Aug 10 2007

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Published by Brian under travel, memoir

The Mistress of the Knavish Sprites and I are on the road again, this time in Cannon Beach, a lovely, well kept, flower-laden town filled with cottages that has had to become a tourist trap to survive. Ah, the nipping jaws of capitalism. The MKS says she finds it remarkable that the shopkeepers have not become jaded, even after what must be a long season for them. I reluctantly agree, even while noting all the “help wanted” notices which emphasize that the potential candidates for these low-paying service positions must be cheerful in the face of all retail tourism adversity. Not just capitalism, but new age capitalism is at work in this lovely town.

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, ORPlus, there’s the Haystack, a monolithic sea stack that makes this place an icon of the Pacific Northwest coast. (That said, this coast is loaded with sea stacks, conical protuberances that begin to glaze together into a single snapshot memory.) And after the furnace of the Palouse, it’s cool without testing one’s capacity for wardrobe. Then, too, the LBBs (little brown birds) are seemingly tame and all dogs that come here find themselves in a heaven of scent and surf.

But you’ve got to wonder about a town that names its main drag Hemlock. Is there a Socrates hidden in Cannon Beach’s closet?

Hemlock is lined with shops–far too many kitchy galleries–and motels. We’re staying at the Inn at the Village Centre, but it should be more properly called the Room at the Village Centre, as there’s only one. The Centre is one of those malls that stretches back into the lot, like a strip mall turned on its ear, and with maze-like obstructions thrown in for adventurous shopping fun. It’s always a hunt for hidden treasure here in Cannon Beach. Jennifer, the manager of the Inn, is a kindly, cheerful young woman with a couple kids she said we should “smack” if they get too loud. That hasn’t been necessary, though, as her children are like the birds, tame and cooing with the bliss of the good life. It’s summer, after all.
On the steps up into the new books bookstore (as opposed to Jupiter Books, which sells used, and is pretty cool, featuring a proprietor with a Carolinas lilt) we overheard a young woman on her cellphone.

Hi, Mom! It’s me! I’m in Cannon Beach. The air is so fresh.”

Earlier in the day I walked into Jupiter Books and the Carolina lilt of the bearded owner chortled, “That might be him now.” I did a double take, not really sure the remark was directed at me, even though the heads of the owner and his customers all turned and stared at me.

Freak! Old insecurities die hard.

“Just kidding,” he said. “I was telling them that I heard Terry Bishop had a place in town.”

“I am not he,” I said, to clear things up as quickly as possible. I wanted to browse on books like a manatee in the library of the sea.

Then I found, way in the back, precisely where you’d expect to find the poetry, some old copies of Talus and Scree, a lit zine that once published a poem of mine (in number 3). I’d been used as a conversational ploy, temporarily confused with a famous science fiction writer, and here was the proof of my obscurity in the who-knows-how-many-times-turned-over inventory of literary America.

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Aug 05 2007

The Forest for the Trees

Published by Brian under science, politics, agriculture

frankenforest?Dara Cowell’s piece on Alternet about the genetic engineering of trees, “Frankenforest: GE Trees Threaten Ecosystem Collapse,” concerns me. Not because I’m in favor of genetically engineering plants or animals. To the contrary, I think it’s a bad idea and for all the reasons Cowell states–except, in my case, without the scare-language that permeates the piece.

What bugs me is that this yet another example of wild-eyed, doom-saying liberal anti-science journalism that (not surprisingly, considering it’s anti-science) ignores the science in favor of trying to scare the bejeezus out of us. Continue Reading »

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Aug 05 2007

A Change in the Weather

Jeanette Winterson, the British novelist, wonders in the Times of London (and which I found via BroneteBlog):

As the floodwaters rose around me and we sank in a summer of rain, I tried a kind of homeopathic charm; what books could I find on my shelves where floods and rain played a part?

Multiple lightning strikes; image: NOAAWinterson rattles off the usual list of suspects, including the biblical flood story and (weirdly) the movie version of Frankenstein (which movie? and why not the novel?). What’s odd to me is that almost none of the academic eco-criticism types have picked up on climate as at least a viable leit motif for analysis. In my reading of gothic lit, climate and weather are veritable characters. Wouldn’t it be useful (something that is normally very difficult to say about contemporary literary studies) to analyze climate and weather in literature with an eye toward shedding some light on our current crisis, a crisis which, in our inability to do anything concrete about, is surely as much moral and psychological as scientific and economic?

I took a stab at it a couple years ago by presenting a paper at a low-level, regional MLA lit-studies conference. I was met with blank stares, for the most part, perhaps because I eschewed the jargon of the trade as much as possible. Because they could understand all the words I used, the audience may have felt talked down to. Or maybe it’s just a crappy paper. It certainly doesn’t delve deep enough into the implied thesis: that climate is a character or anyway a means of characterizing roles.

In any case, here’s the paper as presented at the conference in 2005. Perhaps it’ll be of some use to an eco-conscious scholar attempting to open the field of climatocriticism. Continue Reading »

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Aug 02 2007

Solo Worker

Published by Brian under evolution, agriculture, biology

You have to ask of the solo insect, fly or bee: who do you work for?

insectophobia is killing my country.” (to paraphrase Graham Nash)

I just swatted a fly. A big, fat solo fly. (Need I say black?)

Can you believe something like one-third of the world’s energy out-take goes to ag inputs? Fertilizer, pesticide, herbicide, jesus christ water. Most of that is nitrogen (fertilizer), because we kill the plants that fix the nitrogen and feed the insects that thwart the pests that kill the plants we really want to eat or process.

We are food miners and we don’t have enough insects. Damn.

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Aug 02 2007

BBC Sells Out to DRM

Defective By Design writes:

The BBC should have chosen free and open standards that work well and are available today—software that you can install on every major operating system including Microsoft’s. Free software.

Instead, they have given Microsoft complete control.This deal isn’t about supporting Microsoft Windows users. It’s about excluding everyone who doesn’t use Microsoft Windows. It says that everyone who does not agree to use DRM and proprietary software made by Microsoft cannot view BBC TV programs over the Internet. Read more.

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Jul 29 2007

Audio Cooking

Published by Brian under music

How to cook a breakbeat in the kitchen.

Mega Beatbox
Uploaded by Zegoat

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Jul 25 2007

Clarifying Butter

Published by Brian under poetry

I am a traveler.

I am a man
of the Goddess. I say:
We are entwined.

We seek, each
some others.

Soul makes images:
my soul is a mare;
my librarian is an owl,
catalogs eels of words.
A four-year-old boy
captains my ship.
My bear is warder of dark places.

My wolf
wants into your temple.

My bag of water bones
is subject to the dialogue
of the world. The wind
knows our fates.

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Jul 23 2007

A Typewriter Grows in Oz (and plays music)

Published by Brian under landscape, contributors, art, poetry, publishing

Andrew Macrae, an Australian writer and artist, wrote to say that although he lives

a long way from the centres of cultural production in the northern hemisphere… maybe there’s something of interest in an antipodean perspective.

Oh my. The man knows how to write a pitch to snare an Irrepressible, no?

Chairman SAndersSo check out his typewriter art (I suspect Photoshop or Illustrator, not an “actual” [or “Real,” as Andrew says below] typewriter, but I could easily be wrong; and don’t get me wrong: I respect and admire mimicry): Acid Head War. The thing that grabs me about Macrae’s pieces is the bridge between the dot matrix and the typewriter. All you can see here is the dot matrix; to get the typewriter detail, you need to visit Acid Head War.

What we’ve got here is the translation of photographs into typewriter art-via an algorithm which offers, I can only imagine, a good deal of user control. (Indeed, I suspect that each character is handpecked, but I’m a Romantic.) I have no idea of how many languages Andrew speaks (other than an obvious fluency with English, that is), but translation–or anyway, the engineer’s strategy of bridging–is clearly a forte. In that regard, check out Ordinary Magic, “the ecstasy of everyday things,” a minimalist WordPress blog in action. Continue Reading »

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Jul 23 2007

Bukowski Scholar in Spain Needs Our Help

Published by Brian under poetry, publishing

I just got mail from a fella in Spain name of Abel. He writes that he’s working on a dissertation on the great (if that’s where your boat floats) American writer, Charles Bukowski.

Abel wrote to ask if I, in the persona of Puck et alia, had ever published Buk.

Nay, says I, tho I was once published on a facing page with a poem in a short-lived zine called 10,000 Flies Can’t Be Wrong. Shall I send you a copy of the Bukowski poem? I asked.

Please, replied Abel, and supplied further needs that convince me he’s for real. (There wasn’t any real doubt anyway; who the hell is going to put Puck and Bukowski together and think, What a perfect mind fuck I could play on this guy!?) Here’s part of Abel’s slightly less than colloquial but perfectly rendered reply:

For bibliographical reasons, I would need copies of the Bukowski content as well as copies of the cover and masthead pages. Of course, if you have any spare issue that you can send or sell to me, I would appreciate it. I have to wade through tons of paper to find things here, while mags and books are tidily kept in the bookcase. If that’s not possible, then scan/xeroxes will do.

Actually, most of my books and zines from that era are untidily shoved in boxes hiding under other boxes in the back of a closet, but I get Abel’s point.

Which is, help me out if you can. I’m going to go rooting through old zines and have myself a walk down memory lane, digging for that brief brush with fame when I, your humble blogger, was published not just between the same covers but on the facing page from the bodacious Buk.

So I thought I’d throw the word out to you, the old contributors to my various literary outings, and others: let’s help this guy out. He’s working on a detailed bibliography of Buk’s zine publications, among other things, and that shit is ephemeral as hell. Hard to find, hard to pin down. (Abel said my explanation of my publishing history was “confusing.” Yeah. Well. How many librarians have said that to me? Let me count the leaves.)

Contact Abel (cirereta AT telefonica DOT net) before he graduates, gets a tenure-track job, and has to start writing some serious bullshit.

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Jul 20 2007

A Cheney Saturday

Published by Brian under politics

Butt-probed Bush hands riegns to CheneyDick Cheney is POTUS while George is under anesthesia for a “routine colonoscopy,” say White House reporters.

It’s a chilling thought,” one passerby told AXcess News when asked if they were concerned over Cheney’s short-term rule of the White House.

Girl-gone-wild Cheney says, “Give me my nuclear codes. Give me my everyday fuck you, Corpus Christi be damned. Give me executive power and I will coup like a dove. Give me ’till the bitter end and I will change you forever, America.”

Too late, asshole. Too. Fucken. Late.

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