“Barely awake, house quiet, coffee poured, blank page. Quick, first thing each morning, start writing. Keep the pen moving on paper, shoot for paragraph or two, no thought to where it’s heading, or if it will lead anywhere, or be worth reading, or embarrass you. It’s better if it does. The last thing it should seek, in any sense of the word, is to be good.
“Type it up allowing minimal edits for preposition or punctuation fixes. There’s always a word or two you can’t read and have to take your best guess at.”
Nog called them his sillies. No surprise, eventually we quietly on our own would get up to write them too.
Bry — February 28, 2012, 5:01 am
THINK THE worst of people, get it over with, you’ll never get to heaven if you can’t go through hell. Fred Rogers, Ted Lasso, they exist* because they’re not children but adults who learned how the world works so they can work within it on behalf of the child, who will not be denied in the best and worst of people.
*Rogers exists still because we’re affected by him. The character Ted Lasso, for the same reason.
Bry — February 27, 2021, 5:09 am
I BELIEVE Christ was born, lived, died, and was buried. I believe He rose again.
But listening to you, Franklin Graham III, evangelist son of evangelist Billy Graham, I know He died again.
Nog — February 25, 1994, 4:46 am
THE BRAIN’S radio. This morning it’s “Sleigh Ride,” the version from whoever arranged and performed The Dating Game theme, playful, the definition of upbeat, and of no use to the conscious or unconscious mind. What id, what shadow, what demon called in this request this morning? “And can you play it over and over?’
He opens it to all listeners out there, and gets snatches of tunes of various genres and eras flitting through, like turning the dial on the station knob: Paul Simon’s longing, Iasos’s angel chorus, “Marriage of Figaro,” his freshman roommate’s Allman Brothers, a Julian Casablanca his nephew played for him last week when he came by to drop off his fish-and-sweet-potato casserole, adding one more song to the mix, as if his brain could take in more. But the brain is not a library with only so many shelves. The brain is a radio.
Nog — February 24, 2001, 5:06 am
REMINDER THIS morning a hidden, constricted part of me believes life is nothing other than a referendum on my performance. Last night dreamed my funeral was overseen by people on a kind of dais, literally with scorecards.
Bry — February 22, 2021, 5:01 am
ON THIS week’s podcast we’ll discussing chaos theory with mathematician Robert L. Devaney while going through an automatic carwash with the windows open. Next week be sure to join us as we explore shame with therapist R.J. Truett while talking with our mouths full as we plow through America’s highest-calorie state fair delicacies. Upcoming segments include trading pickup lines riding an elevator up and down Roosevelt Center, answering listeners's questions breathing helium in plank position, and sitting either side of Tucker Carlson at the bar of his country club and talking past him about the variety of artificial insemination techniques employed with wild and domestic animals.
Bry — February 20, 1999, 5:01 am
A CHILDREN’S book I must start on this very morning—Puppycat & Pussydog.
Two animals, who don’t fit in amongst their kinds, meet and encourage each other to pursue lives in which they fulfill the potentialities of their inner idenities. JK Rowling will hate it.
Bern — February 19, 2021, 5:09 am
READING SALINGER’S Seymour, An Introduction, a second-hand hardcover with a once-glossy dustjacket falling apart, such that its pieces are now bookmarks. “Christmas 1963” in a woman’s hand in the lower left corner of the front endpaper, and her name obscured by a broad swipe from a blue permanent marker. Books by living authors I’m good about ordering through our local bookstore and driving into town to pick up curbside. Dead authors I find on the Abe’s Books site, and when they arrive I open them to find traces of other owners, and it feels like someone passed the torch, or rather they collapsed and I took it from their hand.
But I started out to say I’m struck this morning by the printing of this book. By this I only mean the impress of the typeplate on the page. The sun is still low and it sidelights the curving page like sunrise across the crown of a gentle new-mown hill. The paper’s tooth is that of packed sand at low tide, and what stands out is that each letter is slightly embossed, with little points of highlight and shadow. This book at this moment becomes less a work with its place in the culture and history and hierarchy of words than that feeling on your arm when someone puts a hand there to say, please hear me on this.
More and more I turn to the same few authors, as I do friends.
Nog — February 18, 1999, 5:06 am
SAW AN article yesterday in the NYTimes about semi-colons, their nuances and limitations.
I am contributing to the world of letters the demi-colon. This is the upper dot of a colon reaching down underneath it to paw at the empty space.
Bry — February 15, 2021, 5:08 am
I’ve discovered the magic picture bar on this laptop gives me the option of quickly inserting an emoji in text. 🐭 On this end it’s a mouse head. On your end it may be a different mouse’s head. Much is lost in translation.
Emojis serve as the intonation or body language some of us lean on to get across subtleties of meaning. Used alone and by themselves, with no explanatory text, they become gestures discouraging further conversation. In five years, Fox and CNN will be running marquees of them.
Bern — February 13, 2021, 5:22 am
THE MIND is a vast supercomputer, like your phone. Which itself is by exponential proportions greater than the systems that took the Apollo 8 astronauts to land upon the moon. It wasn’t Apollo 8— that one went around the moon for a look at its backside. In Exodus, God says, “Thou shalt see my back parts,” which scholars take to mean stars and firmament, although every child in catechism class knows God meant His butt, for God was mooning unto Moses. The mind is a supercomputer, like your phone, and it has a phone’s birdshot attention span. It thinks to attach firmament to butt, but moves on.
Nog — February 12, 1997, 5:02 am
The standup comic develops his material martially, rehearsing his moves until they seem natural, noting which land and which miss, executing whichever modifications come to him in the moment, and slowly coming to the understanding the audience is a dance partner rather than an adversary. And no less unforgiving.
now in american sizes
Bry — February 9, 2021, 5:06 am
more english things
Nog — February 7, 1992, 5:06 am
His canoe drifting. Familiar bends of the river. Redwings cling to cattails. Dragonflies pass over mating three at a time. Iridescent tricolors. Wind rattles the late summer leaves. Cool dark woods patrolled by benign demons.
Too much asyndeton can give writing a jerky feel, make you feel like you’re trying to catch many shiny pebbles poured through your fingers.
Bern — February 6, 2021, 5:05 am
TODAY WAS the day set aside to begin revising his first draft. He’d bought a quarter pound of Jamaica Blue Mountain, and the night before he’d set out a couple of protein bars. The two-inch stack of Hammermill manuscript was set out on the dining room table. On top of it was a Pigma Micron 02 pen. He sat down with the steaming cup.
The first paragraph, the first line, read like a lead balloon. He did not get to its end. It was a dead animal lying in the road in his headlights. It was a dead animal wearing a little tiara. It was a vain dead woodchuck wearing a tiara, and he wanted to drive past it and hit a tree.
He crossed out one sentence and most of another, unbound himself to actually add an adjective, read (whispered) it aloud, and went on to the second paragraph.
the client signed off
on concept & layout
but his wife hates it
Bry — February 4, 2021, 5:06 am
AS I’M BOILING the water, Paul Simon’s Slip Slidin’ Away starts playing in my head. “You know the closer your destination the more you’re slip slidin’ away.” And the ha of recognition, because that’s the case today. I’m on the verge of sending a longterm project to the printer but keep getting tripped up in a hundred ways. Even now, I see I’ve picked up my phone for a shot of distraction—news, email—to keep me from [passing? proceeding?] from awareness to resolve.
This is a battle between two inner forces, a benevolent one subtly nudging me forward with advice, the other throwing spells of forgetfulness over me, all before I’ve had a chance to grind today’s beans.
oh for heaven's sake
Bry — February 1, 2021, 5:06 am
WATCH JUST tickled wrist to say my weekly summary is ready.
Meditation ring excellent. Whupped my sitting quota by over six hours, although my presence graph seems to indicate four-fifths of the time went to old pop songs in my head. Top of the list: Gilbert O’Sullivan’s Clair, clocking at 01:44:22 cumulative.
Less than four minutes total was spent lost in awe drinking in strangers through their eyes. I must do better if I mean to beat my January numbers.
And only just squeaked by my visions target, chalking up 17 for the week, apparently. Although I don’t recall a single one.
But see if I don’t up that puppy to 20 this week.