Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Why Mark Twain Is The Man

I've been out of commission in the writing words game, solely subsisting on greek letters and special functions (here's a new friend). But I try to read a little whenever I can. I was scouring a Smithsonian for any semblance of enjoyable material when I stumbled upon an article about Samuel Johnson, an esteemed biographer of social commentator James Boswell. That seemed like so many literary levels removed from real life, until I found out that "Writing the Life of Samuel Johnson", a chronology of said biographer, had taken it a step further, yet still won very prestigious critics awards. Who reads this stuff anyway? This is two hops and a skip away from a rumor mill, except that I guess it's fastidiously researched to the point of obsession. I want to get back to the roots of American Literature and celebrate a man who wouldn't dare get caught on a hype track for some other writer essaying on the story of another writers writing. I just realized I'm writing about this.

Here's a few reasons why Mark Twain is the MAN, some are outright lies. He:

Invented the huckleberry.

Inspired the song Cripple Creek Ferry. Neil Young is his grandson.

Vilified and mocked the British and their snooty accents. Still got a degree from Oxford.

Bathed in rivers. Made money.

Had a real name, but didn't use it.

Spoke out against slavery, imperialism, and civil injustices around the world. Also, was born with fluffy moustaches.

Is the reason we know the period of Halley's comet.

Fell in love with a picture. Then married the woman in it. Talk about self aware.

Chilled with Nik Tesla, physics badboy and understood wizard.

Became depressed when his daughter died -- a proper and forthright reaction.

Wrote books that are still banned for being naughty. TEE HEE

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Screen The Modern Family

Surfing the internet is good for so many things, and worse for so many others that I can't even begin to start rationalizing my own addicted behavior, or judging others for their ipadding or conversely their holier than thou alternative choices like running or reading or Rastafarianism. I read an article in the times not too long ago about the modern family and its development(?) under the influence of technology. As I did, I felt weird inside.

I grew up in a house where watching television was demarcated as a waste of time. It was stupid and poisonous, and even though I found ways to watch some of the drivel around, and certainly spent my fair share of Saturday mornings doing a weird vaudeville version of karate in tandem with the power rangers, I was always aware that this was merely permitted as a direct consequence of “picking your battles”, not condoned. TV on weekdays was as forbidden as soda, except for the half hour of Wishbone which went down like warm raspberry seltzer – picture my face.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Goy Meets World

Ever since I can remember, my mother has insisted that I’m Jewish. Technically speaking she’s right; she is Jewish herself, and according to halakha this makes me Jewish by default, despite my father’s blond hair and blue eyes. But her insistence was in the face of no particular resistance, which always made it seem kind of odd to me. Age 12, I’d be playing Nintendo, totally engrossed in the pixelated-yet-bucolic fantasy world of The Legend of Zelda, and out of nowhere my mother’s saying, “Danny, you do know you’re Jewish, right?” Uh, sure, whatever, Mom. Could you stop standing in front of the TV? Age 15, making myself a snack in the kitchen, or more likely cycling between desperate searches of the effectively-empty fridge and the nothing-here-but-raisins-and-Ovaltine pantry, when all of a sudden: “This is really important to me: never, ever, ever forget that you’re Jewish, OK hun?” Mom, stop being weird, and why don’t we have anything to eat? Age 17, returning home after a night of clandestine drinking, hoping that no one is still awake, tip-toeing upstairs, almost safe in my room, until I hear a muffled, tired voice reaching out from her bedroom, escaping along with a sliver of lamplight from the crack between door and floor. “Dan, could you come here for a second?” Shit. “Hi honey, just wanted to remind you to always remember that you are Jewish!Mom, not now, can’t you see that I’m drunk?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Lynn Woods: The Discovery

When you bring up Lynn Woods to local climbers, you receive a varied reaction.  It's a choss pile to some.  A land scattered with lowballs of piercing granite.  They look to their hands dejectedly and impel the conversation towards the wonders of Lincoln Woods and Pawtuckaway. Others get a wistful glaze over their eyes.  They zone out for a moment, then rouse telling fantastical tales of gourd-like blocs, rained in the forest like a skittle commercial of yore.

Lynn woods was, in my experience, a farrago of mystery, potential, and confusion.