Saturday, July 22, 2006

Inventor of the Philly Cheesesteak Dies

...of heart failure.

I think there's a special name for this. Dramatic irony, maybe?

It's Not a Diphthong, Really

I'm always extra-appreciative of people who understand that my name has four syllables, not three. Maybe that's why I have such a great affinity for Spanish/Italian/Portuguese speakers.

(Okay, maybe just one in particular. Your point?)

Friday, July 21, 2006

Editor's Note:

A lot of people have been asking me recently why my posts have become much less personal than they used to be when I first started blogging. It's primarily because I know that most people simply don't care -- in a similar fashion to the way that one asks "how are you?" to be polite and the questionee respond "I'm good" no matter the real answer -- and I know that I speak with the people who do care regularly anyway.

And besides, I like to plan & craft & scrutinize these things. When I do bare my literary soul, it will be fits and bursts of collected memories meticulously condensed into a deceptively realistic novel, not haphazardly entered into some web applet.

But thank you for asking.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Fly Swatter

Read It Here! It's Hot Outside!

He may be sarcastic as hell, but Tom Ferrick Jr. has a point.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Wednesday, July 12, 2006



Sometimes the notes are ferocious,
skirmishes against the author
raging along the borders of every page
in tiny black script.
If I could just get my hands on you,
Kierkegaard, or Conor Cruise O'Brien,
they seem to say,
I would bolt the door and beat some logic into your head.

Other comments are more offhand, dismissive -
"Nonsense." "Please!" "HA!!" -
that kind of thing.
I remember once looking up from my reading,
my thumb as a bookmark,
trying to imagine what the person must look like
why wrote "Don't be a ninny"
alongside a paragraph in The Life of Emily Dickinson.

Students are more modest
needing to leave only their splayed footprints
along the shore of the page.
One scrawls "Metaphor" next to a stanza of Eliot's.
Another notes the presence of "Irony"
fifty times outside the paragraphs of A Modest Proposal.

Or they are fans who cheer from the empty bleachers,
Hands cupped around their mouths.
"Absolutely," they shout
to Duns Scotus and James Baldwin.
"Yes." "Bull's-eye." "My man!"
Check marks, asterisks, and exclamation points
rain down along the sidelines.

And if you have managed to graduate from college
without ever having written "Man vs. Nature"
in a margin, perhaps now
is the time to take one step forward.

We have all seized the white perimeter as our own
and reached for a pen if only to show
we did not just laze in an armchair turning pages;
we pressed a thought into the wayside,
planted an impression along the verge.

Even Irish monks in their cold scriptoria
jotted along the borders of the Gospels
brief asides about the pains of copying,
a bird signing near their window,
or the sunlight that illuminated their page-
anonymous men catching a ride into the future
on a vessel more lasting than themselves.

And you have not read Joshua Reynolds,
they say, until you have read him
enwreathed with Blake's furious scribbling.

Yet the one I think of most often,
the one that dangles from me like a locket,
was written in the copy of Catcher in the Rye
I borrowed from the local library
one slow, hot summer.
I was just beginning high school then,
reading books on a davenport in my parents' living room,
and I cannot tell you
how vastly my loneliness was deepened,
how poignant and amplified the world before me seemed,
when I found on one page

A few greasy looking smears
and next to them, written in soft pencil-
by a beautiful girl, I could tell,
whom I would never meet-
"Pardon the egg salad stains, but I'm in love."

Billy Collins

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A Linguistics Question

In English, orange is both a fruit and a color. And in other languages, it seems, the two words have similarly related etymologies. In Vietnamese, cam also serves as a noun and an adjective, in the same way that naranja does in Spanish, neratzi does in Greek, and orenji does in Japanese.

According to the ever-trusty Wikipedia, the color is named for the fruit. How, then, did oranges become the universal swatch for the pigment? The fruit doesn't even naturally grow in all parts of the globe; it was originally exported from East Asia to the Middle East, then to the Americas. Why not "carrot," or "mango," or "curry powder," or "clownfish"?

I spend way too much time thinking about the most inane things.

Yes, This Was Taken in Viet Nam

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Saturday, July 01, 2006

A Thought

I'm convinced that sparrows are the universal bird. From Manhattan to Nha Trang, they're the same cynical and city-slick creatures. One day, when we colonize the moon, a flock of sparrows will emerge, twittering and mocking us for taking so long.