Sunday, 17 April 2011

Free Association

One week. Three followers, 140 views and 19 posts are my stats. I don’t know if this is good or bad. Certainly it’s far from the Olympian heights of Clarissa’s quarter of a million views. I feel the weight of being writer, editor and publisher after having moved up the food chain from passive reader to commentator and finally blogger. I’m still trying to get a handle on “fair use.” Canada has civilized copy write laws where fifty years after an author’s death his oeuvre goes into the public domain and can be quoted at length which means I can quote Robert Service’s “Dangerous Dan McGrew” in its entirety but not Pablo Neruda’s “Epitalamio”. I wonder if the University of Texas which holds the copy write to Neruda’s estate would show some latitude. Last night I had a weird dream where I was Mikael Bloomkvist in Stieg Larsson’s book, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and in court for using copy written material without permission.
Noticing that one of my readers is from Slovenia, is Slavoj watching over me like some misanthropic Grand Inquisitor waiting to throw me on some epistemological rack?  I plead guilty of cultural contamination rather than cultural capitalism.  Northrop Frye once said that reading is “like a picnic to which the author brings the words and the reader the meaning.” Trolling through Clarissa’s followers list to outline a profile of a potential reader, I’m just going to do my eclectic thing and see how things work out. In one of my preceding posts I used the word, progymnasmata which is a Greek word referring to a list of exercises to teach rhetoric. Not a common term but screw the Gunning fog index. You can have hamburgers and hot dogs at your picnic. I’m having duck rillette, ham, Bayonne prosciutto and escargots in puff pastry with leeks, cream, white wine and fresh herbs at mine.
Nothing demonstrates the decline of Western civilization more than the secularization of Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. The 1898 edition is a feast of arcane religious subjects. The current edition is a pale reflection with all the really fascinating facts redacted. Have you ever heard of the Devil’s door? This was a small door in the north wall of church sanctuaries built during the nineteenth century which was opened during mass to let out the devil. Beats the hell out of Little Red Riding hood. I have found a multicultural substitute called “The Dictionary of Mythology” by J. A. Coleman. Opening it at random, I see Chonchonyi, a vampire demon in the lore of the Arauacanian people of South America followed by Chonguita, a Pacific island monkey girl who transformed into a beautiful woman after she married Pedro, a Filipino prince.
Doing restaurant reviews is a possibility. There are five thousand restaurants in Toronto covering every conceivable cuisine. There’s probably a Polynesian restaurant serving fake Marquesas Islands long pig. I’m trying to get an angle on my coming trip to Buffalo, New York.  According to the Toronto Star Canadians spend 20% more than their American counterparts for equivalent goods even though the Loonie is now worth $1.04 US. In July 2009 the Loonie was worth just $0.92 US but the spread was 6.8%. Sounds like it’s time to hit the discount shopping malls in Buffalo again. I dropped the original concept for my trip which was a parody of a Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens and considered a more monumental Dante’s Inferno allegory with the Maid of the Mist tourist boat travelling up the Niagara River transformed into Charon’s boat crossing the river Styx. It could certainly be a metaphor for the American rust belt - a sort of northern Macondo although I don’t think that García Márquez would appreciate the comparison. In 1900 Buffalo was the 8th largest city in America and the first to be lit by electricity. It called itself the City of Light and it’s hard to imagine that the current denizens eating Buffalo wings and watching another losing game by the Buffalo Bill’s football team had predecessors who made allusions to Paris – a decline from La Ville-Lumière to current situation where the city had lost 11% of its population in the last census and has one of the highest housing vacancies in the country. The real descent started when my childhood television hero Buffalo Bob on the “Howdy Doody” show got sick, went to Pioneer village and was replaced by Bison Bill who outsourced Clarabelle the cow to a Chicago meat packing plant. After that it was all downhill.

Buffalo Bob  R.I.P.

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