Ravenala madagascariensis

 

 

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I apologize for including something on this blog that may be of use to someone, as it is not my wont to educate; nevertheless, there are times that such bonhomie, such unstinted desire to share, such generosity of spirit is practically inevitable–the case (and casing) of the ravenala seed being one of those vainglorious examples.

The seed, velvet-black, and almost certainly evil, is covered in a heavenly blue wax, as though having been embalmed by a secret gathering of funereal hands.

By-and-by I will get to the useful information promised, but first we must linger a bit longer in language’s sandbox. When you are ready, we shall begin (unless we are sidetracked by some impromptu exegesis on the part of this blogger, who, some may have noticed, is prone to explaining–at the drop of a clunky cowboy hat–the many iniquities which befoul our peripatetic planet (it puts on a pair of Nikes in the morn and walks around the sun all day, after all)).

So here are the steps to planting your own Ravenala madagascariensis (Travelers Palm).

1) Befriend someone in Madagascar (for obvious reasons). This may require the exchange of intimate photographs, but the internet is a safe and wonderful place.

2) Ask for seeds (among other things).

3) Go to post office and chat with the fluttery-eyed postmistress. Return home when after several hours it becomes apparent that your letterbox is as empty as a banker’s heart.

4) Repeat trips to post office till you either receive an offer of marriage or till your seeds arrive. If the latter, continue to point 5.

5) Store photographs in a safe place. Remove seeds from package. Admire your purchases.

6) Scrape away the blue wax to expose devilish seed.

7) Plant seed in a pot (if you need to be told to add soil you are at the wrong place). Hope for rain.

And that’s it.

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The final product:DSC_4968_sm

 

 

Below is my grass replacement experiment. I think Truman Capote hated grass too, but this may be simply a projection from my agitated mind. (In case you ask, it’s some moon-white Zephyranthes stolen, if memory serves,  from a Texan in the dreary summer of 2032).

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Why social media is like a bucket of vomit

You love your Triumph Spitfire. You love going down the freeway in top-down weather. You love the sound of the stinging breeze wrapping itself round your German Luftwaffe Helmet. Oh, the looks you get. They, courageous car buffs, stand in awe; then they forcibly wipe the mud from their shoes and their bandy legs, wishing now they had stood a little further back from that pretty café au lait puddle. Still a madman cutting athwart a thin sheet of muddy water is something to behold. You look back, feeling great. And aside from the motion sickness, you’re on top of the world.

But then the proverbial merry-go-round sputters and stops. Your coveted sports car, in truth a sardine can with wheels and a nice paint job, breaks down. Then you learn the ugly truth. The only parts available for the car are stored in a locker somewhere in Asia minor, in the bowels of a godforsaken train station, and the only way to access the stash of now obsolete auto parts is to participate in a religious ceremony involving a small herd of yaks and bitcoin.

All this to say that there are some good things about owing a Spitfire and some not so good. It’s like that with social media too: some good, some bad.

Twitter, for instance, should be for journalists only. What’s the point of laypeople trumpeting (should this now be capitalized?) the first thing that pops into their swollen heads. And so, with the character limitation imposed by Twitter you get–well, you get concise garbage (or pick your own oxy, moron). Tweeting is to blurt out something you’ll regret later. Don’t do it. Attempting to raise the bar, Roseanne did it. Now she’s selling pencils.

There’s another problem with social media. Lone voices get drowned out. There’s bullying; you’ve seen it. Group think shows up to the party, wearing a flashy suit, and so we are left with one opinion, one revolution (now choose a color). Foot-soldier, like me, like some of you, get drowned out. Probably a good thing.

Nevertheless, the game is stacked against you–face it, you’re going to hear disproportionally from celebs. If celebrity X gets several million views for some vapid offering and lone-she-wolf gets single digit views (and the one from her mother hardly counts), is it reasonable to conclude that the celebrity’s contribution is a million times more thoughtful? Could be. If not, there’s room for improvement with this whole social media experiment. Sadly, the bullhorn of celebrity is loudest heard in a celebrity culture.

We seem to have the need to hand the podium to golf pros, to those famous at being famous, to porn stars known for hornswoggling real estate moguls, and don’t seem to notice that we get vomitus in return.

I hear the gentleman from the third row saying it’s sour grapes. The Kardashians are gifted at using social media and need props for that. Okay, I stand rebuked, though their good fortune at having such talents is indubitably my loss.

And here we have a couple sitting at the dinner table. There’s Frank, a vintner, fat-witted, occasionally violent, and then there’s Lucida, as readable as a good font. Cutting to the chase: Frank and Lucida had the common sense to instigate what they called the dinner rule: no mobile devices at the dinner table and no more takeout from Game King–there’s a fetid odor to llama meat that just doesn’t seem to want to let go.

Consequently, they dine in complete silence. And as soon as they leave the table, clean the dishes, wipe the counters, scrape spaghetti from the walls, they go off in separate directions. Only then, when no longer in each other’s company, do they rediscover the lost art of conversation, and text each other frantically till midnight: so long as they do not see each other, and so long as they can communicate electronically, all is well. Then, buoyed by hours of texting, they facebook (is this a verb yet?). Yikes, 143 likes. Goodnight all.

And there’s the typical comment section on UTube:

Your a retard. Eat my vomit. And if you have a moment, go f*ck yourself.

What’s happened to civility, to grammar, to the letter u?

Some are concerned about time management. If you’d spent all your waking hours on that Clementi piano sonata instead of on social media, you’d soon be performing at Carnegie Hall.

We have been entertained (by design) into a coma, and meanwhile we lose track of true friendship, fall into the hands of charlatans, stumble into the wading pool of disinformation, and mayhaps fatally slide into the penumbra of totalitarianism–all without notice or care.

A few weeks ago, I leaned that the developers of Facebook were B.F. Skinner fans and that their chef-d’oeuvre (evil mousetrap) was built upon variable schedules of reinforcement, which result in behavior resistant to extinction. All this to say that posting and waiting for ‘likes’ is addictive (that is, highly resistant to extinction).

When a rat (Burrhus Frederic loved rats) hits a lever and is only rewarded occasionally by a delicious pellet (delicious for rodents), said rat will compulsively keep hitting the lever. Most rats, being unlettered, haven’t heard of slot machines, but you have–you’ve seen the overturned pupils of a gambler stuffing coins into the maw of a heartless box. But, funny thing, when a rat has had too many food pellets, it vomits.

Don’t stand in my way of the sky

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Most bloggers would probably choose a photograph that in some way encapsulates the meaning and spirit of the post it is perched upon. This is a mistake. Wet-behind-the-ears bloggers–henceforward referred to as greenhorns–may attempt this strategy thinking it is for them a road to riches. I laugh scornfully. Such incompetence in the blogosphere, such bravado on the part of the greenhorn!

 

No, really–here’s the way to do it. Think of your subject. That’s the first thing. Then, let your mind wander to the far reaches of our planetary system. Now stop that. It’s worth doodly-squat and you are wasting your valuable time. Instead, think of your first job. Then think of the first person you encountered while discharging said duty. Was that person sloppily dressed? If yes, think of the object next to them at the time–maybe it was a cantankerous poster of Karl Marx waving a disapproving finger, a floor lamp vaguely in the shape of a giraffe, a full grain leather car seat (if you happened to be in a limousine at the time), or a large storefront window with vistas of dim-witted shoppers in mortal combat. Now you have your photograph.

 

If, per contra, the person was impeccably dressed, then trouble your memory for this: what was the dominant color of their handsome attire? Maybe a red scarf screamed out at you as through you were a bull in a matador’s laird. Maybe it was a yellow polka-dotted necktie as thin as Twiggy, the British model from a bygone era. Now photograph something of that color. Anything.

 

I hope some of this information is helpful to bloggers. It isn’t readily available as most successful bloggers will not disseminate this sort of information to the greenhorn. Consider yourself lucky that someone as magnanimous as myself would willingly, noisily part with a powder keg of trade secrets. But I do it for one reason alone. I do it for the money.

 

‘Don’t stand in my way of the sky’ is the name of a soon-to-be-released single by a nonexistent band.  Don’t look for it in stores.

Actually, it’s my advice to birds, but you already knew that.

And all this makes a perfect segue to “Lemonade Stand,” which you may marvel at now.

Rewriting it fourteen times allowed me to include every possible way the word ‘stand’ might be used in a fictional work. Naturally the editor I was assigned to had to be hospitalized by the tenth draft. I sent flowers, of course, but that’s only because I’m sentimental about things. I’m magnanimous too. Maybe I mentioned that.

Lemonade Stand

Mat For

For Mat, who yesterday, against my better judgement, exhorted me not to give up the wordpress.  

Continuing my series on advices for the modern writer, I shall seek to debunk the traditional belief (promoted by certain unlettered bloggers, historians, and book binders) that writer’s block can be cured by peripatetic means. There is only one cure for writer’s block  and that’s an alfalfa sandwich on whole wheat toast–made by pygmies or a coven of witches; regarding pygmies, any race of diminutives or lilliputians will do: check the farmers’ almanac or get in touch with your nearest anthropological society–don’t call as they never seem to be home.

The real problem with words, from a semantic perspective, is that they must be de rigueur combined in such a way. I think Wittgenstein agrees with me on this important finding. But there’s such a thing as being too careful. One can easily depauperate the language by trying to make it conform to comely though arbitrary rules. I once came upon a garden of great beauty and instinctively took a machete to it in the mistaken belief that I could tame its wild beauty. Naturally I was charged with trespass by some uppity landowner, and the calamitous fortnight spent in the jailhouse, next to a toothless hobo (malodorous and no doubt implicated in some heinous sex crime) and without basic amenities such as an electric razor, proper ventilation, and unfettered access to fresh fruit, carambola and black sapote for example, was truly distasteful.

My lawyer, a former ventriloquist, was already making great strides in extricating me from my unfortunate predicament. An early release was imminent, or so his dummy was telling me. Our basic legal strategy was to confound the sheriff’s deputy with a litany of detailed requests for information. Swimming in a toilet bowl of paperwork, his mind (the little morsel atop his head) would be too busy to notice the telltale signs of a brazen escape attempt involving a front-end loader, an enormous bulldozer, and a giant catapult (rented, I think, from a mafia don). Bruno, that was the dummy’s Christian name, assured me that the plan was solid and that a failed attempt would not unduly prejudice my case.

The toothless man started to dig a tunnel (he had indubitably seen this in a movie). Later, at three miles from the jail, he collapsed, rusted spoon in hand, seventy-five feet under a dairy truck. Meanwhile the stealth operation at the jailhouse was on schedule. Depute Dunderhead was in a stertorous slumber (incredible what bureaucracy can do to the small, underworked mind) when a flamboyant man, Mr. X,  whose first name after our brief introduction sounded like Dae Us, and looking strangely like Peter Lorre, arrived with letters of transit and I was given safe passage to a neighboring island.

Thus ends this week’s lesson on writer’s block. And here are the three blocks you must play with: a beginning, a middle, and an end. And as Mat often says (while shooting a pistol from the oeil-de-boeuf window of his lavatory): the writing is eeezy–it’s the reeder that buggers things up.

Mat’s writing can be found

This just in …

Arbosculpture

And

Timebox

 

 

 

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