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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An Island Moment

 

Adenium obesum, Bermuda

Dear viewer,

Whenever I post something without much text (as opposed to posting something having long, characteristically brilliant swatches of text ), I get comparatively more views–a message not altogether lost on me; consequently, you will not be hearing about how or why this beautiful flower, of Saudi Arabian origin, is overtaking the island and making it unbearably wondrous.

With tingling sincerity,

Prospero

 

Red Adenium (this title lacks originality and should be replaced by a flashier one, but since I am rather busy today, what with the toad infestation and the sudden deafening noises, I elect to do nothing about it–please accept my apologies)

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Nobody wants more gardening advice, but I’m in that kind of mood. My adenium bloomed today and I will share some of that joy with you.

Adeniums are also known as Delores–the dishy girl at the ice cream counter–or, more drearily, desert roses. Colorwise, they are mostly Prescient Pink (check your Crayola box); nevertheless, there are other colors, none of which are gaudy or in any way reminiscent of a bad nightmare. My adeniun is red.

There are several ways to get a red adenium. One involves messy biology, sex organs, lures (you can message Gregor Mendel if you get into trouble, but don’t expect an answer in the evenings, as he works at a busy though reputable massage parlor) and the other is to use lipstick. Naturally the second method is preferable.

Thank you, Nicole. I had such a wonderful time cleaning up after you, you with your penchant for drama, your deluded self-image, your inimitable flair for disorder, which can only be matched by your bent-headed arrogance, your total lack of manners (etiquette not being part of your vocabulary, limited though it may be), your lowbrow ways–bordering dangerously on salaciousness, and your annoying habit of caterwauling at my door, like a stray, intent on wheedling her way into the relative calm of my private sanctuary.

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Nicole passes through my colocasia garden, leaving in her hateful wake twisted metal and laying waste to a perfectly good and colorful collection of foulards.

pineapple

This is what Nicole thinks of pineapples (la vieille folle).

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Nicole hates bananas and I hate Nicole.

papaya

Aside from having a distaste for bananas, Nicole does not care for papaya.

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Nicole, this may be what your hair looks like in the morn, but this contagion is an outrage?

pear

Your black heart has blackened my pear tree’s once green leaves.

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Was this necessary?

fig

You couldn’t burn the figs up like the leaves? For shame.

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The Inca peanut vine was too lush for your taste?

Fill in the Blank

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Since I am lazy by nature, I have failed to complete this scrappy story.

You, on the other hand, being even lazier, have fittingly only one word to contribute. Make it good. (An example of democratic writing.)

I’d like to buy a new car, but as a general rule I find car salesmen insincere, so I’m hesitating. You may say that I’m overly sensitive, and you may be right. But insincerity isn’t my only worry. Car salesmen are completely transparent about the personal benefits a sale can make to their hollow lives. In fact, if they were to stand by a window and you happened to be looking across the street at some poor petrified sod, with a grimy hand clutching a paper bag, waiting to cross an enraged street, mad with traffic, you would see him without obstruction.

But what if the salesman’s son is, let’s say, unhappy at work? I mean, it shouldn’t be a distraction, but what if I keep hearing about Simon’s problems. I’d get queasy. And after some banter about Simon’s awkward performance in an off-Broadway production of Hello Dolly , he says, “Standard or automatic,” hoping to take my mind off Simon’s problem with drugs.

“Automatic,” I say, in a reassuring voice.

“Here’s a cute little number,” he says, placing his palm on the hood of a Chevrolet Trax. “It’s available in Crack (a yellowish white), Hash (a handsome brown) and Weed (an unconvincing green).”

“I’ll take it in Hash,” I say hesitatingly, looking at the gigantic creases in his forehead, which are, it now strikes me, like trenches from some pointless war.

The salesman makes a tight fist and delivers a horrifying blow to the passenger-side window. The glass absorbs the shock, but the car is terrified. Owing to this show of brutality, I understand where Simon got his violent temper, and why Nadia, his girlfriend, who works in a sweatshop, has to call the police whenever Simon comes home drunk or can be seen dancing on the rusted steps of the fire escape while in a parlous delirium.

“It’s only available in Weed,” says the salesman, favoring his swollen paw.

The magnitude of my shame is bested by the immensity of the salesman’s natural gift for [FILL IN THE BLANK].

Moses and the Rio Olympics

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Like a majorette and her baton, a mountain man, living in a remote, montane, thatch-roofed hut, often seen chewing cud, keeps a shotgun at his side. Apart from this being a brilliant literary conceit, it introduces, more or less painfully, the subject of long unkempt beards, touching ever–so-slightly upon the dark penumbra of guns and horrific violence.

Are you with me so far? Good. Let the narrative continue.

I sallied forth with my manservant Sancho Panza, past windmills and other distractions, to the nearest drugstore, whereupon I came to understand (and you should have seen the rictus of disappointment on Panza’s mouth ) that my favorite brand of disposable razors—Gillette, if you must know—was not to be found, and was directed by Elsa, a neurotic cryptologist who was apparently having trouble finding work in her chosen field, to try the Occam brand since it was, in her words, “as good as a mischievous cipher.”

That’s when my campaign of firebombing various drugstores began in earnest. This was indeed the simplest solution and consequently the most effective way to make a point (everyone is doing it these days.)  Incidentally the Occam razors were not all that bad after all, but it’s was the principle of the thing.

Now, a few words about the Rio Olympics. As a biblical scholar, I’d like to share some of my research with you. Most of you will know that Moses came down from the mount with a bunch of tablets purchased at a high altitude garage sale. Then, when taking the stationary home (they offered him a plastic bag, but environmentally conscious Moses refused), he tripped, a notable contretemps, on a coax cable (fiber-optic cables did not yet exist) and hurt his patella. But my research, using the latest spectroscopic analysis, demonstrates that there were eleven commandments—not the oft-quoted ten.  The last commandment was: Thou shall not take selfies–you can always look like a fool later.  Olympians, diplomats, please take notice.

https://www.101words.org/conrads-keys/

The book review that never was…

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Wow them with unexpected flora to suck them in. Anonymous.

 

I thought I’d review Pride and Prejudice, but after a thorough search of the internet–and later the pockets of every venerable vagabond in the vicinity, which yielded several condoms, a crumpled picture of Chairman Mao, and a stack of tiny plastic zip bags–I have concluded that it’s been sufficiently reviewed by my peers, and I don’t want to crowd the field with another essay, which would nevertheless have been received with great éclat, as the work of literary Bolsheviks is always in demand. Luckily and vibrantly, her next novel, Prick Me With a Fork to See If I’m Done, will be out soon and I’ll review that one instead. I’m drooling already.

Jane Austen is an author worth sleeping out in a van for–on a frosty night, without anything that might reasonably pass for a blanket or, alas, without a half-empty (or half-full depending on your general outlook on life) case of cooking sherry procured from a one-armed vivandière and sure to take the bite off the cryogenic chill.

And it must be said that Pride and Prejudice, Austen’s defining work to date, apart from story, setting, and character, is fairly good. My major quibble with Miss Austen is that she’s an unapologetic technophobe. I mean just look at the opening scene. Why not fax the news about Mr. Bingley (Mr. Big) to the Bennet family? In a modern context, what could be more natural than for the Bennet gathering to learn by facsimile that Mr. Bingley is gay and that he’ll soon be moving to Netherfield Park? The fax is a small detail, but it’s symptomatic of Austen’s inability to grasp the import of modern telecommunication devices.

And to add to her modern-day gadget gaucheries, she uses quaint anachronisms in the transport realm as well: no bullet trains or supersonic jets for Austen.  It’s a sort of parallel structure, office equipment and handheld devices on the one hand and monster cars and trucks on the other, that doesn’t quite seem to work. Jane Austin’s Audi never gets into the fast lane, if you’ll pardon the grotesque though totally apt and refreshingly wrought metaphor.

I can’t tell you, for example, how many times Austen mentions horses. Private cars, buses—even unicycles would have been better, grittier. See for yourself:

Your father cannot spare the horses, I am sure.

An author with an ear to the ground would have written something such as–

Your father cannot spare the jetskis, I am sure.

And this business with Kitty and Wickham. Couldn’t flower-sweet Wickham, somewhere in the misty dawn of his tawdry affair, have texted the doe-eyed girl with the news that he was transitioning? Why leave poor, flirty Kitty in the dark for so long? Text the girl, Wiki—you know she always has her phone with her.

Somehow Austen’s work seems stuck in another age. And for this reason her opus stops at the door of greatness (as the security cameras deem the small stack of books to be just about the size of a I.E.D and shoo it away indecorously).

 

Anyway, it’s still a pretty (in)decent book and I look forward to reviewing her next novel, which is, as far as I can tell, a space opera that takes place on the rugged mountains of Mercury, amid hordes of belching sasquatches, under an incandescent sun that is as close to the bald pate of Jason, a convivial moneylender, as Obama is ideologically to Hillary.

And just as Pride and Prejudice before it, Prick Me is essentially a thriller, so you can look forward to some pretty villainous shenanigans—the type of thing you might expect from, let’s say, twin political conventions.

 

Don’t forget to read this or my royalty checks no longer clog up my red mailbox.

 

K & B Get Married