Friday, April 24, 2015

Book Review: "Help! A Bear Is Eating Me!"

HELP!  A Bear is Eating Me!HELP!  A Bear is Eating Me! by Mykle Hansen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Marv Pushkin, the narrator of this short novel, is a complete jackass. Having set up a Team Building Event in Alaska for his advertising agency group, Marvin manages to end up alone, pinned beneath his Range Rover, covered in bear lure, in the middle of no place. How will he get laid by Marcia from Product Dialogue? How will he see to it that his wife Edna has a fatal accident? How will he arrange for nature to be bulldozed and replaced with 7-11's and condominiums? It's going to be tough because, wouldn't you know, a bear shows up and begins eating Marvin's feet.

Fortunately, Marv has enough dope of various kinds, and beer and beef jerky underneath the vehicle to survive for days while being nibbled on by the bruin in question. All the while, he regales the reader with his absurdly comic vitriol towards other people, Alaska, the Team, and yes, bears.

Marv comes by his assholishness somewhat honestly. He was traumatized at a young age by the death of his younger brother who met his end by drinking Toilet Duck and then running out into traffic. Marvin had stolen his teddy bear, who wore motorcycle leathers--including chaps--and mirror sunglasses, but threw the bear away when he suspected it might be gay.

Marvin Pushkin doesn't like anyone, is to blame for nothing, and above all, wants revenge just as soon as he can get out from under his Range Rover. It might take a while, but that's so much the better for the reader. I had to actually stop reading a couple of times because I was laughing so hard. Recommended for those with a really bent sense of humor.

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Thursday, April 23, 2015


She has the face of a Botticelli angel,
and the smile of a homecoming queen.

She has hair you could base a religion on,
if that religion were nature and beauty-based
and not like those currently trending.

She is loved by both men and women.
Dogs jump in her lap and she lets them.

Okay, here is the sad part:
No, wait, see if you can guess.

Her taste in clothes is legendary.
Long skirts, flowing tops,
half hippie and half Van Gogh.

If you're lucky, like bars and 7's lucky,
she'll be waiting for you in the four poster,
covered to the waist in foamy white linen.

Men want her.
Women want to be her.
The camera adores her.

So why does she sit in the white wicker on the side porch,
wearing a wide-brimmed hat
and a gorgeous floral skirt that comes to her bare feet,

envious of the neighbor's heedless ten-year-old
stretching herself out from the tire swing
without a thought? 

for Karin's "Last Legs" challenge at Real Toads. I have no idea if Emmylou Harris has nice legs or not, but I have noticed that she doesn't show them.


My Love Is Like

My love is like asphalt and loose gravel.
She's a fifty foot drop;
no guard rail, just a descanso.

My love is not straight,
and it's always been raining.
She is nothing but the tops of pine trees
reaching up for things that are not meant to fly, but suddenly, do.

 The Perfect Love Poem, for Kenia at Real Toads. I have used comparison.

Note: a descanso is a roadside shrine.

Monday, April 20, 2015

It's All In A Name

My name is Agnes Millicent MacLaury-MacFaquhar,
but in the villages they call me

Popsiqued'ononono Kanalbabwa Sesquemamba, which means
"She who glides like the most graceful of butterflies across the sky at dawn",
although the house boy tells me it really means "Old Monkeyface."

My father, Aldous Pimberton MacNaughton MacLaury,
was a manufacturer of women's undergarments.
When whalebone corsets went out of style, he built a meat pie empire
before moving the entire family here, 
to Port Fakankanza on the Chibumanian coast.

At any rate, I do love this place.
Every morning the Juboopari birds gather in the Momchagoosian trees
right outside my window.
My late husband, Horace Charlemagne Genghis "Jack" MacFarquhar,
used to collect the feathers and spent hours sorting and preserving them,
over in the east gazebo where he and Bruce Pinkfellow used to spend so many hours.

When Jacky died, I didn't know how I would cope.
Thank goodness for Bruce and his knack for handling money,
not to mention his kindness toward me.
I know what you're thinking, but he was always a perfect gentleman,
and such glorious taste in clothes! Those ascots were real silk.  

Still, I think we may travel on to Zigfatten Island next summer,
where they say that Mount Visnakunu sends up clouds of ash every afternoon. 
Yes, "we." I'm so sorry, I never introduced you to my late husband's ward!
He found her wandering on Fumba Gizella Avenue, 
without a penny to her name.
When he offered her a sweet, 
the horrid little thing kicked him smartly in the shins,
and ran off, but the local constabulary rounded her up in short order.

She's plain and mousey, and will never amount to anything,
but here she is, such as she is.
Say hello now, child. 
Well, it seems the cat's got her tongue.

Her name is Jane.

Ow! My shin!

Shay. Her name is Shay, my mistake, though lately she fancies herself "Fireblossom",
and is always scribbling on the plaster with a marker. 
I'll be giving her to the Gypsies presently.

for Bjorn's prompt at Real Toads. He wants us to write about our name, which for me is extra cool because, unlike most people, I chose mine myself. 



Sunday, April 19, 2015

Book Review: "Middlesex"

MiddlesexMiddlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When this novel came out, in 2002, several people urged me to read it, but although I did pick up a copy, I resisted reading it all the way up until now. I wasn't sure that femcentric me would like reading about a girl who decides she's a boy. I wasn't entirely wrong on that score, but this book is about much more than that.

Jeffrey Eugenides is from the area where I grew up, and the local flavor really added to the book's appeal for me. "Middlesex" sounds, from that title, as if it would be about fox hunters in England or something, but it begins in Asia minor and ends up in Grosse Pointe, Michigan some half century later. It's a sweeping family saga, beginning with the narrator's grandparents escaping the burning of Smyrna and emigrating to Detroit. How he knows the whole story is a little bit questionable, and there are things in this story that, really, he would not have known, but that really didn't bother me very much. Really, it's a rip-snorting yarn with plenty of heart right through the first half of the book.

The narrator is Cal, a rather buttoned-down forty-something man working as a diplomatic attache in Germany. The thing is, Cal was born Calliope--Callie for short--and was a girl until she was fourteen. Aye, there's the rub. Callie is, unbeknownst even to herself, a hermaphrodite who appears female, is raised female, thinks and acts and considers herself female, but is genetically male. When puberty hits, the wheels come off. Back to that in a minute.

I've often thought that male authors generally do a pretty poor job of writing women characters. Not so Mr. Eugenides. He made Callie so real to me that I actually put down the book and Googled the author to see whether this yarn might actually be his story. It isn't, but he wrote it well enough that there I was, checking. The best part of the book, to me, came in the third (of four) sections, when Callie is enrolled at a girls' school and suspects she is different, but isn't sure what exactly is going on. She falls hard for a classmate, referred to only as "The Obscure Object", or "The Object." (Callie's brother is similarly referred to only as "Chapter Eleven" throughout the book. I found this trick kind of irritating.) All the confusions, desires, jealousies, insecurities, and the whole boatload of teenage female experience are woven into this section of the story, through Callie's eyes. It was spot-on, and also very heartbreaking. Finally, an accident sends Callie to the hospital where her secret is revealed.

Enter Dr. Luce. After two weeks of examining and observing Callie, he recommends to her parents that she have a cosmetic procedure done, and hormone shots to start breast development and so forth. After a day in the hospital, she can go home and continue her life as a girl and nobody needs to be the wiser. BUT, when the good doctor is called out of the room for a moment, Callie reads her own report, and discovers that she is genetically male. Quite unbelievably, I thought, she decides then and there to run away, leaving her parents only a hastily written note. She becomes Cal from that moment onward. There is no joy in her decision. All that follows for quite a while is just scary and confusing and disorienting. He finally does land on his feet, but I didn't buy the reasoning at all. That caused the final hundred pages of the book to be pretty much wrecked, for me. I had really identified with young Callie; I understood her, she made sense to me, and I was invested in her as one is with favorite characters. I found her to be much more "there" than Cal. Cal seemed muted and ghosty, just sort of what was left over after Callie was denied. He didn't appeal to me at all, beyond a maternal kind of concern that he not get killed out there on  his own after he ran away. Despite his later saying that he is still basically the same person, I didn't find that to be so, as a reader. Callie vanished, and I wasn't pleased about it.

I give it four stars because the writing is excellent--despite some rather artsy flourishes in the prose from time to time--and the story is really good for the first 3/4 of the book. I learned a lot about Greeks, old time Detroit, and the intersexed, and I was entertained in fine style while doing it. BUT, that final section...ugh. It wasn't a total wash, and the last two chapters pick up again, a little, but because of the last 100 pages, I can't recommend this book except with a caveat.

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Scorpio By Moonlight

Blue is for boys, so they say--
wrong to the core, for they never saw your bed with its
invitation to deep indigo.

Van Gogh, smitten mad for you, 
sublimated in paints what he felt and could not bear.
(So I like to imagine, my body stretched out among the stars.)

So clever you are, or careless--
half covered like a moon in transit across a narrow window.
You know I'll go to the breezy sill,

lupine and soft-coated, leaning for silvered water and finding
delicious madness in the warm curve of the offered half
of your celestially gifted ass.

for Karin's "Going Halvsies!" challenge at Real Toads


Saturday, April 18, 2015


“It's not worth doing something unless someone, somewhere, would much rather you weren't doing it.”
Terry Pratchett 

Here is how I began:
a core, curled and sleeping
inside a temporary flesh of fruit.

The seed is the thing, after all,
and the rest just a vehicle
to be eaten or wasted.

Nonetheless, some say you and I must not rest too close together on the branch.
There will always be some busybody with a hammer and nails,
rattling on about what's natural.

Well, forget them. We have both come too far to listen to such stuff.
Here are my arms, the same arms as they have always been.
Here is my skin, so much like yours.

I have been told I was one thing, only to know I was another.
I love you, and that  I did not need to be told,
because home never changes; only the map, and the traveler herself.

 "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one" Galatians 3:28

Al Pacino
“I don’t understand the hatred and fear of gays and bisexuals and lesbians…
it’s a concept I honestly cannot grasp. To me, it’s not who you love…
a man, a woman, what have you…
it’s the fact that you love. That is all that truly matters.”
Al Pacino 
for Real Toads "Legacies of Nimoy and Pratchett."