Numerous Opportunities for Me to Reference Myself

You know, being ahead of the trend really requires a grace that few of you will ever have to  achieve. One must possess tact and feel a sense of noblesse obligé when others come, excited about news or hip new fads, and I, princess of politesse that I am, do not yawn, roll my eyes, or belch at them – sometimes it’s fun to burp when you are bored or annoyed – because their exciting little tidbit is, frankly, passé, to me.

Of course, I understand that there is a certain degree of natural synchronicity in the universe, but, to be honest, I do believe that much of the time, I come up with an original, never-before-imagined idea, and the rest of the world just copies me. I know, I know… it’s the most sincere form of flattery, blah, blah, blah. Still, all I ask is for the proper credit, perhaps a little praise for my prescience. And monetary compensation. That’s more than reasonable, non?

For example, NPR recently called me. I usually only answer when it’s that sassy, randy minx, my Marketplace manfriend, Kai Ryssdal, calling. (Sample conversation: “What’s the market doing now, Kai… do I see that little NASDAQ going up? My, how your portfolio is increasing! Who’d like to make an investment?!”)

I thought it was Kai-Kins, so I picked up. Quel horreur! It was that wretch, Nina Tottenberg, attempting yet again to best me. This rivalry has been going on ever since Garrison Keillor tried to lure me to his prairie home, while completely ignoring her awkward, pathetic advances.

“AVR, Darling, I believe we have finally scooped you! My Weekend Edition team found the most adorable little coffee shop, full of the most delightfully real people, in which to do an election piece! You’ll simply never guess where it is!”

I thought long, but not hard, which I think would be a great title for an older adult contemporary concept album.

“Did you go to Trudy’s Diner in Idaho City, Idaho, Nina?” I asked.

The initial shocked silence on the other end of the line was satisfying, but when Nina started shrieking hysterically and calling me names I simply can’t bring myself to mention here, my victory grew a bit tiresome. I ended the conversation the same way I end most of my dialogues with Ms.Tottenberg, or, for that matter, with that slutty Diane Rehm.

“Idaho, Nina? Let’s be real, shall we? You da ho! Everyone knows whoClick and Clack, The Tappit brothers, are really tapping! Good day!”

My faithful readers will recall this recent post in which not only did I bring Idaho City to you, but I also had a special shout out to my friends at Trudy’s. That’s because I am a real journalist and cutting edge trend-setter. Here’s the NPR piece.  Nina was so upset she had to get her lackey, Rachel Martin, to do it.

Of course, you know that two of the books I reported on have been made into major motion pictures this year. Perks of Being a Wallflower, the young adult novel by Stephen Chbosky is currently in theaters.

Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell, is coming out October 24th. It’s huge! I mentioned it way back in 2011 here: Back then I hoped the movie didn’t suck. I still do.

Speaking of good books being turned into movies that hopefully don’t suck, Let The Great World Spin by Colum McCann is in production now, with J.J. Abrams of Lost fame at the helm. Could go either way. One of the great things about that book was Mr. McCann’s gorgeous prose, and I don’t know that the big screen will be able to capture that. One of the great things about Lost was Desmond.  Damn. I just love me some Desmond, brutha. Even dirty, bloody and sweaty. Hell, who am I kidding? Especially dirty bloody and sweaty! Don’t judge me! At least I didn’t get his face tattooed on what appears to be my slightly hairy upper thigh. Yet.  Hey, Click on this: No, seriously! Click on it!

OK, back to the highbrow lowdown you’ve come to expect from me. Here’s Colum McCann’s website: . His new book, Transatlantic, comes out next year. You can hear him reading from it here:

I’ve been reading a book of short stories by Etgar Keret, an Israeli writer, called Suddenly, A Knock at the Door. Mr. Keret’s imagination is truly inspiring, and the depth of the stories he manages to tell in just a couple of pages is amazing. I was going to tell you all about him, so you’d be the first on your block to know, but then Selected Shorts scooped me big time! Crap’s Ass! Anyway, listen to him speak about writing and hear one of his stories read here: When you are finished listening, scrape up all of your money and send me to NYC to hear him and Gary Shteyngart ( speak on April 17th. I’ll make it worth your while!

Finally, you know how many times I have warned you about birds. They are dirty, full of mites, have flat, beady eyes, and sharp pecky beaks. They fly, which means they are capable of- and enjoy!- dive bombing missions, and they believe the world is their toilet. Their legs are made of dinosaur-snake skin (Evolution, my dear Watson!) and they have talons to claw at your eyes and rip out your vocal chords so that you can’t scream for help.

But here’s the worst thing: They are getting bigger and bolder. Think about it; there have always been big blackbirds, but when you were a kid do you remember grackels the size of a terrier? Do you remember them standing their ground in the street and staring into your car’s grille, just daring you to hit them? No sirree, Bob, those feathered footballs have grown huge bird balls, and they are coming for you! I took these pictures recently to illustrate my point.  Notice how the birds line the telephone wires. That’s pretty horrifying. They are listening to our conversations. They are watching. Watching and waiting. Preparing to wing off to their leader. Freaky. Weirder still is the way they are hanging out on the parking lot, pacing. Why are they there? I go in a little closer to investigate.

 I’m not gonna lie. I was spooked, and my camera got a little shaky. There was no food on the parking lot, no nest building materials, nothing sparkly. Why would they be hanging out on the ground?

I looked around. Nobody in the lot but me. The streetlights were about to come on, providing a glow to the dusk. I scanned the surrounding signage; one of them said “STOP!”, which seemed like a good idea, and another said “Park, Lock and Hide.” Then it hit me; those birds were just waiting for some sucker to forget to lock his Lexus and then they were going to jack that ride! Fuckers! They are afraid of nothing, and people, they will steal     your     car!! No lie, GI!

I know what you’re thinking. Has it come to this? I, too, thought perhaps I might be slightly paranoid. There was only one thing left to do. I needed to stare those beasts right in their flat, beady, red eyes and judge their true intentions for myself. I was terrified. But I’m a journalist, and that’s what we do.

I crept up to one of the beaked bastards carefullly, quietly. I steeled myself and tapped him on the shoulder. Slowly he turned….this is what I saw. Judge his intentions for yourself.


I know. Hideous. Birds are Beelzebub. You heard it here first. I hate to tell you I told you so, but…well, suffice it to say, being right all the time is a bit of a curse.

Of course, I am not the first to notice the increasingly hostile attitudes of the feathered fiends. Daphne Du Maurier brilliantly chronicled their homicidal natures in her famous short story, “The Birds”. If you haven’t read it, it’s really good; it’s a wonderful example of build and suspense. Here is how she describes the birds for the first time in the story:

In spring the birds flew inland, purposeful, intent; they knew where they were bound; the rhythm and ritual of their life brooked no delay. In autumn those that had not migrated overseas but remained to pass the winter were caught up in the same driving urge, but because migration was denied them, followed a pattern of their own. Great flocks of them came to the peninsula, restless, uneasy, spending themselves in motion; now wheeling, circling in the sky, now settling to feed on the rich, new-turned soil; but even when they fed, it was as though they did so without hunger, without desire. Restlessness drove them to the skies again. 

Black and white, jackdaw and gull, mingled in strange partnership, seeking some sort of liberation, never satisfied, never still. Flocks of starlings, rustling like silk, flew to fresh pasture, driven by the same necessity of movement, and the smaller birds, the finches and the larks, scattered from tree to hedge as if compelled. 

It only gets worse from there.

HBO has obviously been reading this blog, and has realized that what interests me interests the world, and so they have just aired a made-for-tv movie called “The Girl”, which is about the single-minded, relentless obsession Alfred Hitchock had with his leading lady, Tippi Hedren. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’ll bet it’s pretty good, so I give HBO my blessing – this time. But it was my idea.

One last thing: a quick review of a movie I have seen, Seven Psychopaths. It’s good, real good! I give it a solid “A”. It’s beautifully shot, interesting and oddly funny, and the cast is fantastic. Props to KW for picking it out and making me go see it. KW, I will never doubt you again! I can say that confidently knowing you won’t hold me to it, as you’ll never read this, since it’s not on Facebook.

One other last thing: Daphne Du Maurier also wrote a story called “The Doll” about a young woman’s obsession with a mechanical sex doll. I’ll investigate it immediately.

Lost In Translation

Robert Frost said, “Poetry is what gets lost in translation.” I quite like this quote, as well as the movie that references it, but I can’t figure out if it means that one can never really capture the poetry of a situation, because it always gets lost, or if poetry emerges when something is lost – meaning, perhaps? Clarity? Comfort? Order? – in translation; in other words, when expectation or analytical significance is lost, poetry is gained.

Oh Frost! So simple, yet so complex!

I have recently finished one book, and reread another, both of which stunned me with their poetry and creativity. The new book is Black Swan Green, by David Mitchell, who is the author of Cloud Atlas. Here is a picture of swans.

The black swan in the picture is really just a duck, but you probably knew that. 

Black Swan Green is the story of a year in the life of a boy, Jason Taylor. It is a coming-of-age story, or, as they say in Germany, a bildungsroman. (Yeah, that’s right! I know that word! I said it, and I know what it means! Of course,  I don’t know why anyone who is writing in English would ever use it instead of “coming-of-age-novel”, which is a perfectly good and completely comprehensible term, but I like to be pretentious, and then show that I know that I am pretentious, thereby establishing myself as down-to-earth and adorably self mocking.)

I love the story of the novel, and the way the characters are built. It is funny, poignant, profound, surprising, captivating and universal, though it is set in a very specific place and time. But that’s not what really got me about this book; what makes this book so amazing is the language it is written in, the poetry of it. Mitchell is brilliant (or ‘brill’, as Jason Taylor would say). He is so original, so creative, and so true to his own stylistic devices and perspective that the two books I have read by him are different than anything else I have ever read.

I underlined half the book. Here’s how Jason describes skating by himself in the early morning: Round and around in swoopy anticlockwise loops I looped, a stone on the end of a string. Overhanging trees tried to touch my head with their fingers. Rooks craw…craw…crawed, like old people who’ve forgotten why they’d come upstairs.

Here’s another brief passage: The world won’t leave things be. It’s always injecting endings into beginnings. Leaves tweezer themselves from these weeping willows. Leaves fall into the lake and dissolve into slime. Where’s the sense in that?…The world never stops making what the world never stops making.

That’s nothing. Here are some more random lines:

A cow of an awkward pause mooed.

A shame bomb blew my head off.

[I] held her opal brooch over one eye. I looked through it at the sun for secret colors nobody’s ever named.

New leaves oozed from twigs in the hedges.

Maybe I heard a poem, seeping from [the garden]. So I stood and listened, just for a moment, like a hungry robin listening for worms.

“Probably” is a word with an emergency ejector seat.

Sunlight on waves is drowsy tinsel.

These jewels that glint under the bright light of scrutiny don’t do justice to the music of the book, the song of the words, and the melody of the story. This is a case of not being able to catch the poetry of getting lost in the pages. I can’t give you the poetry, because I lose it in the telling. You’ll just have to read it yourself.

The other book is Dancer, by Colum Mcann. I adore this book. It is absolutely one of my favorites of EVER. It is so unbelievably well-written, so innovative, so glorious. It’s about Rudolf Nureyev, and it combines all kinds of different forms of expression; lists and letters, shifts in subject, time and perspective, history and story, fact and fiction, prose, and poetry and some of the richest, most evocative imagery and diction I have ever had the pleasure of discovering. One chapter, which runs for 32 pages and spans less than 24 hours and is made up of one, single, unbelievable sentence (Suck it, Proust!), makes me almost laugh out loud with the insane, ecstatic purity of it, with its rhythm and swagger, its highs, lows, slow builds and crescendos, with it’s sheer genius – I am left breathless at the end of the chapter, panting. And then I turn back and read it again.

I would give you a taste of this chapter, as it illustrates perfectly the second possibility of my Lost In Translation question – that maybe what it means is less important than how it feels, and how it feels is the poetry of it all – but I have learned my lesson in trying to translate. You’ll just have to read it for yourself.

Plus, like I said, it’s long. I don’t have time to read and think and write for you, now do I?! I got a life to lead, Cha Cha! Now get outta here and leave me alone!

Special thanks to Jonny-Boy, my fahrvergnugan wunderkind, who knows how to use a smartphone like a raketenwissenchaftler and widens my weltenschauung everytime I see him!

Look at these gorgeous black swan dancer (ah, serendipitous synchronicity!!!) posters by La Boca Design

 and to see more waycool posters, check this site out:

All the Buzz

Editor’s Note: I wrote this a long time ago, way back when I was on summer vacation and the living was easy. Then I started stupid work again. The transition made me senile and I never actually posted it. Nobody commented on that which wasn’t there, so I sank into a depressive stupor under the weight of the rejection and feelings of alienation I felt, as I am wholly dependent on the validation of cyber-folk, and why not?  They are all prescient, insightful,  skilled and supportive at all times. Without cyber comments, love, and web- concern, I am nothing, and life is but a metronome, ticking by, keeping the time, filling in space, but without meaning or melody. I don’t know how long I can hang on.

Actually, I just vegged and forgot to hit “publish”. Psych!  Ain’t no thang! Enjoy!

#1. What I did today: Today I ate some honey. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but for some reason at around 2 o’clock this afternoon, I jumped off the couch, bounded into the kitchen, and squeezed a sticky golden orb on each of my fingertips from a little plastic bear. I held my hand up to the window, admired how the honey glowed in the sunlight, and sucked a sweet blob off my fingers, one at a time. Yum.

Did you know that honey is made from bee puke? They ingest the nectar, which I guess is made up of pollen, and then regurgitate it, repeatedly, from their ‘honey stomachs’, which sound a lot cuter than they actually are, and then spew the partially digested food source into the little containers of the honeycombs, which are individual, snack-sized, vacuum-packed, puke pouches.

Not so yum, right?

Perhaps you knew this already. Zach#1 did.

Bee Vomit

My Profile ImageZach #1 created this outcome and drew Bee Vomit on Jun 30, 2008 at 3:34pm.



Bee VomitBee Vomit

There you have it. Another productive day in my life.

#2 – Fact: The average American flushes the toilet at home five times a day. That equals 18.5 gallons of water per American, per day, and that is only if the person only relieves him/herself at home. When you do the math, and trust me when I say that I did NOT, that equals 5.7 billion gallons per American at home, per day. All that water flushed down the drain. To put this in global terms, that’s mas agua than than all the homes in the UK and Canada use in a day for ALL of their water needs – cooking, cleaning, bathing, drinking, etc.- combined. Right now 40% of the world’s 6.9 billion people don’t have access to clean water, and by 2050, it is estimated that there will be 2.4 billion more.

I’m not saying don’t flush. That’s yucky. I’m just askin’ you to consider the if-it’s-yellow-let-it-mellow theory. Don’t waste water. Actively think of ways to save and reuse, or restrict your water consumption. It’s important. (Facts from The Big Thirst, by Charles Fishman, 2011, brought to me by way of KB. Thanks KB!)

Here are some bathrooms I have frequented lately. I’m pretty sure I didn’t flush in all of them.

#3 Cassandra Strummer: I think it is fairly obvious to most everyone that the Clash are prophets. I’m talkin’ crystal-ball-future-tellin’-they-just-KNOW prophets. Naysayers to the band as soothsayers concept need only revisit the lyrics of the iconic “London Calling”:

London calling to the faraway towns/Now war is declared, and battle come down…

The ice age is coming, the sun’s zooming in

Engines stop working, the wheat is growing thin….

A nuclear error!

Don’t you get it? All this stuff has come to pass! Every bit of it, unless you are a Tea partier and don’t believe in global warming, the inevitable effects of dependence on fossil fuels,and the drought and famine that threatens to wipe out civilizations, as is currently happening in places like Somalia, that nuke meltdown in Japan; this shit’s real, dude! The Clash is Nostredamus, man, they are totally 2012, FO SHO! And what’s more, this ditty is the siren’s song for the 2012 Olympics, that are being held where? Oh yeah, let me hear  it…London Calling, baby, that’s what I’m sayin’! Never mind that its message is a lullabye of doom, complete with zombies and rioting teen-aged hooligan boys and girls coming out of the cupboards (gay zombie hooligans? Yikes! The worse kind!), it is the official song of the corporatization of corporal competition, and the Clash knew it would be someday…the prophets of profit, cash for Clash, I tell ya, and they deserve every Euro-tuppence they rake in…

#4 – Turd words: Ha ha, Sarah Palin! Hahaha on you! You make up word and you’re annoying! Haha!

#5 – What I am reading: Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell. People, I am loving this book. It took me awhile to get into it, but now I am halfway through it and fully invested. I’ve never read anything quite like it. Or the Shteyngart book. Or Dancer, by Colum Mcann. Those were some real fine books, I tell you what. I know that when I tell you about these books, it doesn’t make you want to rush out and read them. But you should. I’m lonely and I want someone to talk to about these things that impress me so. Do it!

Cloud Atlas is going to be made into a movie with Tom Hanks, Halle Barry, Susan Sarandon, and other folk. I can’t see as it won’t suck, but I’ll probably still pay to go see it.

Laters, Peeps! Try not to overheat!

P.S. Hey! While we were talkin’, I saw you noddin’ out!