21 July 2011

Brenda's blog

Thank goodness someone's writing about my experiences up here in Canada. Here's a link to Skagway Etcetera. Enjoy.

11 August 2010

from "The land of unhappy brides"

No one is aware that only a few steps from their baby basket they have fostered indescribably shocking places. Of all the stories we heard as tikes, I always got stuck on the ones about mejere, witches who become horses, and devils who attempted to redeem themselves by becoming pious men only to reassume the forms of wild animals. The stories that yielded the popular iconography of our city were always dismal – a man married a woman and discovered she was a mejere, that she, after having forced her husband to eat broth every day (all the while pretending to do likewise but with a fork), fed on the cadavers in the hidden tombs of San Martino’s cathedral, and then she disappeared into the misty night like those autumn nights of Martina and its valley of figs and bramble. Odd stories of water changing mejere into animals, of the city hosting thousands of these mutant beings, these cat-men, these horse-women, who by day spoke suavely and by night meowed, barked, or whinnied like famished, solitary creatures. In this town full of enigmatic were-creatures, legends of shapeshifting, and demonic hordes, you cannot not listen to the thousand stories about surprising, unforeseeably surprising places. Whoever told stories about the Holy Grail or the Wondering Jew being in the field near Barsento would be laughed at, and yet we all, at least once in our lives, would happen across a storyteller, a charlatan, a finangler, a imploring bull-shitter, a sorry bum ranging the province, with a mysterious dialect without vowels, in which the rules of phonetics seek their last rights before slipping into occult memory. That abominable being, laden with stupid, superstitious rants, with his face like a country priest or perhaps wearing an expression disfigured by the unmistakable wrinkles of disdain, would take us aside and lead us some place we never would have believed possible. This genus included characters like Cito, Fulco, Mimo, Cenzoum, and very shortly, with fanfare playing, yours truly would arrive in pompa magna. So mindful of judgments on and by others, yet so taken with myself, my narcissism, my sense of guilt, my willingly turbid fate, fated to an ineluctable condemnation.

07 August 2010

much further than that, i hope

Last night we went stargazing with Bob and Ed at the Allegheny Observatory. In addition to filling our ears with awkward sounds we all assumed they would classify as information and light humor, they let us stand on a rickety, 60-ish-year-old mobile staircase and look through the good old Fitz-Clark Refractor telescope and into the out-of-this-world. We all took turns taking peeks at Venus, which looked like a very yellow version of the moon waning, Saturn, which looked unbelievably like a pale gray model of what I assume more or less everyone saw/sees/would see in a 1960s book about the solar system, and the exploding star M-57.

It all seemed fake enough that we began to suspect that when Ed and Bob had switched the lenses on the telescope they had done so because each of those lenses had the desired images painted on the other side, which would pretty much guarantee that everyone who put his or her eye up to the scope would see what was to be seen and go away happy. Scam or no scam, all were allowed to interact with the 150-year-old telescope free of charge. And I have to admit that I was more than a little impressed to hear that the man who discovered that the rings of Saturn were composted of particles, a true gentleman named J. Keeler, had made that discovery both in Pittsburgh and with that very telescope.

I soon caught myself longing for the days when mankind cared about stars and could readily admire them (without being stymied by light pollution) and make up crazy stories about them. I almost wanted to be on an ancient Greek ship, or something similar. Then I realized that we still care about stars and planets - to the point of spending BILLIONS of dollars every year just for NASA programs - and we still make up bizarre stories about outer space - heaven only knows how much money goes into creating, packaging, and selling them - and in the end I just kind of felt overwhelmed and confused and didn't know what to think (but I'm pretty sure I was still romanticizing over the ancient Greeks et al.) . However, if in the next year one of the other planets comes into view in our not-so-starry skies, I'll be going back to the observatory for sure.

09 May 2010

"While the actual working cowboy disappears, along with the genuine nonworking Indian, the make-believe cowboys flourish and multiply like flies on a pecan pie. Everywhere you see them now, from California to Florida, from Texas to Times Square, crowding the streets in their big white hats, tight pants, flowered shirts, and high-heeled fruity boots. From the rear many of them look like women; many of them are women. Especially in the small towns west of the Mississippi, where cowboyism as a cult grows in direct ratio to the disappearance of cattle-herding as an accupation, you will see the latest, the Mr. and Mrs Cattleman couple in authentic matching Western costume - the husband with sunburnt nose and belly bulging over a steerhorn buckle heavy enough to kill a horse with, and his wife, a tall tough broad in gabardines and boots with a look on her face that would make a Comanche blanch."

E. Abbey Desert Solitaire (1968)

17 January 2010

My friend's film


"Set in 1987 war-torn Beirut, Sandbags recounts the true story of Edmond Naim, Governor of the Lebanese Central Bank. We follow the man in charge of the Lebanese currency and governmental payrolls on a fateful day that will ultimately lead him to an unprecedented historical feat: Edmond Naim will sleep in his office from 1987 till the end of the civil war, keeping the Lebanese Fort Knox machine well oiled and operational.

Caught between two capricious seceded governments, away from his family and guarded only by two Security officers, Naim endures a harsh work routine with constant shelling at and around his bank, civil strife and gunfire on the roads, and constant pressure to keep the Gold safe."

Let's be honest, it sounds great. Unfortunately they're a few grand short on funds, so, if you're a fan of the arts or just want to get your name in the credits of a worthwhile film, I encourage you to consider donating a few dollars.

08 November 2009

in the land of make believe

Today I met up with some childhood icons and a bit of American television history. I like to think I do this frequently, but today was different.

Mr. McFeely even had me say "speedy delivery" in Italian for our picture and told me of his visit to KUED some years ago. What a neighbor that man is!