Friday, September 26, 2008

two pieces of the same thing

And Ma went on, “They’s a time of change, an’ when that comes, dyin’ is a piece of all dyin’, and bearin’ is a piece of all bearin’, an’ bearin’ an’ dyin’ is two pieces of the same thing. An’ then things ain’t lonely any more. An’ then a hurt don’t hurt so bad, ’cause it ain’t a lonely hurt no more, Rosasharn. I wisht I could tell you so you’d know, but I can’t.” And her voice was so soft, so full of love, that tears crowded into Rose of Sharon’s eyes, and flowed over her eyes and blinded her.

--John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, 1939

Monday, September 22, 2008

So Blown Apart

"The novel closes on the eve of the dedication of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as the Plumes reflect on the significance of a memorial built to house remains so blown apart by modern war machines that they can never be put back together in an identifiable form..."

--Amazon book description of the novel Plumes by Laurence Stallings

We just stopped fighting.

"It was early in the Vietnam War, and an American platoon was hunkered down in some rice paddies, in the heat of a firefight with the Vietcong. Suddenly a line of six monks started walking along the elevated berms that separated paddy from paddy. Perfectly calm and poised, the monks walked directly toward the line of fire.

"'They didn’t look right, they didn’t look left. They walked straight through,' recalls David Busch, one of the American soldiers. 'It was really strange, because nobody shot at ’em. And after they walked over the berm, suddenly all the fight was out of me. It just didn’t feel like I wanted to do this anymore, at least not that day. It must have been that way for everybody, because everybody quit. We just stopped fighting.'"

--Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, 1995

The Costa Rican 2,000-Colones Note Has a Hammerhead Shark and a Dolphin On It

photo by Naomi
Costa Rica
2008 September

Saturday, September 20, 2008

David Foster Wallace Has Killed Himself

"If wealth of talent, steady productivity (eight books of fiction and nonfiction), a MacArthur grant, and adulation from fans, critics and peers are not enough to make life's isolation bearable, what hope is there for the rest of us scribblers?"

--Richard B. Woodward, The Wall Street Journal

Monday, September 15, 2008

Our nada who art in nada

"The Nothing is a relentless monotony, unbroken by joy or sorrow. It is unending emptiness without comfort or companionship of man or God. It is the senselessness of each heart-beat that is just like the last and refuses to give in to death."

--Elizabeth S. Wall, "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place by Ernest Hemingway"

Día de la Independencia

Happy Costa Rican Independence Day.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Today at 7th Street Books in central San Jose, I traded a copy of The Steppe and a copy of The Shadow of the Wind, an uninteresting Spanish novel, for some books that I have been planning to read: Greene’s Our Man in Havana, a Conrad volume that includes The Secret Sharer and Heart of Darkness, Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, and a novel that I discovered in the bookstore and that I am kind of excited over: Briefing For a Descent Into Hell by Doris Lessing. Lessing, a British writer, is familiar to me for some reason, but the cover copy sold me: “Doris Lessing’s brilliant exploration of a mind beyond madness. . . We are inside the mind of Professor Charles Watkins. He is doomed to spin endlessly on a raft in the currents of the Atlantic. He makes a landfall on a tropical shore. He discovers a ruined stone city, participates, moon-dazed, in bloody rituals in the paradisal forest, is caught in the swirling, savage war of the Rat-dogs, is borne on the back of the lordly White Bird across the sea of the dead. Charles Watkins is having a mental breakdown. Or is he?” And the cover art features undulating bare-breasted women.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Provocative Chinese World Map

A world map at "Supplier Dynasty China Club," a portal website for Chinese goods, depicting a Chinese claim over Mongolia... and strangely not over Taiwan.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Lyrical II

Old Blind Dogs
So come all ye tramps and hawker lads
I'll tell to ye a roving tale of things that I ha' seen

Guy Clark
I have been to Fort Worth
I have been to Spain
I have been too proud
To come in out of the rain

Tracy Lawrence
She was heading nowhere
I was going her way

Johnny Cash
I met her accidentally in St. Paul, Minnesota

Battlefield Band
You can bide your time
till your time runs out
So take this as fair warning

Rodney Crowell
Many a long and lonesome highway
Lie before us as we go

Stroke 9
How many people wanna kick some ass?
I would if I could
but I’m really just a
sensitive artist

Ricky Skaggs
The highway called when I was young
Told me lies of things to come

Keith Whitley
And the oldest friend I’ve got I met today

Better Than Ezra
Sleeping is easy
I used to lay in bed for hours

Counting Crows
You can never escape, you can only move south down the coast

James Taylor
Bridges are for burning

Alien Ant Farm
I watch you drive your stupid car
You go away

Gaelic Storm
I got the sky
I got the road
I got the sky
The world is my home

Bloodhound Gang
I’m the root of all that’s evil
Yeah, but you can call me “Cookie”

George Strait
She said, “Don’t bother coming home
By the time you get here I’ll be long gone
There’s somebody new and he sure ain’t no rodeo man”
He said, “I’m sorry it’s come down to this
There’s so much about you that I’m going to miss
But it’s all right, Baby, if I hurry I can still make Cheyenne”