Tag Archives: Grant and Twain

It. Is. Time.

Let’s acknowledge that there’s been a bit of a blogging hiatus of late. You’re acknowledging it; I’m acknowledging it; the unnervingly fast centipede I brutally killed last night on the living room floor with my copy of “A Room with a View” is acknowledging it.  [Seriously unnerving, this centipede. An almost human intelligence. It was a dance to the death, let me tell you!]

Having acknowledged it,  let’s ease back into things by taking a look at what CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, has up on the ol’ homepage right now in regards to the Large Hadron Collider; just their special way of connecting with the public, updating us on the latest news, and breaking things down simply for Joe Layperson, kicking back to peruse some particle physics of an evening with a bowl of popcorn and a cold beer:

WHAT

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I think the question we’re all asking ourselves right now is this: Why is the link status of beam permits “false”?

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I am writing a play right now–the long kind, which I have never writ before–and it is draining the tar out of me, and all of that. This is part of why I have been so long away. I have to think of things people would say to each other, in plays, and then I have to write them down. Once I have done that for a while, the thought of writing ANYTHING ELSE EVER AGAIN looks like this:

PASSERBY: Here. Take this sweet potato, and build it into a Chevy Impala!
ME: GUG

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You see my dilemma.

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That being said: My mother told me a real soul-scooping tale last week, on the telephone, in regards to this very subject; the being tired and the writing and the doing what you have to do and the all of that.

For background: My Ma’s been reading a heap about Mark Twain for a little while now, and oftentimes she’ll share a tale or two with me. This particular evening, when I was bemoaning to her my woeful inability to work all day, come home, and make my brain produce anything which does not resemble the crayon scrawls of a baby bear cub who has been taught to grasp human implements, she mildly related the following.

Ulysses S. Grant, she said–

Ulysses S. Grant

Who was a pal of Mark Twain’s [“News to me!”, said I] apparently had throat cancer [“News to me also!”, said I.] He was involved in some sort of business proceeding that musn’t have worked out as planned, since he went bankrupt; though I’m no “financial wizard”, and “I can barely add two numbers together”, I believe I can connect the dots on that one. [Further research into this matter unearthed multiple uses of the word “swindle”, which is a word I bet they used a lot, back there in Reconstruction days!]

Anywho, there he was: Bankrupt and dying of throat cancer. And so what did he do? By gum: He wrote his memoirs, so that his family would be provided for in the wake of his passing.

ULYSSES S. GRANT: I led the Union Army, dammit!

There was nothing they could do for the cancer; my mother told me that he could not so much as drink water without it feeling like he was “drinking molten lead”. And they couldn’t alleviate his pain by spraying codeine and morphine and cocaine [landsakes!] in his throat, because he had to be lucid enough to write.

Thus spake my mother, mildly.

ME: Well, NUTS.

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The presidency of Ulysses S. Grant was marred by constant acts of political corruption, up to and including a scandal referred to as the “Whiskey Ring.”

Good people do bad things.

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About two weeks ago, I dyed all of my hair a white-blonde. It’s been real interesting, and not a little disorienting. Small children stare at my head when I pass, with the wrinkled brow with which you or I might observe a passing clown at a Big Top Circus, or an alien being intent on world domination [either way].  For some days, people I interact with on a daily basis were unable to look me right in the face when speaking with me; if they looked at me, they would forget who they were talking to.

This is from the night it was done–one of 17 pictures I tried to send people, in a feeble attempt to explain. I don’t know what my face is doing here; I seem to be going for a cross between “In my day,  a lady always wore nylons” and “I didn’t mean to break your window, Mister! Me and the other kids were just playing stickball, honest.”

 

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There are so many, many things coming in the next few months. Starting this week. Great big things. Things to sit with, live through; things to uproot. Things you grapple with maybe once in your life.

But Sunday night I walked from my home to a delicious dinner at Lula’s, and the air was cool, and I wore my favorite sweater.

 Here goes nothin’. 

 

The Angel of Memory

In these panes, each flaw and bubble is a seed.
The porch door latch, rusted, snaps off
in my fingers. I walk down steps
carved into limestone;
scrub-brush and rosemary hang down the terraces
to the Adriatic’s crumbling foam.

And she is sitting in the untended garden,
the angel of memory, her bare back shines;
at her nape, parted hair lifts wings.
An eddying yellow butterfly perches
on her arm and presses open its double page;

I have forgotten what I came to say.
My shadow lengthens towards her, rapt,
pierced with small stones and grasses,
but she will not turn, looking out
to an old sea, a vast plateau of static.

Sharona Ben-Tov Muir

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Filed under Beginning Brand New Things, My Parents, Poetry, Sharona Ben-Tov Muir