Monday, December 28, 2009

A Post-Christmas Pulse

Constant Reader, I hope that you enjoyed Christmas and wish you a Happy New Year. Hannah is home from NYC with Ivan and we had them over for Christmas dinner with Marcia's father and the boys. A pleasant time was had by all--as nearly as I could tell.



If one is a writer, one must, at some point, write. So now that the semester is over, I am taking a few days off between the holidays to familiarize myself with a keyboard. I have a poem in mind and also hope to spend time with my novel. Perhaps you can imagine what my New Year's resolutions include, but more of that anon. Without being maudlin, I can say that 2009 was not the best of years––though we are happy to have survived it––and we are hoping for better things in 2010. Our largest concern at this point is with the health of older relatives––parents, aunts, etc. One wants all to be well, but the past several months have been particularly difficult, and it is unlikely that we will get through the coming year without one or more losses.



As a result of the holidays, I have several new books to read, including Raymond Carver: A Writer's Life by Carol Sklenicka (Scribner, 2009), The Talented Miss Highsmith: The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith by Joan Schenkar (St. Martins's Press, 2009) and Dorothea Lange: A Life Beyond Limits by Linda Gordon (W.W. Norton, 2009).

I love to read the biographies of writers and artists when I feel I am at the limits of my own tether as a writer, and I am looking forward to these. I am about 200 pages into the Carver biography. So far, the review by Stephen King in the New York Times Book Review (which I thought rather cruel when I read it––King was critical of Carver's personal excesses, not of the book) seems more than fair.



I also received some Christmas cigars, including, to my delight, two Cohiba Esplendidos from Uncle Fidel, which promise excellent smoking as we head into the New Year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

At Last!

I have finished grading papers and have submitted my final grades for the semester. Hooray for my students--a good group this term.

Gracie's on the TODAY Show



Congratulations to Gracie’s! and Chef Joe Hafner. Chef Joe from Gracie’s will be featured on the Today Show, 9am on Wednesday, December 23rd. Tune in at 9am and see him cook his favorite holiday dishes in front of a live audience. We can’t wait to try some of this delicious holiday creations for our own holiday company!

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This is a restaurant in Providence, Rhode Island, where my son Elliot works. He will not be on the TODAY Show, but is doing some of the prep work for this event.

Elliot is a student in the Culinary Arts program at Johnson & Wales in Providence.

Friday, December 18, 2009

2:05 A.M.: Thoughts While Staring at the Ceiling









Am I the only one who wonders if John Lennon was channeling John Berryman's Dreamsongs when Lennon wrote "Come Together"?

Here come old flattop he come grooving up slowly
He got joo-joo eyeball he one holy roller
He got hair down to his knee
Got to be a joker he just do what he please

He wear no shoeshine he got toe-jam football
He got monkey finger he shoot coca-cola
He say "I know you, you know me"
One thing I can tell you is you got to be free
Come together right now over me

He bag production he got walrus gumboot
He got Ono sideboard he one spinal cracker
He got feet down below his knee
Hold you in his armchair you can feel his disease
Come together right now over me

He roller-coaster he got early warning
He got muddy water he one mojo filter
He say "One and one and one is three"
Got to be good-looking 'cause he's so hard to see
Come together right now over me



Friday, December 11, 2009

Current Reading



I am a bit more than a third through Jim Harrison's The Farmer's Daughter (Grove Press, 2009), a collection of three novellas. I started with the second story, "Brown Dog Redux," in which Harrison revisits the title character, a good-hearted seldom-do-well of prodigious appetites who may be half American Indian. If memory serves me--and since I am at work, it must--Harrison has written three other novellas in which Brown Dog is the central character.

Harrison has a unique voice and is a master at the novella form (perhaps his best known work is Legends of the Fall, a collection of three novellas published in 1979)* and thus far, The Farmer's Daughter does not disappoint.

The Great Blizzard of 2009 was largely a bust in Michigan. As the Once-Constant Reader will recall, I am obsessed with dramatic weather events. I was ready to perform many heroic feats in the face of the heartless storm--and to blog at length about them--but the possibility of ending up in the ditch--or even, of having to shovel my way from the front door to the driveway--did not materialize.

Bother.


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*I double-checked and Yes, I was correct about the date the book was originally published. Good one! At least my mind has not entirely turned to Gruyere.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

What Blizzard?



The Great Blizzard of 2009 is thus far a complete bust. Threatened by our weather forecasters with up to 20 inches of snow, we have received approximately half an inch. For all the alleged scientific advancements in recent years, the forecasts were more accurate before they were driven by television ratings.

Last night we watched Carol's Journey, a film by Imanol Uribe (2007, Spanish with English subtitles). I am fascinated with the Spanish Civil War, and also with the post-Franco responses of Spanish film makers. If you are interested in an intelligent, beautiful film about childhood, family, and the loss of innocence, this film is very much worth your time.

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WEATHER UPDATE--1:25 P.M. It is snowing quite steadily now. Perhaps we'll have our blizzard after all.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Oregon, Mes Amours



We spent a long Thanksgiving week visiting Marcia's Mother and Stepfather in Gearhart, Oregon. Above is a photograph of Marcia, Liam and Carlos on the beach.

Today is the last day of class for the semester. I have to collect final papers and my students will be filling out evaluations. Sounds like a simple enough plan, but for the fact that as of 1 p.m., we will be under a blizzard warning. More fun in Michigan.

I have much more to write and more pictures. But I had to come up with a way to "break the ice," so to speak and get back to blogging.

So here I am.