"The stars are threshed, and the souls are threshed from their husks."

Monday, December 25, 2006

Lie to Me

First, an explication of the loot:

One newsboy hat-gray.

Two shirts, a light blue lined button up and a dark brown pullover, from my sister, who helpfully explained that they could be worn together. My lil' sis thinks I'm a slob and tries to help me as gently as she is able. Her taste is good. I've loved all her gifts.

Some much needed cash from my very perceptive mother, a metal flashlight, and a box of Queen Anne chocolate covered cherries, which is my favorite candy because it was my grandfather's favorite candy, and I had to weasel it out from under his bed, or from the box where he kept his Ruger, or behind the cuckoo clock where he also kept the menthalated cough drops. I can't eat them at present, because my teeth have turned on me this season.

Two cd's-including the new Tom Waits set: Brawlers, Bawlers, and Bastards, and the new Jack White zombie-rock project: Raconteurs, also from my sister, who actually rocks pretty damn hard when the occasion calls for it.

A three in one clothes brush. This clothes brush is made from solid beechwood, with boar bristles fro the brush. The other side of the brush is a lint remover, and the handle doubles as a shoe horn.

I had asked for a truly fine knife, after a dapper sort of chap inquiring at the pub about pipes mentioned in passing that he had just sharpened his. The tone of his voice and the mesmerized look in his eye was convincing. This is really what I needed, and all I asked for, other than the perpetually thwarted request for a motorcycle, and I was fairly certain Mom would come through.

Instead, I got a fancy metal briefcase. I didn't mind. The briefcase was charming, and somehow fit the newsie hat perched atop my head. The name on the case, and these things are important, was BergHOFF and sounded familiar-not to mention German. It was heavy.

I stood up to walk importantly about with my new briefcase when I heard a chorus of "open it!" Ok, I thought. False bottom. Spy gear. A half suffocated ferret. Sixteen "TRollex" watches. I moved both combinations to triple zeros and popped the hinges. The top swung open and revealed an entire kitchen set of beautiful forged steel. Mom had gotten me a briefcase full of German knives, including a sharpener, and a magnatic wall rack where they can hang. I'm fairly certain I giggled while I picked up my cleaver, or rather, Hackmesser.

Now, these are not the knives of lifetime. Not a hand-forged Japanese laminated santoku knife that will outlive my children's children and hums like fine crystal or Viennese castrato when air moves over the blade. But I'm too young for such an object anyway. It would be wasted on me. I'd, no doubt, use it to open one of Pushkin's bags of cat food and Masaharu Morimoto would weep with shame.

I have a briefcase full of very sharp knives. That's a nice feeling. If only they'd given them to me before I made Christmas dinner using nothing but a dull three inch paring knife.

No whatley no urania

foot, or in a troop of horse or dragoons?
N. B. Noncommissioned officers

You shall not complain for want of accounts
from Mr. Grevenkop, who will
confess, there is no
great variety in your present manner of life, yet
What is the common revenue
of the electorate,
one year with another?


The golden age of spam poetry
is well past us. I wish, two years ago,
that I had made a record of some of my favorites.
Someone, somewhere, has obviously
done this work-the internet being
what it is, and people, what they are,
but still, I wish
it had been me.

This is a more experimental period,
which is ok, but can a
classic age last only two years?

What next?

It's Christmas.
There may be more relevant posts to come.
We haven't opened our presents yet.
The ham is glazed.

It is nearly time. Horse-riding isn't
out of the question.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


The plane leaves in three hours. Neither of us have slept, unless you count dear Olga's present nap in the bathroom, which I don't. I can't imagine it would be very restful.

To Lawrence! Masha's place and the Free State brewery. Friends, family, and the studied attention of a landscape whose love was so hard won.

I'll be in touch. But now we have to figure out how to pack this olive oil.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Old Yosemite Rant, Part the First.

Yosemite! It's a Native American word for 'deep grass valley.' Only the barest mention of the now vanished Ahwahneechee tribe that were driven out by soldiers defending the gold rush can be discovered in the park literature. On the parks website, the luxurious Ahwahnee(R) hotel is given more prose than the people that gave it its name.

Yosemite haunted Scott and I as we traveled the central valley. Four highways in the valley lead to Yosemite, and we visited roadside stands on each one. Neither of us had ever been there. As a reward for nearly finishing my manuscript, Olga and I rented a cabin and went to see something of this national treasure.

The land leading up to the 'entrance' to the valley is striking in itself. The foothills leap around the patient, winding roads, and the Stanislaus National Forest is everything you'd like a pine and oak forest to be.

Everything changes when you approach the entrance to the park and wait in a long line of cars to pay the funny-hat wearing ranger in order to be allowed the privilege to witness a monument to geology conscripted into serving the U.S. Government. I felt immediately ill at ease. I was entering a place where my every movement would be limited and monitored by staff paid and trained to view visitors and criminals as one and the same being. The list of my potential crimes? Swimming in mountains pools (where I, or family members, would be charged for my rescue) straying off the trail, eating any of the edible plants, and shitting in the woods.

Now, I am not reactionary, nor overly stupid, despite my Thanksgiving breakfast of Wingwalker Amber Ale. I know that the park and its authorities deal with an excess of people. One man shitting in the woods is not a problem, but thirty thousand families of four every day is. But therein lies the paradox. By making Yosemite an American brand name-i.e. A National Park, it ensured that the place would be forced to endure heavier traffic-by several orders of magnitude-than the surrounding national forest, where you are encouraged to do all of the above, including hunting and fishing. As a result, the Valley they sought to preserve is a network of parking lots and generic, soulless park employee housing. Visiting Yosemite is participating in the industrialization of Nature.

I looked up into the sheer granite cliffs and held back tears. It was beauty incomprehensible. I looked at the valley itself and wanted to vomit.

The main threats to Yosemite valley were not human, but industrial. Had this not been set aside as a national park, a small town would have evolved in the valley, occupying roughly the same space the ranger housing does today. Legislation could have simply prevented logging and strip mining and let people live there however they might otherwise.

The Return of No-Fun Boy

Dear Diary,

Miserable day.

The title above is not self proclaimed. It is something my first girlfriend used to call me when, during an evening devoted to meaningless social pleasure, I derailed ease and grace if not just by my sullen presence, through malevolent intent. I see now that what she, and most others, crave from friends gathering in the public sphere is a low-intensity babbling that functions some what like a drug. I used to make a habit of getting in-between junkies and their inebrients, and the results were as sour as you'd expect.

Now, here I am, unable to sleep at an ungodly hour when I can't even purchase the drugs that might ease my burdens. The Hotsy Totsy opens at six. I pray that I am not still awake with these thoughts then.

G flatters me by saying that there is no small talk with me. I thought she was being generous in that appraisal, as I have spent the last six years cultivating a somewhat aggressively social public persona. Probably my 'transformation' had more to do with the generosity of my companions than my self-perceived charms. This year, however, has done a great deal to undo what half-assed intentions I once had. I bought off my anger, my distance, my essential awkwardness, with loud laughter and lots of drinks, I romanced it like a visiting friend, but I don't drink the way that I used to and I think it's gotten wise. Obviously it will be around longer than any one else, unless I die as early as my dreams profess, so I should, as a bit of tactics, come to terms with it.

I'm afraid also that I have bored to distraction the one friend I've been discussing this with, and set the terms of our friendship too strangely. That just the sort of thing no-fun boy would do.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Headache Medicine

Can we doubt that Excerdrin is the pinnacle of human achievement, the knoweldge ark of all that is worthwhile about the human struggle to harness our environment and make of chaos and grander, more beautiful thing?

No, we cannot.