Les Semaines


what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: The Phonosnout


Mindless Activities

This week I've been craving mindless activities: getting lost in books, watching tv, playing computer solitaire, sorting Ectophiles' Guide files. Nothing that required any concentration. It was hard to find such activities at work, and several times I found myself running out of mindless things to do there and had to quickly use my brain to figure out other mindless things to do. Downtime for the brain. Filling it with fluff that it can ignore.

I've never been one for computer games other than solitaire and occasionally other similar non-brain-taxing games like that, and i don't much like games that require a lot of concentration like chess. There's one particular solitaire game I've been stuck on for at least a year called Spiderette--others don't interest me right now. I play it when I want to listen to music because if I do anything else I'll forget to listen.

Most tv is too mindless for me, but occasional shows catch my interest. Right now we watch Farscape, an SF show, regularly and Xena. It's hard to say what catches me about tv shows, because lots of people who like shows we do recommend Buffy and we've watched it about five times but never particularly cared for it, while we do like Xena. Well, sometimes things just aren't worth trying to analyze--we like what we like. I also confess that I frequently get caught up in channel surfing, just hoping that something I can stand will turn up, and I do occasionally find watchable movies that way. I also find a lot of things that keep the channels jumping.

We got together with friends the other night and watched Excaliber. Unfortunately, all Arthurian movies have been spoiled for me by the old favourite Monty Python and the Holy Grail so I kept making cracks about waiting for the killer rabbit, which I don't think our hosts appreciated, alas. The visual mood of Excaliber is amazing, though.

Another favourite mindless activity is the Furry Mouse Toss, of course. And Cat Disturbing, which is particularly effective when they're asleep and you just have to give them a big hug. Sophia is pretty susceptible to this, while Zach usually just turns around and goes back to sleep. And of course there are times when you simply have to watch tv or read since your main purpose in life is to be a Warm Lap for a cat. Sophia is just recently started to sit on my lap, so when she does I like to indulge her for a while. I'm not being lazy; we're bonding, see?

And the web, between reading Sluggy and various online journals and such. Some days I feel like a reading addict.

You would think a good mindless activity would be sorting through all the mess in my study, but alas that never seems to be quite mindless enough, and besides it would entail lifting my butt from this comfortable office chair. But hey, I did clean the kitchen sink yesterday. It really is white.

Anyway, you'll have to forgive me as I've started having to think about what I'm typing, and sadly that's just not on this week. So bye for now. Goodnight. Have a good week, and I'll see you next Sunday.

last week's thinking and doing § next week's thinking and doing


We recently got a few things on cd that we haven't listened to for a long time. Marianne Faithfull's Dangerous Acquaintances is the album that followed the incredible Broken English, and is nearly as good, as long as you don't mind '80s sound. Marianne at her best. We also got Cat Stevens' Teaser and the Firecat which I've never owned but know quite well--I must have had friends who had it.

I have also still been listening to Hannah Fury obsessively, and driving Jim crazy with it. Something about the suite based on Maguire's Wicked that gets to me, especially.

last week's listening § next week's listening


Jim Welch's The Heartsong of Charging Elk is a novel about an Oglala Sioux Indian who travels with Buffalo Bill's Wild West show to France and becomes ill in Marseille and is left behind there. Through a string of misunderstandings and bureaucratic errors, he is unable to leave Marseille and rejoin the troupe and is stranded there, unable to speak French or the English of the American consulate whose duty it is to help him. His life becomes a strange mix of trying to understand the new world and remembering the old. While he is waiting to rejoin the troupe or earn enough money to return to America, he lives with a friend family. This is a novel about cultural clashes, misunderstanding and understandings and how the conventions of our societies shape our thinking in ways that make us alien to those from other cultures but also how open heartedness can bridge that gap if you're willing to treat others as fully human. While I felt that the story could have moved a little more quickly, particularly in the early parts of the novel, part of that slowness helped me get inside Charging Elk's mindset better than a more quickly moving plot would have done so it's hard to complain about it, but I did notice it at the time, and that the ending seemed to move quickly, particularly in comparison. These hesitations aside, I found this a fascinating read and recommend it.

The conclusion to Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series, The Amber Spyglass, does live up to the previous two volumes The Golden Compass (Northern Lights in the U.K.) and The Subtle Knife. I had wondered how we would be able to put all the loose threads together, and he did, or rather he showed how all the threads were part of a larger pattern, and better yet, how the trilogy is part of a bigger pattern of the universe he has created. As this book begins Lyra is being held captive in drugged sleep in a cave by her mother, the devious Mrs. Coulter. The forces of her rebellious father and of the Authority are looking for her. Will, who is learning the powers of the subtle knife, is making his way to rescue he, accompanied by two spirits. Lyra is dreaming of the dead. The book continues on its complicated way entangling these elements and more. A really enjoyable, different fantasy, and I look forward to re-reading through the trilogy in its entirety sometime soon.

A friend gave me Barbara Kingsolver's new novel Prodigal Summer as a late birthday present on Friday, and I'd already finished reading it yesterday. I just couldn't put it down. This is three stories woven into one, set in the Appalachians. First is a woman who has spent two solitary years in the mountains as a wildlife biologist when a man suddenly arrives in her life; second is the story of a young widow who has just inherited her late husband's family farm and also his family; third is the story of two very different elderly neighbours who disagree about just about everything but especially how to farm the land. The story takes place over a single long and lush summer, and it's a lush story. I think it may be my favourite Kingsolver novel ever, ousting my long-favourite Animal Dreams. I haven't liked all of her novels that much (The Bean Trees and Pigs in Heaven didn't strike me as particularly outstanding) but The Poisonwood Bible, a book I hadn't expected to like, struck me as very powerful (see my September 17th entry). When Kingsolver's good, she's is wonderful. This was a delight to read, from the language and imagery to the very real characters she created--characters I didn't want to stay goodbye to.

last week's reading § next week's reading


I'm trying to work on a poem for a workshop tomorrow. hard to do when wanting to be mindless. I'm also working on getting some promotional material ready for Blood Memory to do some mailings.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

December 1977

903. Rhyme

Such a dream to go
They say
Tomorrow it may snow
I wear my bunny sweater
I don't
Worry 'bout the weather
But I
Hate to feel the chill
When the
Wind is blowing ill
Oh my
goodness, oh His grace
The rain
Is tearing at my face
This poem
Is running nowhere fast
I think
This line will be its last. [1]

904. After the poem is over

Then we'll all go home where we can relax and dream and forget. All the pain will fade away and become a song of yesterday.

905. Power's out

The power's out and I'm sitting on the floor in front of the fire with my cat cuddled beside me. (Nice cat.)

906. On and off

The power went on and off about 5 times during the windstorm last night, candles lit, put out, lit, put out, many poems the same. The cat dream of dark and falling branches, and the dog hid. Warmth was all, and light was burning. Fire burning, throwing opal light, yellowed, onto shadowed pages, off and on. The flickering ends of light simmering on the floor. Crap! [2]

907. New colour

Much pain, the old friends poured out of a new colour, growing much larger than before. Who friends, who colour? Much more confusing than before, all about a new colour growing from wind and rain, or maybe something best described as a new colour, best described as sight rather than feeling.

908. There are flashes

Right in the middle of exam season--one down, three to go (Lions are doing fine, but the Christians? O well...). English--I guess I didn't do too well (rat's nests). Tomorrow: Sociology, day after: Classics, then I got my Sochul Werk to do. I hate Sochul Werk but there are flashes when I wanna be a sochul werker, a dumb two-bit jerker. I wanna write, and there are flashes where I wanna do that--but only flashes for everything, maybe I'll catch on to a flash and hold it for long enough to find out where I'm going. Flash!

909. Nine-oh-nine

I'm doing quite fine
My verse is terse
And getting worse
Showers are following
Time is no friend
Follow the geese all the way home.

910. Now

Somehow, for some reason, I have nothing to say.

911. I've got a cold

Hi, Phono, I've got a cold, how're you? (I thought I heard you sniffling last night.) I sniffle and my head is heavy and sometimes I ache. Pauvre moi! *sigh* Anyway...I cut five inches off my hair, Phono, still long but shorter, less messy. No one has really noticed and I have to tell everyone. Poor ego. It's probably time for another *sigh*.

912. I wonder if you know

Hi Phone, I wonder if you know how beautiful your cover is? [3] A beautiful God-made Autumn spot short. Very nice. Restful and PHono-y. The way things are inside here right now. I've got a little excess physical energy and little or no excess mental energy. My poems aren't poeming, but thank you Phono, you're Phonoing. A beautiful cover, Phono. Thanks for growing it. Thanks [4].


1. Just in case anyone was worried I took these poetry games seriously.

2. This is clearly a comment I added later about my poeticisms.

3. A new notebook started with 905.

4. Aside of nothing, there is A.R. Ammon's poem "So I Said I am Ezra" copied out on the usually blank back side of the page facing these entries.

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