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William Lashner's PI-Writing Blog

Humpty Dumpty

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

As I made my breakfast this morning, I was thinking about the greatest eggs in all of literature.  For me there are two eggs I've always remembered, two eggs that will live with me for as long as I crack a shell and fry up something to place gently over the potatoes.

Number one all time is from KING RAT by James Clavel, a very good book with a brilliant piece of eggmanship.  This scene takes place in a POW camp where all the inmates are crazy with hunger except for King Rat, who has plenty of food, including this repast he is cooking to sway a new inmate to the dark side.  Notice the sound, the scent, the sizzle.  I cook my over-easy eggs on a very high temp now because of this passage:
The King broke the eggs neatly and dropped them into the heated oil.  The yolk was rich-gold and its circling jelly sputtered and hissed against the heat and began to set and all at once the sizzle filled the hut.  It filled the minds and filled the hearts and made the juices flow.  But no one said anything or did anything.  Except Tex.  He forced himself up and walked out of the hut. . . . . “Jesus H. Christ,” Byron Jones III said to no one, choked.  “I wish it would rain.”  No one answered.  For no one heard anything except the crackle and the hiss.  The King too was concentrating.  Over the frypan.  He prided himself that no one could cook an egg better than he.  To him a fried egg had to be cooked with an artist’s eyes, and quickly – yet not too fast.”
My second favorite egg passage takes place in Hemingway's GARDEN OF EDEN. Hemingway was always good with food, but this passage was like a revelation.  "Oh," I said first time I read it, "so that is how they should be eaten."  It's actually good, too, though I think you need to eat them at that very cafe, at that very time of day, while in the midst of a similar type love affair:
He loved her very much and everything about her and he went to sleep thinking about her cheek against his lips and how the next day they would both be darker from the sun and how dark can she become, he thought, and how dark will she ever really be?

"You know I haven't done anything bad to us. I had to do it. You know that."

Be careful, he said to himself, it is all very well for you to write simply and the simpler the better. But do not start to think so damned simply. Know how complicated it is and then state it simply.

At the cafe he found the morning paper and the Paris papers of the day before and had his coffee and milk and the Bayonne ham with a big beautifully fresh egg that he ground coarse pepper over sparsely and spread a little mustard on before he broke the yolk.
 






Himalaya

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


God is a puzzling answer to the question of meaning.  It is the simplest, the most inevitable answer, but what does it tell us?  Is God’s mere existence enough to sate our existential yearnings, like a parent's mere presence gives meaning to a child, or vice-versa.  Because anything more requires intermediaries, a book, a priest, a culture to provide the meat of it.  What is our meaning?  To obey God?  To serve God?  To spread God’s word?  To support God with our donations?  It all seems not quite right.  To find meaning in God is like finding meaning in the mountain.  It exists, it preceded us and will survive us, it dwarfs us, we are mere pebbles in its shadow.  It might even love us.  Okay, now what?

What does it mean to serve the mountain?  Just ask the Sierra Club.  They'll guide us up the mountain's trails, they'll preach about the mountain's perfection, they'll weep at the beauty of its flanks and press upon us their pamphlets about all they're doing to save the mountain.  And yes, they'll ask us to sign their petitions and support their efforts with donations.  They'll tell us to give till it hurts and their sincerity will be like a hammer beating us into submission.   But take away their words and their books and what do we have?  A silent pile of stone is what we have.  And we're the chain gang.

What we have here is a failure to communicate. 
 




Yeah, that's right

Friday, February 22, 2013

I sometimes think readers really had it going in the 1920's, when Hemingway and Fitzgerald and Woolf and Joyce and Hammett were putting out new things.  Woody Allen thought so when he made that movie "Midnight in Paris" about the writer who was magically transported to the past.  I suppose the point of the move was that our sight is always poisoned somewhat by nostalgia.

But even so, I always thought the best rock music was made in my youth.  I grew up on Dylan and the Beatles and the Who and Zeppelin and early Springsteen and Patti Smith moving into the Sex Pistols and the Clash.  Sometimes I think that the soundtrack of our youths are always the music we idolize, no matter how crappy (some of my friends still love Elton John for that reason), but then sometimes I think that it just hasn't been as good since.

It's hard to tell, and I'm always looking for something new to get me excited, and there's good stuff out there, Wormburner, for instance, but still I can't stop thinking that it's just not as good as it was.  And just as I wonder if I'm falling into a pit of pitiful nostalgia, along comes the brilliant XKCD, a web comic of "Romance, Sarcasm, Math, and Language" that tells me I might be right.

Classic


http://xkcd.com/





Is Pulp The Greatest Band I Never Heard Of?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Every once in a while I get on a music buying binge, and I'm on one now.  I sort of get hold of a group or a movement   I don't know much about and then buy everything. I'm currently on a Brit Pop spree. So here's the group I'm listening to now: Pulp.  I mean, why haven't I ever listened to these guys before?  They're amazing.  They have song called "Disco 2000" which is all goofily happy and disco-ie even though it's about a guy who is in the middle of a failed life too afraid to meet up with the girl he used to like.  And then there is one of the bitterest songs ever written, "Common People."  If you want to have a blast, listen to William Shatner's version of the song at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ainyK6fXku0.

Pulp, it's a a pint of bitters.