Monday, December 17, 2012

2012.12.17 — 30k and Counting to Pi and Puke, Naming and a Coq fushigis*

On December 14, 2008 I posted my first blog with the inauspicious title 2008.12.14. That means I've been blogging for exactly four years to the week, despite my expressed concern on that blog about not having anything to say because everything that can be said has already been said.

Well, this morning, 4 years and 3.14159 days from that first blog post, my two blogs have had, combined, the 30,000th page view. Thirty thousand! When I first started, I was ecstatic with even one! Thank you everyone for making this happen, the one time hitters and especially the regulars who, with an apparent streak of masochism and/or a perverse humour, keep coming back. [I just checked the count before posting this: the official count is 30, 089.]

I was going to just post the milestone, but a small fushigi jumped in to pervert that. Okay, that and the funny fushigi that it was early in the morning 3 days after the 1 year anniversary, (3.14159… days? LoL!)

And, okay, my going back to re-read that blog created in itself a small fushigi. Doubly funny because the fushigi's genesis came from the amazingly talented Gregory Charles. (I loved his radio show, one of my all time favourites ever!) The show he broadcast on that day had as its theme Secret, during which Charles discussed that (some) ancient philosophers posited the existence in the universe of a secret melody. And why I find this doubly funny, is that my previous post, 2012.12.16 — Pi Fight it? 3.1416 Fushigis* and an Also Ran Poem, had a fushigi-connection to my current favourite CBCR2 show, The Signal and the number pi and the music of pi and a movie about a musician who falls in love with a girl named Pi.

When I looked for the musical expression of the number pi because Laurie Brown of The Signal had played it, I came across a peculiar YouTube video called The Miracle of 528 Hz Solfeggio and Fibonacci numbers. It makes the argument that certain secret 'musical' frequencies, once 'lost' (????) but now un-lost, are being used by scientists— [interrupted @ 3:30pm by ML to prep oranges and then make supper.]

Now supper is done, and the dishes too. Question: how to write this next bit? While cutting the peel off of a bag full of oranges and then cutting them into chunks, ML turned on the TV. She was watching trailers for future movies on the movie channel.
One of them was for an Alvin and the Chipmunks' movie. I wasn't paying attention so I didn't know until later that it is for something called Chipwrecked. What caught my fushigi-ear was when one of the monks, not Alvin, said "I'm going to puke". What was fushigi significant about that is that I was flipping through my stacks of fushigi stickies and near the top of the pile was one about, of all things, puke from various people and of different kinds. See image of fushigi sticky note.

@ 7:05pm I interrupted this blog write in order to write a letter to RoMA in Goodreads. He had replied to my request to post some of his Haiku, and I wanted to acknowledge his okay. While writing the letter he commented about having seen only two of my shortlisted poems. So I mentioned 'Cotton for Comfort', and that I'd recorded it. I went to SoundCloud to get him the link. In my SoundCloud list, I have two readings of Comfort. R4 didn't satisfy me and so I listened to R3, which I like better. As I was creating the link and the text in the e.mail to RoMA the next reading in the list played. And so I listened with half an ear while composing my letter to what I think is one of my better poems, What Cannot be Expressed. And as the end is coming up, I am surprised to remember that the narrator pukes! The poem's last line is .../as my body heaved its stomach wordlessly into the muck and its mud splattered books." This poem was published and originated from a photographic prompt in the Houseboat Blog, for December 19, 2012. There was created another poem from that image, which is very fine. Anyway, here is the text of:
What Cannot Be Expressed

Far from urbane strictures, while in yet another distant and impoverished land,
I was contentedly alone and self-contained in a noisy crowded decrepit bus when,
as if from a great distance, I thought I heard a kind of drumming I did not recognize.

I paused, stopped reading, marked my page. I looked out the dirty window and,
unexpectedly, I remembered the wet summer day I read on a VW van's bumper sticker
'live life as a tourist.'
I was a young man then. Because I could read, I thought I understood.
And, when I did become that well-booked tourist, I thought I was happy.

The bus slowed at a corner crowded with colourfully-dressed ebullient villagers.
Behind them my word-drunk eyes mistook the makeshift grain-bag windbreak as a soiled deconstructed yin-yang art-piece.
I laughed at how easily the eye is fooled by false appearance and because the book in my hands was the I Ching.
With a bemused shake of my head at this odd coincidence I returned to the book, where I read
Writing cannot express words completely.
Words cannot express thoughts completely.
At that moment the stony weight of verbiage I had made myself blind to fled my fluttering heart.
In an animal panic I pushed my way past the press of shoulders and jabs of elbows.
With my hands grasping my mouth and books I stumbled down the bus's step-well
and crashed though the rickety doors to splash down on the rain-soaked earth.

Now silent, the villagers' heads turned and their eyes watched my hands flail uselessly
as my body heaved its stomach wordlessly into the muck and its mud splattered books.
On the sticky note I have noted M's 'puking cat Haiku.' When I went and did the research, it turns out that that was a funny addendum, because he'd written them a couple of months before the date on the note. But the Haiku are funny, nonetheless, so here's the link to them for the curious: 2012.06.19.

2012.12.19 Addendum
I sat down after supper and turned on the TV to see if there was anything interesting being broadcast. Eventually I stop on a Sarah Jessica Parker movie I Don't Know How She Does It. The best of a poor listing! I think the movie was about halfway through. The character played by SJP has been scratching her head during some kind of sales pitch with Olivia Munn to Pierce Brosnan.
She gets a text saying her child has been found to be infected with lice. When SJP's assistant, Olivia Munn, learns that, she say's 'I think I'm going to puke.'

And, now, near the end of this post, I return to the
Gregory Charles' Secret frequencies fushigi: the claim made on the video is that particular frequencies use by Gregorian chanters can promote health and other physiological effects. They make specific reference to scientists using a frequency to heal DNA (I think). Anyway, a subtle aspect of this fushigi is that, if you haven't heard him, Charles is a musical prodigy: he, like a magical sponge, remembers every note of music he hears, it seems, and can replay it. Listening to his show was like listening to pure musical genius, musical magic, if you will.

2012.12.18 Post 17th Addendum.
I had meant to blog this yesterday, but as it was being written yesterday's post went sideways. So, here is a post post fushigi addendum, comprised of some of what I'd wanted to blog originally.

I visited my one 'secret', meaning private, Goodreads' membership, called The Boathouse, which is a collection of about 20 amazing poets, some famous, and by some weirdness in life, me. I have been so busy with work and with the WSS that I've not been a regular there. However, on the 15th, I popped in because, I guess, the WSS was slow and because I am on vacation and had some free time. So I visited a post by Ruth Bavetta.
She was looking for our response to a list of proposed titles for a book of poetry. I had a bit of fun with the list, and morphed some of the elements from the various proposals into one title, on the 15th.

The next day, I continued my perusal of Stanley Park, and was bemused to read of a series of critical path issues, i.e. a list, associated with making happen the opening of a restaurant. But that isn't what caught my fushigi-ear, originally. Only was when I was re-hashing it while doing this blog that I caught that. No, what originally caught my fushigi-ear is:
Critical Path Issue #2 had been fabrics, a half-hour discussion that evolved directly into yet another debate about suitable names. This topic had been open for days, but market research had come up with a final proposal (294-5).
And what Ruth had been doing, of course, was critical debate and market research, because the group was being polled for their opinion.

And, I've thrown this one in here,
despite the odd date, because the fushigi sticky note was attached to the cover of Stanley Park as one I hadn't got to yet. I attached it to the book yesterday, when going through my old fushigi stickies because it is about food and SP is about a chef and food and cooking. Anyway, way back, on the 29th of August I saw on the TV show Chopped one of the contestants make coq au vin.

On the 30th I was standing in line behind a man in a wheel chair. He
was having a struggle with getting his groceries attached to the back of his wheel chair: the cashier was having a hard time figuring out how to get everything hung without the bags rubbing against the wheels. During the course of the engagement he mentioned that he was going to the wine store next to get the wine he needed to make coq au vin. In 35 years of buying groceries I've never heard any mention making coq au vin.

So, a bizarre, interweaved, nonsensical story that goes nowhere, like the end of pi. And that is, I believe, a perfect celebration of my blogs' milestone.

2012.12.16 — Pi Fight it? 3.1416 Fushigis* and an Also Ran Poem

Like many fushigis this one started before I knew it was one. It began with Laurie Brown playing The Sound of Pi on her show The Signal on CBCR2. [The song I've linked to here is an interesting version on YouTube. But I'm not sure if it is the same one that was broadcast because the playlist for the weekend hasn't been posted yet.]

Well, yesterday afternoon ML turned on a British movie that had caught her eye. By happenstance I was in the living room when she turned to it, and The Oxford Murders became an engaging 104minutes. (It was lambasted — mistakingly as far as I'm concerned — every which way and sidewise on the Rotton Tomatoes review .) What initially engaged me was the early scene in which the brash young student (played by Elijah Wood), stands up to confront the bombastic professor, who has argued that truth is unknowable."I believe in the number pi." i.e. the absolute truth of numbers. The professor, played by John Hurt, with the ease of much practices, turns the argument against the brass student.

When I watched the movie I did not remember the unusual reference to pi in the previous day's musical playlist. That click didn't happen until today, when ML, after her nap, turned on the TV and stumbled into a movie called Lullaby for Pi. The female protagonist, played delightfully by Clémence Poésy, took on the name Pi. She had it tattooed around her belly button and added an additional digit past the period every time she learns something about herself.
I loved the quirkiness of this love story. I thought it was excellent from all aspects: filmography, direction, acting, writing. Co-stars include Rupert Friend and the always brilliant Forest Whitaker.

Now for some self indulgence, but one with the smallest of thematic links to the theme of this fushigi post. It is a poem I wrote that was shortlisted for December's Poetry contest on Goodreads. (Caution: some self promotion follows.) With it I had two poems two months in a row short-listed, which is remarkable. But also remarkable is that it is the first Haiku I've seen short-listed in Amy King's competition and finally, that means I had a total of three poems short-listed in 2012!

Okay, enough self-congratulations. Here's the poem:

Blinded by the light
the enlightened monks mistook
the full moon for truth.
And, if the thematic link is too obscure, it goes back to Oxford Murders and the problem of mistaking what is or is not true. In Oxford Murders, this theme is a complex overlay, being explicitly stated by the philosophy professor, and then being played out in the red herring filled murder mystery where every 'truth' is flipped around.

2012.12.17: Addendum
I have decided to close this blog with the genesis of my almost ran Haiku. It begins with the Haiku Game thread in the WSS. In the game, the Haiku is connected in some manner to the one previously written. This has become, often, extremely funny and very clever. Quite often some excellent Haiku are born. And with that, I would like to introduce you to a nascent and perhaps prodigious Haiku-er by the name of Ryan. He introduced himself into the Haiku game with an interesting and well constructed effort that was also imaginative and beautiful in its imagery. So, the birth of a nearly competition winning Haiku as team Haiku sport:
So long a-slumber
Dreaming of rhymes, from her shroud
The butterfly burst
        Ryan 2523

The chrysalises,
with eyes closed and rem twitching,
dozed by the dozens.
        egajd 2525

Eyes moved rapidly,
yet sleep fled without warning.
A new day dawning.
        Ryan 2527

With eyes on the prize
The surprised young butterflies
Slept with other guys.
        egajd 2528

Though moths are easy
and sometimes breezy, they know
only one madman.
        Ryan 2531

Blinded by the light
the enlightened moths mistook
the full moon for truth.
        egajd 2532

A solitary
note. The lone wolf's howling voice
worships the cold light.
        Ryan 2534

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

2012.12.10 — Dripping Noses and Skin Colour: Two Small fushigis*

Today was a day of two weird, tiny fushigis. I guess I am feeling a bit bored, tonight, and so here I am blogging them.

The first begins with a drippy nose in the WSS game, called TPBM (The Person Bslow Me).

Post# 2295:
TPBM's nose keeps running and he/she is very annoyed with it.
Nothing special. But later that day, I heard a pre-news news announcement. The tag line was something like
"Have you had a drippy nose that doesn't seem to want to clear up? Well, a woman had a constantly dripping nose for months and wait until you learn what was finally determined to be the cause."
I didn't turn on the news to get the scoop on the drip, but it struck me as amusing enough that I noted it on one of my fushigi sticky pads.

The other began last night. I stumbled into a CNN broadcast of Defining 'Black' In America, which is a part of the series called Black in America. The host for the Sunday (2012.12.09) show was Soledad O'Brien. I haven't seen any of this series before, and I do not even clearly remember having heard of it before. I suspect that I must have, but dismissed it out of hand In part, I imagine, because I do not respect CNN very much and because I have, rightly or wrongly, been completely un-impressed by O'Brien as either a reporter or anchor (or whatever she is).

But, for whatever reason, I caught the title and the opening without being aware that I was on CNN, or watching a CNN series, while I was flipping through the stations looking for something to catch my interest. Well, what caught my eye on this show was the poetry I was seeing spoken by two young women, and then later, a university professor. I learned a new, bizarre, word: colorize, as it applies to people. (I went to find it on a google search, but came up empty.) I found the state of American social intelligence to be extremely depressing, in this show. And didn't watch it to the end, in part because I didn't find the direction of the questions and exploration of the issues to be fruitful. Perhaps it's what America needs, given that I have seen them arguing about removing Mark Twain from syllabuses because he used the word 'nigger' in his writing.

Anyway, I'm not here to critique America's racial madness, nor solve the problems of skin colour in the world. But what got me writing this fushigi blog was that this evening, December 10th, I visited Gareith's blog My Continuing Education: A Rich Jewel in an Ethiop's Ear. And it was about the lack of black images to accompany text in literature that includes black people. Gareth sites Shakespeare and Coleridge. And the painting The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch.
(It struck me as interesting that my quick look at this massive painting did not reveal to me obvious black men, just the few woman shown here, and another one elsewhere.)

Okay, the final reason for my including this as a fushigi is that the silly and inane television show, TMZ, which I guess originated as a web page, was looking at Dutch Christmas practices. In point of fact they were kind of making fun of the Dutch Christmas having something / someone called Black Peter (Zwarte Piet), who accompanies St. Nicholas to take away the bad kids. And TMZ was also poking fun at American racial hypocrisy, by pointing out that they still have a football team called 'The Redskins'.

As I said, two tiny fushigis, but ones I find amusing.

Addendum 2012.12.11 7:45pm
Well, the world continues strange. Tonight for no well defined reason and, if truth be told, in complete contradiction to what ostensibly is demanding I write and bake, I decided to re-watch the brilliant movie Groundhog Day for the first time in five or six years.

I was amused when within the film the skin fushigi was once again extended. This is what I wrote as a comment on Gareth's blog My Continuing Education:
Hello Gareth. Once again one of your posts that interested me also managed to attach itself to a tiny synchronicity in my life. I've blogged it @ Dripping Noses and Skin Colour - Two Small Fushigis.

And that got extended tonight when I watched Groundhog Day, again for maybe the 5th time. However, tonight I noticed something I hadn't before, and that is that the ER Nurse, an Afro-American, had pearl or silver earrings.

Now to your comment about finding images: I went to find an image of this scene on the web, and was unable to find any Groundhog Day images with her or that scene. Nor, as it turns out, in the movie/celebrity web sites. The name of the acrtress is Dianne B. Shaw. I did find a fuzzy image of a Diane Shaw singing Blue Moon on Youtube which has the silver/white on black skin.
Bemusing. Maybe.

2012.12.012 Sigh: Another Addendum — but stretching it!
I turned on CBCR2's The Signal, and the host, Laurie Brown introduced the next musician as: "If David Bowie were a black female, he might sound like this. This is M'shell NDEGEOCELLO and Rapid Fire.
And Brown was quite correct! Except that Ndegeocello is quite a bit better than Bowie I think. Okay, not quite good enough to fushigi, but on the off chance I wondered if there would an image of Ndegeocello with pearl or silver jewellery — maybe even earrings, to help Gareth out. And, yes! And quite an interesting ear 'ring', too. I think I've just discovered someone new to me to listen to!

And, with this beautiful image, it has been elevated into fushigi-hood. And I will go and provide the link to Gareth.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

2012.12.01 — Anna Russell and Kris Boyd and Lamb Stew: Three Tiny Fushigis*

I have no idea how to begin this fushigi blog, except with a half-hearted apology on behalf of capital 'L' Life that slaps our faces with the strangest juxtapositions. So, I'll begin with the third of the three fushigis first.

Third of Three
I walked into my favourite local shop this morning to buy bread, meat and vegetables. I moved to the meat counter at the back of the store. Talking to Oxford, the butcher, was a woman I recognized from the memorial service for Kris Boyd that the three of us went to last year.

"Hello," I said to her. She looked at me. "Hello," she said. "I remember you."

"And I remember you. We sat together with Oxford at Kris's memorial."

"That's right!" she said.

Oxford piped in to re-introduce us. "Troy, this is Bill. Bill this is Troy." And then he added, "Did you know that it is one year ago on Monday that Kris was murdered?"

And I had forgotten. When I got home I confirmed that it is noted on the flip side of my weekly day planner. I would have looked at it on Monday, when I pre-view the upcoming week's events.

What makes this meeting of the three of us again so remarkable is that I remember that Troy lives across the lane from the store and visits it kind of like it is her extended pantry. I am in that store at least once a week, but frequently two or three times in a week. And today was the first day that I saw her in the store, within a few days of the anniversary of our first meeting as strangers because of the premature death of a mutual friend who worked with Oxford. And in the store, we re-met with Oxford. Weird.

Second of Three
This fushigi began with a newspaper item that ML brought to my attention to read on 2012.11.29. Pirates stays shipshape in 21st century: Gilbert and Sullivan operetta is as fresh and funny now as it was to Victorian audiences.

Within the piece is a reference to Anna Russell.
(A recommendation for those feeling the need for a quick course in G&S, Anna Russell, the Canadian comedienne of a bygone era, has a sly turn known as A Formula for Writing a Gilbert and Sullivan Opera, which you can listen to on YouTube [@ How to Write a Gibert & Sullivan Opera]; it's just as insightful as her notorious introduction to Wagner's Ring Cycle.)
I had to pause and really stretch my memory as to why that name rang a bell. Aha! I remembered that a long time ago — more than five years anyway — one of the CBCR2 radio hosts would broadcast her operatic satires occasionally. It was long enough ago that I've forgotten who would broadcast them.

Today, 2012.12.01, while driving during chores in the morning, I started up the car to head back home, and I heard today's host of This is My Music, already well into the show, introduce Anna Russell's satire of the French art song: Schlumph" & "Je N'Ai Pas la Plume de Ma Tante. And here's the link to the
impressive bio of today's host, which I learned later, long after I got home and made time to create this blog, was Janina Fialkowska.

To be honest, the name Janina Fialkowska meant nothing to me before today. But her hosting this show has changed that because unlike many of the hosts of this series, she seemed completely grounded and down to earth.
Her hosting was easy and lacked pretension. I was impressed when she played KD Lang's Olympic Games cover of Leonard Cohen's amazing song Halleleujah.

And when I came back into the car, I'd thought my radio had lost its mind because, when I turned it on, Rush was filling the air waves. But no, Janina had included them on her playlist because she has become friends with them after they met when they were given the Governor General's Award in March of 2012. Unfortunately I'm not a big
enough fan of Rush to know which song she played — I only caught the last minute or two — but for those who don't know them, they are a hugely successful lyrical pure rock band that are ranked third in total album sales behind The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Here's one of their biggest hits, Tom Sawyer from 1993, with over 9 million views since being uploaded to YouTube Aug 2007.

And, since I have now become aware of Janina, here's her playing Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 21, chamber version.

First of Three
For a variety of reasons including but limited to mild food poisoning and a dysfunctional work re-organization, this was a rough week for me. And so, on Tuesday
(2012.11.27) I decided to read something lighter than Chomsky's World Orders Old and New, which has gotten particularly grim. And so I decided to resume Stanley Park by Timothy Taylor. It was given to me by my friend NR and is set in my town. On Thursday I read an innocuous food description. (The book is about a Vancouver chef.)
… But when she cooked dinner that night, it had been a stew of lamb marinated in yoghurt and lemon juice. An old recipe, an open tribute (38).
Well, for the first time in 33 years of being together, my wife had decided on Wednesday (2012.11.28) that we would cook a lamb stew. So, on Thursday we did. After reading a half dozen recipes, the recipe she made included yoghurt and lime leaves.

It was delicious, although very rich.

Addendum 2012.12.03
At 10:02 pm I posted a Haiku chain within the Haiku Game, a thread in the Weekly Short Stories group in Goodreads. it was post # 2806. The poem is a play off the previous few poems, so it is a bit out of context here:
The dead pan mourner
Lightened her lips with the taste
Of pressed apple skins.

grappa she sipped
Burned with the pain the grapes felt
at their being pressed.

The ice rink that was
Sank into the thawed mud pond
With what was once hard;

The skates that once swung
In the hands of the tall girl
became with her ghosts

Walking the knife's edge,
edging towards a wakeful
leap off the cliff's face

Hunting sunlight's ghosts,
the fragments of memory
danced like fruit flies.
Before going to bed, I did my usual fifteen to twenty minutes of pre-bed reading, and was amused to read, from, once again, Stanley Park:
… but now Jules looked over at him in a way she intended to communicate dissatisfaction, confirm she didn't find canned peaches minor.

"I have them [guinea hens] soaking in peach juice and some
grappa," he said, sounding guilty already (although he continued to lay out his phyllo). "I'm going to grill them with fennel seeds. I stole it from Umberto" (95).
Yes, this is a small one, but an amusing one.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

2012.11.03 — Will the Listing Never End? A List of Listing Fushigi*

This extends the listing fushigis begun
with my poem What's Left but the Bones: Cotton for Comfort Redux blogged 2012.10.27 and connected to Gareth's blog My Continuing Education.

Recap from 2012.10.29:
In my poem I play with the world "list":

In so far as my skeleton is sensate,
I feel compelled to embrace Sei Shonagon's Pillow Book* cant
and list my listlessness
as follows:
cross bones, tomb stones,
head stones, hearth stones, heart stones.
Cajones, nerve, verve.
*It has been called a book of lists, because Shonagon included lists of all kinds.
Well, it so happened that when I posted that poem I visited Gareth's blog and discovered that a few days earlier he'd blogged The Romance of Lists. So I add to his interesting lists with my poem and the following comment:
Gareth, stumbling across this list made my list of funny synchronicity-petites that I list in my blog because I recently wrote a poem that played with the meaning of lists. Before I post that, some of the most fascinating lists are those of the debt records of Sumer which were almost without doubt the genesis of written language. (The musical genius David Byrne comments on this in his book Bicycle Diaries, which is also a kind of list.)

Also fascinating are the lists of values in the Irish Barbarian Codes, for example. Included in them was the value of the (slave) milk-maids as a means of payment.

Anyway, my playing with lists was a direct reference to Sei Shōnagon's amazing The Pillow Book, which is also known for being a book of lists.
So, a nice tiny but satisfying fushigi.

That got extended two days later when I opened up the just purchased gem, On Literature by Umberto Eco. I sat and held the book and after taking a couple of breaths allowed it to open to where it felt fit. I was on pages 70-1. On each page were lists. Page 70 contains the end of a list of un-transposable aphorisms by Austrian writer Karl Krause. The second half contains the transposable aphorism, which Eco calls "sins".

Examples of un-transposable:
Mad people are definitively recognized as such by psychiatrists because after being interned they exhibit agitated behaviour.

The sinful transposable:
Nothing is more unfathomable than the superficiality of a woman.

Nothing is more superficial than the unfathomability of a woman.
But what put this into my List fushigi was page 71:
The only paradoxes that almost never seem to be transposable are those by Stanislaw J. Lec. Here is a short list from his [book] Mysli nieuczesane (Uncombed [Unkempt] Thoughts)[, which I have in turn shortened here]:
If one could only pay the death penalty by sleeping through it in installments!

I dreamed of reality:
what a relief to wake up! [This is funny, because it connects to the story I recently wrote One Day in a Coffee Shop].

He possessed knowledge, but was unable to make her pregnant.

In his modesty he considered himself an incurable scribbler. But he was actually just an informer.

I dreamed of Freud. What does that mean?

He had a clean conscience: he had never used it.

Even in his silence there were grammatical mistakes.
Finally, tonight, 2012.11.03, I did a post instruction clean-up of my office space. I put away my reference and research books, papers,
etc. I also decided it was time to dump some of my old books that I wouldn't ever read. I have long since run out of space for my new finds, and took this re-shelving requirement as an opportunity to purge. One of the books I put into the purge list, but then pulled it out again, was People's Almanac Presents the Twentieth Century: History with the Boring Bits Left Out/Revised and Updated by David Wallechinsky. Nothing special in that, except that the cover of the book contains a reference to a 'famous' previous work: "Author of the Best-Selling Book The Book of Lists.

But it seems that the connection with Gareth is particularly strong right now, because a few days later I read his post, dated 2112.11.01, "Instructions" by Neil Gaiman. It is a beautiful poem that describes the process of living out the path of individuation through mythological analogy.

That stood out because a few days earlier I read the following in the WSSCC:

off topic, i somehow sense that this thread doesn't have a particular topic so i assume that it is safe to share anything here..
have you heard about Neil Gaiman's project? The All Hallows Read.. it was started about 2 years ago.. it is a tradition wherein people can give or exchange horror books with others, friend or stranger.. it is done to promote reading and happens only on the week of Halloween.. maybe we can do it here in the club as well.. though we can only share ebook formats.. :)
here is the link if you want to learn more:

And, finally, a few days before that was posted Ruthie's entry into the WSS Week 142 Poetry Stuffage Contest Macabre.
something inspired from The Graveyard Book (Neil Gaiman):

Dansa de la Muerte

Sound off the trumpets!
As far as I know, until this week I don't remember having seen this writer's name before.

Monday, October 29, 2012

2012.10.29 — Another Brush with Success: Newton's Figs. — The Latest Last Place Poem

A while ago, in one of these blogs, I promised myself I would blog poems that achieved some kind state of publication, near or otherwise. Well, I was pleasantly surprised when out of the blue a 'throw away' poem I posted in Amy King's (Goodreads') Monthly poetry competition was in fact shortlisted. Callooh, callay, oh frabjous day!

Well, it appears that I only farted. Again. My latest shot at reaching the top in final round competitive poetry will have to wait for another day. I am a dead and distant last in the voting. And so as needs be I will take whatever solace I can, and some sense of accomplishment, at being picked from over 250 other entries. So here is:

Newton's Figs.
I know, I know, I've bleated this blah blah before.
Your eyeballs roll backwards yet again.
No more will I pray to reason's god
for a chink in its armour through which
we can squeeze the motes of living unpredictability.
The strength to be still,
the courage to mute unsounded truths
that ache with a heart's loss,
not to the flatulent many,
but to the miasma of a squared world
well rested in Newton's figs.
This was a poem I tossed off as a mild rebuke to a group within which I am a member, and which had become bogged down with trying to 'logically' choose new members. I found the conversation had been enervated by trying to build a 'rational-focused' review best of and voting methodology. I suggested that what might be interesting would be something grounded in the same kind of synchronicity that was very much a part of this group coming together in the first place.

No, my idea was rejected with silence. Twice. Newton's Figs. is my homage to William Blake's Newton's Sleep:
Blake tried to show the blindness of this [Newton’s] orientation to nature; and nowhere did he say it better than in his verse letter to Thomas Butts (1802):
Now I fourfold vision see,
And a fourfold vision is given to me;
‘Tis fourfold in my supreme delight
And threefold in soft Beulah’s night
And twofold always. May God us keep
From single vision & Newton’s sleep!
Berman, Morris. The Re-Enchantment of the World. Toronto: Bantam Books, in conjunction with Cornell University Press, 1984, pp.122-3.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

2012.10.27 — The Loneliness of the Whale and a Pile of Bones: Moby Dick, a Morgue and Balloons — Some Fushigis*

It's been over a month since I've blogged anything. I was very busy completing the text for the anti-economics courses I gave earlier this month. And, even as I was panicking with getting everything done in time, I was experiencing plenty of fushigis, which I didn't properly document even on the expanding pile of sticky notes.

But in the last few days, with the courses completed, I was hit by a couple of particularly interesting ones, Not outstanding in themselves, but their clustering has made them interesting. [And the clustering continued even the following day before I could finish this post.] And, of course, it is always nice to have a [Carl] Jung-like synchronicity petite, and so, that is what I'll begin with.

2012.10.19 Friday
At work I bumped into BH, one of my students from Banks Skanks, which had had it's last class the night before. I was a bit concerned that I'd been a bit too wordy in the lecture, because I'd cited from a range of sources old and contemporary. BH assured me that it was fun, although it went a bit quick. 'But,' she added, 'the discussion was good afterwards.'

When I asked how she found the material, she said that, paraphrased, somehow it made her feel a little bit lonely. 'That is,' I said, 'one of the first signs of the beginning of wisdom.' Then I added, 'Jung talks about this, here and there, in his complete works.'

That night, feeling a bit restless about the books I was currently reading, I meandered upstairs, with no particular goal in mind, attending for one book from the more than a thousand books I have scattered in the thirty-two shelves of books to call out to me. Well, I gravitated to the Jung section, and from the three shelves of books I have there I chose a slim volume that I hadn't read before,

It is the self-described 'Short Introduction' to Jung by Anthony Stevens titled Jung in the 'Past Masters' series by Oxford University Press, New York. Well, I was very surprised when, on page one, I read the following:
He had to keep faith with the truth as he saw it, and it was not his fault if this led him into realms of theory and experience which were deeply at variance with the prejudices and preoccupations of his time. 'I feel it is the duty of one who goes his own way to inform society of what he finds on his voyage of discovery,' he wrote.
Not the criticism of individual contemporaries will decide the truth or falsity of these discoveries, but future generations. There are things that are not yet true today, perhaps we dare not find them true, but tomorrow they may be. So every one whose fate it is to go their individual way must proceed with hopefulness, and watchfulness, ever conscious of their loneliness and its dangers (p1 citing CW Vol.II, par. 201 my emphasis).
As I said, a small fushigi at best, with the smallest of links to loneliness.

2012.11.24 Addendum: Later, Stevens re-emphasizes Jung's perception of being lonely because of being aware:
The solitary crusader is the Christian soldier, marching as to war. He has a goal, a destiny which he has no choice but to fulfill. It is an image of what Jung was to become, not as a Christian but as a man. 'If a man knows more than others, he becomes lonely' he wrote at the end of his life (93).

Later that day [Friday the 19th], I began to write a poem that I posted in the WSS on:

2012.10.20 Saturday night
The 141st WSS Weekly Short Story topic was Morgue. After my class-work-necessitated absence from the WSS poetry writing contests I decided to write a poem. The topic brought to mind the Cadaver topic poem I wrote a few months ago, as the morgue was a great segue for it. I wrestled with that being too obvious, but the idea wouldn't go away, and so I wrote:
What's Left But the Bones: Cotton for Comfort Redux.

It was my mother who identified me.
Not by my remains,
For the little that remained of me
was comprised of the natural white anonymity of fleshless bone.
Sex, once curvaceous and vibrant and fetid
had become a dry geometric puzzle,
the curve of the pelvic girdle and coccyx
the sere mystery of skull and bone density,
agéd clues in de-gummed teeth and voided cranial sutures.

It was my clothes,
the clothes I'd been killed in,
the made of comfortable cotton clothes
that so affronted my mother's sense of social propriety,
that became the means of my escape from the unmarked grave
of an anonymous de-animation.

There were tears.
But …
How to say this? The tears were not for me, now,
but for the simulacrum of a corpulent me that once appeared to exist in the mind's eye,
the giddy distracted mind for the gaudy embodied me I once dizzily revelled in.
Or, at least that's what I'd like to think I want to remember,
to be remembered by
by the strangers I was bound to by the soft
pillowy cotton delicate strings made by
and dedicated to the social obligation of family stones.
Stones? How to explain this weight?
In so far as my skeleton is sensate,
I feel compelled to embrace Sei Shonagon's Pillow Book* cant
and list my listlessness as follows:
cross bones, tomb stones,
head stones, hearth stones, heart stones.
Cajones, nerve, verve.

In the morgue I rest, un-rued on cold rude un-stained steel,
pillowed by the dead sure attitude found solely
in an unremarked gravestone, wet from an unexpected cloudburst,
and in the lost certitude of my lonesome anonymity.
    *It has been called a book of lists, because Shonagon included lists of all kinds.
I finished writing this Sunday morning, around 1am or so. The first fushigi connection began a few hours later, when, after a short sleep I decided it was time to resume Moby Dick. On the cover I saw stuck an old fushigi sticky, dated 2012.07.22, which I'll get to next, in an effort to catch them up. But, things went sideways when, on …

2012.10.21 ~8:30am
I continued from where I'd left off before my Economic's course work took over my life. And within two pages I read:
…. I promise nothing complete;
because any human thing supposed to be complete, must for that very reason infallibly be faulty. I shall not pretend to a minute anatomical description of the various species, or — in this place at least — to much of any description. My object here is simply to project the draught of a systematization of cetology. I am the architect, not the builder.

But it is a ponderous task; no ordinary letter-sorter in the Post-Office is equal to it. To grope down into the bottom of the sea after them; to have one's hands among the unspeakable foundations, ribs, and very pelvis of the world; this is a fearful thing. What am I that I should essay to hook the nose of this leviathan! The awful tauntings in Job might well appal me. "Will he the (leviathan) make a covenant with thee? Behold the hope of him is vain! But I have swam through libraries and sailed through oceans; I have had to do with whales with these visible hands; I am in earnest; and I will try. There are some preliminaries to settle (110).
What struck me initially was the use of pelvis in both texts as a measure of a body, or a body of knowledge. [I didn't catch until tonight that Ishmael from Moby Dick 'swam through libraries,' which is an odd echo of my grabbing the book on Jung which had the small fushigi, as noted above.] In each case the context is very unusual, but even more what struck me with a second thought was that both were focusing on a physical anatomy as metaphor to something unknowable. The whale in the depths of the collective unconscious and the soul or spirit of a person reflecting on the inability of life to understand death, the return to the natural world, or the natural state of physical existence and perhaps the collective unconscious.

And since I am also intent on catching up on old fushigis, and since the one above involved a poem and death, here's another one with that theme. From the sticky note stuck to Moby Dick. Now, I don't remember how/why that sticky got stuck on that book, and not in my pile, but since it did, I'll blog it now.

The fushigi began in 2012.07.21 with my being asked by Cheyenne in WSS to give my editorial advice on her poem Balloons and Letters. With her permission, here is her—

Fushigi Interruption Alert: The Above Fushigi has Been Interrupted by an Immediate and Pressing Poetical Fushigi connected to Moby Dick!

While writing 2012.07.21 ML woke from her nap. Just before we were to get going on preparing to braise the country style spareribs that we'll be devouring later, she called me over to read "An ode to B.C.'s poetry power couple" from Saturday's Globe and Mail p. S4. The article is about the multi-award winning poets and spouses, Lorna Crozier and Patrick Lane. Well, it turned out that ML had followed an intuitive prompt that brought her to read this section of the paper, something she rarely does. And she was curious as to whether or not I 'knew' either Crozier or Lane
because, as it turned out, she had attended a workshop with him when she was in university in Saskatchewan more than forty years ago. 'No,' I answered, and then added, 'But given the accolades and awards listed, I have quite likely read them. Give me a sec to check." I went up to my library and fished out a likely anthology, The New Oxford Book of Canadian Verse in English. Crozier was absent, but Lane had three poems representing his oeuvre. The first listed is Stigmata:
for Irving Layton

What if there wasn't a metaphor
and the bodies were only bodies
pushed out in awkward fingers?
Waves come to the seawall, fall away,
children bounce mouths against the stones
that man has carved to keep the sea at bay
and women walk with empty wombs
proclaiming freedom to the night.
Through barroom windows rotten with light
eyes of men open and close like fists.

I bend beside a tidal pool and take a crab from the sea.
His small green life twists helpless in my hand
the living bars of bone and flesh
a cage made by the animal I am.
This thing, the beat, the beat of life
now captured in the darkness of my flesh
struggling with claws as if it could tear its way
through my body back to the sea.
What do I know of the inexorable beauty,
the unrelenting turning of the wheel I am inside of me?
Stigmata. I hold a web of blood.

I dream of the scrimshawed teeth of endless whales,
the oceans it took to carve them. Drifting ships
echo in fog the wounds of Leviathan
great grey voices giving cadence to their loss.
The men are gone
who scratched upon white bones their destiny.
Who will speak of the albatross in the shroud of the man,
the sailor who sinks forever in the Mindanao Deep?
I open my hand. The life leaps out (p292-3 my emphasis).
Okay, this was rather remarkable because it binds Moby Dick together with my poem through bones, death, and whales in a way that is amazing. What cannot be properly expressed, is that my reading this poem aloud to ML was an almost unprecedented act, that her reading about poets is even more rare.

Monday turned the fushigi weird. And that weirdness began with my conscience wrestling about the appropriateness of sending my poem to BH. I was torn between it being a simple ego thing and something that BH might like. Eventually I sent it. [Reflection on ego-wrestling match: if I'd been thinking, I might have been able to argue that my wanting to send it only to BH, and not anyone else, would suggest that it wasn't an ego thing — or at least not only or mainly one, anyway.] I sent it to her work address because she doesn't reliably read her GMail account. I got a communicator pop up from BH wanting to discuss the poem.

I wandered over to her desk, and we talked about the poem. She really liked it, which was nice. Then I mentioned how it got tied in with a weird fushigi with Moby Dick. "Are you kidding me?!" she interrupted me. "What?"

"You're not going to believe this, but that is too weird. This morning, when I was reading your poem, I had to look up some words. And I accidentally clicked on some kind of advertisement in the dictionary. You're not going to believe it, but it was something like 'Moby challenge', or 'Take the Moby challenge.'"

[I had BH forward the information from her browser, afterwards. It was an ad for a California British Fish and Chips place, called The Britannia Arms. Here's The Moby Challenge, page 3:

The Moby Brit
Captain Ahab couldn’t finish this one off and if he did, he’d be sporting a stylish new Brit T-shirt! two pounds of fresh cod dipped in our own special beer batter, lightly fried, and served with a mountain of chips and coleslaw. Take the "Moby challenge, ” clean your plate, and earn a free Brit T-shirt. $29.95
Well, as the 'chit chat' continued, as BH might say, it turns out that she'd tried reading Moby Dick a few years ago, but gave up on it. "Why," I asked, "did you want to read Moby Dick?"

"Oh," she answered, "well, because, doesn't everyone?"

I laughed, and assured her that that was not the case.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes," I answered, and then asked a few people around us.

One thing led to another, and told her I love reading out loud, and if she was game I would have a blast reading Moby Dick out loud. And so, the following day, after fishing out the trade paperback she'd bought to read, we meet and I get to read out loud at work! That imagery of that is nonpareil. And I'm loving it and, I think/hope, that BH is too. Even reading the text had a small fushigi, that I'm not recording here, in this already far too long a blog.

Well, the following day ML was talking with our friends on the Island. She asked LM if she'd read the article. It turns out that she had. When ML began to explain her having attended a workshop with him, and then the weird fushigi with me, LM called out to her husband. He came onto the phone and explained that he had a connection to Lane, too. Not only do they have one of his books in their book shelve, but GM happened to work with Lane's son for a day, when both worked for an Island fish farm in the northern part of the Island.

End of fushigi interruption.

Now, back to Cheyenne's poem, as now that I continue to create this post, I see that it actually has a tiny fushigi tying it back to too Lane's poem.
Balloons and Letters

Balloons dance
In the sunlight filtering through
Spring's new leaves
Letters flap like flags
Attached to the balloon strings
Letters of greeting
Letters telling of a new husband
Or baby
Letters mourning
Small hands gone limp
Or large ones that will
Only ever light another pipe
In Heaven
Letters written
By those aching to hold
The little one that never
Took a breath
That only stirred long enough
In the womb
To be counted as a loss
Letters released
By tear darkened fingers
And watched by upturned faces
As they make their journey
Past the clouds (my emphasis)
What made this the beginning of a bizarre fushigi was that the following day I heard a news story on TV about a young girl killed in a freak accident: soccer goal posts fell on her.
…The family held Jaedyn’s celebration of life at the Bethel Tabernacle Church in Ladysmith on Sunday. The church service was followed by a gathering on the beach for a balloon release — all pink and purple, Jaedyn’s favourite colours — and a BBQ.

Jaedyn died tragically on July 4 after a soccer net collapsed and the cross bar struck her in the back of the head while she was playing in a field at a local Watson Lake, Yukon high school. The family splits their time between Watson Lake — where Amann runs a business — and their home in Cedar, near Nanaimo (The Province, 2012.10.22 by Larissa Cahute).
Truly bizarre.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

2012.09.22 — Opal Whitelely and Kyra Sedgwick: a Fushigi*

This morning I experienced a small chill of weirdness after resuming my perusal of The Singing Creek Where the Willows Grow: The Rediscovered Diary of Opal Whiteley. Another totally weird fushigi. I began the book last night, after it had been returned to me in the afternoon by BV, who loved it so much that she read it twice, back-to-back.

I have no time to read, right now, as I just finished Debt: The First 5000 Years and have my course Banks Skanks to finish writing. But something about M's description of it and BV's reaction to it, perhaps, contributed to my being drawn to read it before I resume with Three Day Road, which has been making me feel guilty because I have ignored it for so long after NR's strong recommendation.

The biography that introduces the book by Benjamin Hoff is fascinating and captured my attention right away. But it was late when I started reading it and so put it down after about fifteen pages or so to go to bed. I resumed it this morning to the chill from this innocuous passage:
Late one September afternoon, her money almost gone, [Opal Whitely] entered the office of the prestigious Atlantic Monthly, in Boston. The magazine had recently begun to publish books under its own imprint, and someone had suggested to Opal that she talk to its editor.

The editor was Ellery Sedgwick, one of the most respected men in publishing. He glanced through the book. Finding little in it to interest him, he told Opal that he must decline. But then, intrigued by her personality, he questioned her about her background. As she talked, his interest increased. He asked if she kept a diary. She said she had. He said he wanted to see it. Opal, nearly at her breaking point, began to cry. She told him it had been torn to pieces.
He asked her if she'd kept the pieces. She had, but they were stored in Los Angeles. He told her to send for them without delay. They soon arrived — "crammed in a hatbox," he was later to recall (p 29).
[For a more detailed and beautiful rendering of this encounter from Sedgwick himself, visit The Diary of Opal Whiteley — Introduction by Ellery Sedgwick.]

What had caught my attention was the name Ellery Sedgwick because, Thursday night / Friday morning I had the following dream:

I have an important meeting; or perhaps, the emphasis is more a meeting at an important place. I find myself driving along narrow roads, that have tracks for wheels, and the grass has been allowed to grow quite high between and outside of them. The place I am visiting is like an old American university styled after the British schools, with lots of stone and gothic windows and the like. There is water all around the castle-like place, with small inlets that the road follows.

At one point, and I'm not sure how I get there, I am in a richly appointed room with the actress Kyra Sedgwick. (I have been a fan of Sedgwick for many years.) The room was like an ante-chamber to, perhaps, a large library or study. We talk about my business there, and she is a part of it in an important way, but I've now forgotten all the details. I remember that she wore a brilliant red dress, knee length, with a kind of fold of cloth that crossed over from right to left. (I went looking for an image that matches it, but the closest to the look was that of a coat of some kind.)

When I leave, I become aware that I can drive the car into the water, and I would be safe. A part of me became aware that I was in a dream, but I did not become fully lucid — just lucid enough to know that the water would not be able to hurt me as the car proceeded to sink. Unlike my more typical lucid prompts, I did not become fully lucid with the clear thought "OMG! I'm dreaming!" and the immediately proceed to fly. Instead, I simply knew that I could move through and/or on the water without drowning or sinking.
That's all I remember of the dream. What stood out was Sedgwick, because I rarely dream of celebrities. The last celebrity dream I remember was with Sean Connory in his Bond role. And that was at least twenty-five years ago.

And why the name Sedgwick stood out as the editor, aside from it being of course a relatively unusual name (in my experience), is that I remember having read a mini-biography of Kyra Sedgwick a few years ago. From that vague recollection I was convinced that this Ellery Sedgwick was related to her. And, as I had inferred, they are. From the Wikipedia:
Kyra Sedgwick was born in New York City, the daughter of Patricia (née Rosenwald), a speech teacher and educational/family therapist, and Henry Dwight Sedgwick V, a venture capitalist. Her father was Episcopalian and of English heritage, and her mother was Jewish On her father's side, she is a descendant of Judge Theodore Sedgwick, Endicott Peabody (the founder of the Groton School), William Ellery (a signer of the Declaration of Independence), John Lathrop (American minister) (1740–1816), of Boston, Mass and Ellery Sedgwick, owner / editor of The Atlantic Monthly. Sedgwick is also the first cousin once removed of actress Edie Sedgwick, a niece of the writer John Sedgwick, a sister of actor Robert Sedgwick, and half-sister of jazz guitarist Mike Stern.

Sedgwick's parents separated when she was four and divorced when she was six; her mother subsequently re-married Ben Heller, an art dealer. Sedgwick graduated from Friends Seminary and attended Sarah Lawrence College. She transferred from Sarah Lawrence to the University of Southern California, graduating with a theatre degree.
I have emphasized Sarah Lawrence College above because the object of my penultimate blogged fushigi, Zoë Keating — see Zoë Keating, Regina Spektor…" — also was a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College.

And, come to think of it, Spektor's name also ties to The Singing Creek where the Willows Grow because Whiteley claimed throughout her life to have seen and communicated with the spirits (specters) of nature as Nature expresses itself in all its fauna and flora. And I am reminded of what the Caddy's of Findhorn called nature divas. These are essentially the same as those Whiteley describes, and like Whiteley some members of the Findhorn community in the 1970s were able to communicate with these nature spirits. See the interesting book The Magic of Findhorn and also Findhorn Foundation. [Aside: I met one of those people at an all day workshop in the late 1970s in Washington State, when I was around seventeen years old.]

2012.09.23 Fushigi Addendum

Last night I had a peculiar train dream. It's been a very long time since I've even had a train dream. The largely stopped when, during a lucid dream I found myself standing on a train track in a city station with the train bearing down on me. Because I was lucid, I new that I couldn't be hurt, and so instead of leaping in fear and frustration from the track onto the loading platform, I stood and hollered 'Yahoo!' as the train roared through me. It was fantastic.

Well, last night I found myself in an industrial area, with the layered tracks of a small shunting yard. The tracks were behind a tall fence. (Now that I'm writing this, it reminds me of a recent site visit I did for work, at 21 Water Street. Industrial track area, with layers of track behind a fence.) Anyway, I was walking, and I had the thought that perhaps the reason people get hit by trains is that their mind freezes in a kind of slow motion panic and they find that they cannot move. It was then that I heard the train, and began to move. I then realized that my mind was refusing to move me properly, that I had indeed become frozen on the tracks because my mind had found a way of fixating on being unable to move. In a panic I remember having to choose between being between the moving train and the fence, or away from the fence into the rest of the train yard. With a kind of mental gasp or wrenching I made a choice and the train did not hit me. I did not become lucid.

So, this morning I resumed The Singing Creek Where the Willows Grow and read the following;

One: The Road beyond the Singing Creek, and the Railroad Track with Shining Rails

By its side goes the railroad track. Its appears are not so nice as are the appears of the road, and it had got only a squeaky voice. But this railroad track does have shining rails — they stretch away and away, like a silver ribbon that came from the moon in the night. I go a-walking on these rails. I get off when I do hear the approaches of the dinkey-engine. On this track on every day, excepting Sunday, comes and goes the logging train. It does to the camps, and it does bring back cars of logs and cars of lumber. These it does take to the mill town. There, engines more big do take the cars of lumber to towns more big (p81, 84).