Potpourri, June 18th (2017 edition)

Image: circa 1952, JES + Dad[Latest in the apparently annual June 18 tradition, of commenting about whatever the heck I want to…]

I damned near forgot what day it was… or, at any rate, that I typically do a blog post for the occasion! (The photo at the right was taken circa 1952, and celebrates another occasion — Father’s Day in the US.) I’m in a much better frame of mind this year than last (with the multiple-hard-drive disaster I’d been grappling with for months).

To get this rolling, here’s today’s strangely apropos poem of the day, from The Writer’s Almanac:

There Comes the Strangest Moment

There comes the strangest moment in your life,
when everything you thought before breaks free—
what you relied upon, as ground-rule and as rite
looks upside down from how it used to be.

Skin’s gone pale, your brain is shedding cells;
you question every tenet you set down;
obedient thoughts have turned to infidels
and every verb desires to be a noun.

I want—my want. I love—my love. I’ll stay
with you. I thought transitions were the best,
but I want what’s here to never go away.
I’ll make my peace, my bed, and kiss this breast…

Your heart’s in retrograde. You simply have no choice.
Things people told you turn out to be true.
You have to hold that body, hear that voice.
You’d have sworn no one knew you more than you.

How many people thought you’d never change?
But here you have. It’s beautiful. It’s strange.

(Kate Light)

I’m so glad that although Garrison Keillor no longer hosts Prairie Home Companion, he’s maintained his curation of the Almanac. I know at some point he’ll have to surrender that, too, and I know that he himself does not personally compile each issue; he delegates that to his staff. But for now, he still does the audio reading of each daily entry. Here’s today’s, read in full:

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The Fifteen Movie Meme

In yesterday’s post ruminating about questions whose answers (at least in theory) may be more obvious than they first seem, I included a fifteen-point “meme” about movies; I didn’t actually respond to the meme there. In a comment, Jules asked what my choices would have been.

Here y’go.

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“What did you do on Sunday, John?”
“Twiddled my thumbs. You?”

Chauncey Totman, the children’s-book author whose name I would least like to share, has done it again in his latest, Margarita, The Bearded Fox. The question for us to ponder, of course, remains (as always with Totman): What is it, exactly?

[Caution: spoiler alert! Do not read the rest of this review if you’d prefer being surprised! And/Or if you don’t know what a “spoiler” is!]

Margarita the fox lived — or so Totman would have his readers believe — deep in the wilds of New York City’s Central Park. She was a lonely sort of fox, and no surprise there, because her eyeballs bulged alarmingly, disproportionately large, at the center of apparently psychedelically-induced spirals. (A handful of mushrooms are growing under her in the cover, as if we needed the hint.) Or perhaps she’s just been spending too much time staring at the Sunday crossword, or sitting in an IMAX theater watching Avatar without the 3D glasses; it’s never made clear, exactly. (Totman has never been one for clarity.)

Anyway, she’s lonely, and she’s a fox. A fox of a fox, indeed, or so she believes. Yes, Margarita is a very vain little creature, proud of her tail, proud of her ears, her paws (at the end of those stumpy little pencil-stub legs), her pert little button nose, her nightmare eyeballs. Proud, even, of her pride:

It was such a good-looking sort of pride! A pride like no other fox’s!

But she forgets all about herself when she encounters the other fox, the fox of her dreams.

She first beholds him late one spring afternoon when she is standing on a rock looking out over a pond. She has never stood on this particular rock before. It is right at the water’s edge, and she spies him by — get a grip on the armrests of your chair — by looking straight down! How marvelous! She mistakes her own reflection for another fox! She thinks the mossy underside of the rock she’s standing on is the other fox’s beard! *giggle!*

Yes, gentle reader. I know, I know. You are not a child. You are sick unto death of authors plundering familiar mythology — like the Narcissus story, in this case — and tarting it up in cheap fabric for their own misbegotten ends. So am I. So am I.

But children will perhaps fall for it, especially very young children, especially if read to in that special tone of cloying adult condescension which, you know, children just love.

The crude illustrations are uncredited. My guess is that the illustrator requested anonymity  once s/he found out with which author s/he’d been paired by the cruel machinery of kidlit publishing.

Careful readers will recognize in the tale of Margarita the plot — I nearly said the plight — of Totman’s previous title, Martini, The Mustachioed Owl. Curious readers, especially those who are themselves authors, may wonder how such a prodigiously unimaginative jackass as Totman keeps getting offered book contracts (not that I know anyone who wonders such a thing in so many words). Perhaps it was for just such circumstances that the cruel gods invented the notion of coincidence.


Note: Thanks for the inspiration to Tanita S. Davis, who in a blog post now a few months old introduced me to the general meme:


1 — Go to “The Name Generator: at http://www.thenamegenerator.com/

Click GENERATE NEW NAME. The name that appears is your author name.

2 — Go to “Picture Book Title Generator” at http://www.generatorland.com/usergenerator.aspx?id=243

Click CREATE TITLE! This is the title of your picture book.

3 — Go to “FlickrCC” at http://flickrcc.bluemountains.net/index.php

Type the last word from your title into the search box followed by the word “drawing”. Click FIND. The first suitable image is your cover. It will give you the option to go to Picnik.

4 — Use Photoshop, Picnik, or similar to put it all together. Creativity is, of course, encouraged.

5 — Post it to your site along with this text.

The “review” of the “book” so created? Not required. Just my penance, for jumping on the bandwagon so late.

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