Friday, November 22, 2013

The movie deal

'Grassland' by Sarah Sloat from Nic Sebastian on Vimeo.

Thanks to Nic Sebastian, wizard queen of many multimedia poetry projects, for this reading and video of my poem Grassland.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Next time I should read the acknowledgements before buying

I recently read and gave up on The Tiger’s Wife. After I decided to go no further, I turned to the acknowledgements, which began:

"I am forever indebted to:
My parents, whose faith is boundless and unfaltering; my baby brother, A., the best illustrator ever; my grandmother, Z., who is a rock.
MK, my traveling companion, diapers to dentures - whose tolerance of late-night phone calls was indispensable to the completion of this book, and whose wit and wisdom have reconnected me to my roots.
AZ, who is a force of nature in everything he touches. We’ve travelled so far, we two.
PS, for giving me the birthday present that set me back on the right path again, and whose love keeps lifting me higher."

That’s about 1/3 of the acknowledgements.

I then read No One Belongs Here More Than You, which I enjoyed. After I finished, I turned to the acknowledgements, which said:

"I’d like to thank each of the following people for their part in helping me make this book: FM, RM, NG, SC and MM."

That was it. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

One terrible thing

In a story I was reading today came the question: What is the most terrifying thing that ever happened to you?

This is hard because you really have to mine your memory. As always I am afraid I will give the wrong answer and that once I give an answer that I won’t be able to change it, as if there were some superpower somewhere keeping track. Of course this is counter-productive and neurotic and prevents the person questioned (me) from even approaching the question, being so preoccupied about the conditions. I had the same problem last month when a friend asked me to name my three favorite Elvis Costello songs were. (WAS NOT ABLE.)

Anyway, I tried to get over that and can tell you one of the first things that comes to my mind, the thing that sifts to the top early on in the memory-mining. 

For Easter I go with my husband and kids (6 and 4?) to London to visit friends. In turn we are invited to friends of theirs for dinner and we set out on the tube to a balmy, upscale suburb. On the way, we arrive at a stop and our friend remembers at the last moment that we should get out. We frantically jump out, grabbing all our stuff, which is voluminous since they have a small child and our children are also not big. We are on the platform with baby buggy, etc. and all, and suddenly she says, “NO! This is the wrong stop!” and exhorts us all to jump back on to the train. 

We do. I am a bit annoyed but to top it off as I am turning around I notice that my daughter is still on the platform and I haven’t a second to do anything but gear up to freak when she realizes herself that she must get in urgently and she takes a long-legged leap through the closing doors, the swoosh of which is burned into my brainplate, and I am so grateful and at the same time (perhaps unjustly) pissed off that I nearly left my daughter behind at an abandoned stop in a foreign city. 

But I didn’t.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


I saw Blue Jasmine over the weekend, the semi-new Woody Allen movie with Cate Blanchett. It’s the first Woody Allen movie I’ve seen in a long time. Aside from Vicky Cristina Barcelona, which I watched on a plane, I haven’t seen any of his movies since 1994.

The movie owes a lot to A Streetcar Named Desire, but knowing that isn’t crucial. Having read/seen Streetcar might enrich your viewing, but not having seen it shouldn’t bother anyone. 

Anyway, after seeing the movie, which even my husband liked, I googled some reviews to see what critics thought. I saw this roundtable review, in which one of the critics says that Blanchett’s character Jasmine (née Jeanette) has no redeeming qualities.

Wow, I thought. NO redeeming qualities. Was it really true? Did I feel better about my husband’s disliking her now that a reviewer confirmed she was a worthless person? Sort of. Still, I would like to point out that 1) she’s gorgeous, and 2) she has great taste in clothes. Last I heard, those were qualities worth having, as selfish and delusional as one might be. 

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Bon appétit

I got this plate from Harald Geisler, a typographer I met a few months ago. He inscribed this old plate with the title of an essay by Hannah Arendt called “Wahrheit und Politik,” or “Truth and Politics.” According to the old adage, the latter makes strange bedfellows, while the former sets you free. So eat up, folks.

Arendt’s essay begins: 
"No one has ever doubted that truth & politics are on rather bad terms with each other, & no one, as far as I know, has ever counted truthfulness among the political virtues. Lies have always been regarded as necessary & justifiable tools not only of the politician’s or the demagogue’s but also of the statesman’s trade. Why is that so? And what does it mean for the nature and the dignity of the political realm, on one side, & for the nature and the dignity of truth & truthfulness, on the other? Is it of the very essence of truth to be impotent & of the very essence of power to be deceitful? And what kind of reality does truth possess if it is powerless in the public realm, which more than any other sphere of human life guarantees reality of existence to natal and mortal men – that is, to beings who know they have appeared out of non-being & will, after a short while, again disappear into it?” You can read the whole essay here

Harald decided to make this plate after he got fed up with always finding a logo on glasses, cups and plates - usually an IKEA label. I like how the two roses could themselves be "truth" and "politics," though which is which I don't know. Harald is mostly busy creating typography, but he does have a couple other plates, and every year he puts together a cool calendar using computer keys. If I were to buy something else from him, it would definitely be this arrangement of space bars.

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