Friday, June 17, 2011

Applause for Jerry

Bravo for Governor Jerry Brown for recognizing a slap-dash hokey deal when he saw it and veto-ing the patched-together, inadequate budget yesterday. It's time for the Republican Obstructionists, who prefer to stick to principle in thier deck chairs even as the ship sinks, to man-up, woman-up, grow-up! for Pete's sake and get real about our finances. Those R.O legislators don't have a clue: people really do want parks, repaired streets, access to health services (senior care centers, child care centers, mental health support) and they see the need to fund them. The Obstructionists don't want to take the extension of taxes measure to a ballot initative because they know they'd lose. If they were confident that their principles were sane and correct, they should have no problem letting the people decide the fate of extending taxes. But they aren't, so they won't.

If the State were a family swimming in debt and heading into foreclosure, the Repubicans would be the spouse who refuses to get a job because it goes against his/her principles: I ain't working for the Man! or No way I'm getting up at 6 a.m, it isn't in my nature or I'm waiting for a call back, don't hassle me.   As the family hunts in the couch for quarters to buy hot dogs, the spouse shouts, "Stop spending money!" But there comes a point when spending less is meaningless, like when you have no money to spend at all. If my spouse acted like an R.O., he/she would be out of the house and camping down at the river where he/she belonged, with the rest of the can't-see-beyond-my-own-frigging-nose folks.

So, isn't it time we took a page from Wisconsin and recall those Republicans who have signed that Pledge To Not Bring In Any Income? They aren't helping; they're adding to the problem and should be cleared out of the way. Perhaps they don't go to parks for recreation (maybe they have their own personal park surrounding their nice house?) or drive on roads (who needs roads when they have a private jet?) or don't understand why ordinary people don't go to the doctor anymore (why worry about other's medical predicaments, when their own health care costs are covered so handily by taxpayer dollars).

Yea-yah, that's right. Those R.O. Legislators use taxpayer dollars to pay for their full-benefits health insurance, but they are only too willing and happy to cut any programs that provide health services to the rest of us. Go figure. If those R. Obstructionist Legislators are so cut-happy, they should start looking at their own benefit packages. Start to live like the rest of us, paying full price for bad insurance, praying we don't get sick and trying to fit in a stay-cation or two to the nearest park to relieve the stress.

One that's open, that is.

But don't let me get started on the disaster of closing the State parks. Oy! we'd be here all night.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Happy Bloomsday

Took a break from Conference work today, to celebrate Bloomsday, not so much with kidneys for breakfast or a pint ( I was blue mouldy for the want of that pint. Declare to God I could hear it hit the pit of my stomach with a click.) - as those days of organ meats and Guinness stout are past (for the most part) -but to dip into my ragged copy of "Ulysses," ponder, free-associate, get punny. Other folks around the world are also celebrating June 16th (the day in 1904 that the novel takes place),with pub crawls, staged readings of the book, and these folks at Bloomsday Burst, who are tweetcasting the 600+ page novel.

Now that I gotta see...hear...receive? to believe.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

On a Cold Summer Night, "Silver Sparrow"

I've been watching* Tayari Jones, following her blog and writing, for a while now. She's been turning up in all sorts of places, writing a popular blog on She Writes, being profiled in the MayJune 2011 issue of P&W( though that's not online, only in print - dang), winning awards here and there.   Jones, a Professor in the Rutgers MFA Program,  has wonderfully elastic prose and writes intriguing stories.

Her third novel, "Silver Sparrow," has just been released and I'm proud to say I scooted right down to Copperfield's Books (my Indie) to snap up a first edition.Yes indeedy.

Links to more legible version
Now here's the next fab thing: she'll be at a  Rumpus Room Reading event, namely, Cold Summer Nights, on June 13th,  in San Francisco. That's next Monday, folks. SF in June, brrrr! definitely a cold summer night, even in normal times. But what better way to warm up than hunkered down at the Make Out Room, with Tayari Jones, Camille Dungy, Tamin Answary and a host of others in a thick peasoup of fine words. So if you're in the neighborhood, go. And if you're not in the neighborhood, go anyway!

As a bit of a tease, here are the first few sentences from "Silver Sparrow" -
"My father, James Withespoon, is a bigamist. He was already married ten years when he first clamped eyes on my mother. In 1968, she was working at the gift-wrap counter at Davisons's downtown when my father asked her to wrap the carving knife he had bought his wife for their wedding anniversary. Mother said she knew that something wasn't right between a man and a woman when the gift was a blade."

Love the way she so succinctly gives us the time, the place, the situation, the conflict and a knife in three sentences. And makes it look so easy. Whoooeee!

(But of course, there's a Napa Valley Writers Conference connection: She studied in the Arizona State University MFA Program, working with Ron Carlson, one of our highly esteemed and more frequent faculty.)

* hey, not in a creepy way! interested-in-an-up-and-coming-writer way!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

For the Love of Sniddle, Moff and Cheewink


Foyle's Philavery - Christopher Foyle
Perhaps you've discovered this book already and I am but late to the party, but it's a treasure-trove for any word freak. Christophor Foyle, over his years at Foyle's Bookstore in London, England, has collected unusual, quirky, little-known and infrequently used words, (sniddle, moff, cheewink, slubberdegullian, to name but a few) and offers them to us as a gift of splendacious fabulousity.  I could fill the page with all the words that delight me, so I'll try to restrain myself with these few - for now.

sniddle:  "1. coarse grass, rushed or sedge 2. stubble" (pg 195) As in: "My, what's that adorning your jaw, dear Rhett; is it the new fashion, then? Come closer, let me run my hands over your lovely, grey-flecked sniddle."

moff:  "a silk fabric from the Caucasus" (pg 139)  "The toff doffs his moff bowler in your general direction."

sluberdegullion - "a mean, slovenly oaf " (pg 195) .... need a great password? nickname for a grumpy, less-than-tidy cat? 

cheewink - a wonderful, alternate name for towhees, those ground-loving, long-tailed members of the finch family, Piplilo erythrophthalmus (aka ground robin). They have a high-pitched, single-note call, like chink! ... then a few seconds ... chink! used to establish territory and communicate.  If you have several nearby (as we do) and they start calling back and forth, it's like someone tuning a set of vibraphones of very narrow range. Cheewink is a such a better name for them, onomatopoetically speaking.  (pg 40)

The best news? There's already a second collection: "Foyle's Further Philavery." Don't say I didn't warn you.