Papa Dog's Blog
A Thing Wherein I Infrequently Write Some Stuff
Saturday, January 04, 2014
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Ruminations on the Natural World
Friday, August 10, 2012
Monday, August 01, 2011
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
April Wine in the Hall
Well it's finally happened. April Wine is being inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Thanks to you, the readers of this Faversham. It's been a long road, but thanks to your letters and e-mails CARAS finally relented and put April Wine in the hall. So give yourselves a round of applause.
Be sure to watch the Junos on CTV on Sunday, April 18th to see the induction ceremony. Keep on rockin'.
Thursday, February 04, 2010
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Friday, December 12, 2008
Your Official Guide to Levels of Coldness, As Compiled By an Actual Canadian
55º F (12.778º C) - Warmish
45º F (7.222º C) - A Little Cool
40º F (4.444º C) - A Tad Chilly
32º F (0º c) - Seems Like It Could Get Nippy Soon
20º F (-6.667º C) - Guess I'll Wear My Toque
0º F (-17.778º C) - Cold
-20º F (-28.889º C) - Really Cold
-40º F (-40º C) - Really Fucking Cold (must maintain temperature for at least two days straight for classification to be certified)
Saturday, May 17, 2008
An Email I Just Sent to Thomasandfriends Period Commercial
My almost-four-year-old daughter is a great enthusiast of the Thomas series and enjoys many of the games and activities on the Thomasandfriends web site. Today we were reading the various character gallery entries in the "Engines" section of the site, and I found a couple of errors that I thought should be brought to your attention. Both are in the entry for Lady Hatt.
First, it refers to Lady Hatt as a "kind and gentile woman." While I'm sure that description is accurate in all its particulars, I have a strong hunch it was supposed to read "kind and gentle woman."
Second, it says that Lady Hatt is wont to scold the engines if they behave properly. If that is true, it must be very confusing for the engines and a great hindrance to their moral development. Surely the gentle gentile lady only scolds them if they behave improperly.
Thank you for providing countless hours of learning and entertainment for my child and my thanks to your webmaster for inadvertently providing me with a good laugh.
Monday, January 21, 2008
Concrete and Barbed Wahr
Anyway, among Baby Dog's favourite Lucinda songs is "Concrete and Barbed Wire." Tonight, Mama Dog made a point of asking Baby Dog to say, for my benefit, the name of that song. Our little girl faithfully pronounces it just the way Lucinda does, in her Louisiana drawl. "Concrete and Barbed Wahr."
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Baby Dog Reads
Several months ago I noticed that she was recognising specific words. She started out reading signs. Two of the first words she knew how to spell were "no" and "parking." Again, it wasn't really reading - she had memorised particular sets of letters and recognised them in different contexts. "It's pre-reading," I'd say.
Well, a couple of weeks ago, the last shoe finally dropped. I finally noticed that she could always find on the page the word I was reading in one of her Thomas books. I decided to do some experiments. I pointed random words out to her in different books, without reading the page aloud myself. Invariably, she knew what the word was. Then I wrote some random words on a piece of paper - ones I knew she was familiar with. Again, 100 percent. Today, I wrote on a piece of paper the phrase "That dog is in the house with a big cat." She read it out without hesitation. I went on Amazon and printed a page from an Eric Carle book she's never seen before. It read "So the mouse ran on. 'Do you want to be my friend?'" She stumbled minutely on "mouse," but sounded out the consonants and extrapolated the word correctly.
So, it's official. Three years and four months. Baby Dog can read.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
How Cretins Boogie
It's Laura Bush who really makes you cringe, looking even whiter and stiffer than her husband. Actually, if it weren't for his atrocious term of office, I'd have no issue with Bush in this one. Here, more than most places, his true personality comes out, in that he dances like a man who did a lot of blow and a lot of booze, and, left to his own devices, would be hanging out on his farm in cutoffs and a t-shirt smoking a blunt and listening to CCR. He seems like a guy who'd probably be fun to hang out with if he weren't president and one were interested in a weekend of booze, blow, bullshit conversation, and skanky broads.
But by way of contrast, it's departing supervillain Karl Rove who, characteristically, brings the most destructive gusto to the administration's new war. Scroll to 5:45 in, or 2:45 from the end to witness the new innovation in shock and awe.
That spectacle was so ghastly, so utterly horrifying, that I had to watch it in two sittings, even though there is only two minutes of content.
A friend summed it up best in an email:
"In the '60s (I think)
Norman Mailer (I think)
said about one of Andy Warhol's early films with Edie Sedgewick (I think)
"A hundred years from now, people will look at this and say,
'This is what it was like before the plague came."
That's what I thought of as I watched Rove mincing and mugging--essentially doing a Minstrel Show.
Great googely goo!"
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
A Brief Encapsulation of What's Wrong With America
Monday, July 09, 2007
Back in the old millennium, when I was still a drinking man, I had a policy. Anytime a bar charged an outrageous amount for a cocktail, I would assume that the glass was included in the price. I think my cut-off point was five dollars… that seems a perfectly reasonable price now, but it struck me as exorbitant then. I gradually accumulated a diverse collection of rock glasses and, in one memorable incident, a martini glass from the New Orleans Room at the Fairmont Hotel. That last I still feel a little guilty about – you really expect a martini to be overpriced – but it seemed, for complicated reasons, like the thing to do at the time.
Recently, Baby Dog finally graduated from sippy cups. Mama Dog bought a passel of little plastic tumblers from the Internets, but they proved to be so lightweight that they were extra prone to spilling. Gradually, we settled into a routine wherein Baby Dog gets her water in the plastic tumblers but her milk in a small, bottom-heavy glass. It was only this morning that it occurred to me that all the small, bottom-heavy glasses are in fact rock glasses I purloined from bars years ago. You probably hate as much as I do stories whose only point is “isn’t life funny?” but hey – isn’t life funny? It sure never would have occurred to me back then that I was stealing milk glasses for my daughter.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Baby Dog's Third
Monday, May 07, 2007
In the Neighbourhood
Well, the eggs chase the bacon round the fryin' pan
and the whining dog pigeons by the steeple bell rope
and the dogs tipped the garbage pails over last night
and there's always construction work bothering you
In the neighbourhood
In the neighbourhood
In the neighbourhood
Friday's the funeral and Saturday's the bride
Sey's got a pistol on the register side
and the goddamn delivery trucks they make too much noise
and we don't get our butter delivered no more
In the neighbourhood
In the neighbourhood
In the neighbourhood
Well big Mambo's kicking his old grey hound
and the kids can't get ice cream 'cause the market burned down
and the newspaper sleeping bags blow down the lane
and the goddamn flatbed's got me pinned in again
In the neighbourhood
In the neighbourhood
In the neighbourhood
There's a couple Filipino girl's giggling by the church
and the window is busted and the landlord ain't home
and Butch joined the army yea that's where he's been
and the jackhammer's digging up the sidewalks again
In the neighbourhood
In the neighbourhood
In the neighbourhood
The thing that’s funny about this is that back when Mama Dog and I were first together, I had this tradition of playing that song just before I left for work every day. I was pretending it was the theme song of my sitcom or something, and as I went out to walk through my neighbourhood on the way to BART, Tom would be growling along in accompaniment. Or something like that. Anyway, like most of my silly obsessions it fell by the wayside after a while, but Mama Dog sure must feel like something’s come around again every time she hears me singing Baby Dog to sleep.
Also, in full disclosure – when I sing the song to Baby Dog, I edit three things. I change “goddamn” to a weaselly “gosh-darn,” just because I don’t want her volunteering opinions about the goddamn delivery trucks at daycare. Secondly, I change “Filipino girls” to “Filipina girls,” because, you know, they’re girls. And lastly, I say “we don’t get our butter delivered anymore,” because I just can’t bear the thought of her employing double negatives at such a tender age.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
I think I’ve written before of this, but I’m too lazy to look it up just now – we have a habit in our little family of adding the modifier “-ass muh’fuh’n” to perfectly innocent phrases. Like, “Doggy Dog’s a good-ass muh’fuh’n dog.” Or “Merry-ass muh’fuh’n Christmas.” For me, this goes back to the day years ago when some guy on the street saluted Ambrose’s car as a “Raw-ass muh’fuh’n Cutlass.” I’m not sure what Mama Dog’s history with it is.
Anyway, I’ve long been in the habit of answering “Very-ass muh’fuh’n well” when asked to complete some ordinary household task. “Would you please get me a fork?” Mama Dog would ask. “Very-ass muh’fuh’n well,” I’d reply.
When Baby Dog began to acquire language and we started to clean up our act verbally, I was loath to lose such a piquant phrase from my vocabulary. Being a bright-eyed clever little fellow, what I did was truncate it to an acronym. VAMFW. Only I’d pronounce the acronym phonetically. “Could you pour Baby Dog’s bath?” Mama Dog would ask. “VAM-fwuh!” I would reply, con gusto.
Eventually, the inevitable happened; Baby Dog repeated “VAM-fwuh!” and laughed loudly. She had no idea what it meant, but she finds many of Daddy’s funny little words worth repeating and laughing at.
The other night, Mama Dog asked me to do something, and I said “VAM-fwuh!” Baby Dog echoed me, with laughter. Mama Dog asked her, “Baby Dog, what does ‘vam-fwuh’ mean?” Baby Dog pondered for a moment and answered, with gravity, “Okay.”
How about that? She can translate nonsense from context.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
The Irish Rovie
The reason I’m moved to post about it now is this: since the song’s renaissance in her playlist, she’s enjoyed taking part in the singing. Each verse ends with the phrase “The Irish Rover!” I’ll pause at that part, and she’ll sing it out – pronouncing it “The Irish Rovie,” true, but that’s the way her ares sound now. Anyway, at bedtime last night, Baby Dog sang along with me for the entire song – all five verses. I knew she could fill in blanks if I paused in the song, but I never realised she had the whole thing memorized. And it’s no simple stuff, either. Check out the lyrics:
On the Fourth of July, 1806
We set sail from the sweet cove of Cork
We were sailing away with a cargo of bricks
For the Grand City Hall in New York
'Twas a wonderful craft
She was rigged fore and aft
And oh, how the wild wind drove her
She stood several blasts
She had twenty seven masts
And they called her The Irish Rover
We had one million bags of the best Sligo rags
We had two million barrels of stone
We had three million sides of old blind horses hides
We had four million barrels of bones
We had five million hogs
And six million dogs
Seven million barrels of porter
We had eight million bails of old nanny-goats' tails
In the hold of the Irish Rover
There was awl Mickey Coote
Who played hard on his flute
When the ladies lined up for a set
He was tootin' with skill
For each sparkling quadrille
Though the dancers were fluther'd and bet
With his smart witty talk
He was cock of the walk
And he rolled the dames under and over
They all knew at a glance
When he took up his stance
That he sailed in The Irish Rover
There was Barney McGee
From the banks of the Lee
There was Hogan from County Tyrone
There was Johnny McGurk
Who was scared stiff of work
And a man from Westmeath called Malone
There was Slugger O'Toole
Who was drunk as a rule
And Fighting Bill Treacy from Dover
And your man, Mick MacCann
From the banks of the Bann
Was the skipper of the Irish Rover
We had sailed seven years
When the measles broke out
And the ship lost its way in the fog
And that whale of a crew
Was reduced down to two
Just myself and the Captain's old dog
Then the ship struck a rock
Oh Lord! what a shock
The bulkhead was turned right over
Turned nine times around
And the poor old dog was drowned
And the last of The Irish Rover
I’m compelled to point out in the spirit of full disclosure that Baby Dog’s renderings of many of these lines are best classed as approximate, but she’s for the most part very close. It’s no doubt a handicap that practically the only words in the whole thing that have a concrete meaning for her are “dog,” “goat,” and “horse” (for all of which she supplies appropriate sound effects when I sing the song otherwise unaccompanied). And besides – I haven’t any more clue than she does what “fluther’d and bet” means, and she pronounces it at least as well as I do.
Monday, November 20, 2006
No, You’re Not Seeing Things: This Is a New Post
Having made it through an entire first paragraph, I have to say that things are looking up today.
For those not in the know, the last year has been the busiest one of my life. I have a full-time job, the familial obligations with which you’re familiar if you’ve read the faversham, and a couple of very involved extracurricular projects that have made it impossible to post regularly here. Even after dropping the paying freelance work I’ve done the last few years I’ve been too busy to do more than think about blogging. Still and all, it’s time I did a little catch-up before Baby Dog exits the terrible twos.
Though she’s been exhibiting many signs of a will of her own, the twos haven’t been that terrible. She has learned new rhetorical devices to forestall policies with which she disagrees (“But I do want to stay up! I really really do!”) and is not above resorting to tantrums. Last night at Halmoni’s she showed unexpected signs of having studied the oratory of Benito Mussolini, emphasising each syllabic break with a shake of her fist as she forcefully intoned “I want to get out of the high chair right now!”
Mostly, though, she just can’t help being her cute, diligent, sweet-tempered self. Here, for Charles to roll his eyes and skim past until the third birthday, is a list of cute Baby Dog items that I’ve been meaning to post about should I ever have time.
Friend Shark: Among her newer stuffed toys is a killer whale that Mama Dog found somewhere or other. I think it’s Shamu, but I’d have to check the label to be positive. Baby Dog decided early on that it was a shark and cannot be convinced otherwise. We told her it’s a killer whale, thinking maybe she’d find that cool, but the best compromise we could arrive at is that it’s a killer whale named “Shark.” In the last week or two, Baby Dog has decided that the critter is in fact named “Friend Shark.” A favourite game right now involves me circling Friend Shark around Baby Dog’s head, doing the Jaws theme: “Doo doo…….Doo doo……Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo….” until at last Friend Shark attacks and gobbles Baby Dog’s back. For some reason, it always has to be her back.
The Horse on Seventh Avenue: Baby Dog has had many additions to her bedtime songbook in the nearly six months since I last posted. I’m not sure how it got in there, but “The Boxer” by Simon and Garfunkel was one of the additions. I remember very clearly the first time I sang it to her at bedtime, I was doing the “seeking out the poorer quarters where the ragged people go” part when I flashed ahead and realised that I had a dilemma coming up. Namely, that part about the “come-on from the whores on Seventh Avenue.” That’s the problem with a folky light rock song that’s thirty years old and has long since been mulched for muzak. You forget that it really sprang from those same gritty streets from the Sidney Lumet movies. Not wanting Baby Dog to entertain her little friends at daycare by singing about whores, and thinking as fast as I could, I sang the line as “the girls on Seventh Avenue.” The line passed unnoticed and Baby Dog went to sleep. Later, I told Mama Dog about it, and she made a suggestion I should have thought of myself: “The horse on Seventh Avenue.” That’s how I’ve sung it ever since, and Baby Dog always supplies a “neigh” as an illustrative sound effect when we get to that part. Okay, maybe it’s a cheat. Maybe she’s going to grow up thinking I didn’t know what “whore” meant. On the other hand, maybe she’ll eventually think Daddy had a particularly filthy mind, updating a simple transaction between consenting adults to some sort of horribly degrading donkey show.
Spider-Man Update: Yes, she dressed in a Spider-Man costume for Halloween. She also has a Spider-Man trick-or-treat pail (unused this year since we didn’t go out, but ready for use next year), two Spider-Man dolls, a personalized Spider-Man book, a Spider-Man sticker book, a Spider-Man colouring book, two Spider-Man pillows, a Spider-Man quilt, Spider-Man pyjamas, a Spider-Man song on her Napster playlist, and the Spider-Man cartoon opening credit sequence bookmarked on Youtube. She’s all set for Spider-Man stuff for the rest of her childhood, but thanks to everyone who’s contributed.
The Halloween Party: We took Baby Dog (in her Spider-Man costume) to a neighbour’s daytime Halloween party. It was a Child-Friendly party, with a back yard full of toys and all the kids in costume. In a “you-know-you’re-so-far-north-in-Oakland-that- it-might-as-well-be-Berkeley” moment, our little girl was dressed as Spider-Man (she could by no means be persuaded there was such a thing as “Spider-Girl”) and another little boy at the party was dressed as a fairy princess. We really ought to have gotten a picture of the two of them together. Maybe you had to be there for this part, but we thought it was funny… Baby Dog’s most enduring memory of the party was meeting Watson, the cat of the house. Watson was very friendly, and sprawled on a table in front of us, accepting petting with great equanimity. Baby Dog has hardly ever been able to touch a cat – they usually run away when a toddler approaches – and she stood on her chair, able only to giggle and beam as she rubbed Watson’s belly. After a while we got distracted by other things, and by the time Baby Dog remembered the cat, Watson had disappeared. She lumbered about the yard, calling him: “WAAAAAT-SUUUUUN!” We’ve observed that our little girl is not really a delicate little flower. She was the loudest baby in the hospital on the day she was born, and time has diminished neither her powers of volume nor her ability to drop down into most unexpected levels of bass. She sounded like a little foghorn. “WAAAAAT-SUUUUUN!” Unsurprisingly, the cat did not come.
I’m sure there were other things I meant to blog about the last six months, but that’ll do for now, I think. I’ll try to post again before next June 25.
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Baby Dog’s Second
After, when the only ones left were Mama Dog, Baby Dog, Halmonie, and me, Baby Dog lay down on the blanket under the canopy in the back yard and played with her Lego train engine, zooming it around like an airplane and singing a song she’d learned in daycare. It was the first time she’d looked relaxed all day, and as Mama Dog and I had one more slice of cake apiece so as to carry that much less home* and Daddy treated himself to a hard-earned glass of wine, we whiled some moments that were perfectly happy and companionable. She’s young, and nothing’s set in stone, but if she takes after me as much as it seems, she’s going to find such moments hard to come by in any company but that of the trusted few. I hope she adapts better than I did, and finds a way to relax in the company of strangers; but if not, I hope she at least she can always have such contentment after the party’s over and the company has gone away.
*Our story and we’re sticking to it.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Unintended consequence: last night at dinner time I turned on the Napster as usual and asked Baby Dog what she wanted to hear. She answered: “Stripey shirt on the computer?” I had to explain to her that “Stripey Shirt” is a song only sung by Daddy and that it does not exist in recorded form. I played “Spider-Man” instead, but clearly it wasn’t the same.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Apparently It Really Can Sell Anything
I showed it to Mama Dog much as I’m showing it to you, with the paper folded so the ad copy couldn’t be read. I said, “See this picture of a fellow with his face buried in a young lady’s cleavage?” “Uh-huh,” said Mama Dog. “Can you guess what it’s advertising?” “Uh…Viagra?” she ventured. Good guess, but no.
The answer, if you dare, is here.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Papa Dog Holds No Monopoly On Lame Posts
My guess? The poor bastard needs a nap. So sleep, good Doctor. Let your friends pick up the slack. And if you really are putting down the Faversham for a while, know that we have sincerely appreciated the great effort that you've put into it these long months. You're good with the words, and that ought not go unsung. We're glad you've put them down, from the tales of pre-marital waste to the love notes to the wife, the smart-ass analyses of children's narratives, the passionate plea for your adopted country, even the cute bits about making the baby laugh.
Thanks, Doc. Don't stay in that sick room too long.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Monday, May 29, 2006
To Him, Life Is a Great Big Bang-Up
Does whatever a spider can
Spins a web, any size
Catches thieves, just like flies
Look out! Here comes the Spider-man!
Is he strong? Listen, Bud!
He's got radioactive blood.
Can he swing from a thread?
Take a look overhead.
Hey there, there goes the Spider-man!
In the chill of night,
At the scene of the crime
Like a streak of light
He arrives just in time
Friendly neighborhood Spider-man
Wealth and fame, he's ignored
Action is his reward
To him, life is a great big bang-up
Wherever there's a hang-up
You'll find the Spider-man!
I was sitting in the park when the sky began to turn. Twenty Puerto Rican guys were playing futbol and I was reading Knut Hamsun, writing me a letter from the Norwegian wildneress, condemning the lifestyle of the city-dweller and his disconnect from nature. The street noise surrounded the park and would be interrupted by the occasional songbird. The sky was blue and open, the sun gave off a rejuvenating burn. But from the distance the dark clouds marched in like a passing battalion. Great thunderheads that boomed and flickered. The rain came first in occasional fat droplets and quickly increased its tempo, turning the field immediately to mud. The children scurried off the swings and beneath their parents umbrellas. The Puerto Rican dudes continued their game, just like the professionals, and I put my book in the dry safety of my bag.
The rain passed in a quarter hour and I was soaked to the skin. The sun was back out and I walked across Brooklyn, letting its warm embrace dry my soggy clothes. Small steam came off the bricks of apartment houses as the water returned to the sky. The flimsy dresses were back out from under cover of awnings and tap rooms. This city has left behind the slow solitude of winter. It is a great moment, like the start of a relationship, where the lonely cold is gone, but the oppressive heat of routine has not yet set in.
Sunday, May 28, 2006
Saturday, May 27, 2006
After the Party
Friday, May 26, 2006
Doggy Dog is a Red Stater
I told Mama Dog the story, and she got a little freaked out. Halmonie got very freaked out at third hand when Mama Dog passed it along. It revived the idea of finding a new home for Doggy Dog, though only briefly and not too seriously. “He sees her near the meat and thinks he’s acting in his own best interest to defend his food,” I said. “He has no idea that he’s doing the worst thing he can possibly do for his own well being.” That sounded familiar to me. After a moment’s thought, I realised why. “He’s like a lower income Republican,” I said. Mama Dog laughed. “The meat is patriotism.” Yes. It’s the American flag. It’s a partial birth abortion ban. It’s the God-given freedom to deny basic civil rights to homosexuals. “Yeah,” I said, “it’s what he thinks he has to protect, but acting to protect it just puts him that much closer to losing his place in this house.” Protecting the flag and the unborn and the traditional definition of marriage only gets him a big tax cut for people way richer than himself and a gradual dismantling of the regulations and social services that are there to protect him.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Featuring Guest Blogger Oscar Wilde
The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art's aim. The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.
The highest, as the lowest, form of criticism is a mode of autobiography. Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.
Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things means only Beauty.
There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.
The nineteenth century dislike of Realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass.
The nineteenth century dislike of Romanticism is the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass. The moral life of man forms part of the subject-matter of the artist, but the morality of art consists in the perfect use of an imperfect medium.
No artist desires to prove anything. Even things that are true can be proved. No artist has ethical sympathies. An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style. No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything.
Thought and language are to the artist instruments of an art. Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art. From the point of view of form, the type of all the arts is the art of the musician. From the point of view of feeling, the actor's craft is the type. All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.
Those who read the symbol do so at their peril. It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors. Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital. When critics disagree the artist is in accord with himself. We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.
All art is quite useless.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Featuring Guest Blogger Joseph Conrad
“And this also,” said Marlow suddenly, “has been one of the dark places of the earth.”
He was the only man of us who still “followed the sea.” The worst that could be said of him was that he did not represent his class. He was a seaman, but he was a wanderer, too, while most seamen lead, if one may so express it, a sedentary life. Their minds are of the stay-at-home order, and their home is always with them—the ship; and so is their country—the sea. One ship is very much like another, and the sea is always the same. In the immutability of their surroundings the foreign shores, the foreign faces, the changing immensity of life, glide past, veiled not by a sense of mystery but by a slightly disdainful ignorance; for there is nothing mysterious to a seaman unless it be the sea itself, which is the mistress of his existence and as inscrutable as Destiny. For the rest, after his hours of work, a casual stroll or a casual spree on shore suffices to unfold for him the secret of a whole continent, and generally he finds the secret not worth knowing. The yarns of seamen have a direct simplicity, the whole meaning of which lies within the shell of a cracked nut. But Marlow was not typical (if his propensity to spin yarns be excepted), and to him the meaning of an episode was not inside like a kernel but outside, enveloping the tale which brought it out only as a glow brings out a haze, in the likeness of one of these misty halos that sometimes are made visible by the spectral illuminination of moonshine.
His remark did not seem at all surprising. It was just like Marlow. It was accepted in silence. No one took the trouble to grunt even; and presently he said, very slow:
“I was thinking of very old times, when the Romans first came here, nineteen hundred years ago—the other day. . . Light came out of this river since—you say Knights? Yes; but it is like a running blaze on a plain, like a flash of lightning in the clouds. We live in the flicker—may it last as long as the old earth keeps rolling! But darkness was here yesterday. Imagine the feelings of a commander of a fine—what d’ye call ‘em?—trireme in the Mediterranean, ordered suddenly to the north run overland across the Gauls in a hurry; put in charge of one of these craft the legionaries—a wonderful lot of handy men they must have been, too—used to build, apparently by the hundred, in a month or two, if we may believe what we read. Imagine him here—the very end of the world, a sea the colour of lead, a sky the colour of smoke, a kind of ship about as rigid as a concertina—and going up this river with stores, or orders, or what you like. Sand-banks, marshes, forests, savages,—precious little to eat fit for a civilized man, nothing but Thames water to drink. No Falernian wine here, no going ashore. Here and there a military camp lost in a wilderness, like a needle in a bundle of hay—cold, fog, tempests, disease, exile, and death—death skulking in the air, in the water, in the bush. They must have been dying like flies here. Oh, yes—he did it. Did it very well, too, no doubt, and without thinking much about it either, except afterwards to brag of what he had gone through in his time, perhaps. They were men enough to face the darkness. And perhaps he was cheered by keeping his eye on a chance of promotion to the fleet at Ravenna by and by, if he had good friends in Rome and survived the awful climate. Or think of a decent young citizen in a toga—perhaps too much dice, you know—coming out here in the train of some prefect, or tax-gatherer, or trader even, to mend his fortunes. Land in a swamp, march through the woods, and in some inland post feel the savagery, the utter savagery, had closed round him—all that mysterious life of the wilderness that stirs in the forest, in the jungles, in the hearts of wild men. There’s no initiation either into such mysteries. He has to live in the midst of the incomprehensible, which is also detestable. And it has a fascination, too, that goes to work upon him. The fascination of the abomination—you know, imagine the growing regrets, the longing to escape, the powerless disgust, the surrender, the hate.”
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Brownstein, Nixon, Leaves
Anyway, another gift Brownstein passed on was that of judicious disapprobation. He didn’t say it in so many words, but he took me to task for letting the faversham go down the crapper. It’s true I’ve had way too much on my plate for quite some time and have been giving this page especially short shrift. That’s as should be, of course – if this thing was my top priority, there’d be cause for worry. Still, I’ve felt bad for some time for not keeping up my end of the entertainment compact, and while I can’t promise to turn over a new leaf and keep it overturned, let it be known that I’m giving actual thought to how I might make this a more substantial faversham on a regular basis.
Just not tonight.
Monday, May 22, 2006
This Still Won’t Be a Proper Post, But….
Sunday, May 21, 2006
Papa Dog is Back…
Saturday, May 20, 2006
You must have seen those magazine ads for American Express, the "My Card" campaign featuring such celebrities as Kate Winslet and Ken Watanabe. If you haven't, the two-page spread shows said celebrity in a soulful pose -- obviously in the midst of deep contemplation -- to convey a sense of tranquilty and fulfillment. Of course those qualities are the polar opposite of what is normally associated with credit cards: greed for material things or despair over insurmountable debt. A questionnaire appears on the verso and features open-ended questions that have been allegedly answered by the featured celebrity in its own handwriting.
Here's a sample:
Proudest moment - When I gain trust from someone.
Biggest challenge - Life.
Perfect day - Searching for something I cannot reach.
Inspiration - I am inspired by so many things every day.
My life - is about taking my own path.
My card - is American Express.
That's all fine and dandy for Mr. Watanabe (who, from the photograph seems to have a bit of an equestrian fetish). But here's what I'd say:
Proudest moment - Holding my brand-new baby girl for the first time and thinking, "I made this!"
Biggest challenge - keeping the house clean
Perfect day - Sleep until 8 a.m., then have Papa Dog tie me down with rope so that I am not tempted to run around all day completing tasks.
Inspiration - Pristine water occuring in a natural setting.
My life - is what I have made it. I blame nobody.
My card - is usually Mastercard, except for when I buy gas, in which case it's American Express because that's all Costco accepts.
Friday, May 19, 2006
Splinter, Snail, & Bedtime
I found a wood splinter on Baby Dog's palm the other day. I was going about my usual business of wiping Baby's hands after supper in what we call minty bubbles (a metal bowl of warm, peppermint soapy water) and spied the puffy, red sore. "Oh no!" I exclaimed to Halmonie; "Baby Dog has her first splinter!" Halmonie said, "Oh no, eek! I can't possible do it! You do it!" and went into the next room. "Of course I'll do it," I thought, and proceeded to sterilize a sewing needle and my Tweezerman in a shotglass of rubbing alcohol. I then lifted Baby Dog onto my lap, took her hand, and began making a small hole in her skin out of which to pull the splinter. All the while, I reassured Baby Dog by telling her that we were going to use "Mr. Tweezer" to pull the splinter out and that she'd be okay. Baby Dog withstood the operation like a champ, until the needle pricking started to hurt. There was a bit of fussing, but no all-out bawling or screaming. After a couple of attempts, I pulled the offending piece of wood out and said, "All better!"
I find it amazing that, when kids have no preconception of something scary (e.g., a needle poking at their skin), they are fearless. Baby Dog regarded the sharp needle that I was about to jab into her flesh and didn't even flinch. Until I started poking and prodding too vigorously. I'll bet that next time she has a splinter, she'll recoil in fear when I get out the needle and tweezers. But maybe not. She's has a high tolerance for pain and discomfort, our girl does.
I've never removed a splinter from anyone's body but my own, but when I saw that Baby Dog had a need, I jumped right to the task with no fear. In a way, it was the opposite experience of what I've just described. While tweezing Baby Dog's wound, I could not shake the mental image of Ian Holm cutting a hole in his daughter's neck (to prevent her from dying of a spider bite) in that heart-breaking film by Atom Egoyan, The Sweet Hereafter. No fear at all. While I am all too aware of the scariness of certain situations, when my daughter is in danger or is hurt, I am all over it without a second thought.
It rained in the East Bay today, which meant that the snails were out in full force. I found several on my evening dog walk and, on a whim, brought one into the house and placed it on the ledge of the bathtub while Baby Dog underwent her nightly ablution. We stared at it for a long time before it gathered the courage to put out its horns and start sliming along the porcelain. When it finally did, I said: "Okay, that's enough of that," and swiftly crushed the pathetic mollusk under my shoe. Well, no I didn't. I took it outside and placed it in a puddle on our front steps. But when I was a kid, I'd think nothing of crushing snails under my feet. What a sadistic little brat I was!
* * *
A Break in the Routine
Tonight bedtime was easy. After Baby Dog's bath, I read her "The Cat in the Hat Comes Back" (less fun than the original), sang her a couple of songs on the rocking chair (Dites Moi, Bicycle Built for Two, and Hush Little Baby), said "night-night," and put her in her crib to sleep. There was no "Start beginning" or any kind of fuss whatsoever. I was not even asked to go around the room so that Baby Dog could touch her owl, the moon, the pinecone, the ampersand, and other decor. We successfully broke from the bedtime routine! Perhaps our daughter is feeling more control over her world, therefore has less of a need to institute rituals for everything.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Guest Blogging - Day 1
I've caught Baby Dog's cold and, on top of the insomnia, I'm cranky as all hell. No filters on anything I say when I'm this out of it. In an HR "work values" feedback session today I complained bitterly that my institution's compensation is shit. Then, I told a co-worker that the HR Director (a woman) looks like Bill Gates. You can't insult someone much lower than that. Okay - maybe Donald Trump. On the positive side, Papa Dog is off on a cool secret mission right now. Too bad we can't discuss on this faversham.
Last - Doggy Dog's bubo-like growth is showing no signs of improvement/shrinkage. I've been spraying the affected area twice a day, but it's still sore. He's gonna have to have the thing surgically removed, but not until we've taken him to the vet for bloodwork, first. What a total ass-pain. Well, more for him than for us. Poor doggie. He's 9 years old -- approximately equal to 56 in human years.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Shellicky shellicky bookey
Put out all your hor-ns
All the ladies are comin’ to see-ee ya
If for some reason you weren’t already aware of it, a shellicky bookey (spelling approximate) is a snail, and the intent of the song is to coax a snail out of its shell. Baby Dog learned of this song in the aftermath of a snail sighting wherein the snail was relieving itself. I wasn’t there, but Mama Dog swears that’s what happened. Our routine now is that Baby Dog requests “Shellicky Bookey,” I dutifully sing it baritone, and she solemnly observes “Snail take a poo.”
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
And If She Hadn’t Deleted Her Old Blog, I Could Link to the Post that Proves It
Monday, May 15, 2006
A Short But Peaceful Night’s Sleep
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Tough Mother's Day Morning
This morning, Baby Dog woke up screaming again, though she let us sleep in until almost five. We again took turns trying to get her settled to no avail. It didn’t seem possible she was hungry again – unlike Friday night, she ate a full supper last night – but the sound was the same, so Mama Dog gave her breakfast. Unfortunately, while we were ready to go back to sleep after that, Baby Dog was convinced it was time for the day to start. I piled a bunch of her books in her crib and Mama Dog and I tried to catch the necessary few winks while the girl entertained herself. Around seven it became clear that Baby Dog wasn’t going to go back to sleep and, furthermore, she was tired of her literary selections. I hauled myself out of bed and took Baby Dog into the living room. I set her in front of her Mr. Potato Head set and curled up on the couch under an afghan, bobbing up and down about the meniscus of consciousness. Baby Dog looked up from the potato parts and said “Daddy is lying down on the blanket.” She had the order wrong – the blanket was on me, not the other way around – but I was impressed by the complexity of the sentence. Seven words. I’m pretty sure that’s her longest one yet.
Around nine, I got up to give her a snack, and shortly after that Mama Dog got up, having achieved as much of a Mother’s Day sleep-in as she deemed possible. All four of us – Papa, Mama, Baby, and Doggy – went out on a family walk, our two-year-running Mother’s Day tradition. We went to Bloomies to buy Mummy some flowers. I don’t think we took Doggy Dog last year, and he made things difficult this year, yelping when we had to stand too long in the flower line. Baby Dog fell asleep in the stroller on the way home, something she hasn’t done in ages (mostly because we’ve largely stopped using the stroller since she got the hang of walking). She was in her crib snoozing peacefully at 11 a.m., and a peaceful Mother’s Day midmorning descended.
Saturday, May 13, 2006
Baby Dog’s Latest Amazing Feat
Today, Baby Dog asked to go out for a little stroll. I didn’t feel like crossing the street to check out the house with the kittycats, so instead we took a left turn at the corner, taking us in the direction of Neighbour Mike’s house. When Baby Dog caught sight of his front door and his empty mailbox, she said, “No mail yet.”
Now here’s the thing: that time Neighbour Mike was out of town? It was last year, end of August, start of September. Baby Dog was barely over a year old and only speaking isolated words…lots of words, but not much in the way of phrases or sentences. She never repeated the phrase “No mail yet” back then. I’ve never had occasion to repeat it in the context of Neighbour Mike’s house. But somehow she has retained it well enough to dredge it up eight months later. I know this won’t come as news, but I hopelessly marvel.