Thursday, June 30, 2005

With Puns Like These

"So we were walking down Whyte Ave, totally high on nutmeg—"

"Excuse me?" I said.

"Yeah, high on nutmeg—"

"Nutmeg! Are you sure?"

He stops. "Well, we were high, but, yeah, I'm sure. Anyways, I'm walking, and my legs get all twisted. I sort of stumble over the curb and I say, 'Look, guys, I'm trippin!'"

Trippin? No, that's bad. And nutmeg? I just never knew.

Reading: We Need To Talk About Kevin + Lionel Shriver
Listening: "Always Too Late" + Chocolate Barry

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Game Of The Name (9 Paras)

Occasionally, my job requires that I take names (then, when the clock strikes thirteen, I repeat these names before a squad of albino scythe-carrying monks who begin furiously chanting, "Doom upon these wretched appellations!"). Names, then, I say, I am sometimes required to take.

"H-E-F-F", one customer spelled after I asked his name, and I couldn't keep the wide smile off my face. Ridiculously, I was thinking he was going to spell Heffalump. The customer dodged nervously under my grin. "Heffelfinger," he finished. "That's Heffelfinger." I don't know, that's a name which stacks up pretty well against Heffalump, don't you agree? My favourite customer-name, so far, belongs to a Filipino whose signature reads Josélito De Los Angeles. But my all-time favourite name is a wonderful thing, a Best Ever name, is Florian Cloud de Bounevialle Armstrong. Ten points and a poem to whoever knows that name without googling it.

Names are wonderful, of course. So random, so meaningless, so meaningful and deliberate. Even a name without meaning must aquire meaning across its lifetime, will aquire meaning by association. And what is a name without meaning but the conscious intent of its giver? Which, of course, gives meaning. Examples of such meaningful meaninglessness run like rivers in fiction, where "realism" is often the order of the novel. The meaning neither you nor I understand in our neighbour's name, or the name of our friend, that meaninglessnes is mimicked in the popular novels of Nora Roberts, James Michener, the works of a thousand mystery novel authors, and that modern novel of which you wrote three chapters that still collect digital dust in the back of your hard drive.

But meaninglessness is just a fad, and not even long-lasting, at that. There is no such thing as chaos. Check back through Thackeray, Dickens, Pilgrim's Progress famously, Smollet, the entire Augustan age of English literature and the greater part of the Victorian, and you'll see that most names of most fictional characters were consciously endowed with meaning. And wonderful fabled meaning, at that; who would choose to ignore names like the Giant Despair, and Diffidence his wife? Excellent, excellent names. The fashion in literature has swung back to "meaning", of course, especially in the post-modern novel. Not with more subtlety, I believe, but with less dissonance, with a smoother, more acceptable agreement between the meaningful intent of the author and the perceived meaninglessness of everyday names, office names, mall-walking, grocery-store, know-your-neighbour names. But that's post-modern literature for you. Clique-ish, full of codes for the initiates, less concerned (many say) with meaning than with being meaningful. Beach novels, though, romance novels, literary popcorn, these don't play games; these novels, these authors, can generally be trusted to be a solid read, entertaining without resorting to gamesmanship.

Am I being condescending?

Georgette Heyer is one of my favourite authors. She can be said to have invented and clarified the regency romance genre across fifty-one novels (not all, it should be said of them, historical or even romantic). This is a literary sub-genre, I would like to add, which I mostly loathe. Heyer makes this genre work (for me), because she's a clever author, writes witty dialogue, excels at sarcasm and irony, and writes a good stock character quickly and memorably. She's many things as an author, Heyer is, but subtle is rarely one of them. This is not a flaw. Her genre does not require Heyer to be subtle. She once named a character Satanas, for instance. Meaning, here, becomes fairly clear. My favourite novel among her publications, the first Heyer I ever read, is Cotillion. But recently I reread that novel, and was very surprised. Heyer can be subtle like she just slithered down from the Tree of Knowledge. Don't look at me like that! This is like finding out that Danielle Steel has been educating her readers in the finer points of Renaissance poetry. It just isn't going to happen. Such a revelation would boggle the mind too much, like discovering that Dan Brown was actually an author, when, clearly, "Dan Brown" is a giant publishing collective along the lines of "Carolyn Keene" or "Franklin W. Dixon", except, of course, that the latter collectives wrote credible literary novels if you compare them to "Dan Brown". But Georgette Heyer can be subtle, and she can be knowing, and she can wink at her readers and play games with names just like more-respected and well-known contemporaries such as Virginia Woolf or Katherine Anne Porter.

Now I'm being condescending, right? Or just thick?

Cotillion includes the usual Heyeresque host of types and eccentrics. Freddy Standen is a likable dim bulb about to make good as the hero of the story. Kitty Charing is a helpless young orphan possessing, sadly, only charm and good-looks. Jack Westruther, as the story opens, is the worthless rogue and object of the heroine's affection, and a cousin of the self-serving Hugh Rattray. Lord Dolphinton is the mentally-deficient impoverished Irish aristocrat. And Matthew Penicuik plays a cheapskate Lear to the whole bunch. The plot is ridiculous. Matthew Penicuik, wanting to provide for his ward, Kitty (he loved her mother, you see), will give his fortune to whoever marries her. But whoever marries Kitty must be one of Penicuik's extended family, which means it is up to either Jack, Hugh, Lord Dolphinton or Freddy (who has no idea what's going on) to marry the ward. Penicuik made that money (last name? see? see!) and he'll be damned if it's going to leave his bloodlines. Of course, Kitty objects to being made an object of charity, despite her name (see? see!). And the love of her life, Jack Westruther, won't put in an appearance because, frankly, he would rather gamble his fortune west than have his hand forced (and his surname? see? see!). Lord Dolphinton, also called Foster, acts like a fish out of water, probably because he wishes he was back across the sea in Ireland (surname significant? see? see!), Hugh makes the worst marriage proposal ever ("Even though I'm not attracted to you, let's be Platonic partners and study together"), and Kitty convinces Freddy to make a false engagement with her until she can see Jack in London. Freddy is a stand-in for Jack, see? See! There is a regal domineering aunt called Augusta, nearly Wodehousian in the fear she spreads, who treats her son (Lord Dolphinton) like a foster-child; there is a flowery French dandy called Camille; there's a lady named Buckhaven, who nearly brings her name and home into disrepute; there's an oafish elder brother called Claude; and there's more, more unremarkable realistic names, more added meaning and plot substantiation, more lightly-worn learning and clever post-modern humour. Should I have been surprised? At one point, a character called Olivia is referred to as "Most radiant, exquisite and unmatchable beauty". When did Shakespeare become decoration in a popular novel? Heyer ground, it turns out, covers a lot more territory than I ever expected.

Cotillion is an excellent novel, full of charm and cleverness, well-balanced and well-balancing. I'm going to keep my eyes open, from now on. I'm going to expect more, enjoy more. I'm going to stop sneering at games. I'm going to stop smiling without reason at other people's names. Go read Cotillion and enjoy it for yourself.

Reading: The Well Wrought Urn + Cleanth Brooks
Listening: "River Of Jordan" + Drexel

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Shape Of Happiness Is the Stones Of Venice

I know a man who finds the shape of happiness in a warm baguette and a bottle of red Chilean wine. I am not that man. But I do believe happiness comes in many shapes; that happiness is different things on different days.Tonight, for me, happiness was picking up a complete set of the works of Ruskin at around 25¢ an inch. Happiness was finding myself, say nine o'clock in the evening, crouched on the floor of an abandoned friary in east Edmonton, running my fingers down the penny-coloured spines of World's Great Events, The Gospel of St. Mary, The Prisoner of Zenda, Sartre, Simone de Beauvior, C.S. Lewis, wonderful books, wonderful authors. Rooms and hallways and entrances, old planks and half-torn-down walls, the friary's hallways were wide and dark, opening into large chambers well-windowed with the summer evening and silent traffic. My brother picked up a beautifully bound set of Charles Reade, I found an excellent paperback of The Well Wrought Urn, and more, and more! All kinds of thanks to my girlfriend's friend's mom, who let us in the door.

But I promised puns in my last post, three hot-cross puns (truly, I'm sorry, you shouldn't have to suffer, that's the first and last I'll do to you). Here they are, then, ranked in a strictly subjective order of worst first to best last, serious for-real puns, manly and upstanding (or womanly, too, whatev):

I'll send a watercolour of John Ruskin to whoever can deduce the #3 pun listed on this post. See you later, Da Vinci Coders.

Reading: Moby-Dick + Herman Melville
Listening: "Can You Do That Dance?" + The Pink Mountaintops

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Your Momsicles

All you raging hotheads, look no further, you've found a friend in Je Suis Saves. You've also, apparently, found one of those annoying characters who like to refer to themselves not only a lot but in the third person, too. I join Queen Elizabeth, Charles Barkley, and Bill Gates' third under-secretary with that select trait (third-person referencing, that is, as opposed to power-mongering in the post-colonial world—Barkley, I'm looking at you on this one). But I'm farther off track than Boss Hogg off the Hazzard boys. Hey, I just threw that reference in for some ironic hick appeal—Cowboy Troy gets me. Gitchoosome!

Whatever! I was saying that the hotheads didn't have to look any further for cool-down pals since I just whipped up some cold icy refreshing did-I-say-your-momsicles! No! Popsicles! Why has this idea, this act, never struck me ere now? I was never a popsicle-thoughted boy, never popsicle inclined before. But I've randomed up some coconut milk, puréed myself some cherries, schooled down some bananas and lime juice and you know what? Life isn't going to be as sucky as it could have been before now. My days shall be refreshed. Life is going to be popsicled.

Tomorrow evening, three puns. And after that, a NEW BOOK-REVIEW! Yay!

Reading: Moby-Dick + Herman Melville
Listening: "I Guess You Already Married A Japanese Banker, Though" + Anders Lövgren
Anders says "Sweden is a country full of pretentious quasi-poets with too much free time." Who knew?

Sunday, June 19, 2005

DFA79 Says, "Checkmate!"

The counter for the three cash registers is in the shape of a large U, and the bottom of that letter faces the door. The floor is linoleum, large square tiles. What to do on a slow day, and nothing lined up? 32 empty one-gallon cans turned upside down on the floor, symbols scrawled on the upturned bottoms. The white side went traditional. Spiky crown for king, splintery crown for queen, armless footless little boys in dresses representing pawns. The black side drew skulls for pawns, a 666 for the queen, and a pentangled hand for the necromantic king (hey, Riddick!). Oh, there was a LOT of detailing. Yeah, it was a bit awkward walking from till to till when there were customers in the store. Best part was when one burly customer started giving me chess tips. Maybe it was due to him, but someone won both games, and it wasn't the bad guys. Does this make me the biggest nerd ever? Napoleon, like anyone can even know that! I am now the Only All Time World Champion in the store-floor chess league!

Elsewhere, us men should put our face-knives away, because the moustache is back! Maybe these boys'll become superstars over here, too. Death from Above 1979 finally gets a little official recognition with two video awards from the MMVAs. Let's not get carried away—DFA79's videos are (so far) bland chunks of footage, their video for "Romantic Rights", for instance, not half the goodness that is The Killer's version of that bright-lights concept. But the pictures are getting the muzak out there, right? Me, I fell for DFA79, hadn't even heard the music, after I heard they'd played in some living-room in the UK, dropping a huge show for a bunch of 13-year old kids who happened to win a contest. Because DFA79 are sincere like you don't know. Read on some site somewhere that our boys are huge in Britain, but barely known outside of indie circles here in Canada! Check that, ra! What the writer forgot was that indie IS mainstream now. We've got Nickelback, yeah, and Beyoncé, and hip-hop banging around huge, but the buzz is gone, friends, the buzz is gone. What will all the cliques do now? Pity the poor hipsters.

And you know, I still love Great Big Sea.

Happy Father's Day, Dad.

Reading: the second last paragraph, the second-last line of it—"For it is the End of the dominion of IMPOSTURE (which is Darkness and opaque Firedamp); and the burning up, with unquenchable fire, of all the Gigs that are in the Earth." Read The French Revolution + Thomas Carlyle (see previous post for links)

Listening: "Blood On Our Hands" + Death from Above 1979

Saturday, June 18, 2005

The Big Pixel

Nevermind last night, I've got other things to talk about. You understand, my job is shift-work. You work eight hours, you get paid hours—you work four, four. The last two weeks I worked a total of eighty hours, and was paid for sixty-eight of them. WHAT? WHAT!! Hey, my manager has shown us a fantabulillion times that he doesn't give a rap. He's a bit of a sociopath, alright? I'm not going to say that he has bits of his grandmother stuffed in his closet, but he's probably got bits of his grandmother stuffed in his closet. And that's his business, okay? But I mean, come ON! I discuss my shifts near daily with this man. I stare, horrified, at a twelve year old's moustache on this thirty-five year old caucasian male's upper lip. I recite, in a piercing monotone, using simple sentences (proper verbs, proper nouns, the odd conjuction and nothing more, I swear) my weekly limit of hours. I rarely break eye contact. And yet, I habitually get stiffed on my check. Result? Complaining, bitterness, and protracted disgust are forming the backbone and construction of my days. Don't get bogged down, you say? Take a look at the bigger picture, you say? Zounds!

Reading: Can I say enough about this book? Carlyle is a lion. He writes sentences like other men make movies. Fire, action, character, drama, rifles blazing, tragedy, near death and disease. "Figures rise, like phantoms, pale in the dusky lamplight; utter from this Tribune, only one word: Death." Read The French Revolution + Thomas Carlyle.

Listening: Music For Robots (or music.for-robots, old skool kool) has been james bond gold lately, as in the-man-with-the-golden-gun type of gold, all kinds of laughably deadly. And now the Finnish parts of me are all proud, having watched this Scandinavian music video culled from the Robots' site. Pixelated Tom Cruise (Top Gun, Cocktail) or pixelated Patrick Swayze (Dirty Dancing, of course), runs madly on the sidewalk in the rain. There is a parting. There is a coming together. There is true love. The end. Comments on Robots say this video is old. I say it just made best video I've seen all year. If a pixel's worth a thousand words—nevermind. Go watch "The Name Of The Game" + Ural 13 Diktators

Friday, June 17, 2005

Good Will Mathlete

Good God, you should have seen my first draft for this post. Ended with the grey general ruin of all things good and not good. See, I work at 7am today. 7 to 11 in St Albert, then the #205 to West Edmonton for the 12 to 6 shift. And, you know, sometimes I try not to hate my life. Sometimes I clip along and accomplish many futile tasks. Too easy to let casual plans be swallowed up by past mistakes, right? Come on! That was last night, not this morning! Today, there is a casual brightness to all things. There is a glowing, and the clouds are very white in the sky, like video-game clouds in Super Mario Allstars when I worked out my fascination with Princess Peach by making her my marionette and drowning her in the waterfalls everytime. K, now I'm using anti-social tendencies (read: quite disturbing behaviour) to mask my wretched skills at that game, when, in fact, I just plain sucked. K, I sucked at every game (except Tic-Tac-Toe! Yeah! And Duck Hunt! Yeah!).

If I'd been better with numbers I could have been the biggest mathlete of them all.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Pompeii Under Vesuvius

Blonde-haired girls hold up SLOW signs, unshaven men in orange vests prod each other with spades, dusty trucks full of mysterious equipment steampunk slowly around the city. It's road-repair season again, and the summer construction crews are out in full force, not all of them in the city. Notice some of the changes on this page? I've been tweaking around for a bit, nervously adjusting the ul-lists of links in the sidebar. So exasperating. I want those link lists to look like the sidebars on Stilts or Wannabe Hipster, and I'm cheating all over the page to make it happen, but it's not. Happening, that is. Look at that junk in the archives! I don't know what's going on, my page has more ancient artifacts buried in it than Pompeii under Vesuvius. I so wish I actually knew html. Que sera, though, right? Enough already.

Elsewhere, there's two extremely checkable blogs, one of which has kindly linked me. I therefore love her. Plus, her page has a green background! Very soothing. So go to Lemon Life in the links for some excellent words on office life, state politics, and Katie Holmes. And careful, cause if you don't love her, I'll beat you with this soggy blog.

The other site just started up, and it's a hungry link, apparently Starving In The Belly Of A Whale. I've known this kid for years, and it still surprises me that his middle name is Xavier. So exotic! So give DX a call on the links to the right. Lookout, though, he's a biter, a bitter man if there ever was one. Too many years in the cave, DX, too many years in the cave.

Reading: The French Revolution + Thomas Carlyle (yeah, I'm back on the horse)
Listening: Trådlös Sewingmachine + 50hertz

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

It's Cruel Up North (Minus The Roalds)

Found in the bargain bin, $5.99, a New York Times Notable.

Yesterday's grass fresh-cut in the field, the bright sun blazing in the bluest sky ever seen, and it's 1624 AD, a warm Sunday morning across Chipping Camden. Miles Smith, Bishop of Gloucester, first and final editor of the fifty-four Translators of the King James Bible, is so face-down bored by the sermon he's hearing that he walks out of church and gets a drink at the pub down the road. That's on page 215 of Adam Nicolson's God's Secretaries: The Making Of The King James Bible, published in the UK under a slightly different title.

You know that friend of yours, does a million different things a year, gets excited about museums and vinyl and black velvet paintings, new movies and Martha Stewart recipes? (This bit added later: yeah, that's what I said, Martha Stewart recipes—can you believe it? but I'm leaving it in because tasty food is the bits.) The guy showed you the difference between an aggie and a regular marble and keeps pictures of Roald Amundsen and Roald Dahl in his cage-filled livingroom. Your friend could get you interested in paint on a wall providing he was interested in it. That's his gift. He transmits so much genuine enthusiasm for his interests that he stirs up the interest of whoever is around to witness his current fascination. I know your friend's name, don't I? He's Adam Nicolson. Minus, perhaps, the Roalds.

Nicolson's book has been on the big READ THIS! list on the yellowed paper tacked to the fridge for a few years now. The book has been worth the wait, for sure. Nicolson reveals/creates a labyrinthine soap opera around the Jacobean translation of the Bible. The author speaks of a pantheon of dark and selfish motives, pure and unclean characters, a web of politics, prudery and paranoia (and a textbook on alliteration, repetition, parenthesis, and the heights of Elizabethan accomplishment in prose). The book is strong and beautiful. If it was but a single piece of paper, instead of 281 pieces between covers, quotes and index, it would be origami, a silver-starred foil crane flapping sturdily on the mahogany table in the living room. It's exotic, it's simple, it's new appreciation for a foundational fold in the construction of English literature, Elizabethan politics, and Western thinking and culture. I love this book.

Reading: fairly obvious (and on a break from The French Revolution)
Listening: "It's Cruel Up North" + Radio LXMBRG (godsake, this song is an ice-gold apple!)

Sunday, June 12, 2005

XX vs XY

You're a guy, and it's easy. Maybe some cool jeans and a few blonde streaks in your hair (are the girls attracted to the "young" look or the "needy"—hey, either way it's covered, right?) and you're Peter Pan. Those Wendies won't be able to stay away. You're a girl, though, things are different, it's all changing so fast. You take the pills, you jazzercise, you burn the arm-fat with those strap-on wristbags of sand you once laughed out loud at when they called them "weights" on late night shop-o-vision, and you even paint on some designer jeans made from shredded diamonds and some blue gasoline they bled off of Jupiter, after which said jeans were assembled by the just-washed hands of the Archbishop of Canturbury, the entire al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade AND Tim Curry himself (hey, check the price tag and make your OWN assumptions about these garments, k?)—and then they come up with ROBOTS!

Which means I'm glad I'm a guy. Hey, wait up! Where's my bleach?

Reading: The French Revolution + Thomas Carlyle = going to take awhile
Listening: "Rent a wreck" + Suburban Kids With Biblical Names

Friday, June 10, 2005

God Gave Bethany Cancer

I've been guilty, I've been Pitchforkian in my speech, I've aped Said The Gramaphone (I did not say imitate, I have never achieved that success, not in my prose) and I think you have, too. But we'll throw away the rules today, you. We'll talk about music. Me writing + you reading = the new talking. Comments, if you need them, can come later. The talk we will talk will be SENSIBLE. There is still time to claim purity for appreciation. There is still time to sway slightly, unselfconsciously, while wearing headphones or hearing good music at the coffee stand. There is still time to feel in your gut, "YES! I really LIKED that song". But there is no more time to justify your like to your ideals, my likes to my aspiration. That's useless. Enough with these outlandish barely-there comparisons and reviews. Out, damned spot!

I like Olaf Bronström. The music, not the man. I don't know the man. Specifically, I really really really like his song called "God Gave Bethany Cancer". I like it for the same reasons and in the same way I liked Wolf Parade's "Dear Sons And Daughters Of Hungry Ghosts". It's such a sad strong song. It's misery and unendingness. It mentions gas stations and the impossibilty of saving someone, not because one is unable to save, but because real life splits the would-be-rescuer from the would-be-rescued. "I know that you drink, oh, yeah, and I know your manners. I know that you need saving, but I need to work. It's time for you to choose up or down or around or around." I like the two voices (Olaf, I think, recorded over Olaf), light and dark to each other, dark and darker overall. I struggle to hear their nearly-sobbing voices through the thick static and distorted beats, a single key on the synth lifting up and down with the song. It's the emotion in the lyrics, not the words, it's the hurt which makes it work. There is hard life here. "And ask me why I just don't die, because I cry all night." I liked this song so much I went to Olaf's website and listened to everything I could. Some of his stuff is really strong, some of it not so much. All of it is worth hearing. I like it. A lot. But I really like "God Gave Bethany Cancer".

Reading: The French Revolution + Thomas Carlyle
Listening: "Dear Sons And Daughters of Hungry Ghosts" + Wolf Parade

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Moxie + Doxy

Then there was the time I said, "Are you kidding me?" Moxy Früvous was on the radio, you see. Which is strange, because you never hear the Moxy anymore (well, they're just too raging ridiculous, aren't they?), and, very importantly, highwaystyle or partydown, my girlfriend's car is country country country all the way. Sure, but Crystal thought I'd said something else. The conversation ended unexpectedly:

JSS: I am too using my words correctly! I don't make up words! OK, well, sometimes I make up words.

Criddle: You can't just make up a word! What if I called those lights over there twittles? That's a really bright twittle over there, isn't it?

JSS: That's a BRILLIANT word!

Reading: The Trail of Fü Manchu + Sax Rohmer
Listening: "Taxidriver" + My Darling You

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Ordaining / Local / Raveonettes

#1 This is bananas. Nine women are going to be ordained as Catholic priests on July 25th, according to today's National Post, Edmonton Journal and Ottawa-Citizen. These women are following the examples of seven other women in Europe, a group called The Danube Seven. What kicks me is that some of these nine women are apparently married or divorced. Alright, grant it, grant that the attitude of Invisible Rome concerning female deacons and priests is unfair to both sexes—what about the Church's attitude toward male married priests? Zonk! There isn't any attitude. The married state is never allowed. What about the Church's attitude toward divorce? Zing! There isn't any attitude. The divorced state is disavowed (whoa! don't bring your puns to town!). These women aren't seeking equal treatment at all. If these nine aren't rabble-rousers, scofflaws, quarrellers, false Catholics, remnants from the Army of Mary, religiously-debauched social-engineers, will someone tell me who they are? And getting ordained on the St. Lawrence River near Ganonoque so as not to be under the direct authority of the adjacent archdioceses of Kingston or Ogdensburg means these nine are acting outside of the Catholic Church and are cowardly. And what are the reasons these nine consider themselves worthy of being ordained? "We bring the wisdom of life experience," says the only Canadian in the group. Yes, surely you are the only wise! What about the life experiences of some old patriarchal Buddhist in Calcutta or Nepal? Certainly, he, too, is now worthy of being ordained in the Catholic Church. Invite him, you hypocritical nine! These women also state that celibacy and sexual orientation are not an issue within the womenpriest movement. Really? I told an old professor once that certain properties had nothing to do with each other, being completely opposite to each other. He replied that, on the contrary, such a state between those properties meant they had everything to do with each other. I had nothing to say. He was right.

#2 The next solid local isn't until the end of June (unless it's 5 O'Clock Charlie kicking along with some Storyboard spaceout on the 17th) when the All Purpose Voltage Heroes sock-hop around The Starlite on the 30th. C'mon, hipsters, scenesters, homestyles all. I mean, one of the APVH's songs is titled "Bombs In Reverse Build Cities"! And look at this shiny present—Cadence Weapon will be there, too, showing the cowboys how to spin some rope tricks. I'll be standing in line for this one, son, decked out with long hair and a gentlemanly attitude. What will you be sporting?

#3 The Raveonettes! The Raveonettes! The Raveonettes!

Reading: Hippolyte's Island + Barbara Hodgson
Listening: "That Great Love Sound" + The Raveonettes

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Do I, Too, Despise It?

Hopkins, Morris, Tennyson, John Berryman, you guys can play. You, too, Yeats. All the rest of you kids, fold it! Betjeman—Morrisey makes you, Heaney you're a squid, Atwood, Adrienne Rich—blargh, Hughes, late Ezra Pound, Benedikt, Alice Fulton, Hudgins, Haskins, Hugo, Jeffers, Eigner, Bukowski and everybody else, go make paper cranes in the corner. What? I get to pick the teams cause I'm good, that's why. Sure I can prove it.

[The soul of my brother if my brother were dead]

The soul of my brother if my brother were dead
Would ascend in a burning tree.
His flames-for-eyes and shining hands
Would climb eternity.

And before he rose on a branch of fire
My brother would lift his eyes.
And from heaven and all would shine such light
As would double my heart the size.

I should raise both hands and grasp the branches
Of time and climb to heaven.
Fall away, black earth, die down, stiff stones,
Let the blessing give and be given.

For my brother will bring the blessing down
And lend me the strength to suffer
In the painful boughs to eternity—
Ah, what if I have no brother?

Reading: Flowers In The Attic + VC Andrews
Listening: "Cannot Sleep Cannot Eat" + the prayers and tears of arthur digby sellers

Saturday, June 04, 2005

He Knows Not What The Curse May Be

There had been sound and now there was silence. The wet and heavy fields of snow gleamed dull to the edge of the tangle, where a horse stood silent under the star-budded branches of winter's night. There, where the hunched spruce cached its shadow, lay a dark five-pointed figure, face upward in the snow. Footprints made a winding line from the sleeping horse to the still body, and a cold wind turned the top branches of the trees toward the west.

"There will be rain," he had said, "And the road will be muddy." He rode on, his horse chuffing in the light wind. "And there is no road," he said, "Only a wet field of grass." And he chirruped the horse, and they followed the road into a tangled brown forest. "It is too dark to turn back," he muttered, and repeated it quietly. The moon rose then, stark red, but white and gleaming later. Then he turned back, in the night, the rain, and the wet grass, and crossed many fields and stone bridges until he saw the old house. The house was tall and smooth, ruining in the red and yellow moon. He rode up to the house, to the narrow door in the flat wall, and dismounted. The slick weedy gravel crunched under his boots. He lifted the horned knocker and sent it knelling through the spaces behind the brown wall. "She is not here," he said, but his horse wasn't listening. The man walked around the house in the rain, brushing away the clinging tangle with his hands. The wet grasses clung to his waist, and ringed his legs. He had to draw a knife to break their overgrown grip. He walked around the dark house; he counted every high window, five hundred windows, every window dark, first to last. "She is gone," he told his horse. "Not one candle burning." He looked upwards, and saw the yellow moon, the black night. "Not a star in the sky."

He mounted his horse and crossed many fields until he came to a great highway. Long fields of wintry farm lay equal wide on either side the narrow highway and its ditches. The man rode a long way in the night and in his heart he said, "Not a single star. I should have stopped when I heard her singing."

An archer stood in the ditch far down the road, five black arrows in that quiver. The archer watched the horse and rider pass under a pale moon. From the reeds, with careful aim, the archer loosed an arrow. The sky blossomed into stars. The horseman looked up and shuddered in his saddle. His horse neighed loudly and slipped into the ditch, but climbed out and cantered across a snowy field to a thicket. The horseman dropped out of his saddle there and staggered across the frozen ground until he fell. His body starred the snow.

The archer rode back to her house and lit a candle.

Reading: Confessions of a Teen Sleuth + Chelsea Cain
Listening: "Giant Spiders" + Devin Davis

Friday, June 03, 2005

The Cement Garden

[Note: Very sorry about the small font size. Something screwy about the posting option. Perhaps some supercooled air is being funneled down from the troposphere? And notice that annoying white bar on the right edge of the posts? Aargh! Will work on it later.]

[Note: This post was originally posted June 02. Due to finicky and annoying technical HTML stuff, it's being reposted here. New goods will arrive Saturday. In the meantime, stick to the pack ice and stay away from open water.]

[Addendum: That is, Saturday evening.]

The tape dispenser fell apart at work yesterday. The shiny black plastic wedge separated in my hand. Are they really that heavy, those dispensers? Look, inside, it was filled with dusty concrete! What I'm wondering is, how much cement is hidden in daily objects? I'm thinking I've probably got whole sidewalks buried around me and I didn't even know it.

Elsewhere, a Québécois adman by the name of Paul Coffin pulled a few nails out of his own by declaring himself guilty on fifteen counts of fraud. He's the first person being charged in the cloud of corruption called the federal sponsorship scandal. Coffin's lawyer says

Mr. Coffin wishes to bring his financial house in order so that the government of Canada can be reimbursed for whatever losses the government of Canada incurred.

Well, I suppose I'll have to wait and see (the presiding judge has the right mind in this case—"After we see how these promises come to reality, I will reassess my position"), but wouldn't it be amazing if the stolen money was honestly, openly, out-of-hand completely refunded? Who knew such a virtuous act was in the man? The Liberal gov't has so far earmarked only a paltry $750 000 for reimbursement. $750 000 out of who-knows-how-many missing millions! But Paul Coffin is ready to return every cent he's ever stolen. The charges have broken the man open, that's for sure, and I'm not saying he isn't frantically backpedalling, trying to soften up the courts. But, still, who expected this kind of behaviour from any of the hard souls involved in these scandals? Who knew this kind of right action could still exist? I mean, upstanding behaviour from the corrupt! If Paul Martin is ever really concerned about losing Quebec, he could do worse than pay attention to one of the province's natives, a man willing to do right. But Martin isn't, of course. Interested, that is. The fear of separation from Quebec merely provides the Liberals with a solid above-board reason to perpetuate the status quo and support/bribe their brother federals and the Quebec politicos. Cronyism in the name of patriotism. "Patriotism," Dr. Samuel Johnson once said, "is the last refuge of a scoundrel." Martin is helping strangle a very important part of Canada, the Québécois soul; a soul, apparently, which recognizes right behaviour, concrete principles, and wishes to act accordingly.

Reading: "The Story of Zaccheus" + Saint Luke
Listening: "Brother" + The Organ