[Intermezzo] It’s Late September, Come Watch the Seasons Duel

The windows are open, all nine of them, the sashes stretching towards the sky. Street-facing, breeze-embracing. The sun crawls in, climbs in, cascades in: it is everywhere, covering everything, dappling the furniture and the like-coloured dogs with its brightness. The leaves have not dropped; they are green, still supple. Juicy. Plump. They have not yet been riddled with brittleness, or opacity.

Although the calendar suggests otherwise, here, in the North-South corridor, we are caught between seasons. I have lived in this city six years. Autumn comes late, later than I am accustomed to: it is a blip, a blink, a grimace. Normally, autumn is summer, winter is autumn; in September, cool, calm, sunny weather is a hiccough, an anomaly. The days blaze, the nights burn. This year, it is different: thermals in the morning give way to sundresses in the afternoon. The sun is out, but the wind lasts all day: sweaters have already been unpacked, pressed neatly. Smoothed against fading tan skin, pulled tightly against prematurely hunched shoulders.

It is autumn, almost as I know it: cool, windy, exhilarating. Pumpkin patches beckon, the hint of cold-weather spices whirl through the air: cinnamon, nutmeg. Cool temperatures are still an early morning affair, but the time for apple cider and warm soup is near. The cloudy point between seasons-the neither here nor there-is my creative comfort zone: the blood seeping through my pores.

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Things Your Autopsy Report Should Not Say

And now, in the interest of public service, we present:

  • Gruesomely fatal but very funny Stupid Human Trick
  • Suicide by Shriner
  • Towel not as bulletproof as originally thought
  •  Called before digging, but electric company rep was real practical joker
  • “What’s this button do?”
  • Cuz Joey Sherman double-dog dared you to
  • Gored by bull market
  • Should’ve moved car out of Rip Taylor’s parking space the first time he asked
  • Forgot about the whole “Don’t jump under the combine” thing
  • Crushed by flying debris as Kool-Aid Man crashed through wall
  • Bathed cat

A Reading List a Mile Long: Bas Bleu Autumn 2012 Edition

The temperature remains high, at least where I live, but autumn is sneaking around the corner. Although I find scant joy in the companions of cold weather-believing that you should visit ice and snow if the fancy strikes, and not the other way around-there are some compensations that arrive with this particular changing of the seasons, among them: hot mulled cider, hot chocolate, gingerbread cake, holiday cookies, ice skating, scarves, boots, crackling fires, the ability to watch Miracle on 34th Street ten times without being judged (too harshly), silly parades, a changing landscape and, of course, the built-in excuse to hunker down and read as many books as possible. That last one is the best. The Autumn 2012 edition of Bas Bleu is crammed with enough delicious books and literary-related goodies to last the next two seasons. Check out my jumble bag of favourites below, complete with handy links. Continue reading

A Year in Books/Day 175: Memo from David O. Selznick

  • Title: Memo from David O. Selznick
  • Selected and Edited by: Rudy Behlmer (With an Introduction by S.N. Behrman)
  • Year Published: 1972 (The Viking Press)
  • Year Purchased: 1990s
  • Source: Antique Barn, Ohio State Fair
  • About: Over the years, and quite by accident, I have amassed a nice sub-section to my Cinema Library, what I call The Lives and Times of Ruthless Moguls. This book started it all. The memos, covering the years 1926-1962, provide us with intimate access to the professional dealings and private concerns of one of the most powerful men in Hollywood during the greatest years of the studio system. Continue reading

[Intermezzo] Develop Monomania or Go Home!

Excuse me, but I’ve been holed up in the 19th century for the last few days. Time flies when your nose is in a book (or two). Close the cover and, wham, it is 2012 again. How did that happen? Where are the Shelleys, the Hunts, Keats, Byron? They were here just ten minutes ago. Their laughter hangs in the air, lilting and vaporous. I wish they had been able to stay longer; I enjoyed the discourse, the flinging of ideas, their beautiful and weighty words. Emily, too, slipped off when I wasn’t looking. She cannot be shackled, or fully understood. She is the elusive one. The great riddle. Why am I annoyed? They were selfish, demanding my time when it wasn’t healthy to give: develop monomania, or go home! was their request. It is always the same with them. Nothing ever changes. They aren’t very romantic-never were-but they are sirens, alluring as they lure you away from workaday life. They left, and do not linger. Out of the moment, through the fire, and I am not affected at all. I like it that way. Back in reality, refreshed, I can write again.

A Year in Books/Day 109: Blue Highways

  • Title: Blue Highways A Journey Into America
  • Author: William Least Heat Moon
  • Year Published: 1982/This Edition: 1985 (A Fawcett Crest Book Published by Ballantine Books)
  • Year Purchased: 1987
  • Source: Likely Waldenbooks.
  • About: In the late 1970s, teacher William Least Heat Moon lost his job and his love. Instead of wallowing, he set out on one of those Great Journeys of personal and cultural discovery that Americans are so famous for; this book is the result of that trip. It rightfully spent months atop the New York Times Best Seller List. Blue Highways had such a profound impact on my early adolescence that it begs for a separate entry; I promise to do that soon. Until then, consider this volume worth every penny. It’s a classic.
  • Motivation: Honestly, I have no idea. I think that I heard about this somewhere and decided to buy it (or, to be accurate, ask my Mom to buy it for me) to read on a summer road trip out West.
  • Times Read: A very profound 2
  • Random Excerpt/Page 59: “Maybe she was right that tourists want half-timbered facades and stained-plastic windows; maybe they want an Elizabethan town even when the real Manteo had been clapboard and shingles. Progress, retrogression-the Duchess knew best. But for me, I headed toward the town that hadn’t seen neon light.”
  • Happiness Scale: Off the charts.

A Year in Books/Day 81: Mortification Writers’ Stories of Their Public Shame

  • Title: Mortification Writers’ Stories of Their Public Shame
  • Editor: Robin Robertson
  • Year Published: 2003 (Harper Perennial)
  • Year Purchased: 2007/2008
  • Source: This was a gift from my Mom.
  • About: This volume offers up seventy first-hand, real-life stories of writers’ deeply humiliating encounters with the public. Names as luminous as Margaret Atwood, Edna O’Brien and Chuck Palahniuk grace the pages with their always-humorous tales of woe and embarrassment.
  • Motivation: My Momma loves to indulge the writer in me (which, to be real, comprises a good chunk of who I am). She knows how to make her girl happy!
  • Times Read: 1
  • Random Excerpt/Page xi: “While there are occasional undercurrents of seriousness in these stories-a desire for something between expiation and exorcism, perhaps-their main intention it to make us laugh, while feeling a strong sense of ‘there, but for the grace of God, go I’. It is greatly to the credit of all the contributors that they have embraced their mortification so warmly-returning to the scene of the crime and leading us, hot-faced, through their hell.”
  • Happiness Scale: 8