Saturday, October 29, 2005

Raising a revolution against the lie

Hovstad. The majority always has right on its side.

Billing. And truth too, by God!

Dr. Stockmann. The majority never has right on its side. Never, I say! That is one of these social lies against which an independent, intelligent man must wage war. Who is it that constitute the majority of the population in a country? Is it the clever folk or the stupid? I don't imagine you will dispute the fact that at present the stupid people are in an absolutely overwhelming majority all the world over. But good Lord!--you can never pretend that it is right that the stupid folk should govern the clever ones! (Uproar and cries.) Oh, yes--you can shout me down, I know! but you cannot answer me. The majority has might on its side--unfortunately; but right it has not. I am in the right--I and a few other scattered individuals. The minority is always in the right. (Renewed uproar.)

Hovstad. Aha!--so Dr. Stockmann has become an aristocrat since the day before yesterday!

Dr. Stockmann. I have already said that I don't intend to waste a word on the puny, narrow-chested, short-winded crew whom we are leaving astern. Pulsating life no longer concerns itself with them. I am thinking of the few, the scattered few amongst us, who have absorbed new and vigorous truths. Such men stand, as it were, at the outposts, so far ahead that the compact majority has not yet been able to come up with them; and there they are fighting for truths that are too newly-born into the world of consciousness to have any considerable number of people on their side as yet.

Hovstad. So the Doctor is a revolutionary now!

Dr. Stockmann. I propose to raise a revolution against the lie that the majority has the monopoly of the truth. What sort of truths are they that the majority usually supports? They are truths that are of such advanced age that they are beginning to break up. And if a truth is as old as that, it is also in a fair way to become a lie, gentlemen. (Laughter and mocking cries.) Yes, believe me or not, as you like; but truths are by no means as long-lived as Methuselah--as some folk imagine. A normally constituted truth lives, as we say, as a rule seventeen or eighteen, or at most twenty years; seldom longer. But truths as aged as that are always worn frightfully thin, and nevertheless it is only then that the majority recognises them and recommends them to the community as wholesome moral nourishment. There is no great nutritive value in that sort of fare, I can assure you; and, as a doctor, I ought to know. These "majority truths" are like last year's cured meat--like rancid, tainted ham; and they are the origin of the moral scurvy that is rampant in our communities.

--Henrick Ibsen, An Enemy of the People

Friday, October 28, 2005

But isn't what we experience when reading the Hebrew Bible or the New Testament the same as when we read Homer, Shakespeare, Cervantes, or Proust? Isn't the difference between the scriptures and worldly literature only social and political? The centuries-long polemics on the contrasts between poetry and faith can perhaps be reduced to the question of whether we should consider one poem or story holier than another. I have long since come to the conclusion that we can say with certainty that any powerful literary work is holy. And the opposite claim, that it is worldly, is equally valid. But it would be completely senseles to consider any great literary work holier or worldlier than another.

Fantastic interview with Harold Bloom in Eurozine.

"I stated writing fiction as kind of an exercise," he said. "There wasn't always a melody lying around, and I was really paranoid about writer's block. I had never tried to write anything but songs because I thought, 'I have an eighth-grade education, so I can't write anything but songs,' but then I thought, 'the only reason I'm not totally ignorant is that I read a lot.' I wrote a story, and then another."

And Steve Earle's play Karla has opened in New York. Bruce Weber talks to him about the play, the death penalty, writing fiction in prison, and his marriage to Allison Moorer.


I place one word slowly
in front of the other,
like learning to walk again
after an illness.
But the blank page
with its hospital corners
tempts me.
I want to lie down
in its whiteness
and let myself drift
all the way back
to silence.

--Linda Pastan, Carnival Evening

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Claudie theatrically recounts his 36-day ordeal under the sofa after the introduction of terrorist kitten Ellie to the household: "And, and the worst part was: she kept peeking under there to look at me!"

I'm hoping he'll be back to form by Nov. 6 when he'll be needed to serve as a co-host for the 85th Carnival of the Cats. In the meantime, check out The Ark or Watermark for the latest and best pet blogging photos.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Last December I wrote:

It's always embarrassing for me to look back on a previous year's reading intentions and realize how quickly I deviated from them. My main goal for next year is to read books I already own, and, failing that (no doubt before the first week of January ends), get the books from the library, and, failing that, get them used. We'll see how well I do.

Other than that, my reading priorities are to read more nonfiction and more short stories--I've been stockpiling both for a few years now, and it's past time to stop saving for a rainy day. In particular, books pertaining to some aspect of American history and collections by Eudora Welty, Alice Munro, Graham Greene, Alberto Alvaro Rios, Tobias Wolff and Andre Dubus are going to spend time off the shelves.

I also want to read Shirley Hazzard's Transit of Venus, Cormac McCarthy's Suttree, Elio Vittorini's Conversations in Sicily, Dostoevsky's Demons, either Lempriere's Dictionary or The Pope's Rhinoceros by Lawrence Norfolk, both of the Bohumil Hrabal novels I brought back from Prague, and Amos Oz's memoir. I want to read Ford Madox Ford's The Good Soldier because I feel guilty for never having read it and Huston Curtiss' Sins of the 7th Sister because it looks like Southern Gothic fun.

I'm not doing too well on the resolutions. I've completed only eight non-fiction titles this year, although I realized yesterday afternoon that I have eight non-fictions currently in progress. I can't imagine that I'll finish more than two or three of them before the end of the year.

I'm not going to read 365 short stories this year as I'd planned unless I devote myself to nothing but stories for the rest of the year. Doubtful.

Of the novels I listed, I've read Closely Observed Trains by Hrabal, but bailed after one chapter of I Served the King of England, even though L. laughed his head off throughout the entire book.

I'd take consolation in the fact that 60 percent of the books I've read have come from my personal collection, but ten of those were purchased just this year.

And my reading priorities since returning from Utah have shifted completely from what they were just a couple weeks back.

I definitely need to ignore all new books for a year or two so that I can make a dent in what I already have.

Happy birthday to my favorite writer Anne Tyler, born 64 years ago in Minneapolis.

And on a different note:

. . . the process of canon formation is inevitably “partial,” in the sense that it does not (and does not attempt to) retrieve the past “as it really was.”

Michael Berube discusses Oldies Radio and the songs we actually listened to. Lots of songs in the comments as well that'll infiltrate your mind and suck the minerals from your soul (because mixed metaphors rule in pop songs).

Songs I loathed then and now:
Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)
Reunited by Peaches and Herb (I swear this was the only record the gals in the dorm room below me owned)
Heartbeat, It's a Love Beat

Songs I still kinda like to hear on occasion:
It's So Nice to Be With You
In the Year 2525 (my cousins and I played the heck out of this one one summer)
The Joker (Some people call me the space cowboy. . . )

Monday, October 24, 2005

Weird guy I know.

Blogs are created out of a moment's boredom and this one turns a year old today. May I do something more creative with it--and myself-- in the year to come. Happy birthday, little blog, and happy birthday to me while I'm at it.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Words are not my friend

Words, words are not my friend
Words, words only take
They never live

So whisper if you say them
Or maybe don't speak them at all
'Cause they'll watch as you stumble
Then laugh when you fall

Words, words, words expose you
As a fool
Words, words have been the means
For every voice I've ever heard be cruel

--Dwight Yoakam

Happy birthday to my guy, Dwight Yoakam!

A Dwight random ten:

Train in Vain
I Was There (w/Buck Owens)
Watch Out
Alright, I'm Wrong
An Exception to the Rule
Near You
I Sang Dixie
It is Well With My Soul
If Teardrops Were Diamonds (w/Willie Nelson)
Traveler's Lantern (w/Ralph Stanley)

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Friday, October 21, 2005

New Books

Books bought at Robbers Roost Books and Beverages in Torrey, Utah:

Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness. Edward Abbey

The Backbone of the World. Frank Clifford

Books I first heard about last night that look interesting:

Bronte Boy. Douglas Martin

The Planets. Dava Sobel

A People's History of Science: Miners, Midwives, and "Low Mechaniks." Clifford D. Conner

Who, me?

Break bowls while you were gone? Get a reputation as an escape artist? Inspire "Jurassic Park" quotes about velociraptors with my logistical powers ("They're learning.")?

Don't worry about me, Mom. I'm having a wonderful time.

Head over to The Ark on Fridays or the Carnival of the Cats on Sundays for a round up of the best and latest pet blogging photos. This week's carnival is being hosted by Mind of Mog.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

A close-up of the Hondu Arch, rising above the Muddy Creek encampment in the San Rafael Swell in Utah.

Imagine that you're sitting below the Arch, around a campfire after dinner with ten other people, the first night in camp. Eleven horses feed quietly on alfalfa nearby.

Imagine that the sun has set and that Venus is visible in the night sky above the left side of the Arch. The planet's trajectory dips it behind the stone for several minutes; Venus suddenly reappears, glowing like a candle carefully centered. You exclaim and everyone turns to marvel at the rare astronomical alignment that lingers ever so briefly.

A waxing gibbous moon rises over Tomsich Butte behind you.

Stars come out.

Still later, a lone owl will call.

More lists

Time's All-Time 100 Best Novels list came out while I was gone. I've read 49 of the novels listed there. A Work in Progress listed the following titles today; I'm bolding the ones I've read--finally, a list where I've obtained more than 50 percent. Best I can remember, I had to read 15 of these titles in high school and six of them in college.

Achebe, Chinua - Things Fall Apart
Agee, James - A Death in the Family
Austen, Jane - Pride and Prejudice
Baldwin, James - Go Tell It on the Mountain
Beckett, Samuel - Waiting for Godot
Bellow, Saul - The Adventures of Augie March
Brontë, Charlotte - Jane Eyre
Brontë, Emily - Wuthering Heights
Camus, Albert - The Stranger
Cather, Willa - Death Comes for the Archbishop
Chaucer, Geoffrey - The Canterbury Tales
Chekhov, Anton - The Cherry Orchard
Chopin, Kate - The Awakening
Conrad, Joseph - Heart of Darkness

Cooper, James Fenimore - The Last of the Mohicans
Crane, Stephen - The Red Badge of Courage
Dante - Inferno
de Cervantes, Miguel - Don Quixote
Defoe, Daniel - Robinson Crusoe
Dickens, Charles - A Tale of Two Cities
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - Crime and Punishment
Douglass, Frederick - Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
Dreiser, Theodore - An American Tragedy
Dumas, Alexandre - The Three Musketeers
Eliot, George - The Mill on the Floss
Ellison, Ralph - Invisible Man
Emerson, Ralph Waldo - Selected Essays
Faulkner, William - As I Lay Dying
Faulkner, William - The Sound and the Fury
Fielding, Henry - Tom Jones
Fitzgerald, F. Scott - The Great Gatsby
Flaubert, Gustave - Madame Bovary
Ford, Ford Madox - The Good Soldier
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von - Faust
Golding, William - Lord of the Flies
Hardy, Thomas - Tess of the d'Urbervilles
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - The Scarlet Letter
Heller, Joseph - Catch 22
Hemingway, Ernest - A Farewell to Arms
Homer - The Iliad
Homer - The Odyssey
Hugo, Victor - The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Hurston, Zora Neale - Their Eyes Were Watching God
Huxley, Aldous - Brave New World
Ibsen, Henrik - A Doll's House
James, Henry - The Portrait of a Lady
James, Henry - The Turn of the Screw
Joyce, James - A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Kafka, Franz - The Metamorphosis
Kingston, Maxine Hong - The Woman Warrior
Lee, Harper - To Kill a Mockingbird
Lewis, Sinclair - Babbitt
London, Jack - The Call of the Wild
Mann, Thomas - The Magic Mountain
Marquez, Gabriel García - One Hundred Years of Solitude

Melville, Herman - Bartleby the Scrivener
Melville, Herman - Moby Dick
Miller, Arthur - The Crucible
Morrison, Toni - Beloved
O'Connor, Flannery - A Good Man is Hard to Find
O'Neill, Eugene - Long Day's Journey into Night
Orwell, George - Animal Farm
Pasternak, Boris - Doctor Zhivago
Plath, Sylvia - The Bell Jar
Poe, Edgar Allan - Selected Tales
Proust, Marcel - Swann's Way
Pynchon, Thomas - The Crying of Lot 49
Remarque, Erich Maria - All Quiet on the Western Front
Rostand, Edmond - Cyrano de Bergerac
Roth, Henry - Call It Sleep
Salinger, J.D. - The Catcher in the Rye
Shakespeare, William - Hamlet
Shakespeare, William - Macbeth

Shakespeare, William - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Shakespeare, William - Romeo and Juliet
Shaw, George Bernard - Pygmalion
Shelley, Mary - Frankenstein
Silko, Leslie Marmon - Ceremony
Solzhenitsyn, Alexander - One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Sophocles - Antigone
Sophocles - Oedipus Rex
Steinbeck, John - The Grapes of Wrath
Stevenson, Robert Louis - Treasure Island
Stowe, Harriet Beecher - Uncle Tom's Cabin
Swift, Jonathan - Gulliver's Travels
Thackeray, William - Vanity Fair
Thoreau, Henry David - Walden
Tolstoy, Leo - War and Peace
Turgenev, Ivan - Fathers and Sons
Twain, Mark - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Voltaire - Candide
Vonnegut, Kurt Jr. - Slaughterhouse-Five
Walker, Alice - The Color Purple
Wharton, Edith - The House of Mirth

Welty, Eudora - Collected Stories
Whitman, Walt - Leaves of Grass
Wilde, Oscar - The Picture of Dorian Gray
Williams, Tennessee - The Glass Menagerie
Woolf, Virginia - To the Lighthouse
Wright, Richard - Native Son

Saturday, October 15, 2005


“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”

--T. H. White

Books are like imprisoned souls till someone takes them down from a shelf and frees them.

--Samuel Butler

Leave the dishes unwashed and the demands on your time unanswered. Be ruthless and refuse to do what people ask of you.

--Lynne Sharon Schwartz

Indulge me with a book for every sea I have not sailed and every life I have not lived.

--A.G. Rimmell

Friday, October 14, 2005

The Challenged Book Meme

This is a list of the most challenged books from 1990-2000. Books I've read have been put in bold.

1. Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz
2. Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite
3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
4. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
7. Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
8. Forever by Judy Blume
9. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
10. Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
11. Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
12. My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
13. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
14. The Giver by Lois Lowry
15. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
16. Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
17. A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
18. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
19. Sex by Madonna
20. Earth’s Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel
21. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
22. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
23. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
24. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
25. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
26. The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard
27. The Witches by Roald Dahl
28. The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein
29. Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry
30. The Goats by Brock Cole
31. Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
32. Blubber by Judy Blume
33. Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
34. Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
35. We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
36. Final Exit by Derek Humphry
37. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
38. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
39. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
40. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras
41. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
42. Beloved by Toni Morrison
43. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
44. The Pigman by Paul Zindel
45. Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard
46. Deenie by Judy Blume
47. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (short story version)
48. Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
49. The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar
50. Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz
51. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
52. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
53. Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
54. Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole
55. Cujo by Stephen King
56. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
57. The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
58. Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
59. Ordinary People by Judith Guest
60. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
61. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras
62. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
63. Crazy Lady by Jane Conly
64. Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
65. Fade by Robert Cormier
66. Guess What? by Mem Fox
67. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
68. The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney
69. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
70. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
71. Native Son by Richard Wright
72. Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Fantasies by Nancy Friday
73. Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen
74. Jack by A.M. Homes
75. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
76. Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle
77. Carrie by Stephen King
78. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
79. On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
80. Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge
81. Family Secrets by Norma Klein
82. Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole
83. The Dead Zone by Stephen King
84. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
85. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
86. Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
87. Private Parts by Howard Stern
88. Where’s Waldo? by Martin Hanford
89. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
90. Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman
91. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
92. Running Loose by Chris Crutcher
93. Sex Education by Jenny Davis
94. The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene
95. Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
96. How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
97. View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts
98. The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
99. The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney
100. Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

(book meme from Heather)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Embracing the inner mule

Stefanie linked to an excerpt from Barbara Ehrenreich's Bait and Switch late last month. What is it with corporate inspirational types and their references to horses? And why are there so many people in the business world desperate for their advice?

At any rate, Ehreneich's experience with a career coach reminded me of a terrible workshop I went to two or three years back:

So A., my co-worker, mentioned in passing awhile back that the workshop on self-discipline and emotional control sounded interesting, and C., our boss, thought it'd be good to get out of the library for awhile, so today was the day we spent at a Holiday Inn across town attending a workshop designed to make people want to buy life-enhancing books (successful people read one and a half hours per day, at least four books per month, we were told; losers watch three hours of TV per day) and videos and audiotapes (available for purchase at the back of the room).

All of the morning stuff was the kind of stuff we lecture S. on all the time, so I was pretty bored, except for the fact that this program insisted on calling conscious thought the rider and the non-conscious part of the brain-- habit and emotions --the horse. The horse has magic saddle bags, since that's where all the auto-pilot stuff is stored! The horse almost always wins! The way the horse talks to you determines how you feel! We have to suffer the results of the lies our horses tell us!

The horse, I decided, must be Mr. Ed.

The afternoon was worse. We were supposed to train our horses to use an "awfulizing" scale. The scale had percentages based on the amount of physical harm we'd be willing to endure in order to keep bad events or people from upsetting us--ranged from small bumps and bruises to having all four limbs cut off. This was supposed to teach us how irrational thinking keeps us from keeping things in perspective, but I thought it was stupid and extreme and didn't assign percentages to anything, but some in the class said they were willing to endure having their dominant arm broken if the bad stuff would stop. I did share with A. that I'd broken my nondominant arm by falling off a horse when I was a kid, but A., Ms. Won't Even Tolerate Having a Papercut to Stop the Bad, said she was sure I was missing the point. C. was amusing herself by then by writing down the lyrics to "Horse With No Name."

I don't know if my self-esteem is too high or too low, but in any case, it wouldn't let me participate in the self-esteem exercise that consisted in moving miniature beer kegs along wires to demonstrate how much we believe significant others, co-workers, etc., care about us. Maybe I'd have felt more like doing the exercise if the horse hadn't gone awol all of a sudden, and the kegs could have been used for barrel racing.

The horse did come back for a demonstration on the wearing of blinders, and who knows what it did after the midafternoon break, because we were tired of writing silly notes in the back of the room by then and got the hell out of Dodge.

I don't think I'm cut out for self-improvement anyway. I mean, I'm sure it's okay for others, but if in the future I say neigh, it's because I'm okay with embracing my inner mule.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


Leave Salt Lake City for Bryce Canyon--"a helluva place to lose a cow"

Spend night in Torrey.

San Rafael Swell--"the Place Nobody Knew" --for five days, four nights. Camp at Muddy Creek. Explore slot canyons and ride horses.

Torrey, again

Flight out of Salt Lake City

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Existential question

Why do all the library books on hold show a status of "in transit" the morning one leaves for a trip?

Monday, October 10, 2005

Utah is an odd state--the most beautiful, I think--because it is one thing but also another. It is red and hot in the desert--in the south--while the north has the cool and the blue forests and mountains, which smell of fir and snow. And like so many things, when seen from a distance, they look unattainable, like a mystery or a promise.

--Rick Bass, The Watch

I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes. . . . If you have any enterprise before you, try it in your old clothes. All men want, not something to do with, but something to do, or rather something to be.

--H. D. Thoreau, Walden

Y'all are crazy.

--A., a friend of C.'s and mine

But she could ride horses here.

--my sister, quoting my cousin D.

When do you leave for Colorado?

--my mother-in-law, distracted by her upcoming trip to Greece and Turkey

But who will look after L. and S. while you're gone?

--my mother, from beyond the grave

Trevor, the yellow parrot, who has always made his own inner clock the law of the land, will instruct the guys as to when they ought to get up and when they ought to go to bed--quite loudly at that. L. has a doctor's appointment and S. has a drama class, but otherwise the week is their own to fill. I think they'll do just fine.

I found my long underwear (in the drawer where it belonged!), so the only new clothes I've had to buy have been the riding boots and gloves and the rain gear. I've been crazy so long the concept no longer contains any interest for me. Colorado I'll get to eventually.

I am not opposed to riding horses in North Carolina. Not in the slightest. If my allergies don't give me fits in Utah, I'll be looking for riding opportunities here once we're back.

I've agonized over the number of books to take and the individual titles. How much time will there actually be to read once we're in the swell? Will I be exhausted in the evenings or will I lie awake wishing for something to take my mind off my aching muscles?

Unless I have a last minute change of heart I'm packing these:

Close Range. Annie Proulx
The Flame Trees of Thika. Elspeth Huxley
Letters From Yellowstone. Diane Smith
The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill. Mark Bittner
The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail. Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee
The Outlaw Trail. Charles Kelly

And, a few links before I go:

Calvin and Hobbes

The Tiger Strikes Again and Bill Watterson's speech at Kenyon College


On politics, presidents and librarians (guess which one he likes)

George Saunders

The Reign of Phil website

An interview with Robert Birnbaum


new books on Hercules and Helen of Troy

I shoulda been a geologist

Vocabulary acquired preparing for the trip:

hoo doo--a tall column of rock; one of these thingies

hondoo--Spanish for a loop in a lariat

rincon--an interior corner, a hook; hence, an angular recess or hollow bend

coconino--sandstone strata from the paleozoic; pure quartz sand, basically a petrified sand dune, white to cream colored

anticline--a fold with strata sloping downward on both sides from a common crest

monocline--a geologic structure in which all layers are inclined in the same direction

swell--A rise in the land; a rounded elevation

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Stock covers

Check out the cover on this version of Woolf's The Years. Look familiar even without the splash of bright orange?

If you click on it for a closer look it defaults to the cover I actually own.

Mystery quotes

I have a dog named Jackson, who between the ages of four and five, in people years, became suicidal. In a period of less than twelve months, Jackson jumped out of the back of a speeding pickup truck, ate a fourteen pound bag of nonorganic fertilizer, and threw himself between the jaws of a hundred-and-fifty pound Russian wolfhound. Similarly, when I turned twenty-eight years old, I started to date a man whose favorite song was "Desperado."

I guessed this quote easily at Readerville last night.

And I put up the following quote and it was quickly identified as well:

I had known him as a bulldozer, as a samurai, as an android programmed to kill, as Plastic Man and Titanium Man and Matter-Eater Lad, as a Buick Electra, as a Peterbuilt truck, and even, for a week, as the Mackinac Bridge, but it was as a werewolf that Timothy Stokes finally went too far.

Anybody here recognize them?

Friday, October 07, 2005

Ellie's first exposure to opera.

Head over to The Ark on Fridays or the Carnival of the Cats on Sundays for a round up of the best and latest pet blogging photos. This week's carnival is being hosted by Gina's Rantings.

Library Thing

Sneaking suspicion that when I come back from vacation I'm going to become obsessed with Library Thing.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Mine was a Henry Miller quote

The mediocre work, which is the daily fare for most of us, I regard as harmful because it is produced by automatons for automatons.

Stefanie tagged me with the following meme:

1. Go into your blog's archive.
2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to).
3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.

Anyone else want to play?

Peter Rushforth and other items

Sandra reported Friday that Peter Rushforth, author of Pinkerton's Sister and the award-winning Kindergarten, had died the previous weekend. Efforts to find an online obituary were futile until MMitchell of Rushforth's US publishing house linked to this report in the Whitby Gazette in Sandra's comments:

Peter Rushforth, of Station Road [Castleton], collapsed while walking on Blakey Ridge with his regular walking group at 11.15am on Sunday [Sept. 25]. He was taken to James Cook Hospital but died on the way. He had suffered a heart attack.

Rushforth had completed his third novel, A Dead Language, last spring. It will be published in the UK in April and the US next fall.

The latest edition of The Believer contains an interview with Lorrie Moore.

Are there books that you read before you should have been exposed to them? What would you be willing to do to keep such a book from others? A parent's strings-attached gift of $3 million has been returned; St. Andrew's Episcopal School in Austin intends to keep Annie Proulx's "Brokeback Mountain" as optional reading in 12th grade.

Orson Scott Card says Serenity is a great movie and I agree. Everyone please go see it (twice or more if you can afford it) so that there will be a sequel. Everyone go see if so we can discuss the movie without spoiling it for anyone else.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Trip prep

Have I mentioned lately that I'm going to Utah? We're flying to Salt Lake City next Tuesday, driving south to the canyons on Wednesday.

C. and H. and I went out for lunch and then shopped for rain gear, riding boots and gloves last month. They bought brightly colored bandanas but I demurred—I have my long-owned and oh-so-soft Heyes bandana after all. Of course, the last place I can remember seeing it was on the floor by the window in the bedroom a few months back and it's not there any more. Maybe it's with the missing portion of my long underwear, also not to be found.

Organizational skills would help in a time like this.

Yesterday I went to my doctor for a check-up and to beg for steroids to keep my allergies under control while I'm on the trip. I expected her to yell at me for being so stupid—what business does anyone who's been so allergic to horses in the past that her eyes swell to the point that she's functionally blind have signing up for a extended riding trip in the San Rafael Swell? Fortunately, she's ridden horses in Jackson Hole, so she was most sympathetic. She doesn't think steroids work well with eye allergies, so she wrote a perscription for Patanol instead.

A petting zoo is coming to the field in C.'s neighborhood this Saturday—I intend to put the drops and the Claritin to the test by dropping by that morning to sniff the pony.

Otherwise, I'm reading a book about Butch Cassidy to prepare for the trip. L.'s loaded my Audible player with Macbeth, A Death in Venice, and The Lambs of London. I have my Lightwedge for middle-of-the-night tent reading and a stack of books I'm attempting to choose from. I study topographical maps in the evenings. I check the weather in Torrey two or three times a day. I'm reminding R. to bring her camera's memory card home with her this weekend so I'll have two to take and I'm planning entries that L. can post while I'm gone.

I'm not all set, but I'm getting there.

Monday, October 03, 2005

A great segmented body

But supposing we are more a nonhuman form of life. Imagine a great segmented body moving in contractions and dilations at a rate of twelve or fifteen miles day, a creature of a hundred thousand feet. It is tubular in its being and tentacled to the roads and bridges over which it travels. It sends out as antennae its men on horses. It consumes everything in its path. It is an immense organism, this army, with a small brain. That would be General Sherman, whom I have never seen.

I am not so sure the General would be pleased to hear himself described so, Emily said in all solemnity. And then she laughed.

But Wrede clearly liked this train of thought. All the orders for our vast movements issue forth from that brain, he said. They are carried via the generals and colonels and field officers for distribution to the body of us. This is the creature's nervous system. And any one of the sixty thousand of us has no identity but as a cell in the body of this giant creature's function, which is to move forward and consume all before it.

Then how do you explain the surgeons, whose job it is to heal and to save lives?

That the creature is self-healing. And where the healing fails, the deaths are of no more consequence than the death of cells in any organism, always to be replaced by new cells.

--E. L. Doctor, The March
Yesterday Fay Weldon told the Guardian: "I can see I wished in vain. The polarities are even greater now. Women buy women's books: men buy literary books, written by men or honorary males."

Okay, so it's time for the winner of the Orange Prize to be announced, but that's no reason to throw out nonsense like that. Yes, there are women who buy only women's books; yes, there are men who buy only men's books, but the fact remains that without the women, well, as Ian McEwan said last month:

Reading groups, readings, breakdowns of book sales all tell the same story: when women stop reading, the novel will be dead.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Scattershot links

Do you really know what time it is?

Miss Manners' Five Favorite Novels

Zadie Smith: Joan Acocella's review and Christopher Frizzelle's "13 ways" review

Book Lust

Nancy Pearl's Favorite Short Stories

Sunday morning random ten

1. I Second That Emotion--Smokey Robinson & the Miracles
2. There Goes My Heart--The Mavericks
3. If I Need Someone--The Beatles
4. Ghost in This House--Alison Krauss & Union Station
5. Field of Diamonds--Johnny Cash
6. I'm Losing You--Bob Woodruff
7. Cry, Cry, Cry--Robbie Fulks
8. Pagliacci's Opera Vesti la Giubba--Jose Maria Perez
9. Rainmaker--Michael Nesmith
10. Evangeline--Emmylou Harris

A bang, not a whimper

  Two months into L.'s retirement, and I'm finished with the stockpiling of books. No more book purchases! Or at least, no purcha...