Life is oddly. You dream about car accidents and dappled nachos. You rub the eyes from your sleep. Stumble into a clutter and hate yourself. For a moment. Bills and printer ink and some cartoon where blue frog-people scream green things. Hi son. It is Sunday and I need to trim the shrubbery–would you like to go bowling? Shoes have wheels now. You go bowling and go to get a bowling alley beer (little plastic cups) and tumble right into a Lobster Zone game. A game with live lobsters. A bowling alley game with live lobsters.
Here is what we know:
1. It costs two bucks to play. You can use your charge card.
2. You use a claw to snag the live lobster. Or: “Unlike any other crane machine, we use a pneumatic system that allows the claw to close beneath the water surface in the tank – not before the claw meets the water. Electrical systems in other machines run directly into the water, risking electrocution of the lobsters.”
3. Here is that damn DFW lobster essay.
4. You catch the lobster and they cook it right there, in this bowling alley type of place most likely known for fries and toasted cheeses and chicken fingers. Possibly they deep fat fry the lobster? I ponder. Little crinkly cups of beer. Four strikes, four spares. There is a lady in here looks like a pumpernickel. Hi lady, my back hurts a lot lately. Hi, she replies, I’m about to smoke a cigarette because I am a fan of The Smiths. On the TV a man pushes another man down. Ok, bye.
5. Here is a video of a successful catch in Las Vegas:
6. There’s something creepy and wrong about this idea and machine, but who am I to say? As a reward for teaching CTY all semester, The Johns Hopkins folks use to throw us all a big-ass seafood party in Rhode Island. Clam cakes, clam rolls, clam chowda (red and white), lobsters. I once ate six lobsters for dinner. Six. I’m not sure the appropriate amount of lobsters you should eat, but it is not six. Don’t do that. OK? Pain. Echoes of. I wouldn’t do it again. I’m actually not sure I would eat another lobster, but I might. I eat some seafood. No other meat, naturally, unless I myself kill the animal, but I digress.
She tried to keep herself from blurring into watercolors. Lucent, her blue-violet eyes fixed on a powdered Tarot.
“Yeah, I cut lines with that card,” he said.
Jennifer Moore with Vegas poem. Great title, momentum, flow. You caught a shard there, Jennifer, and you held it to the neon light and it became a prism. We thank you.
Ambivalence is a mumbling groom, focusing his gaze on the bridesmaids;
none of these women are fathomable. Leave the open bar, the pool
tables, the girls willing to do everything.
I ran 12 miles at an incline yesterday, but who gives a shit?
This dude ran a half marathon (13.1 miles) and drank a beer for every mile! Whoa. Why didn’t I think of this? Yes, he vomited, blacked-out, was nearly run down by traffic, but no pain, no malt liquor or whatever. He says:
Perhaps even more problematic are the goddamned do-gooders and paramedics onhand in case of medical emergencies. They will take your swerving, stumbling, and vomiting as signs of delirium or fatigue, and then get all interventionny and try to take away your beer. That can not happen.
This guy is no “goddamned do-gooder” and you got to like him.
Lopped a Sedaris book yesterday. Engulfed in Flames. That’s a yell/hell of a title (and skull on the cover) but the book doesn’t really come across as dark and desperate as its possible aim. Sedaris isn’t so glow at titles anyway. The New Yorker often changes the titles of his essays, from book to magazine (or the other way?). The excellent (and truly funny, as in awkward and angry) “Turbulence” appears as “Solution to Saturday’s Puzzle,” a limp and obvious title at best. “Turbulence” has more metaphorical punch, more Clear Winner, and doesn’t force itself on us like a Barbed Bird.
The book took a day to read. This while busy. There were dark and funny pieces, and there was fluff. As usual, the pieces read cleanly–Sedaris obviously edits hard (over-edits at times, some essays so intent on wrapping up in a neat little bow). Sedaris, at his current age, works best when he gets deeper into the bone, into the gristle–his reflections on a skeleton that continually says, “You are going to die.” A sort of Bartleby riff. The cigarette/addiction essay. Or even better when he addresses homosexual issues, and his obvious anger on the subject, a real, earned, valid anger. I wish we could see more of it. I actually wish he would go blue more; he does at readings. He really does. He is in the a-reading-is-different-than-a-book camp. He’s more a stand-up comedian at readings. More a careful writer in his books.
Sometimes Sedaris loses that sympathetic narrator he has always controlled. In earlier books, Sedaris makes fun of everyone, but always includes himself. That’s his trick. Sometimes, in Flames, he comes across as too wealthy, too cosmopolitan, too, well, what he probably is: successful. It’s a tough line to walk. People laugh at fat comedians, etc. People like a narrator who is a bit down, especially in mini-essays. But Sedaris knows this. This genre is Sedaris, so he adds health problems and ineptitude and pratfalls and social errors and whatever mix to make himself a sympathetic buffoon. A smart buffoon. Yes. And I’ll read the words of a smart buffoon.
Sometimes the pieces have a whiff of bullshit, and Sedaris now claims in interviews, “They are 9o something percent true.” If you read enough Sedaris, you’ll respect him for how much is NOT bullshit, but you’ll also see how transparent he is when trying to fake something, an inconceivable coincidence (probably while he’s trying to tie aforementioned bow) or a forced stretchy of lengthy, perfect dialogue.
In the end, you respect the man. He do glow. He’s a bit of a magpie genius. He lives everyday taking little notes, writing them up, editing, then we get these little essays. And he does it again and again. Mostly they are worth reading. Sometimes even truly funny, as in humor laced with roiling clouds, anger, frustration–the real stuff of life, and literature. Sometimes you go: how did he do that? None of this is easy. As we know.
New Hobart bringing it all tongue of cigarette, hacking cough.
I glow Kristine Ong Muslim.
We figure the leaves will find a way back into the house, where they take more than their share of furniture. The smell of ruin and the lack of rain outside has not permeated the house yet. That must be what draws them to us, draws them indoors where we multiply when faced by extinction.
You take a thing, it expands. You freeze a thing, inspect closely, it expands. One purpose of writing. To see what falls.
I glow Matt Mullins.
Mutiny is the last I remember. being pitched over. only to awaken here. drowning in an Aeron chair. typing my own ransom memo for the corporate pirates who pay me in somnambulistic days. unsure how I was fished out and tanked.
The man shreds some sentences here in a fascinating way. As I told him over D golf, “You let the sentences heighten the claustrophobia of the situation. Good job.”
I went cross-training. What does that mean? I took my brother fishing. We drank weak beer and caught strong fish. My brother kept catching sucker fish. Nasty. Suckers fight like submerged Cheetos. You just drag them in…
I reeled in the giant sporting fish, the smallmouth bass. It fought like a parking lot. A screeching tire. RAINBOW, RAINBOW, RAINBOW!!!
Then I let the fish go.