Great Writers, Too Much Coffee

By:

Kafka

It was late evening when K. arrived. The village lay under deep snow. There was no sign of his hotel, fog and darkness surrounded everything, not even the faintest gleam of light suggested the adjoining tavern that was supposed to stay open all night. Suddenly a door opened before K. and in the light a busty ski bunny appeared, beckoning to him with a foaming stein. “Excuse, me, sir,” she said. “We’re having a wet dirndl contest and need a judge, can you help us?” “I can do this,” K. thought with relief, hastening to follow her in.

Nabokov

Lo-lee-ta. The tip of the tongue shoots out beyond the lips, touches the tip of the nose and then the end of the chin, and snaps back with a wet smacking sound beneath crossed eyes.

Mary Shelley

A flash of lightning illuminated the object and discovered its shape plainly to me: the pate bald but for a single tuft of hair that stuck straight up, the white complexion, the huge lips of red greasepaint, the round putty nose. Then as I watched, the creature began to juggle three oranges.

Poe

The thousand injuries of Fortunado I had borne as best I could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge. Cornering him in my wine cellar on the pretense of showing him a rare bottle of Amontillado, I waved my hand in his face in such fashion that his eyes fluttered to follow its birdlike movements. Then I slapped him upon one cheek, with such force that he turned to me the other, which I then slapped likewise, and so on again and again, so that his head twisted from side to side with my slaps. Tiring of that, I popped him on the sconce, this causing his head to retract and his round belly to come forward. Then I popped him on the belly, so that this rotundity withdrew and the head came forward once more, whereupon I continued to pop him head and belly in alternation so that he bent to and fro as if bowing to me. Finally, for good measure, I poked him in the eyes with my index and middle fingers simultaneously.

Melville

Captain Ahab stood erect upon his barbaric white leg, looking straight out beyond the ship’s ever-pitching prow. For a long while he spoke not, but seemed to contemplate the grim plight of mankind. Then suddenly he broke into a dazzling smile and called out to all on board, “Welcome, shipmates, to your Cancun cruise! Let’s get the party rolling with some grog!”

Tennessee Williams

GENTLEMAN CALLER: So, what do you do for fun?

LAURA: Let me show you my collection of glass animals.

(Laura stands, trips over the pillow she has been sitting on, and sails across the dining room and down the cellar steps, bumping thunderously against each one. She is followed in her descent by the entire glass menagerie that she has upset, the animals raining down upon her and breaking one by one over her head as, wincing with each blow, she sits on the cellar floor where she came to rest.)

Hemingway

Of all the ways to be wounded. I suppose it was funny. One leg permanently hung up in the air like a Rockette executing a high kick. What’s worse, it was inoperable. Brett said she understood that this affected my performance, but what did she know of how a man felt?

Proust

Once I tasted the crumbs of my cookie soaked in tea, a shudder ran through my whole body. Immediately I was in my childhood dentist’s office again, suffering the artless and medieval techniques of the senile and probably self-taught Dr. Borer. As a child with plenty of tooth decay, I used to brush my teeth in a mixture of cookies and tea given to me by my aunt Leonie. No doubt the old bat was unaware that the concoction gave me hundreds of cavities, but damn, what was she thinking? Dr. Borer used to grow white-hot and swear at me, and cuff me in lieu of anesthetic. Tell you one thing: I sure wasn’t going to drink this swill anymore, not when it made me hallucinate like that.

Salinger

I saw myself living by a cliff near a field of rye that kids played in. When the kids ran for the cliff, I’d jump out to save them and they’d die laughing when they saw my big yellow jack-o’-lantern teeth and pointy hump, for I’d be rather eccentric-looking. I’d hand the kids small prizes and run after them honking a horn. Some of them would fall off the cliff anyway, terrified, but they wouldn’t be hurt. I’d be this crazy clown in the rye who the kids called Retardo.

Conan Doyle

I came face to face with Moriarty on the narrow path atop Reichenbach Falls, Watson. I meant to give up my life to stop him, and he was prepared to risk his for revenge. I rushed at him and gripped him, then fell back in amazement when his whole arm came away in my hands. I soon saw that the detached limb was a wooden counterfeit, perfect down to the carved and painted hand, and I noticed too that the professor, his sleeve now empty, was convulsed in laughter.

Austen

“For my own part,” said Miss Bingley, “I must confess that I could never see any beauty in Elizabeth Bennet. Her face is too thin; her complexion has no brilliancy; her nose has no character. And what’s with the fake buck teeth?”

Share

Some Haiku By Elmer Fudd

By:

The publication of this Acme Press chapbook establishes Elmer Fudd as a compelling practitioner of the American haiku. His most celebrated lines record a timeless moment in the forest.

Buds form in the woods

Be vewwy vewwy quiet

I’m hunting wabbits

The vivid image of the buds connects us to the wide panorama of the wooded mountainside and the wonder of spring, which is melting the snow.

American poets tend to discover haiku by way of Ezra Pound and the beatniks. Since Fudd is by temperament less a scholar than an outdoorsman, his ready identification with the hunter’s perspective may suggest a debt to Gary Snyder, whom Fudd seems to follow in seeing the stalking of wildlife as a form of meditation. Like the haiku writer, the hunter must walk with his eyes open and his senses alert to the reality of the world. Yet Fudd avoids solemnity, never letting us forget that the Japanese originally considered the haiku a comic form, as in the following lines, where the hunter becomes the hunted.

Oh boy, wabbit twacks

Whaddya know? No more bullets

Summer mosquitoes

Fudd’s haiku are arranged in four sections, covering the four seasons. Some critics have complained of Fudd’s excessive focus on the hunting of rabbits, but Fudd seldom actually catches any. The emptiness of his hunting basket teaches him the value of nonattachment, helping him better to experience the gift of the present moment.

Wild ducks migwating

There’s something scwewy wound here

Locking and loading

Fudd has known his share of misfortunes. The first time I met him, he had recently been evicted from his home and was living in the woods. I was struck by how at home he seemed in nature, by his soft-spoken determination in the face of obstacles, by his plangent laugh, and by his casual way with high explosives.

A vegetarian who hunts only for sport, he talked rather obsessively about a “cwazy wabbit,” as if to remind me that animals have Zen nature too, although Fudd has famously denied that haiku have anything to do with Buddhism. Until I’d read his work, I was unsure whether I’d met a master or a maniac.

Fudd’s winter haiku are, for me, the most powerful of all his oeuvre. The following evocation of spiritual transcendence detonated in my mind with the force of an exploding stick of TNT.

Knocked down on fwesh snow

That wabbit must have twicked me

Uh-hah-hah-hah-hah

What else can we do but laugh, when we perceive the incongruity between our theories of life and what we feel intuitively to be true on the nonverbal plane?

Things had improved for Fudd by the next time I visited him. He was living in a small cabin in New Hampshire, had stopped drinking, and had just been named Haiku Poet of the Year by the North American Haiku Association for Cartoon Characters. After we’d commented on how quickly time had gone by since our previous meeting, I asked Elmer where he got his ideas for his haiku.

“In the woods,” he said. “I go there evewy day to hunt. Whatever exists, exists in the pwesent moment.”

Not that this excuses the chapbook’s shoddy construction. The binding on my copy has already started to come loose, a problem I have noticed in the past with other Acme Press titles like “1000 Ways to Cook A Duck,” “How To Be A Hypnotist,” and “How To Photograph Wildlife.” Publishing haiku, come to think of it, is something of a new venture for Acme. I hope they follow through with it, because it’s at times like these we need writers such as Fudd, to teach us that through multiple frustrations we can find our way to a place of serenity.

Duck season? Wabbit season?

Stumbling into a cold lake

Invigowates me

Share

The PETV Newsletter

By:

People for the Ethical Treatment of Vegetables — August Newsletter

Well, it’s August, and the corn is as high as an elephant’s eye. But, as we know, not for long. As you read this newsletter, thousands of combines and harvesters are viciously cutting down our silken-eared brothers and sisters throughout the Midwest. Idealistic Hammerstein lyrics aside, Man’s irrational war against nature continues.

Summer is a difficult time to marshal support for our cause. But, as the fall harvest nears, it is crucial that we redouble our efforts against the unthinking forces that are decimating our vegetable friends.

Hats off to those of you who have engaged in recent guerilla activity. To Warren S. of Kenosha, Wisconsin: “Well done.” Your daring raid of the Green Door Vegetarian Restaurant achieved extensive media coverage not only in Kenosha but throughout the tri-state area.

For those of you unfamiliar with Warren’s exploits, check out his web site at www.SaveOurSprouts.org. And to help underwrite his efforts, don’t forget to order one of his “Tofu is Murder” t-shirts — only $19.95!

Those of you in the Fresno Valley area of California are to be commended for your novel approach to this year’s “Stop Stalking the Asparagus Campaign.” By spray painting over 150 acres of that noble vegetable, you saved countless stalks from a painful and premature death by steaming or boiling.

Unfortunately, our green brethren were tragically smothered to death by the chemicals in the paint. It is our hope that this grievous error will lead to more progress in the development of non-toxic, vegetable-friendly protest paints.

This brings us to our latest endeavor — fruit salvation. Thanks to the tireless lobbying of the Tomatoes Are Fruits Committee, we have expanded our mandate to help all our fruit friends from coast to coast. That means we are now committed to stopping the fall apple massacre, the summer peach and pear killings and the year-round citrus slaughter. Remember, fruits have feelings, too.

We know that many of you find that progress is slow and frustrating. So many of the self-styled “vegetarians” have, in actual fact, no love for vegetables at all. People who devour everything from bananas to beans have no right to call vegetables their friends. But we must continue to educate the ignorant masses.

In furtherance of this aim, we have expanded our celebrity endorsement search. Our contacts with various fashion super models were ultimately unsuccessful as the vast majority of these women are big celery and lettuce eaters. But we’re not discouraged! Stay tuned.

On the PETV diet front, some exciting progress has been made. Now, in addition to water and vitamin supplements, univores can dine on vegetable substitutes made from cellulose and recycled fabric. There is, of course, the risk of counteraction by PETTAC (People for the Ethical Treatment of Trees and Cotton), but we are working to maintain civil relations with that group. Meanwhile, the Diet Committee is preparing for the holiday-season release of its interim report entitled “Cannibalism: Is Eating the Flesh of Vegetable Murderers Really That Wrong?”

With a new year on the horizon, now is an excellent time to ask, “What can I, as a malnourished, dangerously underweight member of PETV, do to stop the wholesale slaughter of fruits and vegetables?” Keep fighting the good fight. Remember, every fruit or vegetable you save from the harvest is one less suffering plant in our world. With new initiatives like Adopt-a-Turnip and The Free Range Tomato Project, and subject to the availability of ambulatory members, we CAN make a difference.

Share

I Concede

By:

Although the late returns are still coming in, I think it’s time to face reality and acknowledge that my opponents have won, and I have lost. There is no shame in losing — except, of course, the shame of losing. But I’m here to tell you that this campaign is about more than winning and losing.

I am comforted by the knowledge that my candidacy provided a lively platform from which to seriously address the pressing issues of the day — issues like, “Who is Kurt Luchs, that the gods should torment him so with low standing in the polls?” Now that my hopes have ended in defeat, it is time to let go of the struggle and simply wish in my heart of hearts that, as it must to all men, death will come to my opponents — a lingering and horribly painful death involving buboes and carbuncles swelling in the groin and armpits. I take comfort in knowing that, while my opponents received 60 percent of the votes cast by independents, I received 100 percent of the votes cast by Kurt Luchs.

There were so many meaningful moments in this campaign, moments I will always treasure. At one rally, a thoughtful voter asked me, “If you could press a button and make your opponents disappear, would you do so?” I didn’t like the question, so I pressed a button and my security detail made the man who asked it disappear. On another occasion a hostile reporter asked me if my years of struggle in posh private schools and the halls of privilege had turned me unhealthily inward and made me a solipsist. After looking it up, I can assure each and every one of my imaginary friends that I am not a solipsist. The correct term, I believe, is megalomaniac. And I think it will be a long time before anyone forgets my “I Have a Recurring Dream About Halle Berry and Kate Hudson” speech.

My opponents and I disagree on many issues such as bestiality, Satan worship, and cannibalizing the newborn, but we all agree on the general direction for this country. Other than my continuing activism in the causes I believe in — like a system to carry mail for all Americans — I have no immediate plans personally except to retreat to a quiet place of reflection where I can torture my family in privacy and begin my long, agonizing slide into embittered alcoholism. As the Pretty Woman says, I want the whole fairy tale.

Let me promise you this, my friends: Though I have lost the election, and public interest in my opinions has dwindled to absolute zero, I will continue to snipe from the sidelines, to nip at the heels of my onetime opponents like a rabid schnauzer and to denounce them on Fox News whenever the guards once more permit me in the studio. In short, though I have dropped any pretence of seeking to become a public servant, I will continue to be a public nuisance until my sniveling, miserable opponents give up out of sheer fatigue.

Thank you.

Share