Friday, January 30, 2009

Picnic, Lightning


I was born in 1910, in Paris. My father was a gentle, easy-going person, a salad of racial genes: a Swiss citizen, of mixed French and Austrian descent, with a dash of the Danube in his veins. I am going to pass around in a minute some lovely, glossy-blue picture-postcards. He owned a luxurious hotel on the Riviera. His father and two grandfathers had sold wine, jewels and silk, respectively. At thirty he married an English girl, daughter of Jerome Dunn, the alpinist, and granddaughter of two Dorset parsons, experts in obscure subjects--paleopedology and Aeolian harps, respectively. My very photogenic mother died in a freak accident (picnic, lightning) when I was three, and, save for a pocket of warmth in the darkest past, nothing of her subsists within the hollows and dells of memory, over which, if you can still stand my style (I am writing under observation), the sun of my infancy had set: surely, you all know those redolent remnants of day suspended, with the midges, about some hedge in bloom or suddenly entered and traversed by the rambler, at the bottom of a hill, in the summer dusk; a furry warmth, golden midges.

I grew, a happy, healthy child in a bright world of illustrated books, clean sand, orange trees, friendly dogs, sea vistas and smiling faces. Around me the splendid Hotel Mirana revolved as a kind of private universe, a whitewashed cosmos within the blue greater one that blazed outside. From the aproned pot-scrubber to the flanneled potentate, everybody liked me, everybody petted me. Elderly American ladies leaning on their canes listed toward me like towers of Pisa. Ruined Russian princesses who could not pay my father, bought me expensive bonbons. He, mon cher petit papa, took me out boating and biking, taught me to swim and dive and water-ski, read to me Don Quixote and Les Misérables, and I adored and respected him and felt glad for him whenever I overheard the servants discuss his various lady-friends, beautiful and kind beings who made much of me and cooed and shed precious tears over my cheerful motherlessness.


I attended an English day school a few miles from home, and there I played rackets and fives, and got excellent marks, and was on perfect terms with schoolmates and teachers alike. The only definite sexual events that I can remember as having occurred before my thirteenth birthday (that is, before I first saw my little Annabel) were: a solemn, decorous and purely theoretical talk about pubertal surprises in the rose garden of the school with an American kid, the son of a then celebrated motion-picture actress whom he seldom saw in the three-dimensional world; and some interesting reactions on the part of my organism to certain photographs, pearl and umbra, with infinitely soft partings, in Pichon's sumptuous La Beauté Humaine that I had filched from under a mountain of marble-bound Graphics in the hotel library. Later, in his delightful debonair manner, my father gave me all the information he thought I needed about sex.

-Vladimir Nabokov, 1955


The details of my life are quite inconsequential.
Where do I begin? My father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery. My mother was a fifteen year old French prostitute named Chloe with webbed feet. My father would womanize, he would drink, he would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark. Sometimes he would accuse chestnuts of being lazy--the sort of general malaise that only the genius possess and the insane lament. My childhood was typical; summers in Rangoon, luge lessons. In the spring, we'd make meat helmets. When I was insolent, I was placed in a burlap bag and beaten with reeds--pretty standard really. At the age of 12 I received my 1st scribe. At the age of 14, a Zoroastrian named Vilma ritualistically shaved my testicles. There really is nothing like a freshly shorn scrotum--it's breathtaking--I suggest you try it.

--Mike Meyers, 1997

Coincidence? I think not!

Note to self: be more careful

It has come to my attention that this blog has a small following in Kent.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Israeli Conflict Is Far Too Nuanced And Complex To Sum Up In One Op-Ed: [Unless] You Hate Jews

The Israeli Conflict Is Far Too Nuanced And Complex To Sum Up In One Op-Ed: [Unless] You Hate Jews

--The Onion

Thursday, January 22, 2009

You Find the Weirdest Things in Your Mailbox: A Conrad Black Update?

Subject: Conrad Black update

I know these messages from Facebook groups can be annoying. But this club has existed for more than a year and a half and this is the first message to ever go out.

Yesterday was an exciting day for America and the world with the swearing in of a new President. It also brought disappointment in that Conrad Black did not receive a presidential pardon or a sentence commutation from President Bush. Nevertheless, I thought you might be interested to know just how Lord Black is holding up.

I was fortunate to see him recently in Florida and you will be pleased to know he is doing extremely well. Indeed, both physically and mentally, he was in virtually the same condition as before he went in. And he is as determined as ever to clear his name. Anyone hoping or expecting him to come out of this ordeal a broken or even dispirited man will be sorely disappointed.

He asked me to pass on a few messages to members of this group.

First, conditions at the Coleman low security prison, while naturally somewhat regimented, are not severe or even uncivilized, and he has no serious complaint with the administration. He is occupying his time reading, writing, tutoring educationally disadvantaged individuals in English, and teaching US history. You have probably been reading his bi-monthly contributions to the National Post comment page and his columns on The Daily Beast, Tina Brown's riveting new online publication. He is receiving great volumes of supportive messages from many countries, particularly from Canada and the U.S.

He has also become an advocate of reforming the U.S. judicial system. He is in touch with many justice and penal reform organizations, and does what he can to help some of the victims of America's unjust prosecution system. As he put it, "the US has become a prosecutocracy and a carceral state, and the relevant sections of the Constitution, especially the Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments, have been imprisoned in the world of the cooperating witness and the whistle-blower. It is a distinct, though unsought honour to play a small role in the restoration of American due process, and respect for the rights of the accused."

Lastly, you should be hearing a lot from Lord Black in the coming months. His legal counsel recently submitted an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. He won 85% of the case at trial and his hope is to win the remaining 15% there. His widely-anticipated book about the travails of the last six years, which he has been working on for some time, will be published this spring.

Lord Black is already planning and looking forward to re-launching his career upon his release. He is extremely grateful for the solidarity of those who have supported him throughout these difficult years and looks forward to resuming normal life before too long.

Thanks for your support of this group.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Breaking News from The Globe and Mail: It's really gloomy out there

Breaking News from The Globe and Mail
It's really gloomy out there


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Gloom and doom here.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Friday, January 9, 2009

Say it isn't so!

Some jumped writer in the other, other Times claims Tin Tin is gay. Can't we leave Tin Tin's private life out of it?


The scurrilous case here.