The Chernobyl Ant

A famous flyfishing fly, the Chernobyl ant was designed (it appears, research cursory) by Mark Forslund and Allen Wooley, guides on the Green River below Flaming Gorge, Utah.

That picture is from the website of Elburgon Flies Supply, “a leading fly fishing flies supplier in Africa.”

St. Patty’s Roundup, #2

The statue of Molly Malone in Dublin is basically a sculptural softcore boobie pic for dudes who fetishize fishmongers, right?

Also of note in Dublin statuary, Oscar Wilde.  I mean, c’mon dude.  Sit up!  :

St. Patty’s Roundup, #1

A good pick-up tactic, from the Tain, as translated by Thomas Kinsella:

Nes the daughter of Eochaid Salbuide of the yellow heel was sitting outside Emain with her royal women about her.  The druid Cathbad from the Tratraige of Mag Inis passed by, and the girl said to him:

“What is the present hour lucky for?”

“For begetting a king on a queen,” he said.

The queen asked him if that were really true, and the druid swore by god that it was: a son conceived at that hour would be heard of in Ireland for ever.  The girl saw no other male near, and she took him inside with her.

She grew heavy with a child.  It was in her womb for three years and three months.

That kid, as you no doubt know, Reader, was Conchobor, who gets obsessed with Deirdre later on.  Bad idea, Con, she ain’t called “Deirdre of the sorrows” for nothing.

Scraps from F. Scott’s notebook

My edition of The Crack-Up, from New Directions, includes a bunch of other assorted scraps found in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s notebook. They are amazing.  Plots, lines, ideas, whatever.  Here are some from the two pages I happened to open to:

  • A tree, finding water, pierces roof and solves a mystery.
  • Girl and giraffe
  • Marionettes during dinner party meeting and kissing
  • Play about a whole lot of old people – terrible things happen to them and they don’t really care.
  • Play: The Office – an orgy after hours during the boom.
  • A bat chase.  Some desperate young people apply for jobs at Camp, knowing nothing about wood lore but pretending, each one.
  • Girl whose ear is so sensitive she can hear radio.  Man gets her out of insane asylum to use her.
  • Boredom is not an end-product, is comparatively rather an early stage in life and art.  You’ve got to go by or past or through boredom, as through a filter, before the clear product emerges. (hear that DFW?!)
  • Girl marries a dissipated man and keeps him in healthy seclusion.  She meanwhile grows restless and raises hell on the side

On the next page begins the section “Jingles and Songs.”

Fitzhugh Lane

Western shore

Fitz Hugh Lane:  When he was eighteen months old, in his father’s yard, Fitz Hugh Lane grabbed a handful of some kind of weed and put it in his mouth.  John J. Babson’s History of the Town of Gloucester (1860) says it was “apple-peru.”  It may have been jimsonweed.  No matter.  Fitzhugh “was so unfortunate as to lose the use of his lower limbs in consequence, owing to late and unskillful medical treatment.”  He was paralyzed.

Apprenticed to a printmaker in Boston, he soon became famous for his paintings of ships and sunsets.  He decided to go back home.  On a peninsula called Duncan’s Point in Gloucester, he designed and built his own home.  He didn’t like the name Fitz Hugh and with some difficulty had it changed legally to Fitz Henry.  So in catalogs or museum signs he’s sometimes called that.  He was well-known and loved in Gloucester.

Fitz Hugh had a very close friend, all his life, Joseph Stevens, who was from an old Gloucester family.  The story’s told that one day, when they were boys, Joseph Stevens rigged up a special contraption of ropes and pulleys to lift Fitz Hugh high up in the masts and rigging of a ship, so he could look out at the harbor.*  Fitz Hugh died in Joseph Stevens’ house, with Joseph Stevens at his bedside.

– from Crawley’s Lives of The Heroes Of Boston (1958), which I cannot recommend highly enough. Get yourself the reissued 1998 paperback for like a dollar on Amazon.

Once in winter I drove up to Gloucester to the Cape Ann Museum (got the top picture from their website) to view the Fitz Hugh Lanes.**  On the streets of Gloucester with the wind I was as cold as I can ever remember being.

Fitz Hugh Lanes: good name for a Gloucester bowling alley.

*Crawley notes here that he is citing John Wilmerding‘s book Fitz Hugh Lane.  Crawley always acknowledges, often at tedious length, that he has done no scholarship of his own and relies on the work of others.

** Much like the Scottish guy Indiana Jones pretends to be in “Last Crusade” drives up to the castle “to view the tapestries.”

The Scottish Himalayan Expedition

A quotation by [mountaineer W. H. Murray] is widely misattributed to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The following passage occurs near the beginning of Murray’s The Scottish Himalayan Expedition (1951):

… but when I said that nothing had been done I erred in one important matter. We had definitely committed ourselves and were halfway out of our ruts. We had put down our passage money— booked a sailing to Bombay. This may sound too simple, but is great in consequence. Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.

Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!

– from our old friends at Wikipedia.  That Goethe quote is great, sure, but I’ll take Murray himself if I’m going on a hike.  Murray’s autobiography, btw, was entitled The Evidence of Things Unseen, citing of course Hebrews 11:1.

Small Fates

Enjoying reading these on Teju Cole’s Twitter feed.



Is the opposite of cool also cool?

Exhibit A:  Stan Rogers (and friends).

1:06-1:09 a particularly rich subject for study.

Fate of course intervenes – from our friends at Wikipedia:

Rogers [age 33] died alongside 22 other passengers most likely of smoke inhalation on June 2, 1983, while travelling on Air Canada Flight 797 after performing at the Kerrville Folk Festival. The airliner was flying from Dallas, Texas to Toronto and Montreal when an in-flight fire forced it to make an emergency landing at the Greater Cincinnati Airport.

Smoke was filling the cabin from an unknown source, and once on the ground, the plane’s doors were opened to allow passengers to escape. Approximately 60 to 90 seconds into the evacuation of the plane, the oxygen rushing in from outside caused a flash fire.[1] Rogers was one of the passengers still on the plane at the time of the fire.

Ten Stone Baby

Huge HT to the great MCW.

Interview with Steve Martin in The Believer

This may be a character flaw in me, but I’d rather read a book of anecdotes about Faulkner’s life than Go Down Moses or whatever.  Maybe I’ve got “reality hunger,” to quote a useful title from an infuriating book.  What I enjoyed most about this interview was less the stuff about Shopgirl and more this stuff

BLVR: You’re a movie star. How are you able to write about regular people with regular problems?

SM: Well, half my life I’ve been a celebrity and half I wasn’t. I do have knowledge of what it means to live on a dime.

BLVR: You have an aura about you that makes you seem more normal than many celebrities. Somehow you’ve managed to live a fairly normal life.

SM: I don’t know. I made two decisions that I suddenly recall for no reason. One was, when I was like eighteen and had a car, I said, “I’m never not going to go anywhere because of the price of gas.” And the other thing I remember thinking, when I was starting to become famous, was, “I am never not going to go anywhere because I’m famous.” Although I do choose not to go some places because I’m famous. But I travel alone. I don’t have an entourage. I don’t want that.

BLVR: I guess that makes your life easier.

SM: It’s really easier. You know, there’s a moment when you’re famous when it’s unbearable to go out because you’re too famous. And then there’s a moment when you’re famousjust right. [Laughs] And then there’s kind of a respect or distance or something, but you have a little bit more grease.

BLVR: When did the “just right” occur for you?

SM: I would say mid-eighties. There’s a kind of heat fever that just dissipates. You’re not someone who’s constantly being followed.

BLVR: Where can’t you go?

SM: It’s not where I can’t, it’s where I don’t want to.

Charlie Chaplin on roller skates

An argument broke out about whether Charlie Chaplin was all that great or not.  Somebody settled it quickly by directing us to this clip:

SOLEMN PLEDGE: There will never be a video here longer than three minutes unless there’s also an apology.

Art Decade

Sometimes people ask me, “Steve, how come you know so many great songs from the ‘long 1970s’ and beyond?”  The answer is simple! it’s because of my friends at Art Decade.  [WARNING clicking this link will cause a song to start playing.  Prefer to control when your songs play?  here is quieter link.]