Saturday, November 22, 2008

No. 6 (Violet, Green, and Red), 1951

I am bedbound, febrile, and bored.

What do I spy with my little eye? There's nothing like playing this group game as a solitary endeavor. Oh, and as an adult!

This bedroom is an homage to Rothko. I have had six of his prints framed -- or hinted wildly to have some as Christmas and birthday gifts. It's not hard to imagine them as they are actually sized -- monoliths, huge.* There is one that might overwhelm me. I know it would overwhelm me. That is the print to the left of the closet door that draws my brain out through my eyes when I pass the 100.6 mark.

The print, not the closet door.

That sucks out my brain, that is.

I have problems cleanly coordinating antecedents. You probably had not noticed. Now you, Bard the Bowman to my circling, fire-breathing Smaug, know where I am without encrusted jewels, where I am bare!

Ar! Parse *that*, will you! I am the Anti-Parsed.

Anyway, the No. 6 (Violet, Green, and Red), unbidden, swims and shimmers to the left of my closet door; The colors, they percolate.

It bothers me sometimes that Rothko was such a coward.

*To say they are "monolithic," though, is to do violence to Rothko's intent. They are not celebrations of form::color but rather pools of essential emotion. The blocks of color are not necessarily substantial, and that shows, mostly. At least while you honor his murmure - his bruit -- his something primordial and elemental.

I mean lookit! That, over there? Is that something akin to old cold lime jello set on the edge of a rectangular roma tomato red rough platter, earthenware's recipe of adobe (or, says Ceramic Man: marl clay and red clay and sand, the mix an evident 40:40:20)?

developmental landmark

This is my 114th post!
[8 unpublished drafts included; yes, i do have published drafts.]

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fiche-moi la paix!

La Belle et Bonne Bianca Castafiore? She begins to drive me batty. Yes, je ris de la voir si belle dans ce sacre miroir! How awful to be seriously wishing she would develop a bronchite or maybe some mildly debilitating skin disease best treated by an extended stay on a desert island.

Elle m'emmerde.

Though I don't think it her intent, La BBBC can make me and the Fredster feel like poor relations who have overstayed their welcome -- and since it is a question of Marlinspike Hall, deep in the Tête de Hergé? We aren't about to go ANYWHERE! Hence, considerable tension. (We've as much or more right to be here than the Castafiore -- We knew the Captain first.)

For every one of her implicit Fou le camp... we posit our own mutely responsive Putain! Salope! Morceau de merde! Sometimes language fails.

Screeeeeechhhh! (This is the sound of Retired Educator veering off topic.) Still, cursing can be such fun, and illustrative, as well. For instance, please be cognizant of the following cultural distinctions (that you'll find detailed here):

Well, it should be made clear that the swear words you learn in Paris will not help you in Québec, with the Acadians or with the Cajuns. The French tend to use swear words dealing with bodily functions or that have sexual connotations. Here is a list of some of the most common:

salope (=slut)
putain (=whore)
merde (=shit)
chier (=to shit, verb)

So, a Frenchman (or woman, for that matter) may indeed swear at you in the following manner:
"Toi, ma putain de salope, tu me fait chier avec tes trucs de merde!"
Now, the québecois, on the other than, rely mostly on religious material for their swear words, due to the early and pervasive influence of the Catholic church. Here is a list of the some of the most common swear words used in Québec:
tabarnac (=tabernacle)
calisse (=chalice)
hostie (=the host)
ciboire (=another cup)
christ (=Christ)

So, a Quebecker might swear at you in the following manner:
"Hostie! Toi (pronounced 'tway'), mon tabarnac de ciboire de St. Sulpice, tu me fais chier en christ!"
Finally, the Acadians swear like the Quebecois, but with healthy and regular doses of English thrown in. For example:
"Toi, mon christ, t'est completement fucked up!"
A few other random points -- sacre means "profanity" au Québec (I guess that's pretty clear!). Tabarna*k* is pretty common -- more common, actually. And we cannot ignore the eMs, maudit and mozusse, etc.

I spent some time doing slave labor (recording people) for a study of Joual during a stint in Montréal and the richness of her linguistics was a testament to her competing politics and social strata. Now *that* is a city that lives her politics, where conversation is truly vivante.

When I think back to those long hot summer days at the Université de Montréal, the weirdest memories surface. Obsessively eating lunch at the same restaurant on blvd Edouard-Montpetit because of its incredible trout, the incredible trout! Truite fumée, truite aux amandes, tartare de truite saumonée, clafoutis de truites, truite de mer rôtie. Yes, I was on a trout kick. The cyclist I met on the train. Ahem. Yes, moving on... The football celebration downtown, and the huge crowd of Italians that seemed to come out of the woodwork. That stupid Fabienne Thibeault concert. The Underground City (now the RÉSO).

It was a fun time, but strange, as I was completely unattached -- personally, professionally, academically. All the hours on the phone, trying to connect with where I used to be.

No, that part was not fun.

La Belle et Bonne Bianca Castafiore holds her past life close to the vest -- we've never met old friends, a lover has never greeted us in the morning, she does not speak of family. In lieu of a wall of beloved photographs, she keeps a collection of vintage opera programs and posters.

We are both here thanks to the good graces of Captain Haddock. She constantly bungles his name -- Captain Drydock! Captain Stopcock! -- but she loves him with something close to maternal love.

It is a crime that no one will extend to her a new role -- as she, and those who live with her, tire of her repetition as Marguerite in the Faust of Charles Gounod: "Ah my beauty past compare, these jewels bright I wear!...Was I ever Margarita? Is it I? Come reply...Mirror mirror tell me truly!”

And that damn mirror -- once a prop, now almost an extension of her arm!

Awww, she's alright. I'm ashamed of my silent curses because I know that every syllable is written on my face -- I have been told that for as long as I can remember, that I hide nothing, it is all there in my expression, my mouth, my eyes.

My bloodwork from last week came back -- J. called with the results last night, and she faxed them to the orthopedic surgeon whom I will see tomorrow -- the ID doc at 11, the OS at 4. All the signs of infection are there -- the elevated white count, c reactive protein, and yadda -- I can't remember. It will be nice to come home afterward. Nice to hang with La Belle et Bonne Bianca Castafiore, have a mug or two of tea, chatter endlessly about bright and shiny, tinselly things that are not quite meaningless.

Monday, November 17, 2008


My brother is a professor at a large public university and, more importantly, one of the most generous and kind-hearted people that I know. As much as I miss the classroom, I am glad to be out of the Teaching Game when he shares some of what he has to put up with these days.

I wonder if today's teachers are too accessible.

Anyway, the irony is that the Brother-Unit characterizes the student featured below as a hard worker, and that a returned corrected draft "usually spurs him to include research, have a viable thesis, and correct an amazing amount of awkward phrases and sentences." Johnny apparently is having some difficulty adjusting to college life but, until now, has been plugging away at his work in an honorable fashion.

I wonder what is behind this Freshman Meltdown.

The topic for the batch of writing in question was about notions of identity in the Internet Generation -- Johnny chose to "staunchly defend his group, noting that previous generations are jealous because we had to go to libraries instead of clicking a mouse when we were doing research."

I will give you a moment to appreciate the profundity of this hypothesis.

***** *** *****

Dear Mr. X:

i was reading the comments for my 2nd draft and realized that the only reason why i received such a low grade in the paper was because you were part of the audience being attacked. in your "opinion", the whole paper was
illogical and that's because you do not agree with my point of view and do not see it from my perspective. i did not mean to take it this far. I was expressing how i feel and obviously did not anticipate the consequences.
With all due respect sir, my logic and point of view stands and i won't change anything. i will oversee the grammatical and MLA format errors but that is it. this paper was not a A+ but it certainly wasn't a D- either.
Now that i've seen the expression i got out of you, i find it to be the best paper i've written yet. it was exactly how i expected the attacked audience to react. Now i have the outmost respect for you as a professor, thats why i
recommend you read the paper over, put your feelings aside and give me the grade i deserve. in the case this project cause me to fail this class, I will take the appropriate action and take it to your supervisor and make my
case.please do not take this as a threat, look inside yourself and think about this for a while. i am not going to rewrite this paper because you were offended sir, i can only sincerely apologize. i may have bad grammar
skills or whatever but a stupid kid, i am not sir. Thank you.

Hi [Johnny]--
You're being naive if you think that I get offended by a paper criticizing my generation. I read and grade each paper from the perspective of an academic audience.
It is, of course, your option not to make any changes in your paper; it is, after all, your paper.
But you've already seen the grade that that paper will receive.
I wouldn't anticipate any change in that grade unless there are viable revisions in the final draft.

Mr. X

hello again SIR.

Guess we gonna have to do this dance because my decision stand. we have two choices: we can schedule a meeting and i will make my
case before you or i can wait until you give me the D than go straight to the dean or whoever is responsible for overseeing this matter. i may competely be naive sir... but i'm confident in my logic. im betting the majority who argue for our generation got this grade and thats why you brought the Bloom triangle BS to class the other week. i know u thinking about me wasting your time, i spent well over 6 hours on the assignment which you have assigned so id say i deserve a bit of ur time. therefore i suggest we try the first option.... [Johnny]

Hi [Johnny]--
My office hours are listed on the syllabus. Feel free to swing by--either with the draft you have or with the final version of the paper.
Be sure to correct the grammar errors before coming by. That should save us a lot of time.
Mr. X

Poor Johnny. Poor Mr. X.