“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of the infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.” ― H. P. Lovercraft, The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories
“Ol’ man Simon, planted a diamond. Grew hisself a garden the likes of none. Sprouts all growin’ comin’ up glowin’ Fruit of jewels all shinin’ in the sun. Colors of the rainbow. See the sun and the rain grow sapphires and rubies on ivory vines, Grapes of jade, just ripenin’ in the shade, just ready for the squeezin’ into green jade wine. Pure gold corn there, Blowin’ in the warm air. Ol’ crow nibblin’ on the amnythyst seeds. In between the diamonds, Ol’ man Simon crawls about pullin’ out platinum weeds. Pink pearl berries, all you can carry, put ’em in a bushel and haul ’em into town. Up in the tree there’s opal nuts and gold pears- Hurry quick, grab a stick and shake some down. Take a silver tater, emerald tomater, fresh plump coral melons. Hangin’ in reach. Ol’ man Simon, diggin’ in his diamonds, stops and rests and dreams about one… real… peach.” ― Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends
“Things aren’t like this,” he kept repeating. “It shouldn’t be this way.”
As if he had access to some other plane of existence, some parallel, “right” universe, and had sensed that our time had somehow been put out of joint. Such was his vehemence that I found myself believing him, believing, for example, in the possibility of that other life in which Vina had never left and we were making our lives together, all three of us, ascending together to the stars.
Then he shook his head, and the spell broke. He opened his eyes, grinning ruefully. As if he knew his thoughts had infected mine. As if he knew his power. “Better get on with it,” he said. “Make do with what there is.” ― Salman Rushdie, The Ground Beneath Her Feet
The chronological passage of the hours, days, and years on clocks and calendars is a steady, measurable phenomenon. Yet our perception of time shifts constantly, depending on the activities we’re engaged in, our age, and even how much rest we get.
Our nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) is running dangerously low. New statistics released indicate our national emergency oil stockpile, which is intended to protect the United States from unexpected and severe supply disruptions, has hit another historic low. It’s a dangerous point for the United States, and even worse, it’s self-inflicted.
After having done her stalwart best for the Covid Crusade for more than two years – demonizing those who refused to get the vaccination or wear masks everywhere, or see our children locked out of school, or who suggested that ivermectin or chloroquine might alleviate the symptoms – Professor Oster now is suggesting that … really, it was all just a silly misunderstanding, she and her pals just got carried away but they meant well and didn’t know anything for certain, and why can’t we all just all forgive and forget?
The other day, on the way back after dropping Candy off at the airport, I stopped at a Central Market to buy some coffee beans (they have a huge selection). Walking past the beer section I noticed a variety pack of Temptress – two each of Sin Mint Temptress, French Quarter Temptress, and something called NuTemptress. That looked like a plan to me – I don’t (usually) drink more than a beer at a sitting, so this could get me through a pretty good week.
I had not heard of the NuTemptress and assumed it was some New Temptress… but I was wrong. The nu stands for Nutella – it’s a hazelnut flavored milk stout.
It’s because she wants it told, he thought, so that people whom she will never see and whose names she will never hear and who have never heard her name nor seen her face will read it and know at last why God let us lose the war: that only through the blood of our men and the tears of our women could He slay this demon and efface his name and lineage from the earth.
And this week we started in on the second tome in our Faulkner journey – Absalom, Absalom!. I am now three chapters in. I had heard a lot of talk about how difficult a book it is – but after The Sound and the Fury I’m finding the second book quite a bit easier to read and understand. Now, there are sentences that run on for pages (although Ulysses by James Joyce has a 4,491 word sentence in a soliloquy, The Guinness Book of Records lists the longest proper sentence as one from Absalom, Absalom! at 1,287 words – I haven’t reached it yet), the story is frames within frames within frames, and the language (is wonderful) is difficult… For example I made a note of one phrase on page 53:
presbyterian effluvium of lugubrious and vindictive anticipation,
Ok… I know all those words… but I never thought of seeing them strung together in one place like that.
Oh. Seeing that phrase that I had highlighted reminded me of something. I bought a paperback copy of the book, plus a Kindle copy. I then discovered something I never knew about reading on a Kindle. I have been reading books on my Kindle for well over a decade – hundreds of books. During all this time I have been highlighting passages that I wanted to remember. Only this week did I discover that there is a web page:
That contains all the highlights (and notes) that I have made in all those books over all those years on all my devices. It’s pretty damn amazing. Looking through it is like going back in time. There are books in there I didn’t remember reading until I perused the feedback I input at the time – then it came rushing back.
I am now going through these highlights and hand copying the ones that still mean something to me into my commonplace book. Cool! Also a huge waste of time… but it is what it is.
Well… better go read. I’ve heard that chapter Four is a doozy.
“The poulterers’ shops were still half open, and the fruiterers’ were radiant in their glory. There were great, round, pot-bellied baskets of chestnuts, shaped like the waistcoats of jolly old gentleman, lolling at the doors, and tumbling out into the street in their apoplectic opulence. There were ruddy, brown-faced broad-girthed Spanish onions, shining in the fatness of their growth like Spanish friars, and winking from their shelves in wanton slyness at the girls as they went by, and glanced demurely at the hung-up mistletoe. There were pears and apples, clustered high in blooming pyramids; there were bunches of grapes, made, in the shopkeepers’ benevolence, to dangle from conspicuous hooks, that people’s mouths might water gratis as they passed; there were piles of filberts, mossy and brown, recalling, in their fragrance, ancient walks among the woods, and pleasant shufflings ankle deep through withered lanes; there were Norfolk Biffins, squab and swarthy, setting off the yellow of the oranges and lemons, and, in the great compactness of their juicy persons, urgently entreating and beseeching to be carried home in paper bags and eaten after dinner.”
― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
The other day we had a little bike ride to Four Bullets, a local brewery. It was a good time – shooting the bull and nerding out and enjoying a good beer.
On of my friends asked me if I had heard of Spicy Chili Crisp. I had not and they said that it was fantastic and everybody was talking about it. They sent me a photo on their phone and said, “You have to get this brand, no others.” They said that they had found a jar at a local Asian market – but there was only one jar left.
After looked around a bit (the store is vast) I found a dozen jars on a shelf – along with a number of other Lao Gan Ma products. All had the same serious owner glaring out from the label:
Most people would recognize a jar of Lao Gan Ma by the stern portrait of Tao Huabi, 74, the legendary godmother and founder of the brand. In the early 1990s, Tao ran a humble food stall in Guiyang, the capital city of Guizhou province. Her crispy chili oil became a crowd favorite and turned into a billion-dollar business. – CBS news
So I bought a jar along with a few favorite Asian delicacies (all non-carb) and went home. I eagerly drove home and scrambled up a couple eggs. I had been told that it was good on everything – even ice cream – but that eggs were a popular vessel for the condiment.
It was delicious. More than delicious, addictive. It is crack in a jar.
It is spicy, of course, but not too spicy… it is just right. I can take more than a bit of heat – but I have ruined a few meals with too-aggressive application of the chili oil they serve in the little containers – but this does not have the nuclear late after-heat of that stuff. It is also very complex – there is a lot going on in that jar.
What is really odd is the texture. It contains chunks (maybe pea sized) of what I guess is fried peppers, giving it a crunch. I guess that’s why they call it spicy chili crisp. Since buying it, I eat that shit on everything – though I can’t eat ice cream.
I polished off the first jar in about a week. Luckily, I discovered the Vietnamese market near my house has the stuff, though in a smaller jar. I did buy some more and even tried an alternate brand as a test.
It was good too, but not as addictive as the Lao Gan Ma. I think Tao Huabi is glaring at me even more because I tried a competitor.