Archive for July, 2014

From the Editor’s Perch…

July 31, 2014
Seattle and Environs

Seattle and Environs

In the Big Cities There’s Really Only One Game in Town, and It’s Out of Town


A criticism lobbed by the inhabitants of our large cities of our country’s rural areas and small towns is that they are ‘provincial’.  And ‘provincials’ are seen as uneducated and unsophisticated people who have the speech and narrow, limited attitudes of rustics and small town Babbitts.  This is seen as a bad thing.  And in some respects I’d suppose it is.


However, there is at least one respect in which small town life is refreshing.  I’ve lived in Seattle for many years, and now I live in rural Belpre Ohio, a small town across the river from Parkersburg, West Virginia.  Most people here are as they pretend to be.  Your waitress is a waitress.  Your bank teller is a bank teller.  The electrician, garbage collector, lock repairman, heating and air conditioning fellow, the insurance salesman, the nurse, and on and on are who they pretend to be.  And so far I’ve found them to be quite competent, solid and hard working.


I was talking over our policies with my insurance salesman who has his office a couple blocks away just the other day.  He’s a younger fellow, smart, good looking, and working out of a small cottage converted to business use which is on the main thoroughfare.  He had always lived in a small town and was wondering if he shouldn’t try living in a big city for a while, and asked me what I thought the differences were.  Off the top of my head I said, “Well, they’re probably more ambitious.”  But I was ruminating more on this after leaving his office, when it occurred to me, that a most interesting difference was that the people in large cities see themselves as acting on a world stage.  They see their concerns as world concerns.  They see themselves as arbitrating the path of civilization, the future of our planet.  Their concerns are big and important… usual crucial.  So they can get pretty hot about them.  In this small town I’ve moved to, the concerns are much more human-sized.  (Though they can still get hot about them.)


A problem I’d had in the big city was that probably all of the people I knew were not on a world stage.  They discussed things as if we were.  But actually the world stage for whatever issue we were discussing was usually New York or Washington D. C.  or some other world capital where the actual Mandarins of opinion worked and thrived.  My personal experience was not a credible currency for argument.  What was credible and powerful in conversation was information, opinion – and especially attitude – as disseminated by these Mandarins… all of the talking heads out there in the media.  So, though important conversations on the face of them seemed to be between the people you were speaking with, they were actually discussions over the digressions of various mandarins.  This is tedious once you begin to recognize the mandarins.  You’ve heard all the moves and countermoves.  It is also suffocatingly pedantic.  In this respect, the blogosphere is a recent help.   You send me your link.  I’ll send you my link.  We save each other the waste of a lot of hot air – the inaccuracies of interpretation.  And neither of us read it.


In the big city the waiter is not a waiter, (they’re actors, artists!), the salesman is not a salesman (he’s a promoter), the tech fellow is not a tech fellow (he’s an entrepreneur), your teacher is writing a book…  Not many Americans in big cities.  They are World Citizens.  In the big cities married people are not really married (in the traditional sense), nor are they really religious, nor are they really the sex they appear to be (either through clothing or desire)…


Everybody is a big potato in the big city!  No small potatoes there.  I used to complain to my wife that, “I wish many of my artist friends would just admit that we are small potatoes.  Maybe we will become big potatoes some day.  But if we could just admit that right now we are small potatoes – maybe we could have a satisfying conversation.”  But up and onwards the whole system goes in its ambitious, progressive frenzy.


In the big cities there is really only one game in town, and it’s out of town.  In the provinces there’s really only one game in town, and it’s right here.  There’s the big difference.

Belpre Ohio1

Photos by Google Images


Quantum Traveler

July 22, 2014


Editor’s Note:  Our retired entangled particles, Larry and Gary,  bring with them a little excitement in this latest posting:

Riding Out a Gale / Bus Celebrity

Entangled Quantum Particle Larry Rides Out a Gale Off New Caladonia

Entangled Quantum Particle Larry Rides Out a Gale Off New Caledonia


21 July 2014 | 58 miles from New Caledonia
Our last posting happened at a time when I could get to the keyboard on the computer. Usually that is pretty tough whenever the story gets interesting. It wasn’t long after that posting when another well established gale came through.. Our condition at the time: severe dark, gale force winds, 4+ meter seas (very rough), moving hard to weather. We had already transited across 900 miles of winter seas. There are 58 nm to go to the transition through the reef that surrounds New Caledonia. We thought we would be there about dawn, except for one little detail; we couldn’t quite hold our course. We were moving east of our planned route. Could we tack and somehow, even though it would be horrible, make it to our destination? The question weighted heavily on our minds. In these conditions, there is not enough power in the engine to go to weather. Starting the engine won’t help at all.At that very moment the autopilot failed. Now there is something you need to know to appreciate what this meant. On a boat, an autopilot is the human equivalent of a heart. So, in human terms, the boat had just suffered a heart attack. That’s not much of a surprise considering the conditions it was working through at the time and the even worse conditions that we anticipated. I was thinking of having a heart attack myself!Our situation: we are 58 nm from our safe haven destination, but we cannot get there and we are in a pretty bad gale … and it is night. Of course, it is night. It’s always night when things go really really wrong.I moved to the helm and turned off the wind. Maybe we could sail to the east side of the island which was downwind? There is a passage from east to west that is inside the reef. That is a plan. But it is a long way to steer by hand while in a gale. It is days long. I cannot do that. But I have to try, at least for now, until I can thinking of something else. For those of you helmsmen that thinks you know how to steer a boat you might consider that I didn’t do it very well at all. Maybe I steered within +/- 60 degrees of course, sometimes worse. After an hour I had had it. We had to try something else. Normally, when the autopilot works, we keep the boat moving. Now we had to heave to. Heaving to means turning into the wind until the boat stops, then keeping the wheel in a position to tack the boat and tieing it in place. The boat cannot tack because it has no forward speed, but the mainsail causes it to turn toward the wind. The windage from the rolled up headsail drives the bow off the wind. A steady state condition is achieved that does not require a helmsman. The boat moves slowly sideways to the wind and a little downwind. In this condition we can wait for daylight and for better weather. Daylight will come in a few hours. Better weather looked a very long way away. Oh, yes. I forgot to mention that there are reefs around. We are drifting toward them.

Now comes an important learning opportunity. We will diverge from our story long enough to understand what the crew is thinking. The crew is unhappy. In fact we are pretty much maximally unhappy. We cannot get to our destination and we are 900 miles away from shelter. 900 miles that we would have to drive across without an autopilot. Or it all might end earlier on a reef that is hundreds of miles from any land we can reach. I learned recently that they can actually measure how unhappy you are using brain scans. There is a region in the brain that lights up when you are unhappy. How bright equals how unhappy. At the same time that we are unhappy, we are also happy. We do have the boat slowly drifting and we don’t have to steer! Happiness lights up a different part of the brain. We’ve reached a condition where we are both happy and unhappy at the same time! And the whole crew is experiencing it!

Back to our story, we are moving to a reef, so in a few hours we have to leave the heave to condition in order to hand steer under sail to a new spot that is clear of danger for a while longer. Of course that has to happen at night and did I mention that I’m not doing well at steering? We manage it, but after we heave to again we notice that on one tack we drift north east; on the other tack we drift south west. It turns out we can navigate using this knowledge. Over the course of the next two days we navigate around all the reefs and actually reach the south east part of the reef. 50 miles north east along the reef lies the entrance to the passage. The reef even breaks the waves so the sea is much calmer. My steering improves. The weather also improves, a lot.

The rest of the story is simple. We made it to Noumea, New Caledonia. Yay! Flat water at a dock never felt so good.”  – Larry Nelson

Marathon Home Featured
Editor:  Meanwhile, entangled particle Gary (and bus), are featured in this Ad:

From the Editor’s Perch…

July 21, 2014

Jennifer Woodworth How I Kiss Her Turning Head

Maternal Horror


Jennifer Woodworth’s newest book, How I Kiss Her Turning Head, which is just out by Monkey Puzzle Press, is a most gentle jaunt into the genre of Maternal Horror.  ‘Maternal Horror’ is a term I have had to coin myself.  But this is not Rosemary’s Baby.  This is the Brahms Lullaby of Xtreme Mothering.  The baby and child in these stories and sketches comprise a wonderful blessing – so wonderful, that we follow our first person hero as if pushing off down the pipe of some Xtreme Sport …  Right down the rabbit hole of maternal instinct, without time to say, “Hello!  Goodbye!” into a sort of mental ward where the ordinary and quotidian prerogatives of life conflict to our first person narrator’s charming wonderment.  And off we go, as the book paints a gentle rebellion for two.

“I have never wanted anything more than I want babies.”  The narrator tells us at the beginning of the first and best story, “Mother of One”.  And shortly she adds:

“I want another baby,” I say to my husband.”

“I know you do,” he says.  He means he does not want another child, not now, not ever.”


How charged and compact that exchange is!

Our author knows a subtext, and next to that, a rebellious flight of words.  All of this makes for a good read.  Her stories churn in the updraft of a contained conflagration.  Her words and flights of fancy are cloaked like actors to carry more romantic weight.  But all of the ducks here are rubber ducks.  Her first person narrator “contains multitudes” of insight, but all from an idea fixee.  Her first person narrator is entirely rational aside from being mostly fixated.  Imagine an Asperger of mothering, with the soft voice, and gentle nudging of the genuinely aware – and you’ll be getting close to the voice of this narrator.

The interest of the first story, “Mother of One” – which is a lovely jolt of maternal compulsion – is deciding partly where the horror lies.  Is the Surrogate Mother, or is the Outsourcing Birth Mother the monster of this tale.  Is it the narrator’s world which is a bit off kilter – or is it the narrator?  The ending tale finds our heroine legally confined but still rebellious.   Though it wouldn’t surprise me to hear our narrator reply from her ward – in an attractive way and with an appealing tone, (or perhaps she would just ‘suggest’), if asked, ‘how it could be “rebelling” when the world is backaswards?’.

Jennifer Woodworth has a playful dramatic sense, writes a fine narrative, composes a lovely tune with her words, and is smart enough to say things worth reading.  This is a small book to purchase and enjoy, and possibly to start your collection with.

Travelling Expenses…

July 19, 2014
Paul Headlines the NY Times Arts Section

Paul Headlines the NY Times Arts Section

Paul Eenhoorn in the New York Times

While your editor has been on a moving-across-the-country hiatus, our friend and actor Paul Eenhoorn has been in the ‘buzz’.  We’re a little late on the uptake due to the hiatus, but here he is landing ontop the NY Times Arts Section for a second time, with a half-page featured article inside.

Read all about it!

Read all about it!

Photos from NY Times courtesy of Townsend Canon

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