Saturday, September 29, 2007

Good Granny / Bad Granny

Hey, kids.
Fellow Puddlers.
There is a contest, and you need to enter in!
A lot of you may already be aware that cartoonist/illustrator Patricia Storms, that nutty girl at BookLust has launched a contest. But I want to remind you, time is running out for you to submit your own story to her.
She is asking for you to recount your Good Granny and/or Bad Granny stories. You will find all of the information you need in the link I provide at the the end of this blog. And, as she has said, “please don't worry about making it an astounding literary work of art – I just want an entertaining, honest tale, told straight from the heart.”
I just sent her my own submission tonight, and it is not a work of art, by a long shot. Just a funny heart-remembered, memory.
Patricia is a lot of fun. She is a hoot. It was so neat to meet her for the first time back in July, at Indigo Books in Toronto.
We chatted about old times as if they were old times!
Write your Granny story and send it to her before Oct.14th.
Yes... of THIS year!
For more information, click HERE.


Friday, September 28, 2007

Splash du Jour: Friday

If a man walks in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer. But if he spends his days as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making the earth bald before her time, he is deemed an industrious and enterprising citizen.
-- Henry David Thoreau –

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Splash du Jour: Thursday

How strange is it to think that most of us can count on one hand the number of people we know who are doing what they most want to do for a living. They invariably have about them a kind of wildness and calmness both, possessing somewhat the grace of animals that are fitted intricately and polished into this world. An academic such as myself might refer to it as a kind of biological confidence. Certainly I think another word for it could be peace.
-- Rick Bass, in the short-story, The Hermit’s Way --

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Doing Things Over Again

Today at work, during one of the most doldrummiest moments of an overwhelmingly doldrummery day, right at the most tedious section of a long patch of… tediosity, a co-worker asked me, “If you could do things over again, what would you do? Would you go to school?”
Well, my first thought was that I DID go to school.
I studied theology full time between the ages of 23 and 27.
At the end of it [1991] I received a degree which I am not at all utilizing in my current career of Purgatorial Slave©.
And now, at the age of 43, [cue violins...] I feel that it is a bit late in the day to even consider returning to formal education and obtaining something more…. suitable for me. So the question itself only unnerved me.
But then I quickly realized that he asked about my doing things “over again”.
In the past. Not about doing them now.

So, my answer was definite. And quick.
I said, “Yes. I would go to school and study English and Literature. Become a teacher, either in a high-school or maybe something more like a professor in a college or something.”
Definitely this is what I would do, if I could do things over again.
But I can’t. No one can.
You can only do things right now… today. Tomorrow.
And for me, that means getting out of bed at 6:30 a.m. and driving my body to a job that is not only killing me physically, but is also sapping me of all of my strength and energy during the MINIMUM of ten or more hours that I am there, per day. ← I work to the absolute best of my ability, but every minute of doing so, I loathe and bemoan my current state.
My job is like being punished for something, and not knowing why.

I’m not whining, though it may seem so. I’m just being honest.
And I would like to know if anyone out there knows of anyone that “did things over again” when they were in mid-life or later. Or maybe [even better] that person was YOU!

Perhaps you might think, “Cippy-Boy, if you feel this strongly about your vocation in life, why didn’t you focus your goals in that direction twenty years ago?
Hmmm… mostly because I did not know my true vocation, way back then.
As with many things in life, one only knows now what one wishes one knew, then.
I now know that if I had become a teacher, I would be waking up tomorrow morning with a sense of purpose.
I would be happily driving to work.
And I would daily be the second-best teacher in the world!


Splash du Jour: Wednesday

'I wonder,' he said to himself, 'what's in a book while it's closed. Oh, I know it's full of letters printed on paper, but all the same, something must be happening, because as soon as I open it, there's a whole story with people I don't know yet and all kinds of adventures and deeds and battles. And sometimes there are storms at sea, or it takes you to strange cities and countries. All those things are somehow shut up in a book. Of course you have to read it to find out. But it's already there, that's the funny thing. I just wish I knew how it could be.'
-- Michael Ende, in The Neverending Story

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

I like cats so much better than dogs.
For one thing, dogs want you to kiss them. They like it. I like to have to win an animal over. Dogs are too easy. I particularly do not care for small dogs. Or dogs with fine, long, pointy noses. Or hair that needs to be brushed and curried and powdered and braided and shampooed on a daily basis. There's something un-doglike about them. As though they have been given delusions of grandeur. And that is a station best left to cats.

-- Anonymous Bookpuddler –

And I could not agree more.

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, September 24, 2007

'Never Again'

‘Never Again’

These feelings can’t reach the frozen core.
No, chilled and shaken… you turn from the sun

And I cry, and I wonder how one

Lengthy coolness can come from so brief a storm

You never feel warm


These feelings don’t end where they begin.

No, spilled and taken… they never flow back

And I die, and I say for the lack

Of a better word ‘Why?’
This one way emotion

Like river to ocean…
‘Never again.’

© Ciprianowords Inc. 2007

For a look at more of my original poetry, click > HERE.


Splash du Jour: Monday

Perhaps part of the reason so many of our elites, both political and corporate, are so sanguine about climate change is that they are confident they will be able to buy their way out of the worst of it. This may also partially explain why so many Bush supporters are Christian end-timers. It's not just that they need to believe there is an escape hatch from the world they are creating. It's that the Rapture is a parable for what they are building down here on Earth -- a system that invites destruction and disaster, then swoops in with private helicopters and airlifts them and their friends to safety.
-- Naomi Klein, in the current Harpers magazine [Disaster Capitalism] –

Have a great Monday

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Teeming Anonymity

I love the city.
I love life in the city. This city. Ottawa.
As much as I can sometimes be critical of mass culture, as much as I abhor mobs in general, and as solitary a life as I lead, YET, I love the throng and the pulse… the teeming anonymity of city life.
I love the simultaneous blending of familiarity and unfamiliarity that is a part of long-term urban existence.
Let me explain myself.

I have lived here in the downtown core of this city for over ten years. When I lie in bed at night, I am 130 feet in the air, [top floor – top corner] and through my floor-to-ceiling window I can see Parliament Hill on the other side of my balcony railing. Especially if the pigeons move over a bit, to give me a better view.
To me, it is beautiful, and serene. At night, the twinkling lights of the city illuminate the entire apartment.
As often as I can, as often as is humanly possible, I leave my penthouse sanctuary and descend to street level, and walk the neighborhood.
Weekends are usually my full-time Downtown-Time! My car usually remains parked underground from Friday evening to Monday morning!
And so, one becomes accustomed to several aspects of familiarity.
One gravitates towards certain coffeeshops. Or stores. Or restaurants. Or parks.
One walks streets, and the same ones so often, that [at a certain point] these could probably be walked blindfolded. Such familiarity is part and parcel of being immersed in daily amounts of urbanity. And I love it.
You begin to know the friendliest of the maple-syrup vendors. You quickly learn who makes the best Lebanese shawarma. Where the best pizza is, etc. I can walk into any coffeeshop in the downtown and immediately know where the power outlets are located. Why? Because I have been there with my laptop a thousand times before.

At the same time though, there is a level of newness and unfamiliarity that meets a person each step of the way.
I do not really know the baristas that serve me coffee at Starbucks. Yet we are familiar with each other on a first name basis. Or, if not this, they will usually know what I want to order before I even say it.
I may hear some sort of racket up the street, and as I get closer I find that a substantial crowd has gathered around a busker, who is juggling flaming thingamajigs. The streetcorner is familiar, but what is currently happening on it is unfamiliar.
I am sitting even now at a coffee place on the corner of Dalhousie and Rideau, and as the signal changes, a woman walks her pink bicycle across the street. I am watching her, and I know her, but I don’t.
I know her because I have seen her dance on the street during many Canada Day celebrations, over the years. She is an amazing dancer. She does all of those crazy bare-footed gyrations while frantic bongo-music drives her on. It is like a state of frenzy. I have seen her dance many times. Today, her large-frame pink bike seems so incongruent alongside her tiny body.
And just the fact that she walks this bike across the street [rather than riding it] sort of says to me that she has a respect for order. In the sense of decorum. She wants to ride her bike, but not in and out amongst honking traffic!
A couple of blocks further, when I can no longer see her from here, she will get on her pink bike and peacefully pedal, probably humming some seriously New-Agey tune to herself.
I’ve seen her probably fifty times, and in that sense, she is very familiar to me, but I have never once spoken to her, and so in that sense, she is utterly unfamiliar.

This sort of teeming anonymity may not appeal to a lot of people.
A lot of people would rather live in an environment where they can recite [if necessary] the very intimate life history of nine-tenths of the people they associate with, or see, on a daily basis.
But this is not me at all. I don’t have the slightest desire to peer under anyone’s rug. Nor do I want them lifting mine. I prefer the teeming anonymity.
It fits my overwhelmingly Platonic/Idealistic lifestyle, perfectly.
Teeming anonymity allows me to actually apportion people [en masse] to what I prefer to think of them as.

I actually like it that if anyone walked up to me right now and started talking to me, I could literally turn to them and say → “Hey listen. I’m real sorry but I can’t talk to you right now because I am busy writing a little essay about how I prefer to live in an environment where I don’t have any real societal obligation to talk with you.”
Of course, I would not say it like that. I am purposely exaggerating.
But on the flipside, there also exists an option, and that is TALKING WITH THEM.
Meeting them. As in, getting to know them. The important word though, for me, and for people like me, is “option.”
For me, Quality of Life is based heavily on keeping that option an option.

Recently, I have been wrestling with the recurring idea of moving. Moving back out west, where I came from. But it’s tough. A tough decision for me. Because well, I love it here.
How could I do it?
How could I leave these streets?
How could I abandon all of these people I do not know?


Friday, September 21, 2007

Finners Be Damned!

I am about to convey some very disturbing information.
About animal cruelty.
If you are a real animal lover [and I hope that you are] you may not even want to read this blog any further.
Read it anyway!
I am opposed to all forms of animal cruelty.
I've written of this BEFORE, and... BEFORE! And ELSEWHERE. And WHATEVER.
I hate to even HEAR of it, taking place. So, I am not even sure why I am writing this particular blog… I guess it is just to bring to our awareness the needless plight of some wonderful creatures.
In this case, sharks.

I will preface my upcoming horrid little paragraph by saying that I personally believe that our human spirituality is integrally tied to our treatment of animals.
What I mean is → I do no not believe that a person can be spiritually healthy, and either delight in, or engage in, willful cruelty to animals.
What I mean is → Anyone who wilfully delights in, or engages in animal cruelty, has nothing to teach me about spirituality.
What I mean is → One of the first things I would ask someone who is attempting to teach me something about spirituality, is “How do you treat animals?”
I think that [spiritually speaking] an answer to that question is even more important than knowing about how they treat other people!

So… I guess this blog is about an entire GROUP of people that have nothing to say to me, about spirituality.
They are called “finners”.
They cut the fins off of sharks.

I found out about this in the book I mentioned the other night… The World Without Us.
In it, Alan Weisman tells us:
In Hong Kong, shark fin soup commands up to $100 per bowl. After slicing off their pectoral and dorsal fins, finners throw mutilated sharks, still alive, back into the sea. Rudderless, they sink to the bottom and suffocate. Despite campaigns to ban the delicacy… an estimated 100 million sharks die this way every year.

I just think that is so sad, and horrible.
It makes me ashamed of being the same species as a “finner.”

Weisman then quotes marine biologist Enric Sala, who puts it in perspective:
“In a year, humans take 100 million sharks, while sharks attack maybe 15 people. This is not a fair fight.”

Check out this AWESOME VIDEOCLIP of what I wish upon the next hapless finner that falls off the edge of his boat!
Ooooh…. I shouldn’t say that. It’s not very “spiritual” of me!


Splash du Jour: Friday

"Whatever is done for men takes away from the stimulus and necessity of doing things for themselves. The value of legislation as an agent in human development has been much over-estimated. No laws, however stringent, can make the idle industrious, the thriftless provident or the drunken sober."
-- Scottish doctor, Samuel Smiles in his book Self-Help (1859) --

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

My Hibernation Library©

Last night I was doing a bit of blog-surfing and I landed upon some interesting Blog-ponderment, over at Pages Turned.
There, Susan presented the following:

Okay . . . picture this (really) worst-case scenario: It’s cold and raining, your boyfriend/girlfriend has just dumped you, you’ve just been fired, the pile of unpaid bills is sky-high, your beloved pet has recently died, and you think you’re coming down with a cold. All you want to do (other than hiding under the covers) is to curl up with a good book, something warm and comforting that will make you feel better.
What do you read?

For some reason, I thought about it a lot today.
Even though the scenario is filled with tragedy I still find myself wishing it would HAPPEN to me!
Well, not the part about the pet dying.
Plus, I hate being sick. And I don’t want to be dumped.
Let’s face it → it’s the GETTING FIRED that appeals to me!

All of that Free Time! And I like rainy weather!
But the funny thing is this. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I would not really want a book that was “warm and comforting” at such a time.
I think I would prefer something sort of dark and brooding!
Or “somber” or something.
So, here is my choice of four things I want stacked around me, as I hibernate in bed!

The Gormenghast Trilogy, by Mervyn Peake.
Things don’t get any more dark and brooding than this! Eerie. A wildly diverse panoply of extremely weird characters. No one is normal, really.
I’ve read it before, and I want it in My Hibernation Library©.

David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens.
Or anything by Dickens. Something huge, preferably. Like Bleak House or something. But, I’ve read Copperfield and loved it, and I will read it gladly, during my hibernation.

Anything by Shakespeare.
What bliss it would be to lay in bed, hibernating, and reading through the Shakespeare stuff I have not yet gotten to in my life.

The Poetry of Thomas Hardy.
My favorite poet, well, besides William, above. I could read and re-read Thomas Hardy’s poetry and just live on my inner storehouse of burger-lard, like a Grizzly in his winter den!

Tell me. What would you want stocked in your Hibernation Library?
Tell me. And then, TELL SUSAN, TOO!


Splash du Jour: Thursday

Selecting a Reader

by Ted Kooser

First, I would have her be beautiful,

and walking carefully up on my poetry

at the loneliest moment of an afternoon,

her hair still damp at the neck

from washing it. She should be wearing

a raincoat, an old one, dirty

from not having money enough for the cleaners.

She will take out her glasses, and there

in the bookstore, she will thumb

over my poems, then put the book back

up on its shelf. She will say to herself,

"For that kind of money, I can get

my raincoat cleaned." And she will.


Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The World Without... Me.

I recently read a book by Alan Weisman, entitled The World Without Us.
It’s about the world.
Without us.
As in, what if we were not here all of a sudden?
No people, in other words. How would things deteriorate? How would things improve? Who would answer you from the little speaker at the Drive-Thru? Stuff like that.
It was interesting as hell.
I may write a proper review of the book later, but for now, I just wanted to mention a real neat segment, where Weisman was discussing Global Population.
For the sake of brevity, I will not present a rundown of his sources, but the data seemed very well-researched and credible.

Let me summarize by saying that the current [as of 2004] worldwide human birth rate is 2.6 births per fertile female. Researchers speculate on what would happen if this current rate were reduced to one child per fertile female, and a projection is made.
Well. The numbers are interesting.
“If this somehow began tomorrow, our current 6.5 billion human population would drop by 1 billion by the middle of this century.” (By the way, if we continue at the current rate it will reach 9 billion by the same time!)
I already find that information quite astonishing.
But it gets wilder.
Keeping with this “one-child-per-human-mother” program: → “By 2075, we would have reduced our presence almost by half, down to 3.43 billion, and our impact by much more, because so much of what we do is magnified by chain reactions we set off through the ecosystem.”

And get this:
“By 2100, less than a century from now, we would be at 1.6 billion: back to levels last seen in the 19th century, just before quantum advances in energy, medicine, and food production doubled our numbers and then doubled us again. At the time, those discoveries seemed like miracles. Today, like too much of any good thing, we indulge in more only at our peril.”

In light of this amazing information [and particularly inspired by that last sentence] I am currently using some of the mathematical formulas in Weisman’s book to make my own prediction about something a little closer to home, for me.
Basically, I’m wondering: If I limit my own hamburger-eating habits from the current 2.6 a day, down to just one, will I have a greater chance of LIVING to the middle of this century?


Splash du Jour: Wednesday

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

By the end of my first semester, I learned that the problem with most student writing is not grammar. You learn the rules early on or you never get them. The real problem was belief.
My eighteen-year-olds never believed that the reader was real, that they themselves were real, that the world's topics were real. That they had to insist as much, in so many words.

-- Richard Powers – in Galatea 2.2, p. 50.

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Carrying The Fire

I just finished reading Cormac McCarthy’s, The Road.
I liked it, and I think it is not only a worthwhile and rewarding read, but an important one also. Important in the sense that it causes us to ponder things worth pondering. As all great literature ought to do, it strikes at what is best and worst about being human.
It is written in what my Reading Partner© aptly called a “minimalist” fashion.
Short, choppy, often incomplete sentences. [ As this one is.] Sentences lacking a verb. Repetitive, one-word exchanges in dialogue. The Road must set some sort of world-record in the use of the word “okay” for instance… or the phrase “I know.”

There is an elegance about it, though. A sophistication in the midst of its own structural economy. It reads quickly, but it is not simple. America is bleak, ruined, rotting, and burnt-out. And it is as though McCarthy employed the most modest, un-Flaubertian means to tell us. Opening any of his other novels quickly reveals that he does not always write as sparingly as he did here.

Character-wise, we only get to know the nameless man and his nameless son.
We meet no one else that we would want to know better, nor do they. [Until the very end, perhaps.]
America, and presumably the entire world, has been destroyed, years ago. Although the cause is not explicitly given [it is hinted at], we suspect nuclear catastrophe on a massive scale, leaving barely any human survivors. And the great majority of these are murderous and cannabalistic, traveling in gangs, seeking their victims.
Everything is burnt, molten, and ashen. The snow falls gray.

Into this world the man and his son push their gear-laden, wonky-wheeled, shopping cart along The Road.
They struggle to survive upon the chance finding of food, clothing, and shelter. Their [unexplained] immediate goal is to stay on a southern course, and reach the ocean. They meet with devastating hardship and horror, and any moments of respite are few and far between.
What binds them together is their profound love for each other, and their commitment to “being one of the good guys” and “carrying the fire.” This becomes their sort of “code” for helping each other keep the inner spirit of goodness alive.
The child seems better equipped to do this, than the man.
But McCarthy shows us that this is because, along with the adult commitment to survival comes the adult responsibility of protection. And this latter thing is motivated by perhaps the fiercest and most sacrificial of all human loves.
Parental love.
In the hour of greatest need, it is this very form of love that will redeem the horror found in the barren world of The Road, and in a way that will reach beyond the novel’s final pages.

I highly recommend The Road because it is Horrible. In the sense of horrid.
In the sense of possible.
But I also recommend it because it Beautiful. In the sense of tender, and moving.
And because it speaks ultimately to what is best, not worst, in us.
Anyone reading The Road will know that they would like to be “one of the good guys.”
And given the current state of our real world, this may be a good thing to keep in mind!

Go ahead and ORDER THE BOOK.

P.S. I think this is real neat, how three high-school English teachers created a promo to try and seduce their students into a reading of The Road.
I say, “Hey, if heavy metal music get s the kids to read…. TURN IT UP!”


Splash du Jour: Monday

A thought transfixed me; for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth - that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved.
-- Viktor Frankl --

Have a great Monday!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Non-Vomitous Bulimia

I have some sort of eating disorder, I swear to God.
It is sort of like a…. an, umm…. acute form of Bulimia, minus the “vomiting” aspect.
I just eat a lot. Too much, really.
I love food that has fat in it, I’m sorry. [See the centerfold, above!]
I’ve spoken of this before, I know. But I’ve just experienced another overly evident example of the condition, and I guess I’m hoping that disclosure here on Bookpuddle may lead to healing. Or at least, repentance. Or something.

See, after work, I went and bought some beer. Lots of it.
Then, on the way out of the Mall parking lot, there was a Burger-King.
With a Drive-Thru.
So… Thru it I Drove.
Not even really knowing why, just sort of like a zombie. Or no, as though there did not exist an option.
As though driving PAST a Drive-THRU would constitute a form of civil disobedience I simply could not take part in!
The worst part? I wasn’t even starving. Just sort of mildly….. interested!
So then I was gazing at the lovely sign… all lit up, like a dream.
And I told God that I wanted a “BK Double-Stacker© .”
“The combo, sir?” asked God.
“No. Just the burger thing,” I replied.

And I drove forward, and waited at that glorious window.
As I did so, I glanced up at the passenger visor to my right.
Tucked away in there was one of these coupon fliers. From Burger King.
How wonderfully serendipitous!
I don’t even remember putting it there. I probably did it as subliminally and zombie-like as I had just driven through The Golden Gates of Lard© !
So I opened this flier up and… lo and behold if one of the tear-out things doesn’t say that you can get a FREE Double-Stacker if you order a NOT-free one.
Which I just did.
My God!
Always the pessimist, and hence, believing this a bit too good to be true, I quickly searched out the fine print.
When the hell does this thing expire?
→ October 7th.
I’m well within the expiry date [hyperventilating]… I tore the thing along its perforated line just as the girl came to the window with Burger #1.
As I paid for it, I mentioned the coupon, and handed it to her.
[An addict is seldom ashamed of his fixation. Until crisis hits.]
“Am I correct to assume that I can get another one of these deals here?” I asked her.
“Sure, no problem!” she says, and the window goes down as she disappears into the greasy-floored nether regions.
I am left idling, my foot on the brake, envisioning a bunch of high-school kids in the backroom slaughtering that extra cow, and even as I am thinking to myself “Why am I even DOING this?” the window opens again and there she is and she hands me Burger #2 and I drive away.
Wide-eyed. Hands ten and two on the wheel!
Giddy, yet a bit scared!
Was I really going to do this? Eat this stuff?
I mean, my intention had been to simply pick up some beer for the weekend and then come here to Chapters and read a bit of my new book, The Road.
Now, all of a sudden, I was driving around with bags of beef!

And I ate them!
Yes, I did.
I ate it all in the next parking lot I came to! Which was this one, the Chapters one.
Just outside of these doors, [he points] I sat and put a double stack of Double-Stackers into myself!
I had a bit of trouble getting up off the curb afterwards, yes… but I assure you, I did not vomit!
And to make it worse, I came in here [Starbucks] and ordered a Venti Bold coffee and doctored it up with honey and cream…. and read my book and drank that fat-laden pail of coffee.
And now, I am going to go home, and drink a few of those carb-filled beers.
I am out of control!

I mean, this whole escapade begs the question!
What if that coupon thing had offered TWO free burgers?
Would I have then eaten three?
Followed by quietly dying of a coronary?
Is there hope for me? Do I need to see a professional…. Lardologist for this?

For more of the same, yet different, click HERE!
Or, even HERE!

Splash du Jour: Friday


Words of a poem should be glass

But glass so simple-subtle its shape

Is nothing but the shape of what it holds.

A glass spun for itself is empty,

Brittle, at best Venetian trinket.

Embossed glass hides the poem of its absence.

Words should be looked through, should be windows.
The best word were invisible.
The poem is the thing the poet thinks.

If the impossible were not,
And if the glass, only the glass,

Could be removed, the poem would remain.

-- Robert Francis –

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, September 13, 2007


I just finished reading my sixth book by Emma Donoghue.
I was just about to say sixth “novel” but three of the others were short story collections. Emma is a terrific short-storyist, and yet I think she is even a greater novelist. She’s written five.
So let’s talk about this one, her latest, called Landing.
→ First off, I freakin’ LOVED IT.

Landing is about two women that fall for each other while having coffee and eating raisin crumpets at London’s Heathrow airport.
They met because an old guy died on the first woman. And when I say “on” I mean “on”.

Her name is Jude Turner. She was on a flight to London to retrieve her ill mother.
Jude is from a small town, [fictitious] Ireland, Ontario, and this is her first time in a plane. The old man seated next to her quietly croaks, and leans into her. At first Jude thinks he is merely sleeping.
Alerting the stewardess to the situation, they together conclude that he is totally dead.
Upon landing at Heathrow, they meet again at the baggage carousel and end up in the restaurant, talking. Not her and the dead guy. Her and this hot stewardess.
Sile [pronounced Sheila] is her name.
Sile O’Shaunessy.
She lives in Dublin, and she is Irish / Indian. Voluptuous. Ravishing, even. Sile is hip, addicted to technology, and leads a vibrant, socially exuberant, urban lifestyle.
Jude wears very worn jeans, and is somewhat androgynous. She cuts her own hair. Badly. She rides a Triumph motorcylce when she is not driving her old rusty Ford Mustang. She eschews technology and leads an extremely quiet life as a museum curator, back in Ontario.
Although Sile and Jude go their separate ways after their initial encounter, they cannot seem to forget about each other.
And so, they re-connect. Sile initiates this.
But their re-connection is limited to the telephone and [later] the Internet.
E-mail. [Also, old-fashioned actual paper letters are sent!]

While their relationship grows as a result of these connections, the very [shall we say, untactile?] means in which they are forced to communicate only accentuates the physical distance between them.
In a phrase, → it drives them crazy!
And so they meet again.
And then return to their respective corners of the planet.
And e-mail, and telephone, and call and call, and write, and e-mail.
And dream.
Of being together.

Landing is a wonderfully-written, realistic look at the difficulties inherent in Long-Distance Relationships… or LDR’s, as they are often referred to in the book.
There may have been a time when lovers restricted their “partner-finding” to some sort of five-mile radius of their own homestead, but those days are over. Ours is the era of the global village, and there are really very few insurmountable geographical boundaries to “love.”
It’s true! People from different countries are falling in love with each other.
Don’t even ask me how well I know this to be true!

Landing never downplays these difficulties, but rather, Emma ratchets things up to an almost unbearable point.
We want the best for Sile and Jude, even while we, the readers, are often just as confused as they are, as to what the best might mean for them!
There are many twists and many turns in this novel which I will not at all mention here.
I encourage you to GET THE BOOK and enjoy these for yourself.
At the end of Landing, I cried. A bit. In a public place [Starbucks]. I must confess.
Emma Donoghue is one of my favorite contemporary writers, and Landing is a winner.
If you are not reading Emma Donoghue, well, this is just total proof that you and I are not meant for each other!
We’re too far apart, for one thing…..


Splash du Jour: Thursday

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

We read deeply for varied reasons, most of them familiar: that we cannot know enough people profoundly enough; that we need to know ourselves better; that we require knowledge, not just of self and others, but of the way things are.
-- Harold Bloom –

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Creature Comforts: The Zoo

Well, friends.
Have any of you ever heard of Creature Comforts?
I don’t know much about this phenomenon called Creature Comforts… but, I saw an episode on TV one time, about the topic of “Evolution” and I almost died.
I seriously think this is maybe the funniest CONCEPT ever…. interviewing ANIMALS on their opinions on a variety of topics… it is funny, funny, FUNNY!
I LOVE animals, and I mean, the production of Creature Comforts, the writing, the presentation, I really do not think it can be done any better than what these nutcases [whoever they may be] are doing.
So… here is one episode, [above] where the animals are being interviewed as to their opinion of the zoos wherein they are kept!
You-Tube© has TONS of these segments, to watch. I have yet to find that evolution one, but here I am presenting the one about Zoo Treatment!

Another TERRIFIC one is called “Secrets And Lies.”
Check that one out HERE.


Splash du Jour: Tuesday

“I live with the people I create and it has always made my essential loneliness less keen.”
-- Carson McCullers –

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Splash du Jour: Monday

A good writer should be so simple that he has no faults, only sins.
-- Yeats --

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Post-Literate Epoch?

Is the above image a Thing of the Past?

Lately, I’ve been suffering from a bit of… Bloggus Interruptus.
[I'm taking pills for this. Should clear up, soon!]
Haven’t been writing that much, but I’ve been reading a lot, at least.
Like tonight, I spent hours and hours at Chapters, reading a terrific book. Drinking gallons of coffee. Again, though, as I was leaving the store, I thought of how I haven’t been contributing to Bookpuddle very much.
I stopped and browsed at this one book display.

Three giddy young girls were giggling and yipping and yapping nearby, and they sort of sauntered over to where I was.

One of them picks up this book here, Michael Redhill’s new one, Consolation, off the display table, and says:
“Oh my God, no way!
This is the book I did my report on!”

Other Girl → “Was it good?”
First Girl → “My report?”
Other Girl → “No. The book!”
First Girl → “I don’t know. I didn’t read it.”

[They all laugh…. and so do I.]
So now they look at me, because I laughed, but I couldn’t help it.
And it got worse.

First Girl → “It takes place… like it’s in Toronto, and there are two stories going on at the same time in it, and stuff. And I think if I had said more about that I would have got a lot more check marks on my paper? Because, like I did not get very many check marks, and whatever?”

[I swear to God, she said this…. I was nearly peeing myself].

Other Girl → “So like, how do you know all that if you didn’t read it?”
First Girl → “Well, because that’s what it said on the website where I copied and pasted it all from!”

I ran away!
On the escalator, on my way back down to Earth, I thought to myself, “Wow! Now that’s bloggable!”
The youth of our generation are alive and well. There's no doubt about that.
They were giggling.
But, we are definitely living in the Post-Literate Epoch!
Or are we? What's your opinion on this? Your experience? Is this an isolated incident?
Or.... a disease?
I mean, what’s next on the scene?
Ahh, yes!
For those who do not have time to look at the pictures!


Saturday, September 08, 2007

I Am Probably Cursed....

Seriously, like some sort of preemptive Catholic in the confessional I am going to ask for forgiveness ahead of time, on this one, is that OK?
This blog will have absolutely nothing to do with books and/or book-related ephemera!
“Please forgive me, Reader, for I am about to foolishly blog myself.”
“Te absolvo.”
“What? No penance?”
“Your penance, my son, shall be to re-read your own blog and check for spelling errors and such things!”

So, tonight, after work, I was at Starbucks, in the Chapters bookstore.
“No way Cipriano, that is such a unique place to find you, after work.”

Yeah, so there I was.
Spiders were calling each other on their Spidey-Cellphones© …. “Yep! He’s back. Same damn guy. Commence attaching cobwebs from his head to that one pillar there, the one he sits next to all night long.”

So, I’m sitting there reading Emma Donoghue’s new book from off the display rack in fine forbidden fashion, [without paying for the book] because I already bought a copy and sent it to my Reading Partner in the mail and I don’t make enough money to be able to afford buying TWO copies of the thing….. and I’m sitting there and this couple walks by, and the woman says to the guy… “I want something cold. Get me something cold.”
She walks away, and he makes his way to the counter, taking out his wallet.
And it hits me. I realize something.
I have never once in my life ordered a cold drink at a Starbucks.

Yet I have been here a million times.
And on really hot days. Like today. It had to be 150 degrees, in the shade.
I still order just a standard coffee, and the hotter the better.
Summer, Spring, Fall and Winter.
I care not the season.

So the guy orders something.
A frappuccino.
I don’t even know what a frappuccino IS?
And remember now…. I LIVE HERE!

I look up at the sign board, listing all their drinks…. mochaccino, macciato, frappuccino, Al Pacino!
And then my mind goes back to last summer, on Vancouver Island.
Out on my brother-in-law’s boat.
A whole herd of us zipped around on the ocean one day, between Nanaimo and Parksville.
At one rocky promontory, he pointed out to us a gorgeous house… secluded. Really inaccessible, unless by parachute.
“That house is owned by Al Pacino,” he said.

I can’t reveal to you how he knows this…. it’s classified information.
Suffice it to say, he knows the INTERIOR of that house.
Here is another shot of it, from an angle where a gigantic picture window looks out to the rising sun.

And here is the thing.
Mr. Pacino is never THERE!
Like, it is just one of those things…. similar to the fact that the condo, directly across from me, even the exact same level in the air, is owned by Alanis Morissette. But again…. she is never there!
[Ask my telescope!]
For about five years now… no curtains or blinds on any of the twenty-foot high windows.
Nothing inside. No furniture. Yet…… it is owned.

But see… if I had that kind of expendable money, I would not only know what a frappuccino is, I would also have been able to afford that second copy of Landing, by Emma Donoghue.
But alas. I am me.
Probably cursed for making fun of Catholic sacraments in a former, and present, life!


Friday, September 07, 2007

Splash du Jour: Friday

Nothing proves the man-made character of religion as obviously as the sick mind that designed hell, unless it is the sorely limited mind that has failed to describe heaven -- except as a place of either worldly comfort, eternal tedium, or (as Tertullian thought) continual relish in the torture of others.
-- Christopher Hitchens –

Ummm… Have a great Friday!

Thursday, September 06, 2007


Do you ever look at old family photos, and reminisce?
I do.
This is one of my favorites, here.
We are fishing, quite obviously.
We are fishing at a place that no human beings, other than us, have actually been to in their lifetime.
A place called The Pas, Manitoba.
The year?
I was 10 years old. By the way, that’s me in the red horizontal stripes and plaid slacks!
Have you ever seen a cuter kid in your life?
My dad is holding the “catch du jour”, I believe my mother is at the helm of the camera.
Next to dear old dad, is my brother.
Why is his belt buckle undone?
We……. don’t talk about that. Especially in public!
Then, on the far right, my favorite person in the world, my sister. She is a year younger than I am. I love her to bits! Little wee bits.
Next summer, her own daughter is getting married. My, how time flies.
And that fish?
It's still in my freezer. I plan on frying it up, this weekend!

Splash du Jour: Thursday

I felt like poisoning a monk.
-- Umberto Eco, on why he wrote the novel, The Name of The Rose.

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

I am struggling with trees in bloom, women and children, and can see no further than that at the moment.
-- Pierre-Auguste Renoir, to Theodore Duret, April 1881 –

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

I see the Bible as a human response to God. Rather than seeing God as scripture’s ultimate author, I see the Bible as the response of these two ancient communities [ancient Israel, and the early Christians] to their experience of God. As such, it contains their stories of God, their perceptions of God’s character and will, their prayers to and praise of God, their perceptions of the human condition and the paths of deliverance, their religious and ethical practices, and their understanding of what faithfulness to God involves. As the product of these two communities, the Bible thus tells us about how they saw things, not about how God sees things.
-- Marcus J. Borg –

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Over The Ears

I’ve had many different hair-stylists over the ears.
I mean, over the years!
I use the term “stylists” when really I should just say “cutters”.
Because really, there is not much “style” to my hairdo.

Basically, every three or four weeks, I just have to sit down, get wrapped in the mega-bib, point at myself in the mirror and say, “See that mess? Cut some of it off!”

My current haircutter is Long-Eyelashed Carla.
Every time I see her, her own coiffure is completely different!
Always a new variation of long falsely sun-streaked brown-blonde hair.
She is a real darling. She owns her own salon, the upstairs of which is filled with tanning beds. It’s one of those full-service esthetic makeover places. A constant stream of women enter the back room. I see them in the mirror. They go in like rhinos, come out like goslings! Whatever goes on back there, it seems like a wonderful process.
And Carla has a helper.
Her name is from another planet. Whenever “Zorbda” or whoever she is says something to me [and admittedly, it seems real nice what she is saying] I never can make out even one intelligible word in her message. I just nod.
Carla drives a huge-normous black Hummer with the name of her salon emblazoned across the doors.

Prior to Long-Eyelashed Carla, I went to Hardbody Brigette.
Brigette is in this no-frills barber-shop, in the Mall.
One time I asked Brigette how long she had worked there. She said she was there when the Mall first opened. I asked her to be more specific. [I should not be so forthright when a woman has scissors so near my scalp!]
She said… “In the '70’s.”
Holy moly!
I gained a new respect for her, because well, not only is that a hell of a long time to be cutting hair in one place, but Brigette is like…. FIT, shall we say!
Whatever age she is, Brigette is very well maintained.
Hence, my secret nickname for her.
Once she told me she was taking some sort of Oriental self-defence course. She said, “If someone wants to attack me on my way to the car in the parking lot, they’re going to be eating some pavement!”
While she was saying this she was snipping away at my mop and her arm was sort of horizontal and I took note of the lack of arm-flab on Brigette. Don’t mess with her. She will drop you!

Before Carla and Brigette, Luigi cut my hair.
For a long while I went to him. Luigi is extremely Italian, and around 60 years old. A great guy. Great conversationalist. And I used to just love to hear him talk.
I recall two Rather Embarrassing Moments© while I was in Luigi’s chair, and in order to tell the stories, I must speak for him, in his dialect.

Once, at the top corner of the mirror there was a photograph of Luigi with his arm around some young woman that could possibly oust Heidi Klum for a photo shoot!
Wow! I could not help but stupidly comment.
I said, “Luigi, is that your daughter?”
He smiled. Ohhhhhhhh, he smiled for a bit.
Snip. Snip. Snip.
“Oh, thank-a you, Cippy. But-a no! That’s-a me and-a my-a wife!”

“Man is the only animal that blushes – or should!”
-- Mark Twain --

One other time, Luigi had finished cutting my hair, and I walked with him to the cash register where he rang up the bill.
My God, I even checked the bottom of my shoes, to no avail. → I had forgotten my wallet at home!
How does one explain such a thing? Who goes for a haircut with no money?
But as I floundered about, I’ll never forget what Luigi said to me, in as calm a way as ever, patting the air between us with his hands…
“Oh, no no no no, don’t-a worry! Look! Your’e-a not-a gonna get-a rich. And I’m-a not-a gonna get-a poor! You canna pay-a me-a next time!

Remember the time I went to none of these three people, for a haircut?


Splash du Jour: Monday

There is no such thing as a unique scientific vision, any more than there is a unique poetic vision. Science is a mosaic of partial and conflicting visions. But there is one common element in these visions.
The common element is rebellion against the restrictions imposed by the locally prevailing culture, Western or Eastern as the case may be.

-- Freeman Dyson –

I am well aware that the image of my cat, Jack, has absolutely nothing to do with the quote from Freeman Dyson. However, Jack is so cute, I could not resist!
If you at all disagree with me that my cat is the cutest cat in the history of the world, I must reject you as my friend!
-- Cip

Have a great Monday!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The View From Where I'm At...

Earlier today, in the late afternoon, my friend and I were sitting around talking.
Discussing a book that we are mutually reading.
Suddenly he says, "Hey, do you realize how many hot-air balloons are floating around outside?"
I was on the other couch and could not see them from where I was.
So we went out onto the balcony where sure enough, dozens of hot-air balloons were floating around. Some in really neat shapes, like the Space Shuttle, and an upside-down Humpty Dumpty, a big birthday cake, and this cute gi-normous pooch... below.
Isn't that Clifford, the Big Red Dog© ?

Hope that you are all doing well.
I'll be back around soon!
Cheers, and Happy Ballooning!