Posted by: Mark | February 11, 2016

1,000 Leg Lifts

In terms of milestones, this is more like a yard or a foot, but I did my 1000th leg lift of the year today. 7,000 more to go before December 31. Unless I go through another multi-month lapse like last year, I should get this one.

Posted by: Mark | February 10, 2016

Finnegan’s Wake Ch. 1

When I taught literature, when I felt particularly sadistic, during the section on plot, I’d have a student read from Finnegan’s Wake.

“Just turn to a random page and read,” I’d tell them.

Sometimes the student would flip the book open, look at the page, turn a few more pages, and repeat four or five times before stumbling through a few paragraphs.

Some students seemed to know what they were in for and read the first passage they turned to.

The results were pretty much the same.

After doing this, I always attempted penance by reading the entirety of Finnegan’s Wake myself. I did this at least 14 times but never got more than five or six pages.

Today I read the first chapter, about 23 pages. I needed to consult outside sources to make sense of it but it’s the best I’ve done so far with the book.

Ulysses starts out relatively easy for the first two chapters but that doesn’t seem to be the case here.

It looks like the saving grace is that so many people disagree about what Joyce was saying that even if I’m completely off base, I won’t be the only one.

Posted by: Mark | February 8, 2016

Shakespeare’s Sonnets

It feels presumptive to try to comment on Shakespeare’s poetry. I can’t add anything that hasn’t been said hundreds of times. I feel obligated to try so here I go.

Like everyone else, I got more from his plays. Even his worst ones like King John and Timon of Athens have their strengths.

The trouble with the sonnets is that everybody has read the best ones (they threw “Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day” in junior high). Unlike his drama, I didn’t find as much in the weaker ones. I disqualify myself from hipstersdom with this–the majority are right on this one.

126 of the 154 sonnets are devoted to the Fair Youth and are used to promote the theory that Shakespeare was gay or bisexual. Up until I read the sonnets, I never really questioned this. Now, I’m just confused.

Shakespeare’s concept of male to male love isn’t what we think of today. The first 17 sonnets to the youth urge him to find a woman and get her pregnant. He later regrets that the youth is male, even punning the word “prick.”

How successful would a Grindr exchange be if one side told the other to have sex with a woman and have kids? I am amazed that no one has done this as a graduate thesis.

The voice of the sonnets’ speaker is oddly inconsistent. I had the impression that Shakespeare was writing from the points of view of various men in a crowd, each with different ideas of love and masculinity. That’s probably wrong for a dozen reasons but I was surprised at the range of voices above anything else about the poems.

There’s no debate that Shakespeare included elements in this plays to flatter King James. Since James was gay, I wonder if Shakespeare’s perspectives in the sonnets was an attempt to get through to him–“one of these is gonna match.”

Not likely but I think it’s more probable than Malcolm X’s theory that James wrote Shakespeare’s plays. . . which isn’t saying much.

Posted by: Mark | February 7, 2016

200.48 Miles and a Dead Rodent

6.2 miles on the elliptical machine puts me over the 200 mark. Unfortunately, that helped me to rationalize eating like a slob and I’m not touching the treadmill as I had intended.

Also one of the dark gerbils died suddenly. He was only a few months old so I have no idea what went wrong. Maybe there’s a genetic defect linked to their coloration. That would be bad news for the other two.

Posted by: Mark | February 6, 2016

Resolution Update #5

Mixture of good and bad. Enough bad that I missed posting yesterday:

1. Writing (Goal – 120,000 words/finish five stories and a novel): 6,776 words; two stories. Lagging further and further behind.

2. Publishing (Send out 110 manuscripts): I sent out two indisputable submissions but one that I realized was to the same publisher that I sent the story to in November. Looks like I’m blacklisted there.

3. Read Finnegan’s Wake: Nothing.

4. Read Shakespeare’s sonnets: 130 of the 154.

5. Visit five new libraries: Nothing.

6. 5,000 Push ups/8,000 Leg lifts: 561 push ups; 795 leg lifts.

7. Running: Crummy 31.1 miles, again only on the elliptical for 194.28 for the year.

8. Lose 26 pounds: Not great. Gained three pounds. Damn.

9. 100 photos of different species: Three more to make 23 for the year:

Mammal: House cat, Dog

Amphibian: Bullfrog tadpole

Fish: Betta, Blood parrot cichlid, Guppies, Angelfish, Pictus catfish, Blue Gourami, Electric Blue Ram Cichlid, Buenos Aires Tetra, Cherry barb

Insect: Caliworm (Black Soldier Fly)

Crustacean: Ghost shrimp, Vanilla lobster

Plants: Christmas cactus, Bell pepper, Purple waffle plant, Monk’s hood cactus, Moss

10. Year of Mercy: Donated toys and clothes but nothing new.

Posted by: Mark | February 3, 2016

A Mass of Moss

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Well, here’s a switch from my usual pictures of fish or bugs–a picture of a plant.

I thought I would learn about moss but that wasn’t the case.

Apparently there are an average of 100 different species of moss in every Ohio county and identification requires a microscope or magnifying glasses.

In that case I’m just calling it moss and leaving it at that.

Posted by: Mark | February 2, 2016

Mutant Gerbils

2016-02-02 19.34.58

All three of the weird not-entirely-black gerbils were running on their wheel at the same time. I couldn’t get a good picture of that but here’s one of two of them and a normal brother looking confused.

I have no idea of the mutation that caused these guys to be born of an albino father and normal mother.

Posted by: Mark | February 1, 2016

Buenos Aires Tetra

2016-02-01 18.42.44

These guys don’t look like much but they are so greedy that feeding them is a lot of fun. They swarm like piranhas and gobble their food so frantically that the water looks like it’s boiling.

I doubt if I’ll ever own a school of them but I can definitely see their appeal.

Posted by: Mark | January 31, 2016

Cherry Barb

2016-01-31 18.12.33

Cherry Barb sounds somewhat dirty but just is the name of this little fish. I’ve never had to catch one but needed to net eight similarly sized guppies today and it took half my shift. Goldfish are far, far easier to nab.

Posted by: Mark | January 30, 2016

Resolution Update #4

Not a great week but still plodding along:

1. Writing (Goal – 120,000 words/finish five stories and a novel): 5,256 words; two stories. Falling behind.

2. Publishing (Send out 110 manuscripts): Still nothing.

3. Read Finnegan’s Wake: Nothing.

4. Read Shakespeare’s sonnets: 115 of the 154.

5. Visit five new libraries: Nothing.

6. 5,000 Push ups/8,000 Leg lifts: 461 push ups; 675 leg lifts.

7. Running: 51.3 miles, again only on the elliptical. Up to making it 163.18 for the year.

8. Lose 26 pounds: Not great. Lost 0.3 pounds, making it 19.2 for the year.

9. 100 photos of different species: 20

Mammal: House cat, Dog

Amphibian: Bullfrog tadpole

Fish: Betta, Blood parrot cichlid, Guppies, Angelfish, Pictus catfish, Blue Gourami, Electric Blue Ram Cichlid

Insect: Caliworm (Black Soldier Fly)

Crustacean: Ghost shrimp, Vanilla lobster

Plants: Christmas cactus, Bell pepper, Purple waffle plant, Monk’s hood cactus

10. Year of Mercy: Nothing new.

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