Monday, February 28, 2011

Splash du Jour: Monday

People never explain to you exactly what they think and feel and how their thoughts and feelings work, do they? They don't have time. Or the right words. But that's what books do. It's as though your daily life is a film in the cinema. It can be fun, looking at those pictures. But if you want to know what lies behind the flat screen you have to read a book. That explains it all.
-- Sebastian Faulks, A Week in December --

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

I Went To A Movie...

I did something rather unusual for me today.
<-- Went to a movie.
I really do not go to movies all that much -- but I saw some things about
The King's Speech on TV -- and it looked so interesting I decided I'd go to a Sunday matinee.
This movie was FABULOUSLY good. Colin Firth is simply amazing, as is Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter. And so I post this just minutes away from the Award for Best Picture category at the Oscars. I hope The King's Speech wins.
[Colin Firth just won Best Actor -- he is saying his acceptance speech right now...]
And if you have not seen this movie yet, you r-r-r-r-really sh-sh-should -- go to…. [pause] s-s-s-s-ee. It.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Phantom Cat: REDUX

A snapshot in that moment would have revealed what seemed to be a stunned ostrich. A beakful of worms. [Do they even eat worms?]
But looking closer -- hey, that's no ostrich. That's me. With spaghetti hanging out of my mouth. [The "stunned" part is totally accurate though.] Just minutes ago, I was innocently sitting yonder, shovelling a plateful of pasta into my yapper, with the novel
Fauna propped up in front of me.
The book is mostly about animals -- I'm really enjoying it -- as can be evidenced in the fact that I continue reading even when it's feeding time! Anyhoo -- this one character, his name is Guy, and he imagines he is visited by his dead cat, named Brother… [this is the part where I nearly spewed noodles through my shnozz]:
Ghost-Brother, by contrast, comes in silence, swimming through the darkened room to find Guy lying on his side. The living Brother would wait for a groggy Guy to pat the mattress -- that springy-soft, welcoming sound -- but the phantom cat needs no such invitation. He knows that the space between Guy's body and the edge of the bed belongs to him. [p.156]

The reason why this so freaks me out today is that I have experienced it before, myself! Some of you may recall me talking about it several years ago.
My experiences with The Phantom Cat. And today, the author, Alissa York is even using the very term -- "phantom cat."
So -- maybe I am not insane?
Or -- maybe I am?
At any rate, while I clean the half-eaten al dente off my walls you can read my original discussion of this feline phenomenon, by clicking
--> HERE.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Splash du Jour: Friday

The fact that we are I don't know how many millions of people, yet communication, complete communication, is completely impossible between two of those people, is to me one of the biggest tragic themes in the world.
-- Georges Simenon --

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Looking Behind: A Poem

Looking Behind


Especially on quiet, satiated evenings it will happen.
Walking down the street I will suddenly stop
And turn toward a sense of myself approaching me.
Not of being followed or stalked, but quite the opposite.
The impossibility of pursuit. As though I alone exist
And my steady apparition.


Some say this is evidence of a deep disconnect.
Others, of over-connection. Various studies conclude
I exhibit the first sign of lunacy. Bollocks to them all!
Researchers will never understand until they do it.
The looking behind thing.
But they won’t.


For the record, my premonition has never proven false.
Believe me, I am quite wary of acquiring
An obsession with emptiness.
Just know that if you laugh I may join you,
Smiling. For I am never looking behind
Seeing nothing.

-- © Ciprianowords, Inc. 2008 --

Splash du Jour: Thursday

Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.
-- Anais Nin, Diaries, Vol.1 --

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

Think of this -- that the writer wrote alone, and the reader read alone, and they were alone with each other.

-- A.S. Byatt, Possession --

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Possession: A Romance

For the past ten days I've been immersed in this 1990 Booker Prize-Winning novel, by A.S. Byatt.
<-- Possession.
Just finished it, minutes ago -- and I shall now add it to my list of Books I Read That No Other Man on Earth Would Read.
The subtitle alone [A Romance] surely disqualifies it from any male-owned library shelf on this, or any other planet. And I'll admit, [as a colleague at work pointed out to me] even the cover of the book looks a bit light on the loafers! He said to me, in a noticeable tone of concern, "Umm, it looks rather effeminate."
I really enjoyed the book. I think it's superb, on many levels.
So, what does that say about me?
I think it says that I appreciate good literature, no matter what sort of appearance the book may have.
Or, perhaps I am possibly…….. no, never mind.
But enough about me! Let me say a few words about Possession.

While researching the [fictional] Victorian poet Randolph Henry Ash, modern day [1987] scholar Roland Michell happens upon some obscure snippets of amorous undelivered correspondence. Curiosity leads him to suspect that these scandalous amorations [<-- this should be a word, but isn't] were meant for Christabel LaMotte, a contemporary poet of the day. Michell consults with several LaMotte experts to cross-reference his own data, and foremost among these is the lovely Dr. Maud Bailey. Together, these two begin to unravel a seemingly endless trail of previously unknown intrigue -- they unearth a biographer's treasure-trove of documents, and as they pursue information about this century-old romance, other scholars emerge from their dusty hallways -- fighting for their own right to scoop the story. Does this sound exciting as all hell? If it doesn't [and it shouldn't, really] it's because it isn't.
The power of this book does not lie in anything dazzling or spectacular.
No cliff-hanging. Or even sex, really.
But for brilliance and depth, this book cannot be beat. It's a novel for people that love when a writer is writing so well, so intricately, that you know the gist of the tale will live with you forever.
In a way, it will possess you. The power lies in the vividness of the characterizations.
The author has done something that, in my experience with reading, I have never seen before. She has created a literature beyond her own novel. She has not only created the characters of of Ash and LaMotte, but also has managed to compose their works for us. [Essentially] books, within a book. Their poetry, their writings are here in Possession, and in such a real way that early on I looked these characters up on Wikipedia, because I thought they must be real personages.
But they aren't. They're Byatt's creations.
It's a gorgeous novel -- which I know shall remain for me in a category labelled "Timeless."

So, what's next on deck for me to read? Well, I already have it in my backpack to take to work with me tomorrow. As you can see by observing my "Currently Reading" sidebar, it's an equally masculine-entitled tome!
And if you'll excuse me, [the timer is "dinging"] -- I've got a late-night quiche that's ready to come out of the oven…


Splash du Jour: Tuesday

True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,
As those move easiest who have learned to dance.
'Tis not enough no harshness gives offence,

The sound must seem an echo to the sense:

-- Alexander Pope, Essay on Criticism --

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Classical Trumpet, Anyone?

I did not know how much I love the trumpet, until today.
Yesterday my brother-in-law Darryl sent me a link and said something about how I needed to hear… well, his exact words were "this may give you a love for trumpet players all over again… OK, for the first time…!"
Trumpet players? I admit I was curious, but somehow I never watched the clip until today. And -- he was right.
I now have acquired a new fascination with…. trumpet players.
In all seriousness though, this is some very beautiful -- music.
The trumpeter is
Alison Balsom.

To hear an amazing piece, performed on Late Night with David Letterman a few months ago, click --> HERE. To learn more about Alison Balsom, click on her very trumpetty shoulder at the top of this blog.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Simple Things

I love hamburger. And beer.
Pizza. Lack of debt.
Ragdoll cats. [And none better than my own...]
Central heating in winter.
A/C in summer.
A car that gets you there.
Camaraderie in the workplace.
Writing a good poem. I love reading, and time to do it. The Simpsons.
Hamburger! [<-- Ooops, already said that…]
I love simple things.

I love when you are walking down the street on a cold winter night and you smell someone's fireplace giving off that wondrous scent of burnt forest, and it reminds you of something from a long time ago but you can never quite tell exactly what it is.
I love the profound feeling of satisfaction you get when you pick that piece of apple rind from between your teeth. Oh God, yes!
I love gravy on things.
A pillow that is just right. Undiluted maple syrup!
And, speaking of gravy [were we?] -- today, this very Sunday -- I experienced much that was enjoyable, in fact, superb. Off the scale. Real good. And yet, so simple.
First, I met with some great friends at a high-end poutine emporium. If you do not know what "poutine" is, I only have two things to say to you:
1) I feel sorry for you, and
2) You are probably healthier than I am.

I met some co-worker friends at Smoke's Poutinerie. This place ONLY makes poutine.
What is poutine? It is french-fried potatoes with lots of gravy and cheese curds mixed in there, but wait -- here's the heart-rending [and heart-clogging] beauty of it….. they put tons of OTHER lethal stuff in it!
There is a poutine menu!
I got the Green Peppercorn Chicken.
It was an epiphany. [see the following video evidence…]
Same day -- in a used record store -- still with the same delightful people -- I happened across a DVD-movie I have wanted for a long time [above photo]…. Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.
I spent the rest of the day reading a really good part of Possession by A.S. Byatt in Starbucks, the poutine floating higher and higher on a veritable tidal wave of good coffee. [I need medical attention, yes….]
Later, I walked home in lightly falling snow, pressed the elevator button that might as well say "Penthouse" and ever since, I've been drinking so much beer that I am rather amazed I was even able to type this
blog out.
Life is good.
Good is simple.
I love simple things.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Splash du Jour: Friday

I cannot bear not to know the end of a tale. I will read the most trivial things – once commenced – only out of a feverish greed to be able to swallow the ending – sweet or sour – and to be done with what I need never have embarked on. Are you in my case? Or are you a more discriminating reader? Do you lay aside the unprofitable?
-- A.S. Byatt, Possession --

For my own answer to that last question, click
--> HERE.
Have a great Friday!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Splash du Jour: Thursday

There are things that happen and leave no discernible trace, are not spoken or written of, though it would be very wrong to say that subsequent events go on indifferently, all the same, as though such things had never been.
-- A.S. Byatt --

Have a great Thursday!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

There may be fairies at the bottom of the garden. There is no evidence for it, but you can't prove that there aren't any, so shouldn't we be agnostic with respect to fairies?
-- Richard Dawkins --

Have great Tuesday!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Critical Backfire -- Does Anyone Have a Corkscrew?

I did something entirely out of character yesterday. Sunday.
I went to church.
It's probably been something like seven years since I have been [willingly] in a church service -- other than the occasional time back home, at Christmas.
Or at weddings. Or funerals.
But -- to wake up early on a Sunday and go to a church service? Well, since my radical de-conversion -- it is an unheard-of event. Some of you may know, I once was a minister in the church. And then I experienced an extremely radical shift in my umm……. how does one say this…. ministerial status?
[The above image is an actual photograph…. do you see how this was doomed from the get-go?]
And then what followed was an entire re-organization of my core beliefs.
The place I am at today? I would describe it as AWQ.
Agnosticism With Qualifications©.

I work with several non-believers, and at work we often discuss our various perspectives on the theological/religious spectrum. It has been very stimulating for me to be able to share my own journey along these lines, with people that I respect, and work with on a daily basis. Some are very critical thinkers -- and I consider myself to be among that designation of…… thinker.

Yesterday I ended up in a pew with one of them… an avowed atheist.
I must admit -- we attended this prominent Pentecostal church [my background] with the intention of having a good laugh -- we intended to go out afterwards and tear to delightful shreds every absurdity after absurdity.
We were foiled.
Or…… let me speak for myself here, I WAS FOILED!

As we sat in a Swiss Chalet afterwards, gnawing on legs of chickens like two unsaved Neanderthals -- groping for constructive criticism of the church service we had just attended -- neither of us was really able to come up with anything solid.
We looked down [at our plates]… and behold…… it was good.
Again, -- I speak for myself and not my co-worker -- I was flabbergasted at the fact that I think the "church" -- at least the one we visited -- has perhaps done a bit of a 180, in light of the fact that most bookstores have entire sections now devoted to what might as well be labelled "Religious Bullshit Detection."
The church we attended was relevant. That is how I would describe it.

The format?
Well, in light of Valentines Day -- the topic was marriage.
The pastor and his wife sat on Starbucks-style chairs, around a Starbucks-type table, with Starbuckian kinds of cups on it… and sipped from these, as they had a chat about what it means to live the married life -- half the time it was so candid that myself, as a congregant, felt I was intruding on a private moment.
It was relevant. Non-preachy. Non-judgmental. Wonderfully applicable [even though I am not married, I've noticed that my relationship with my cat has already greatly improved….] -- overall, I was impressed.
Even shocked.
Hundreds of people listening, and you could have heard a pin drop.

My critical intention had backfired, at least in this instance. And left me with the thought that, although I no longer subscribe to the literal beliefs as held by everyone else in the building [except the person next to me] -- I am going to quit blindly criticizing everyone of faith.
Some of them know what's going on. Some are living profoundly relevant lives, filled with love and joy and…….. filledment. [<-- This should really be a word].
Some of them have found a way to consistently believe [in a literal sense] in what amounts to a really good cartoon -- but have translated and applied this in a way that has the potential of making my own life look like a fairly bad one.


Splash du Jour: Monday

How did it happen that their lips came together? How does it happen that birds sing, that snow melts, that the rose unfolds, that the dawn whitens behind the stark shapes of trees on the quivering summit of the hill? A kiss, and all was said.

-- Victor Hugo --

Wishing you all, a HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

I Blame Tess

For as long as I can recall being alive [which is quite a while, and sometimes feels like an entire lifetime] I have loved reading.
And books.
I differentiate between those two words -- reading, and books.
They are related, but distinct, loves.
Many people involve themselves in the act of reading -- but do not have a proper lust for books.
Others acquire books, and never read them.
A while back now, a good friend bought a mansion and asked me if I knew where he could purchase a pile of classic-type books so that it would lend his estate the appearance of being owned by a connoisseur of literature.
Many people don't have the time to read the stuff, but want it around.

I am rather hard-core about both reading and books. I make time and expend energy and money, for both. I would feel my life to be just this side of not-worth-living if I became too busy to pursue my "leisure" reading.
Tonight I am wondering though -- how much of this passion is innate?

Recently, a co-worker asked me when it was that I realized I could not live a happy life without a book in front of me. And the truth is -- I had to realize that in my case, the passion for reading was pretty much always there.
When I was a kid -- basically as soon as I learned what printed words were trying to do -- I was fascinated by their power. My discovery of typeface was like seeing God.
Immediately, when I understood the concept of what a typewriter could accomplish, I began typing recipe cards for my mother. Even before I could read what I was typing, I was typing -- identifying each individual printed letter with the key on dad's ancient Olivetti.
In Grade 2 of elementary school my mother showed my teacher a listing of books I had read that year, and Mrs. Okrainetz [she rode to school on a broom] did not believe I was telling the truth. I devoured the works of Enid Blyton, and even several volumes of non-fiction. I recall crying in a store [I could not have been more than nine or ten years old] until my mother bought me The Gulag Archipelago.
And yet -- even though I always was a reader -- I point to a time in college, when I had some free time after exams were over. I wandered in a Mall and picked up a discount copy of Tess of the D'Urbervilles, by Thomas Hardy.
As I sat in my dorm-room and devoured that book, something went crazy inside of me, and I knew that I would never be the same. I had reached some sort of higher level of addiction.
Unending, incurable and insatiable.
And so this is how I answered my co-worker. I blamed Hardy.
I blame Tess.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Splash du Jour: Thursday

Q: Do you have many mental fans? People disguising themselves to get close to you?
A: Not really, but when Taylor was playing in Alanis Morissette's band, some guy made his way backstage saying he was Hootie from Hootie And The Blowfish. Everyone believed him until someone said, "Wait a minute, there's no-one in Hootie And The Blowfish called Hootie!"

-- Dave Grohl --

Have a great Thursday!


Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The Pretender

Sometimes certain songs really arrest my attention and I can't help but play them over and over again, usually in my car. But also sitting here at my desk.
Something about the artistry especially moves me until finally I feel I must say something about it.
It helps me get over it, and move on!
If you generally do not like Foo Fighters -- what I have to say about the current song on my Obsession List© will not mean much to you. The Pretender.
I think this song has so many levels of musical genius to it.
How can it not? It's all about Dave Grohl -- the guy is INSANE!
Whether or not this particular type of song is your style -- just entertain me for a moment and let me ask you to notice how the initial melody, the slow thing at the start -- full of subsequently revealed cello-like sounds -- that entire progression is a constant throughout the whole song, no matter the current time signature.
This is most evident between 3:50 --> 4:11 of the song, when Grohl reverts [underdubs] back to that initial prelude while the foreground of the song continues on 98-speed!
In my opinion, this entire thing is sheer genius!

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

As soon go kindle fire with snow, as seek to quench the fire of love with words.
-- William Shakespeare, Two Gentlemen of Verona --

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, February 07, 2011

Discovering Sleepers

I am so NOT a morning person.
I'm a night person. The night is when I come alive!
I like staying awake till all hours, sleeping like a dead rhinoceros -- and my perfect day is when I can awaken due to natural causes. Like…… sunlight. Or Jack's lovely mewling. Or the sheer desire to read, with a coffee steaming away beside me. I like sleeping until then.
And when it comes to reading, I like discovering sleepers.
Books that are surprising in that, for all their obscurity, they turn out to be quite good -- these are what I call "sleepers". I'm in the midst of a real good one, right now.
It's called All Will Be Revealed, by Robert Anthony Siegel. [2007]. The fact that you have never heard of this book is my very point here. It's too bad that for whatever reason it does not have a greater readership, because really it is a terrific read. Dealing with the subject of the dawn of pornography -- and how one of its early moguls gets involved with the phenomenon of the seance, the occult practices that were so prevalent at the end of the nineteenth century.

As any reader of Bookpuddle knows, I am not a follower of the bestsellers.
I'm a bit of an Ibsenite, I'm afraid.
Old Henrik said "The majority are always wrong" and I tend to agree. I like finding that underdog book -- the sleeper that is a real keeper.
Over the years I've unearthed a few real dandies.
Books that no one has read, like:
The Ash Garden, by Dennis Bock.
Some Things That Stay, by Sarah Willis.
Slammerkin and Life Mask, by Emma Donoghue.
The Doctor's Wife and An Answer From Limbo and The Great Victorian Collection, by Brian Moore.
The Watch That Ends The Night, by Hugh MacLennan.
The Way The Crow Flies, by Ann-Marie MacDonald.
The Things They Carried, by Tim O'Brien.
Afterlands, by Steven Heighton.
Or, the ultimate Book That No One Has Read… Till We Have Faces, by C.S. Lewis.
I've read this last one about four or five times.

What is your ultimate Sleeper Book that you have read but you are quite sure no one else in the world has read but yet you have a feeling that it should be read by everyone in the world?


Splash du Jour: Monday

There is an epidemic of scientific ignorance in the United States. This isn't surprising, as very few scientific truths are self-evident and many are deeply counterintuitive. It is by no means obvious that empty space has structure or that we share a common ancestor with both the housefly and the banana. It can be difficult to think like a scientist (even, we have begun to see, when one is a scientist). But it would seem that few things make thinking like a scientist more difficult than an attachment to religion.
-- Sam Harris, The Moral Landscape --

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Another Angle

Hey, this is so neat. Here is a shot of the same fireworks going off [see my former blog-posting] but from the vantage point of the beginning of the World's Longest Skating Rink.
I love where I live! It's so beautiful here, and there's always something going on!
Apparently, the cause of all the kafuffle [kudos to Shark's guess of it being Chinese New Year] was the launch of 2011 Winterlude.
Well -- I am off to a SuperBowl Party soon -- GO PACKERS GO!


Friday, February 04, 2011

February Fireworks

Wow, this just happened like minutes ago... I was just sitting here reading, and innocently drinking a Carlsberg when all of a sudden BING BANG BOOM! I launched out of my chair to see this conflagration taking place right outside my kitchen window. I'm not even sure yet just what it is my city is celebrating -- maybe the release of the new IKEA© catalog?
Jack is traumatized!
He's under the bed somewhere, probably for the next two days or so!

Splash du Jour: Friday

No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle unless the testimony be of such a kind that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavours to establish.
-- David Hume --

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Splash du Jour: Thursday

It's amazing that the amount of news that happens in the world every day always just exactly fits the newspaper.
-- Jerry Seinfeld --

Have a great Thursday!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011



i would like to watch a stream descend
its babbling course between mountains
before ever a human eye was in a head
and whether you choose the book of
genesis or darwin as your text surely
there was such a time in history for no
doubt the inanimate came first either way.
secondly, to hear the first bird clear its
throat and sing would be nice and whether
you believe in god or not it is just
another way of saying that being around
when existence started happening would
be something i am totally interested in.

-- © Ciprianowords, Inc. 2006 --

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

Why pay a dollar for a bookmark?
Why not use the dollar for a bookmark?

-- Steven Spielberg --

Have a great Tuesday!