Friday, July 30, 2010

Splash du Jour: Friday

We're living in topsy-turvy times, and I think that what causes the topsy-turvy feeling is inadequacy of old forms of thought to deal with new experiences. I've heard it said that the only real learning results from hang-ups, where instead of expanding the branches of what you already know, you have to stop and drift laterally for a while until you come across something that allows you to expand the roots of what you already know. Everyone's familiar with that. I think the same thing occurs with whole civilizations when expansion's needed at the roots.
-- Robert Pirsig, Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance --

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Things Change!

I'm nearing the end of Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, the classic 1970's philosophically laden book wherein the author Robert M. Pirsig and his 11 year old son Chris venture out on a motorcycle journey across sort of the top part of the U. S. of A.
Pirsig uses the adventure as a backdrop to some very profound philosophical musings. In tonight's reading, they stop at a motel and here's the scene:
We lie down on the clean beds and Chris just bounces on his for a while. Bouncing on beds, I remember from childhood, is a great depression reliever.
No -- this is NOT one of the profound philosophical moments I was referring to, above, but just the same, it got me to thinking.
I recalled how much I too, loved bouncing on beds as a kid. I would do it every chance I got. I was seriously good at it. I could get great height, land on my butt and twist and turn in the air -- I was totally Cirque du Soleil material!
What made me smile tonight was imagining if I did such a thing nowadays!
There is no bed in the world that could sustain the impact!
I might bounce once [loud crack], twice, [springs flying, splinters of wood going through the wall] -- but for sure, by the third bounce, any normal bed would be utterly destroyed. Annihilated.
There seems to me something wrong with this.
I think it's sad that I grew up to be such a big whale!

And incidentally, Pirsig is right about his clinical assessment there -- never once when I was bouncing on beds as a kid was I ever depressed!


Splash du Jour: Thursday

You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They know it's going to rise tomorrow.
When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kinds of dogmas or goals, it's always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt.

-- Robert Pirsig, Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance --

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

Mental reflection is so much more interesting than TV it's a shame more people don't switch over to it. They probably think what they hear is unimportant but it never is.
-- Robert Pirsig, Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance --

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

Hmmm! Maybe I should have bought a Volkswagen!

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Which is It?

<-- This is but one wall of my apartment.
I have several others. They are all lined with books, one way or another.
And not only this -- but the books that are there are
As I once described the "saved" when I was a Christian -- these are
"of the elect".
I have no qualms with donating books that I did not really enjoy. Over the past ten years, I would estimate that I have given away
twice the amount of books that are seen against this one wall I have shown you.
These that remain are a part of the irreducible best aspects of who I am… who I have
become, largely as a result of reading them.
I cannot imagine life without them.
There are times in the middle of the night when I awaken as though one was beckoning --- and sure enough, I get out of bed, click on the light, reach out -- and one of them tell me why sleeping was an inferior idea at that particular moment.

<-- This is my new car. A Mazda 3.
I know. It's sexy, am I right? I LOVE it.
I probably shouldn't say this, but I actually have
HAD sex with the thing!
I paid over $22,000 for it one day, just over a month ago now. CASH. No payments. I own this car, flat out!
I've only put about 1,000 kilometres on it.
[I think I
WALKED further than that at work today!]
Now -- here is the thing, my friends... my Bookloving friends.
If someone were to say to me right now --
"You've got three seconds to answer this question -- Your books or your car -- one of them's gotta go. Which is it?"

Two and a half……..
[There's me, at 3 a.m., thumbing through one of these beauties -- wondering how in the hell I'm going to get to work tomorrow…..]


Splash du Jour: Monday

When you are five, you know your age down to the month. Even in your twenties, you know how old you are. I'm twenty-three you say, or maybe twenty-seven. But then in your thirties, something strange starts to happen. It is a mere hiccup at first, an instant of hesitation. How old are you? Oh, I'm--you start confidently, but then you stop. You were going to say thirty-three, but you are not. You're thirty-five. And then you're bothered, because you wonder if this is the beginning of the end. It is, of course, but it's decades before you admit it.
— Sara Gruen --

Have a great Monday!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Splash du Jour: Friday

But in Archer's little world no one laughed at a wife deceived, and a certain measure of contempt was attached to men who continued their philandering after marriage. In the rotation of crops there was a recognized season for wild oats; but they were not to be sown more than once.
-- From The Age Innocence / Edith Wharton --

Have a great Friday!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Animal Books

I have come to the conclusion that I like books that have animals in them. And by "animals in them" I mean the animals become principal characters.
I'm thinking of, for instance,
Life of Pi by Yann Martel.
Or his more recent work,
Beatrice & Virgil.
Alissa York's
Effigy, or Sara Gruen's Water For Elephants.
The White Bone, by Barbara Gowdy.
Philip Pullman's trilogy would not be the same without Iorek the polar bear. And well... all the daemons!
Perhaps you feel the same way? Or... similar?
I received an email today from the fine folks at Random House -- a listing of soon-to-be-released material, and two of the books immediately caught my interest.

Fauna, by Alissa York.
And Ape House, by Sara Gruen.

Reading an animal book from time to time is such a terrific reprieve from reading about the goings-on of humans.
Do you agree?
Of course, humans are animals, too. But they are way less........
After all, what makes The Wind In The Willows such a classic piece of literature?
Toad. Moley. Ratty. Badger. Otter...
What if Dr. Suess wrote The
Human Being in the Hat?
What good would Tigger be, if stripped down, he was just some guy in a tiger suit?
Who would care at all about Winnie The
Police Officer?
Or.... Paddington

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

Have a great Wednesday!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Splash du Jour: Monday

Nuclear waste is a heavy burden to lay on our children and their children and their children's children and their children's children's children and their children's children's children's children…
-- Rufina M. Laws --

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

And The Winner Is...

Dear friends, the time has come for the draw for the book!
I only wish that actual LOTTERIES had only this many entrants, I would have won my millions a long time ago! But hey, here at Bookpuddle, it's all about QUALITY.
I have a select, elite readership! And I like it that way! So -- four human beings have entered this draw.
The correct word is Tool!
They are one of my favorite groups ever. Obscenity and all! I am obsessed with the guitar work of Adam Jones and the innovative drumwork of Danny Carey. And just the overall wierdness of Tool!
I think they appeal to my inner [recovering] werewolf.
OK, so four lovely people entered -- and even though Isabella said the totally wrong word I am including her in this draw because I like her.
So -- here we go -- as always, it's a very complicated process. Remember the last draw? How I made my son Jack pick the winner from his food dish?
Well, this time, only the following videoclip can tell the full story --

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Can Someone 'Splain This?

Can someone please explain to me how it is that I can be sitting here in a Bookstore right now and look to the left and right of me.... well, not quite -- to the left and then sort of MORE to the left and see display after display of Stieg Larsson things?
Is this the new J.K. Rowling of adult fiction?
Sadly, this author is deceased since 2004, but nonetheless raising quite a posthumous kafuffle among bookreaders. According to an article I happened across, moments ago -- his "Millennium" trilogy of books:
The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo..... are respectively # 1, 2 and 3 on the Bestsellers List for the week ending July 13th. [a Tuesday? Go figure!]
Anyhoo -- it's got me scratching my head. Has anyone read these books?
On a side note, it all bodes well for a novel I myself have been writing for upwards of a decade now
--> The Girl Who Would Never Go Out with Me.

Friday, July 16, 2010

An Inherited Oddity?

"Newland never seems to look ahead," Mrs. Welland once ventured to complain to her daughter, and May answered serenely: "No; but you see it doesn't matter, because when there's nothing particular to do he reads a book."
"Ah, yes -- like his father!" Mrs. Welland agreed, as if allowing for an inherited oddity; and after that the question of Newland's unemployment was tacitly dropped.
-- From Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence, ch.XXII --

The above passage gave me paws, which is to say, made me stop and think.
[And scratch the couch].
But seriously, it occurred in the book I am now reading.
I stopped to realize something.
I am like this Newland character in many ways. Except that I prefer to read a book even when there IS a particular other thing to do. I always want to read!
The existence of this very blog is to provide a forum where I can speak publicly about my two main addictions --> Books and hamburger.
So, no truer words could be said of me, than the first part of the above quotation in Wharton. However, the second part is utterly foreign to my experience.
My parents were not readers. In my mother's later years she took up reading -- largely due to my own encouragement…. but my father?
I am not 100% sure, but I think it would be quite safe to say that he never read a book in the entirety of his lifetime. I always love to imagine that he did perhaps read a book -- maybe it is just that no one else knew about it.
Whereas, seemingly from birth, I loved to read. I loved words.
My own propensity towards the written page is a mystery to me -- certainly not "an inherited oddity."
I know not the true origin of my precocious love of words!

And so I ask the question to my own beloved Blog-readers:
Do you feel that your parents influenced you toward your love of books?
Were your parents, either one of them, avid readers? Examples of why bookshelves were invented?

I must add one more thing -- my parents were great parents.
They are no longer alive, and hence cannot defend themselves regarding my comments above. So I want to mention a few things I am very thankful for.
First, my mother read to us at bedtime. It is such a sweet memory to me. She mostly read us Bible stories, and for this I am infinitely grateful to her.
Secondly, my father got us The World Book Encyclopedia, which my younger sister and I literally devoured!
And thirdly, neither one of them discouraged my attempts at borrowing every single book from The Regent Park Library on Sherwood Drive!


Splash du Jour: Friday

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Splash du Jour: Thursday

"You see, Monsieur. It's worth everything, isn't it, to keep one's intellectual liberty, not to enslave one's powers of appreciation, one's critical independence? It was because of that that I abandoned journalism, and took to so much duller work: tutoring and private secretaryship. There is a good deal of drudgery, of course; but one preserves one's moral freedom, what we call in French one's quant a soi. And when one hears good talk one can join in it without compromising any opinions but one's own; or one can listen, and answer it inwardly. Ah, good conversation -- there's nothing like it, is there? The air of ideas is the only air worth breathing."
-- The French tutor, in Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence --

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

An Impromptu Book Giveaway.

Two questions.
<-- 1) Do you like to read good fiction?
<-- 2) Do you know who these lads are?
Here's the way this is going to work.
I will let this contest play out until sometime in the [God hasten it] upcoming weekend.... you must make a good guess at who these lads ARE!
I will even give you a hint or two.
1) The answer is one word!
2) They like to use profanity in a loud, amplified manner.
The prize?
Your choice of a new novel by Jim Crace, All That Follows -- or the newest from Ian McEwan, entitled Solar.
If you are stumped..... like if you have not smoked a joint in the past few years [for instance] just guess a random WORD!
The person closest to the one word, shall win.
Secondly, if more than one person guesses the exactly RIGHT word, I will have a draw!
New deadline -- SUNDAY AFTERNOON -- JULY 18TH.
Good luck.
NOTE: Offer not valid if your mailing address is somewhere other than on the planet Earth.
LOW-FLYING GRATUITOUS HINT #3 -- Every letter in the magical word appears in highlighted mauve format in the preceding sentence.

Splash du Jour: Wednesday


This is how I want it to be. While reading Hardy
I turn to her and tell her how good she would
look in that blue dress she did not buy today.
And I see that smirk, the one that knows
I will get it for her tomorrow anyway. But just as
she adjusts the pillow behind her head, reaching
for her fourth volume of Proust, the same thing
happens to her. And we lean into each other,
the calico cat not even stirring at our feet
as our books fall forward.
And that candle she lit, flickers.

c. Ciprianowords, Inc. 2008

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

There are four questions of value in life...
What is sacred? Of what is the spirit made? What is worth living for, and what is worth dying for? The answer to each is the same. Only love.

-- Johnny Depp, in Don Juan DeMarco --

Have a great Tuesday!


Monday, July 12, 2010

Earthquake Damage: UPDATE

I don't joke around about earthquakes.
Remember when I told you of The Quake that rattled my fair city? Well --
This weekend, when I visited the Museum of Nature to see the great blue whale skeleton thing, I noticed the following sign [see video-clip] on one of the exhibits. This is proof of what I endured, my friends. The sign says it all.
Basically -- YOU HAD TO BE THERE!
The Quake of June..... [as it shall henceforth be referred to, in legend and lore]... it was magnificent enough to knock over these dang mountain goats. Think about that!
To the extent that even until now, they have to be held in place by some sort of ridiculous...... broom handles, and whatnot else!
It's a miracle I survived to blog about it all.
Just be thankful, one and all, that I am still here for you....!

Splash du Jour: Monday

When King Bookpuddle awoke, he placed the Crown on his royal head and made his way to the balcony, where down below, the thousands had assembled to await his Morning Decree©.
Sceptre high, he cleared his throat and bellowed:
“As of this day and henceforward, I hereby abolish all weekdays, beginning with the worst of them all, Monday!”
The crowd, with one voice, cheered and fell upon their faces crying, “Long live the King! Long live the King!”

Have a great……… never mind!


Saturday, July 10, 2010

"Call Me Ishamel..."

Today I did something I have been wanting to do ever since I heard the possibility existed!
I was in the presence of a blue whale.
Well -- the skeleton of one.
Hey, that's as close as I could get.
So, I got!
I walked down to the Museum of Nature here in my lovely city. The newly renovated building houses a real for-real blue whale skeleton -- it's a recently acquired exhibit.
I was [needless to say], in awe.
These majestic creatures -- so beautiful. You know -- even in skeleton form -- a blue whale still rocks!
Watch my Richard Attenborough-like tail-to-head commentary, below….


Friday, July 09, 2010

Splash du Jour: Friday

I like the idea of being alone. I like the idea of often being alone in all aspects of my life. I like to feel lonely. I like to need things.
-- Robert Plant --

Have a great Friday!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Up, Up, and [not] Away

A few weeks ago I attended the wedding of my darling niece, Sarah.
It was a beautiful, fun wedding.
The next day was the "gift opening" time in the backyard with close friends and family in attendance. It was just gorgeous out that day, and Sarah got the idea to write a little note about her wedding day -- put this in a sealed plastic bag -- tie it to two helium balloons, let it go, and see where it lands!
Inside the packet, she included her email address and other info, so that whoever finds this thing, perhaps on the far side of Canada, or somewhere in the U.S. of A., or maybe in China, or even some other planet -- they could write her back a note of their own. Well -- apparently it just wasn't meant to be!
Of all the places in the entire atmosphere of the earth this carefully packaged Note to the World had to end up...... well, just click on the video below, and you'll see what I mean...

Then again, perhaps some very local BIRDS will write to her!

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

Now that I know how supermarket meat is made, I regard eating it as a somewhat risky proposition. I know how those animals live and what's on their hides when they go to slaughter, so I don't buy industrial meat.
-- Michael Pollan --

After reading this book of his, I agree with Pollan.
I, too, resolve to quit buying industrial meat.
I'm just going to stick with the stuff from the Drive-Thru!

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

Awareness is the power that is concealed within the present moment. The ultimate purpose of human existence, which is to say, your purpose, is to bring that power into this world.
-- Eckhart Tolle, in A New Earth --

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, July 05, 2010

Splash du Jour: Monday

Islam makes very large claims for itself. In its art, there is a prejudice against representing the human form at all. The prohibition on picturing the prophet – who was only another male mammal – is apparently absolute. So is the prohibition on pork or alcohol or, in some Muslim societies, music or dancing. Very well then, let a good Muslim abstain rigorously from all these. But if he claims the right to make me abstain as well, he offers the clearest possible warning and proof of an aggressive intent.
-- Christopher Hitchens --

For those who do not yet know of this devastating news click --> HERE.
And in honor of Mr. Hitchens, I shall amend my usual greeting to read:

Have a thoughtful Monday!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

A Madeleine In The Making

As I have not been around for the past few days, I have a lot of blog-catching-up to do, and a host of other things, too. I'm now in the throes of trying to offload my old car…. anyone out there want a 2000 model Oldsmobile Alero?
I've been doing some reading though -- about one of my very very favorite things.
A very engaging book, this
Omnivore's Dilemma -- I'm about halfway through it.
The subtitle is "A Natural History of Four Meals."

An interesting thing happened the other day at work. I had the book folded over on the table in the lunchroom, just as the Cleaner-Guy came in to do his…. cleaning.
I swept up the book and put it in my backpack so he could do his work and as I did so he said, "That is a great book!"
I was shocked.
"You've read Michael Pollan?" I asked.
[I didn't think that Cleaner-Guys read books……..]
And then he and I got into a discussion about the prevalence of corn.
Corn is in EVERYTHING, man! It's the main ingredient in soft drinks!
You eat hamburger? [Ummm…. let's not even GO there…!]
Well -- what do you think the cow is eating, at the feedlot?

Anyway -- I just wanted to drop by to say -- if you have even the slightest interest in food [and who doesn't?] -- this Pollan guy is just excellent.
Witty. Erudite. THOROUGH.
Here's an example I want to share with you -- in one of his experiments he took his family to a McDonald's -- his son got the McNugget Combo…
When I asked Isaac if the new nuggets tasted more like chicken than the old ones, he seemed baffled by the question. "No, they taste like what they are, which is nuggets," and then dropped on his dad a withering two-syllable "duh." In his consumer's mind at least, the link between a nugget and the chicken in it was never more than notional, and probably irrelevant. By now the nugget constitutes its own genre of food for American children, many of whom eat nuggets every day. For Isaac, the nugget is a distinct taste of childhood, quite apart from chicken, and no doubt a future vehicle of nostalgia -- a madeleine in the making.

Now -- I quote the above passage for several reasons.
One is -- I am profoundly interested in food, and information about food. But, [here's the kicker] my interest is not so much because I am a "health" nut… it's because I am a junk-food junkie.
I know that one day soon I am going to grab my chest and keel over -- and as I do so, I want to at least have an awareness of WHY THIS HAPPENED SO SOON!
Secondly, I quote the above passage because it shows how well acquainted the author is with important stuff other than food! Like -- LITERATURE.
Pollan has read Proust.
[I wonder if our Cleaning Guy caught that allusion…!]

One final thing -- a quick quiz.
How many specific ingredients go into the production of a McDonald's Chicken McNugget?
The scary answer
--> HERE.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Splash du Jour: Friday

Learn [philosophy] as the philosophers learned it – by inward quest. Avoid philosophic systems. Idiots love them because they can all band together and piss in a quill and look down on the unenlightened majority. But nobody can teach you more than somebody else’s philosophy. You have to make it your own before it’s any good.
-- Hugh McWearie, in the Robertson Davies novel, The Cunning Man

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Happy Canada Day!

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A Frenchman can humiliate an Englishman just as readily as an Englishman can humiliate an American, and an American a Canadian.
One of Canada’s most serious literary needs is some lesser nation to domineer over and shame by displays of superior taste.

-- Robertson Davies –