5.31.2006

a continuation

of "Duet"

Singing together

And together, our modal choices
Bereft of night.
The sun is rising-
Slits of light
Through venetian blinds
Undulate slowly.

Labels: ,

5.30.2006

articles of lunch (or lack thereof) - 5.30

i'm probably not going to find time for any articles today, but man, did i need to read this:

Simple Things You Can Do Right Now to Jumpstart Your Writing Efforts, over at 52 Projects (thank you, Felicia, for directing me to the above post)

Labels:

5.23.2006

A Day in the Life

or, "Somebody Spoke, and I Went into a Dream"

a work (mired) in progress.

I

It was the day before the first eighty-degree day of summer. It was pleasant, weather-wise. It wasn’t so much cloudy or cold, but it was not so pleasant that you wished you could take the kind of picture that would remind you of the air’s purple-orange smell and the sun’s grassy face. It was just pleasant.

I remember thinking, there’s always time for friends. I liked to think those kinds of things, in those days. I liked especially to think such thoughts when there were friends near, or nearing. That day, in particular, at one-thirty, they were nearing the mall as I searched for my parking spot. I passed two or three and waited a moment for a woman in a black Suburban to back into her spot. She took too long, and I eventually settled for a spot a little farther away from the door than I’d have liked. As I walked toward the Penny’s entrance, I noticed a gusty wind, steadily blowing my hair, long and unruly – I was nearing my quarterly haircut, and the wind was not kind to me that day. Soon enough, the thick brown hair I inherited from my mother was wrestled from my control altogether.

I found them – they had already arrived in town, having driven an hour or so west – and they were looking at sunglasses. She tried on a pair that was white, and one she said made her look like a giant bug. They weren’t so bad, really, only slightly oversized. He said his wardrobe needed a summer upgrade. Shorts, a polo shirt, something. We were in the GAP store – or J. Crew, I don’t remember which – when I decided that fedoras should make a comeback. I thought: I should have lived in a time when people wore more hats.

II

He was sitting deep in the big bowl of a chair in our living room. She was on one of the couches, holding our newborn. My wife and I were sitting on separate couches – she with his wife on the small couch, I with myself – and we were giving each other knowing looks every few minutes. We were all talking, often at once. He and I were discussing a book idea – Great Bible Stories to Tell at Parties, I think was our current working title. He’d thought of it the night before, while they were out with another couple. Naturally, bald Elisha and the bears sprung to my mind. How do I explain the forty-two youths, I wondered?

We talked, too, about a kind of communal living we thought would be fun. Our wives, as was the tradition, listened and laughed and told us we were too ridiculous for our own good. Nevertheless, he and I agreed it would be interesting to live with another couple in a single house, so long as there was plenty of buffer room for maritals.

Amid the discussion, we ordered some wings (for three of them) and a burger (for me); he and I went to pick up the order. We got to the restaurant and the girls at the hostess station asked us to wait a moment while they got our food from the back. A redhead and a blonde. The blonde was perky and very young and gorgeous. The redhead had a freckly face that wouldn’t work well on film, but she came off saucy and somehow more appealing than her light-haired counterpart. The blonde went into the kitchen and brought out our food and we left. As we got in my car, he said, “Those women in the window there were checking me out, big time.”

“Nice. I didn’t see ‘em, but, all right.” I really hadn’t seen them.

On our way back, there was some strange interference on the radio. He told me about the night out with the other couple. They were at a coffee shop, and the boys were sitting across from their respective wives. At one point, my friend noticed two women sitting across the store, behind their wives. A redhead and a blonde. They had come in together, holding hands. They kissed once, he said, lightly, before several longer, more passionate kisses grabbed and held his attention. “I kept looking at him. thinking, is he seeing this? I can’t say anything now, but goddamn! Is he seeing this?!” He made a note to himself, he told me, to ask the other guy about it another time. “I’m still trying to figure him out.”

III

“My grandfather has been pretty sick for a while, now,” he would say during dinner. “My mom gave me the idea of writing him a letter.”

“What kind of letter?”

“I think she was thinking I could write something sort of listing off, um, recounting the things I remember about him growing up.”

“You don’t want to just depress him!” His wife kicked in.

“I know that.” He laughed a little. I’ll have to give it a lot of thought; I’m not going to just sit down and write it in ten minutes!” I laughed a little.

IV

She was looking through the Bible – she had just started in Genesis, scanning through. “Samson did some pretty wild stuff, didn’t he?” I’d been listening as she announced the occasional section heading.

He had still not held the baby, but I explained that I wouldn’t hold it against him. I had never really cared much about babies, myself. “This one was mine, though, so it’s different, y’know?” “Yeah.”

His phone rang, and he took the call in another room. The three of us stared at the baby for a few minutes, until he came back into the living room and announced that his grandfather had just died. There wasn’t much to say to that, but as he called his brother from the other room, I thought what a good story the day would make. I was like that in those days, always searching for stories. I hadn’t yet realized that stories find writers. It just can’t happen the other way around. They left – he hadn’t bought any summer clothes – and I went to sleep promising myself I would soon write the story I’d found.

The baby had not slept through the night, yet, and the noise from the monitor filled our bedroom. I always thought the sound of my child crying would break my heart, I thought. It was still so new as to make me smile, and I nudged my wife. “I think she’s hungry.”

Labels:

inertia, ballistics, and egotism

i was just going to add this to today's "articles of lunch" post, but i quickly realized it deserves its own stage. i don't have the time to comment as i would like currently, but i hope to soon.

in the meantime, just take it in; it is fantastic.

Three Somewhat-Hasty Generalizations About Existence and Human Behavior

Labels: ,

article of lunch (sort of) - 5.23

ok, this one isn't so much an article as a new blog i've come across.

Susan Crawford - i've been reading down some of the posts, and this woman is an excellent net neutrality thinker.

"
Given enough bandwidth, all the need for prioritization in the last mile goes away."

"I do think these guys have zero competition (or only gentle competition) because the upfront costs of an alternate network are insuperable. I do think there's a risk of creating a "neutrality patch" that is a comfortable humid swampy environment for these monopolists, and that's why I'd rather treat them like any other utility.
Like a pipe."

Labels:

5.22.2006

bethany's blog / articles of lunch - 5.22

ATTENTION: my wife has started a blog to post pictures of (on a daily basis, she hopes) and updates about our daughter, bethany. do check it out: born in buffalo, but always a buckeye

the life and afterlife of vinyl records - courtesy
if:book.

"This reminds us that we need to take each "next great" invention with a healthy bit of skepticism. Because the transitions from LPs to CDs and now to MP3s occurred in a span of twenty years, we have the benefit of living through the shifts. Therefore, the transition is less disconcerting even if its transition is not complete or fully understood. The current shift from CD to MP3 introduces us to a host of transitional issues that we will soon face with print books."

The art of sport - WWKS: What would Kant say?

"To ground his argument, Gumbrecht turns to that staple of sports bar disputation, Immanuel Kant's 'Critique of Judgment.' "

Labels: , ,

5.19.2006

24 / article of lunch - 5.19

today, i reach the big two-four - at 11:47 p.m. this evening, to be precise. i don't have any funerals to attend, and it doesn't look like i'll be left alone all weekend, so i think this birthday will be a good one.

as for an article... What Would Kierkegaard Do?

"I protest with all my might at being regarded as a prophet, and want only to be a poet."

"Sorry, Islam, but you are tertiary, whether you like it or not."

"He would have thought useful satire has to involve a certain amount of wisdom, that one has to be adept at it. Just to mock someone, just to provoke someone, he would think of that as childish."

Labels:

5.17.2006

celebrate good times - come on!

you guessed it: the internet has arrived at my place of residence. however, i'm too tired to come up with anything really interesting to commemorate the occasion, so...

three cheers for verizon dsl without voice!
hip-hip, hooray!
hip-hip, hooray!
hip-hip, hooray!

ok, that's enough craziness for one day. goodnight, kids.

(oh, yes, and my wife has officially started a blog as a vehicle for showing off our baby. go check it out.)

Labels:

articles of lunch - 5.17

i know, it's not nearly lunchtime yet, but things are a little slow today, and i wanted to do some reading. enjoy.

Direct Quote: Lewis Turco on the challenge of writing sestinas and reading as a form of magic.

“Every element of language is a form of some kind. The letters of the alphabet are forms, conventions upon which the members of a culture have agreed in order to communicate; so are words, phrases, clauses, and sentences, whether spoken or written.”

"I began writing another one when you first called, and I’ve since finished it. It’s titled “The Vision,” and it tells the story of how I first decided to cast my lot as a writer. The end-words are eyes, tiles, white, time, blank and crapper."

collaborative fiction, one page at a time - this is just an awesome idea.

"What if he could send the book spinning like a top and just watch it go?"

Labels:

5.16.2006

articles of lunch - 5.16

so here's an idea: i hope to find the time, here at work, to read at least one article online during lunch (daily, or at least a couple of times a week) and subsequently put up a post with links and excerpts or comments. let's see how it goes, shall we?

(warning: this may not last)

from the Annuls of Religion: Hollywood Heresy, written by Peter J. Boyer

quoting Craig Detweiler: “Some are able to sort it out and say, ‘You know what? It’s a novel, it’s fiction.’”


and

Grappling with God: The Faith of a Famous Poet, book review written by Wilfred M. McClay

For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

~ from September 1, 1939 by W. H. Auden

Labels:

5.03.2006

"Books, books, books!" or, "You know, the second time you read Moby Dick, Ahab and the whale become good friends."

NOTE: This list is not difinitive. I may have neglected some truly worthy books, but such is the subjectivity of the moment. Also, I know what you're thinking: "Dude, what's with the list?" But you forget, I did add the caveat that lists can be quite amusing. Plus, I needed something to distract me from work today, so deal.

Also, thank you, Patry, for getting me thinking about this list.

The 3 most influential books in my life:

1. My Name is Asher Lev: I know, I know. this was written for younger people (younger than me, anyway), but no list of this sort would be complete without a book that was consumed feverishly, in the throes of youthful exuberance. Too, the struggle for artistic identity is one creative people endure their entire lives; Asher Lev introduced me to that struggle in that he named it for me, allowing me to address it on my own terms.

2. Atlas Shrugged: I do not agree with Ayn Rand's ideas, but I love her methods. True, all fiction writers are philosophers of a kind, but she may be one of the most unabashed literary figures when it comes to displaying one's philosophical ideas in fiction. She illuminated for me the notion that a writer must be a philosopher, and my own writing has never been the same (I mean that in a good way, of course).

3. James: As in, the Book of the Bible, James. I imagine this is a stretch, given what I believe is the intention of this list, but I could not rightly complete the list without including, somewhere, at least a portion of the Bible. Anyway, I had to memorize the book of James during my senior year in high school. Doing so proved one of the most rewarding and far-reaching experiences I have ever had. I could not recite it for you now, but I feel that I have developed a connection with its words that is unique, inside my own reading experience.

3 books I've read more than once:

1. My Name is Asher Lev: That's right: twice on this list, more than twice read. What can I say? This book spoke to me.

2. The Art of War: Straight through, once. At least a couple more times, when you count the bits and pieces I've read again. I don't agree with all of it, but there is so much beauty and truth in it that I find it hard to keep it too far away. Parts resonate with the Beatitudes. Much of the rest resonates with my feeling that truth must be sought after wherever it may be found.

3. On Symbols and Society: Kenneth Burke was a genius. His ideas are mind-blowing. This book serves as an excellent primer and overview of his work, and it is always on my nightstand.

3 great books that I personally hated:

1. The Grapes of Wrath: I started reading East of Eden recently, and it made me wonder how I could have detested The Grapes of Wrath so when I read it in high school. Also, it made me wonder, if I could have loathed Steinbeck at that point, how did I end up an English major in college? I will definitely have to go back and read this one again, at which point it will qualify for the previous section of this list.

2. The Scarlet Letter: I'm not even really sure why. I might have to go back and read this one, as well, because the concept of the obnoxiously emblazoned "A" makes me think that a similar punishment should be enforced upon criminals - at least the ones who rape children, that sort of thing. The point being, I think the idea is pretty cool, and I imagine Mr. Hawthorne deserves another shot.

3. "The Death of Ivan Ilych": I know, it's just a short story. But, while reading it in college, it felt like a freaking book, so here it is. Just not my cup 'o tea, I suppose.

3 "Guilty Pleasures":

1. Any Dr. Seuss: The fact that this list centers around "great" literary works is the only reason I list this as a "guilty pleasure." The good doctor wrote what I have long felt are the best possible books for children learning to read. Plus, they have funny pictures.

2. Any Calvin & Hobbes collections: A six year old with a seemingly infinite vocabulary and his best friend is the imaginary personification of his stuffed tiger? I know it can't be found in the Penguin Classics or whatever, but what's not to love?!

3. "The New Yorker": Ok, so these three aren't exactly considered "great literature", so I guess I'm kind of cheating in this category. But the New Yorker, though wildly biased and, oddly, generally inclusive of fiction I do not enjoy, is always on the coffee table, open to an article about the Donnor Party or a Japanese animator or some such fascinating thing, which means I derive great pleasure from reading it, whether or not I "should".

3 great books I should have read, but haven't--not yet:

1. Ulysses: It's just too freaking huge and confusing. I mean, I know Joyce is (supposed to be) a genius, but I feel, as I leaf through the undisturbed pages of this book, as though I can tell the man was an alcoholic. Are sober people supposed to be able to decipher such thick, convoluted, near-gibberish prose? I doubt it. Even Joyce himself knew that people would be puzzling over it for centuries to come. Still, at some point, study aides in hand, I will tackle it. Oh, yes. I will.

2. The Brothers Karamazov: Again, just too freaking huge, only the prose (though in translation) is at least intelligible.

3. Pretty much anything by Kurt Vonegut: I know, you're asking yourself right now, "How, oh how, could you have gone through high school without reading Slaughterhouse Five?" The answer is, I have no idea. I've been told repeatedly I would love his writing, and yet still I delay. Ah, well. One day.

Labels: , ,