?"

One of my favorite movies of all time is My Cousin Vinny. I think I have watched it at least 214 times. Give or take.
And Joe Pesci never fails to crack me up. There is just something about him that is genuinely funny, as soon as he says ANYTHING, I am laughing!
And the matchup in this movie, with Marisa Tomei as his vivacious sidekick [she won an Oscar for ‘dis t’ing!] is supoib.
OK, so here is a scene, so simple, but so funny.
All they are trying to do is order breakfast.
But nothin’ comes easy, in My Cousin Vinny.

Splash du Jour: Monday

Have a great Monday!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Neanderthal Poetry 4 U...


If I could observe prehistoric cavepeople
The hunt would not interest me (stalking
A saber-tooth until it gets stuck between their teeth).

Nor would the scene where they copulate
In some drippy, echoing vault
And slurp primordial soup afterwards.

Spare me the Olympic-style trot
Toward the world’s first barbecue,
Lightning sticks held aloft.

Steer me instead, to the first joke.
Let me try to decipher a Neanderthal punchline.
Was it a pre-planned gag?
Or just a mastodon tripping over a log
As it stomped past the lounging knuckledraggers?

I want to see them fall off their rocks
Banging their shaggy heads in the dust,
Roaring in perfect English, and
Crying, it hurts so good.
I want to see the first kneeslapper.

© Ciprianowords Inc. 2007

Friday, May 11, 2007

Splash du Jour: Friday

Until I perfect a sentence, I’m not allowed to go on to the next sentence. And I don’t allow myself to go back to the beginning to accommodate where I am now. Therefore I’m in a trap. I have to work something out in the current sentence so there’s no need to go back and fix the antecedent action. Then, when you get to the next sentence, it’s a kind of enjambment, if that’s the word.
It must respond to the previous sentence – otherwise, you get no cadence. To write sentence five, you have to read over sentences one, two, three, and four, to make sure your rhythm is constant. And if you go away for a week and come back, you have to read over and over to catch that tone.
It’s so physical.
There are these three fingers that hold the pen, and there is the ear. Of course, it’s all ear.

-- Cynthia Ozick –

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Adventures in Duckfarming: Part 3

Well, my suspicion is that they will soon fly the coop, but here [above] is the most recent footage of the ducks in action!
In this scene, they are umm.... Waiting In Line To Drink Mud© !
Who can really figure them out?
You may recall that I have been providing a sort of synoptic update on what is happening in the life of The Duckmistress©.
She is also my elite Reading Partner© .
We met when I was but a mud-eating duckling, myself. Now, I am STILL a mud-eating duckling, but I eat the mud with her! Which is always better than eating it alone!
That's why these ducks here are waiting in line to do it!
For all of our "alleged" superiority, they know a few things earlier on than we do!

For former duck scenery, click HERE!

Splash du Jour: Thursday

Hamlet is about bad parenting. You know, every single parent in Hamlet is rotten, including the ghost. If he’d been a good father he wouldn’t have appeared to Hamlet at all. And even so, when he does appear, he doesn’t say a thing about Hamlet. He doesn’t say, You’re my son. I love you, I feel very proud of you. He says, What about me? Take care of me. It’s your job to get revenge for me. He doesn’t think of Hamlet at all; therefore, should we feel sympathetic towards the ghost? We do when we see the play. You know, often we feel sympathetic towards people not because they are models of character whom we should all emulate, but because they aren’t.
-- Margaret Atwood –

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


A while back I read an interesting book.
Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy And Its Consequences.
The author is John Allen Paulos.

Well, I am not a mathematician, nor even mathematically inclined, [I dropped out of algebra and took core-math in high school...] so mine won't be the review of a fanatic, nor even one based on comparison with other books that deal with the subject.
Reading this book was a serious diversion for me, but perhaps the fact that I actually enjoyed it is tantamount to suggesting that the author's method will appeal to a large readership.
He made the topic very interesting, and now I know what an algorithm is!
I will also be able to think critically about the next statistic I am persuaded to swallow, hook, line and integer!

The book presents a very convincing case for the author's conclusion that "probability, like logic, is not just for mathematicians anymore. It permeates our lives."
I found it fascinating how Paulos explained the complexities involved in the flipping of coins, or the rolling of dice... ho
w that even asking someone out on a date is a foray into the world of probability. [Especially if I am the one asking for the date, since nine times out of ten, I will chicken out!]
Even my rating of this book as being 4 out of a possible 5 stars is an example of how much we knowingly or unknowingly rely on numerical criteria in our daily lives. I guess I'm saying that, all things being EQUAL, and given a RANDOM sampling, I'm ESTIMATING that CHANCES are that PROBABLY four out of five people will benefit greatly from this book.
Give or take a star, 1/5th of the time.

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

I’m always in the process of trying to figure out what I think and feel, struggling to express myself in conversation. People who know me, then read the work, are astonished. It’s just beyond belief. As a young man, going to literary dinner parties, I felt very inarticulate, poorly educated, ill equipped to deal with where I was. Writing a novel is suddenly like having ten chances to contend with that dinner party. Writing is a process of evaluating oneself; it’s like building a stepladder or staircase to yourself. You end up with someone who’s more eloquent, more intelligent than yourself, and certainly knows more. After I had started to be published, I knew something had changed when people started waiting for me to finish my sentences.
-- Peter Carey

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Frozen Boxes

Sometimes I give Kathleen a ride home from work.
So there we were, driving down Ogilvie Road and talking, and she says, “You know, there’s a sale on those Swanson TV-dinners you eat at lunchtime every day of your life. Loeb’s got them at $1.50 right now.”

“What?” I hyperventilated.
“Yeah! A buck-fifty. Not bad, huh?”

My God!
My first thought was that it might be worthwhile to buy a separate deep-freezer to put them all in. I will buy 200, no, 300 dinners…. etc., etc.
My second thought was to speed up so I could get rid of Kathleen faster, and head to the nearest Loeb store.
Which I did.
It was true.
There they were. In all of their artery-clogging glory! Wonderful mountains of Swanson© products.
All types of species.
I pretty much emptied the bin and made my way to the cashier.

The place was busy. I all of a sudden became sort of….. conspicuous.
People, the kind that actually buy produce, were evaluating my hoard of… frozen boxes.
I glanced at a few of these people and had this mental image of my face probably looking by now like one of the Swanson serving trays! Instead of eyes I’ve got a mound of mashed potatoes on one side and a pile of corn in the other, and a bright little nose of red fake-cranberry dessert in the middle!
Below all of this, I’m grinning like a Salisbury steak!

I piled it all on the conveyer belt, clunk, clunk, clunk!
The cute little Oriental cashier rang it all through.
We’re both stuffing it into plastic bags and I felt that some words of explanation were in order.
So, glancing at this one guy now lifting onto the counter his basket of stuff containing things with leaves on it, and like dirt still hanging off the ends of whatever it was… I said, “I’m quite the chef.”
Thinking I am making some sort of serious statement the girl says, “Ohhh! You are chef!”
Me: → “Umm. No, actually I…”
Cashier: → “You like cooking. Like chef.”

[I now suddenry rearize that she know very rittle Engrish rangrage!]

But I have committed myself to some kind of joke here and so, looking back at the lineup of folks behind me for some support, [and getting none at all, not one smile] then back at the girl, I exprain to her…. “No. See. When I said I am a chef I meant it as a joke. What I mean is…. I CAN’T COOK! SOMETIMES I EVEN BOTCH THESE THINGS AND DON’T GET IT RIGHT!”

“Yes. You cook!” she says, sliding toward me the last packed bag.

I would have literally ran away but I had too much stuff to haul out of there!
Weighed down with frozen boxes.


Splash du Jour: Tuesday

“As if the soul’s fullness didn’t sometimes overflow into the emptiest of metaphors, for no one, ever, can give the exact measure of his needs, his apprehensions or his sorrows; and human speech is like a cracked cauldron on which we bang out tunes that make bears dance, when we want to move the stars to pity.”
-- Gustave Flaubert –

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Night Watch

Tonight, at a local Starbucks, I finished reading this excellent book by Sarah Waters.
It’s called The Night Watch.
The book was nominated [shortlisted] in 2006 for the Booker. Did not win the prize.
Kiran Desai won, for her book, The Inheritance of Loss.
But wow…. what a great book this Waters one is!
Truly fantastic. As I have not read even one other novel on that 2006 Shortlist, I cannot be a good judge of whether Sarah Waters should have won. But I feel some kind of affinity with the author... [Hah! Pun, since one of her other books is called Affinity, God I am a brick!] “Umm, yeah, Cipriano, some of us are wondering if you are sure you spelled that last word correctly, should it not start with the letter…..”
Thanks for pointing that possibility of error out but “Brick” is what I totallly meant to say……
Anyhoo, as I was saying, a fabulous book and I highly recommend it. By the author’s own admission it is not like her others, per se.
For one thing, while her other books take place in the 19th Century, here in The Night Watch, we are in the 20th, in the period of the 1940’s, during and just after the Second World War.
We are in blacked-out London. Bombs falling everywhere. People trying to get on with their lives, in the midst.
The novel, in three parts, takes a real innovative approach to storytelling… in fact, I am not sure I have seen such a thing done before, and if I have, it must have not been as impressively done, for I forget it, now. However, I shall not soon forget what Sarah Waters created here.
Part 1 takes place in 1947.
Part 2, in 1944.
Part 3, in 1941.
Thus, we are beginning at the end of the story really, and working our way BACK, [in time] as we read.

The remarkable thing is how Waters yet maintains an element of brooding suspense, and truly that suspense is as ominous as the blacked-out streets that everyone shuttles around in, throughout the chapters. In other words, most novelists are relying upon what lies ahead in the road, counting on this as the reason the reader keeps turning pages.
But here things are reversed.
And yet!
For instance, tonight as I was finishing the last section, the final pages, there is a part where [don’t worry, I won’t spoil anything here] the character ______ holds a blade to his/or/her own throat and _____ [another character] watches…. and my God! The crucial moment, when you don’t know what is going to happen [yet you should know, for she has already told us, in previous sections] I had to close the book [I could not turn the page for fear of what I might read there]… take a little walkabout, sort of “rethink my inks” as Chris Farley might say [in Beverley Hills Ninja… ← if you haven’t yet, you should really see that movie…]
My conclusion? She is a genius storyteller, and deserves to be read by every conscious person!

Blacked out streets and bomb shelters.
The author tells us, “It’s about people’s relatively quiet but intense emotional journeys. It’s about people’s experiences of love, and loss, and betrayal.”
Wonderfully researched. The novel completely kept me.
Waters has created scenes [one in particular], that are perhaps some of the most moving, memorable moments of my literary pilgrimage, here on this planet.

Read The Night Watch.
If you don’t like it, I will PERSONALLY send you your money back.
Meet the author, all too briefly, HERE!

-- Cip

Splash du Jour: Monday

I can take a whole day to think of a topic. I finally will get one and I’ll get maybe a sentence and a half written, but if there is a good enough intro or a good enough joke, I’ll consider that a good day’s work. I’ll expect to finish that the next day, but I won’t always succeed.
I’m a very slow writer, a constant rewriter. Humor is two things: the joke and the timing. I’m fanatical about whether to use 'but' or 'although' because of the timing. Or should I change a number like 853 to a number like 2,040? Which is funnier? Which one is big enough to be really stupid, without being too big? I spend a lot of time thinking about things like that.
-- Dave Barry –
Have a great Monday!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

None For Me, Thanks!

OK, call me picky!
But see, my hesitation in ordering dessert at this restaurant would be based almost entirely on the question of whether they are missing two letters from this sign, or just one letter!

Wishing you all a wonderfully non-shtty weekend!

-- Cip