Search

kafkaestblog

It is a whirlwind in here

Margaret Atwood Travels Further Than Ever – Blessed Be!

the-testaments_margaret-atwood_3

I have noted some folk looking at this post from a couple of years ago. I had put it up because of the success of the television series, A Handmaid’s Tale.

Now, Ms. Atwood has produced a new novel, The Testaments, [which, by the way, has a brilliant front and back cover] with an international launch from London, England. I can humbly state that my part in her literary life remains the same.

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

It was not my intent to piss off Margaret Atwood.

The opposite, in fact. I wanted her to know she was an inspiration.

She was giving a reading at the University of New Brunswick in my student days. I attended, but there was quite the gathering and she was whisked away at the end. However, I overheard there was a ‘gathering’ in her honour. Invitation only, of course. Academia and literati.

I crashed the party (that was the term used by the professor who clapped his sturdy hand upon my shoulder but – happily – did not thrust me into the night).

But Ms. Atwood was kept deep in many a learned conversation and I had no opportunity to converse. I did, however, overhear where she would be spending next afternoon – the historic University Observatory.

Next day I knocked upon the Observatory door.

It was not a cheerful Margaret Atwood who answered, and answered with alacrity.

She asked my name.

She asked my business.

And she asked how the hell I knew where she was. She had stolen the day to do some writing. Some ‘real’ writing, in this window-of-opportunity grudgingly offered on the book tour.

At least I was there to praise Atwood and not to bury her with some essay question.

Nor had I a manuscript to hand to her.

I might not have garnered a smile, but her curt thank you was reward enough.

For me, at least.

Featured post

Like An Ice Moon Of Jupiter

callistoplus_gal

He is not a man for grand gestures.  

The gift came as a surprise, the kiss a shock. He was embarrassed by the first and aroused by the second. Time, always a constant worry – not the futile minutes, hours, days, the whirlwind passage of months, but the disappearance of the now into the past -had again taken a bite out of his life before he had realized it was gone.

 “I thought you would like it.” she said, a gift somehow made more important because it was not planned, an obvious display of spontaneity. A chance meeting in a store on a Saturday afternoon. “I’m leaving soon, in two weeks I’ll be in France.” Eyes taking in his every reaction, her voice tinged with reproach. “Do you like it?”


And of course he did, but there were too many memories laced with half smiles jamming into his head, not painful in themselves but adding now to finality. The party where he met her, surely that was just last week, at the most a month ago. Surely it did not stretch back to soft Autumn nights.

“Well, here,” she writes something. “It’s for you, you know.”

A look of puzzlement crosses her face as the gift changes hands, the too brief touch of her fingers. he clutches it carefully, looks back to her eyes and imagines he sees a twinge of that nonexistent past. or does she only reflect what is in his own face?


 And then the kiss. So unexpected that he almost jumps back.


The touch of lips and warm breath, the smell of fresh, soft hair against his cheek. His own mouth open in surprise, her farewell brush of lips turned partially into passion. And then she is out the door, onto the street, and he is standing by a counter feeling very old, his heart an icy moon of Jupiter.

Ah, Christiane. Salut.

 

(image) https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/image/9805/callistoplus_gal.jpg

To Wear A Jolly Hat

colorful-fedora-hat-more-colors-10

 

Oh, to wear a jolly hat,
 
An impressive chapeau,
 
A trendy  topper.
 
And be:
 
The host of the neighbourhood,
 
The toast of the town,
 
The Crème de la crème.
 
The bee in the bonnet,
 
The bee’s knees,
 
The cat’s meow,
 
The font of celebration
And good cheer
 
To direct,
 
Like a traffic cop
 
In the midst of
COVID constraint
and
Rambunctious chaos.
 
All those
 
In their honking cars,
 
With balloons
 
Tied to door handles
 
Or streaming
 
From
 
Open windows
 
 
Fiddling
(figuratively)
Whilst Rome burns.
 
 
Bringing cheer to those,
 
Trapped upon their balconies,
 
 
Daring not to go down
To the parking lots of life.
 
 
Except
 
(of course)
 
For those few
 
– well, not so few –
 
Who leap over constraints;.
 
Social order;
 
Good health
 
&
 
Metal fencing.
 
To grab at
 
Proffered gifts,
 
And bestow upon
 
Friend and family alike
 
The hugs
 
And
 
Kiss
 
Of Death.

A Meal From History: Beef Stew Tonight

20121201_1

 

There is beef stew tonight
 
Done in the slow cooker.
 
S L O W
 
Which
 
(Admittedly}
 
Is Not Historic.
 
But
 
The stew itself:
 
There is so much beef …
 
(How much?)
 
So many cubes of beef
 
That
 
There isn’t any room for the potatoes.
 
No spuds
 
Nary a pomme de terre.
 
Onions – of course.
 
Carrots – why, yes.
 
And turnip
 
Rutabaga
 
R U T A B A G A
 
(I luvs the word because
It really looks like what it is
A true root vegetable that
You have to hack apart).
 
All bubble bubble
(but no trouble)
Together in its
Slow Cooker
Which isn’t really
Historic
But I do think
“Cauldron”.
 
And then
 
Speaking of “Cauldron”
 
This bubble bubble
(but no trouble)
Stew
Is going to be served
 
On buttered heels
 
From numerous loaves,
Of bread.
 
Trencherman fare upon
 
Sopping sops.
 
[Should I tell
How Heavenly it
Smells
Upon
Entering the kitchen?]
 
Why – yes! – I should.
 
Surely ale should
Accompany this stew!
 
But
 
What about redred
 
Wine?

When dining out in Italy. Italy Reopens Restaurants and Cafés: What Are the New Rules?

Source: Italy Reopens Restaurants and Cafés: What Are the New Rules?

Death Mask And The Creative Spirit

dscn1265

 

My two gals, Alison Alexandra and her friend, Amanda, went on a sea voyage. A voyage via a freighter, and not a cruise ship. They stop in the ports where the freighter stops, and they take visits of the town if they so desire.

 

On one of their times on shore, they decide to visit a Police Museum. One of the exhibits is a Death Mask of a hanged murderer. They take great interest in this, noting the repose of the face.

 

This incident is based on an event in my own life. I melded parts of my experience into my characters afternoon visit during their day ashore. This had not been on my mind when I started this particular chapter..
 

I once taught a workshop on Supernatural writing. For my workshop I took advantage to take my students on a field trip to see the death mask of a historically known poet. The death mask was conveniently on view in a display case in a near-by building.

None of them had even heard of ‘death masks’, let alone seen one. I invited them to incorporate the idea into their writing exercises. Some did, some did not.

However, it’s possible this visit to Death elicited the following story from one of my students.

My student and her husband had purchased a new house. Cleaning and renovations eventually took them to the back loft area, which was piled high with decades of accumulated detritus from a long life.

 

They cleared out beds and boxes and newspaper piles and magazines and bundles of clothes and on and on. Near the end of this process, my student noticed a “clump of something”on one of the wooden beams of the loft.

Getting ladder and flashlight her husband climbed to see what it was.

It was the end of a number of knotted bed sheets.

Russia Invades The Artic With Paratroopers

3000

So implies the newspaper headlines in the Spring of 2020. With photos. Photos provided by the Russian military.

In The Bonner Resolution, my novel of NATO Military Intrigue, the Russians do not invade the Artic. But they make stealth under the ice with a nuclear submarine. NATO is waiting.

This is how “The Bonner Resolution” begins:

 

Afternoon ZULU Time 14:52

The sky is clear and cold.

And blue.

This does not help while watching the expanse of ice. Colonel Bonner thought it would. He thought such a clean demarcation of surface and horizon would accentuate anything appearing between the two. Across kilometers of rippled ice that encourages the winds. The winds that make the Arctic cold penetrate his high tech parka and his thermal long johns. They talk about “wind chill” in the country Bonner is used to. They don’t know nothing.

Before this assignment, Colonel Bonner presumed he had been every place NATO could send him. He has been in war zones. He has been in safe zones where people did not know there is a war. He has been in those diplomatic zones that teeter-totter between the two. Those most of all. He has fought enemies both foreign and domestic. He has averted disaster of massive proportions on his own soil (well – legal sea boundary) that has still managed to remain unexplained.

It was cold there, too.

Colonel Bonner is lying under white camouflage blankets and upon a waterproof mat. He has been in this position for two hours. Any longer and he will be prone to hallucinations. Any longer and he will freeze his balls off – regardless of protective clothing and insulated mat. This is not just his opinion; it is the observation of his guide. His Canadian Ranger companion had nudged him on the shoulder and cupped his own groin and pointed at his watch. If he wants to have babies he’ll move his ass. The cold doesn’t creep up on you, it hits with a wallop. From one minute to the next.

Bonner looks at his own watch. Twenty minutes left though he feels he could have been here either four hours or forty minutes. Time expands and contracts at the same time. This happens during long periods of observation, wherever he has such an assignment. It happens with more force when there is virtually nothing to see. The passage of the sun is the most notable action going on before him. It proves to be of little distraction. And anyway, it is dimmed by his snow goggles.

Bonner adapts to this barren reality by accepting it is not really barren. He pays attention not only to the things the Canadian Rangers teach him, but he watches how they interact to the surroundings. With few humans to deal in an environment that can kill them, they are far more attentive to their senses than he. A creaking of ice, or the slant of shifting snow, tells them more than a manual reveals. They can smell a change coming toward them that is hours away. He makes an attempt to follow their lead. He keeps his mouth shut on the inane observations those from the south are prone to make. He has been shown his restraint is appreciated.

 

**************************

And this is but one of the many news stories that  cover the real event.
[IMAGE]  https://storage.googleapis.com/afs-prod/media/media:52a815de8b63498e8121d16f40112b6f/3000.jpeg

Broccoli Affogati: Drowned Broccoli  Drowned with … wine!

Source: Broccoli Affogati: Drowned Broccoli

Kafka Looks Into The Mirror Of God

franz-kafka-kresba-1

[Image of Kafka by Kafka]

 

In my novel, Kafka In The Castle, I fill in the lost (or destroyed) diary entries of Franz Kafka. He recorded many of his dreams. So do I.

**************

04 March 1917

I dreamed I was a prophet. The prophet Amshel, which is my Jewish name.

And, I could talk to God.

And I was looking at myself in the mirror.

And I was looking back at me. I mean, Franz was in the mirror, looking back at me – the me of Amshel – who was looking in the mirror. Except, I was as much me looking out, as I was me looking in.

The wall behind the prophet was painted red, while the one behind Franz was of brown wood. They both could raise their fists at each other, and sometimes did. In unison, of course. That was the law.

“Certainly, you may speak to God,” said Franz. “What is there in that? Everyone speaks to God – in sentences, in actions, with their lives. No one is more talked-to in the Universe than God. But what a prophet needs, is to have God speak back.”

And then God spoke, from somewhere behind the mirror, but He did not speak to Amshel. He spoke to Franz.

“You are on the wrong side,” said God.

“Speak to me,” said Amshel.

“Wrong side of what?” asked Franz.

“Of the mirror,” answered God.

“Don’t speak to him,” shouted Amshel. “He is from the world of vipers.” And Amshel raised his fist, but Franz had to hold up his fist in turn.

“I am not the prophet you seek,” said Franz, and pointed his finger at the mirror. “There is your prophet.” And Amshel was also pointing toward the glass.

“Not him – you don’t want him.” He then turned his hand toward himself. “I’m the one you want.”

But Franz was just as vehement, as his thumb arched toward his own chest. “Not me.” For emphasis, he placed his hand over his heart. “In this, God, you have erred.”

And his words echoed those of Amshel, who also had his hand upon his heart. “In this, God, you have erred.”

And the two faces stared at one another, their fingers clutching at the garments they wore.

But God was silent.

Red Arrows fly over an abandoned Buckingham Palace to commemorate VE Day — Royal Central

The RAF Red Arrows flew on over an eerily quiet Buckingham Palace on Friday morning to mark Victory in Europe Day. In what was supposed to be a day of huge celebration with thousands of people lining the streets, instead the only people out to see the flypast were journalists and photographers. It had been…

via Red Arrows fly over an abandoned Buckingham Palace to commemorate VE Day — Royal Central

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑