Archive for the ‘Lists’ Category

Thimble Islands

May 28, 2018

A few of the Thimble Islands in Connecticut (there are between 100 and 365 of them “depending on where the line is drawn between an island and a mere rock,” according to Wikipedia.  Twenty-three are inhabited.)

Horse Island

Money Island

Governor Island

Rogers Island

Bear Island

Davis Island

High Island

Pot Island

Outer Island

Hen Island

East Stooping Bush Island

Potato Island

Smith Island

Cut in Two Island (East and West)

Phelps Island

Wheeler Island (aka Ghost Island)

Mother in Law Island (aka Prudden Island)

West Crib Island

East Crib Island

Little Pumpkin Island

Lewis Island

Kidd’s Island

Reel Island

Beldens Island

Burr Island

Jepson Island

Wayland Island

Frisbie Island

Advertisements

Who Is This Reader

April 12, 2018

On my favorite listserv of all time, Freecycle, a Brooklynite gives away the following selections from his/her library.  What kind of picture can one draw from this?  (Keeping in mind, of course, that these books are the ones the poster does not feel inclined to hold on to… )

1. Portnoy’s Complaint
2. The Romanov Prophecy
3. Captain Underpants
4. The Mysterious Affair at Styles
5. The Deep End of the Ocean
6. Sybil
7. The Kiss and Other Stories

Personally I am not planning on schlepping out to Bensonhurst to grab these.  Portnoy’s Complaint was hands down the most aggravating book I have ever read.

A Very Brief History of Women Marrying Inanimate Objects

March 29, 2018

Recently I was browsing the web and I saw a news item about two women in Fort Myers, Florida, who married a ficus tree.  Now, this wasn’t (probably) a case of objectophilia, as the women mostly had the wedding in order to prevent the tree from getting chopped down, which the town planned to do as its roots were encroaching on a neighboring property.  Still, it has echoes of object love: an affinity for a thing, a wedding ceremony with white gowns and cakes, and even, somewhat miraculously, an acknowledgment from the public (city officials are now working to save the tree).  It reminds me of how whenever these kinds of stories come up in the news, I always want to write a listicle of sorts, with the above title.

4A937F1200000578-5545341-image-a-33_1522080260898

So, herewith, my favorite ladies marrying things:

Eija-Riita Berliner-Mauer: I’ve written about her before.  Apparently she died in 2015.  Still waiting on someone to translate her documentary for me.  The only information I would like to add to my original piece on her is this quote:

“I find long, slim things with horizontal lines very sexy.  The Great Wall of China’s attractive, but he’s too thick – my husband is sexier.”

And this poem, which she allegedly wrote:

I Dream About You

You beautiful Berlin Wall.
You are so very sexy, my Darling.
I will always be here for you. My love for you is
so strong as the concrete blocks which
holds you standing.
I often think of the times when you in my loneliness
has made me so happy.
My kisses will warm you, when the night comes.
My life begins and ends with you.

Finally you should all know she observes a yahrzeit of sorts on the anniversary of the fall of the wall.

Erika Eiffel: In 2007, Erika Eiffel observed a commitment ceremony with the Eiffel Tower, whose curves she admired.  I’ve always thought the Eiffel Tower to be a bit cliched but I wouldn’t want to yuck someone’s yum, so get it, Erika!  Eiffel says that prior to her union with the Tower, she had an affair with an F-15, with whom she was besotted she ended up becoming an expert on it and earned a $250,000 scholarship to the United States Air Force Academy.

Jodi Rose: Also in France, Jodi Rose married Le Pont du Diable, but I kind of call bullshit because she spoke (for her bridge lover!) and said that “he understands that I love other bridges––and men.”

I found a few others but there isn’t really enough information on them (a woman who fell in love with a metal processor, a woman who married a fairground ride) to make it into my Very Brief History.  And thus we come to my favorite of the bunch: artist Tracey Emin marries a rock!  Emin, the famous wild child of British art, decided to marry a rock in the garden of her summer home in France.  She wore her father’s funeral shroud as her wedding dress.  “Somewhere on a hill facing the sea, there is a very beautiful ancient stone, and it’s not going anywhere,” she told the press, which is just about the gosh darn most romantic thing I’ve ever heard.  More than you can say for many partners, anyway.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A field of eligible bachelors, in Brittany

 

Similes

March 6, 2018

So I started an homage to great similes elsewhere (cough cough).  This one below is too long for me to incorporate there, but is still excellent, for so many reasons.

Yeshua’s kingdom apparently exists in ever-changing resemblances. He does not say what it is, only what it is like. It’s like a tiny seed. Like something inside you. Like a pearl you’d give everything to possess. Like wheat growing among weeds. Like the camel climbing through the needle’s eye. Like the way the world looks to children. Like a servant making good use of the master’s money. Like getting a day’s pay for an hour’s work. Like a crooked magistrate, who has fixed the case in your favor. Like a narrow gate, a difficult road, a lamp on a stand. Like a wedding party. Like a wedding party where all the original guests have been disinvited and replaced by random passers-by. Like yeast in dough. Like a treasure, like a harvest, like a door that opens whenever you knock. Or like a door you have to bang on for hours in the middle of the night until a grumpy neighbor wakes up and lends you a loaf. The kingdom is––whatever all those likenesses have in common. The kingdom, he seems to be saying, is something that can only be glimpsed in comparisons, because the world contains no actual example of it. And yet the world glints and winks and shines everywhere with the possibility of it.

~Francis Spufford , Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense

 

A List

January 25, 2018

of foodstuffs eaten in Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Blue Flower.  I skimmed back through to compose this list, so I might have missed some, as I remember there being more when I first read the book; still, I managed to catch a few gems, such as cow udder soup (how much would you have to get paid to try that?)

Coffee

White rolls

baked goose

cabbage soup

“a nice smoked eel”

Zwieback

soup made of beer, sugar and eggs

another made of rose hips and onions

another one of bread and cabbage water

another of cows’ udders flavored with nutmeg

dough mixed with beech-nut oil

pickled herring and goose with treacle sauce

hard-boiled eggs

dumplings

boiled potatoes

pickled raspberries

200 oysters

the ears snout and strips of fat from the pig’s neck boiled in peppermint schnapps

arrack

pickled goose legs

black ham

fruit liqueurs

sweet cakes

Stewed pigs’ feet

plum conserve

 

Class Subjects

January 22, 2018

… at NYU’s Center for Experimental Humanities.

nothingness

the 1990s

underworlds

anti-colonial pedagogy

bad women

John Berger

the curatorial

insomnia

David Bowie

(Among others, I’m assuming)

Mechthild Van Magdeburg

November 4, 2017

GOD COMPARES THE SOUL TO FOUR THINGS

You taste like the grape; you are fragrant as balsam; you shine like the sun; you are an addition to my highest love.

THE SOUL PRAISES GOD IN FIVE THINGS

O you pouring God in your giving!  O you flowing God in your love!  O you burning God in your desire!  O you melting God in the union with your beloved!  O you resting God on my breasts, without whom I cannot be!

GOD SPEAKS ENDEARMENTS TO THE SOUL IN SIX THINGS

You are the pillow for my head, my bed of delight, my most secret rest, my deepest desire, my highest honor.  You are a pleasure of my divinity, a consolation of my humanity, a brook for my torch.

THE SOUL RETURNS GOD’S PRAISE IN SIX THINGS

You are my mountain of glass, the feast of my eyes, the loss of my self, the storm of my heart, the dissolution and ruin of my nature, my highest security.

~From Martin Buber’s Ecstatic Confessions, which is the long form version of the beloved meme #shitmysticssay

Essays That No One Would Publish (Again)

October 1, 2017

Bored With Dressing a Baby Boy? Try Elf-Core

When I was pregnant, and people found out I didn’t know the sex of the baby, they’d often say, “Well, either one is great of course, but girls are just much more fun to dress.” It sounds weirdly gendered, and it is, but it’s also totally true. First, there’s just a much larger variety out there for girls (they can also dip into the boys’ stuff more often than the reverse is true, because the patriarchy lives!) With girls, for example, you can play with both hats and the little bows people insist on strapping to their newborns’ bald heads. You can buy sweet onesies and tiny dresses, mini-jeans and bloomers. With boys, well, most often well-wishers will resort to gifting you those awful message vests, with weirdly racy phrases like “Lock up your daughters” emblazoned across the front.

Of course, if you happen to be a woman, which I am, and you even slightly enjoy clothing, which I do, there’s the added pleasure of being able to dress your little girl in the outfits you wish you came in adult sizes. Smocked floral dresses with thick woolen tights and pointelle galore: not an easy look to pull off in your early thirties, but lucky for you, you have a human doll to vicariously dress through.

So when I had a son, which I had predicted I would, I was at first a little sad about sartorial opportunities lost, before I hit upon the look that made it all worthwhile, and that is elf-core.

When you hear the word “elf,” you might think of Will Ferrell in the eponymous film, or indeed, of any of Santa’s minions. Not a bad place to start, but not the best fashion template for our purposes. Whatever you do, don’t go by Google alone––that will just lead you to lots of Orlando Bloom fan sites and pictures of young woman who’ve undergone body modification to make their ears pointy. Instead, when dressing your child in elf-core, you should conjure up images of Elizabethan-era elves, and their kin, the elben of German Romanticism: these little guys were often seen as like fairies, in that they were tiny and mischievous, but with stocking caps.

So what is elf-core, you ask? It is earth tones, although you can play with the palette a bit, as I’ve found myself more in the gray and navy realm as of late. It is brown faux-leather booties that look like they belong on a fawn, if a fawn wore booties. As far as material goes, it’s anything you might wear while mucking about in the garden: twill, corduroy, or just plain ole comfy cotton. No jeans––elves don’t do denim. Occasionally, elf-core can benefit from an injection of hippie, with the odd tie-dyed piece, a dose of Sherpa, as fur-lined shoes blend nicely with most ensembles, or even a little lumberjack flannel. Remember, elves are mostly forest dwellers, so any other being, mythical or real-life, that loves a romp in nature can serve as appropriate inspiration.  (On that note, feel free to indulge in the delightful trend of babies wearing hoods with animal ears on them: I feel like elves would totally wear such pieces when going to parties with their creature friends.)

But there is one element of the elf-core look that is absolutely non-negotiable, and that is the pointy hood. My son has a number of items with pointy hoods: a gray cable knit hooded cardigan (which has a pom-pom on its point), a full body, striped sweat suit, and a little navy button-up jacket. I plan to invest in more of these staples soon, because if you’re going for elf-core, \, it’s the fastest route there. In fact, you can often phone in the rest of the outfit if this one element is in place, much like how one can wear pajamas and heels and still be fancy enough for a nightclub.

The true icon of elf-core dressing is David the Gnome. Here you might ask yourself: are gnomes and elves related? Like, as species? Answer: only in Tolkien’s mythology. But, that’s neither here nor there. Instead, what truly matters is that both species of otherworldly creature can dress. David the Gnome, for example, has nailed the pointy hat thing. It is at least fifteen centimeters high, which is how tall David is, and fire engine red. It is a real signature statement piece. On top, he wears a big blue tunic bisected by a thick belt, which is not a necessary accessory for a baby, or at least hasn’t been for mine yet. On the bottom, he wears blowsy khaki trousers and shoes that are either repurposed potato sacks or Uggs. Truly the fashion role model of our time.

Still feeling a little confused as to how to nail elf-core? A bit more elf-spo: think Frodo Baggins, think shearling (it’s kind of an autumn-winter specific look), think the verdant hills of Ireland. Sometimes when I see my son in his best elf-core get-up, I think, “If only he had a giant gnarled piece of wood to use as a walking stick. And could, you know, walk.”

If that still doesn’t set your mind racing with ideas, check out my elf-core picks, below:

Screen Shot 2017-10-01 at 7.14.03 PM

Knit hat from Latvia

Screen Shot 2017-10-01 at 7.16.01 PM

Reversible striped CAPE

Screen Shot 2017-10-01 at 7.17.38 PM

Knitted jumper with feet

Screen Shot 2017-10-01 at 7.19.18 PM

Peruvian booties

 

 

Screen Shot 2017-10-01 at 7.21.12 PM

Chunky sweater

Screen Shot 2017-10-01 at 7.22.42 PM

Waffle knit body suit

Screen Shot 2017-10-01 at 7.25.00 PM

Korean mushroom hat

Gifts

September 27, 2017

A while back, I compiled a list of gifts that Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith gave to one another in Just Kids.  I often find myself gravitating towards the gift described in memoirs or books; authors, I’ve noticed, tend to include them as details when they are particularly special or poignant.  Case in point: Jeannie Vanasco’s upcoming memoir The Glass Eye.  It’s not as long as the Smith-Mapplethorpe one, but I still love it (and admittedly it might be longer, as I didn’t do an exhaustive search).

Gifts Received by Jeannie Vanasco in The Glass Eye (different givers)

A small doll from Sicily

colorful barettes

old coins

hangers with illustrated wooden cat heads

vials of sand from Jerusalem

a pair of earrings that looked like pale orange pearls

Twenty books (in one package)

 

The All Souls Game

August 24, 2017

Last weekend, my husband and I went to Oxford for the day, and on our (excellent) two-hour free walking tour, the guide stopped us at the gate to All Souls College and explained a bit about it.  All Souls College is a graduate school, kind of.  The description of it actually sounds a bit more like an elitist club, where “fellows” are just distinguished people from their fields (in other words, how much studying is happening, I can’t really tell).  The entrance exam for All Souls famously used to be a single word that you had to free associate on in an essay.  You had three hours to write this essay, which goes to show you how deep the graders wanted you to go on the topic of “water” or “style” (both real prompts.)  Apparently, they scrapped the one word exam back in 2010––a very funny article about it is here––but they still do these very broad questions that are sometimes interesting, sometimes amusing, and sometimes sound like the kinds of queries stoned college kids pose to each other while sitting bleary-eyed beneath that poster where those naked girls have Pink Floyd album cover painted on their butts.

So of course my husband and I were like, “Shit, it would be kind of fun to just take the exam and see what happens!”  But obviously we will never get that chance.  However, I thought, perhaps we can all have the experience of taking what has often been called the hardest test in the world.  What if there were a cleverly designed pack of question cards, like the one The School of Life (which I hate, but their branding is good, I admit) makes about untranslatable words and confidence and shit like that, but instead of those things, it was some questions from All Souls exams, and you could break these out at your next dinner party before intoning, “THE GAME’S AFOOT”?  (That would be required.)  I mean, I’d do it.  Would you?

Screen Shot 2017-08-23 at 10.20.23 PM

Design example

Screen Shot 2017-08-23 at 10.20.33 PM

Second

Here is a link to some sample exams, and here are a few of the better questions I’ve picked out:

Is eugenics ever a good thing?

Is there anything to be said for astrology?

Should we preserve living creatures harmful to human interests, such as the tick, the locust and the tapeworm?

In the context of political speech, ‘[e]ven material which causes a significant degree of revulsion may be justified by the serious purpose of the context in which the material is broadcast’: Lord Walker in R. (ProLife Alliance) v. B.B.C. [2003] 2 WLR 1403. Do you agree?

Should parents be punished for the truancy of their children?

Should prisoners have the vote?

Where should the boundaries lie between a person’s private and public life?

Would you ban a book?

Is your belief in the theory of evolution based on faith or reason?

Should tigers be saved at the expense of Indian villagers?

Should there be a market in human organs?

Does the moral character of an orgy change when the participants wear Nazi uniforms?

(This last one isn’t in those sample tests, but was cited by Sarah Lyall––link above––as a past question.  And I think the answer is DUH.  Nazi uniforms change every single situation.  Also this would obviously be the first card I picked out when I had people over.)