“Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.”
― James Joyce, Ulysses
I hate when this happens:
“This world . . . belongs to the strong, my friend! The ritual of our existence is based on the strong getting stronger by devouring the weak. We must face up to this. No more than right that it should be this way. We must learn to accept it as a law of the natural world. The rabbits accept their role in the ritual and recognize the wolf is the strong. In defense, the rabbit becomes sly and frightened and elusive and he digs holes and hides when the wolf is about. And he endures, he goes on. He knows his place. He most certainly doesn’t challenge the wolf to combat. Now, would that be wise? Would it?”
― Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
from 3AM Magazine
“All photographs are memento mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.”
― Susan Sontag
from Fiction Southeast
A writing group I used to attend in the pre-sickness and Pre-Covid days is now meeting on ZOOM. I re-joined this week and I’m glad I did. This meeting was “Fun With Writing Prompts” and here’s a couple silly little things I wrote.
The first prompt was three things:
We wrote for a half hour. This is what I came up with:
The sign on the door said “Wilbur’s Taxidermy” and the man walked up clutching a ragged piece of paper.
He entered the shop and rang a bell on the counter. A rear door opened to a wave of foul, chemical soiled air. A man wearing a thick plastic apron, long rubber gloves and heavy protective goggles emerged and took up a spot behind the counter.
“Well,” he said.
“You must be Wilbur,” the customer said.
“Nope, Wilbur was the moron that I bought the shop from. Total failure. I never felt like changing the sign, though. Name’s Sam.” He thrust out a rubber-gloved hand.
“Uhh,” the customer said, “I’m not sure if I should…”
“Of course,” Sam replied, “Sorry, I forget sometimes,” and removed the glove.
The customer still didn’t shake his hand. “My name’s Glover, Richmond Glover, but everyone calls me Glover. I was wondering if you can stuff something for me.”
“We prefer to call it ‘preserving’ if you don’t mind. And yes, I can preserve something for you, Mr. Glover.”
Glover didn’t reply right away. He looked increasingly nervous, fidgeting and shifting his weight from one foot to the other. He took the scrap of paper and smoothed it out on the counter and looked at it. Sam the taxidermist could see that it was a hand-written note, torn in half.
“Well, Mr. Glover, I’m afraid I’m going to need some more information.”
“Ahh, yes, you see… this isn’t the usual job that you see every day.”
“I think you would be surprised at how… unusual… some of the jobs that I have done.”
“Not like this. I would like to preserve… I like that word… something that is very near and dear to me.”
“Very. Very. Very near and dear.” Glover looked again at the paper held against the counter.”
“Excuse me Mr. Glover. What is that paper? Why is it torn?”
“Oh this… it’s a lover letter. One I received a year ago. From someone… very near and dear to me.”
“Again, Why is it torn like that”
“They tore it trying to snatch it from my hand.”
“So this person had a change of heart regarding your affections?”
“That would be an understatement. But back to business.. how large of a specimen are you able to preserve?”
“Oh, I’ve done moose heads.. a bison head or two. How large are you needing.”
“About ten stone… that’s one hundred forty pounds.”
“That’s big, but doable. About how long?”
Glover moved his hand down from his forehead to just above his chin. “This long. What, about five foot three inches.”
“Is that length or height?”
“Both, really, I suppose. You haven’t asked what species it is.”
“Doesn’t matter, really. As long as it’s a mammal. Reptile skin, or fish, that’s another thing altogether.”
“And what condition is this thing that is very near and dear to you? Is it frozen? Fresh?
“Oh,” said Glover, “It’s fresh, very fresh. As a matter of fact, right now it’s still alive. And I might be able to use some help with that aspect of the job, too.”
“Mr. Glover… I think you are outlining a very, very expensive preservation job.”
“I promise, money is no object. No object at all.”
That’s as far as I got.
The second exercise was to write a hundred words. It had to start with the phrase, “There I was, just standing there, when what I wanted to do was forbidden.” It also had to contain the phrase, “A dark and stormy night.”
When I stopped writing I had about a hundred and thirteen words. Some quick editing and it was exactly one hundred.
There I was, just standing there, when what I wanted to do was forbidden. The bar was stretched out before me and I had a new drink I wanted to mix. Curacao and rum and other good stuff. It had a name. A Dark and Stormy. Night had fallen and the bar was crowded. When the barkeep was busy at the other end, I reached across, grabbed the bottles and started to mix.
“Hey! The bartender yelled, “You again!”
“This time it’ll be good, I promise!”
I stirred and shook like crazy while the bartender reached for her baseball bat.
After all these years, the bicycle/pedestrian bridge over the Trinity River here in Dallas is being fixed and will open at the end of the year. I’m happy about this – but what an incompetent shitshow it has been. For 125 million dollars you should be able to put in a hell of a bike bridge.
As I’ve mentioned before, now that I’ve switched to Strava to track my bike rides, I am fascinated with the Strava Heatmap. If you don’t know – the Heatmap is where Strava collects information from everyone using its service and presents the runners, bikers, watersports, and/or skiers aggregate routes on a map. Here’s the heatmap (running and biking) of the area around my house. The bright yellow horizontal line is the bike trail behind my house. Across the street is the oval where people run the track next to Apollo middle school (this disappears if you click on Biking alone). To the Northwest, along Plano Street up to Arapaho, then diagonally along the creek to Collins, is a new bike trail the city just finished. There are only a few folks using it now – and there is only a thin purple line on the heat map. I intend to ride it with my Strava as much as I can and want to see how the line becomes brighter over time.
The Heatmap is international and I like looking for odd or surprising things.
For example, can you guess what This Odd Shape represents. I was able to, even though I’ve never been there.
I love discovering new words. Here is one, Acedia – that, unfortunately, is very useful right now.
One of my goals for the year is to up my decluttering game. I need all the help I can get.
I found this collection of writing prompts from Poets & Writers Magazine. They are more sophisticated than the usual ones. There are three weekly (fiction, nonfiction, and poetry) but their archive goes way back. Cool.
If you like visual writing prompts, take a look at this collection of links to museum art collections. Be careful, though – this can be a rabbit hole waste of time.
Here’s a collection (from archive.org) of Pulp magazine, books, all sorts of stuff. Again, beware, it can be a rabbit hole. Also, rather spectacularly politically incorrect (which can be a good thing, IMHO).
I have found that watching these YouTube videos of dance mashups – uptempo songs with bits of dance from movies or filmed folks – makes the time on my exercise bike go by quickly (that and POV videos of people riding in beautiful places). I have a big TV right in front of my spin bike. It’s embarrassing when someone catches me watching these – but what the hell.
Here’s some examples:
Safety Dance? I actually liked this song back in the 80’s. Yeesh! Still, the remix has a good beat.
“Why didn’t I learn to treat everything like it was the last time. My greatest regret was how much I believed in the future.”
― Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
““Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly — they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.”
― Aldous Huxley, Brave New World