Thursday, March 17, 2011

Damn Leprechauns

This a is a leprechaun trap. The Keep Out sign is to appeal to their mischievous nature. The shiny tin foil is to lure them in. They see the quarter, pull it, the string pulls the pencil, the box drops down.

You've caught a leprechaun!

At least that's how it's supposed to work in theory.

This is what we woke up to this morning. Those leprechauns are smart!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Grace and Commerce

I'll lift the veil of vagueness just a bit here, to let some light into the past couple of posts, and my glancing references to wolves in the darkness.

We took our youngest to the doctor last week. She hopped up on my lap, and later Hux's lap, and told the doctor what was going on. She said what she had to say calmly, without fear, without confusion, without self-pity. She told it succinctly, and accurately, and well.

She became in that moment our role model, in terms of facing the vagaries of the future with grace and strength.

We will do our best to emulate her.

And with that, we're going to D1sneyland! It's Spring break, and things just fell into place to make it happen. Hux and I have mixed feelings about giving money to the mega-corporate monument to commerce that is D1sney (one of the first presents I ever gave her was Carl Hiassen's anti-D1sney diatribe "Team Rodent: How D1sney Devours the World") but who knows when we'll get the chance again?

We'll be staying with a friend of mine from my wild and reckless NYC days. He's a very talented writer and actor (here's his blog). I directed him in a handful of shows back in those heady days. They were good shows. We work well together. And he and his wife are opening up their house to our traveling circus of a family. For a week!

Thanks, Clif and Angela.

Bookending the week are the road trips there and back, cutting through New Mexico and Arizona. I'm looking forward to those drives as much as I am our destination. Blue southwestern skies, endless highways, greasy spoon diners, roadside motels.

All roads lead to the sea.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wolves, Books, Moons

Things are better, by the way, since my last post. They tend to do that. They get better. No more images of wolves peering in from the edge of the darkness. I'd be less vague were it my own life, but it is not. Or at least not mine alone.

So, I'll be vague. But things are better. Trust me.

Finished an excellent book last month, good enough that it deserves a passing mention. Gary Shteyngart's Super Sad True Love Story is a dystopian novel set in the very near future, in the waning days of the United States, a country that is broke, stuck in a military quagmire in Venezuela, and run by one party: the Bipartisan party. People are benumbed by commerce, by social media, glued to iPhone-like apparati that continually stream credit ratings, net worth, and f*ckabilty rankings to the masses.

The words alone and lonely seem to appear on almost every page.

No one reads books anymore. People find them smelly.

It's a very funny book, and very telling satire, but the truth worth of the book is that a turn of the page can find the book leaping to melancholy, to anger, to delicate lyricism.

Anyway, this isn't a book review, merely a recommendation, so I won't blather on. But you should read this.

My favorite moon, Saturn's Enceladus, has a unknown power source near its South Pole, one that vents geysers of water ice into Saturn's rings from huge cracks in the ground called the "tiger stripes." They've known that for awhile. What's new is that Cassini (the space probe currently orbiting Saturn) has found the power source is 10 times more powerful than anyone expected. Here's the key quote from the JPL report:

“The mechanism capable of producing the much higher observed internal power remains a mystery and challenges the currently proposed models of long-term heat production.”

Trippy. It churns out 15.8 gigawatts of energy, the equivalent of 20 coal-fueled power stations. What's hiding under those tiger stripes? Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Angels and Demons

I have been down and out with a bad back these last few days. Watching the second season of Nurse Jackie, getting lost in the looping sentences of TC Boyle, keeping an eye on Spring Training.

Events have been unsettling here at Casa de la Clowncar as of late. Nothing to fret about, nothing we can't handle, but at one point I had an image of myself standing in the center of our living room, swinging a torch, keeping demons at bay. Predators lurking at the edge of the shadows.

So. I had a choice between going to a doctor and going to a chiropractor for my back. Equally skeptical of Western and Eastern medicine, I've been to both in the past, they both did the trick. But the chiropractor is in the neighborhood, I walk past her office daily. And, that keeping-demons-at-bay image has been in the forefront of my mind, and I kept thinking of the criminally underrated movie Jacob's Ladder, the literally angelic chiropractor who teaches Jacob the true purpose of hell.
"The only thing that burns in hell, Is the part of you that won't let go of your life. Your memories, your attachements, They burn 'em all away. But they're not punishing you. They're freeing your soul. If your frightened of dying, and your holding on, you'll see devils tearing your life away. If you've made your peace, then the devils are really angels, freeing you from the earth."
There's a clip, but you can't embed it. Here, go watch:

I went to the chiropractor. Haven't yet turned those demons into angels. But my back feels better.

Friday, March 4, 2011


Jewels shimmering in the sky this weekend: Jupiter and a sliver of crescent moon right after sunset. Go out. Look up.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Big Fat Dog And Other Dogs

My oldest daughter is calling this her first novel. The happy implication being there will be others.

There is a darkness at the edges of this that as a writer I like very much, but as a father I find disquieting. I'm trying to get used to the tension between these roles, as this surely won't be the last time I feel it. Life can be a dark ride. They've seen more than their share of that already.

I like that she gave the chapters individual titles. Not a new trick by any means, but it is one she learned from me.

And that last sentence of chapter 3 is simply good, strong prose.

The Big Fat Dog And Other Dogs
By Shay

Chapter 1

The Dog Ran Away

So it all started with the dog. It was on a leash. The dog was fat. He was so fat that the leash broke and he ran away. The owners were sad. Their names were Lee Ann and Jade. The kid Jade cried all the way to school.
It was really sad. I had to go home. It was in the newspaper that his name is Marley. The next day the guy found the dog called the number the number changed. They had moved to California. So the he drove to California but they weren't there.
The person found the owner. They were happy.

Chapter 2

They were happy

The family was so happy. The people saw the tag. It was the dog. They were so happy. They played with the dog all day long and gave him a bath.
They got a new dog because their dog had died. They braided him. The second dog was named Mane. They were so happy. They could not stand it at all. They loved it so much they got more and more dogs. They sure love dogs. They had 5 dogs. They played with the dogs all the time. It was the dogs’ birthday. They had so much fun at the birthday.

Chapter 3

The vet

The dog was sick. We took him to the vet. He was ok. We love the dog so much. The dog had babies. We kept the puppy. We played with the puppies.
They are as small as a hand.

Chapter 4

The dogs had died except for the puppy. And the puppy was safe. The dog has food and water. He lived happily ever after.

The End