the pressure

i have to have five thousand-word articles written by tuesday.

this explains why you won't be hearing from me so much.

but i'll do my best.


a pig's eye view of literature

click here to hear (and see!) sophie's impressive recitation (in a voice that sounds suspiciously like mine) of dorothy parker's poetic commentary on byron, shelley, and keats.

in case you would like to follow along, i've provided the words:

"Byron and Shelley and Keats
Were a trio of Lyrical treats.
The forehead of Shelley was cluttered with curls,
And Keats never was a descendant of earls,
And Byron walked out with a number of girls,
But it didn't impair the poetical feats
Of Byron and Shelley,
Of Byron and Shelley,
Of Byron and Shelley and Keats."

thanks to blabberize for the power and to photojojo for the direction.


"time is a funhouse mirror on our lives." ~sean jones

i took this picture on the bus with adam's sixth grade class. we were on our way home from a field trip in which we spent the day on a ship sailing all around the bay. his friend, whose name i've forgotten, leaned over the seat to be in the picture. the kids were all serene from spending all day at sea, in the sun. at the helm and learning knots.

i love this picture of our cat sera, who died last year. the distortion such that she seems to fit into the fishbowl except for that little spotlight of tail.

this is my grandmother lucille and i on waikiki beach in 1969. i especially love her swimcap, and the sandpail between us. i think she had her straps down because she was trying to even out her tan. she told me years later the little ways that my stepmother was mean to her when she came from the mainland for this visit. rewashing any dishes she'd washed, as if she hadn't done a good enough job, throwing any towels she'd even just dried her hands on into the dirty clothes hamper. my stepmother, she was a wicked one.


frozen in time

i found this photo of sophie today, in a box of pictures that have been in the broom closet since we moved here, going on four years ago. i don't think it was as interesting of a picture back then as i find it today, maybe because it was too recent, and i had no distance from that time. it was a frozen moment of the way things were all the time. but to have unearthed it a few years later, it has tremendous ripples all around it. just seeing it transported me back to that time, and made me miss it, and to realize that time is indeed moving at such a pace, though in the present i never feel it. somehow it reminded me that i will be an old woman, and that it will probably take me by surprise. i'll probably not even realize it until i see myself in a photograph, maybe even a blurry one.
but i love this picture of sophie. i have never been the kind of mother who wanted her children to stay babies so she could have them to baby. i've always looked forward to them growing up and becoming independent individuals. but this picture, and many of the others that were also in this box, made me nostalgic for my children's childhoods, though life was much more difficult back then when there was no time, or money, or privacy, or selfishness allowed. i am much more selfish now because i have the luxury of being so. sometimes when i think back to those days, all i can remember are the things i think i failed at. but then i see a picture like this one and i think, well, it must have been alright most of the time.


"japanese girl-power rock movie"

it is as uplifting and catchy as the Blue Hearts' song that inspired its title. i felt so good after watching this movie night before last that i just finished watching it again. it is just as brilliant and resonant the second time, a rare quality for me, for whom life is just a little too short to watch most movies more than once.

if you want a review, i really like this one.


bb went to atlanta and brought back tom haney

if you go to his site you can see his treasures enlarged, and even watch little quicktime movies during which they come to life.


a remake worth seeing

tonight i gleefully watched david lee fisher's 2005 remake of "the cabinet of dr. caligari." fisher juxtaposes the exact sets from the 1919 original with his modern-day talking version of the story. very visually delicious and dramatic and odd and disorienting. i love the sinister way the somnambulist walks keeping his body in contact with the wall, and the way jane answers francis's proposal of marriage without turning around to look at him, just saying "yes" into her hair and moving on.


something blue

cyanotypes, culled, have a dreamlike quality too. corridors, amusement park rides, an x-ray of negligée. this is what memory looks like, i've decided. it's cyanotype blue.

they are, in order:
1. Cobblestones, 2. Aftermath Of A Fire In Winter: Cyanotype, 3. Z, 4. 麻糬的氫版攝影, 5. nightie, 6. cyan, 7. posies, 8. casino promenade, 9. Chromosomal.Sequence, 10. Untitled, 11. Stallhof, 12. ... ..


at the drop of a hat

(translation of the idiom: immediately and without delay.)

last night i dreamed i was staying at a very exclusive modernist hotel with the biggest library of modernist works anywhere in the world. while fiddling with the side of my mattress one night, i found an opening in the material and discovered that within my mattress was a sealed trunk of some kind. it was sealed with ancient packing tape that wasn't hard to pry away. when i opened the trunk i found it to be filled with rare and pristine first editions of books by virginia woolf, rebecca west, and others. i knew that if i took them i could sell them and make a fortune, but, even within the dream, i felt very strongly that they were not mine to take.
the rest of the dream was spent with me fretting over how to get the trunk sealed again and the mattress repositioned so that it would go unnoticed that i had disturbed it. so i staged an elaborate theatrical scene and invited the owners of the hotel into the room to watch it, because i thought it would make me seem less suspicious. but the bed kept slipping everytime we sat on it in the scene, so we had to be careful to only look like we were sitting on it and not put any weight on it so it wouldn't capsize and expose the thing i'd done.
one would think that in a dream, one could get away with such things, and upon finding a treasure would take it at the drop of a hat. but this is a recurring theme for me. the last dream i had like this one, it was a series of rare paintings i found, also in some hidden trunk, and i left those where i found them too.

photos and their who-abouts can be found here:
1. my kid is unique, he wants to be a musk ox when he grows up..., 2. des larmes amères, 3. After the Murder, 4. beachin birthday hat, 5. the lamp shade lady, 6. DEEP SEA HARDHAT DIVER #8 "NO EINSTEIN ON THE BEACH"


the elephant in the room

(explanation of the idiom: illustrates a large issue with influence over a discussion that is not mentioned by the participants.)

what happens inside
the force that governs an undercurrent
is private

knowing where
not to step

as if the lining
of an earache
has been woven into the berber.

gingerly the clouds
go past on tiptoe
grey as battleships

there is no subtracting
from the leviathan air
because the giant appendage
is everything but what it is.

elephant in the room from here.


all my marbles

my whole current thing with clichés started with kelly, my writing student. she had spoken about how her high school writing teacher forbid the class from using clichés in their writing and that got me thinking. it's generally the advice young writers get from their teachers, the old "avoid clichés like the plague" adage. but i happen to find some clichés wonderful, particularly the ones that have fallen out of fashion and had time to gather suggestiveness again. i think my absolutely favorite cliché is "in two shakes of a lamb's tail." it sounds so much more melodic and evocative than "in a minute."
anyway, so i decided that for my next lesson with kelly, it might be fun to do the opposite of the conventional tendency to avoid the cliché, and instead immerse ourselves in its company completely.
during my preparation for our meeting, i found the tower of english site with all the wonderful interpretations of idioms and clichés by children for whom english is their second language.( prepare yourself; i still have a few more i want to share.) what i re-realized during my search was that a cliché is an inherently rich and interesting thing, perfectly encapsulating an idea or an image or a feeling. it is not the cliché's fault that it has become hackneyed. when anything is in one place for too long, we eventually stop seeing it. many of today's clichés once enjoyed the glory of being invented by shakespeare; it is time we stopped disdaining them and began looking at them more closely, examined their musculature, see how and why it is they have endured.

i don't think it is only because people are lazy in their speech, and would rather use a common phrase than devise a new one, though this seems to be the natural tendency. as i am pulling here for the value of the cliché, i will, for now, try to ignore the role it plays in the lean of language toward mediocrity. i am interested now in its merits, not its faults. everything has both, i think.
what i'm getting at is that the cliché fulfills a human need for collective life, for experience as a shared thing. the sensation of having a cliché articulate perfectly a tangled wordless emotion i am having is akin to being understood by someone, long ago, who interpreted my experience and left a trail for me to find it. it is infinitely consoling to be understood, and i think that this is the deep appeal of the cliché. it holds a net out for us to let ourselves fall into. it is a common space belonging to all of us and owned by no one. we can inhabit it like a curb when we feel tired, and no one will cite us for loitering.


monkey business

"a fresh pair of eyes."

"love conquers all."

a penny for your thoughts

i hope you'll bear with me. i just can't get enough of these.

"on the wagon"

no rest for the wicked

i found these idiom drawings completely by accident over at tower of english.

here's "a month of sundays,"

and this in "hat in hand,"

"higher than a kite,"

and last but not least, "string of good luck."


a little summer love from flickr

"art of memory III"

"do you hear that music?"

"sense of perspective" (summer of love)

just zoom on over to "my flickr" over thar on the right, and then click on the links under the diptychs to go directly to the originals' streams...

roxanne cleans house

well, that's what she would like people to believe...


what luster wants...

is for it to be known that
even light seems to burn as a form of pressure
night insects lust after

a brightness external to the soul which both reflects its splendid reputation
and dominates it entirely

and exactly as that is what the soul wants--
to be pressed submissive between sheets
of glassine for posterity

--it also wants known the fight it puts up all that time inside the mollusc

the fixed irritation of meanings altered in different mouths
as self-cancelling
a careening list of private contraries

all rhythm-slash-talk and no plot-slash-action.

whenever we witness the river’s liftbridge unlacing for boats to pass
my dog just comes unhinged.
a half of a bridge, in her mind, as ominous and freakish as any godzilla.

what i perceive as her wanting what she knows to bridge what she doesn’t
makes her seem almost human
almost as solitary and desirous as i am no different from an oar striving toward an island.

fine rare print of a pearl oyster image from here.

origin of the x-ray

the x-ray was first called the roentgen ray--in honor of the scientist who discovered it. but he preferred to call it x-ray, because x is the algebraic symbol of the unknown, and at that time he didn't understand the nature of what it was he had discovered.

i found this wonderful photo here, by darkyard. it is one in a small series of naughty x-rays, and if you're interested they do get a bit naughtier.


waldorfing wine

i have a new article up over at intowine.com. it's the first in a series i plan to do on biodynamic winemaking. next week i'm going up to quintessa winery in napa to do some very serious research, glass in hand. tee-hee.


a carnival of convergences

the other day, sean sent me the link to the mcsweeney's convergence contest, the results of which they are making into a book. how i wish i would have known about it! but it makes me think hard about this tendency so many people are feeling to pair disparate images to make new meanings out of them.
i mean, what is this urge? what are we reconciling when we participate in this activity?
the images i have posted here are from the "carnival of convergences" segment of the contest, a collection of runners up.
the first is "stroking the curves," by jake landis

and the second is "american fightin' fish" by matthew gruenburg. as many times as i have been stuck behind an suv with either a fish or a "support our troops" ribbon (or both), i had never noticed that they are essentially the same shape.

it gave me a chill when i saw it.


a few pairs for friday

this pair is called "a boy for every girl." i love the just-so-happening of the two feet almost touching.

this one is "the woman upstairs."

this "the dreamlife of birds,"

this "fraught relationship,"

and this, naturally, is "a dream of leiderhosen."

go to my flickr photostream and click on the links under the diptychs to access the photographers.