Thursday, August 31, 2006

Game; or, "In ambivalent aspirations"

Pick words from a book, any book, one at a time. Write them down, as they come. Then, without changing the order (and deleting no more than 2-3 words and changing the tense of no more than 1 word), see what you have. It usually surprises. You feel like a baby Stein or a Surrealist game player or a writer of fortune cookies in translation.

Taken from A Postmodern Reader

Nothing of power is
certainly music:
the points without design
characterize their greatness.
Across knowledge, my legitimate attention
(curiously well-known)
brings emancipation.

Remold wishes, liberating sense. (And very good advice it is, too.)
Conservative condition (made practical) assumes its own time.
In ambivalent aspirations: challenging the groove.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Do They Or Don't They?

For a while when I was a kid, I thought about everything in terms of mysteries. This was due to reading too much Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon—and I’m sure that Harriet the Spy and the Bloodhound Gang had a hand in it. One adventure that my friend K. and I spent hours playing was our own Nancy Drew creation: “The Mystery at the Roller Skating Rink.” This allowed us to combine two primary interests (Solving crimes! Wearing Strawberry Shortcake skates!) into one fun game. Since she was older, K. got to be Nancy; I got to be Bess, George, and any hapless rink employees that we needed for the narrative. Most of the time was spent looking for clues. Since the rink was actually my basement, the clues were pretty obscure: “Look Nancy, next to the water heater! It’s a granola bar wrapper!” Still, such a wrapper could point to all sorts of exciting things: kidnappings, cries for help, a Trap. It was a tiring game, since it meant never taking off skates, even when “running’ up and down the stairs or crouching behind the woodpile outside the basement door, but it kept us enthralled for hours. I don’t think anything ever got solved on those days (just what was at stake was always a little fuzzy), but it allowed us to see the basement in a whole new way—as a shadowy den, with many obscure nooks and crannies where crooks could plot despicable deeds.

The thing that bothered me about Nancy then and still does (in addition to her endless bank account and her ability to jet off to Greece at the drop of a hat), was that none of the books could seem to settle on what color her hair was. Was it blond or was it strawberry blond or was it Titian? (Of course, we said tit-ee-an). Titian (a “golden-auburn”) is just not the same as “blond” or “strawberry blond,” but the author(s) didn’t seem to care. They used all of these descriptions interchangeably.

This hair confusion applies to Trixie too. Did she have blond hair or did she not--every cover told a different story. It would have made a big difference to me because, as I was blonder than K., it was natural that I play the shy sidekick, Honey (blond) Wheeler. If it turns out that Trixie really did have blond hair, I would have had more leverage.

Is there any way to find out? I probably won’t be up for playing detective games any time soon, but it would be nice to solve these mysteries, once and for all.

P.S. I just read a biography of the Nancy Drew creators, Girl Sleuth. I was hoping it could clear up the hair issue for me. It didn’t.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Who Would Win

The Creepiness Award?
(For Elizabeth.) I'd say: Bangs, hands down.

I did appreciate Mr. Green Jeans and Moose and Bunny. But they were no way as fundamental to me as the Neighborhood characters. Speedy delivery? And the crayon factory? And the exciting moment when Prince Tuesday was born? All very top-notch stuff.

Is there an essay collection about the Neighborhood? I have heard about "Mr. Rogers and Me" (a film by a guy who really was Mr. Rogers's neighbor). There's also a book about the significance of the show for kids. But are there any essays that explore, say, the museum collection of Lady Elaine Fairchild? Or the never-quite relationship between Lady Aberlin and Handyman Negri? Or that ask the difficult questions about Edgar Cooke? There should be.

I'll have to think more about this.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Real Mother Goose

I had a copy of this book as a child. Of all the books I owned, I think it is safe to say that this is the one I read the least. My parents would pull it off the bookshelf every once in a while and try to get me into it, but I always resisted. Why? Take a look. What do you think is happening in that picture?

It’s obvious, right? A nefarious witch (is there any other kind?) is abducting a baby. She is flying away on a magic goose that she has brutally enslaved. Her shifty eyes, pointy hat, buckled shoes, and bony, wrinkled fingers are dead giveaways. (Seriously: look at those hands. Not just the effects of old age.)

According to my parents, my impression was inaccurate. She is, rather, a kindly old lady (possibly of Pilgrim origin) who is simply taking the baby out for a ride. Their primary arguing point was flimsy: “Look how happy the baby is,” they said, “If she was a witch, would the baby be so happy?”Such failure of logic drove me crazy. It was clear that the baby was stupid. He (she) didn’t know that s/he was being abducted. History (Hansel and Gretel) had taught me that witches could be compelling creatures. Why should this witch be any different?

Still my parents persisted. “She’s just Mother Goose. Mother Goose isn’t a witch.”
Oh isn’t she? Clearly their knowledge of witches was not as extensive as mine.
After a while, I stopped trying to convince them. The whole thing made me trust them a little less, though. If they couldn’t tell witches from Pilgrims, then I had to be on my guard. If our family was ever called upon to make such a distinction, it would be Up To Me. I just hoped they wouldn’t encourage me to get into any baskets with elderly ladies.
I remembered what almost happened to Toto, even if they didn’t.

I'd be interested to know: does anybody else have memories of scary pictures in books for kids?

Note: The baby looks like a bit of a greaser. A young Lenny maybe, from Laverne and Shirley?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

summer gone

When did August stop being part of summer? It gets cooler this time of year, up north. School starts, summer things start to drop away. June is summer, sort of, but really we're left with July to embody everything we need from the season. I feel cheated by all those books I read as a kid, about cabins and coves and secret places and endless weeks for exploring. Summer was enough time to refashion yourself, with the help of an old rowboat and maybe a puppy. Now there's not time enough for anything. I bet if I had a rowboat, though, I wouldn't mind it all so much.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Been Doing

11 days.
8 stops.
For the best of the best, see
Maine photos coming soon.

A summary:

Night one
•Patty Duke is not herself the Miracle Worker.
•Casinos are sad, but bathrooms are awesome.
•Nocturnal conversations. (Shamrocks, humans with cords?) I wear earplugs so that I can’t hear myself talk (Apologies to Sean, who doesn’t and did).

Night two
Oh, the day has been so very hot. I buy socks that glow in the dark and ride a cycle side saddle.
Jussi, Heather, Sean, Gordon M. make a musical that asks the following questions:
Should he or shouldn’t he? And what about these?

Night three
Road. Portsmouth suite. And in the morning: the Friendliest of all the Toasts.
Is it wrong to want to live inside a restaurant? Because I do.
See it here.

Nights four, five
Spent among the delightful Portlanders (Emily and Casey), who have not only the most charming house above an excellent restaurant, but also cool waters close to home and the option for constant (private) rooftop drinks. Not to mention the custard! And the cherries!
And the charmingly orange and well-loved public library!
I’m all but ready to move.

Night six
Stevie is a dog who doesn’t want you to leave.
We Love Night, Dance all hours.

Nights seven, eight
The Event: pre, post. ( J&S wedding)
Wedding and then some. The Solemnizer (Gordon Merrick) claps out the pace at which he wants all party members to walk. We enjoy singing and shuttle rides.

Night nine
Friends are electric.
Gary Numan fans wear doo-rags and like the chug chug.
He himself is a bit of a Jagged little pill.
(Goodnight to Ashford Terrace.)

Night 10
We find ourselves on a Virginia estate, eating squash blossoms and avocado and perusing an 18th century Bible. There is a signed note from Mr. Abe Lincoln and a spring house, a smoke house, a first house, a second house, a music house, and The House. All things are beautiful.

We drive away home.