September 30, 2007
At 4pm today a man, a former US Ambassador to the UN, opened his mouth and suggested bombing a country.
It would make you wonder if a man could not find something far better to think or say at 4pm.
The mighty sock in the cakehole never seemed so promising.
May 7, 2007
Sat down next to gal on bus yesterday discussing her “finance” exam marks on a mobile phone. Pitiful assault on the ears as I am trying to get to grips with Mr Roth’s rumination on his losing his modern library collection and disappointing his mother or plucking the feathers out of a pigeon or peeling grapes or… that’s the point the endless humphing in my left ear about a 71 that should have been an 84 like, (that word is the equiv. of a blink in this dialect, it’s so overused) meant there was no possible way to ascertain anything from the pages of my book.
Conversations about finance marks are useless. I could appreciate you won’t come to my wedding, I have a strange worrying bump on my elbow, I don’t know which way I should vote, I only have three Christmas’s left, type conversations, but this was unfathomable, unnecessary and likely to continue for 25 bus stops.
I moved. Enraged. To the dangerous seats in the centre of the bus, which turn about, and I have been ejected from a couple of times.
On moving I note a woman who I thought might be a woman I recognize from theflower-shop, but because recognizing people aint my strongest skill I cannot be sure. Today I ran into her. Were you on that bus? She confirms she was sat there trying to repeat a Latin word for some obscure muscle or tendon in her head in an effort to drown it out.
Every time I see a mobile phone I think of Harold Pinter and his piece. Neither Literature nor Latin could tumble finance yesterday. I think the only thing for the job is sean-nos singing. One of these days I will pluck up the courage to breathe in and let a desperate ballad of unmitigated ugly wailing out from between my lips about a woman seeking a decent shampoo and set or a large bowl of pea soup. The notes will be long. One word sung in an elongated manner to mimic the husky exhales of a hungry donkey. The song belted out, will travel up that bus and every head shall turn. I will bear the excruciation of it, risk getting myself sectioned for the glory of a hurriedly uttered ”yeah gotta go man”.
February 21, 2007
Having only recently learned about the Jazz funeral and seen what it involves I can’t help wondering about the knees on the man (or woman?) who leads the procession. Also, in the various parades where they do the dipping dance. I have this resounding wonder about their knees and how they manage to support their body weight doing all those moves and not get trouble with their ligaments? The parades must go on for miles and yet they never loose the moves. Or perhaps the one I saw was a more adventurous dancer. In anycase it’s a great send off they give you.
February 20, 2007
Here’s a man who took his feelings to the source (Dick Cheney) and said what many people may have rehearsed to deliver to any number of gobshite politicians. This, however, was the bullseye of all possible recipients.
this clip features the part of the movie where Ben Marble, M.D. says “Go F*ck Yourself Mr. Cheney”
This clip is from Spike Lee’s When the levees broke — a four part requiem. If there was any justice a great deal of the people in that documentary would actually be elected representatives for you’d be hard pressed to find a more articulate and dignified group of people. When you see the indifference these people have suffered it would make you wonder if “to have known some kind of real suffering” should be a prerequisite before you can stand up and represent anybody. Just the way you can’t operate a blood pressure cuff without showing you’ve grasped biology. There’s a great soliloquy in one of the final acts from an activist Fred Johnson (?) where he points out who these politicians work for. It’s bang on because even now in the aftermath there’s next to nothing being done to help these people and throughout the film you get little sense of the people through the politicians. You hear the words: business, resources, state guard, federal, city, you even get the mayor describing taking a shower in Air Force 1, (verging on blasphemous in the context of what’s happening outside in the streets), yet very little reference to their people.
January 12, 2007
So wind chill and minus 16 turned out to be quite anti climactic. Small Puffin and myself dressed to the top of the hill, exit the building. Small Puffin exclaims in view of my front bite warning that’s it’s a bit steamy inside this get-up. Seconds later declares he’s blinded with the heat. I look across the road and see a bloke wandering along with his jacket wide open and no hat nor gloves. I have to declare the whole episode an over reaction as we fling off the face wrapping. Further confirmed later when I spot a woman working as a flag person (traffic director?) stood in this wind chill doing a crossword. I stop for a chat with her and we discuss roadworks. Do you know, she says eventually, I should have had my ex evicted out of the house we shared when we split because I’ll never be able to own another house. I wonder can it be possible to have this much clarity, if it really is -16 in the wind. Then note there is no wind which makes it only -6.
In the soiree we get enthused about the sledging potential. On the road I think small Puffin looks strange: why’s he got two thick hoods on back of his head? Closer examination reveals he’s accidentally placed two big winter coats on. I must have forgot he says mystified. I cannot fathom how he physically managed to get them on, not least because one is two sizes too small for him.
The park is strangely empty, except for two snowboarders. When pulling Puffin from one side to other to reach some semblance of a hill I finally understand what it is to be a horse travelling the roads of Derbyshire in some Jane Austen tome. It’s beautifully quiet though, snow shifting away from the wellies like flour. It’s not that dreadful slushy snow. Powder, I think they call it.
Since this blog has largely turned into tales of the Puffin and I walking along the road, due to the uneventful nature of anything literary, the use of the ‘s’ word in first paragraph will cause all kinds of problems, as sometimes people arrive at this blog with the most alarming search terms. It’s like a form of censorship. Have had to remove an article to try to divert the owners of that group of brain cells to some other corner of the web. (i.e the corner they are actually trying to reach!) Certain adjectives have me on edge. I am faint hearted. I’m sure people would say that’s the nature of blogging. Indeed there are far better candidates for it.
January 7, 2007
A spokeswoman said Mr Blair will make his views clear this week – and he’s expected to say the way in which Saddam was executed was “completely wrong – but it shouldn’t lead us to forget the crimes Saddam committed”
The man was hanged on Dec. 30th. Today it’s Jan 7th and it appears Mr Blair is still mulling over whether or not the circumstances of his execution were acceptable.
It seems likely Mr Blair has confirmed to the public a working memory problem to accompany his numerous other challenges chiefly with bending the facts to suit a situation and questionable music tastes.
December 4, 2006
So Charlie Rose somewhat put me off the brain, though I liked the pink model they had in the middle of the table. Every one should have one made at a certain age, with red dots that mimic the real state of our individual brains based on scans, so we can then point to it in difficult situations and say look its my x or x or x that’s playing up that’s why I forgot my purse to buy the food, or drove through that red light that looked orange or can’t get anywhere on time. Could be very useful for finding a mate: put your pink model on the table and compare and contrast compatibility.
I need to start more basic, so next stop will be the teenage brain. Found this Frontline series on PBS that one can view online: cannot vouch for it yet, as got distracted (red dot alert) by another one about the disgraceful response to Hurricane Katrina by FEMA and those other elected dozy does’ who did so little to help people in the aftermath.
It’s going to be a while before I’m cracking the neurology textbooks at this rate. I wish someone would publish an online “current bun” style guide to the brain and how it all computes up there. They should divert all this wasted money going into weapons in space into research into what’s going on upstairs instead.
December 3, 2006
I’m attempting, with a sincere and unfortunately limited disposition towards anything scientific, to get to grips with the brain. I’m tired of it all being a random bingo game above the neck. This multi story car-park set up that’s up there needs a few signposts.
I should point out that I’ve lived a life to this point of scientific blunder. This is not an exaggeration, but I’m not about to admit to the extent of it because I’ll never be gainfully employed again if I do!
The small puffin has a much better aptitude for science and so is always asking for clarification on things, that usually I cannot answer. There was some astonishment at the dinner table when I admitted it never occurred to me that snow was frozen rain. Politely put, I had a more poetic version of it I thought it just stuff nestling up there alongside whatever else is up there. Impolitely put, it probably equals a low IQ ! There was a terrible 12 hour pause when the small puffin was required to learn the time at school and I couldn’t exactly decide whether the earth rotated the sun or the sun the earth. Another parent, a doctor as it turned out, cleared it up for me with a slight degree of polite bemusement in the playground. Some folk may be appalled by such an admittance. Truly though these kinds of facts are simply missing from my lexicon or they just never occurred to me. They require a degree of logic than evades me. (I think it’s the same gene for cookery.)
It’s not all doom and gloom neurologically speaking since I can accurately recall the first prologue from Henry the Fourth part I (not the roman numerals in title though) that I read a full 20 years ago. Plus phrases in Indonesian and the handy question in Icelandic: have you got a car? (or maybe it’s: are you a car?) And in Hebrew: I am picking melons in a field (though the last time I uttered it the recipient said I had confused the word melon for breasts). I can also repeat nine numbers in reverse if someone says them forwards to me.
Useless skills ultimately, being able to cook a good omelette would be far more popular and practical. Also, if I am reading a book and a word gets repeated 200 pages later I notice. Doesn’t happen with my own work where a word can be repeated five times in the same sentence and I won’t see it. I intend to understand it all very soon, as I voyage into the neurological realm and have a quick picnic with logic. Handily, I came across Charlie Rose getting tres enthusiastic over the brain, round the table with a bunch of blokes who been perpetually excited about it. Subsequently there are a group of women discussing more specific aspects of brain function. You’ll have to bear with some of the ironic adverts.
For those who have long come to terms with the frontal lobe there’s Jimmy Carter and David Hare close by.
November 29, 2006
Any person living in a place where the temperature dips below zero should be paid a “cold person’s allowance” for the miserable, swish sound of plastic rain/snowpants, worn by necessity indoors and out, all bleedin’ day. How are coherent thoughts managed in these conditions? It’s only -7 to -18 here. The catcall that we aren’t used to it isn’t convincing. It’s unfathomable territory. We shouldn’t get used to it. Give it back to Toronto.
Apparently folks are underwhelmed by Quebec’s trot to nationhood
Outside Quebec, 77 per cent of Canadians rejected the idea the province forms a nation, suggested the Leger Marketing survey …
Among regional, linguistic and Liberal party breakdowns, French-speaking Quebeckers, at 71 per cent, were the only group to “personally consider that Quebeckers form a nation.”
I guess it’s not unusual to be at odds with 70 percent of the populus. Clearly that 70 percent have never tried to learn the bloody subjunctive tense in French because if they had they would immediately appreciate the effort req’d would warrant being rewarded with your own nation.
Besides what’s up with folks… it’s surely more interesting to be journeying to a new nation on your holidays. Consider “I am going on my holidays to Blackpool” or “I am off to visit the nation of Blackpool”.
The people of North Mayo, many of whom, are trying to stop the Shell gas pipeline proposed to run under their kitchen windows might be wishing they could too could form their own nation, where the Guards don’t batter them every morning and the government actually heeds their anxiety from the comfort of their posh houses in Rathgar.
Prime Time have a special on both the division and the misery it’s causing:
There’s a link on the right with more information about the campaign.
November 19, 2006
For days we have been on a city-wide boil water advisory after a significant storm last Wednesday, which put trees down and turned off the lights. Naturally everyone largely overreacted and got terribly excited about acquiring the last litre bottle of boiled water on the shop shelves. Curiously unnecessary since they only told us to turn on the kettle. I observed several advantages to the boil water advisory: First a distinct lack of that dreadful slurping noise one is accustomed to hearing in your left ear at the cinema. Yep no soda drinks sold in the cinema. Gracias. The unmentionable multinational coffee chain have had some service interruptions! Maybe now they’ll think twice and pay those Ethiopian coffee farmers the 23 cents per kilo they deserve rather than the 8 cents that is further impoverishing them.
See this film for more on the farmers: http://blackgoldmovie.com/
And finally an increase in charming notices pinned up in public places such as one yesterday at a deli that read “we are washing all our fruit and vegetables with bottled water.” It’s quite the irony that the water supply would not have been interrupted if we weren’t tinkering so violently with the entire weather system with all these green house gases. When you think about it if people weren’t driving these ridiculous gas guzzler cars, they’d be able to turn on the tap with confidence. So there’s this interesting warm arse = no clean water conundrum. There’s no telling them, as my mother would say.
November 16, 2006
So there I was admiring the way ice rinks can gather and maintain a smudge from every decade without having to bid any of it goodbye. The reason I was able to deduce such an astonishing conclusion was I was freezing my arse off in the bleachers, while my six-year-old puffin was zipping and twisting between grown, middle, and diddy men, women, children, pushchairs (indeed you can take your baby skating in the stroller, literally ice rinks adapt to every decade’s needs), wheelchairs. Somewhere out there was his father. Yours truly has only ever tried it twice, to little success and such intense discomfort in the foot region that I’m not tempted to repeat it. It’s perishing up there in the stands, with an electric heat strip hanging down in three spots, with no real heat ever reaching the top of your head. I was struck by how ice rinks refuse to cover up their age, so the hokey looking polar bear complete with woolly hat and ice hockey stick painted on the wall probably arrived in the 1970′s say. Then there’s the bunting flags which openly declare which season the various teams obtained them and finally the unapologetic soundtrack of Boney M bouncing the foot of the Grand-dad beside me, with mp3 player in his ears (Boney M overruled whatever was going on in the ears), and thermos at the ready, while his grandson skates alone below.
So out I meander to try warm the bloodflow at the desk and the woman explains she learnt to skate in this rink at age three and attended the preschool in the same building and oh, they’re ripping it down to build a fancy new one because of the impending Olympics. Drat and damnation I had been so uplifted at the prospect of revisiting the 1970′s, 80′s every Sunday and concluded the only other place which records the decades so proudly and incidentally in its walls is the outdoor swimming pool, which they’ve been threatening to destroy for two years. I wonder if the Boney M tapes will go into the same mush, when the bulldozers plough through the poor polar bear.
November 3, 2006
Well Kiran Desai is going to need that humility I mentioned: God help writers when the ever noble medja phones up your Aunt.
Residents of the Himalayan town featured in Kiran Desai’s Booker Prize-winning novel The Inheritance of Loss are upset over her portrayal of them.
Desai’s aunt recently told a magazine in India that she has not told people in the town of Kalimpong about her niece because “the book contains many insensitive things.”
Now the curious thing is where exactly can a writer write about without the inhabitants taking umbrage? Will we have to invent ungeographically placeable (forgive appalling grammar) cities, towns, humps in the road. A generic lego-town where no beggar (meaning general person, not person clutching a bowl) can get offended. To say nothing of the peril of having to write only inoffensive characters who do nothing wrong or perhaps do nothing at all. Is it the onset of the blank page in publishing…
In the meantime be careful what you say to your Aunt when she’s beside you at next years Christmas dinner, birthday, family get together, if you run into her when collecting your contraceptive prescription, buying a shoelace. They’re powerful creatures … they don’t mince words.
I once had a conversation with my Aunt while watching telly (I had a broken jaw at the time so perhaps conversation is an exaggeration) in which I professed an interest in watching a video nation piece about this mad looking Morris dancer who worked for the Council that was three minutes long. Rubbish, she said, it’s Saturday night, I want to watch a quiz show. I’m will be glad I had a broken jaw if the papers ever phone her for a quote.
November 2, 2006
Here’s Kiran Desai on her Booker winning novel: The Inheritance of Loss:
“I don’t think it’s a perfect book,” she says of her second novel, The Inheritance of Loss. “There are bits that seem too slow or too fast. And in some places, I don’t think it works at all.”
Frankly, I think the woman deserved to win on her humility alone and patience sitting at the kitchen table for eight years. It’s uplifting to see writers win who have that dazed, “behind closed curtains for many years” look about them, rather than the chumped up, “I’m pleased with myself on a Monday afternoon whether I win a book prize or not” alternative. There’s no science to a book prize, if there were, books could come with literary steriods such as: yellow ribbons, fifty dollars slipped in the back, nude snaps of authors head on a better body, petrol coupons, green shield stamps for those hoping a 1970′s vibe might swing it for them, or low income tax returns with long overdue bills attached — the mercy inducing steroid. It’s got to be as random as choosing a hamster in a cage of thirty.
November 1, 2006
ok so, I cannot understand blogging. It’s like learning a dialect spoken by a remote group of chickens and rather like having to read the instructions on a new camera. It’s very unlikely I will ever grasp exactly what all these peculiar sounding words (avatar? er?sound like a bus pass to go on board the Starship Enterprise.) actually mean or do. So it’s very likely that my posts will be higgledy-piggeldy. On a completely different note: leafblowers. En route to the school two men in hats and scarfs blow leafs and get paid to do so. They blow leafs right into my small face. They turn the blowers away with an appropriate extended glower, but the dust still lines the bottom of my eyes. More importantly what’s the point? I heard a woman say once: they can destroy a lawn And? If a lawn gets destroyed? So armies of men and women and concerned citizens blow leafs from garden to passerby’s face en route to a black plastic bag. Meanwhile the earth heats up beyond anything imaginable. Al Gore walks out on stage to give his speech to the folks. People plug in leaf blowers. It’s like the language of blogging. Somehow I am missing the details. I need to read that book of instructions.
November 1, 2006
The promised and much appreciated Pamuk essay is still missing in action, but have come upon some other nuggets to get your eyes around in the meantime. First http://www.nybooks.com/articles/18991 is Pamuk’s “Pen Arthur Miller Freedom to Write lecture” which amongst other things mentions Pinter and Istanbul traffic.
<p> Also, http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/07/28/opinion/edpamuk.php this piece has a wonderful part:
In the 1970s, when my mother asked, “Who are you writing for?” her mournful and compassionate tone told me she was really asking, “How are you planning to support yourself?”
okay so, this part about the mother I fathom, (“roger Mrs Pamuk”) I’m a mother and mother’s often say unhelpful things to their offspring. Today my first born reminded me “it’s not fair you get to chose pillows.” He has a point. It’s taken thirty-five years and numerous disappointments, but the height of my privilege includes choosing a pillow.
The next bit however…
When friends asked me who I wrote for, they were mockingly suggesting that no one would ever want to read a book by someone like me
Jaysus, well not sure if he’s still running with that gang but they may not be getting the invite to come over for the Nobel prize tea-party. Most incredibly, how did the man manage to persist in writing his books. Bad and all as it is, one expects one’s family to take a dim view on most pursuits sauf say gardening or jobs with pensions but your friends, amigos. Lordacious indeed. Given most writers spend life indoors one can only hope the mockingly suggestive encounters were minimized by the 10 hours a day at the desk which you’ll be able to read about once I locate the link to that blessed article I rambled about earlier.
October 31, 2006
Orhan Pamuk had an essay in this weekends Guardian (www.guardian.co.uk) describing why he writes .. called something like the Implied Author. This isn’t a great kick off for a blog since er.. I cannot find the blessed thing to link to it.
Anyhow if indeed you do find it consider the words “Glory be.. has anyone ever said it better.” I did wonder if one needed to be living in Istanbul to find it quite that lyrical. It’s certainly not that poetic at the uncomfortable, but classy blue kitchen table here in these parts.