Friday, November 27, 2020

Some Emily Dickinson on Black Friday.

 They say it's called "Black Friday" because it's the time when retailers finally go "in the black" and turn a profit. 

But it can also be, under the right circumstances, even blacker, and darker. Suppose it is overcast, and you have nothing to do on Black Friday. You're not at work, and although you imagine you can fill a spare day with productive or entertaining activity, you mostly sit around in your pajamas, unwashed, looking at the Internet. 

It isn't so much depressing, but melancholy. But can we make Black Friday even blacker? We can! How? Bring forth 

Emily Dickinson! (1830-1886)

Emily Dickinson was a shut-in who didn't give a rip about punctuation, titles, or anything else. Her poetry came from the Blackest of Fridays, an infinity-long afternoon of gloomy brooding unmatched in literature. Dickinson stared into the void and brought back reports such as this:

A Death blow is a Life blow to Some
Who, till they died, did not alive become;
Who, had they lived, had died but when
They died, Vitality begun.

Sip some chamomile tea and dwell on that for a minute. 

Oh, is it still just around two in the afternoon and this day is dragging on forever? 

I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody too?
Then there’s a pair of us! – don’t tell!
They’d banish us, you know!

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring Bog!

Hm... still just a bleary overcast afternoon. Here's one more to make this Friday the Blackest Friday ever!

To help our bleaker parts
Salubrious hours are given,
Which if they do not fit for earth
Drill silently for heaven. 

"Salubrious!" What does that even mean? (it means "healthy")

And I give you this:

Did Emily Dickinson 
Smoke the Weed?
Did Emily Dickinson 
Do the Deed?
Did Emily Dickinson 
Travel Far
To spaced-out dimensions 
Beyond the Stars?
Did Emily Dickinson 
Did Emily Dickinson 

Was Emily Dickinson a super-dimensional alien from a realm beyond our comprehension? We shall never know. But Google her image on the Inter-webs and decide for yourself. 

Monday, November 23, 2020

The Dubsar and The Astronaut

They do their work on the Galilean moons of Jupiter, millions of men and women, ancient beyond imagination, chiseling, one letter at a time, the entire history of mankind, on great slabs—not indigenous, of course—of purest marble. Chisels and mallets in chapped hands. Tap tap tap. The vast face of Jupiter looms overhead, shining glorious on the scribes, lined up before their pedestals.  No spacesuits. No held breath, no discomfort, just ageless fatigue. These are not lives, but afterlives. Not too old, not too young. Just that middling age that makes one almost invisible. Gray, but not completely gray.  Taught skin over lean muscle and tendon. Things happen on earth, these men and women, chosen by mysterious gods for mysterious reasons, sit for ages, chiseling the past into stone. The rise and fall of empires are recorded. The stubbing of a toe, probably not, but the loss of some minor local, obscure election, with enough pathos? This is recorded. The death of kings? Of course. Lost car keys? Not so much. 

Naram, once a dubsar in Mesopotamia, had served Sumerian kings, then Akkadian kings. He had lived what he thought was a chaste and sinless life, but here he sits on a little wooden stool, in this unexpected afterlife, on the surface of Europa tapping out the vagaries of human history, one letter at a time. For awhile it was cuneiform, but as the centuries passed he had written in every conceivable language.  The context of the events as they unfolded, the comprehension of each language, and the details of events small or of great consequence, formed in his mind as easily and simply as a dream.  He wondered sometimes if he were recording events, or making events. He knew it was the former, but he liked to imagine the latter. 

Lately, he'd been writing in Hindi, about the landing of space vehicles on his very moon. Naram found this very exciting. These Indian travelers had done several exploratory expeditions, and one traveler, one single astronaut, was approaching his valley. He watched this history unfold, on his marble stone, as he chiseled it there. 

Naram was finishing a sentence. He knew, without turning from his work, that a visitor was walking down his very row of stone slabs. Without looking up from his work, he raised his hand and beckoned over his shoulder for that visitor to approach. He didn't need to look. He knew all the details from that which he had written. He had just finished the Hindi word for "suit" when, as he expected, a shadow, the first shadow of movement he had seen for thousands of years, passed over his shoulder.  He turned to look. 

The shining sphere, a face-shield, black and gleaming, the black and white suit, not too cumbersome, but solidly built, silhouetted by Jupiter's vast glory, stood facing him, beholding the body of his endless work.

Astronaut Jenean Nayak, jaded, tired, not sure if she were hallucinating, squinted behind her face shield. Her breath went in and out. These people can't be here, she thought. I'm suffering neurologic compromise. This cannot be.  Already nervous, she had broken at least a dozen protocols coming out here on her own, so far beyond the perimeter.  She thought of the reprimand she'd get if she were discovered.  No one would believe this, even if she confessed to ignoring procedure. 

Naram knew not only that this masked figure was a woman, but that she was from the wealthy suburb Gulshan, she had married and divorced, drank on occasion, and was either about to live or die, depending on how fast she read what he, Naram, had just written in the stone. She was a figure of some note, for he had written her entire lifetime, on and off; her placement in school, her stellar academic achievements, and her career at IIST. 

Now this. The outcome of her story rested on her ability to comprehend what she read, and her ability to act quickly. 

"This is about me," she thought as she read. Her early advancement through St. George's in Hyderabad. Her divorce. The mission to Jupiter. 

She read:

She cast out on her own, ill-advised . . .

"This just happened."  How did this old man know? She looked at the man, thin, horribly thin, large dark eyes watching her expectantly, hammer and chisel held in slack hands between his knees. She had no way to communicate with him. How was he, or any of these people alive with no life-support? 

She continued to read. She felt so fatigued. 


Naram watched the astronaut crouch ever so slightly, obviously reading. "Get to the end," he thought. He watched her bend lower, reading the very last thing he had written. The movement. The flinch of recognition. He smiled and pointed back the way she had come. The figure bolted at once.

He would almost have found it comical, watching her try to sprint in her spacesuit, but too much was at stake. He watched her run as best she could. The large boots tramping, dust flying. 

He turned back to his work and read the last sentence. 

There was a tiny tear in her suit. Her air leaked out slowly, and her LS monitor, malfunctioning, did not alert her to the danger.

Now he waited. Not long. It would come to him as in a dream. 

He added, with a tap tap tap:

She read her fate, and ran for her life.

Still he waited. He could not see the future, however close. Only the past. 

A small detail came to him.  Tap tap. 

She fell.

Still he waited. Naram had never been so anxious. He had seen this person, now he was writing her history. 

Finally, he added, tap tap tap:

With the help of two others, she was dragged into the airlock, and revived. 

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Friday, September 25, 2020

got a new job

 that was easy.

"life: to some it's a miracle, to others, a curse, to most, somewhere in between."

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

I quit.

 Quit my job. 

Sunday, September 20, 2020

reading notes

From The Razor's Edge, by W. Somerset Maugham

Masterlink, Ruysbroek, 
Plotinus, Denis the Areopagite, Jacob Boehme, Meister Eckhart, "Eleven Thousand Virgins," Cologne
"The Alone to The Alone","Dark Night of The Soul", "The Ineffable", Brague (painter), Gaugin, Renoir, "God tempers the wind to the shorn lamb", Rastignac, Andre Breton, Guillaume Apollinaire, "A play of Masterlinck's", "Paolo and Francesca", Berenice(play), Tacitus, Racine (poet? playwrite?), Houdon's Voltaire, Spinoza, Aeschylus, lumbago, Goethe, Schiller, Heine, Holderlin, Rilke, Rolla, Valasquez, El Greco, Veronal, "Seven veils of Ingorance", Spinoza, Valery (writer), Baudelaire, Rimibaud;


thalassocracy, The Winged Victory of Samothrace, Pindar, Rabelaisian

"The void awaits surely all them that weave the wind."

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Notes from The Secret History, by Donna Tartt

Things I jotted down while reading "The Secret History, by Donna Tartt, 1992

Benjamin Jowett 

Periclean Athens

Balliol Rymme





Hesiod's primordal chaos

Josephine Baker

Liddell and Scott


London, by Pennant

Byron's Marino Faliero

"A mock thalos, Doric by way of Pomeii"

Elizabeth and Leicester

Emma Bovary

Alexander Pope

Duc de Saint-Simon

piquet (card game)

Vanity Fair (book

"Twelve Great Cultures"

Constable (writer? book?)

John Donne

Izaak Walton

Rupert Brook (poet)

"The Gautama"

Brian Eno

the Pantheon


The Sitwells


"Borges, the writer"

Martin Bormann


The Fleshtones


telestic madness


"To escape cognative mode of expression"







"epigram of Callimachus"


Mrs. Gamp

hoi polloi


Comun, Tifernum

Malacca Chair


Arthur Rimbaud

The Greeks and the Irrational Dodos

Ray Milland The Lost Weekend


Attic vases, Meissen Porcelain, Alma-Tadema, Frith 

Jean Cocteau


"Philistine" in context of a modern person

exordium, Palinurus

Theophile Gautier

Vigny's Chatterton

Schliemanns, Ilios

excavation of Hissarlik


Morris Lee Harden

Anwar Sadat

Golda Meir


ecumenical, bravura

A.E.Houseman (poet)

"With rue my love is laden 

Lycidas, gladiola



Marcel Proust

George Sand


Cortes, Gregory of Tours 

"Mycenaean inscriptions from Knossos"


Davy Balfour from Kidnapped

P.G. Wodehouse

Pluto and Persephone

Harold Acton

"duty, piety, loyalty, sacrifice"


"Jacobian dramatists:" Webster, Middleton, Tourngur and Ford

    The Malcontent, The White Devil, The Broken Heart

Christopher Marlowe,

        Raleigh and Nashe

"But ture, I cried too much /
the dawns are heartbreaking

Our Mutual Friend

"Dust thou art, to dust thou shalt return>"

Hagin Sophia


St. Basil's in Moscow


Salisbury and Amiens

Monday, September 07, 2020


 Brutus killed a vole

finally played 10,000 games

huff park. saw a deer up close. Went to see Alex's new place. 

deb paints kitchen

read a good portion of "The Secret History" 

Saturday, September 05, 2020

Friday, September 04, 2020

A Timeline of People and Things.

Ancient Greeks

Pericles                         495-429 BC


 Søren Kierkegaard     1813-1855

Friedrich Nietzsche     1844-1900

Jean-Paul Sartre     1905-1980


John Keats                        1798-1821

Alfred, Lord Tennyson     1809-1892


Jane Austen                 1775-1817

Virginia Woolf             1882-1941

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Firewood weekend

 760 logs, 26 trips from the pile to the stack using my hand cart. Took about two hours to stack. 

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Saugatuck: We did not get eaten by a bear.

Also, I pulled all the weeds in the driveway. 


Sunday, August 02, 2020

I made a tiny zen garden.

I made a tiny zen garden. Also this weekend: cleaned sink trap, went to Horrock's and got pickled quail's eggs. Also, got a new pillow.  

Sunday, July 26, 2020

weekend accomplished!

Painted the house, fixed the switch in the upstairs bathroom, and made a tiny fountain. Weekend accomplished!

Friday, July 17, 2020

The Best Two Paragraphs from The Island of Dr. Moreau (spoiler)

From the last chapter. The narrator has returned to London.

My trouble took the strangest form. I could not persuade myself that the men and women I met were not also another Beast People, animals half wrought into the outward image of human souls, and that they would presently begin to revert,—to show first this bestial mark and then that. But I have confided my case to a strangely able man,—a man who had known Moreau, and seemed half to credit my story; a mental specialist,—and he has helped me mightily, though I do not expect that the terror of that island will ever altogether leave me. At most times it lies far in the back of my mind, a mere distant cloud, a memory, and a faint distrust; but there are times when the little cloud spreads until it obscures the whole sky. Then I look about me at my fellow-men; and I go in fear. I see faces, keen and bright; others dull or dangerous; others, unsteady, insincere,—none that have the calm authority of a reasonable soul. I feel as though the animal was surging up through them; that presently the degradation of the Islanders will be played over again on a larger scale. I know this is an illusion; that these seeming men and women about me are indeed men and women,—men and women for ever, perfectly reasonable creatures, full of human desires and tender solicitude, emancipated from instinct and the slaves of no fantastic Law,—beings altogether different from the Beast Folk. Yet I shrink from them, from their curious glances, their inquiries and assistance, and long to be away from them and alone. For that reason I live near the broad free downland, and can escape thither when this shadow is over my soul; and very sweet is the empty downland then, under the wind-swept sky.

When I lived in London the horror was well-nigh insupportable. I could not get away from men: their voices came through windows; locked doors were flimsy safeguards. I would go out into the streets to fight with my delusion, and prowling women would mew after me; furtive, craving men glance jealously at me; weary, pale workers go coughing by me with tired eyes and eager paces, like wounded deer dripping blood; old people, bent and dull, pass murmuring to themselves; and, all unheeding, a ragged tail of gibing children. Then I would turn aside into some chapel,—and even there, such was my disturbance, it seemed that the preacher gibbered “Big Thinks,” even as the Ape-man had done; or into some library, and there the intent faces over the books seemed but patient creatures waiting for prey. Particularly nauseous were the blank, expressionless faces of people in trains and omnibuses; they seemed no more my fellow-creatures than dead bodies would be, so that I did not dare to travel unless I was assured of being alone. And even it seemed that I too was not a reasonable creature, but only an animal tormented with some strange disorder in its brain which sent it to wander alone, like a sheep stricken with gid.

Saturday, July 11, 2020


I have learned of [maledicite oliva tortam,] the curse of the Olive Loaf, but only too late. My sleep at night is banished, and my waking sleep day everlasting. Woe is the day I chose Olive Loaf. What hubris was there, that I would choose this accursed deli-meat, challenging the gods that I too was worthy of such ambrosia. 

A malignant gloom lurks over all my proceedings. Dark figures peer at me at every corner. The commute is darker, the trucks and cars more threatening, swerving in my lane and riding my bumper, they are like an army of well-coordinated enemies, seeking my life by their bad driving. 

Or is it my imagination? Perhaps I am only sick in the mind, but are those little green worms wriggling about up there? Those olive loaf green circles, excreting paranoia into my brain noodles? What difference, fancy or reality? To me they are the same! O cursed deli-meat! I cast thee out!

Oh Olive Loaf! Why did I not shun thee as I have in the past. Oh deli-meats! Why didn’t I choose a less exotic foodstuff? My life is in the balance. I must return to the market and choose a less offensive meat-stuff to appease the gods! Woe! Woe is me!

Saturday, May 02, 2020

all is right in the world again... TP

At the grocery store this morning -- we were out of cat food -- I went to get a few things. And of course, I had to check the toilet paper aisle, just in case they finally had TP. And they DID have TP. Lots of it.

I almost took out my phone to take a picture of it. To post it to Instagram, as if to say, "Look how much TP we have at our supermarket!" But I didn't. I just stood there as a feeling of relief and hope washed over me.

We don't even need toilet paper. We never ran out. We were well stocked. A few weeks ago, I caught a stocker putting out a box, and I got a huge package of Charmin, and we've been good since then.

So today, I thought, "Should I get a pack just in case?" and I didn't. There was no need.

So I left the store relieved. I mentioned it to the cashier on my way out. "You have so much toilet paper," and she told me they had hand sanitizer too. "Huge bottles," she said.  Indicating the size of the bottles with her blue-gloved hands, behind the Plexiglas shield.

"All is well in the world,"  I thought as I left the store, morning glowing over the smattering of parked cars.

Sunday, March 01, 2020


Saw "Joker"
Ran 3 miles
Black Rock restaurant
Saw "Knives Out"

Sunday, February 23, 2020


Started reading Other Voices Other Rooms by Truman Capote. Started reading Civil Disobedience by Thoreau. Finished "The IT Crowd"

Put up towel racks. 

Started <The Casual Guild>

Started the Timon of Athens app.

Sunday, January 05, 2020

Yield not...

"Yield not thy neck to Fortune's yoke, but let thy dauntless mind still ride in triumph over all mischance." -- Henry VI, Part III, 3.3

About Me

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I am the author of 5 books: Android Down, Firewood for Cannibals, The Cubicles of Madness, Robot Stories, and most recently, Various Meats and Cheeses. I live and write in Michigan. My website is at