Friday, May 22, 2009

Escaping Newark!

Like a Collagen Tern, he had Troubling Signs

Newark, New Jersey, May 22nd, 2009

Cradle Song for Asher

 By Paul Muldoon

When they cut your birth cord yesterday

it was I who drifted away,

Now I hear your name (in Hebrew, "blest")

as yet another release of ballast

and see, beyond your wicker

gondola, campfires, cities, whole continents flicker.

[Updated: I quoted Muldoon's beautiful poem, above, then my posting below takes its final line completely out of context.]

It has receded a bit, but all my life to the present, when I travel, my mind rushes with the comforting thought of endless cities, whole continents: the earth, though a small planet, is vast to me. 

There was a family, they grew up near to where I did, and when I was small, they were (it seemed) always traveling to America, and coming back with stories of their traveling that seemed to fill the entire week ahead of them coming to visit my folks. 

It's no exaggeration, but when they told of seeing Niagara Falls, and the sheaves of photographs they brought with them, it was as if they had shimmered into view in my mom's living room directly from the Enterprise. I could not conceive of a world where indoors it was cool, and outdoors, the fierce summer heat. 

I suppose bred into the bones of the Irish is the damp cold that dominates the weather, and so when I first experienced the heat of July reflected off an American sidewalk, it seemed too good to believe: "this is real weather?" Coming from the ultimate small wet island country, where the grey skies followed one after another, day by day, Muldoon's words have a special meaning: "and see, beyond your wicker / gondola, campfires, cities, whole continents flicker..."

In Canada, where my uncles lived, winter allegedly brought six feet of snow, in Zambia, where a long-gone-to-heaven Great Aunt of mine was a missionary, there were Poinsettia trees, not potted as plants each Christmas. My cousins in Brazil told of Iguazu Falls, enormous cataracts of falling, falling water, at the point where three countries meet.

I spent most of my childhood in perpetual wonderment, which may have explained why one of my earliest schoolteachers wrote on a report card that I seemed to be always daydreaming. 

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Water, yes. Ice? Never

"Ask for Scotch in the U.S. and before you know it you hear that horrible clink, clink, clink of ice going in the glass," Richard Paterson says in a voice that's two parts exasperation and one part burr.

"As far as I'm concerned," says the whisky blender with Scotland's Whyte & Mackay Ltd., "if you've got a nice 12-year-old Scotch whisky, there's nothing more ridiculous than putting ice in it."

From "How's Your Drink?" a column by Eric Felten, every weekend in the Wall Street Journal.

I'd like this book

Does anyone from Northern Ireland remember the unfortunate Orange cell phone company's ads: "The future's bright... the future's ORANGE."

New Search Engine

I searched for my home town, 'Dungannistan,' and instead got data on some dump of a place called 'Dungannon!'

In case anyone has appointments next Friday

Approaching Map Overload

MeetWays is another map mashup: it allows you to enter two addresses, then it generates suggested places to meet, exactly halfway between the two addresses! As my mother might say, "an answer to prayer."