Saturday, February 28, 2009

Surrogate: A Saturday Poem


Anyone who believes in an afterlife, as I do,
has to believe that all poets are still writing,
but cannot. Because they are dead.

They find it hard to hold pencil or pen.
But to make me do it? This is not a problem.
And they succeed, from time to time.

The best poets are dead, we know that.
But one came to me just this morning.
Saying, “Write this down, you idiot.”

None of us are dead, really, but live,
and are alive in every awareness - every
hummingbird over a flower, today.

Tell it, for me.

© Ciprianowords Inc. 2009

Friday, February 27, 2009

Splash du Jour: Friday

Journalists write less than they know and novelists write more, he told Harriet when he learned she was a writer. A journalist will know the premier has a mistress kept in a hotel at government expense while his battered wife regularly visits the emergency ward, and not write about it. A novelist will not only write about it but come to sweeping conclusions about the nature of man. What fun they must have, he said.
-- from Garbo Laughs, by Elizabeth Hay –

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Good Gifts

I am sitting at the Starbucks, in a Chapters store.
At the very next table to the left of me, there are three deaf people. I know they are deaf because the one guy is gesticulating like crazy.
In all seriousness, he is either choking on the Starbucks muffin he is eating or he is deaf.
The other two are listening to – or, [pardon me] watching him, and occasionally using sign language also.
But mostly it is this one guy, really telling them a story that involves a nearly airborne amount of gyrations.

If I were an all-powerful being, I would wiggle my nose at them [like Samantha in Bewitched… remember that show on TV?] and bing-bang-boom – instantly all of them would hear.
End of story.
Now [watch me extrapolate like there’s no tomorrow ]… umm, if the God of the Bible is actually a Being as described in that book, then here is what I must conclude:
He is way too busy.
Granted, he may be more creative than I am, and maybe even more loving, in some sort of real convoluted way, but how can he be more thoughtful [in the sense of considerate] than I am?

“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
-- Matt.7:11 –

This Scripture is, in my opinion, an example of a statement that doesn’t make good sense.
Firstly, I am not evil. Not that I am perfect or anything, but it’s just that “evil” is not an adjective that can be applied to me in any sort of unqualified manner, as this Scripture is doing.
Secondly, the gist of the above verse is that God gives good gifts to everyone. And not only so, but he does this in a measure that would far exceed what any earthly mortal person [like me] would give.
What does that mean, though?

Is deafness a good gift? I am not blaming God for anyone’s afflictions, but all I am asking is… what good does it do to believe that God gives these good gifts when the evidence of living shows us that no matter what we ask God for [in prayer, for instance]…. the “getting” of it is so unlikely as to be perhaps even more unlikely than if you had just not asked for anything in the first place!
Let’s be real now for a minute.
Please do not react emotionally to what I am saying, but rather, try to react in a rational way.
If you do so, I trust that you will agree with me that if I am to assume that my own ability to hear things is a “gift” from God, I have to simultaneously conclude that for some reason he is withholding this same “gift” from three people sitting at the table next to me, in Starbucks tonight.


Splash du Jour: Thursday

I am in the midst of reading a terrific book by Ottawa author Elizabeth Hay.
← Garbo Laughs.
It’s about a woman that is completely obsessed with the watching of movies. As I read it I realize that I am much the same way, except for me, the obsession is with books.
And I happened upon an excellent quote about why books are better than movies…

Because there's no arguing with pictures. You simply accept or reject them. What's up there on the screen moves too fast to permit analysis or argument. You can't control the flow of images the way you can control a book - by rereading a chapter, rereading a paragraph, rereading a sentence. A book invites argument, invites reconsideration, invites thought. A moving picture is beyond thought. Like feeling, it simply is.
-- Guy Vanderhaeghe, in The Englishman’s Boy
[I totally stole the above quote from a posting of Beth’s, at BooksEtc.]

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Me, My Shelf, and I

"If you cannot read all your books, at any rate handle, or as it were, fondle them – peer into them, let them fall open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye, set them back on the shelves with your own hands, arrange them on your own plan so that you at least know where they are. Let them be your friends; let them at any rate be your acquaintances."
-- Winston Churchill –

The time has come for me to say a word about the favorite part of my apartment.... the several walls against which my bookshelves lean! I'm showing you one wall, there.
I love the above quote, from Winston Churchill.
I live it. I really do.
I’ve heard it said that you can tell a lot about a person, by observing their library.
Wait a minute though. What if that person does not have a library?
Well..... hmmm... (just a suggestion here)... perhaps that fact in itself would speak a wee bit louder than any observation of the missing library ever would!
In my opinion, anyone who does not have an area of their living space devoted to the amalgamation of books, falls into one or more of the following categories of person:
a) they cannot afford to buy books.
b) they cannot read.
c) their books have been destroyed and/or stolen.
d) they are content to live within the framework of their own thought-life, and are not interested in developing their intelligence beyond the borders of their own “common sense”.

Of these four possibilities, three are excusable.
The fourth one, d), is not.
Correction. Wait a minute. It is excusable, because we all have the inalienable right to remain ignorant.
We do.
Therefore, it is more correct to say that d) is unfortunate. Regrettable.
And, in my opinion.... sad.

But again, this is indeed, everyone’s right.
We are all, by the very nature of our individuality and desire to be somewhat autonomous, different, it is true. Diverse aspirations, interests, and goals.
Reading and learning are decidedly optional activities in the lives of all free persons.
It stands to reason however, that if a personal library is evidence that a person has interacted with the world of “idea” and felt that some of it was relevant enough to retain in his or her possession, that the corollary is also applicable.
The lack of such a library is evidence that no such interaction has taken place.

Looking again at the words of Winston Churchill, above, the first thing I must admit to is that I cannot read all of my books. I have not done so. I have intentions of doing so, but I continue to accumulate at a rate that is exceeding consumption. If my books could gather their collective resolve, and speak as one voice, they would surely quote little Jude Jr. from Hardy's Jude The Obscure.... "we are too menny."
However, I do exactly as he suggests there.... I fondle them, I peer into them, I walk past them just before retiring at night. I select one and let it fall open where it will, letting its words lull me bedward.
I always return them to their place. And they do have a place. And just as he says, I arrange them on my own plan, and I know where they are.... individually, I know.
I prefer my books to be arranged somewhat topically. One shelf may contain favored poetry, the next, World War II history. Another, a row of Biblical commentaries, two shelves of C.S. Lewis, one or two for indispensable favorite fiction. Within each shelf, I arrange the books aesthetically, no real rules other than what appears pleasing to me. An ornament or picture placed here and there. Sometimes the tops of the books slope downward, left to right, within the shelf. Elsewhere the taller books are at either end, the gradually shorter ones towards the middle. Also, at some points, books are stacked horizontally between columns of verticals. And scattered throughout, are books placed atop the sloping rows, reclining lengthwise for easier access.
Monolith and dolmen. Post and beam.
Good book placement should dispel any idea of monotony. Bookstores know that variation draws people forward. This is why, in their stocking of shelves, they alternate between books with only the spine visible and others with the entire cover in full view. Rows of never ending spines are just as unappealing on a bookshelf as they would be on the beach. In both places, some flesh here and there is nice.
An aesthetically pleasing combination of randomness and symmetry is the thing. It makes a bank of bookshelves very inviting.
Just ask my cat Jack. He cannot seem to refrain from finding any sort of breach in the structure, weaseling his way in there, and then peering out at me between the ones he’s knocked out of place. I am almost certain he reads quite a bit when I’m not home....

Mr. Churchill says “Let them be your friends; let them at any rate be your acquaintances.”
I do! And they are!
I know that they are my friends, because, like friends, they are very nearly irreplaceable.
Everything else that I own can be replaced, given time and money.
But to replace my books?
It would require another lifetime.


Splash du Jour: Wednesday

What do I wear in bed?
Why, Chanel No.5, of course.

-- Marilyn Monroe --

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes. Even between the land and the ship.
-- Yoda –

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Splash du Jour: Monday

Except for hydrogen, all the atoms that make up each one of us - the iron in our blood, the calcium in our bones, the carbon in our brains - were manufactured in red giant stars thousands of light-years away in space and billions of years ago in time. We are, as I like to say, starstuff.
-- Carl Sagan --

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Killing Hitler

Would I do it?
I think I would, yes.
This afternoon I will be meeting with a few friends and we are going to the movie Valkyrie, starring Tom Cruise.
It's about one of the many assassination attempts on Hitler.
As I sit in the Starbucks section of this Chapters store on Ogilvie Road, I am having a coffee and thinking about whether or not I would have killed Hitler. If I could have gotten a good shot away and then had a clear path to sort of run like hell, would I do it?
I think I would, yes.
It is a subject that has fascinated me for a long while.
I've read several books [most notably, this one] that contained within their scope the specific topic of Hitlerian-homicide.
Usually I am quite….. peace-loving.
Like today for instance. I have not killed anything or anyone ALL DAY.

Then, a few minutes ago I looked over and what was staring at me from the shelf yonder? A book called Killing Hitler: The Plots, the Assassins, and the Dictator Who Cheated Death.
It's written by historian/author Roger Moorhouse. [shown above].
The title awoke my inner-assassin!
I want this book, and I will have it, just not today. My book buying budget is crazily…. overdrawn-upon!

According to the back cover, almost fifty would-be assassins tried to kill Hitler. They all failed. And these repeated failures served to convince Hitler [and many of his henchman] that he was literally invincible.
I consider these would-be assassins HEROES!
MORAL heroes!
I’m sure that some Bible-believing types may lean upon the idea that even one of the Ten Commandments© , the one stating “Thou shalt not kill” [Deut.5:17] should seal the deal on the moral wrongness of murdering someone even though the victim may be someone as despicable as Adolf Hitler.
Personally, I would disagree.
I guess you could say that I disagree with the absoluteness of that “commandment.”
[Personally, I even disagree that it was a commandment FROM “God”…. but that is maybe a topic for another time…. no…. maybe for right now, I’ll get another coffee….]

OK, what I mean by the above blasphemy is just that a reader [of the Bible] needs to realize the tribal nature of what is being said, even in the commandment that supposedly comes from God.
A reading of the Old Testament will reveal [in so many places that it would bore you to tears if I went on too long about it…. actually, it is sort of ALREADY a bit boring, am I right?…..] but really, a careful reading will reveal that in many other places, killing was not only condoned, but commanded, by [apparently] the SAME “God”….

What are we to make of the commands, say, of “God” telling Samuel to tell King Saul to “Go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.” [1 Sam.15:3].
Hey, hey, HEY!
What happened to the “commandment”? Did someone miss class the day the Tablets were given?
And never mind other nations and whatnot. Apparently, if children do not obey their parents, if they overeat or drink too much, they are to be stoned [to death] at the gates of the city. [Deut.21:18-21].
Don’t get me wrong.
I’m not saying that killing people is OK.
I’m just saying that a flat-out statement like “Thou shalt not kill” does not work for me.
In the above citations, it didn’t even work for “God”! Seems like there were situations when the commandment was applicable, and other situations when it wasn't!
My own conclusion is that I am against capital punishment, per se.
Unless it’s Hitler!

I like how Neville Henderson, British ambassador in Berlin, just prior to the outbreak of WWII, put it…. “If I were given a gun and told to take two shots, I would shoot Himmler, then Ribbentrop, and brain Hitler with the butt of the rifle.”
I am against capital punishment.
Unless it is toward someone who has, as his life’s goal, the Holocaust!
Let’s face it! Even his mustache was worthy of some sort of….. punishment!
Oh Adolf! Dear Adolf! Didst thou pee the bed too much as a child? Is that it?

So... if I knew what I know now, and lived then, and had the opportunity to “brain” him…. shoot him…. would I have had the moral courage to do it?
Well, here is a new book about at least fifty people that tried to do so, WITHOUT the benefit of retrospection afforded the modern-day coffee-drinker/blogger!
The topic interests me.

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
A time to kill and a time to heal….
[Ecclesiastes 3, verses 1 and 3].

For further perusal.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Peeling Away: A Saturday Poem

Peeling Away

As you were talking, I looked up.
It was when the waitress brought the shooters.
Some wallpaper was liberating itself of the wall.
Peeling intent. Determined.
In all of its paisley-glory --
longer –
Coinciding with the end of your harangue.
And for the love of God I nodded at you
and agreed most vehemently. But, to the
same God I swear --
I was really nodding at that wallpaper.

© Ciprianowords Inc. 2009

Friday, February 20, 2009

Splash du Jour: Friday

Today’s Splash du Jour is an amazing hockey clip.
I think this guy is the most amazing player in the NHL – Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals.
Check this out!

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Obama In Town

So today was an exciting day for my fair city of Ottawa.
Barack Obama was here.
His first international visit since becoming President.
That means he likes us MOST! Of all other countries of the world, and stuff.
I live in the downtown area and so this morning there was a little bit of traffic congestion as so many streets were completely blocked off in preparation for his motorcade – which ended up consisting of about four hundred cars and even a helicopter or two as they all zipped down Colonel By Drive from the airport.
It was a slushy gray morning.
You can see some cool amateur footage of the motorcade HERE.
Anyway, all day at work I listened to the radio snippets, telling of what was going on at Parliament Hill.
I LIVE very near to the Hill, from my balcony I have a clear view of it.
Damn, I wish I was off today, I would have walked over there with the rest of the whackos that were standing out in the snowfall all day!

Now…. what is the COOLEST THING EVER is that after all of his important meetings, President Obama had the audacity to hope that he may be able to steer the ol’ armored vehicle into the “Market”…. [yes, just like Boston, Ottawa’s downtown core is known as “The Market”]…. so he tells his driver to swing by the Beaver Tails place.
What is a Beaver Tail you ask?
Well, it’s Ottawa’s famous trademark pastry. It's like -- well, a cinnamon bun that’s been steamrollered until it looks like a beaver tail.
Thing is…. this place is just several blocks from my apartment.
How I wish that I had the day off today.
Would have loved to have been walking in the Market When All Of This Happened.
Not that I’m an Obama-Groupie or anything.

Oh, hell no.

Splash du Jour: Thursday

If I was being executed by injection, I'd clean up my cell real neat.
Then, when they came to get me, I'd say, Injection? I thought you said Inspection!
They'd probably feel real bad, and maybe I could get out of it.
-- Jack Handey --

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Your Room Is Ready

What is it about “home” that makes it so..... homey?
So wonderfully home-ish?
Perhaps not every single person in the entire world gets those warm curled-up-like-a-cat feelings about home, but percentage-wise, I am sure the number would be very close to 100.
I bet that 99-point-something % of people have a sense of a longing for home.
A nostalgic feeling that comes over you when you imagine visiting the old homestead each Christmas, or during some other holiday time that you get together with those you love.
For me, Christmas is that time.
Since my mother passed away on New Year’s Day, those Christmas visits with my siblings will be much different now, but even so, being rather geographically distanced from my family, I look forward each year to this one time when we will definitely be together, gorging ourselves in food and frolic.
Perhaps (for someone reading this) it is the other way around.
You represent the “place” that your son[s] or daughter[s] will return to -- and you look just as forward to this time as they do!
Home. The gathering place.

If I asked for anecdotes, the comment section of this blogpage would be inundated with all kinds of “home is where the heart is” type of things, culled from literature or whatnot else.
This is because the sense of a longing for home is a universal condition. Described everywhere. Even if a person has not had a positive home experience to draw upon.... the longing for such an experience is probably there, in the heart.

I think it is a beautiful thing to think of home as that sort of a place of refuge. A place where they will always take you in. You may visit but once a year, or maybe even less, but you have a key to the front door!

You’ve never been, and never will be, a stranger here.
That is what home is.

One of the best passages I have ever read, illustrative of this very thing I am trying to describe, comes from a story by Canadian author Frances Itani.
It appears in a story entitled What We Are Capable Of, which can be found in her (2004) book Poached Egg On Toast.
She is such a gem (I attended an Itani “breakfast” in honor of her book) and she is such a brilliant writer.
OK, bear in mind that I do not cite this passage for its amazing complexity, but rather, for its beauty in simplicity, which, in my opinion, is one of the highest compliments we can attach to an author's work.
Trying to improve upon this passage would be like expending energy in an attempt at making the sky a nicer blue.
In it, 22-year-old Sarah is speaking to her mother on the telephone.
Mom (her name is Em) has troubles of her own right now. Troubles that Sarah is oblivious to --

“I want to come home,” says Sarah. “For the summer. I’ll get a job waitressing until I get back to school. There’s a flight to the island in the morning. I’m already packed.”
“Fine. Wonderful. It’s your home too.”
“Thanks, Mom.”
“You want to tell me what happened?”
“Garry walked away,” she says. She’s crying softly. “I ignored the signs. He was seeing someone else for weeks while he was still living with me. You can say I told you so, go ahead.”
“Not on your life,” says Em. “Get yourself on a plane. Your room is ready.”

That’s what home is.
Or that’s what it should be.
Or that’s what we want it to be.

We identify with one or the other, Sarah or Em, and most likely, with both of them, if we’ve lived at all while we’ve been alive.
With Sarah we know, [whether experientially or theoretically] the exhilaration and comfort of hearing such an instantaneous response.
With Em, we know [even if we could not do it ourselves] that there is something both proper and good in offering such an instantaneous response.

In short, what Itani is doing is giving us an ever so brief glimpse at the way it should be.
And why is that?
I mean.... why is that the way it should be?
The answer is as simple as the snippet of prose in which it is hidden.
Because we all have one thing in common. A beating heart.
And the heart is where the home is.


Splash du Jour: Wednesday

It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet, I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can't build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever-approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.
-- Anne Frank

Have a great Wednesday!


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Opening Soon!

Lately I have been greatly concerned about the recent findings that indicate the sad fact that children [toddlers / pre-schoolers] are no longer interested in great Russian literature.
No! All they think about is TOYS!
So I have decided to open a new store, in my little corner of the world.... [so far, all I have is the sign].... but I am looking for the best property.... the prime real estate, and then I am building my dream store!
I just want to give a little bit back to the community. Do my part, you know?
I am convinced that kids need to read these great classic stories about little Anna Karenina and Warren Peace.
Think it will catch on?


Splash du Jour: Tuesday

Often while reading a book one feels that the author would have preferred to paint rather than write; one can sense the pleasure he derives from describing a landscape or a person, as if he were painting what he is saying, because deep in his heart he would have preferred to use brushes and colors.
-- Pablo Picasso –

I agree with him, even though I cannot pinpoint which author best illustrates what Pablo is saying. Hmmm... maybe Tolstoy? Yet I cannot see Leo Tolstoy painting.
But he does paint when he writes.
Which author would you say is “painting with words”?

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Splash du Jour: Monday

When you die, if you go somewhere where they ask you a bunch of questions about your life and what you learned and all, I think a good way to get out of it is just to say, 'No speaka English.'
-- Jack Handey –

Have a great Monday OFF!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Me + You = Us: A Saturday Poem

Me + You = Us

To say “you are the other half of me”
is incorrect.
I am whole, without you.

And you are, too. Whole,
without me.
But this is the key to the equation.

Only when it does not need to,
does the equal sign crawl
from its hiding place.

Half of one, and half of one,
will never be two.
Only one plus one.

© Ciprianowords Inc. 2009

Wishing you all a terrific Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Splash du Jour: Friday

I'd like to see a nature film where an eagle swoops down and pulls a fish out of a lake, and then maybe he's flying along, low to the ground, and the fish pulls a worm out of the ground. Now that's a documentary!
-- Jack Handey --

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

My Fantasy --

When I grow up I want to be a guy who just sort of tours the world and finds obscure and hard-to-find books. I’m not kidding, even.
Like full-time.
I’ll quit my job [because I am so indescribably and unaccountably wealthy all of a sudden], and just travel and visit bookshops.
For extra cash [not that I really need any, because I am way rich]… I will start an online website where people can submit requests for rare books they have never been able to find.
No wait. I will not charge for this service.
[I keep forgetting that I am fantastically and exorbitantly not in need of money whatsoever]… and so people submit their requests and I travel the world, looking for these books.
As it is, even back when I was a pauper [like right now] I always sought out the little hidden-away bookstores in any new city or town I visited. So, it is obviously my life’s calling to do this sort of thing full-time…. OK, never mind that reminiscence…. fast-forward again.
[Insert those vertical wavy line things here...]

So, there I am in Monaco one sunny afternoon… no, Tuscany, at this quaint little bookstore, looking for a first edition Gutenberg Bible for one of my e-clients.
Wait. Let’s be reasonable. I’m looking for a real 1948 edition of For Whom The Bell Tolls.
As I’m browsing, I sense the definite aroma of my favorite perfume [Smell My Spine© , by Scribners].
It’s wafting over at me from the next aisle over.
I nonchalantly saunter over.

This is her right here.
I took the picture later on that evening, from our room….
See, over a bit of small talk [I commented on the Flaubert she was holding] we ended up at a streetside café where we sipped coffee till the sun went down.
Later on, as we were sharing a plate of linguine, she told me of her lifelong desire to meet up with someone who was filthy wealthy and not nearly as good looking as herself!
Not only did I magnificently qualify in both these areas, but I think she was really impressed also with the charitable nature of my online e-business.
And what can I say?
Her and I [her name is Ciprietta] have been traveling the world ever since.
Bookhunting. And stuff.


Splash du Jour: Thursday

I don't begin a novel or a screenplay until I know the ending. And I don't mean only that I have to know what happens. I mean that I have to hear the actual sentences. I have to know what atmosphere the words convey.

-- John Irving –

I am just now embarking on a novel by this guy.
It is exhilarating to start in on an Irving.

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

"Have you ever thought being alone might be in some way a fullness, a completion?"
"No, absolutely."
"I believe deeply in the idea of two. Two people. It's the only sanity. The only richness."
"Of course."
"Yesterday I was in Amman, sitting in the Roman theater, and I had an odd sensation. I don't know if I can describe it but I think I perceived solitude as a collection of things rather than an absence of things. Being alone has components. I felt I was being put together out of these nameless things. This was new to me. Of course, I'd been traveling, running around. This was the first quiet moment I'd had. Maybe that's all it was. But I felt I was being put together. I was alone and absolutely myself."
-- dialogue from The Names by Don DeLillo --

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Fragrance of Paper

See this sepia-colored photo?
This is an actual photo of my Grade One teacher, Miss Oystryck, hard at work on the mimeograph machine!
Moron, I mean… more on this in a bit.

I finished the absolutely fabulously good novel Libra today. Written [by Don DeLillo] back in 1988, this fictionalized version of the events leading up to the JFK assassination should not be missed! Very well done.
Anyhoo, so I got to the part where Lee Harvey Oswald gets the job at the Texas Book Depository. Legend has it that Oswald fired shots at the President from the perfect vantage point at the sixth-floor window.
When he first gets the job, he is overwhelmed with the sheer amount of books up there. “All these books. Books stacked ten cartons high.”
I tuned right in!
No, not because I am a would-be assassin! But because I would love to work around books like this.
Then it says, on page 369: When you open a fresh carton you get the fragrance of paper, of book pages and binding. It floods you with memories of school.
When I read this, I was flooded with memories of school.

See, I started school in the PPE. -- [Pre-Photocopy Era] --
Photocopying only got going in the latter 1960’s. Back when I was in Grade One, the teachers still toiled away at the mimeograph machine for all their duplication needs. [See above photo].
And those freshly mimeographed sheets, handed to us in class, they had a real smell to them.
Do any of you out there know what I’m talking about?
I would just totally sit there and smell it. Smell the paper.
The ink. Usually a pale blue, sort of.
Those sheets of paper, they elicited some sort of warm feeling for me. Warm and yet cool, at the same time. And even at that early stage of my life, I grew to associate that smell of ink and paper with something I very much wanted to have around me, at all times.
And so, DeLillo’s words took me back to school, yes.

But they also made me wonder if this childhood love of the mimeographed sheets is the reason that still today, I love the smell of books.
In a bookstore, I often will take a new book off the shelf, nonchalantly look to the left and right of me – and then SMELL THE THING.
Ram my nose right in there! Not kidding now, this is serious stuff.
Even right now, I am writing this from the Starbucks inside a bookstore, and I am illegally reading a Norman Mailer book from off the shelf [without buying the book] and seriously, this book smells terrific.
So yes, I am a certifiable lunatic.
But at least… umm… at least the fragrance of books doesn’t make me go and assassinate anyone.

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

I can’t speak for other languages. But I do know the English language has hardly been improved in the last half century. Young, bright children no longer speak well; the literary artists of fifty and one hundred years ago are, on balance, superior to the literary artists of today. The philosophers have virtually disappeared – at least, those philosophers who make a difference.
-- Norman Mailer, in On God: An Uncommon Conversation --

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Splash du Jour: Monday

Great believers and great doubters seem like opposites, but they are more similar to each other than to the mass of relatively disinterested or acquiescent men and women. This is because they are both awake to the fact that we live between two divergent realities: On one side, there is a world in our heads – and in our lives, so long as we are not contradicted by death and disaster – and that is a world of reason and plans, love, and purpose. On the other side, there is the world beyond our human life – an equally real world in which there is no sign of caring or value, planning or judgment, love, or joy. We live in a meaning-rupture because we are human and the universe is not.
-- Jennifer Michael Hecht --

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Fishing With Dad

Some of my fondest memories, of not only my dad, but of my mother also, involve camping.
Fishing. Being out in the wilderness. Stuff like that.
We did a lot of it.
Dad loved fishing.
The above photo – that’s us. Well, part of the family, anyway. Circa…. who knows?
I’m guessing 1973, or thereabouts. Back when I could get away with wearing horizontal stripes, anyway! I’m sure that Helen [my mom] probably took the photo. That’s me there, in the red and white shirt, cute as hell – as usual. Nice pants. Then there’s Dad, with a most recent catch. That Northern Pike is still alive enough to regret it’s last hors d’ouevre.
My older brother next to Dad. Why is his belt buckle undone? I have no clue. It may have something to do with a final ritual-beating administered to the recalcitrant fish.
Or something else.
Then my dear sister. [I have other sisters, not in this photo.]

Oh, I so love those memories, I really do. Not only catching the fish, but eating them.
Mmmmm……. campfires. Freshly filleted fish, sizzling away.
I want it all back. I want the time back. I want my parents back.
I want to be that cute again.
I want to look over, watch my dad reeling another one in. Help him net the fish.
Help him exaggerate the struggle afterward, when we are back at the campsite.

You may not be here today, with the rest of us, down below.
But I know you both read my blog.
And so, tune in to this, check this out I would choose no other parents in the world, but you.
I want it all back. I want the time back.
I miss you.


Saturday, February 07, 2009

The Eagle: A Saturday Poem

The Eagle

Remember the paddle-boat and the eagle?
Some people might call it serendipity.
Not me. I call it a memory.
Ours, and no-one else’s.
Serendipity seems to happen to other people, too.
And I don’t like that.
What I mean is I don’t like the equation the word
As though one experience is as good as another.
Theirs, as ours.

We rented that contraption, not someone else.
We did.
We commandeered the bastard. “Paddled” it.
Got out there and floated.
My Huxley’s “Island” and your I know not what!
But we read, and drifted. Until the thing appeared.
Magnificent as ten kings of Jericho.
I would have capsized the both of us but for your
wise counterbalance.

Leaning out, I wanted to touch the creature
standing taller than eight likenesses of itself.
Gripping that branch, and my heart, before both
things bounced and tossed as thrown about
by the waves I made, ascended
as you, laughing, laughed.

© Ciprianowords Inc. 2009

Friday, February 06, 2009

Splash du Jour: Friday

I have this picture above one of my chest-level bookcases.
That tree-thing reading a book in the right corner? That’s supposed to be an Ent [Lord of the Rings]… given to me by my beloved nephew, Chris.
The inscription, at the top of the picture, is as follows:

The men who create power make an indispensable contribution to the Nation’s greatness, but the men who question power make a contribution just as indispensable, especially when that questioning is disinterested, for they determine whether we use power or power uses us.
-- John F. Kennedy, Amherst College, Oct 26, 1963 –

Have a great Friday!


Thursday, February 05, 2009

That Moment In Dallas

November 22nd, 1963.
President Kennedy is gunned down in his motorcade.
The book I am currently reading refers to that moment as “seven seconds that broke the back of the century.”
You know how everyone tends to remember where they were at that specific time? As though a portion of time is frozen in our consciousness? I suppose a more updated version of the same sort of cataclysmic “moment” might be September 11, 2001.
At any rate, guess where I was when JFK was assassinated?
I was peaceful and warm, unaffected whatsoever by the events unfolding on our Canadian television.
I was floating around in amniotic fluid.
In twelve days, I would be born.

So I must say, I recall very little of the actual day’s events.
And even now, as an adult who has focused his entire life on the reading of literature, November 22nd, 1963 is immortalized in my mind and heart as the day that C.S. Lewis and Aldous Huxley died.
I am very JFK-challenged and/or ignorant.
I haven’t even seen that Oliver Stone movie!

But now I am reading Don DeLillo’s excellent fictional [emphasis on fictional] account of the events leading up to that fateful day.
The book is called Libra, which was the astrological sign of one Lee Harvey Oswald.
Heard of him at all? Sure you have.
But the jury is still out on who the actual gunman was.
Or if there were several gunmen. How many shots were fired, etc., etc., ad infinitum.
The lore, the mystery, and the endless conspiracy theories, live on. All I really know is that I myself have the perfect alibi.
My entire modus operandi on November 22nd, 1963 was just to lie around and do some serious placenta-suckin’.


Splash du Jour: Thursday

I've come to think of Europe as a hardcover book, America as the paperback version.
-- Don DeLillo --

Have a great Thursday!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

Tobacco is my favorite vegetable.

-- Frank Zappa --

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, February 02, 2009

[Don't] Raise My Rent

I love iTunes.
What I mean is… I have not actually handled a CD in ages!
And why should I?
I have thousands of tunes in my Mac’s iTunes.
The stuff will play forever if I just click on one song…
I know that you know what I mean, dear Reader.
But seriously, it’s got to be one of the greatest innovative inventions of our time… iTunes©.
And I just wanted to mention a certain phenomenon that has been happening now for oh……. about four or five months, maybe longer. It seems that every time I sit down to my desk and have the computer running, I begin my musical journey with a certain song by David Gilmour. [Pink Floyd].
The song is called “Raise My Rent”.
It’s an entirely instrumental song from his 1978 solo album…. the whole album is pure genius.
And as most of you already know, I am a thoroughly baptized [full-immersion] Floyd devotee.
So, I click on Raise My Rent [a phrase which, sadly, annually applies to me in a personal way… curse the landlords!] and I sit back and listen until my playlist ends at his latest solo release, On An Island. [Where I will surely end up one day -- if they keep raising my rent!]
At any rate, I just wanted you to also be able to hear the song, and I can see no other way than resorting to YouTube yet again.
Thank [the non-literal] God for YouTube.
Thank [the figurative] Jesus for iTunes.
Thank yourself for clicking on the arrow.
Listen to Gilmour.

Splash du Jour: Monday

Questioner: As a scientist, would you deny the possibility of water having been changed into wine in the Bible?
Carl Sagan: Deny the possibility? Certainly not. I would not deny any such possibility. But I would, of course, not spend a moment on it unless there was some evidence for it.

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Let The Game Begin --

Well, every year my three friends and I [you only have three friends, Cippy?]… yeah, pretty much these three friends are the only people that can tolerate me… we get together to watch the Super-Bowl. And so… in a little bit here, we will be beginning our afternoon of eating and drinking and eating some more and being heavily engrossed in burly lads tossing leather around even though none of us really care who wins the game.
But before I mention more about this ritual of ours, I just want to say I finished the Geraldine Brooks book [People of the Book] and it is truly fabulous.
To borrow the reviewing world’s most hackneyed and cliched phrase it was an “intricately woven story.” It really was, though.

It follows the history of a revered ancient [500 year old] Jewish text known as the Sarajevo Haggadah. This was a richly illustrated [the novel constantly refers to it as “illuminated”] book used on the occasion of the Passover seder meal. Modern-day book expert Hanna Heath is called upon to analyze and conserve the book before it is to be re-displayed in the Sarajevo Museum.

By the way, book “conservation” is different than book “restoration” and Dr. Heath takes her job extremely seriously. In her meticulous work on the Haggadah, she finds four anomalies that obsess her about the book’s history. In the binding and on its pages, she discovers a butterfly wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, and a white hair.
As Hanna chases down the significance of these clues, these harbingers of history, Brooks lifts the veil of time and shows us, as readers, how these four items made their way into the book.
Chapters weave between the centuries, and the author shows us that Hanna’s own life is filled with nearly as many previously unknown mysteries as that of this ancient text.
The book is beautifully done, and I highly recommend it as a worthwhile, engaging read.

And now…. for football!
From using terms such as “harbingers of history” to… “Hey,Tim! Throw me another Budweiser!” Followed by an earth-shattering belch.
Ahh, yes. Life is moods.
As I hinted above, none of us [Canadians] really give a fiddler’s fart [does the eloquence ever end?] as to who wins this game. The important thing though is that you watch it all happen! And you shout things now and then. And keep eating stuff.

For forensic proof that I myself utilize the most Arbitrary Methodology Imaginable as to who I cheer for, you can click HERE, but for now, for today’s events, I must say that I am rooting for Arizona. And here’s why.
Because I think I would rather live in Arizona than in Pennsylvania.
See what I mean?
My choice is based on SEVERE OVERALL NFL© IGNORANCE.
For me it’s all about location, location, location.
What does Pennsylvania really got going on? Besides the Liberty Bell, and Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater?
Not much.
Snow, Amish people, and smog? A town actually called Bird-In-Hand?

But Arizona!
Now we’re talking. They’ve got canyons all over the place. And copper. They’ve had the modesty to immortalize the cutest, most unpretentious bird ever, the cactus wren.
Plus they’ve got the ORIGINAL London Bridge© , I’m not kidding you.
And tons o’sunshine. More than they need.

So, I’m saying Arizona is the way to go, this year.


The Countdown...