Thursday, August 31, 2006

Stumbled Upon

Not sure how I ended up here. But to whomever out there who linked to him and allowed me to stumble upon his Livejournal, I extend my thanks (and my apologies for not recognizing the link). Musty Man doesn't write too often, but when he does...well it's like Spencer Tracy's comment on Katherine Hepburn, "There isn't much to her, but what there is, is choice (pronounced "cheerce")."

As an example, there's this piece on getting acclimated into a neighborhood.

Then, here's a provocative little thought item on views on the USA when travelling and returning.

He writes, it seems, every 6-8 weeks and there's enough in the postings to mull over and re-read to keep you happy until the next piece comes along.

Lazy Linking

Cleaning one's humble chateau can get depressing. There's the Dance 'n Clean tactic, as a solution. (somewhat boring) Shame works well, I suppose.

Or, my personal choice, a Daily List of Cleaning, as per the Communicatrix herself. My favorite would be Day #3, "Why all my Dustcloths are Purple". I suggest going here for the complete rundown.

p.s. Her comments on vinegar, as any veteran cleaner knows, are all true. As she puts it, "It has the potential to make corporate America very, very nervous".

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


The ever estimable Bookslut posted this link from the tear-'em apart commentator/racanteur Cristopher Hitchens opining on Gunter Grass's confession that he was in the SS during WW II. When I first heard last week about Mr. Grass, a wave of disappointment hit me. I love his "The Tin Drum" . A "Say it ain't so" (Gunther!) came rising up the throat.

There have been other times when this sort of thing happened. Doris Kearn Goodwin's reluctant admission of farmed out research resulted in my collecting the 3 books of hers that I had and dumping them in that week's trash. I didn't even bother going the donation route on her stuff.
Forrest Carter, aka Asa Earl Carter, wrote a wonderfully touching book, "The Education of Little Tree". When I heard of Mr. Carter's past, I felt like a fool. A chump. As a reader I was fish chum waiting to be devoured by this shark of an author. I had a very hard time seperating the work from the author.

I'm still holding on to The Education of Little Tree and Grass's books, more as a warning to myself of the danger of the bonds a reader forms with an author than as books I may be re-reading.

I need to take a cleansing shower.

How about you folks? Any disappointment with an artist becasue of the disconnect between their works and their (hidden) lives? Can you seperate the creator from the creation?

Monday, August 21, 2006

A Change of Residence

It's been a while since her two cupped hands fit so snugly within one of mine. Her threat of "out-talling" her old man was almost carried out; I was saved by a shortfall in her last growth spurt. But not my much. The ever-loving wife, on the other hand, has to look up at all of us to get a peek.

And a peek is just the thing I need right now as my daughter starts her college days. While she may not have "out-talled" me, her path is clear, though steep, in out-smarting the geezer. Nary a beer can nor a "party-on" banner was seen when we unloaded her chosen possessions and herself, our most precious cargo, at her university. There was an intensity and resoluteness on the campus that gave evidence that long nights sitting with textbooks and portables (not potables) was in her immediate future.

A solid but untested ship has been launched and she's mapping out her own course. The timber's sound. THe sails are full and taut. Her lonliest voyage is now started.

As she starts up the stairs to her dorm, I wave a hand that once cupped her and is now letting her go.
God, what a beautiful kid/woman she's become....

Monday, August 14, 2006

Iceland Pix

I've been a bit recalcitrant in my duties, namely posting the most googled current picture of Iceland. I personally like this shot, titled "Red Belugas" taken in Kleifarvatn, Iceland in April of 2000 as part of a Dale Chihuly exhibit. Alas, this comes in as 92nd most popular Iceland picture. The current most popular one is Hot Pool in Iceland , with this Layne Kennedy snapshot at # 3. The Layne Kennedy picture has been in the top 5 for over a year or so, thanks to the exquisite balance of steam, water, face-cream, and, uhhm, innocent lear factor. I've pointed out Mr. Kennedy's site before. I especially love his picture of the Toronto Islands Bicycle Dive, available for viewing on his site. Not sure what happened to spectacular Glacial Ice Lake picture, as far as rankings go. It's a gorgeous picture and was # 1 until this surfaced. Still. Mr. (Anders) Brownworth's pic rates high in my choices.

There. My blogging duty has been satisfied for the next 3 months.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

I Prefer Mine...Grizzled

In today's NYT Book review, there's a front page review of a new book by Marisha Pessl (who, the reviewer, Liesl Schillinger, notes, is "only 27,...and a distractingly pretty actress, playwright and Barnard College graduate." The novel in question is "Special Topics in Calamity Physics". Ms. Schillinger posits that critics, when, "...asked if the book would have been snapped up so quickly if Pessl hadn’t had such a "drool-worthy author photo"" are forced to pause and consider. She goes on to offer, "But don’t hate her because she’s beautiful: her talent and originality would draw wolf whistles if she were an 86-year-old hunchbacked troll. Her exhilarating synthesis of the classic and the modern, frivolity and fate — "Pnin" meets "The O.C." — is a poetic act of will. Never mind jealous detractors: virtuosity is its own reward. And this skylarking book will leave readers salivating for more."

Call me suspicious. No, make that curmudegeony.
Life is hard.
Comedy is harder.
Writing is the hardest.
Being a novelist sucks the blood from your veins, wipes the smile from your lips, empties the marrow from your bones. You are left dry, siphoned, and, yes, grizzled. If your novel's backpage has a photo that has obviously not been through Adobe Illustrator or Pagemaker, then the worth of the words just can't be high. Right?
That's why I like my authors grizzled. Not old. Grizzled. Life has chewed on them a bit and let them go back to their hovels where they've penned the experience. A toothy leggy young lass posing as an author of a tremendous new work? Please, let the scientists come in and do their due diligence of acid/alkaline testing. Maybe in a decade or so when Ms. Pessl has at least one or two facial lines, I'll come to read her. For now, Mr. Kundera, Mr. Russo, and Mr. Hornby will do. Sorry, but that's just the curmudgeon's way.

Oh, and here's a peak at the author. Careful. Keep a handkerchief at hand to sop up the sweating brow. And, yes, she does act and she is a playwriter.

Now, wasn't Jonathan Safran Foer about 27 when his "Everything is Illuminated" came out? Yes, I guess it's possible to be on the taut side of Grizzle and pull it off.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Mountains and Mountains of Print

Whisky Prajer has recently listed Authors of Books of Which I Possess at Least Five Of. A mighty intimidating list!

Robert E. Howard?
Kem Nunn?
Rudy Wiebe?
Philip Yancey?

As I'd mentioned on his entry, this list leaves me somewhat embarassed. Understandable enough if I had not read any of these folks; everyone has personal preferences. But to never even have heard of them? Oh, the shame! Time to don the paper bag.

Before I do here's my feeble list of:
Authors of Books of Which I Possess at Least Five Of (in no particular order)

S.J. Perelman
Vladimir Nabokov
Italo Calvino
Lawrence Durrell
Jean Shepherd
Damon Runyon
Primo Levi
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Michael Ondatje
Richard Powers
Roger Angell
Barbara Kingsolver
Douglas Coupland
Robertson Davies
Peter DeVries (the largest qty of any author)
Mark Twain (#2 on the list)
P.G. Wodehouse
Jim Thompson
Don DeLillo
Cormac McCarthy
Mordecai Richler (#3 on the qty list)
Richard Russo
Richard Ford
Raymond Chandler (unlike WP, I can't throw out or donate Chandler nor Thompson. Yes, I know the ending. But the writing is so exquisite that I often return for re-reads)
A. J. Leibling
V.S. Naipul
Evelyn Waugh
David Sedaris
Vladimir Voinovich
John McPhee
Witold Rybczynski
Tony Horwitz
Andre Codrescu
Milan Kundera
Josip Novakovich
John Updike
John Barth (held unto for sentimemal reasons. I don't think his books hold up well over time, with the exception of "The Sot Weed Factor")
Alice Munro
Nick Hornby
Tim Cahill

I noticed when doing this biblio-inventory that there were quite a few authors whose books numbered in the 3's and 4's. For some, I'm waiting for their next new book; for others, I got tired of their same old shtick but can't make the necessary decision of selling/donating them. That's got to change soon.

Readers! How about your sagging bookshelves? What author(s) are causing you undue strain?

Friday, August 11, 2006

Finito Hiatus

Michael Manske is BAAAAAACK. Which means, that all things SLovenian, well all things of a humorous Slovenian nature, are being brought forward for the eyes of the world to behold. In today's entry, we have evidence of the meshing of (European) football, WWE, and 3 Stooges. Go. Read. Laugh. Replay. This Larry-Moe bit is the kicker, well, nose-clencher.

Friday, August 04, 2006


(Borrowed from diocletianvs)

An Explanation of the Philosophy of Fjaka

The story goes like this:
There was a rich American tourist staying in town. Whenever he would look through his hotel room window, there was a young man with a fish-hook sitting under a palm tree, fishing. He could see there weren't many fish in his fish pail. One day, the American decided to ask him why he wouldn't try some other place for fishing.

"Why would I go away from my house? And my palm tree?", asked the guy.

"Well," said the self-assured American," I bet you would find there are more fish outside this bay. You could catch more fish then."

The young man slowly nodded and then asked, "Why would I do that?

Well, you could catch more, not only for yourself, but...," the American pointed out, "You could also sell it on the market!

Shaking his head at the thought, the young man posed, "And why would I do that?

The American, certain he was dealing with a true lunkhead and wondering why he even tried to raise this youth's standard of living, replied "Well, one day you could buy a small boat and go to the sea where you could catch more fish."

The young man, now singing the same tune countered with another "And why would I do that?

On the edge of his last exasperated nerve, the American sighed with, "Well, you could sell it on the market. And you could get a loan. An d then buy a real fishing boat and real nets. And then, catch a lot of fish!"

Sensing the advice-giver's state of nerves, the Dalamtian flipped one more, "And why would I do that?

Oh! But this guy is thick! Must be that baking in the sun all day had fried his egg of a head. Pointing out the obvious, he said, "Well, you could finally buy a whole fleet of fishing boats. Make a huge business of it."

Once more, playing thick, the young man inquired, "And why would I do that?"

"No wonder this place is so behind the times", thought the American. "I'll have to spell it out letter by letter to this guy. "Well, you could soon become rich. So rich, you could go to a deserted place and do nothing! Just sit and rest the whole day!"

Beaming, the Dalmatian leaned back on the tree, spit itn the American's general direction and checkmated with, "Well, that’s what I’m doing right now!"

This is the concept of fjaka, which is the concept of life in Split.

The concept of fjaka tells you not to do anything that is not necessary, take a lot of rest under the palm trees or in numerous cafes. Whatever you do, make sure to stop at noon to take a real lunch. (Under no circumstance is fast food a part of a real lunch). And take a short nap after the lunch. If anyone asks you to do anything, you’re free to say, Look, "Malo sam fjakast". (I’m a little bit caught by fjaka) And this is enough reason to continue with resting.

(Note that some people you deal with in tourist offices, hotels or restaurants are not being rude to you nor especially slow as you might think at the first place. They are just living according to the concept of fjaka.)

And yes, there is a very thin line between fjaka and laziness. The trick is to dance (but not over-enthusiastically) on that line.

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Vanishing Point

Need a short trip to forgetfulness? Try these links to photographer Bojan Bonifacic's site.

Black & White



Everyone needs some Therapy once in a while.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Some minor changes/additions/notices.

Michael Manske's Glory of Carnolia has risen from the ashes of some personal computer problem that I wish on no one. He's back and I'm sure 2 months away from the blogging chair will have provided enough material for multiple daily blog entries (Right, Michael? You've got to catch up).

Seesaw's Balkan Scissors is back! She bid adieu July 7th, seemingly opting out on all future entries. And then she returned on July 27th and has been blogging like a house on fire.
Also, her Sarajevo Photblog is also an interesting site as she offers daily pix of various locations in Sarajevo as well as an excellent linkage to daily pix sites from a plethora of different cities and countries. A great addition to anyone's sidebar.

BG Anon, a Brit born in Yugoslavia who has now returned back to size-diminished country offers up a cool-headed and thorough analysis of what's happening in the interior. He blogged at Belgrade Blog and then at B-92. Now he's here. As he referred to me (affectionately, I presume) as the starac of blogging, I offer him good wishes and dobru srecu on his new voice piece.

And, finally, one of my favorites, Mr. Outer Life, has upped his monthly postings to weekly ones. THey are, as they always are, delectable Belgian chocalates to be twirled in the mouth a while before swallowing. A memorable after-taste lingers. Always.

Da Word

In her post for the last day of July, Searchie has a academic break-out moment. She is living dangerously, I believe. Where liquor, high speed, and a paranoid view of the world recently drove (sorry, no pun intended) Mel Gibson into a highly 7 deadly word pontification of the state of world domination by Jews rant, it was the dreaded IS Guy who drove her past the breaking point.

Courageous gal, she. I personally would never launch the F-bomb on a DP guy/gal. The revenge they could wreak is unfathomable. Without fathom.

I was stunned to read her admission. Personally, I do the language slink when I'm "dissatisfied" with a particular service. I paste a s_ _t-eating grin as I face the person unot whom I intend to heap my verbal dis-pleasrue. Then, with a smattering of English and quite a few dollops of Croatian, I let them "know" that they should be taking up very up close and personal care of sheep, goats, and other small mammals and then finishing with a "May you go out there and reproduce yourself." I have emptied my container of bile onto them; I'm sated. They have heard some unprocessable noise along with socially acceptable pronouncements in English. All is fine; no repurcussions are scheduled.

Searchie, on the other hand, may need to be backing up her computer files on an hourly basis. Fred will come back, most probably through her T-1 lines. Wrath will be his!

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