Wednesday, October 28, 2009

one hand clapping



An inescapable fact is that two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time.

I could try to convince you of the opposite, weave a tale of string theory and the elasticity of the universe and the human mind, toss about words like nanoparticulate and Higgs Boson and Heidegger's Cat, show some cleavage, toss my hair, cover a chalkboard in difficult equations based on advanced calculus and graph-based illustrations in three and four dimensions using theories from the cutting edge of advanced super collider projects, tossed in with some SAT words like incalculable and a stern look of assumed superiority -- and you'd probably be convinced.



reading
fashion magazines, library books, high, middle, & low brow, and becoming rather bored of the can't-do-ness of it all

weather
Scotch, neat, two Advil, & a spare hand, please

Nepenthe

A Gallery of Readers : read aloud

SG introduces MBB : {listen} | {read}

Mary Beth Brooker : {listen}

MBB introduces Stephanie Gibbs : {listen}

SG : Bonnie & Cyde [On the Lam] : {listen} | {read}

SG : The Journey [On the River] : {listen} | {read}




Since typing is proceeding at the pace of an escargot (add melted butter and slurp delicately), it will take some time to input writings for the next month or so. Please excuse all probable typo's caused by physical inefficiencies.



reading
the elegant and enticing Almost No Memory / Lydia Davis

weather
quack quack quack

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

field notes

When making rice pudding, use any combination of old Chinese take-out steamed rice gone stale and crunchy, burnt rice from the bottom of the pan (1 cup white rice in 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 1/2 cup water, bring to a boil, cover, simmer on the lowest possible flame for 17 minutes, thank you Craig Claiborne), a glollop of brown rice, or the huge quantity of barley that was left over after forgetting how much it expands and cooking far too much for the beef stew or tomato soup (a chopped onion and head of minced garlic sauteed in butter until golden brown, add three or four diced carrots, cook until bored, puree in blender, add to a stock made of ham hocks or something else and a half gallon of tomato puree, cooked down with generous amounts of dried basil and left over wine then frozen several weeks ago, allow all to simmer together for an hour or so with the barley, serve with gobs of cheddar cheese) and the left over barley or brown rice or white rice is scattered over a glass baking dish with three or four times as much milk, some butter and raisins and cinnamon or not, coconut milk or soymilk or not, bake at 325 for 2 hours stirring every fifteen minutes, but when making rice pudding, remember that acid -- artistic touches of cranberry or lemon -- will make the milk curdle instead of caramelize, and it will still taste passably comforting and, in the case of cranberries, be pink, but curdled rice pudding probably shouldn't be served to guests.



reading
waiting for the arrival of a host of material through interlibrary loan. wait. wait. wait.

weather
not even November, and it is all about wool and flannel

Sunday, October 18, 2009

introductions



When one lacks ready knowledge, there remains the exploration of negative space.
Inspired by an actual conversation held in (of course) San Francisco.

Mary Beth Brooker : the unauthorized anti-biography

There once was a girl who was born in the outer reaches of Tasmania, leaving the island to manage a wildlife refuge on the western coast of Australia at the age of fifteen. She became internationally famous for her work domesticating the duck-billed platypus as a childhood pet alternative to the traditional hamster or gerbil; as an adult she formed a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the barrier reef and had a new type of submarine named in her honor. This girl, however, was not Mary Beth Brooker.

On a stormy morning on the coast of the Isle of Jersey, a small infant was found washed upon the shore. She was in a small boat, barely ocean worthy, made of a battered Louis Vuitton traveling case, wrapped in a cashmere blanket, with a bottle of goat’s milk placed next to her. No one on the island was certain if she was the child of gypsies, fairies, or pirates, and no one knew if she would bring a blessing or a curse. The local priest recited a blessing over her; the postmaster’s wife brought the infant into their cottage to be raised with her other five children. At the age of ten, she left home as a stow-away on a fishing boat, seeking her forefathers, or, in light of that, adventures of an unknown type. That infant, however, was not Mary Beth Brooker.

Although many historians argue that the role of Benedict Arnold has been incorrectly interpreted by American patriots, their research has continued to be called “unnecessary, revisionist, socialist propaganda” by the Union of High School History Teachers, a group who favor the deification of George Washington and whose financial backers are known to include the Masons as well as the Mount Rushmore Society, the League of Women for a Sober Society, and the Antiquarian Genealogical Club of the Sons and Daughters of the Glorious Republic. Those who struggle against the efforts of the Union of High School History Teachers include the descendants of Benedict Arnold, a group whose eloquence, knowledge of central intelligence gathering, inside access to Hollywood, inherited wealth from years of gun-running to unstable countries, and insatiable curiosity has led them into many unnecessary tangles with the mainstream media and congressional representatives. Mary Beth Brooker is neither a descendant of Benedict Arnold nor a member of the Union of High School History Teachers, the Masons, the Mount Rushmore Society, the League of Women for a Sober Society, or the Antiquarian Genealogical Club of the Sons and Daughters of the Glorious Republic.

There are many other backgrounds which do not describe Mary Beth Brooker, including felon (civil or criminal); con artist; shaman; charlatan; lumberjack; sea captain; astronaut; flea-circus impresario; hobo; drug-runner; descendant of Marie Antoinette; Arctic explorer; car mechanic; dog sled racer; tug-boat operator, and NASCAR driver. She does, however, tell stories, of which the following is one.



reading
The Village Baker's Wife
which has managed to completely and totally intimidate me
also, the Wikipedia entry on the circus, which has lovely illustrations

weather
winter all too soon

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Burmese Python; Or, The End

I always knew it was a bad idea. A rotten idea. An idea from which no good could come. An idea which would cause regret, pain, and misery, not to mention loss of peripheral vision, hair loss, potential decrease of bone density, heart murmurs, epileptic fits, periods of OCD or MPD, cravings for pickled eggs, the smell of putrefying flesh, and a colossal loss of time and money, not to say cumulative exhaustion, lingering anxiety, weeks of unwashed laundry, unreturned phone calls, unpaid bills, and lost socks.

So we can all acknowledge and agree that it was a thoroughly bad idea. But what a way to go, and how much less interesting had I listened to sage wisdom and well-intentioned advice and avoided the whole fiasco. Hindsight may be 20/20, but near-sighted astigmatism results in some pretty amusing misconceptions.




reading
price and product comparisons of GPS systems, before deciding that paper map technology is much less confusing

weather
trees dropping leaves to reveal the restrained glory of branches and sky

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

ten down

The house of the fateful dinner party had been sold many years ago, and he didn't notice anything especially compelling about the new inhabitants as he strolled past, stopping in the shade of a tree across the street for a calming sip of brandy. He couldn't remember where this road went, after the academic's house, but at the close of the afternoon had followed a network of insufficiently labeled back roads to a point which he was relatively sure led into the foothills on the west or the river valley to the south. He stopped, considered his options, and fell asleep under a tree, without bothering to brush his teeth or unroll his sleeping bag.
He awoke in the pre-dawn light, and cursed himself for neglecting to bring a watch; not only was he uncertain of the time, but he was beginning to doubt if he would be aware of when the tenth day arrived, and he saw no glory in unmet deadlines, even self-imposed ones. Lacking a pen or pocket notebook, he decided to tear a page out of the Field Guide to the Birds of North America every morning, judging that the system would at least keep him within a day or two of his schedule, and folding the removed pages into the back cover, so they could still be referenced if needed. He had thought about just folding the page over in the morning, but found the act of physically tearing out the page that much more rewarding, more satisfying on a spiritual level; anyway, it wasn't a library book, or particularly valuable.



reading
ah, the relief of mercury finally leaving retrograde, and the delightful arrival of a plethora of [platonic] love letters

weather
In this world, right here, a pool of light gathered closely around a lamp, dusk settling under clouds passing deeply through an autumnal afternoon, the reflected glow of red maples lengthening the evening. Cats saunter across the street, intent on dinner or adventures or a soft cushion; cars work their way towards driveways and dinner. A change of seasons, animals growing thicker pelts and people airing woolen overcoats, the wind and rain battling for supremacy with the lengthening rays of sunlight. Someone sneezes, someone coughs, someone makes soup.

reminder!


Sunday, October 4, 2009

interviews with myself

Twenty Questions

3. Inside, outside, or upside down?

Arrived in a box, neatly labeled fragile this end up perishable open with care high value contents fully insured with delivery confirmation sent with return receipt by registered mail, inside a sleeping bag a house a cave, inside my own head surrounded by the cacophony of a chorus of advice and obligations and would rathers, inside the system, inside the loop, in bed, in the bath, inside the kitchen eating cooking cleaning organizing spices alphabetically by country of cuisine separating the inside of the fridge according to the food group system stymied by potatoes and sweetcorn which are technically vegetables but nutritionally starches but aren't they supposed to be kept in the crisper which is overflowing with as yet uneaten apples and somewhere there are milk and eggs and an awful lot of tonic water whereas inside the oven a certain amount of scrubbing is necessary to avoid setting off the smoke alarm again, and inside the basement surrounded by piles of laundry in various stages of purification while the monster in the furnace burbles just
outside the door and everything in life is a construction to avoid exposure to the outside of rain cold sunburn traffic expectations other people's reality excuses justifications timelines plots assignations responsibilities uncontrolled randomness verging on chaos outside leaves fall and water rises and potholes sink and boots crunch over gravel and leave prints in the first frost and the sun sets and aliens consider using the high school football field for a landing place which would really turn everything
upside down, the zero gravity free fall of space or vertigo or cliff diving or swimming or gymnastics with the uneven parallel bars or the trapeze or swinging along a rope and jumping into the river and somersaulting just under the surface as sun rays pierce through the water sending stripes of illumination to the depths whose orientation remains mysterious as the fish seem to be swimming in all directions and there are no arrows pointing to you are here but the natural buoyancy of the body meets the current of the river and though still upside down it is floating along the surface of the river with the sun on my back, thinking of picnics and trees.



reading
glanced at the calendar and a week to meet deadlines, ouch

weather
sun? maybe? please?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

notes from above

It's up to us, the twelve year olds and the eight year olds and yes, your little sister, too, even though she doesn't really understand yet and tells Mom and her diary everything, but she swore the pledge and signed the book so she can come up into the treehouse, and help us map out our plan, the counter insurgency against the agendas of the league of mailmen, dog walkers, garbage men who too closely observe and process our lives, who spy and counterspy and make alliances and betray trusts with the casualness and the callousness of adults caught in the web of their own superstitions. We are the sentinels, standing at attention, the guards in the trees, and we see everything.



reading
the Scrabble board, and losing valiantly

weather
drizzle drizzle and the delights of a woodstove

Friday, October 2, 2009

notes from the home front

By now it is two in the afternoon and perhaps a quarter of the chores, tasks, responsibilities, and promises have been accomplished, the morning is well over, lunch is a significant consideration on the horizon, and imagine the beauty of self, awake at 2 pm, filled with the joy of completion, being handed a mug of coffee and slice of warm toast with strawberry jam, and realizing that it is only seven-thirty in the morning, the mundane has been neatly tucked out of sight, and:
With coffee and toast, locate patch of golden sunlight streaming through window; sit on cushion in light, cats perched nearby. In the quiet and stillness feel the city awaken, the house reverberate, the rain on the roof and the wind in the trees. Stretch. Remove the cat from the other side and stretch in that direction, too. As the blood makes its circuit successfully through each system, limb, chakra, awakens each toe and each memory, write a letter, listen to Chopin, brew a pot of tea, experiment with a new schematic or design, then catch up on the articles in the New Yorker, rather than just the skimming of the cartoons that took place while on the phone the previous evening.




reading
in front of the wood stove
weather
first rice pudding (coconut, with fresh mango) of the season