Sporadic notes on cultural icons

Oscar Wilde was editor of Woman’s World magazine, 1887-89. He also championed conventional attire for men.

John Lennon wore white. Fashion magazines will sometimes run his pic.

During an interview, a tidily dressed David Bowie did a good rendition of Lennon, voice-wise. It was abrupt but went over well.

Allen Ginsberg played finger cymbals and wore black. Ginsberg had a knack for mantra, and children loved him.

Was William Carlos Williams swallowed up by the forest? (The doctor chuckles as he sinks into the white beyond.) Maybe it was a happy death?Continue reading “Sporadic notes on cultural icons”

A cypress’ second life (plus a fun finch fact)

There’s a dead cypress tree in our backyard — a diminished-looking thing that one might otherwise consider an eyesore if it were not for the fact that it attracts birds like a magnet.

A couple of months ago, I spotted a northern flicker perched on one of the parched branches — pretty exciting, considering this is a species I typically spot only when I am up in the higher elevations of nearby Mount Charleston.

Regardless, the primary visitor to the tree for the past few weeks has been the house finch. The males are more interesting to look at due to their auburn flourishes, while the females are drab with their washed-out white and brownish hues.

Still, one interesting aspect of the females I’ve noticed lately through observation is how they throw themselves at the males. It’s funny: Several will gather around a sole male on a branch and make a fuss over it, often ending in unrequited admiration, with the male abruptly fleeing the scene.Continue reading “A cypress’ second life (plus a fun finch fact)”

Mini mockingbirds

Perch Report – Spring Valley, Nev.

It’s no biggie to see Northern mockingbirds since they’re so common in Southern Nevada, but over the past few days, I’ve had the pleasure of watching an adult feed its three fledglings in my yard.

It has been tirelessly zipping around each day in the hopes of finding insects to pluck from the soil or from flight and place into the beaks of its young. Meanwhile, as they await their food, the juveniles struggle to keep their balance while perching on palm fronds and twigs, often flapping their wings and shuffling their feet as if newbie skaters on an ice rink.Continue reading “Mini mockingbirds”

Bach’s spotless image

I just finished a big fat biography on J.S. Bach. I like his music, but one of my primary reasons for reading it was to gain an understanding of why he’s so sanctified as far as how he’s perceived and recalled in the cultural consciousness. He earned his money primarily from composing music for Christian religious services, so there’s that, resulting in a good chunk of his compositional cache sounding liturgical.

Still, as I made my way through the 600 pages, I had hoped to come across some mention of incidents depicting him as fallible or human rather than untarnished/invincible deity. He did land himself in jail once for insubordination against his employer, but it was a minor incident blown way out of proportion by his superiors. Anyway, it’s interesting how his pristine public persona runs parallel with the saintliness valued in Christianity, especially back in Bach’s day. Continue reading “Bach’s spotless image”

Clouds

As far as I knew, I was lying on the grass, looking at the sky. Come to find out I was staring up at the roof of your mouth and its scattered white clouds. What gave it away were your lips, and how I noticed that they were lips to begin with was when I saw a second sky after you rose for air. I used to think this was my grave, staring up from this distance, like people would come and bury me. And now I realize that your teeth are the trees, towering like delicate aspens and darkened in silhouette, with the sun shining from behind like a new day.

5 Vignettes

  • The man’s cane made a distinctive tap when he walked, and she always knew it was him without having to look up from her book. The tapping sound had a rattle to it — like there was a broken part.
  • Despite her formidable dry spells, when death was near, she could write. Fear would make her find the words.
  • There were plenty of spaces available in the lot, but for some reason, she took a long time deciding where to park. When she finally pulled into a spot, she exited her car feeling frustrated.
  • She mused that the bookstore employee looked like an insect stripped of its wings. When walking quickly down an aisle, he seemed to be retreating to a crevice. His glasses had thick lenses, and his hair was greasy. His body was undernourished.
  • She no longer felt or looked fat once she put on her yoga pants. She wished she had eaten the spaghetti while wearing them instead of her jeans, which were beyond snug. With her yoga pants on now, she did not feel bad about eating so much pasta, and in fact, she craved more.

12 ways to seem intelligent

  1. Even though you might be half-witted, strive to use the word “repartee” when possible.
  2. Practice your chronic regurgitation of facts and opinions in the mirror to add an element of authenticity.
  3. If nothing else, avoid reading genre fiction in view of highbrow crowds.
  4. If you happen to meet someone named Margot, seize the opportunity and point out the connection to the love interest in Nabokov’s “Laughter in the Dark.”
  5. Drop the name Dostoevsky into a conversation—then spell it if necessary; spell necessary, as well.
  6. In fact, mention any canonical Russian author or classical composer and be ready with at least one example of their work, cited from your Google search.
  7. Familiarize yourself with the term “de rigueur.” It is always fashionable.
  8. Let on that you listen to podcasts instead of audiobooks — particularly podcasts made possible in part by grants and foundations.
  9. Plant a lived-in copy of a recent New York Times edition in a conspicuous spot in your home when you’re expecting guests.
  10. Hang out at Whole Foods Market. If using the restroom there, choose the hand dryer over the towel dispenser — and then quip, “When in Rome,” to any and all bystanders.
  11. Throw on a pair of Izipizi readers and eat some vegan pho.
  12. Know the difference between veganism and vegetarianism. Show off by explaining this to any clueless carnivores.