Saturday, February 28, 2015

Lambs, Lions and Turkey

The Lion/Lamb theory of March has never made any sense to me. Anything like rain feels like a Lamb at the moment. The Groundhog thing is equally peculiar. All the same weather lore figures in imagination. And this morning I was informed the sunrise was a red one. Could be a good thing, could be a bad thing, who knows.

For my part I'm going to stick to Turkey Weather Lore. Pretty certain they are short term forecasters, and what one was doing gobbling yesterday at noon in the 25 degrees of Fahrenheit I'm not really certain, but it's got to mean something big, could be more snow, record lows, thunderstorms, a second coming and the list can get long.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Baffin Island

A balmy 15 degrees of Fahrenheit this morning, and being Friday trash collection day your correspondent slipped into his sun dress to venture toward the end of the lane. The Artist has been popping in and out, she's been to town, she's been to the mail, there's milk and Orange Juice, and her reports have been suspiciously glowing.

True I've been staring at the lane for some weeks now, thinking about a little adventure and I guess I'd been lulled into picturing the world beyond as a sort of November with a little snow around and maybe some icy spots. Well I'm here to tell you it's not like that at all. We're talking somewhere like Baffin Island without the charm.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Sentence Dissection

"Very" is an adverb. And so is "Indeed." I know this because I looked it up in the dictionary. Then there's something called a "Strong Verb." Not sure what a "Strong Verb" is, I just can't make any sense of it. And without beating about the bush, just between you and I, pretty sure our hero has no clue what an "Adverb" is and mention "Strong Verb" to him and he'll offer some sort of curse as his example of a "Strong Verb."

I have found that whenever I attempt to improve my understanding of the English Language as it is written, I enter a sort of frog dissection laboratory. Whole sentences laid out on the slab with pins stuck in it, and thread holding back bits of skin in an attempt to reveal the inner organs. Fortunately our hero was very heroic in Mr. Quilts' frog dissection, he didn't faint and unlike some of his fellow pupils he didn't have to resort to alcohol to get a passing grade. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Threatening the Hero

Mathurin will probably make no sense as a title. And again our hero hasn't done what he was supposed to do. He was supposed to have become Mathurin somewhere in chapter three, but what with one thing and another, he went all tangential, he behaved poorly, kept making suggestions and I don't know what he's done to my ability to spell.

I'm seriously thinking of arranging a sticky end for him. I thought some sort of well deserved tragic accident in a snow bank while rescuing a baby Giraffe. And sometimes with a hero, a writer of pulp has to have these sort threats up their sleeve, otherwise all hell breaks lose and a hero just goes about his business in a random and thoroughly disorganized manner.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Around Town

The 'large gray-brown, puffy headed, woodland Owl' or Barred Owl as he might be better known, is giving wise consideration to his territory through a perfectly understandable and spontaneous deranged laughter which day or night can suddenly issue from the canopy.

And at this time of year a local cosmopolitan family of oscine passerine birds or Crows aren't that well occupied by anything very much, they'll rattle around, looking for entertainment and maybe a little something to eat and if that fails to suffice there's always a Barred Owl to jeer at. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The PAU (Positive Attitude Update)

The experiment has lasted long enough and the trial patterns of thinking are now at an end. Your correspondent is preparing his final report, and it's not a pretty one. Positive and saintly attitudes achieve absolutely nothing, they serve only to encourage winter months to show off and behave disgracefully.

I know it's a big sadness for all of us, a great disappointment, especially after early signs that suggested a favorable response. I remember the 50 degrees of Fahrenheit, the little bit of sun that teased the Snowdrops and the Small Crown Narcissus  And too we all put great effort into the experiment. But I regret to say February is now in detention and your committee chairman is encouraging people to throw rotten eggs at it.

Saturday, February 21, 2015


Not in the least certain what might be happening outside. It could be rain, it could be freezing rain, or it could be sleet. Of the options available, the obvious one of actually going outside to more precisely determine the nature of the precipitation has been tried several times and still none the wiser.

For the professional weatherman this is not forecasting weather, it's what's called "Nowcasting." A new word that suggests to me at least that the weather professional get's into his gum boots, puts on a coat and goes outside into his car parking area, maybe has a cigarette, then reports back. And there's something very nice about knowing that I too engage regularly in "Nowcasting." 

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Rabbit of Usk and Huxley

Some of us have again been reading about where the Mystical Experience Meets Science, and here there's a whole lot of recent work that's being done with psychoactive chemicals. The brain I was told by Huxley, and I'll have to paraphrase, was a paradise of 'fools gold' but well worth visiting so as to obtain insight into an existence that has no ego, no 'what about me.' He wasn't the first to conduct such experiments. The Rabbit's own mortal enemy De Quincy wrote thousands of words on his own experiences of the opium den. This condition of reducing the 'what about me' is the knock on a doctor's door in the hope of being prescribed some kind of sedative. And too it engages the iron discipline of meditation, where minds have also been known to travel. Or a person could follow The Artist's example, wait until it's -7F then go outside discuss purpose with the gods by walking spirals into twelve inches of virgin snow.

Now it's probably true that The Rabbit of Usk may jump from the page as a sort of Disney Character with big front teeth, floppy ears, drives a convertible car and says something like "Dagnabit Musci."  Which is fine, because whether you're a Shaman or a Freud or a Priest or a Neuroscientist or a writer of pulp, the point is that from the first moments of becoming aware a new brain has a great deal to make sense of. Worth thinking of those early experiences of living as being more like an acid trip than something remotely comprehensible. Then Huxley's Doors of Perception begin to close tight, and you're being potty trained, dressed up in little outfits, made to brush your teeth and told what you can do and what you can't do, so that you're all ready and waiting to learn your two times table and the Highway Code. And in this area of course, our hero got a D with a plus for effort.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Rescheduling as Silver Lining

Somewhere around 1993 I had a Dentist Appointment in February. I remember it because that morning it was minus 7F. The absurdity of risking a horrible death for a Dentist struck me as right up there with things like sending men to the moon to get their teeth cleaned. Suffice to say that later in 1993 when the call came for a repeat tooth cleaning, the weather was ideal, and I chose to decline the offer. And true the decision had been tortoise-like, made deep down in the limbic system and obviously I had been badly traumatized by my previous experience of just trying to get to the Dentist's Office.

I will say that as the years passed I was again persuaded that life without regular visits to the Dentist's Office was one of indolence and lack of social responsibility. However, had it not been for a growing maturity in your correspondent's ability to control his limbic system, he might at this moment be risking horrible death to get his teeth cleaned. And while there is no such thing as a world without "We'd like to reschedule your appointment" there is such a thing as brave men confronting their fear of dialing telephone numbers and and telling a technical device "Through no fault of my own I'll be unable to attend the special event you had planned for me at 9 am tomorrow morning." Yes indeed, a silver lining in the cold hell that has chosen to challenge the State of Kentucky. Me, I slept like a log.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Path Clearing as Sedative

Depending upon where a person measures it we've had somewhere between 10 and 20 inches of snow. But after a certain point the actual amount of snow is pretty much irrelevant, what is relevant is the number of times the path had to be cleared, and here following another night of snow we're looking to do some serious record breaking.

The Artist of course is an expert at shoveling snow and possibly a little addicted to it. She has a fluidity of motion and is a joy to watch. My own attempts at snow shoveling leave much to be desired. In frigid temperatures I appear to lose all sense of direction, my path clearing skills are amateurish, crooked, wiggling and sometimes so tangential the path has to be abandoned to the elements.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Winter Wonderland

Once many years ago during what was laughably called "A Record Cold Spell" and it did seem cold, with temperatures failing to meet a day time high of 40F for three successive days and nighttime temperatures sinking into the upper 20F's I desperately mumbled at a most knowledgeable drinking companion, "How do they manage in somewhere like Ulan Bator!"

"They make beer out of Dromedary Milk," he answered. And true, due to the record low temperatures  the local ale was chilled to the point of being pretty much flavorless. But then realizing that my reference to Ulan Bator had to do with the cruel weather rather than the quality of the refreshment, he added "They're used to it over there." Well if I ever see my old friend again, I'm going to tell him he had no idea what he was talking about.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Winter Storm Update

It's not a Tufting Snow. It's a Needles, Prisms and maybe a couple of Plates kind of snow. So we're not talking actual Flakes or Dendrites. We're not talking gentle cotton ball type things floating around out there. And if there's a bit of wind, then we'll have what they call White Out. What that is I hope not to find out because it doesn't sound in the least pleasant.

More interesting perhaps it's the sort of snow Laplanders will be familiar with. And also worth your correspondent reminding himself that in the course of his many incarnations The Rabbit wrote a pamphlet extolling the virtues of living as a Laplander. Mind you his retreat to those Northern Climes had been precipitated by a vision of a universal empire of revolutionary police terror that had followed De Quincy's review of the The Rabbit's Revolution of Reason.. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Winter Storm Warning

In an attempt to be positive I'm going to say, if December is like June and January is like July then this February is turning into a a really horrible August. Nor does March being like September do very much to raise  your correspondent's pioneer spirit.

I should probably shave for the anticipated snow storm, which according to the great minds who know how to read tea-leaves could be followed by record cold. And if you want to know why I should bother to shave, it's a well known fact that a person is less likely to be judged mentally unstable if they are clean shaven. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

WG Grace Cup

The WG Grace Cup should mean cricket. However, your correspondent is aware that in the world there are some for whom the word cricket and the name WG Grace are pretty much meaningless. Yet a sporting event, no matter the language is a sporting event. And while there may be the odd pedant who might disagree with me on the definition of the word 'sporting event' I do feel confident that a ball to ball commentary of any sporting event that might have happened forty odd years ago would cause what we writer's of pulp call 'catatonic attention collapse' in the unfortunate reader.

This of course doesn't mean that a writer of pulp shouldn't have at his disposal a ball to ball commentary, something flowery with diagrams, statistics from previous games, batting and bowling averages, the phase of the moon, the names and biographical details of all players, scorers and Umpire. And it doesn't mean that a writer of pulp has wasted a month of his life writing a ball to ball commentary of an event that might have occurred forty odd years ago.  Rather I'd prefer to think of it as belonging to that area which I think of as "Knowing the Uncle's Mother-in-law's half sister's maiden name."

Friday, February 13, 2015

Seneca The Younger

Last Friday February the 13th was in 2009. On that day I filled these pages with the words "Crofts and Tofts." And I rambled on a little bit about the Duchess of Sutherland, who replaced a great many Crofters with sheep and probably spent her holidays in Cancun and more than likely thought she was wonderful. And being six years older, therefore I must be six years wiser.

Since 2009, the revolting wealthy have dramatically increased their grip on our planet, and probably time to remind everyone that Lucius Seneca whose quotations are so popular with the "Brain Dead" was basically the spokesperson for the Emperor Nero's coterie of revoltingly wealthy Romans. And here the alternative expression for "Brain Dead" would be "Star-Effers." And too, I am less and less interested in where it all might be next time February 13th falls on a Friday.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Lady of the Moon

In this part of February the phrase "Let's drink ourselves into a stupor," springs to mind. The Norse Gods had the right idea about their Valhalla. It was essentially an all you could eat and drink bar, and all you had to do to get into it was to lose your life bravely in the course of pillaging your more distant neighbors. Mind you I have also heard of an Abyssinian regime where being on the verge of unconscious was pretty much a way of life. And as every one knows, there's no winter in Abyssinia.

The Abyssinian story comes to me from Samuel Baker, all of whose books I once read. But never once in any of them, did I read about how he met his second wife. He was on a hunting expedition in the Balkans with Duleep Singh, the last Maharaja of the Sikh Empire. As an entertainment they visited an Ottoman Slave Market. At the slave market Samuel was outbid for a fair skinned girl of German Origin who'd been taken during Ottoman operations in Transylvania. But Samuel bribed the girl's attendants and off they ran. Her name became Lady Florence Baker. The Acholi of Northern Uganda called her Lady of the Moon. She was born in 1841 and she died in 1916.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sabean Genre and the Top Ten Don'ts

And too, it was in the wilderness years that Mathurin took to the idea of wearing an East African one cent coin, a small coin with a hole in it, around his neck. Now the question is whether or not this is remotely relevant to the gist of the tale, or whether it should be glossed over, or completely ignored.

Then again when a writer of pulp reflects a little, as he sometimes has to do, he'll soon realize that the Sabean Genre is awash with tangent and unnecessarily entertaining details. Indeed it's a complexity amongst complexities, and it does him no good to read the list of "Top Ten Don'ts" of story writing.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Mathurin on Career Guidance

Our hero in his seventeenth year was persuaded to give thought to his future on earth through a brand new process called Career Guidance. Great minds had determined that too many young men were launched into the world without the slightest clue of what was expected of them.

The experience of Career Guidance wasn't a pretty one for our hero, his career choice was dismissed out of hand by the Career Guidance Counselor, a highly educated, highly paid professional. "It's worse than spiritual counseling," our hero warned his clan.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Top Ten Sneakiest List Writing Birds

A Brown Thrasher sighting yesterday, and the odd thing about it was that I believe around this time last year there was also a Brown Thrasher sighting. And being a little preoccupied with the Top Ten List Writing Birds, your list writer's mind went directly to the Girl Mockingbird. There is something about the Brown Thrasher, rootling in leaf litter that suggest they might also be sneaky list writers. I don't know what is, some nuance in the way he or she looked up at me. They have a longer beak than a Mockingbird, they live in the same area of confidence as Mockingbirds, and of course they are related to Mockingbirds. Then the clouds opened, the horizons brightened, a choir sung, Elephants trumpeted and there was a revelation for your correspondent.

The only way, and I've said this rather too often, that I am able to tell a boy and a girl Mockingbird apart is by studying their movement and attitude. Girl Mockingbirds are organized, they don't rush around like mental patients they don't dance, and they are great deal more tolerant. It was this characteristic of the Girl Mockingbird that suggested she was sneaky list writer. And she probably has to write her lists when Boy Mockingbird's are otherwise occupied. Then following this line of reasoning, it became quite obvious that both Boy and Girl Thrashers are sneaky list writers. But one thing is for certain Northern Harriers don't write lists, sneaky or otherwise. So in terms of this blighted word 'Impactful' I thought "Top Ten Sneakiest List Writing Birds." I think it's brilliant, it has oomph, it has humph and it has do-wop. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Top Ten List Writing Birds

Your correspondent, writer of pulp and gardener can see Bluebirds making lists. He cannot see Mockingbirds making lists, even if he does sometimes wonder whether Girl Mockingbirds are secret list writers. But he can see the Carolina Wren making lists. The Bluebird list would be well ordered, it would have good hand writing, it would be on unlined paper, and a person can definitely get the sense of Propelling Pencil Neatness from Bluebirds. On the other hand A Carolina Wren list would probably be illegible, written in blunt pencil, probably on a scrap of brown paper.

And after considerable thought that went late into the night and given that any Top Ten List has to start somewhere, a general conclusion has been reach about Bluebirds being the most neat of all list writing birds and the Carolina Wren being the least neat of all list writing birds. There was some argument about Chickadees, and some cruel words were exchanged during a discussion about whether or not The Summer Tanager was a list writer. But as any top ten list writer will tell you the important thing is to have some thing called 'impactful' at the top of the list. And here "Top Ten List Writing Birds!" is falling a little short on "Impact" apparently.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

List Making Birds

Bluebirds are not yet feathered up for their glamour season, but they are considering the possibility. They'll sit on posts, puffed a little against the chill and they will tweet to each other. Nor is this a high pitched tweeting, it's more of a bad tempered rumbling kind of a tweet. And it's just a sad fact that Bluebirds are the kind of bird that play chess. They are not domino birds, they are not scrabble birds and they are certainly not Facebook birds. And there's no way they are Goggle Plus birds, but I am beginning to think they are what I'll call "List Making Birds."

One of the great tragedies of our world as currently configured is "The List."  In my view it all started with a visited to something like a Post Office or a Grocery Store. A fairly sensible aid to memory. Yet list making quickly devolved into a puerile cry for attention by those unfortunates who were most prone to list making. "The Top Ten Moments of 1999." "The Top Ten Reasons to Bake Cookies." And I could go on into the increasingly desperate attempts by list makers to savage our consciousness by filling it with absolute total and utter nonsense. Fortunately the List Making Bluebird will always be far too bad tempered to ever fall for the cretinism of a "Top Ten List." And today I'll be visiting the Post Office before conducting a cull of Vanilla Ice Cream.

Friday, February 6, 2015

ENSAC (Eric's Nativity Scene Authenticity Committee)

With respect to Eric's Nativity Scene I've been giving thought to the important role of an Eocene Authenticity Committee. And I think we should all remember that the Eocene was the second of five epochs in the Tertiary Period of the planet earth. The Continents had pretty much sorted themselves into a recognizable configuration. India was a large Island, Himalayas were a twinkle in India's eye. There were no Alps,  Europe was an archipelago. Not surprisingly The British Islands were pretty much as they are today. So it was a very different time and we can't have things like electric train sets or rubber Lemurs or plastic palm trees or any Non-Eocene Creatures or products anywhere near the scene.

 It's also worth remembering that by the late middle part of the Eocene there were Anthropoids in Africa, and there were Anthropoids in that part of the world that used to be called Burma. Burma has an odd spelling today, so I'm not going to risk it. But generally amongst the less jingoistic professionals, the opinion is that Mrs. X, who would have been an Anthropoid, built her nest in Africa, where during the Eocene average temperatures rarely departed from a day time high of around 95 F with night time lows in the upper 70 F range. And to better understand what that sort of climate means, a Gardener could grow three crops of Desiree Potatoes a year, and there'd be none of this nonsense about stocking things up for winter. So bails of hay anywhere near Eric's Nativity Scene would be a gross infringement of Eric Nativity Scene Rules.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Eric's Nativity Scene

I'd like to think that members of Mrs. X's clan where about eighteen inches tall, had no tails, were not too hairy and primarily lived their lives in woodland canopy where they built nests. And I'd like also to believe that in order to build their nests they'd forage for nesting materials by leaving the safety of the canopy and venturing on to the ground. I mention this because in the developing ideas about how to properly celebrate Eric Day the word crèche has been raised.

An interesting word with German and French origins, and one which has been associated with nativity. When nativity has a capital letter as in "Nativity" it essentially references the birth of Jesus as opposed to just any old person. All the same I think Eric should have a Crèche in any reproduction of his Nativity scene. There'll probably be no camels, they'd not been invented forty million years ago but the idea of the Magi might well be achieved through a representation of Clausewitz's shock and awe on the faces of fellow creatures such as the early Lemurs that might have gathered around.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Eric Day

The ancestor we share with the Chimpanzee and the Bonobo, or Pygmy Chimpanzee, shared an ancestor with the the ancestor of the Gorilla. I'm going to call this ancestor Mrs. X. And you can probably imagine how Mrs. X felt when one of her children looked a little peculiar, a little flat faced maybe, possessed of strange ears, a little prone to tantrum perhaps, could have had thin wrists, and I'll call this child Eric.

Odds are that Eric spent much of his time staring at the other members of his clan and wondering why he was different. Then in due course following what I imagine was a hiatus of some sort that decimated Mrs. X's clan some reluctant surviving female was persuaded to bond with Eric, and if it hadn't been for that moment you and I wouldn't be here and nor would the Chimpanzee or the Bonobo or the Gorilla. And worth mentioning I'll be co-celebrating my own birthday with "Eric Day" this coming Saturday, probably with ice cream.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Gifting and Messaging

The other thing about N Gauge is because it's so minutely and carefully crafted in our all natural manufacturing facility in Chingling, it's good occupational therapy for your older electric train set enthusiast whose eyesight and manual dexterity, his ability to be patient and his grasp of packaging, his attention span, may be gracefully fading into none existence.

But for those who may still be in doubt, let me assure them, your N Gauge supplier has available at very reasonable prices, organic tweezers, earth friendly hand held magnifying glasses, approved herbal sedatives, hours of recyclable instruction videos which will at least give your elderly loved one a good grasp of the general theory and history of N Gauge. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Gifting Imperative

For one reason or another, the species I belong to has what I'll call "A Gifting Imperative." Sounds nice, sort of gentle and it might make a person get all high and mighty about civilization and building cathedrals and going to the moon, and watching still waters run deep so as not to feel guilty. But in that niceness and gentleness lurks a demon. The word "Imperative" is another way of saying "Just Can't Help It." Then over the generations the Gifting Imperative has morphed from what might have once been the odd random act, into a sort of organized nightmare of Gifting. And here, some of us are still a little shaky from the experience of buying a tube of toothpaste over the Christmas period, and now its yet another birthday sloping its way into the horizon.

There might have been a time when your correspondent might have chosen splendid isolation. "I'd love some more socks and a blade for the pencil sharpener." And here the astute reader, might recognize somnolence, surrender to the inevitable, defeatism and perhaps a little cynicism. Well all that's a thing of the past! For the last twenty odd years your correspondent has only ever wanted an N Gauge electric train set from the Gifting Imperative. And too, on subsequent occasions when the Gifting Imperative strikes as inevitably it will, there are things like Signal Boxes, extra track, maybe a Fairburn Standard 2-6-4 Tank, which is a beautiful engine and does have a place of considerable honor in The Rabbit of Usk

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Birthdays as Feats of Memory

As fair warning and as a community service your correspondent wishes to announce that this is his birthday week. There are those who might well balk at such an announcement, there might be the odd comment such as "Big Deal" or "He's got a nerve" or "Go soak your head in cold water." But through bitter experience your correspondent, writer of pulp and gardener, knows what it's like to spend hours trying to remember the birthdays of others. And having spent hours trying to remember the birthday of others has still issued birthday greetings on the wrong day, sometimes the wrong month.

As well, your correspondent is attempting to encourage others to remind him when their birthday falls due. And there are probably those who might say something like, "Why don't you have some sort of calendar and mark birthdays down, so you don't have to keep asking people when their birthday is or how old they might be." And it's important in any community to tolerate these sort of far out and radical theorists who may well have doctorates in stating the obvious. But it's the case that not everyone is blessed with an ability to remember where his birthday calendar might be, and even if he does remember where it might be, how to access it.