6 Apr 2012

Five Stars for Sure.

Written by sally @ 1:12 pm — Section: sally

Here is something fantastic: I’ve been reading Steve Almond’s Candyfreak, which is just one of the more perfect nonfiction reads. First off, it’s about candy. I love candy…maybe too much. I eat candy EVERY DAY. This is something I don’t advertise, because candy gets a bad rap (as it is, you know, bad for you). Also, it is infantile to love candy as much as I do. Secondly, it’s not merely some nonfiction writer’s exploration or history of candy. Steve Almond loves candy like no one else loves candy. Third, it is hilarious. Of course, I left my copy in the car so I can’t quote and prove it, but trust me. Fourth, did I mention it’s about candy? And people’s relationships with candy? I just read how one lady puts her Snickers under her leg to warm it up to almost-melted before she eats it. THESE ARE MY PEOPLE!

In the section I just finished, Almond visits Lake Champlain Chocolates, makers of the Five Star Chocolate Bars. He goes on at length about the quality of ingredients and insane deliciousness of these, and visits with a candy bar creator, who just mixes up pots of awesomeness and eats it all day. There is much discussion of the Hazelnut bar in particular, especially about the curiously light and crispy bits that are inside, which turn out to be feuilletine (thanks, Top Chef, for letting me recognize this word!). I was salivating.

Anyway, this morning I was at Fresh Market, which I never go to, buying a plant for my in laws for an Easter/”happy 41st anniversary I got you this $7 plant” gift, and behold! They carry Five Star Chocolate Bars! AND I AM EATING THE HAZELNUT ONE RIGHT NOW AND Y’ALL, THE FEUILLETINE IS AMAZING.

Dispensable in the Imagination.

Written by sally @ 8:09 am — Section: sally

Light clarity avocado salad in the morning
after all the terrible things I do how amazing it is
to find forgiveness and love, not even forgiveness
since what is done is done and forgiveness isn’t love
and love is love nothing can ever go wrong
though things can get irritating boring and dispensable
(in the imagination) but not really for love
though a block away you feel distant the mere presence
changes everything like a chemical dropped on a paper
and all thoughts disappear in a strange quiet excitement
I am sure of nothing but this, intensified by breathing

–Frank O’Hara

5 Apr 2012

First Bunny Died.

Written by sally @ 8:04 am — Section: sally

A Step Away from Them

It’s my lunch hour, so I go
for a walk among the hum-colored
cabs. First, down the sidewalk
where laborers feed their dirty
glistening torsos sandwiches
and Coca-Cola, with yellow helmets
on. They protect them from falling
bricks, I guess. Then onto the
avenue where skirts are flipping
above heels and blow up over
grates. The sun is hot, but the
cabs stir up the air. I look
at bargains in wristwatches. There
are cats playing in sawdust.
to Times Square, where the sign
blows smoke over my head, and higher
the waterfall pours lightly. A
Negro stands in a doorway with a
toothpick, languorously agitating.
A blonde chorus girl clicks: he
smiles and rubs his chin. Everything
suddenly honks: it is 12:40 of
a Thursday.
Neon in daylight is a
great pleasure, as Edwin Denby would
write, as are light bulbs in daylight.
I stop for a cheeseburger at JULIET’S
CORNER. Giulietta Masina, wife of
Federico Fellini, e bell’ attrice.
And chocolate malted. A lady in
foxes on such a day puts her poodle
in a cab.
There are several Puerto
Ricans on the avenue today, which
makes it beautiful and warm. First
Bunny died, then John Latouche,
then Jackson Pollack. But is the
earth as full as life was full, of them?
And one has eaten and one walks,
past the magazines with nudes
and the posters for BULLFIGHT and
the Manhattan Storage Warehouse,
which they’ll soon tear down. I
used to think they had the Armory
Show there.
A glass of papaya juice
and back to work. My heart is in my
pocket, it is Poems by Pierre Reverdy.

–Frank O’Hara

4 Apr 2012

I Did Care.

Written by sally @ 8:04 am — Section: sally

The Correspondence School Instructor Says Goodbye to His Students

Goodbye, lady in Bangor, who sent me
snapshots of yourself, after definitely hinting
you were beautiful; goodbye,
Miami Beach urologist, who enclosed plain
brown envelopes for the return of your very
“Clinical Sonnets”; goodbye, manufacturer
of brassieres on the Coast, whose eclogues
give the fullest treatment in literature yet
to the sagging breast motif; goodbye, you in San Quentin,
who wrote, “Being German my hero is Hitler,”
instead of “Sincerely yours,” at the end of long,
neat-scripted letters extolling the Pre-Raphaelites:

I swear to you, it was just my way
of cheering myself up, as I licked
the stamped, self-addressed envelopes,
the game I had of trying to guess
which one of you, this time,
had poisoned his glue. I did care.
I did read each poem entire.
I did say everything I thought
in the mildest words I knew. And now,
in this poem, or chopped prose, no better,
I realize, than those troubled lines
I kept sending back to you,
I have to say I am relieved it is over:
at the end I could feel only pity
for that urge toward more life
your poems kept smothering in words, the smell
of which, days later, tingled in your nostrils
as new, God-given impulses
to write.

you who are, for me, the postmarks again
of imaginary towns—Xenia, Burnt Cabins, Hornell—
their solitude given away in poems, only their loneliness kept.

–Galway Kinnell

3 Apr 2012

Oh, America.

Written by sally @ 8:26 am — Section: sally

The top two things trending on Twitter right now are:




None Can Tell.

Written by sally @ 7:35 am — Section: sally

my dreams, my works, must wait till after hell

I hold my honey and I store my bread
In little jars and cabinets of my will.
I label clearly, and each latch and lid
I bid, Be firm till I return from hell.
I am very hungry. I am incomplete.
And none can tell when I may dine again.
No man can give me any word but Wait,
The puny light. I keep eyes pointed in;
Hoping that, when the devil days of my hurt
Drag out to their last dregs and I resume
On such legs as are left me, in such heart
As I can manage, remember to go home,
My taste will not have turned insensitive
To honey and bread old purity could love.

–Gwendolyn Brooks

2 Apr 2012


Written by sally @ 8:24 am — Section: sally

Strange Type

I wrote: in the dark cavern of our birth.
The printer had it tavern, which seems better:
But herein lies the subject of our mirth,
Since on the next page death appears as dearth.
So it may be that God’s word was distraction,
Which to our strange type appears destruction,
Which is bitter.

–Malcolm Lowry

1 Apr 2012

No Foolin’, It’s NPM.

Written by sally @ 6:36 pm — Section: sally

Welcome to National Poetry Month! Let’s see how long I can keep this up.

Lilies for Supper.

Written by sally @ 8:11 am — Section: sally

Red Lilies

Someone has remembered to dry the dishes;
they have taken the accident out of the stove.
Afterward lilies for supper; there
the lines in front of the window
are rubbed on the table of stone

The paper flies up
then down as the wind
repeats. repeats its birdsong.

Those arms under the pillow
the burrowing arms they cleave
at night as the tug kneads water
calling themselves branches

The tree is you
the blanket is what warms it
snow erupts from thistle
to toe; the snow pours out of you.

A cold hand on the dishes
placing a saucer inside
her who undressed for supper
gliding that hair to the snow

The pilot light
went out on the stove

The paper folded like a napkin
other wings flew into the stone.

–Barbara Guest

30 Mar 2012

You Really Missed Out, Now, Didn’t You.

Written by sally @ 3:45 pm — Section: sally

A couple of nights ago, I had the pleasure of sitting on a really uncomfortable chair in an auditorium at Millsaps and hearing a delightful reading/concert/something/whatever performed by the following three people:

–Wesley Stace/John Wesley Harding
–Rick Moody
–Joe Pernice

It is weird that these three folks were together, and also that they were in Jackson. Wesley Stace is the author of Misfortune, by George, Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer, and also he is John Wesley Harding, British indie pop singer/songwriter/hot guy. I loved Misfortune, I super loved by George, I started Charles Jessold but didn’t get into it and now I have misplaced it.

In high school, my now-gay non-boyfriend Jason asked if I liked John Wesley Harding. I said, “John Wesley Harding / he was a friend of mine.” Then he said “Great! He’s coming to RPM for an in-store.” I was confused, as I was talking about the Bob Dylan song. Then everyone blushed in the way that only now-gay non-boyfriends and their then-non-girlfriends can. Then when I lived in Starkville, I bought a couple of John Wesley Harding tapes (!) at Walls, the salvage store, and even though the cases were melted I really liked them! So then I felt bad about the whole in-store Bob Dylan debacle.

I have no history with Rick Moody other than I read The Ice Storm, I saw The Ice Storm, I enjoyed The Ice Storm, I bought several of his other books but didn’t read them.

And then there is my friend Joe Pernice. Frequent readers will know I love Joe Pernice. As a Pernice Brother, as a Scud Mountain Boy, as Joe Pernice, as backup harmonium player for Jimmy and the Whim-Whams, whatever. I was not so fond of his novel based on “Meat is Murder,” but that is a sacred musical document for me, and I think I expected too much. (I recently went to a book discussion about March, which I’ve already ranted about (code word: ENTRAILS), but some of the audience members were really torqued up about HOW DARE YOU PORTRAY MARMEE IN SUCH A WAY? Sacred documents are sacred documents.)

It felt special and magical that these folks were together on stage in essentially my backyard. I am at least 68% certain the power of my admiration brought them together.

Joe read from his second novel (which I’m not going to read in order to preserve our relationship!), which contained parts where the main character dried himself off from the shower with his dirty underwear, and then sang “Amazing Glow,” and the world was right for a moment. Then Rick Moody read from his essay collection On Celestial Music, and he was HILARIOUS AND AWESOME; he uses this fantastically faux serious reading voice, all boomy and trembly, and it was such fun to listen to. (The words “On Celestial Music” sound like it’s going to be boring and/or about classical music, but I promise it’s going to be something you like. He read a piece about “Try a Little Tenderness” and one about his hatred of drum machines.)

Then John Wesley Staceharding had his turn, and I was entranced. Pronounce “entranced” with a British accent and that more accurately describes things. Entronced. He was entroncing. He read from his new book, about a rock band that is repackaged as a kids’ band, and it sounds awesome and then he sang folk songs and Rick Moody sang harmonies. Then Joe Pernice sang “Goodbye Killer” and “Not the Loving Kind” and Wesley Johnstace sang more folk songs and then Johnley Westacing and Rick Moody did “In My Room” in German, which was like this (link SSFWINEF*).

Anyway! I think this is more of a diary entry than a blog post, but it was great, I had a good time, you should buy everyone’s books and records and everyone should just sit in the Millsaps auditorium and hope something else cool might happen again there some time in the future.

*so safe for work it’s not even funny

22 Mar 2012

Disjointed Blog Posts of the World, Unite and Take Over.

Written by sally @ 12:26 pm — Section: sally

I have heard the voice of evil, and it is the small town morning radio shows in central Mississippi. Yesterday, driving back from Hattiesburg, I heard a number of disturbingly bad radio people yukking it up, but two (separate!) ones back to back really got me: on one, the guy was making a joke about how lesbians don’t like to wear dresses (? I didn’t stay around to understand the joke) and on the other, someone was talking about Chinese food and the other guy said “ah so” and THEN THERE WAS A GONG SOUND EFFECT. I just — it made me want to be a total research emporiumist about the whole thing and find data on the demographics of the population, and then…well, there would be nothing TO do besides go “and see, 2.3% of that county is Asian!” or something. But anyway, if I live in Mississippi and I’M surprised at how dumb people are, geez, there is no hope for us.

I went to Garland last week for a whirlwind 15 hours in order to collect my child, who was hanging out with my mom for spring break, and I wasn’t there long enough to write an elegy for the town and its changes since I last lived there 20 (!) years ago, but I did see these two businesses near each other on Shiloh Road, and I thought YES, OF COURSE:
1. Decent Cleaners
2. Ok Food Mart

My mom took Spike to the library for story time while he was there, and I was strangely moved by the fact that my little boy was hanging out in the same library I used to go to. I remember so vividly spending time there, especially after my parents divorced; my dad would drop me off on his way to run errands and pick me up a couple of hours later. There were bean bags to read in and a couple of hamsters on top of a file cabinet. It’s probably a reflection of their poor weeding and selection policies that I read mostly crusty books from the 50s as a kid, but it’s also possible that I was just a weirdo and chose those books on purpose. When it was time for him to come back, I would sit on the steps outside and wait, and usually finish one of the books in my pile.

Oh hey, I finally read Lolita! It’s been on my list for awhile and I’ve never made it past page 40-ish or so. But this time I remained strong, and I’m glad I did; getting to the end lets you realize that Humbert is a lying nutbag and that all the gross stuff you’ve just read about how Dolly was a willing participant (yeah, at 12, but seriously, Humbert is so smooth you believe him for awhile!) was hooey, and then you feel much better. This is not a spoiler, as this book was published in 1955. In related news, today in a chat, gorjus referred to the book as “Lo-Town Rockers” and when I didn’t immediately pick up on the fact that that was supposed to be Lolita, he called me a goon. But anyway: Lolita is gross, yet perhaps the most gorgeously written book I’ve ever read. (I would have to reread One Hundred Years of Solitude to say for sure.)

I’ve just started Tom Franklin’s Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter. I didn’t expect to like it but WHOA right away it’s very compelling. Oh, and last night I read the Alice Munro story “Dimensions” from her Too Much Happiness collection, and it was just so painful and lovely I wanted you to know about it.

In related news, Spike’s favorite book right now is The Gruffalo.

8 Mar 2012

Recently Read.

Written by sally @ 11:13 am — Section: bookish,sally

I read Geraldine Brooks’s March last week for a program at work. (Poor me! Having to read novels for my job!) My mother-in-law has been encouraging me to read this for several years, starting first with “You should read this book” and then switching to sighing and saying, “Well, I know you’re probably never going to read this book…” and trailing off sadly. I can be a snob, but seriously, Civil War historical fiction. No thank you. So when I finally read it, I found it better than I thought, but it was still excrutiating. Not excrutiatingly bad or anything, but if you read it, please be prepared for:

And not to spoil anything for you, but at one point someone is hiding and the bad guys are all “hey come out or I’m going to chop this dude’s head off” and the guy whose head is on the line says “don’t come out I’m ready to meet Jesus!” and so the hider doesn’t move and then BOOM no head. And when the hider comes out later, THERE IS THE HEAD. Also, there are some children’s entrails lying about.

And yes: while I am aware that awful things happened, I just don’t want to read about them. (See also: children’s entrails written about in loving, gorgeous detail.) This is my argument against The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo AND Law and Order: SVU. I understand that rape and abuse happen, but in my limited amount of free time, I don’t want to fill my brain with those images! Murder is an exception. Run of the mill murder stories are a-ok, as long as women and children aren’t the targeted audience. Murder equality across the land! (PS: Rick Santorum probably wants take away women’s right not to get murdered.)

So anyway, if you don’t mind a little historically accurate gore, you might like this book. Geraldine Brooks is married to Tony Horwitz, who wrote the excellent (and gore-free!) Confederates in the Attic, which is much more my speed, Civil War-wise.

This week I’ve been reading Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot, which I love. Love love. I love his other books, but reading this one, I feel like he wrote it for me. (See last post re: the reason I was an English major.) I only have 50 pages until the end, and unless everyone gets eaten by zombies, I feel certain I am going to continue loving it. (My only complaint is that at one point, he describes someone wearing a Cosby sweater, only the book is set in 1982 and those sweaters are really a Heathcliff Huxtable thing, which didn’t start until 1984. I kind of hate myself for focusing on this unimportant detail, but seriously, use the Wikipedia.)

7 Mar 2012

Speak It.

Written by sally @ 9:09 am — Section: sally

“And yet sometimes she worried about what those musty old books were doing to her. Some people majored in English to prepare for law school. Others became journalists. The smartest guy in the honors program, Adam Vogel, a child of academics, was planning on getting a Ph.D. and becoming an academic himself. That left a large contingent of people majoring in English by default. Because they weren’t left-brained enough for science, because history was too dry, philosophy too difficult, geology too petroleum-oriented, and math too mathematical — because they weren’t musical, artistic, financially motivated, or really all that smart, these people were pursuing university degrees doing something no different from what they’d done in first grade: reading stories. English was what people who didn’t know what to major in majored in.”

–Jeffrey Eugenides, The Marriage Plot, page 21

6 Mar 2012

Give Me a Break; I Haven’t Posted in Weeks.

Written by sally @ 2:37 pm — Section: sally

If you are a fan of confusing yourself on purpose to the extent that you can no longer remember the way things were supposed to be before you told yourself the wrong thing just to see if you could make yourself think that way, this exercise is for you.

A few months ago I was in the elevator at work and to amuse myself (on that 30 second ride — you know Generation X-ers gotta be entertained, yo) I was looking at the arrow buttons. I read somewhere that the DOOR CLOSE and DOOR OPEN buttons are actually a sham, that they exist to make us feel better about standing in a mechanical box. So I was looking at the buttons, and it occurred to me that while they look like this:

it is also possible to pretend that the straight up and down parts of the triangles represent the doors themselves, and so the traditional CLOSE button actually means OPEN and the OPEN button means CLOSE. Just look at for a moment. See how the up and down parts are far away from each other on CLOSE? Why, that means OPEN, obviously. And see how the up and down parts are close together on OPEN? Yep. CLOSE.

So while I understand this is not, in fact, how elevators work, I have gotten into the habit of looking at these in every elevator I get into, and having a little “Oh ho ho, that CLOSE is really an OPEN ho ho” moment, only now, when I get into an elevator, I CAN’T REMEMBER WHICH IS WHICH, which also reminds me of how I periodically get into the habit of amusing myself by reading words backwards, and once in college I accidentally said something about Sivle, and my boyfriend was all “do what now” and that was so entertaining I refused to tell him who Sivle was, and then finally I confessed that it was Elvis.

PS: I just went into the elevator to make sure I had it right, and not only are the buttons round and not square (what kind of janky square-button elevator exists in my dreams?), but they also do not say CLOSE or OPEN or HI THERE or SIVLE. So while this exercise was stupid, it was not, in fact, as stupid as I thought it was when I began this post. The Oh Really: Making Me 5% Less Stupid Since, Like, 2005 or Something.

20 Feb 2012

Gut Reactions.

Written by sally @ 10:08 am — Section: sally

While many children his age have dropped their afternoon naps, Spike still needs his. We all need his naps. The crying and gnashing of teeth that accompany bedtime are multiplied by one million percent without a nap. However, convincing him to be quiet and still for a moment is rough, and so our new routine is that he naps in the stroller. We walk despite the weather. I have bundled him up when it is cold and carried an umbrella when it is raining. The nap is that important. There is a specific route that we take and, like clockwork, he is passed out cold by the time we get to Gillespie Street (The Quietest Street in Belhaven™). On the way to sleep mecca, we pass some beautiful houses whose owners subscribe to the New York Times but sadly, do not pick up their papers. I run over them with my giant stroller and try to decide what time of day it is appropriate to assume that stealing the papers is morally ok.

A few weeks ago we were trudging along Pinehurst and came upon some ladies leaving a lady lunch party. They were standing in the yard air kissing goodbye, and they were all dressed to the nines. (I was dressed to the twos.) There were more platform shoes and gold lame than I’m accustomed to during daylight hours. My first reaction, which I’ve been puzzling over ever since, was to think to myself, “Bitches.” Was it their clothes? Their air kissing? Their general air of fakery and awfulness that makes me feel certain that they were cheerleaders or, at the very least, on drill team? Why do I still think of people in those terms? Then I was relieved that no one I know dresses or acts like that, and then I ran over their neighbors’ New York Times and forgot about it until the next time we passed their house.

Saturday night I was driving home from babysitting for a friend (wait, I get to sit by myself and read a book while your baby sleeps? seriously? sign me up!) and listening to the radio. The dj said, “Carol, Rhonda, and Marlene just called in — they’re having some drinks at the house and wanted to hear their all-time favorite. Ladies, this is for you!” And then “Rhiannon” came on. Somehow, the image of these three middle-aged friends drinking Coors Light out of cans and calling up a dj just depressed me completely. It’s your all-time favorite? Do you not…have it on CD? Cassette tape? Could you…watch a YouTube video? Between the three of you, could you scrape up $.99 to buy it on iTunes? I could see their living room perfectly. There’s a sliding glass door with vertical blinds that leads out to the patio. The couch has that western/prairie/floral print. There’s a set of glass nesting tables with gold accents, a grapevine wreath with wooden ducks and baby’s breath affixed to it hanging on the wall, and no one’s using a coaster.

Should I be concerned that my first reaction to gold lame is “what a herd of bitches” and that a simple request for a Fleetwood Mac song conjures up the set of “Roseanne”?

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