Tuesday, November 01, 2011

11/1 Roundup of stuff I like.

First off, a poem:

Helen of Troy Does Countertop Dancing

The world is full of women
who'd tell me I should be ashamed of myself
if they had the chance. Quit dancing.
Get some self-respect
and a day job.
Right. And minimum wage,
and varicose veins, just standing
in one place for eight hours
behind a glass counter
bundled up to the neck, instead of
naked as a meat sandwich.
Selling gloves, or something.
Instead of what I do sell.
You have to have talent
to peddle a thing so nebulous
and without material form.
Exploited, they'd say. Yes, any way
you cut it, but I've a choice
of how, and I'll take the money.

I do give value.
Like preachers, I sell vision,
like perfume ads, desire
or its facsimile. Like jokes
or war, it's all in the timing.
I sell men back their worse suspicions:
that everything's for sale,
and piecemeal. They gaze at me and see
a chain-saw murder just before it happens,
when thigh, ass, inkblot, crevice, tit, and nipple
are still connected.
Such hatred leaps in them,
my beery worshippers! That, or a bleary
hopeless love. Seeing the rows of heads
and upturned eyes, imploring
but ready to snap at my ankles,
I understand floods and earthquakes, and the urge
to step on ants. I keep the beat,
and dance for them because
they can't. The music smells like foxes,
crisp as heated metal
searing the nostrils
or humid as August, hazy and languorous
as a looted city the day after,
when all the rape's been done
already, and the killing,
and the survivors wander around
looking for garbage
to eat, and there's only a bleak exhaustion.
Speaking of which, it's the smiling
tires me out the most.
This, and the pretence
that I can't hear them.
And I can't, because I'm after all
a foreigner to them.
The speech here is all warty gutturals,
obvious as a slab of ham,
but I come from the province of the gods
where meanings are lilting and oblique.
I don't let on to everyone,
but lean close, and I'll whisper:
My mother was raped by a holy swan.
You believe that? You can take me out to dinner.
That's what we tell all the husbands.
There sure are a lot of dangerous birds around.

Not that anyone here
but you would understand.
The rest of them would like to watch me
and feel nothing. Reduce me to components
as in a clock factory or abattoir.
Crush out the mystery.
Wall me up alive
in my own body.
They'd like to see through me,
but nothing is more opaque
than absolute transparency.
Look--my feet don't hit the marble!
Like breath or a balloon, I'm rising,
I hover six inches in the air
in my blazing swan-egg of light.
You think I'm not a goddess?
Try me.
This is a torch song.
Touch me and you'll burn.

Margaret Atwood

Blog post:

Friend of the Chaliceblog Joel Monka tells an amazing story about the work he's been doing in his Prison Ministry


I'm really loving Privilege. It is a fashion blog, but like all good fashion blogs it is about a lot more. Also the author is a wonderful writer.

I've never had any real knack for lipstick, but you wouldn't know it to see me in Buxom's Big and Healthy Lip Stick. Idiot proof, I promise.

Non-fiction book:
When I was studying for the bar, I was doing a crazy (for me, probably not for you if you're physically fit) amount of cardio and some strength training besides because of The Spark, a book by John J. Ratey on how exercise is incredibly good for your brain. I'e slacked off a bit since starting the day job, but I'm hoping to get back into the routine because I felt great.

I think Peter Abrahams' A Perfect Crime might be the best crime novel I've ever read. Complicated and darkly funny, with amazing dialogue, every word of it is a joy. I'll go ahead and say there are some pretty big coincidences in it that might stretch credulity, but I sit here the grandchild of two women who lived down the street from each other in Texas as little girls but never met until their children met in North Carolina and decided to get married, so coincidences don't bother me so much in fiction. Anyway, Abrahams has a bit of a Carl Hiaasen vibe, but with the zaniness taken down a notch. I will probably read all his work eventually, though for the moment I'm reading Michael Connelly's The Poet which is so far perfectly enjoyable if not quite as well-written as "A Perfect Crime."

I went to London for a few weeks about a decade ago and while I was there, I got very sick. There was a Hitchcock movie marathon on and I watched a lot of it. For whatever reason Shadow of a Doubt was the one that really captured my imagination. I haven't seen it in some time, but if you're up for a low-key thriller you should really check it out. I loved it.