Archive for October, 2011

All Signs Point to Ivy Compton-Burnett

October 20, 2011

So in not one but two books I’ve read recently, the novels of Ivy Compton-Burnett have been cited as works that contain the most biting satire, the most ruthless quips, and the most rapid back-and-forth of any in literature.  I never thought I would like her work as her name alone suggests her genre is one I like to call “mannered.”  I know there’s an actual name for it –– Victorian-ish times, lots of activities take place in parlors, poor families are ashamed because they only have one maid, and jobs are frequently referred to as “posts.”  I’ve never been an enormous fan of Edith Wharton & co., so I assumed this wouldn’t be to my liking.  But then ICB was mentioned in The Art of Cruelty, which I devoured in less than three hours, and also by my darling John Waters, who speaks of her with a reverence much like mine for him.

“She was English, looked exactly like the illustration on the Old Maid card, never had sex even once, and wrote twenty dark, hilarious, evil little novels between the years 1911 and 1969.  Pick any one of them.  They’re all pretty much the same.  Little actual action, almost no description, and endless pages of hermetically sealed, stylized, sharp, cruel, venomous Edwardian dialogue.  ‘Once you pick up a Compton-Burnett,’ Ivy commented about her own books, ‘it’s hard not to put them down.'”

The deal was totally sealed (hermetically?) when I was perusing old posts in this blog (yes, to survey my kingdom) what do I discover/re-discover but LO AND BEHOLD!  The novels of Ivy Compton-Burnett are an example of “camp” according to Susan Sontag!  Woah.  Woah.  I had to reach out to Amazon STAT.  So now I have begun Parents and Children, and while there are definitely some zingers (“I suppose actions speak louder than words” is met with “I have never found fault with silence”) it is, as the Penguin Modern Classic synopsis says, “less savage in them” than her other books.  Boo!

Full report upon completion.

Random Book Synopses… Or New Approach to Everything?

October 19, 2011

The Dice Man by Luke Rhinehart

“Few novels can change your life.  This one will.”

Bored psychiatrist Luke Rhinehart lives with his wife and two children in their apartment in Manhattan.  Dissatisfied with both Western and Eastern philosophies’ alternate embrace of the meaningful and the meaningless, Luke is forever changed when he finds religion through a simple roll of the dice.  Rhinehart and his patients soon find that the only path to salvation is in letting the dice decide.  Rolling his way through sex, drugs and therapy, Luke spreads his new religion with a hilarious combination of evangelical fervor and moral depravity, turning his life –– and the world –– on its head.  Once you hand your life over to the dice, anything can happen.


This reminds me of a much more extreme version of my decision-making process sophomore year of college, during which I decided all yes or no quandaries by flipping a coin… lasted about a week.

A Poem That is Funny or Sad or Both

October 19, 2011


Some with Micrographic Tendencies include:

David Foster Wallace

Simone Weil

People exhibiting symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

Charles de Foucauld

Roy Norris

Walter Benjamin

and me.

I am so fucked.

Speaking of Wing-ed Creatures…

October 18, 2011

I have been doing art projects with butterflies.  Here is a description of one thing you must do to “relax” the dead butterfly so it can be opened.  (That sounds sooooo dirty.)

Step #2, a la Laurie from the American Museum of Natural History’s Blog (just Google it, I’m too lazy to put in the link):

The relaxing chamber is very easy.  You can use any type of air tight container – I use Tupperware.  Place 3-4 damp paper towels in the bottom of the container.  This creates humidity, which will seep into the butterfly.  You also need to add a cap full of either Listerine or Pine-sol.  These act as mold inhibitors so your butterfly doesn’t get all yucky.  The last thing you need is something to prevent the butterfly from touching the paper towels.  I use wire mesh that I cut to the size of the container and put it on top of the towels.  I usually leave the butterfly in here for 2 days before I check on it.

Dead insect sauna.

All Simone, All the Time

October 18, 2011

“During her stay in Bourges, Simone also made a few attempts –– most of them disastrous –– to get in touch with the peasant classes.  Once, when she was taking a walk in the country, she talked a farmer into letting her use his plow; to the man’s fury, she quickly overturned it.  Some weeks later a lycee colleague introduced her to a couple, the Bellevilles, who had a small farm in the environs.  They agreed to have her come for a few hours a day and do basic tasks –– dig up beetroots, prepare the cows’ fodder, pile up manure, draw water for the trough.  But how many questions Simone asked them as she helped them prepare the noon meal!  ‘How much do you make?  How do you make ends meet?  Do you consider yourself happy?’  The Bellevilles were perplexed by such queries, and never more embarrassed than when she asked them to ‘sum up their desires.’  When she asked them if she could live with them full-time, pay them rent,  and ‘mingle with the peasants,’ that was the last straw.  ‘Life would have become impossible for us,’ they told their daughter, pleading that Mlle Weil desist from visiting them again.  Not only did she never change her clothes, they complained, but she failed to wash her hands before milking the cows, and when they offered her a fine cream cheese she pushed it away, saying that the Indochinese were too hungry.  ‘The poor young girl,’ they commented.  ‘Too much study has driven her out of her wits.'”

Simone Weil, Francine du Plessix Gray

A Poem A Day Keeps the Sunday Blues Away

October 17, 2011

The Blackbirds are Rough Today  (Bukowski)


lonely as a dry and used orchard

spread over the earth

for use and surrender.


shot down like an ex-pug selling

dailies on the corner.


taken by tears like

an aging chorus girl

who has gotten her last check.


a hanky is in order your lord your



the blackbirds are rough today


ingrown toenails

in an overnight


wine wine whine,

the blackbirds run around and

fly around

harping about

Spanish melodies and bones.


and everywhere is


the dream is as bad as

flapjacks and flat tires:


why do we go on

with our minds and

pockets full of


like a bad boy just out of


you tell


you who were a hero in some


you who teach children

you who drink with calmness

you who own large homes

and walk in gardens

you who have killed a man and own a

beautiful wife

you tell me

why I am on fire like old dry



we might surely have some interesting


it will keep the mailman busy.

and the butterflies and ants and bridges and


the rocket-makers and dogs and garage mechanics

will still go on a


until we run out of stamps




don’t be ashamed of

anything; I guess God meant it all


locks on



Occupy the Beatrice Inn

October 14, 2011

Some 99%’s will be breaking in to the former Beatrice Inn (axes required –– that shit is boarded up good) armed with bottles of Wild Turkey and bongos and create our own egalitarian dance party, careful to avoid stepping on any rusty nails.  Attire: festive.


October 13, 2011

At least you didn’t get goosebumps from listening to the “Bed Intruder Song.”  Not me.  I swear.


October 13, 2011

My grandfather:

He looks sweet, right? HA!

Mazel Tov, Grandpa

October 13, 2011

Removed for editorial reasons… Oh the suspense!