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It is a whirlwind in here

Spiced Apple Walnut Pancakes

Borrowing a technique from carrot cake, these apple spiced walnut pancakes will get you in the mood for autumn. See more at PBS Food.

Source: Spiced Apple Walnut Pancakes

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Fall Harvest from “Kafka In The Castle”

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In my novel, Kafka In The Castle, where I fill in the diary entries that Kafka left blank, I have him visit (as he, in real life, did) his sister Ottla. She had moved to a small village to manage her brother-in-law’s farm.

(In the photo, Kafka is at the far right, while Ottla is in the middle.)

10 October 1917

A rainy day which halted most of the harvest. I thought there would be grumbling, and the kitchen filled with men drinking tea. But if I’m here long enough, I’ll learn. I discovered that during harvest, most regular chores are put aside, so when some time appears, there is as much activity as ever. Plus, there is the additional anxiety over how long the produce will be delayed in the field. I’m certain that Ottla looks out the window every ten minutes, and asks my opinion of the rain every half hour. I have learned to look with my knowing farmer’s eye, and nod, and grunt. So far Ottla never fails to laugh.

11 October 1917

Another day of rain. Apparently, it isn’t just the delay the rain is causing as it falls, but if the fields become too wet, the farmers will still have to wait for the earth to dry out enough so they can work in it. Even Ottla had not been aware of this. She assumed – as did I – that when the rain ceased, she could resume in the fields. Also, some of the produce will rot if left too long. So, a decision must soon be made whether or not to go into the fields in the rain.

It will be difficult and awkward work, and will also mean much damaged and lost produce. There will be a meeting tomorrow of all the farmers, for they will help each other. Ottla surprised me when, after the supper dishes were done, she told me she wished father were present, so she could ask his advice. Wouldn’t that startle him? Sometimes one must give credit even to father – he was never afraid to make decisions.

The Elephant’s Poems For God On National Poetry Day

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My book of short stories, The Elephant Talks to God, consists of many conversations that an Elephant has with God. In one of the stories, he breaks out into {his version of} poetry.

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The monkeys, in the trees,

Cause a breeze, when they sneeze.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I nudged the boulder with my shoulder.

It was older, and much colder.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It is a stone, which has grown

In a zone, all alone.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It is a thrill, to have free will,

That is until, others say `nil’.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

That’s not my last, don’t be so fast,

My muse to cast, into the past.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The rock of ages, dissolved in stages,

And proved the sages’, `noblesse obliges’.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It’s just a guess, I do confess,

That more is less, in the wilderness.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

God – as God is wont to do – did have the last word.

Poems are made by fools like thee,

But only I can make a tree.

Oktoberfest/Octoberfest Dancing In München from “Fame’s Victim”

 

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Excerpt from Fame’s Victim:

My famous chap and his nearly-as famous actress girlfriend crash the party at Oktoberfest in Munich. But, it is OK – they were invited

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Annie’s crackers – it’s Oktoberfest.” She pulls him forward. “It’s a feat you’ve managed to stay sober this long. Now it’s time for your reward.”

ST likes the thought of a reward so he snuggles closer, pressing his pelvis against her wondrous ass, encased in its very tight Harlequin pants. She shoves back, which she knows is only encouragement, then reaches and takes his hand.

“You wait until later.”

“Will it be better, later?”

“Depends if you drink too much.”

“You always sober me up.” ST links his arm through hers. “Schunkel, you say?”

“Don’t start singing.” She jingles her bells again.

“`Don’t shortchange us…'” He raises his voice with each word, making Garbo pull him off balance.

“Life of the party,” she hisses. “Not the death of singing.”

He stumbles slightly, making him fit in with most of the other patrons. Then he follows Garbo toward a table that is obviously the depository of dignitaries.

ST knows city officialdom will be involved, but he is unprepared for a mayor in crossed suspender short leather pants, complete with his massive chain of office. Others, whom he supposes are aldermen and various strata of bureaucracy, are also historically attired. They look as suspiciously in his direction.

“Garbo?” His hiss is in the high register.

“Keep your beard on.”

“You promise there’ll be Glen Grant.”

“Annie’s crackers.” She touches the mouth of her Venetian mask. “I’m going to want some, too.”

A functionary rises from the table, ready to approach them with a scowl.

“C’mon,” pleads ST. “Let him chase us away.”

“Too late for that.” Garbo holds her mask further from her face, glancing at him as she whispers. “Besides, it might come in handy to have the city fathers being fatherly toward you.”

“Why? So I can get a parade?”

“With a team of horses to pull you through the streets.”

“We’ve been together two years.” ST puts a hand on her shoulder. “You know I want nothing like that.”

“What you want, and what you need … ” Garbo brushes his forehead with a jester’s bell. “I obviously have yet to teach you the difference.”

Garbo turns toward the table of officials and lowers her mask. The grim face of the dignitary ready to bar their way changes in a second, replaced with a broad smile. He holds out his hand to shake, though obviously debating whether or not to give her a hug. The temptation is great, and the occasion offers a license to such familiarity. Garbo avoids the situation by holding her mask out between them, and pointing toward ST.

The official stops momentarily, the smile trapped on his face. He is confused, wondering if he is being introduced to a bodyguard or some secretary, equivalent to himself. Garbo smiles, and sings a couple of lines from `Don’t Shortchange Us.’ She sings loudly enough to be heard by the other officials at the table, and immediately two heads whisper into the mayor’s ear. The man jumps up, his chain of office clanging against the beer stein in front of him. He pushes past his own officials, and makes a lunge for ST’s hand.

“Mein Herr. Welcommen!”

The mayor’s grip is so forceful that ST is again pulled off stride and they both bump into the table at the same time. The heart shaped gingerbread cookie around ST’s neck gets caught in the mayor’s heavy chain, and they are pulled together as they try to come apart. ST smells the beer on the other man’s breath, and has a pang of envy. Alcohol would be a relief right now, Glen Grant or not.

“We do a little dance – yes?”

The mayor is laughing, but ST realizes that he may be in some danger of losing his disguise. He doesn’t plan any further excursions tonight but his life proves unpredictable, and he can never be sure. Plus, the pull of glue from his face will not feel very pleasant or look very dignified. He can neither escape, nor risk the energetic contact his dancing partner encourages.

“Does this mean you have no time to dance with me?”

Garbo eases herself close to the two men. She stands in such a way that she could be speaking to either of them. They are confused and stop moving. Garbo reaches over and using both hands, manages to untangle the ornate mayor’s chain, and the string which the giant cookie hangs from. She winks at ST, then nudges against the mayor with her hip.

“Or do you boys prefer each other’s company?”

ST has become used to this type of banter, but the mayor does not know if laughter is called for or not. People at this stratum of celebrity do strange things, and he neither wants to appear foolish, nor offend his high scale guests. However, his own photographer is already happily clicking away, and he must do something. Putting his arm across his mayor’s chain so it can catch on nothing else, he turns toward Garbo with a brief bow. Every voter will understand his attraction.

“You dress as Harlequin, yes, so you make the joke.” He extends his hand. “A few steps if the arena is not too crowded.”

“Even if it is crowded.” Garbo takes his hand and pulls him away from the table. “Let’s make that chain rattle.”

ST does not know how many people realize who is dancing with the mayor – he suspects no more than already know. It is late and dark and crowded and noisy, and much of that noise comes from people because they are drunk. Most will probably not even recognize the mayor, chain of office or not.

Because of photographs taken at the mayor’s table, ST has concern about his disguise – if photos end up in newspapers, will he have to discard it? Although expensive, it isn’t the cost or  inconvenience which bothers him.

Over the years, even with the expertise of Hollywood make-up artists, he has found only a limited number of disguises which look authentic. In addition to this, they have to be comfortable upon his face for hours at a time. The one he chose tonight is a favourite, and he will regret losing it. He should have thought more clearly about the transition he was expected to make. It is rare that he goes in disguise to a place where he eventually is to be recognized.

“I thought a beard would hide a man’s frown.”

ST is startled back to his surroundings. He has been watching the dancing, though he long ago lost sight of Garbo and the mayor. He is astonished to see her standing at his side, Harlequin costume glittering in the subdued light. He notes the mayor sits at his table, beer stein in hand.

“You worked him into a thirst.”

“It wasn’t that difficult.” Garbo reaches for ST’s hand. “I’m about to do the same for you.”

Though ST is tired and has been on his feet a long time, he does not resist. Once out among the other revelers on this last night of Octoberfest, he makes use of the dancing lessons both wife number one and two insisted he have. He has come to quite enjoy the dance floor, and Garbo is an excellent partner.

“Tell me again why we are here.”

“You are `Lord of the Manor’ – literally.” Garbo stifles a giggle. “You should make your presence known in the country.”

“Why in Munich?”

“It’s a good distance from where you actually live.” Garbo aims him toward a corner. “You don’t want people too familiar.”

“I certainly do not.” ST picks up her direction and twirls her adroitly among the dancers. “Except, of course, for you.”

“Not to worry.” She slides a hand over his posterior and pulls him closer. “I’ll not only help you remove that beard, but everything else as well.”

“That will be appreciated.” He thrusts his pelvis against her. “But maybe you could start here and work your way up.”

“It feels as if you’re working your way up already.”

“Yes.” ST now whispers in her ear. “I’ve often thought that dancing is wasted by doing it on your feet.”

ST takes note of the most flamboyant dancers on the floor, and starts to copy their steps. Garbo is initially surprised, but quickly follows his lead. She is prepared to match his every move, and ST is determined to make her lose her step. Other revelers make room for them, and some even start to clap to the music. The bandleader has noticed the commotion, and after watching the couple for a minute turns the beat around to their rhythm. By this time even the mayor’s table is back on their feet, thumping their beer steins on its slippery surface.

“Bring it home, Mamma!” shouts the mayor.

Garbo growls with laughter as ST puts a hand on either side of her waist, and lifts her from the floor. She places her hands on his shoulders, and kicks back with her feet. ST actually aims her in different directions, and other dancers dodge away, squealing in delight.

“And another thing.” Garbo is panting and shouting into his ear at the same time.

“What would that be?” ST precariously leans back, almost losing his balance as he lets her slide to the floor off his chest. He twirls her on her stomach before he scoops her up again, and grips her hard against him.

“You’re heading into two months of Millennium stuff?”

“Yes.”

“And it’s going to be serious?”

“Yes.”

“Then ya gotta have some f-u-n.” She throws her hands over her head and leans way back, knowing he is not going to let her go. “And what better place is there than the biggest party in Europe?”

As she presses against him again he has a different answer to her question, and he whispers it into her ear. Her eyes go wide, and she brings up her hand in a motion to slap his face.

But she kisses him instead.

(image)http://www.oktoberfest-trips.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/cropped-logo_ofr_200x179.png

Tarte Tatin

Fall apples fall.

‘This apple tarte Tatin recipe is a French dessert. The caramelized apple tart is said to have been invented by accident.

Source: Tarte Tatin

For The Anniversary of Leonard Cohen’s Birth

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Happily, I managed to see Leonard Cohen twice (at the beginning, and near the end) of his last extended tour. Once was in the intimate venue of a few hundred folk in a small theatre. The other was in a civic stadium holding thousands. He was exquisite in both.

In my novel, Fame’s Victim, my famous protagonist, ST (famous for his discoveries of Space/Time)  and Leonard Cohen, dine out in Montréal after attending the funeral of yet someone else famous, Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

The following is part of their day.

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From Fame’s Victim:

At the table ST begins to pull out a chair which will put his back to the street, but Cohen clicks his tongue and moves the chair until it is nearly beside the other.

“We’ll sit together. We’ll twin their delight.”

“If they approach . . . “

Cohen winks. “You won’t have to sing a note.”

ST settles beside the poet and gives himself up to the street scene. Regardless of the chill in the air most of this early afternoon crowd have made little concession to the time of year. The women especially seem as fashionably and attractively attired as any he has seen in any public place.

“The ladies are alluring.” ST smiles.

“Antidote to the black of funeral garb.”

ST notes the usual ‘double take’ of those pedestrians who happen to look their way. Barely is eye contact made however before it is quickly removed. Couples immediately chat together, but there is not one finger pointed in their direction.

“What would you like to drink?”

ST looks away from the street and smiles as an unexpected thought takes him.

“Champagne. Will they have something decent here?”

“They will offer a selection.”

With a half-raised arm and the gesture of a finger, the waitress is summoned. Upon hearing the request she lists a half dozen champagnes. ST chooses one he knows will be as crisp as the day.

“Any food?”

“Dear God – yes.” ST smiles at the waitress then glances at the other man. “Any suggestions?”

“They stuff a chicken breast here with portebello mushrooms, feta and wild rice.” He touches his lips. “With a Greek salad it is a meal to embrace.”

“That sounds fine.” ST looks back to the waitress. “But bring the champagne now.”

“Are we to toast?” Cohen watches the waitress walk away as he speaks. “Or are we to mourn?”

“I less and less mourn the dead.” ST also watches the waitress leave. “They are lost to us but they are not lost to time.”

“Then we acknowledge?”

“Yes.” ST turns to the street. “The only time I met the Prime Minister – mere months ago – he desired we have champagne. It is a memory to share.”

“Memory – the ghost at every table.”

The noontime crowd has run its course and, just as with the café clientele, the number of people on the street become fewer. However word-of-mouth has spread and everyone makes a pass of the café. Other than being the object of glances and smiles, the two men are not interrupted. Pedestrian traffic does slow however when the bottle of champagne arrives.

“They want a show.” Cohen runs a finger over the cold bottle.

“There’s a proper way.” The waitress is winding a white napkin around the bottle.

“In tandem, don’t you think?” The poet glances at ST.

“That will make the news of the world.” ST indicates the number of cameras and video recorders among the crowd.

“It should be the news of the world.”

The waitress is not certain of his intent, but when Cohen stands beside her with a generous smile she hands him the bottle. He lets the napkin fall to the table and holds the champagne – label out – toward the street. ST gets to his feet amid the click-click-click of cameras and begins to remove the wire basket.

“You can not share my déjà vu but, trust me, Time is doubling over with laughter.”

ST begins to twist the cork, his other hand around the bottle’s neck even though Cohen holds the base. When he feels the cork start to give, he puts both thumbs against it and shoves. As it explodes into the Montreal sky the waitress holds the two glasses and, amid the welling applause from the street, ST pours the champagne.

“We begin to set the clocks at normal.” The poet takes both glasses and the flustered waitress flees.

“By drinking champagne at noon?” ST reaches for the offered glass.

“By showing we no longer need to mourn.” Cohen’s smile contains wry triumph. “Time is pulling out of the station and now we need to jump on board.”

“With a sip of champagne?” ST brings his glass to his lips.

Cohen gives a slight bow to the street. “The most effective slight-of-hand is the trick that’s seen by all.”

 

A Birthday Day A Century Apart Via Kafka And Me

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When I wrote my novel, Kafka In The Castle, filling in all of Kafka’s missing diary entries, I discovered something  interesting a few months into it. The day/month/year I was writing about, mirrored the day/month/year in which I was actually doing the writing.

For example, if the third of July was a Friday in my year, it was also Friday, 03 July in 1917. It was quite an exciting surprise, and made (I think) for more immediate writing.

Alas, my own birthday of 19 September was already filled in by Kafka, and I had nothing to do.

The following is Kafka’s actual entry for 19 September, 1917.

Following it, is the entry I gave him for  his own birthday, 03 July 1917.

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19 (September 1917)

Instead of telegram: “Very welcome station Michelob is excellent Franz Ottla” I wrote a farewell letter, and once again strongly oppressed agonies.

 

Farewell letter however, is ambiguous, as my opinion.

 

It is the age of the wound, more than its depth and proliferation, which constitutes its painfulness.

 

To be torn up again and again in the same wound canal, the countless wound operated again treated.

 

The fragile moody void essence – a telegram swaying, a letter directs it, animated it, the silence after the letter makes it dull.

 

The game of the cat with the goats. The goats are similar: Polish Jews, Uncle Siegfried, Ernst Weiß, Irma

 

Various but similar strict inaccessibility of the creator Hermann (who has now gone away without a supper and salutation, the question is whether he will come tomorrow), of Fraulein, the Marenka.

 

Basically, they are oppressed on the other side, as in front of the animals in the stable, when they are asked for something and they follow astonishingly.

 

The case is only more difficult here, because they seem so often accessible and quite understandable.

 

It is always inconceivable to me that almost anyone who can write is able to objectify the pain in pain.

 

For example, in misfortune, perhaps with the burning misfortune, and to tell someone in writing: I am unhappy.

 

Yes, I can go beyond it, and in various pranks, depending on the gift, which seems to have nothing to do with the misfortune, simply or antithetically, or with whole orchestras of associations.

 

And it is not a lie at all, and does not nurture the pain; it is simply a graceful excess of the forces at a moment when the pain has visibly exhausted all my powers to the ground of my being, which he scrapes. What is the surplus?

 

Letter to Max. Liar, vain, comedic.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

From: Kafka In The Castle

03 July 1917

The date of my birth. Thirty-four years ago in a month I now dread because of the heat. I’m not much for stock-taking (thus certainly not much my father’s son.) What has been done can’t be changed, so thoughts about it are wasted effort. Lessons to be learned – that’s all. But the dreaded “future” – this is the battlefield. I’m convinced the bulk of my life is over, and any work to be done should not be delayed. Perhaps this is why I abandon things, so anxious am I to get on to the new.

In celebration of today, I did not make it my last.

The Elephant In The Storm

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From: The Elephant Talks To God  

The elephant was lost to the wind.

He stood foursquare against the tumult, head lowered as if ready to charge. It wrapped his body in its flags and banners, and then as quickly ripped them away. He had to close his eyes in some of the gusts, and occasionally his tail stuck straight out behind.     Many of the other animals found shelter, and even the monkeys came down to the lower branches of their trees. But the elephant flapped his ears in ecstasy as the wind battered against him, and trumpeted as loudly as the rowdydow would permit.

“I hear you,” said a frolicking cloud, as it whipped past his head. It turned a somersault back over the elephant’s back, and positioned itself with much dexterity in the elephant’s line of vision. “And I hazard the guess I’m the only one who can.”

“It’s like flying.”

“Now, now. You’ve tried that before.”

“But I’m staying on the ground, this time.”

“Well,” conceded God. “You’re standing on the ground. And it’s probable you will be staying on the ground. But, as you know, nothing in life is certain.”

“It certainly isn’t,” agreed the elephant, who then attempted to nod his head in agreement. But the wind took a particular bend, and not only could he not nod his head, but his trunk got thrown back into his face, hitting him in the eye.

“Ouch,” said the elephant.

“A cautionary God,” said God, “would go `tsk tsk’, and tell you to come in out of the wind.”

“And is that what you’re going to tell me,” shouted the elephant over the roar.

“God, no,” said God. “This is great stuff.”

“You’re a reckless God, then?” asked the elephant.

“Reckless. And cautious. There is a time for both. There is a need for both. Life demands that you run with it. And sometimes you run scared, and sometimes you run joyful.” The cloud was now tangled in the elephant’s tusks. ” And sometimes you get so caught up in it all that you can’t tell the difference.” The cloud shouted. “And sometimes you get hit in the eye. And sometimes you don’t.”

“And sometimes both,” suggested the elephant.

“You’re catching on.”

“But to you,” protested the elephant. “It is all so simple.”

“But …” The cloud sounded perplexed. “It is as simple as it sounds. Everything is everything. What you seem to do is pay too much attention to the individual parts. Concentrate on the whole.”

“I can hardly think of everything when I’m in the middle of this.”

“This is the perfect place.” The cloud played tag with the elephant’s ears. “Race with it. Race with it. Race with it. You will never dance a better dance than here. With me.”

And the elephant watched the cloud tumble around his head, and bounce against his back, and twist around his tail.

And the elephant laughed, and laughed so loud that it broke through even the racing wind, and made the other animals peek from their shelters to watch.

And the elephant bobbed and weaved with the cloud, and the cloud held the elephant in a wispy embrace, and the wind turned to music.

(image)https://thumbs.dreamstime.com/b/african-elephant-rainbow-south-africa-lonely-bull-crosses-grass-plains-dark-storm-clouds-as-background-56027644.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trump And Obama Walk Into A Bar

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~ What’s your poison, Donald?

~ Before the election, I thought it was the USA – believe me.

~ And now?

~ It’s my own turncoats – and you.

~ That’s what happens when you bring rats aboard the Ship of State.

~ Now  Old Number 44 is using  a sword and stabbing me in the back.

~ Sword of Justice.

~ And you like to twist it.

~ Look at the Statue of Justice.

~ Isn’t she blindfolded?

~ Yeh – and keep your hands to yourself.

~ A man gets certain thoughts, sometimes.

~ A man keeps them as thoughts, Donald.

~ It is too much fun not to share.

~ You’re destroying yourself.

~ Tweet tweet tweet, Barack-Oh.

~ Silence is more than the Golden Arches, Donald.

~ God, I love me that Twitter.

~ It doesn’t do you much good.

~ I vent.

~ You’re out of control .

~ You think so?

~ Even your own people are cleaning up your mess.

~ Yeh, Barack-Oh. That keeps them busy.

~ That’s what you want?

~ Hop hop hopping around at my whim? Yes.

~ How long do you think you can keep them distracted?

~ Oh, I see a second term with my name on it.

 

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