Archive for the ‘story’ Category

After work today I went to the doctor’s office. I was slightly proud of myself because I was early; on the other hand, even when I’m late I usually have to wait. It looked a little busy, so I had a seat, and went for a magazine. You might have noticed that the literary value of the reading material in a doctor’s waiting room leaves much to be desired, especially in the last few years.

However, the first thing I found was a copy of the June issue of Harper’s Magazine, and on the front cover was a picture of the little president with an eleven-gallon hat. The main topic was “Undoing Bush: how to repair eight years of sabotage, bungling, and neglect”. It was a forum of prominent columnists and experts discussing the problems and possible solutions to various aspects of the little guy’s administration. They included

The Constitution
by David Cole

The courts
by Dahlia Lithwick

Civil service
by Ken Silverstein

The environment
by Bill McKibben

by Chris (Chris C.) Mooney

The economy
by Dean Baker

The marketplace of ideas
by Jack Hitt

by James Bamford

The military
by Edward Luttwak

by Anne-Marie Slaughter

The national character
by Earl Shorris

I was 45 minutes in the waiting room, and it gave me time to finish the eleven essays, and it was time well wasted. There was little that was new to me, but it did give me a different perspective on all of the hammer blows that this administration has inflicted on the United States and the world. It’s well worth reading, especially the Marketplace of Ideas, Intelligence, the Military, the Constitution, and finally the National Character.

Only this long until the King’s Horses and Men can get started on the Great Fall.


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Recently my best friend Heather told me a little about a children’s book called Bridge to Terabithia. I was home sick for much of this week, but today I ventured forth and bought a copy. When I was at page 57 I tried calling her to thank her for ever so gently hinting that it was worth reading, but she wasn’t at home. That was an hour ago.

I just finished it.

Thanks, Heather.

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Yesterday I bought a copy of Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury. It has been a while since I read anything by him, but some of my favourites include Fahrenheit 451, Dandelion Wine, and of course The Martian Chronicles. His stories are always well plotted, his understanding of, and empathy with, his characters are exemplary, and his imagination is spectacular. I don’t know the exact word to describe how he structures his stories; there are elements of fables, legends, and allegories in his stories.

But the thing that is really special is how he can craft a sentence to produce an image in your head, and how he can evoke moods and feelings with one of the most deft touches in this or any time. Here are a few random images.

“Sometimes you see a kite so high, so wise it almost knows the wind. It travels, then chooses to land in one spot and no other, and no matter how you yank, run this way or that,it will simply break its cord, seek its resting place and bring you, blood-mouthed, running.”

“Yet, this train’s whistle!

The wails of a lifetime were gathered in it from other nights in other slumbering years; the howl of moon-dreamed dogs, the seep of river-cold winds though January porch screens which stopped the blood, a thousand fire sirens weeping, or worse! the outgone shreds of breath, the protests of a billion people dead or dying, not wanting to be dead, their groans, their sighs, burst over the earth!”

This describes circus tents in the wind. “At last there was the clear-water sound of vast flags blowing.

Muffled away in the prairie lands, the chuffing of an engine, the slow-following dragon-glide of a train.

This describes a calliope on a train. “Going away, away, the calliope pipes shimmered with star explosions, but no one sat at the high keyboard. The wind, sluicing ice-water air in the pipes, made the music.”

Finally, two boys running. ” Along the street below fled two shadows, two boys above them matching stride for stride. They softly printed the night air with treads.”

Ostensibly what Bradbury writes is prose, but I would argue that his imagery is clearly more poetry than prose. I’m enjoying the new book, and will let you know how I liked it.

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In 1963 something strange happened off the coast of Iceland. Smoke and steam started rising above the waters, followed by rapidly solidifying lava. This grew into the island of Surtsey. It was pretty interesting to scientists to see a new volcanic island rise out of the abyss, and the biologists had a field day. First birds landed on it, dropping twigs and seeds. It was amazing how quickly plants took root, and a small ecology developed within weeks and months of Surtsey rising above the waves.

This summer a yacht near the Tonga Archipelago in the Southwest Pacific found new volcanic island, rising out of the ocean, after sailing though an area of ocean covered with a raft of pumice (a volcanic rock which floats fairly well). They documented it in their Web log and the sighting was also confirmed by a fishing boat. There has been no official confirmation by the Tongan government as yet. The pictures are something special.

Sailing to Vulcan’s Forge

Island in Flames

Wake through the rocky ocean of pumice 

Rocky Sea

There are no reliable sightings of a great city rising from the waves with great and ancient buildings with strange and impossible angles and shapes. There is absolutely no evidence of a gate that should never be opened, and the architecture is definitely NOT “loathsomely redolent of spheres and dimensions apart from ours.” The is absolutely positively no sign saying the R’lyeh Arms.

Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!

Map showing how horrendously far great R’lyeh is from either of these islands

Map of Surtsey

Map of Tonga

Map of Tonga chain

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G’day.  5 a.m. during the 9th hour of a night shift gives you a whole new perspective on life.

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I just saw a DVD that I consider to be one of the best movies I have seen in my life. If I try to describe it I may ruin it for you, or take something away from it. It is definitely a movie that adults and children can watch, though.

If you watch Akeelah and the Bee, I don’t think you will regret it.

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