A cover of Truth Be Known by Neil Young, played on a cavaquinho strung as a ukulele, a little wave from Brazil that I made yesterday.
I have a Valentine for you, Daina. I’ll give it to you when I’m in Riga soon. I say it’s soon but it might be half a year. It depends on what my dad will make me do. He intends to cut the tree that fell in our backyard into firewood, but all we have in the garage is a rusty saw without an electric motor. My shoulders, back, and arm all hurt already.
Your small thanks from the blouse I gave you back on your birthday has got me worried. I tried not to pick out something that’s not your taste again. You told me not to get you something, but that’s not an order I can follow. There’s something to my resolution to try to be happy while I’m away. Like you always say, it’s a problem-based world.
I have your letters open here beside me while I write you. They’re held down by little rocks on the slatted table. The wind is blowing and the clouds are separated. It’s dark for a minute but then the sun comes out again and the paper reflects too brightly in my eyes.
I’m following those things you said. I have it here: “Don’t go to the bars at night, Dain, my love. The roughnecks and those selling cassettes on the sidewalk that they stole from someone’s car will find a way to hurt something inside you.” So I won’t tell you that I went there once, one night when I was missing you, though the only hurt that happened is that everyone at the bar ignored me. I know that you’ll bite the dead skin from your nails in fear and worry. In myself you sound the best. Your next letter would say: “Jesus, Dain, I didn’t want to know.”
What ones about this old downtown don’t feel enough to matter. It doesn’t feel historic here at all. This distinct letter put a heavy weight on the others in the mailbox. Open it upside down, Daina. When you pull out the flap, the underside is red—that’s my tongue.
I almost feel an ownership of you. But it’s not like that—I’m entitled to the love we have between us. I’m a part-owner of it.
I can face the sooty stone wall at my job and see you there in Riga. Between leading all the kids about, and taking class at night, how will you ever invent the thing we talked about that will guarantee my joy? I want a device, a little chip, worn in the vertebrae, that will direct my body through the day, so my brain can stay asleep and dream of you. I want us to be together now. I don’t want to know our separation—it’s like a painted death. If it’s not the real thing, then why do I have to see it?
So stay, my empty Bambi. Stay safe and stay devoted to the love that you’re part-owner of. And I won’t let the toil of being awake faze me. The pagans here do what they do—prime us for disappointment. But they don’t know I am a future century and they’re long forgotten.
Melody and the Shot
Melody rang the iron bell vigorously, its clapper making quite a racket. The gaucho’s wife emerged from the dark pen where she’d been feeding the animals. She walked slowly up to Melody, her hands placed backwards on her hips so that the thumbs were in front, trying with this kind of support to straighten her stiff back. Melody waved. The ground was a dusty yellow and had someone come to weed it no green would be left. It was a slight hill up to the cross-beam gate but it may as well have been mountain steps for the effort it took the gaucho’s wife. She sent little rocks skittering down behind her.
Their convergence together discouraged the moles under the ground, and they lay still long after all vibrations stopped.
"Good morning," Melody said, pulling back her hat so her face lit up in the sun. Her petticoats were in the prairie style. She couldn’t get used to them or to the black buckled shoes she wore. Dungarees and boots were more comfortable but would’ve been off-putting to the people out here. "The county sent me. I’m a nurse. I’m here to give your children vaccinations. Are they home?"
"Their Pa took them on the cattle drive," the gaucho’s wife said. "I don’t expect them back for some days."
"Well, I can return. It’s no trouble. How many children do you have?"
"Old enough to ride."
"Have they been vaccinated before?"
"I don’t reckon. They’ve never seen a doctor. My youngest had the whooping cough a couple summers back."
"He didn’t give it to the rest of you?"
"No he didn’t. He slept in the pen until it passed. He loves them animals."
"And you, have you been vaccinated?"
The gaucho’s wife paused, staring darkly. She pushed up the sleeves past her tree-knot elbows until the thickness of her upper arms would let them go no farther. She checked the bun in her ruddy hair. It was tight. Hands that corded firewood could not style it any other way. She stepped back, half-turning.
"How much you asking for it?"
"Nothing," Melody said. "The county has enough to give to everybody. It’s for the health of our society."
"We ain’t in no society, back to my grandmama and papa."
"I know it, and I respect you for it. But there’s a sickness going around. Even if you never see people, it’s in the air. You can catch it from you livestock too." Melody pulled the strap through the clasp on her bag, lifted the cowhide flap, and showed her. "This will cure it. Mind you if you get it, you’ll be laid up a long time. Who can put down their work to do yours?"
"Could be anything in that," the gaucho’s wife said, nodding at the needle.
"This is medicine. I’m a nurse." Melody took out the paper with her qualifications on it. "The sickness has been sending some folks to the Lord. You can keep your boys from ever getting it."
Ah but perturbation will separate one’s reason from itself, and confusion will grow in the empty patch between. Golden rings linked together for years will magically disconnect. This certainly can come upon one in the middle of a normal task performed without thought. Gatherings try the herd, forcing one to unconsciously compete, establishing his or her new status. A recent menace is what often seals the hierarchy, wherein everybody acquiesces to the winning male and female. Besides battle with another group, the other thing that allows for shift in status is a wedge-driving fad. One will put things in her face, scars and plates, and another won’t. One’s status will go up or down is what likely happens. Hearing the social offers even when they are not clear is essential. Only then can one determine how to lubricate one’s status. At times the offers’ deprivation is the better choice, at others it is their acceptance. It is most difficult to choose when the offer comes from someone from outside the group. One or any rider passing by has something new for sale. Perhaps the point introduces a conflict in the group. The eternal question raises up again: should one choose isolation or get involved with something new? History shows that on a long enough scale a border’s arbitrary and is always crossed. The isolationism game is how many generations they can accumulate untouched, and what they can build in that time before contact changes them, so that what remains after their extinction will offer archaelogically something unique to the culture of the world. But sex and interestingly the willful ignorance thereof can offer a rearrangement of one’s status. Virility and its counterpart fertility are usually esteemed. Cults however create an urban blight upon one’s feelings and desires. Confusion, something greater than a patch, will grow in such sullied waste. It gives rise to uselessness. This feeling of one’s uselessness is what cripples the striving for the better and the new. Once one succumbs to this, status is incumbent on one’s ability to simply stand the residue.
The gaucho’s wife refused the shot.
The Peppercorn Seminar
Welcome. My name’s Calvin Peppercorn, just like it says on the poster. (Point to the entrance of the ballroom, pause for laughter.) I will not thank you for coming to this event, but I will tell you that it’s the best decision that you’ve ever made. Once this afternoon is over, your career is going to change for the better. Not only will you get exactly where you’ve always wanted to be, you’ll find yourself going even further. If this thought scares you now, by the end of the day I promise you it won’t.
I noticed as I was riding in the limo that brought me from the airport to my luxury suite on the top floor of this beautiful hotel that your town has no mass transportation. Show of hands, how many of you bought your car outright? How many leased? How many take the bus and I better not see a single hand? (Pause for laughter.) Oh there is one. You sir think of yourself as brave. You admit you ride the bus after what I said. Well now you have two choices. Come sit on the floor at the front, right here, or take your butt outside and get your refund from my girl. Because either you’re a budding genius, who needs a little push to get to the top, or you don’t have a nickel of ambition, riding the bus, and this event doesn’t need you. (If he comes to the front, pause for the applause. Else talk over his exit.)
Whether you own or lease your car is not important. Remember this, because it’s part of my main point. We all make decisions in our lives. Some of us choose A, some of us choose B. But few of us are happy with our choice. The vast majority of you sitting in our audience either regret your choice, how you ended up in your work situation, or else you are resigned to it. You have a family to think of. The market’s not in good shape. The thing you really loved in college would not make you a living. Look at your neighbors. Go on, look around. Not one of them will admit that’s how they feel, but it is. You have so much in common. Except for that one guy wearing Google Glass. The rest of you aren’t that big of a dork. (Pause for laughter.)
Here’s the deal. All of us have made choices to end up exactly where we’re at, and none of us are thrilled about it. The other thing we have in common is what makes us better than every single person we passed on our way to this event, and I want you to write this down on your Peppercorn pad. It’s that we’re hungry. We want more from our work. We don’t want to assist on a project anymore, we want to lead it. We don’t want to be the team lead anymore, we want to be the department manager. We want more money! (Pause for cheering.)
But there’s one problem. We don’t know quite how to get there. If we did, we wouldn’t be in this audience, we’d be the one in the Italian shoes on stage under the lights with a mic clipped to our ear. So do we feed our hunger? How do we move up at work?
The answer is in the confession I have to make to all of you right now. This is difficult for me, because I spent my whole life hiding it. But I’m going to tell you, my friends. I, Calvin Peppercorn, have a condition known as antisocial personality disorder. In everyday language, I’m a sociopath. (Don’t pause here.) And I want to work for you.
How can the executive at your company lay off a hundred workers during the day and then give his kid a big hug and ice cream after her soccer game? Why does he waste the resources to take a helicopter to a meeting five miles away? How can he have an open door policy, pull you aside to thank you for the extra hours you’ve been putting in, tell jokes to your husband at the Christmas party, and then promote someone else? How did he make VP before the thousand other MBAs in the first place? (Pause for exclamatory grunts.) The answer is, he’s a sociopath.
Why is your boss such a retard? (Pause for laughter.) And yours? (Pause.) And definitely yours? (Long pause for laughter.) It’s because that’s the way the sociopath executive wants it. That way if something goes wrong, he’s got a fall guy. A simpering stooge to blame it on. Someone else to get fired, not him. And if something good happens? Your boss is such a stooge that the exec will wrest the credit from him. Either way, a sociopath will always come out on top.
So that’s your problem. You my friends are not sociopaths. How can you expect to compete against one? Once in a while you have to act cheerful at work if your kid gave you hell that morning. But the exec has to act 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Otherwise he’d be in jail. He has to learn people. Writers can’t carry the smallest putter in his golf bag. The one, the best observer of how people behave, is the sociopath. He has to be, in order to blend in with regular folks. He sees what makes you successful. He spots all your weak points and all your tiny flaws. Worse for you, he uses them against you. And worst of all, it doesn’t bother him a bit, so he doesn’t mind doing it over and over for his 30-year career. He doesn’t care! He can cancel a contract that throws a bunch of people out of work. He can railroad people getting laid off, taking advantage of their shock, to get them to sign something giving up their right to sue in exchange for a paltry one week’s severance. It always happens on a Friday, you know. And he can take his boat out the next morning, standing at the wheel, a white visor shading his eyes from the sun, and feel as happy as you do holding your newborn child.
He has a great life, and you can’t compete with him to obtain what he has. But there’s someone who can. Me, Calvin Peppercorn. So you, the bus man, sitting on the floor like you’re back in gym class. (Pause for laughter.) I’m willing to offer you, if you decide right now, my Barbarian Package. That’s a one-on-one face-to-face personal consultation with me. You get one hour to describe to me the exact situation you’re in at work, how you’re treated, the personalities of your allies, what you’ve observed about your enemies, the things your boss has you doing, and you can ask me any question you want. I’ll tell you, as a sociopath, exactly what I would do in your shoes to break you out of the trap you’re in and get you where you want to be. That’s one hour of my expertise for only $299. Are you ready to step up? Because if you’re not, that guy right there is! (Point out someone in the crowd, pause for applause.) That lady there is too! Look, she’s actually getting her credit card out of her purse! (Pause for cheers.)
Okay bus man, I know you don’t want to ask for it, but something tells me your office politics are so bad that you think an hour’s not enough. Good thing for you I have my Predator Package! (Pause for applause.) With this you get the one hour, face-to-face conversation, plus the password to my private members-only message board, where once a week you can post a question to me and I’ll answer it myself. You can update me on your progress from our consultation, about any new sticky situations that have arisen, and I’ll tell you exactly what a sociopath like your company executive would do to get out of it, improve his lot, and come out on top. In the meantime, the rest of the week, you’ll be able to log in and chat with other members, who can share their own advice and experience based on the winning path I gave them! It’s only $999 for one whole year! (Pause for cheers.)
Hang on everybody, hang on. The bus man hasn’t leapt to his feet like that guy, and that lady in the back! (Pause for applause.) I’m sorry, madam, but I’m married. (Pause for laughter.) Do you mind if I share with our friends what you’re thinking, bus man? Your career is going so badly you’re barely hanging on. They’ve already got you answering calls, covering for the receptionist when she goes to lunch. Sometimes they change the time of the meeting and don’t bother to cc you. When the exec visits the floor and goes around shaking hands, he talks loudly to your cubicle mate, keeping his back to you and then moving on. You’re in serious danger of being unemployed this time next week. Well, I’m willing to extend to you, today only, my most personalized package, the Terminator! (Pause for applause.) You get the one-on-one consultation. You get the weekly follow-up Q&A, as well as the ability to pick the brains of colleagues doing better than you on my private message board. But at this level there is something extra special. I will give you my private cellphone number. Can you believe it? I’m not kidding. You can text me once per day and I will respond. Say you have an emergency at work. Say your boss suddenly says he’s going to put you on the one project that the whole office knows is failing. Say they suddenly want to give your performance evaluation tomorrow. What do you do if you have to wait 6 days for the next Q&A? What do you say to him? With the Predator Package, you’ll have the perfect answer within minutes. You’ll have Calvin Peppercorn, MBA, CPA, experienced businessman, sociopath, at your beck and call. (Pause for cheers.) Only $4,999 for an entire year! Much much less than what you’ll lose being unemployed!
So stave off unemployment! Get all the things you’ve ever wanted! Be the one in charge! Who wants to sign up for a package right now! (Musical crescendo, the room erupts.)
We found the purple postcards in a drawer beneath her underwear. It was Summer 1942 and the house had not yet been stripped. We entered with the hidden key. She told us where it was, in the side yard in the lantern hanging on the pole curved like a candy cane. The house was warmer than the outside air. We took off our coats. How much louder hardwood stair-steps crack when they’re walked in silence, without even the faint humming of a fridge.
The upstairs windows were intact. No animals had gotten in. We saw nothing, not spiders and no webs. The place was neater than we thought that it would be. What was in the spare bedroom was all put away. Nothing touched the closets’ floor. The throw-rug in her bedroom had a film of dust and hair, as did the chair in the corner, the film on its seat and the padding on the wooden arms fixed by knobbed rivets. We ran our fingers down them in remembrance.
The cards, there were a stack of them. We shared their reading, each handing the one just read over to the other. Words stick better in the brain when they are read aloud, so we kept our voices closed. Her ideas written on them warmed us for a moment and then ran off us like a shower.
We took a breath when we were done. There was no bonus in our finding, and the significant records in the torn accordion file had no import and listed nothing that would tell us something new about her life. Following this we worked through the other rooms, the kitchen with the still flat linoleum, cabinets proving that dried paint touching dried paint can make a seal like glue, the family room with more wooden-legged furniture, as stationary as a pall, and the basement whose cement walls were two-toned suggesting flooding when it rained. The bottom part was murky, above it was more clear. Tinselly we remarked we’d found no money, nor certificates of stock, and were it buried in the basement it could stay there for another, though the rising waters ought to have carried it almost to the top.
We could either leave or sit a spell. Though it bothered both our backs we pulled the dining table apart, set down the leaf, and pushed it back together. Well, she had the people once to need it. We spread the cards out in a grid. Whatever printing ink they’d used had found some trace viscosity, in those years in the stack, and it smeared the picture sides into an even glop. So we turned them over and let her words announce themselves into that room whose convincing sense of shelter had once encouraged our free talk.
She’d wrote about her naps so much she seemed a sleep collector. Her words were cuddly. They had us build on partial memories. We became amazed at what we had forgotten.
There were strange phrases on the postcards too, “the popgun contains photos,” as though we’d pull the trigger and rather than a flag with Bang! it would be the portrait of a face, maybe hers when she was young. She had a half-aptitude for photography. She ought to have gone farther, she had an easy Hi.
The house grew indistinct as evening fell upon it. We still had the drive ahead, the vacation we had planned. So we made an agreement before we left. Each of us would record nothing it was making.
is a novel by Deborah Levy.
- Kitty Finch is nude in the pool of the tourist villa when the family arrives
- father Joe is a famous poet, Polish, haunted by survival of a tough childhood; mother Isabel is a war photojournalist; daughter Nina will get her first period and have her first crush
- Mitchell and Laura are family friends, im/export shopowners suffering futilely multiple break-ins
- Jurgen the caretaker loves Kitty. Madeline the next door neighbor watches them from her balcony on high.
- Kitty wants Joe to read her poem - feels a spiritual connection to him.
- Isabel dives in the pool and saves Kitty. She strangely invites Kitty to stay with her family on their vacation.
- Kitty starts getting Joe alone. Isabel subconsciously accedes. Their marriage has been shaky. Isabel sets in motion that which will let her leave.
- Kitty and Joe share depression, anti-depressants, suicide attempts.
- Joe wants Kitty. He thinks she’ll save him from his own mind.
- Isabel goes to see a philosopher. She feels like a ghost, scarred from her atrocity reporting.
- Kitty leaves her mss in Joe’s room. He puts it under the bed, doesn’t read it.
- Michell and Laura are snarky to Kitty, they see through her game.
- Laura is taller than her husband Mitchell, who has nightmares, and likes to hunt.
- Nina starts her period. Gets into bed with Kitty. Family thinks she’s missing.
"No longer grateful, she [Kitty] glared at the woman [Isabel] who had offered her the spare room but had not bothered to provide sheets or pillows or notice the windows did not open and the floor was covered in mouse droppings."
"Perhaps now he [Joe] should at least try and tell her [Isabel] that when she abandoned her young daughter to lie in a tent crawling with scorpions, he understood it made more sense of her life to be shot at in war zones than lied to by him in the safety of her own home. All the same, he knew his daughter had cried for her in the early years, and then later learned not to because it didn’t bring her back. …
He heard her say, ‘The main thing to do for the rest of the summer is to make sure Nina is all right.’
‘Of course Nina is all right,’ he snapped. ‘I’ve looked after her since she was three years old and she’s bloody all right, isn’t she?’
And then he took out his notebook and the black ink pen that had disappeared that morning, knowing that Isabel was defeated every time he appeared to be writing and every time he talked about their daughter. These were his weapons to silence his wife and keep her in his life, to keep his family intact, flawed and hostile but still a family. “
"I [Joe] can’t stand THE DEPRESSED. It’s like a job, it’s the only thing they work hard at. Oh good my depression is very well today. Oh good today I have another mysterious symptom and I will have another one tomorrow. The DEPRESSED are full of hate and bile and when they are not having panic attacks they are writing poems. What do they want their poems to DO? Their depression is the most VITAL thing about them. Their poems are threats. ALWAYS threats. There is no sensation that is keener or more active than their pain. They give nothing back except their depression. It’s just another utility. Like electricity and water and gas and democracy. They could not survive without it. GOD, I’M SO THIRSTY. "
- Kitty mad that Mitchell swam with suntan lotion in the pool. The pool is ruined.
- Joe finds a creepy-crawly when he and Nina are fishing, and he brings it home.
- Joe’s missing pen is under Kitty’s chair.
- Kitty puts a stuffed animal in the rat trap.
- Isabel saves insects from the pool.
- Joe and Kitty make love in a hotel.
- Nina reads Kitty’s mss. She thinks Kitty wants to drown herself in the pool, but to Kitty the poem is her bond to Joe.
- Joe escapes before Isabel. Joe shoots himself, falls in the pool, and dies.
- Joe’s death is their connection, the conversation between he and Kitty. Her poem was the catalyst, but his life-long burdens were the mechanism. When he yelled that he can’t stand the depressed, what he meant is he can’t stand himself.
- Levy’s writing is charged. A playwright, she excels at characterization. Her dialogue is breathy and argumentative. The characters’ personalities emerge from their interaction with one another. Most everything is conflict.
- Their backstories are given quickly and are not dwelled upon. They do not speak much about themselves. We learn about them through the other characters’ observations of their fellows.
- Levy tells just enough to resonate. The story is formed in the white space between the printed sentences. It’s masterful.
The Brasilia Review #5
Welcome to our issue five. Carnaval just ended yesterday. The costumes had such radiance they bore the dancers down the streets like skipping rocks. Then the fabrics fell in crumples on the beach, and the people woke this morning nude with sand stuck to their ribs. Now is time to gather up what feathered plumes they can.
This issue is poetry-dominant, with six moving Autumn leaves. Michael Julian Arnett imbibes to trace the destination of the soul. Bob Browning understands the cost of care on the carer. Cate Doherty, on the insight of the untouchable. Logan Ellis will not stay ignorant of what lies ahead. Fran Lock says our place in nature is not what it seems. And Zachary L. Pearse, on when friendship seeks the underworld.
Jody Cooksley brings elegance to a birth and an impending death, both of which went wrong. Peter Landau looks for peace among the kids he never had.
Designer Nayrb Wasylycia illustrates how humankind turns its mechanics inward.
The Brasilia Review still hears the echo of last night’s samba drums.
(Submissions for issue six are open!)
Wolfboy and Cold by Jody Cooksley
“…took him from his father at the age of four after winning him in a game of backgammon.”
All My Dead Children by Peter Landau
“Liz was my first girlfriend and my first abortion.”
Old Wineskin by Michael Julian Arnett
“a thousand misshapen reflections / forever walking into a veiled distance”
To the Young ER Nurse by Bob Browning
“I think of all she has seen”
Scaffolds by Cate Doherty
“rubber soles / insulating against the vibrant agitation of a sharp shovel”
Inheritance of Tumors by Logan Ellis
“it feels so urgent to know / why our mom captures the doctor’s notices with a photo album”
Roots by Fran Lock
“Here / we are, picking the proverbs from between our teeth”
David Pritchard Becoming the Sun by Zachary L. Pearse
“instead I’m hoping to Tom Sawyer the whole protest / come on over it’ll be fun etc.”
Carnaval, Rio de Janeiro, 2014
Live-Blogging All The Oscars Carnaval!
10:25 Sao Paulo Time - Interviewing Kevin Spacey who says, “It is impossible to resist the impression that people commonly apply false standards, seeking power, success and wealth for themselves and admiring them in others, while underrating what is truly valuable in life.”
10:27 - My wife changes the channel to the live broadcast of Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro. The channel will broadcast it from now until 7:30 am without commercial interruption. There are some dancing women dressed like playing cards with golden goblets on their heads.
10:29 - There’s a green sequined tinkerbell samba’ing in front of a line of percussionists 100 deep. They’re wearing red clown hair with top hats with butterfly wings. Oh it’s the Brazilian Jay-Z, looks just like him and he’s holidng the mic the same way.
10:31 - “That’s a lot of feathers.” -wife
10:32 - “This woman is too old for this. She’s like 60.” -wife
10:33 - “It’s more like a raised eyebrow, and less like a raised pee-pee.” -me
10:33 - That carro (float) represents the forest and has 72 people on it dressed as 72 different insects.
10:35 - This float has a cannon with a man inside and a net in front to catch him. These are some big floats.
10:36 - That man’s bald skull is painted white, green, and red with a mother of pearl inlay.
10:38 - I have seen it. A man in a checkered suit like the Mad Hatter riding an animatronic slug with the head of Jar Jar Binks.
10:41 - Wife is crying laughing. I started singing to the subtitles of the samba song, in toneless pidgin Portuguese, as she filmed the tv and recorded my so dulcet tones over the tv audio.
10:46 - The fuschia and the black. An all white float with piano key trim and strobe lights and some silicone with tassels.
10:48 - White float has John Lennon’s Imagine piano cloned ten times and up on it. And there’s a harp with lava lamp tubes instead of strings.
10:55 - The director of this samba school is in yellow lame. Behind her are banners of the Madonna and child to contrast the fountain spraying bare boobs.
10:57 - These guys got puffy shirts in ashy brown. These capes hang all the way from their heads. The capes are a dark aquamarine with stars stitched on.
10:59 - They spent R$114,000 (I don’t know $45,000) on feathers alone.
11:01 - The coat of arms behind the lead float dancer has 3 fields representing God, something red, and fish above the water.
11:04 - Oh these guys are holding batons with cyclops eyeballs on the end.
11:05 - Next group of dancers are cucumbers with pot leaf belts and red poppy puffs.
11:07 - Dr Seuss Avatar people have arrived. Pink and white candy cane stripes.
11:08 - Here comes the forest float with all them insects and carapaces like Roman armor. Ooo, the school’s name is Darwinianos.
11:10 - The treetops on the float look like those little green burrs that stick to your socks when you walk through the overgrowth.
11:11 - They’ve gone to the sideline reporter who tells us the trees are plastico.
11:12 - They got ladybugs, larvae, mantis, and hold up here are the pink and orange Spaceballs.
11:14 - Changed channel back just in time to see Best Animated Feature. Matthew Magonigle presents with a woman wearing an Egyptian casket mummy mask. The winners say, “There are some individuals who are venerated by their contemporaries, but whose greatness rests on qualities and achievements that are quite foreign to the aims and ideals of the many.”
11:17 - Forrest’s mom stumbles in her tele-prompted speech, “One may be inclined to suppose that these great men are appreciated after all only by a minority, while the great majority have no interest in them.”
11:18 - Montage of scenes of Hollywood movies. They splice in scenes from this year’s nominees with some of Hollywood’s most loved movies, thus bestowing on this year’s nominees the godhood.
11:21 - I couldn’t understand the British woman so I don’t know what category this is, but The Lone Ranger is nominated? so um..
11:22 - The winners say, “It is not easy to treat feelings scientifically. One may try to describe their physiological symptoms. Where this is not feasible — and I fear that the oceanic feeling will not lend itself to such a description — there is nothing left to do but to concentrate on the ideational content most readily associated with the feeling.”
11:24 - Here’s a performance of the lady in red accompanied by young Jim Croce on guitar. Her high heels sit unworn beside her bc the red shoes are strangling her bloody feet.
That’s one hour and I’m done.
(All Oscar quotes are from Civilization and Its Discontents by Sigmund Freud.)
"As 1,060 of the towns in Turkey have applied to be our sister city," said the mayor, "it presents us with a problem. We cannot reasonably expect that even our most traveled citizens have visited more than ten percent of these towns. So how can we pick a winner? Voting for which town gets the honor strikes me as unfair. You agree. (Indeed voting as a concept is unfair. I deserve this job, you agree.) But anyhoot, I’ve decided to turn the problem over to our superteam. I announce to the cameras here, Operation: Renegade!"
The curtain behind the podium fell. There, standing in spotlights from the wings, was our city’s superteam. They posed dramatically around the hood of a buffed steel green Bradley tank. A man in overalls ran from the side and carried off the podium as the mayor clipped a wireless mic behind one ear.
"Hawk Mountain Man!" yelled the mayor, sweeping her arm from we the audience to the superteam. Hawk Mountain Man jumped down from the turret and a tremor rippled across the stage, causing the mayor in her high heels to stagger. A pair of golden wings spread wide from HMM’s back. Then a beak bit the collar of his flannel shirt, and the hawk pulled itself upright onto his shoulder. HMM raised in one triumphant fist the 12-point buck Antlers of Providence. It glinted in the spotlight, and twelve brown sparrows alighted on it. The hawk picked out its kill.
"Tiki Nephew!" yelled the mayor. The sound of tribal drumming filled the stage. Two teens put something on their tongues and started dancing. Our shirtless hero yelled something in a foreign language, which sounded hollow from behind his grotesque mask. The tank turret shot a burst of flame, which lit Tiki Nephew’s torches. He spun them like a drum major, then stuck them in the holders on the stage. It was then that we could make it out: the torches were in the shape of a one and a seven. Tiki Nephew’d turned 17 today.
"Chimp Castaway!" yelled the mayor. The chimp bared her teeth and beat her chest. The tail of her tied headband flapped from side to side, and in her enthusiasm she clawed another hole in her tattered Hawaiian shirt. The stagehand in overalls led a man in from the wings. He was handcuffed and in prison orange. Chimp Castaway took him by the hand and forearm and without much strain broke his wrist. CC did the same to his other wrist, slipped the cuffs off without unlocking them, and twirled them by one finger while blowing salivary kisses at us.
"But this cannot be," said a reporter to the mayor. "You know Turkey’s perception of our city. A recent poll said they said we couldn’t secure enough cotton to make a Q-Tip. Do you think they’ll be suspicious we suddenly have the technology to create a superteam?"
"I was betrothed to Hawk Mountain Man in that field of cotton," said the mayor, pointing yonder. "It made a beautiful backdrop, like I held his scarred and callused hand among the fluffy clouds. The pics are on my campaign site."
Another reporter asked, “It took the interest of the previous mayor to start the sister city here. The program is meant to spread goodwill among disparate peoples. What makes you sure they are the right ambassadors?”
"They’ve passed every test my office has given them," said the mayor, leaving out that zero tests were given. "Why Tiki Nephew is like an ancient hieroglyphic, smashed half the time, and stiff. Turks are renowned drinkers — their Muslim faith aside — and both them like to smoke. He’ll fit in. As for my Hawk Mountain Man, his withdrawal from society occurred on the 19th of June, 2009, during a trip to South Africa. He went dredging in river silt for the remains of australopithicenes. He was stuck chest-level when a grassland elephant approached. With its trunk it took his camera off its tripod and smashed it on the rocks. He stretched out his hand, begging it to pull him free, but the elephant went past him to the river for a drink. It knew that he’d been tainted by the modern world. Anyhoot he moved out of our home and went to live in the woods. Didn’t you, dear?"
Hawk Mountain Man said nothing, but his hawk let out a scream.
"As for Chimp Castaway, she believes this world is Babylon, and bad guys deserve what they get. At heart she loves Jah."
With that the mayor thanked everyone. The superteam got in the tank and left for Turkey. They crossed the salt flats, the pale epidermal. They rode over the mounts of most of Central Asia, angering the horsemen. Tiki Nephew was behind the wheel when the tank crashed through the ruins of the old wall that once protected Constantinople. By ancient prophesy, whosoever crushes the walls of Byzantium to their final dust becomes owner of the Vatican, bought and paid for. Hawk Mountain Man was married and Chimp Castaway was too used to being alone. By burning Western heretics, Tiki Nephew became the most popular pope in a hundred years. And Istanbul became our sister city.
Jin walked in circles, contemplating of powered wigs that drive the body, to complete tasks while the mind goes to sleep, things to make him go up, improve, get smarter and live longer, he, the human. His sister Tan came out of the urgent care center. It was nearing evening and the dried-out grass was crispy under their feet.
"That bandage on your head," Jin said, pointing, wanting to touch it, "is very white. Usually bandages are woven strands, but this one looks cottony."
"That’s urgent care for you," Tan said. "These private shits got more money."
"Set their emails to forward right to father. You don’t wanna see how much they’ll charge for stitches."
"I already know. I already paid it."
Tan, impatient with the wind, pulled her black hair behind her ear. One strand was stuck under the bandage and she winced.
"Drive me over to father’s," she said.
"What about your car?"
"They ain’t gonna tow it. That sign there’s a big bluff. That grey car’s been in the same spot for days."
Once the years pulled the stinger from their memories, they could stand to visit him again. He was old. He needed two new hips, but he was stubborn.
In the act of turning the front door knob, Tan knocked. And although she adopted pleasant manners, it was plain to Jin that the visit was a chore for Tan, some thing to check off her to-do list. Clouds of cigarette smoke rose from the couch cushions when they sat. Their father was in his La-Z-Boy, picking at something on the armrest with his largest veiny finger. After some time of him not asking about her head, Tan went to check the pantry and the fridge.
Jin got up. He bent forward in front of his father, blocking the TV. Then he hauled off and smacked him on top of the head.
"It looks like you have enough food," Tan called from the kitchen. "Is there anything you need?"
Her father met Jin’s eyes. “No,” he said. He had to clear his throat and repeat it to be heard. Jin lowered his hand.
"That’s just to remind you," Jin said quietly, "in case you forgot." Then raising his voice, he continued, "You look cold, dad. Here, let’s put your cap on. The game’s on later." But the cap concealed the red palm print on his bald head.
After Father they visited a couple of whatever, guys they knew from around, who’d not amounted to much more than bandits. Tan told Jin to, y’know, shock the guys and that, until they adjusted the unfortunate boundaries they thought they had to cling to, their oath of banditry. But they did, and they told Tan what she wanted to know, even answering the answers before she got another question out.
The last thing she told them was, “I want the money for my trip to urgent care, too.”
In his car, as she was putting her wallet in her purse, Jin asked, “Are you feeling good to drive yet?”
"Just head down to The Spins," she said.
The Spins was where, at this time of year, the cluster of four tidal pools by the lip of the sea became whirlpools, and they spun the same way as draining bathwater.
They got out of the car and hiked the red igneous trail to the caves. Tan turned on her flashlight and then she led them in. It smelled like bat poo. She kept the flashlight level, trying not to wake them, not thinking that it was her feet not the light that should’ve been the worry.
"There they are," she said.
She guided the flashlight over the far wall, illuminating in yellow turn all the petroglyphs. The characters were angular and flat.
"These are the men, researchers that made the pyramid. This the army, and these are the cavalry women. They were probably painted when the pyramid was first conceived, before they began to build. This tells the story the people wanted to occur. With all their work, it did. They put their future on the wall before it happened. These glyphs are 15,000 years old, Jin."
"I hate museums," he said. "C’mon, the game. I already have to start it on the radio."
Tan said, “I have a collector lined up who’ll pay a million for them.”
"First we get our advance. Thereafter the carving. You’re the one who has to cut them out in blocks to 10 cm deep."
Jin sighed. “But these artifacts age older than my back.”
"Smile, Jin. It’s like we found the largest vein." And Tan switched off the light.
Yeah, y’know, it’s likely August: Osange County is a better play than it is a film. The play gets 3.5 hours to develop the characters. The film does a decent job of this, but with that large a cast, you’re not going to be able to do it well in 2-something hours, unless you’re one of the film geniuses. For example, that scene on the porch where Martindale reveals to Roberts that she had an affair with her father and the kissin’ cousins are siblings. On film it plays out abrupt. The build-up doesn’t support the reveal. I suspect this was down to time constraints. It’s one of those moments that distinguishes great film: our reaction to such a scene shouldn’t be Oh Okay, it should be Oh Shit!
And good call on the gentrified future of Her. I didn’t pick up on that.
Iluh became Batman in 1950-something. This town in Turkey changed its name to Batman when it discovered oil beneath its land. After that the rest of Anatolia paid it some attention. Vindicated Iluh wanted cachet in its bigger britches. The black crude suggested the Dark Knight’s cape and cowl. Or the finding of the oil evoked the world’s greatest detective.
Or batman was a Turkish word asymmetrical to English.
The Batman River flows nearby. It floods if not yearly well then near enough. When the floods occur the river poses swolely at its distant brother, big Lake Van. But this is a lie, for the comics doesn’t have Lake Van, and Batman is an only child.
After the Black Sea, Batman is merely the coldest source of water there. It is said that fisherman’s hooks bounce against its surface, and even attached sinkers cannot penetrate the river’s stinginess. Batman the town likewise demands its solitude. When the oily gusher gushed, the town gradually evolved from a turkey trail of streets into one paved and lined with stone abodes that break up the stubborn omnipresent sky. What a relief to not have to face the starry tormentor for all the too-long summer. Batman’s people felt this. But for the town itself, the sun was a staring, blinding eye, and Batman hated it as well as its night-time moon reflector. To also answer truth itself, privacy is peace.
Let us wind up the impact of such fields upon the region. Once the Byzantines had everybody by the bits. They followed the medium thinkers, eating important personnel in sacrifice within their city walls. Nomads were food and fun for teenage warriors, that might as well have ridden chariots after the Eurasian lion, like their forefathers did, and killed it to extinction. The prey was now themselves. Dark Age hormonal Beowulfs coveted the Holy Roman’s gold. They knew of wealth beyond the walls. They told each other stories of it, eighth-hand hearsay just made-up. They told them in the fullness of the omnipresent sky, or in the huts they occupied, awaiting their turn in a speared and bloodless shepherd’s bed. But there was no provider of high scaffolding that might let them jump the walls. When Byzantium fell, it was to the catapult.
The proto-Batmanians hoped to pass the year without a raid, as much as they sought out the traders on the road. Silk Road caravans could be distinguished from a hill by their slow pace and their length. This is said to have occurred: With his spices and exotic birds a trader had a Chinese scroll for sale. A nomad bought it for a thing to scoop. An elder who in his youth had been a slave asked for the scroll and read it to the family. “Let me make my head think in Greek,” he said. “‘A vast plough in the Mother Sea distinguishes the tang. These fish will spawn only near the three Confucian stirrups, tramping saddled through the sea, on the backs of gelded panda bears.’ So wisdom is revealed.” “What is a Confucian?” asked the nomad. “A follower of ancient law, unpopular today,” the elder said, scooping the roti from the pan.
If Batman had had a more formed past, it would not have had to straighten out its winding turkey trails. Or too bad the world had been founded on the reaching of one’s independent share. Or too bad it took habilis's stagnating harshness to survive the australopithecines. The most facile adapter will always spoil it for itself.
Ghosts on the Lake
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The Secret in Their Eyes
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Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
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My Life as a Dog
Life and Art of
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A Fool's Paradise
All or Nothing
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Herzog and Lynch
The Mill and the Cross
A New Life
At the National Book Fest
The Museum of Innocence
The Birthday Party
Six Characters in Search of an Author
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Living in the Material World
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Damsels in Distress
Friday, or The Other Island
Self Portrait Abroad
The Work of
While Mortals Sleep
What Art Gives Us
Four Men on a Raft
One Mo Time