October 31, 2005

haiku of the moment

need to get these out of the way before the slugfest begins.

first, a couple palindromes using polyphonic homographs (aka "heteronyms"):

wind-up top spinning
boggles one's mind -- one's boggles
spinning top upwind

wide-open wound leaks
time, leaving things, leaving time
leaks wound open-wide



now a homonymic palindromic haiku (sounds the same forward and backward by words, but is spelled differently)

carrott's diamond
weights that bunny (that weight's
diamond carats)



and now, you guessed it, the combo -- perhaps for the first time in the history of the english language, maybe well for the first time ever written, a heteronymic-homonymic-palindromic haiku:

close too many things
open to doubt -- two open
things? many too close


and yes, i'm done now. let the slugging begin.

trick or treat of the moment

some elementary school in bismark, north dakota, hit my blog doing a google search for "norwegian superstitions" today. all i can say is it's a damn good thing the little bastards didn't run across SHÄDY ÄCRES instead.

note to school children in the future: this is the internet, not a learning tool. i mean seriously, you wouldn't just go shove a syringe up your arm if it was sitting on your computer, would you? so what the hell are you doing using a search engine? (and no, just because your parents do it, doesn't make it "right.") just put the mouse down and do something truly constructive like hookie bobbing, hanging out at the 7-11 or torturing your younger sibling.


this has been a public service announcement of b1-66er's archipelago where we care for children, but only when we have to.

the slugfest cometh



after extensive negotiations (and more than a few non-idle threats) the terms of the haiku slugfest between my camp (b1-66er) and that of the va "punching bag" vagen are now set.

  1. for the next seven days, the vagen and i will be posting two haiku per day on the archipelago. the topic/nature of the haiku posted will be determined by the poster's competitor.
  2. unless specifically stated otherwise, all haiku will be of the 5-7-5 form.
  3. as all norwegians, finnmärsckers and long-time-reading-archipelagates will tell you, my haiku is what is broadly known as 通り様式, a rough and brutal form of the poetry. the sociologial equivalent of putting a bowling ball under the mattress of a princess to test her for purity. the vegan has more of what can be loosely described as "the american boarding school" style. that is to say: preppy, well-kept, and for all practical purposes, intolerable. still, we have to come to some sort of common ground in order to compete and have agreed on the following. he is, at his sole descretion, allowed to use pictures to help annonate his haiku (hint: watch for these if he's flailing); he is not allowed to use, what are known in high-poetry circles as, "cheater titles."
  4. like any decent brawl, we consider this to be a public display of overt-machismo. as such, we will both be posting the other participant's tasks to this blog, the day before, in the form of a comment. while the vegan and i are sworn by oath to not look early, this will allow you, our dear, dear viewer(s) to anticipate the coming mayhem of the next day. once tasks are picked, i will be deleting the original comment entries. this means you should expect posting chaos and either relish in, or ignore, it.

as sheer spectacle, the romans used to flood the colosseum and stage ship battles for the hedonistic crowds. 2,000 years of technology and "advancement" have managed to bring us to this point. if that doesn't make you pine for leaded water and wearing a toga, nothing will.

and before we begin, i have one last, personal, note to the vegan: in the words of john lee hooker, "lord have mercy on the people of tupelo mississippi."



[note added 11/1/05: jdiego added as slugfest referee.]

[note: if you're brand new here, i usually send people here first. i just wanted you to know what was going on with the slugfest.]

October 30, 2005

trivium of the moment

all of the beatles recordings, played back-to-back, clock in at a total
of 10 hours and 28 minutes.

another palindromic haiku

back pain swallows fear
while waiting, lonely, waiting while
fear swallows pain back

October 29, 2005

palindromic haiku

i ran across a blog the other day with a song/poem that the 20 something's seem to love. it has a line: i’m so postmodern i only think in palindromic haiku. (i'd link to the very site where i saw it, but it's been lost over time to mouse clicks.)

this clearly should be viewed as a challenge. i was going to sic it on the va vagan during our upcoming haiku slugfest, but i don't want him getting the glory for clearing the bar.

need to do a little stretching exercise here first, don't want to hurt myself ... able was i ere i saw elba ... a man, a plan a canal: panama.

okay, now the hard wordy stuff...

postmodern haiku
is better than "better" -- is
haiku postmodern?

The Next Best Thing to Being a Finnmärscker

If you're not already all over SHÄDY ÄCRES like a storf on a buoy, you should be. I can think of/make up a baker's half dozen reasons right off the top of my head why this is true.

1. It's run by people who are sexy at a level that is considered illegal in all non-Scandanavian countries (except Brazil, of course).

2. It's the best true source of Finnmärscker news (government publications tend to have a bit too much spin), written by the very people who live it (or at least, know the people who do).

3. It's brought to you with a great amount of personal toil (not to mention more than a little personal risk), on their part. Or maybe not (which in some ways, is better).

4. Sara and Mikkel are more multi-lingual than you are. You should always listen to people who are more multi-lingual than you are. (Hint: that is, in fact, how you become more multi-lingual. Duh.)

5. They've just published their first guest column. It's brilliant, of course, just like they are.

6. In labs it's been shown that if you cannot get your fortnightly dose of Finnmaercium 23, reading SHÄDY ÄCRES will almost prevent you from having deficiency withdrawl.

6.5 Yes, really.

October 28, 2005

my brother, the absent photographer

my brother (the world's best mechanical engineer) has always had a knack for building, constructing and tinkering. when we were kids, you could dump lego's on the floor and he'd just lump them into a jumbled pile and stare at them for several minutes. then, in an unbelievable flurry of activity, slap them together as fast as he possibly could into something absurd like an exact scale model rocket ship, a car that you could get in a drive, or a fully functional television. he would never build the same things twice. more than once we used this as a mild form of entertainment for the neighbors (and i believe the refrigerator my mom uses to this very day was made in this fashion).

he has since built a motion sensitive camera, melding a regular camera with a motion detector (of course, isn't that what you'd do?) and has been setting it out to auto-snap pics in areas that are almost impenetrable to humans. over time he's accumulated a serious number of truly stunning shots, including the obvious standards like deer, antelope and skunks; but also some more far-out animals like bob cats, wild turkeys and coyotes eating wild pigs.

my two favorite shots of his are both a little "wrong" technically, but still truly spectacular.



unbelievably, this cougar photo was taken about 50 miles from the dead-center heart of the silicon valley in henry coe state park.




(if you need help, look in the lower right-hand corner at the thing that, at first glance, looks like a tree branch.) this photo was taken in the high sierras within the last month. although it may look suspiciously like a sock puppet on a stick, this is either a pine martin or a pacific fisher (it's hard to tell which from this angle), either one of which would be an animal that is exceedingly rare in this region.


[both photos (c) 2005 j.s. harlan]

haiku of the moment

smokey robinson
implores me to buy his food
there is no soul, brother

you will laugh ...

... even if you have seen this already.

October 27, 2005

haiku of the moment

i've no spectral thoughts
nor superstitious beliefs
but maybe i should

message-in-a-bottle plot thickens

i sent the revelation of my bottle being found to curtis ebbesmeyer, king of beachcombers/tide guy and got this response back.

***

Dear b1:

This is scientifically important drift!!

Thanks greatly for writing to me. It's importance drives me to pester you with a question. Can you estimate about where you threw the bottle overboard? Upper, middle, lower Baja?

I publish a newsletter about all things that float and I'd be happy to send a copy along if you will send along your postal address.

I would like to write up your bottle for the Beachcombers' Alert newsletter. Could you tell me a little more about your trip and why you decided to throw it overboard?

Sincerely,

Curt Ebbesmeyer

October 26, 2005

i hope that someone gets my ... i hope that someone gets my ...

in march of 2004, my friend karpov had won a trip on the party poker million cruise, a semi-drunken soiree of card playing and high gluttony that would happen entirely on a cruise ship from san diego, around the tip of baja mexico and back. his wife passed on the idea of going and karpov sure as hell didn't have to ask me twice if i wanted a free ride.

in the off times when i wasn't gorging an unreasonable amount of food into my pie hole, talking to the living barbie doll that roomed next door about her contemplated boob job, or speaking bahasa to the balinese stewards (they were shocked); i wrote messages, put them in bottles and threw them off the back of the ship, using tricks i'd learned from a web site.

'lo and behold, i got this watery response in my email today:

Hello b1...,from Colombia!!!! Fishing 40 miles from the coast of Bahia Solano-Chocó-Colombia october 24 at 3:30, on a weed line, we found a green wine bottle with a message and one dollar, it took 19 months to reach here. The message was written march 24 3:30..strange isn't it?

assuming i chucked this message half-way down the baja peninsula, according to google earth the shortest possible distance it could have traveled in that time is 3200 miles (5200 km), or about five miles a day.

how amazingly, fantastically, cool is that?


[10/28/05: when i alerted karpov about the note-and-bottle incident, he informed me that he had actually taken photos of a couple of the bottles we'd launched -- and here they be. neither of these are the bottle that was recovered...
...the note in the tall bottle was wrapped so tightly around the pen that i just sent the pen along too -- you can see the point just poking out the bottom of the roll.]

[photos (c) 2004 r.h.s. iv]

haiku of the moment

electrical scent
imbues the nip in the air
first heat of winter

October 25, 2005

haiku of the moment

one doesn't expect
the parking lot with bike sprawled
an odd story lurks

October 24, 2005

Norway Is Your Pal Week Index

The nature of the Internet is such that Norway Is Your Pal Week at b1-66er's world (NIYPW) will become detritus, lost in the grains of time and making no sense to impertinent search engines. This index will help make sense of all-that-was years from now. All articles are listed in order from oldest-to-newest.

The birth of NIYPW
My hookie bobbing article, with "Mollaren's" response.
My open letter to reaction Mollaren and his retort.
The formal declaration of NIYPW.

This was a truly heady and momentus time. For those of us close to the events, it's difficult even now to look back without some form of open weeping and a gnashing of teeth.

The fulcrum of NIYPW was a trivia post and a haiku a day.

Norsk Haiku (Norwegian Haiku)
Haiku I
Haiku II
Haiku III
Haiku IV
Haiku V
Haiku VI
Haiku VII

Norsk Trivia of the Moment (Norwegian Trivia)
Trivia I
Trivia II
Trivia III
Trivia IV (embedded)
Trivia V
Trivia VI
Trivia VII


As would you guess from a time of such excess, NIYPW also brought on other, celebratory, articles:
My introduction to Norway and the ideology of four meals a day.
A plea for cultural fluency (and a response from a sex-pot).
The (controversial) memo to King Harald (aka Kingston Afflict).
The closing haiku in English
-- with a scorchingly beautiful Norwegian response
.



Historical note: NIYPW ran from Tirsdag, 18 Oktober, 2005 to Mandag, 24 Oktober, 2005. The uneducated majority opinion today seems to be that the cessation of NIYPW was directly responsible for the Reisning Finnmärscker, and the implication that if Norway was no longer a pal, it was suddenly (and very ridiculously) considered an enemy. While it's true that b1-66er's world considers itself to be the western-most sovereign territory of Finnmärck (and as an outlying province we are all too aware of always, always being in harm's way), we have never been officially recognized by the crown (and, for damn sure, we're not paying taxes until we are).

Because of our geo-political relationship to Finnmärck, we simply cannot, and should not, be held responsilble for irruption of its broders; nor the resulting (and ongoing) Norge/Soviet/Finnmä hostilities. Historians need to consider the significance of (what the yellow press often refer to as the) Gender Casserolics, the brief, turmultuous (and ultimately failed) time of androgeny and omnisexuality arising from the revolt at Shädy Äcres. Never forget, if the Vikings had decided to hold the entire North American continent (which they easily could have done), instead of returning to the hot springs in Iceland, your writing of these events would look very, very different.

Haiku of the Moment

Closing time draws nigh
We'll remember those great days
With our pal Norway

Norsk Trivia of the Moment

Norway has over 50,000 islands and is considered by mariners to have the most rugged coastline in the world.

Norsk Haiku of the Moment

Dyp bedrøvelse føle
Hver gang Jeg avreise Norge
Bye for nå fjords

October 23, 2005

Norsk Trivia of the Moment

The world record for solving the most Rubik's Cubes, in series, blind-folded, is held by Norway's Geir "Nei Kikke" Ugelstad, at three.

To compete, contestants are allowed to study the cubes as long as they would like and then are blind-folded and must complete the cubes in succession.




In this photo Herr Ugelstad is using his famous "sove teknikk" to memorize his cube for a special speed event. He would go on to solve his challenge in an amazing 39.31 seconds. On success, the crowd erupted with chants of "Norge avvikende! Skaffe en livet!" roughly meaning, "You're the man!"

Norsk Haiku of the Moment

Vinter kommer
Nød å samle meg forsyner
Og bli en flashlight

Haiku of the Moment

Two tires gone flat
In the same month means one thing
God doesn't like me

Well, I've got news, God
I'm spiting you right now too
Burn your own candle

Poppy -- Los Gatos

Mountain Dew Boxer Shorts

The "camouflage pattern" are actually skate boarders when viewed close.

October 22, 2005

Quote of the Moment

"An airplane could disintegrate if it hits a moose."
-- A. Giddings

Norsk Haiku of the Moment

Jeg er en smule sulten
Hva Jeg kunne gjerne bruk
En smule av Skolebrød

Norsk Trivia of the Moment

Sounds made by animals according to Norwegians. I've brought these up from earlier comment(s) placed by our resident "gender casserole"* Sara.

Cow (Ku): "mø"
Pig (Gris): "grynt" or "snøft"
Rooster (Hane): "kykkeliky"
Dog (Hund): "voff"
Cat (Katt): "mjau"
Frog (Frosk): "kvekk kvekk"
Horse (Hest): "vrinsk"

Lemmings make a squishing kind of a sound when they get caught under your car on the vidde.


* In case you missed it in my letter to King Harald, "gender casserole" is the phrase you get when you translate "sex-pot" English -> Norweigan -> English using auto-translation.

October 21, 2005

Open Letter to King Harald of Norway ...

(... or "Fun with Computer Translation")


King Harald, my man!

I just wanted to thank you for ruling over such a cool country (no pun intended). For a place that's not actually part of the European Union, you guys sure rock.

I'm also very impressed by all of your citizens. Mollaren (not his real name, but you already know that), Mikkel and Sara are all awesome. (And between you and I, I think Sara is a sex-pot -- I feel I can tell you this only because you run Norway and I run b1-66er's world -- this is ruler-to-ruler talk, I'm sure you understand.)

If you ever want to invite me over for caviar and smoked salmon, I'm pretty much available. You should also know that my dad ran an oil company, so if you want to talk Norwegian economics, I'd be all over it.

I'm really looking forward to the Prince and Princess's baby (I'm hoping for a Christmas birth). I'm sure you're as relieved as I am that your royal bloodline doesn't have those inbreeding problems that the Brits do.

Greetings from my world, where Norway is our pal,
b1


***
Norwegian translation
***


Kingston Plage, meg mann!

Jeg rettferdig savnet å takk skal du ha for herskende over slik en avkjøle land (nei pun hadde til hensikt å). For en sted ja nettopp ikke egentlig del av EU, du fyrene sikker gynge.

Jeg er likeledes meget imponere av alle av din borger. Mollaren (ikke hans virkelig navnet, bortsett fra du allerede vite det) Mikkel og Sarajevo er alle awesome. (Og imellom du og Jeg, Jeg overveie Sarajevo er en kjønn - gryte Jeg stemning Jeg kanne fortelle du denne bare fordi du løpe Norge og Jeg løpe b1-66er's verden denne er hersker - å - hersker samtalen, Jeg er sikker du oppfatte)

Hvis du noen gang vil gjerne up meg over for hulheten og smoked laks, Jeg er pen mange anvendelig. Du burde likeledes vite det meg pappa løp en oljeselskapet, så hvis du vil gjerne samtalen Norsk økonomi I'd være over det hele den.

Jeg er virkelig ser videresende å prinsen og Prinsessen baby ( jeg er håpende for en Jul fødselen). Jeg er sikker du er idet lindre idet Jeg er det din kongelig blodløs ikke ha dem inbreeding problemer det det Storbritannia gjøre.

Hilsener fra meg verden, der hvor Norge er våre kamerat,
b1


***
And now, back to English
***


Kingston Afflict, my man!

I a fair way missing to thank you for ruling above so a chill land (absolutely no pun intended). For a location quite so no matter actual part of DEN EUROPEISKE UNION, you guys certain rock.

I'm also a lot of awe of all at din citizen. Mollaren (no matter his actual appellation, but you already know facts) Mikkel and Sarajevo am all awesome. (And among you and I, I be considering Sarajevo am a gender casserole I ambience I can have a mind to you this only as a matter of you bolt Norway and I bolt b1-66er's the world this am master to master conversation, I'm certain you apprehend.)

Of which you ever should like hide my above for cavity and smoked salmon, I'm pen a good many of use. You ought also know facts my dad course a oil company, saw of which you'll certainly conversation Norwegian economics I'd be at an end all it.

I'm actual discern communicate to Prince and Princess baby (I'm hoping for a Christmas birth ). I'm certain you're as allay as I'm facts din regal bloodless no matter have them inbreeding difficulties facts facts Great Britain do.

Greetings at my the world, where Norway am our buddy,
b1

Haiku of the Moment

There are things I need
A music playing gas pump
Is not one of them

Norsk Haiku of the Moment

Jeg er Hushovd
Jeg ha på seg en Norsk flagg
Og ha storfekjøtt ben

Haiku SlugFest Taunt (+ Norsk Trivia of the Moment)

This from VA Vegan


Good sir,

I discovered your site a week ago or so via a comment you left on emichaelharrington.com (he's a former professor of mine), and have been enjoying it (the site, not the comment--er, not to slight the comment) thoroughly since. Your haiku, stories and observations, methinks, are sharp-witted and amusing. I aspire to, someday, achieve your level of quality in my own haiku. But I digress...

I'm bugging you for two reasons:

1. I am humbly seeking your permission to add a link on my blog, fuh-ku.blogspot.com, to yours. I think visitors to my blog (all three or four) would find yours to be most rewarding. I will understand if you don't want the additional burden of one to two additional visits a year to your site!

2. In reference to your tribute to Norway: I thought you might be interested to know that the 2005 Tour de France's Maillot Verde (in English, Green Jersey, which is awarded to the most consistent sprinter) was awarded to none other than Thor Hushovd (pronounced hoos-hahv-ed, or so I'm told). He is the first Norwegian to win the coveted sprinters' jersey. Also, since he was the national champion in 2004, he got to wear the national flag on his jersey during all races that year. So you can find lots of images of him adorned in Norway's flag, if you are so inclined. I am a cycling enthusiast, so pardon my submission of this bit of trivial knowledge, if it seems gauche. Otherwise, have fun with it!

Cheers,
VA Vegan


***
My response
***


Homeslice,

First and foremost, thanks for reading. I truly appreciate both your kind words as well as your taking the time to write to me ...

... And because you've been so forthright in telling me your feelings on your haiku, I'll tell you a little secret about mine -- I feel the same damn way. I used to publicly belittle my writing all the time, and then one day, less than a year ago, in fact, I stopped banging it and I think my poetry got better as a result.

I think. I'm not sure.

But I can tell you this, for certain. You think your stuff's bad because you aspire to be better. You conceive of better. You understand better. (You may even be afraid to try for better.)

BUT

People right now are envious of you and your ability. There are people who can't and/or don't write at the level you do and (I'm guessing) they never will. A natural artist can't understand how someone cannot draw -- and that's in much the same way that you can't understand how someone couldn't just as easily slop together 5-7-5 in the way that you do. But that's only because you're a natural.

I don't know how much you've studied about haiku, but it's a water that runs unbelievably deep. If you're a hardcore purist, it goes well beyond just the concept of 5-7-5 and starts dealing with things such as "attacks," "seasonal words" and breathing (for the love of God). If you want to pursue the very purist of all of these paths, you're automatically doomed to failure because it's a form of perfection that cannot be attained. That doesn't mean you couldn't try to, but it sure as hell means that I don't.

The day you'll take a personal step forward is the day you say, "You know what? I'm writing this 5-7-5 and I don't give a damn about anything else," or even,"I'm writing 5-7-5 and I'm intentionally going to try and write it poorly (or mocking, or stick it in the face of Japanese culture, or whatever)."

There's nothing that says you can't have your own style and your own way. And there's nothing that says you can't call it "haiku" -- let the purists fight about it. (I touch on this a bit in a conversation that I had with my pal karpov about tanka.)

Pick a path. Walk it. Change it if you so desire. But do NOT shirk, do NOT apologize for actions that you're taking for yourself, do NOT be self-mocking and do NOT be afraid.

You can write, son. So just do it. Don't hide behind any modesty (false or otherwise). There's no one on this planet that is more or less important than anyone else. And I will argue that if you get the best at writing your form of haiku, you're a better human being than at least half of the rest of the people who crawl the planet.

You know who my hero is? Gwion. You know why? Because she just puts it out there. She's got a million things working against her ... I'm guessing she's something like 16 years old (think: teachers, horny boys, backstabbing girlfriends, bitching parents, no money, endless fashion victim, raging hormones, etc.) ... And if that wasn't bad enough, she's Canadian for the love of God ... And yet she hangs over here in this den of semi-evil with a bunch of snide bastards who think they know better than the rest of the world, and bangs out the occasional poem or comment. She doesn't worry about what the people says, she doesn't talk herself down, she just does it. All good attitude, all right on the mark. I've got a lot of time for that kind of behavior and that's why she's Queen Poet Laureate of b1's world.

In fact, if I have any criticism of your work it's that you're not doing enough of it. Write more. Volume will improve your quality -- because you'll quit sweating each little detail when you have to hammer it out every day. Write it. Look at it the next day after you've written the next one and go back then and tweak it if you want. Just keep writing 'em.

And I don't want to hear any of this lame, "Oh, but I'm so busy," or, "But someone has to feed my dog," or, "What about my children?" Here's truth: Right now I'm working about 14 hours a day, seven days a week. I've been doing this for about a year. This is not sane and it's certainly not a right way for a human to behave. I recommend it to no one. But guess what? I get 17 syllables out. My friends (and God and the Jones Soda company) forced me to start writing this damn thing, but now I do it for me. It's one of the best decisions I ever made in my life. I'm busier than you are and I can do it, so you sure as hell can.

You've got the spark. Light the fire.

But hey, I'm not all lip service and I feel so adamant on this topic that I propose the following to help your chlorophyl digesting being: You, and I (and anyone else who wants to join in) will have one week of Haiku SlugFest. The rules are simple:

* You must write at least two haiku a day.

* The topic of the haiku (or other prescription, like a specific word to use) that you write is determined by your opponent.

BUT

I will not compete against an opponent who openly declares "none of the quality" about their work on their blog, because that, my friend, means you're not worthy. I refuse to compete against junk. So, for the duration of the SlugFest (at least), you have to change your tag line (yes, on both the bottom and the top). If I feel that you have beaten me in the SlugFest, you have to take it down that statement forever (but don't worry, you won't beat me -- or at least, I won't admit it).

Think about it, put on your WWTHD (What would Thor Hushovd do?) bracelet, and comment back here to let me know.


As for your question:

Do I want to whore myself out to your pal(s) with a link on your site? Of course. Links are the commerce of the blog world, I've decided I want to be rich. I'll link back to you once I'm clear of the fjords here.


Pax,
b1

P.S. If your comments relative to yourself are some tongue-in-cheek joke to yourself, and you're actually some heavyweight established writer, I take back the entirety of what I've said and instead leave you with a simple thought: "fuh-ku."



Will this be VA Vegan?





Or this?




[Note added 31 Oktober: The terms of the slugfest are defined and can be found here.]

October 20, 2005

Haiku of the Moment

If everyone ate
Taqueria Eduardo
There'd be no problems

Norsk Haiku of the Moment

Megetsigende det a-ha
Arbeidet inne en mental gjestfrihet
Lager ikke meg frisk

Norsk Trivia of the Moment

A-ha ("Take on Me") are a Norwegian band and collectively own an island in the Maldives.

Lead vocalist Morten Harket and keyboardist Magne Furuholmen both worked in a psychiatric hospital in Oslo before forming a-ha.

Me and Truman Capote

There's a new (supposedly very good) movie out about Truman Capote just released, so this seems to be the perfect time to tell this story ...

I was going to the University of Colorado in the 80's and, much to my surprise, one day there was an announcement that Truman Capote was coming to speak. I was mildly shocked to see this coming from a school with such a weak English department, and although I wasn't that familiar with the bulk of his writing (I'm still not), I felt he was the best living American short-story writer. I simply had to go.

I was dirt poor, but that didn't stop me from dropping by the bookstore in the student union and spending my last $5 on a paperback copy of Breakfast at Tiffany's on the off-chance I might be able to get him to sign it.

I got to the talk about 15 minutes before the start and was surprised at how empty the ballroom was. I took a second row, center seat and as I waited they blocked down the room size to make space not seem so vacant. When Capote took the stage, there was no way there were 100 people in the audience.

When he came on, several things were immediately apparent. One was he more-than-a-little flaming gay -- all the things I'd heard about him seemed like under-exaggerations compared to his actual presence. Another was that he obviously wasn't comfortable with speaking in front of a crowd, even one this small. Yet another was he seemed very old and frail -- he'd been very sick recently and it showed.

The biggest one, by far, was he was having a hell of a time just trying to function in the limelight. He was planning on reading some of his work, but the stage boneheads at the university hadn't checked the set-up ahead of time. He stood flummoxed by not only not being able to see, but due to mic misadjustments, unable to talk with amplification.

For an amazing amount of time, maybe three minutes (which seems like a month when you're sitting and watching it), he at first struggled, then pleaded, then whined that he couldn't get anything to work. And amazingly, the tech crew did nothing to help him. Nothing. Not a thing. No action. No lighting changes. No voices from above. Nothing. All I could think was, "I can't believe I'm sitting here watching this happen."

And then I decided I couldn't.

I walked up on stage and started fiddling with the microphone and got it adjusted properly for him. Truman thought I was a stage tech so he started midly berating me, and this, in turn, brought out the real stage techs -- so I launched on them.

"Here's what you losers need to do. Turn up the audience lights, turn down the stage lighting. He'll be able to see the audience and read his books. We'll be able to hear him talk, which oh, by the way, is the reason we're here."

Capote laughed and, amazingly, the stage techs immediately did everything I said.

Except for the fact that it was a living, breathing Truman Capote in front of us, the talk itself was uninteresting. He read one work after another in a deadpan effete monotone with practically no personal interjections of any kind. I had to chant to myself, "This is important. This will never happen again," just to keep from wondering how much longer he was going to rattle on.

At the end of the speech, they announced he was going to be signing in the room next door. Since I was sitting near the front, this meant I would be stuck at the back of the signing line.

But maybe not. I knew that particular venue really well, so I just hung out for a few minutes and then tried the secret side-door. I was surprised to find it open and peeking in, I could see Truman Capote, sitting by himself at a table.

I walked over, introduced myself and asked him to sign my book, which he readily did.

"You're the one who helped me out there, aren't you?"

"Yes, I am. I hope it didn't throw you off, but I just couldn't sit there and see no one help you. I mean, how does that conversation with my dad go? 'How was Truman Capote?' 'Oh, he was great except for the hour where he couldn't read or talk and I could have helped him, but didn't because he was Truman Capote.'"

He laughed. "Why don't you sit down?"

It's not like he has to ask twice. I pull up a chair and just bat around pleasantries until I say, "You collect paperweights, right? I heard your first one came from Colette."

And his face just lights up "Why yes!" And he pulls a paperweight out of his sport coat and sits it on the table. (I read later that he'd carry them with him when he traveled to feel more at ease.)

My mom was a paperweight collector and without even touching it, I ask, "A Baccarat sulphide?"

You'd thought I'd told him he'd just won the Nobel Prize for Literature. He, literally, squealed with delight and we spent the next 15 minutes talking paperweights.

The standing crowd was let in and I got up to leave. Truman stood and as I went to shake his hand he clenched mine with both of his. He said, "I've really enjoyed this conversation with you. I really needed it."

I said, "Truman, all you've done is give me a story that'll last the rest of my life."

He smirked and said just a little suggestively, "Then it's been good for both of us."

We both laughed and I left, never to see Truman Capote again.

October 19, 2005

Open Plea for Cultural Fluency Help to All Norwegians

One of the great things about foreign languages (that would be anything not English, btw) are the crazy things you say -- only because it makes us realize how crazy the things we say are (which, in turn, just sort of infuriates us, makes us say "you're wrong," ignore the United Nations, and then go blow something up -- but I digress).

What I'm specifically interested in are all the sounds you say that animals make, according to Norwegians (or more likely Norwegian kids). We say:

cow: "moo"
pig: "oink"
rooster: "cock-a-doodle-do" (if you can believe that -- the French say "coco-ree-koo")
dog: "woof" (or if you're comic characters, sometimes "arf")
cat: "meow" and "purr"/"prrr"
frog: "ribbit"

Are there any animals unique to Norway that make sounds? Reindeer? Lemmings? Minke whales? Something else?


Also, I'm interested in the English translations of any phrases, or quips, you know that are uniquely Norwegian. Like in Dutch, for example, there's something that's close to: "Don't leave your shoes on the porch." Think of things your mom would have said to you when you were kids. English examples would be "An apple a day keeps the doctor away," "A stitch in time saves nine," "Don't count your chickens before they've hatched," and "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."

I'd also like to know any superstitions that may be uniquely Norwegian. All of the following are examples of ways to get bad luck in America if you're superstitious: opening an umbrella in the house, letting a black cat cross your path, walking under a ladder, stepping on the crack in a sidewalk (this one wishes ill on your grandmother -- "step on the crack, break your grandma's back").

And, lastly, where do you think Santa Claus (Father Christmas? Saint Nicholas?) lives? Showing definitively how much of a lock we have on the concept of geography, we say the North Pole (ignoring the fact that there's no land mass there), but I know that Finns say he's in Finland.

Takk på forhånd

Norway Trivium of the Moment

Norway is the third largest oil exporter in the world, surpassed only by Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Norsk Haiku of the Moment

Kveld er fremstilt bedre
Med en knase hjertelig gi avskjed
Og det Nordlig Lyser

Haiku of the Moment

(I wrote this for The Tomboy Incident, I liked it well enough that I decided to steal it back.)

Haiku works the best
When you treat it like honey
And just let it pour

October 18, 2005

Me and Norway (Part I)

My dad was in the oil business and when I was a teenager he applied to be the Vice President of North Sea Exploration for some gigantic oil company. The job was headquartered in Norway and, in an uncharacteristic move, he bounced the idea of relocating off the family. (He was fully capable of doing something like informing us of the move two months after it happened.)

This being in that primitive-shh-let's-not-talk-about-it time before the Internet, I naturally went straight for the World Book Encyclopedia to read up.

I remember the article going something like this:

Norway is blah blah blah cold blah blah blah snow blah blah blah blah cold blah blah blah King blah blah blah blah blah women blah blah blah blah blah water blah blah high standard of living blah blah blah snowshoeing blah blah ice blah blah blah blah reindeer blah blah cold blah blah blah Russians blah cold blah blah blah blah blah blah four meals a day blah blah not that cold blah blah blah blah hypothermia blah blah blah blah blah fjords.

There was a little consternation, sure. I assumed it was a given that the Norwegian teenagers would be trying to kick my now-frosted ass, but hey that'd be nothing new because that's exactly what American teenagers always tried to do to the thawed version.

And yeah, I'd be a stranger in a strange land, but how's that different from anywhere I go at any time?

No, the thing that was attractive was the four meals a day. Mind boggling. I couldn't even figure out where the fourth meal would go. As a teenager, I had the system down. I wake up, I eat. That's breakfast. I go to school, I eat lunch. I come home. I eat everything in the refrigerator (this has no name, and therefore officially, is not a meal). About 18:00 we'd eat dinner.

So what's the deal with the extra meal? After dinner? Wake up at 03:00 just to eat? Does all this make more sense if you eat reindeer sausage? Is this a lutefisk (that's cod-cured-in-lye to you people without k's & j's in your name) digestion thing? Is there a special meal just for lox and cloudberry jam?

It didn't matter what the answer was, I put on my best cable-knit sweater and told my dad I wanted to go. Unfortunately for the family (but probably to the great unknown relief of Scandinavia) my dad was never offered the job.

This set-back meant it would be years before I trampled the Norsk tundra.

Haiku of the Moment

Driving through the night
A lone bug hits my windshield
Man is he messed up

Norway Trivia of the Moment

Although you tend to think of Sweden and Finland as intervening, Norway actually shares a 200km border with Russia -- entirely within the Arctic Circle.

Norway also disputes maritime limits with the Russians in the Barents Sea, as well as fishing rights beyond Svalbard's (a Norwegian island territory inside the Arctic Circle) understood territorial limits.

Norsk Haiku of the Moment

Norsk haiku
Sender mange avkjøle ned meg holdningsløs
Så atter, det er Falle

October 17, 2005

haiku of the moment

enthusiasm
and verisimilitude
are paul mercer traits

egg box -- palo alto

open letter to mollaren and mikkel (and anyone else norwegian)

(in order for this to make any sense at all, you should first read the "open letter to mollaren" and the appended comments. it's not clear this will make sense even then, but at least it gives you a fighting chance.)


norsk folk,

there's a problem here. i could say it was due to my terrible disease, but instead i choose to blame the norwegian government.

allow me to back up. you see, i was writing a set of responses to mollaren's awesome hookie bobbing comments that i thought were hilarious, but i was worried that the humor may not carry well across international boundaries. after all, i can't tell you the name of a good norwegian comedian off the top of my head (i assume barney doesn't count) and you guys certainly aren't going to know any american comics beyond slapstick guys like jim carrey or george bush.

so i figured i'd call the norwegian tourist bureau and read them my letter before i actually posted it. that way, i would know.

now, it's true that the line to oslo was bad ... and it's true too that i got sort of nervous and talked fast ... and sure, i laughed at my own jokes along the way (someone has to) ... but i read the whole post and the end of the conversation went like this.


me: "... ha! ha! so do you think it's funny?"

some norwegian oldster: (long pause) "yes."

"do you think mollaren will think it's funny?"

(long pause) "yes."

"when i go from bergen to oslo, is it better to take the ferry or the train?"

(long pause) "yes."


so you can see now how i might have been confused. man, with a 200% tax rate, i'd think you'd have better tourism representation than that. i mean, sure, the u.s. doesn't, but then again, we don't have 100% literacy rate like you do either. know what i'm sayin'?

but we have a slogan in america, "no blood, no foul," which roughly means we get to do whatever the hell we want and not apologize for it later. (it's a good policy for us, but kind of sucks if you live somewhere in the middle east.) so in keeping with that grand tradition, i'm making a declaration:

the next seven days will officially be "norway is your pal" week in b1-66er's world. you will notice RADICAL changes to both the look and feel of the site.

in true keeping with the spirit of the festivities, i will write haiku in norwegian every day of of the week (damn, it will be nice to finally write in haiku's native tongue).

what's that, you say? i don't speak norwegian? when has a lack of understanding of a foreign culture ever stopped an american ambassador? that's right, never. (and if it doesn't work, i'll just use our country's great stand-by, "if they don't understand your english, just speak louder.")

i will also have a "norwegian trivium of the moment" every day to help honor the occasion. by the end, my visitor rates will either have dropped to zero, or my readership will have doubled their norwegian competency.

so feed your minke whales and pen up the lemmings -- this promises to be great.

[note added 18 october -- if you're part of my normal links on the side, don't panic -- you will return at the end of n.i.y.p.w.

if you want a tiny bit more background on this blog specifically, i usually feed newcomers this.]

open letter to mollaren

okay, back when i wrote my article on hookie bobbing, an entity named "mollaren" went out of their way to post this comment:

hi!
we did it too, in norway! it was great fun and exciting too, especially if the driver didn't like it, hehe! i remember once, we were so heavy that the car started spinning after a stop. the driver (a young guy) came out, told us if we pushed a bit we could skitch as much as we liked. so we did, there should have been more guys like him! when i think about skitching now, it makes me a bit horny imagining that physical contact with a car, a car which might struggle a bit....


this is impressive in any number of ways -- the biggest ones being:

1. mollaren actually made this account solely to make a comment on my blog. (very impressive, indeed.)

-and-

2. the fact that any random norwegian has mastered english well enough to know the word, "horny." (assuming, of course, that this isn't a what might loosely be described as a reindeer term.)


so i've written not one, but two, open letters to mollaren. this is necessary because i have a birth defect, namely, i was born american. because of that, i have no true understanding of the world around me -- only the vaguest idea that i can (and probably should) bomb any or all of it. my birth defect is such that i don't know if mollaren is male, female (or possibly some third gender that exists only in norway). {in my defense, i asked a finnish friend the sex of "mollaren" the name, and she didn't know either -- but then again, she's finnish ... people like that aren't even allowed in nato.}



dear mollaren the male (mollaren det mannlig),

thanks very much for taking the time and effort to register with blogger, merely to make a comment on my blog. your command of not only english, but also the deeper nuances of hookie bobbing, is truly amazing ...

... but, i'll be honest with you, your words are also more than a little frightening. getting horny at the thought of hookie bobbing is unsettling at best, and in norway, i suspect a crime. i've been watching my site meter and seeing hits come in from bergen. i'm praying that this is just you, and not some band of freaks trying to bring a whole new meaning to the term "auto-erotic."

unbelievably, i was in bergen once. a truly beautiful city that i enjoyed except for a brief glimpse of some deranged norwegian man trying to mount the end of a train. i think we both realize the evil truth here. i fear for you and pray for you, and am comforted only in the knowledge that there are several thousand kilometers separating us.

behage utebli,
b1


***


dearest mollaren the female (mollaren det kvinner),

thanks very much for taking the time and effort to register with blogger, merely to make a comment on my blog. your command of not only english, but also the deeper nuances of hookie bobbing, is truly amazing ...

... and please know that i find your words both erotic and comforting. i admire anyone who is so in touch with their sexuality. i'm the very first to admit, although only privately to you here, that the thought of you hookie bobbing and making physical contact with a car makes me horny as well.

i start daydreaming and my mind wanders ... i can picture us sprawled naked on a musk ox hide in a high arctic field, with large bottle of aquavit, and a suggestively shaped lutefisk ... fox prance nearby in the meadow, with nothing more separating us from the big outdoors than a meter thick mosquito net and a car bumper.

or maybe you'd like to have our physical pleasures in my part of the world -- make love the b1 way ... say, something like a $30/night motel 6 with a squeaky bed, a "just long enough" carnitas burrito, a bottle of night train, a tube of astroglide and an endless stream of low-riders screaming unintelligible spanglish at each other as they thump by on the boulevard outside our window.

i see both as being truly romantic possibilities.

i'm a bit psychic with those whom i share a "deep connection," and i sense you may be in bergen. correct? i believe i saw you there -- a beautiful looking norwegian woman, yes? someone who appears naturally smart and aware? light skinned with brown hair, am i right? we made eye contact and you smiled (never mind that my ex-wife insisted it was a grimace). we had a moment. we both felt it. we can get it back.

i sense we have a bright future -- but oh, if only you were a few countries closer, and the concord was still flying.

jeg onske du a ha meg barn,
b1

October 16, 2005

a sentence which can be said in english ...

... but cannot be correctly written.

this is an audio post - click to play

(meaning "too," "two" and "to." a side-effect of being polyphonic homographs.)

when the hell did i become a poetic genius?

okay, so i took the poetry i.q. test at poetry.com (i frequent that site because i'm trying to win their haiku competition), blowing through it in well under three minutes and scoring 11/11.

You have an excellent grasp of poetic form, structure, and technique. People at this level have generally taken advanced-level study in literature or have completed advanced poetry courses. They have often spent considerable time writing, developing their own poetic "voice," and their own techniques. People at this level, particularly if they can apply their knowledge of poetic form and structure to their own work, are considered among the most talented of poetic artists.

keep in mind that this is the rating for the guy who scored 500 on english (read: "dead bloody center") on his s.a.t., never took a poetry or writing class in his life, and considers the watchmen comics to be a borderline high form of literature. i still don't know what to make of it all ...

in any event, it's safe to say this scoring robot has never read anything i've written. automated bastard.

haiku of the moment

great dental moment
when whomever invented
liquid flip-top paste


i'm a poetry carney

hurry, hurry, hurry, step right up and see my haiku on display over in the poetry carnival. you sir, you madam, for the same price you'd have to pay to walk to a bustop you could be seeing the poetic equivalent of the fat lady.

(seriously, it's a good idea -- someone hosts the poets every month [hence "carnival"] -- and dan's done a good job laying his version out. i know all the writers would appreciate your eyes. leave a comment and thrill your fellow man.)

October 15, 2005

haiku of the moment

with a bad headache
counting to five and seven
is more than enough

October 14, 2005

quote of the moment

"i live in my own world - they know me here."
-- bumper sticker on an art car, san jose

haiku of the moment

on another blog there was a request for students to write a haiku using the words "glitter," "muck" and "blossom." i wrote this ...

through glitter and muck
i see the blossom of life
oh wait, that's a can

October 13, 2005

haiku of the moment

those obscured letters
are too hard for me to read
guess i'm a robot

October 12, 2005

smug arrogant bastards

in 1994 i worked for a company called general magic that was essentially a spin-off of apple computer. we worked on one of the world's first handheld p.d.a.'s, and although the company itself was filled with egos the size of macy's parade balloons, the product was cutting-edge, all-consuming and fun.

i would occasionally be included in the dog & pony marketing show for magic, which was good when i'd get to actually demo the product, and awful when i'd have to simply talk to a room full of suited zombies who would rather be anywhere but there with me.

i still remember the patter that went with the second bullet point on the first slide of the presentation oh-so well ...

"in the future, we believe email will become ubiquitous. most people will have an email address; many people may have multiple email addresses."

probably two dozen times in my life, just a mere 11 years ago, this comment invoked smirks, snickers and sneers from rooms full of people i was presenting to. one guy, full of testosterone and self-importance actually openly asked me, in a very mocking tone, "do you mean to tell me that you think my mother will have an email address?"

"yes, she will."

he laughed, openly and menacingly, in my face.

how much do you want to bet his mom has an email address now? how much more do you want to bet that he wouldn't even remember this interaction and would deny it like peter to the romans if approached?

albert einstein said, "great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds." i wouldn't call magic a "great spirit," but i sure as hell know who i'd color with my "mediocre minds" crayon.

haiku of the moment

i'm wondering why
polyphonic homographs
look phallic down there

October 11, 2005

polyphonic homographs

most quasi-smarties (or at least, those people who didn't sleep through third grade) can tell you that in the english language homonyms are words that are spelled differently, but pronounced the same (e.g. to and two). but only the super-geniuses can tell that words which are spelled the same, but pronounced differently, are called polyphonic homographs (many-sound same-writing -- thanks for the root words, ms. rohovec).

for example:

following karpov's lead, i got real drunk and then slept with the dog on the floor.
- vs -

gwion's response was to fight the fox demons with pancakes made of lead.

they're more common in speech than you'd guess (there are probably 50 or so). for the last couple of years i've been keeping a list as i run across them. you get these, dear reader, as a bonus for sticking by me all these many days:

read
lead
tear
wound
perfect
present
wind
use
close
content
object
shower
record
invalid
putting (thanks, leslie)
recall (thanks, stearno)
project (also stearno)
bass (thanks, anne)
appropriate (thanks, leslie)

haiku of the moment

road rage just ahead
cars dart, brake, swerve and threaten
where is rodney king?

quote of the moment

"every morning i awake torn between a desire to save the world and an inclination to savor it. this makes it hard to plan the day. but if we forget to savor the world, what possible reason do we have for saving it?"
— e.b. white

October 10, 2005

haiku of the moment

a new souvenir
from vegas -- no sin involved
track marks on my arms

trivium of the moment

some official u.s. postage stamp vending machines accept pennies as a form of payment.

October 09, 2005

haiku of the moment

so many punkins
sitting orange and perfect
where the hell's my knife?

chandeliers -- las vegas

luxor view directly across lobby from the 24th floor -- las vegas

October 08, 2005

haiku of the moment

not sexy at all
and unbelievably dumb
playboy five cent slots

October 07, 2005

quote of the moment

"where am i to go, now that i've gone too far?"
-- golden earring, "twilight zone"

haiku of the moment

pre-dawn misty fog
insane cawing of ravens
don't get up early

October 06, 2005

anorexic fire plug -- mountain view

at last, a happy new year?

i've always kinda hated new year's eve. it just seems like a lame holiday. (my predilection may be genetic -- my alcoholic dad hated it too, calling it "amateur night" and refusing to drink at that time.)

this year will be different thanks to a friend of mine, who happens to be both the greatest graphic artist in the world and a finn.

the way the people from fintown celebrate new year's is to melt small horseshoe-shaped pieces of tin in a pan and then pour it into a bucket of water. the quick-cooled mass takes weird shapes and in a hissing second becomes your talisman and/or fortune telling piece for the coming year. (oddly, the blobs seem to always say either, "kill russians," "drink," "it sure is dark," or simply, "nokia.")

i'll let you know how it goes, assuming you don't get notification from federal employees first.


haiku of the moment

a jury summons
that is the bad news -- the good?
it's thanksgiving week

October 05, 2005

conundrum of the moment

how could the person who invented the first bicycle, ride it
(undoubtedly crash) and then say, "oh yeah. these'll be easy to ride.
everyone will be able to do it?"

haiku of the moment

i can see my breath
as i walk out to the car
life's fog enjoyment

October 04, 2005

sunset -- easter island

taken by/(c) 2005 my super-pal m. scanlin

haiku of the moment

six hours of sleep
and i awaken refreshed
this doesn't bode well

October 03, 2005

haiku of the moment

breakfast for supper
spirited conversation
fred dinner returns

quote of the moment

"deep down, i find women attractive, but not ... i don't want to pair with one, i don't want below the belt. i like objectifying them, seeing only beauty and bodies and sexuality -- i don't find women attractive for 'themselves'/minds-- which i do, and pretty much only do, for men ... i think it's a copout to say it's solely culture that has 'made' me this way, but ours lets us look at and admire women, to think of them this way... so maybe it's that, too."

"i don't like women for their minds. i can't imagine myself with a woman for anything but sex."

-- both are unedited i.m. comments of an american female friend, 27, mother of a 2-year old son and self-declared feminist

October 02, 2005

how to destroy a babysitter

when we were kids, my brother and i had three babysitters.

one was the ultra-hip julie, high school daughter of my first (and second) grade teacher. groovy, sexy, fantasy inducing and all about let's-have-fun-now. she was our favorite. we'd go to movies sometimes and talk about the merits of different colored jujy fruits and take turns with her throwing the black ones on the floor. sadly, she was rarely available.

another was mrs. world. old, just a bit stodgy, definitely a support-hose type and just a tad too prone to starting sentences with "you boys ..." however this was more-than-made up for by the fact that she was an avid card player (my brother and i would take alternate turns kicking her ass in any game she wanted to deal) and good cook. as far as babysitters go, she was certainly good enough when you couldn't have the best.

the third was eunice. {i'm sitting here laughing out loud just thinking about what i'm going to say next. really, with a name like that, haven't i already told the best possible punch-line?}

we hated her.

she was a wrinkled old bag that was a hardcore obsessive fundamental insane sub-cult type of christian. if you can picture the classic hallowe'en cut-out witch, and put a bible in her hand, you'd have eunice -- both in looks and depth of personal character.

we had a loving nickname for her, "the prune," which would always make our mom pseudo-gasp, but would make our dad laugh (he started using the phrase as well and said, more than once, that he hated her too -- once going so far as to suggest, "maybe we should just let those boys be unsupervised instead of under the guidance of that goddamn bible-thumpin' prune." adding a favorite aside of my dad's, an off-handed, "they're smarter than she is anyway").

our mom worked nights at the hospital to support the family -- it let her be at home during the day and our family was strapped enough that the 10 cents an hour differential for nights mattered. when our dad was traveling, we'd get a sitter. and one oh-so-fateful day, it was the prune.

it was summer (read to us kids' minds: THE GREATEST SEASON OF ALL) and our dad was out of town on extended business. the prune was over, and fortunately, no one had been possessed by demons during the night. even though we wanted cereal for breakfast, she insisted on making scrambled eggs, and proceeded to do it using something close to a half a gallon of milk in the process.

the result was truly disgusting. even now i have trouble thinking about it -- feeling about the same as i would if i'd seen a fatal accident happen on the highway and trying to recount it from memory. the image of eggs in a steaming milk puddle still haunts me deeply.

when she served it, i took one bite and decided that was more than plenty. no mas. i asked for a piece of toast and then asked to be excused from the table.

"no, you may not be excused. you have to sit here until you eat it all."

i smoldered. i look at my brother and can see he's just as thrilled about this stiuation as i am.

but, with just a little thinking, i start to see a possible blessing-in-disguise here. "okay." i look at my brother, and for the first time in my memory, he shoots a knowing glance back. the clock says it's a little after 07:00. mom will be home in about 30 minutes, later if things go bad at work. so i sat in my grand prix pajamas and waited. and waited. and waited.

my brother sat too. we didn't talk or fight with each other. we just waited. my brother was always a zen master, able to do unbelievable things from the age of about one week old on, like make himself suddenly too heavy to pick up. waiting was a joyous an experience for him as was any waking activity -- it was just something you did in the thing called "life." you could, as my mom will quickly relate to you even to this very day, "tell him to stand in the corner as punishment and he'd figure out how to weave the drapes."

i didn't have those mental faculties, so instead i went to my "happy place." a place where the prune roasted 'til popping over the coals. a fire that, very hopefully, would be stoked by my soon-to-be incensed mother.

time passed.

after a quarter of an hour or so the prune said, "all right. you boys have waited enough. you can go play now, but you'll get no more food."

it was my brother who said, "no. we made a deal. we'll wait."

and this moment was crystalline and superb. it was very precisely, even to my child mind, the cracking point. she was panicked, because she could see the future playing out. and it was, clearly, a plan so perfect that it was unbreakable.

in desperation she cleared the plates and said, in a laughing-joking-god-save-my-mortal-soul way, "okay. no reason to sit now," following it with the psychologically telling, "the plates are cleared, right?"

now in unison we say, "we made a deal. we''ll wait."

she's shaking, she's nervous. she's begging us to get up. in response, my brother and i both just sit and act spaced-out.

about 15 minutes after she was supposed to be home, my mom walks in. one of the truly great things about my dad being an alcoholic was it gave us kids the ability to read anyone's mood in about two seconds. and we both could see she'd clearly had a bad night. this, as sick as it is to say, was a good thing.

"hi mom!"

"hi."

a little overly-cheery i say, "can we be excused from the table?"

mom comes in the kitchen and with a very sideways glance hesitantly says, "sure, why?"

i'd been planning this speech all day.

i look at my pajama feet like i'm ashamed, "because eunice ..." i'd never talked about a person who was actually in the room in the third person before -- it was so cool "... said that we had to sit until we ate all of our breakfast. and i tried mom, but i just couldn't do it." tears are welling in my eyes. i sneak a peek at my brother and he's smirking. i wave him off and he immediately gets all puppy-dog eyed and looks at my mom saying the most sincere "yeah," a supporting actor has ever put down on film.

we're both a little too eager to go on, but there's no need. it's clear this has worked like a charm. i can already see the veins standing out on her neck.

"yes, you boys are excused."

"thanks mom!" and my ever-inspired brother gives her a thanks-for-supporting-us-in-jail hug on the way out of the kitchen.

mom takes the prune into my brother's bedroom, and proceeds to yell loud enough that it didn't matter that she'd closed the door behind them. lots of "don't you ever's" and "how dare you's" and the always-thrilling "those are good boys."

the prune came out crying and for the first time in my life, i truly understood how someone could feel joy from someone else's misery. my brother and i are openly laughing as she's leaving the house. i say, "see ya!"

and my mom snaps back, "no you won't," and then catches herself. and then gets the giggles.

now we're all laughing. my mom starts laughing so hard that she's crying.

and that, was the very last we ever saw of the prune.

we had a poem we wrote about her as kids (it may have been a song, but i don't think so). this seems like the perfect time to share it with you, my dear, dear, faithful reader:


plant the prune
you'll get a prune tree
but don't eat the prunes
they're poisonous

haiku of the moment

i'm going to hell
if for no other reason
than playing "the knack"

two ways the internet makes your life better

October 01, 2005

weird forced perspective shed -- mountain view


note angle the curb angle perspective in the lower photo

haiku of the moment

very large machines
whirr churr bog chip and shudder
eucalyptus gone

hyperion

super-great pic from nasa of saturn's coolest moon