Fear of Beards


I have this book, The Word Museum : The Most Remarkable English Words Ever Forgotten which is a lovely bathroom read. Some wonderful tidbits I discovered include “pogonophobia” (a persistent fear of beards), “pornocracy” (The rule of prostitutes; dominating influence of cortezans; [from] The Pornacracy, a party which which controlled the government of Rome and the elections to the papacy throughout the first part of the tenth century), and “gardyloo” (a cry which servants in the higher stories of Edinburgh give, after ten o’clock at night, when they throw their dirty water, &c. from the windows). I’ve already used some of these words in my stories, including “geloscopy” (divination my means of laughter) and “ostentiferous” (that which brings monsters or strange sights). Every author should have herself a copy.

Also, I’ve just caught up with the 33rd issue of Y, The Last Man, a comic which I’ve grown to love. Here’s the premise: every man on Earth dies in one bloody instant except one loafer twenty something wanna-be magician and his pet monkey. Now, before you go saying this is not-so-subtle teenage porn fantasy (after all, who would not want to be the last guy on Earth surrounded by three billion available women?), you might want to read an issue. What impressed me was how they portrayed all of the sectors of society we usually conceive as male-dominant: the government, the military, automobile repair, etc., and how the authors showed how many of our preconceptions about these sectors are false. (Spoiler warning). The government does not fall (one of the senators, a Hillary Clintonesque woman) steps up to power while the gun-toting Republican wives try to sieze control of the White House. Yes, there are scenes of lust and temptation in this graphic novel, but they are there only to move the story along. Yorick, the male protagonist, does not go around the planet schtooping every woman he sees, but instead he stays (mostly) faithful to the love of his life in Australia, who he’s not even sure is still alive. When I read Y, The Last Man I was instantly hooked. You might want to check it out.

Sunset on Mars

Finally, though it may be dawn here, the sun is setting somewhere in the universe. Take for example this picture of a Sunset on Mars. Can you just picture a romantic dinner with the love of your life right on that little hill and watching the sun go down on another world? “Dear, will you marry me?”

Ye Old Books

Ulysses cover 1934This weekend, while out at my parents, my father gave me an old copy of Ulysses. It’s from the 1934 first American printing, published after much controversy surrounding the book for its supposed obscenity. The foreward opens with: “The new deal in the law of letters is here. Judge Woolsey has exonerated Ulysses of the charge of obscenity, handing down an opinion that bids fair to become a major event in the history of the struggle for free expression.” How’s that for an opener?

inscriptionAnd here’s the inscription on the inside cover that my grandfather signed in 1935. The date at the top right reads February 14, 1934. And the bottom says “May 1935 For 1 Buck.” Is that expensive or cheap for a hardcover back then? I don’t know.

Also, while rummaging through the garage, I found a copy of The Dorling Kindersley Handbook of Trees. Some of you may know about my fifty or so houseplants breeding freely in my apartment. I know the names of the most common indoor plants quite well, but I’m horrible when it comes to identifying trees. (I called my brother-in-law’s common cherry tree a beech before he corrected me). But now with my little handbook I’ve discovered a bunch of really cool things about trees. For example, the tree I wrote about in Sybil’s Garage, whose black and red berries provide food for countless birds, is actually a black mulberry, and its true origins are unknown because it’s been so heavily cultivated throughout the world.

TalmudFinally, I found another book in the garage (there are many) from 1900 called Wit and Wisdom of the Talmud, which reduces the many religious texts into simple aphorisms. It contains such treasured truths as “Friendship or death,” the pragmatic “We ought not to live in a town where no physician resides,” and the stoical “Laughter and levity habituate a man to lewdness.” But I like this one the best so far: “There is a compensation for everything except our first love.” Amen.

Those Meddling Kids

Spirits UnwrappedMy friend, Dan Braum, has just released his new anthology, Spirits Unwrapped. According to Dan, “these ain’t your daddies mummies. No lumbering, groaning, linen wrapped shamblers here. No one will meet Abbot and Costello and no one will chase Scooby Doo. Rest assured none of the trappings and disappointments of a big-budget Hollywood monstrosity will be found in these pages.” Authors include Brendan Day, Rudi Dornemann, Catherine Dybiec Holm and Sharon E. Woods. Art by Elena Nazarro. You can get your hands on a copy at Project Pulp.

Pain Leaving the Body

No Rad!This morning I saw on a man’s t-shirt a phrase that read, “Pain is weakness leaving the body.” Hmm, I thought. I wonder if I stuck a knife in his back, would that make him feel stronger? Unfortunately, I did not have ample time to test my theory. Currently I am in Paumanok (aka Long Island) getting ready to go to my friend’s engagement party. Being that we’ve known each other since we were seven, we have developed this stupid sense of humor that only old friends can share. For example, for an engagement gift I bought him No Rad, potassium iodide pills which are to “protect your family against the absorption of radioactive iodine after a nuclear emergency!” This is one gift I hope he never uses.