Category Archives: News

General news posts that aren’t categorized

Skibidi toilet 9/5/2023

I love it. It’s not hard to figure out. The screaming toiletheads like demented things surround us in present internet time, television time, raging, screaming, blaming, accusing. As George Will once said, ‘Anger is all the rage’. The Georgian man sussed it out and made it into a war and the people said Yes! By billions of hits.

The toiletheads advance out of nowhere in a state of head-trembling rage, shrieking incoherently, they are in such a state of ungovernable fury that their heads are trembling. That’s the real fascination — the trembling.

In some circles it’s au courant to go into a rage so intense that your head trembles. The toiletheads hate,hate, hate and want to puke blood on you. They come in squads, they’re all killed, they come in more squads.

So as for the basics; the toiletheads are all head and a toilet for a body. The good guys are all body and a camera for a head. There are no women. Well, one maybe.

The cameraheads are calm and emotionally contained. They wear suits, black gloves and don’t puke on things. They interact with each other. When their squads fan out they nod to one another, point, agree, coalesce. They work together in units like military people do, their camera-heads turn to one another, they give each other thumbs-up.

The toiletheads don’t interact. They apparently don’t see one another. They don’t coordinate their actions. They stare straight ahead in their flying toilets, bellowing and doing the head-trembling thing. So they seem like a kind of fecal black magic chattering wildly at very high decibel numbers and hurl themselves in their flying toilets at the cameraheads and the monitorheads, inflamed with head-trembling shrieking rage. They are in a state of extremely primitive emotion. The toilets are perfect; the fury is toxic waste.

It’s a relief when the cameraheads take over the scenario. They are calm, trained and manly. They have broad shoulders and narrow waists, their suits are impeccable, they move forward fearlessly into the Iwo Jima of the industrial-colored streets and take on the toiletheads. They blow them apart. This is their plot, to keep flushing the toiletheads down into some distant acid vat, with their neat black gloves they use the plungers and pull the lever. It’s wonderful.

So that’s it. That’s the plot. Skibidi simply and brilliantly evokes very primal feelings and the very barest of epic bones. David Foster Wallace would have had such fun with this.

Mexico next week! August 10/23

Really it’s the first vacation I have had in years. I mean just travel and fun and not having to do a reading or a talk, just enjoying myself. Meanwhile I am preparing to go — arranging for animal care, called Rusty Redden to bring a round bale to the lower pasture and Auriel will drop feed into their over-the-rail feeders every morning so they have Nutrena Safe Choice Original, water, salt and free-choice hay. Sooty goes to the kennel because if I leave her in the house with DT he’ll beat up on her. Girl Dog and tomcat DT will stay in the air-conditioned house all day, Auriel to feed them and give them hugs every day. They all adore her.

Sooty peacefully sleeping before DT comes along and pounces on her. Anyway, they love her at the kennel.

It’s 105 but feels hotter. I remember the time in San Antonio, when Jim and I were in the midst of a kind of constructional shambles, with one air conditioner for the entire leaky old place, when it hit 111 F.

This is DT plotting as to how he can torture and abuse poor Sooty.

Horses don’t seem to mind the heat as much as other animals. I’ve seen them lying out in the blazing sunshine at 100 F.+ snoozing away as if it were chilly! At any rate, enough about the heat — my lovely cool room in the Pink Palace (the Ortiz House across the street from the old Contreras villa, which Elvia now owns and cares for) coming up next week!

The Monster Southwest Heatwave

The heat has been higher, but this is extremely persistent. It’s been at about 104 F for over a week and another week to go. I wrote Elvia in Coatepec that it was 41 C. and she could hardly believe it.

My two horses stand in front of the mist-producing nozzles all day long. All the rest of the critters are in air-conditioning. I am trying to save my trees. All over town people are putting out umbrellas on their fences and gateposts as a kind of joking appeal for rain.

So I am watering my trees a LOT before we are put under water rationing. The dust is pervasive and it’s affecting my allergies but there’s something horribly gorgeous about it all.

Next week I am flying to Veracruz where Elvia and Jaime will pick me up and we’ll drive back to Coatepec which is at 3000 feet, cool rainy!!! I get to stay in the same wonderful room in the big Ortiz house as I did last year. Elvia’s book group is not meeting until the beginning of the academic year but she says she has a lot of reading to share with me, I am still going back and forth between the English and Spanish version of Juan Rulfo’s El Llano en Llamas. The stories are incredibly revealing about the conditions of the common people during the Mexican Revolution. Great reading. Also working on the Great Trilogy, entitled 88.3.

And it’ll be all the way down to 102 when I fly out of San Antonio! A cold snap!

July 15/23 long, long drawn out heat wave

It’s not that 103 F. is so terrible but that it’s going on now for more than a week, hitting 103 every day.

I recall in gruesome detail coming back from our ride at Fort Clark last year in June and it was 108 F. on the return trip. Evelyn had left early Sunday morning, and April and June and I left later. The place looked scalded.

Fort Clark is near the Rio Grande and we were heading back up into the Hill Country, which meant pulling hills — April and June were in her trailer, a living-quarters 22-foot trailer with two horses, which meant she was pulling about, I guess, at least 9,000 pounds, and I had just my small trailer with Jackson in it, so the trailer is rated at 3,000 lbs. and Jackson weighs about 1200, so say four thousand. So when we started up the grades, my temperature gauge started ominously climbing above 210, slowly, slowly, and the outside temperature stated 108 F. This made me extremely nervous. So I slowed down and it dropped back to normal but then I couldn’t get up the hills.

I noticed April, behind me, was dropping farther and farther behind so I knew she was having the same trouble. The trouble was that if you stopped to let the engine cool down and stop overheating, there wasn’t any cooling down! I thought if April stops totally I can at least take one of their horses –Indira or June’s horse Missy — in my trailer and try to get up the hills with two horses. To get out in that heat and unload and then reload a horse made me about pass out just thinking about it.

What I did was, when I topped a hill at about 40 mph., I shifted to neutral and coasted down. With 4000 lbs pushing me I sometimes got up to 75-80 mph which got me partially up the next hill and the temperature gauge down to 210 again. When I topped the next grade, I could see April farther and farther behind. I knew she was having trouble.

Here’s the relative sizes of the trailers. First picture is Evelyn’s 22-foot (same size as April’s) when we were in New Mexico. Only picture of it I have.

And that’s my little trailer.

So at any rate, we basically crawled home, coasting down hills and creeping up the ensuing hill coming at us, creeping up, getting every yard out of the coast that we could before shifting back into gear. And so we made it home, without blowing any engines, nursing our vehicles and loads like they were fussy babies, mile by mile.

That was 108 F., 103 doesn’t seem so bad except that it’s going on for weeks. I am trying to book a flight to Veracruz for August, going to visit the wonderful Contreras family and my friend Elvia, who like me is a book fiend, and the town Coatepec is at 3,000 feet and cool!

The Fourth!

This little town does a great 4th of July parade. Expect the unexpected! No horses this year — maybe us Saddle Sisters will ride next year. Meanwhile a group of us sat out on the front porch of the Main Street shop and drank Wanda’s very good lemonade and waved at everybody.

I’m having trouble getting all the pictures sized just right, it’s a pain but I guess I’ll figure it out sooner or later.

The big truck is the water well drilling people, it was the biggest truck in the parade.

Then there was a dedication of a monument to the veterans of the Sabinal Valley; Diane Causey worked very hard to raise money for it and Linda Weber, who wrote Finding Utopia about a murder here in the 1920’s, dedicated all she made from her book’s launch here. It was wonderful of her to do that and it’s a fascinating book. So many people contributed that Diane and the Sabinal Museum people had enough left over to invite the town of Sabinal’s high school marching band to come and play. They did the National anthem plus the armed services medley.

I’m embarrassed to say I forget this man’s name but he is a combat veteran and spoke for the dedication, as well as the Church of Christ minister.

Such great kids from the Sabinal marching band. May you ever live in peace and security and never have to go to war, no not ever.

June 27/23

It hardly seems like June with the heat back again full force and this seems to have brought out the scorpions. Here’s one under blacklight — ewwww. But it’s the only way I have found to get rid of them. Go out after dark and look around with blacklight flashlight and spray them with Raid Wasp and Hornet and they thrash around and die horribly, all in glowing blue and it is a gratifying sight.

They glow very brightly. They all seem to congregate on the west-facing back outside wall, the hottest place. I stepped on one getting up in the middle of the night which I regret extremely and have for the past three days.

But other than that, wonderful visitors including Susan Paddlety-Dunlap, Kiowa from Oklahoma, decorative artist and unofficial ambassador for the People, who tells me her mother was a cousin to Scott Momaday and said Momaday had a beautiful reading voice, and I mean to find him on Youtube so I can hear his voice. Although she’s not a horsewoman I saddled up Jackson and she made a great picture seated on the palomino. We had a good day. She brought me one of her favorite books, The Ten Grandmothers plus she had made me a wonderful bookmarker. She brought back my old copy of A Quaker Among the Indians by Thomas Beattey which, although it has the attitudes of the 1890’s still has useful information about the Kiowa plus very good lithos of various tribal members, which I intend to have framed one of these days.

We had a great visit! I only get to see her once a year when she and her husband come down from Fort Worth but it’s always a delightful and informative time even if it was 100 F.

I said, “Oh wow, is that a Johnny Was shirt?”

“No, but it looks like one, it’s a Johnny Wasn’t.”

The heat has hovered around 106 and more every day for more than a week and I am keeping my elderly horse Buck up in the front corral shelter with a mister on him. he stands in it all day. I put up a box fan for him but he doesn’t like it.

I texted this to my cousin in Missouri and she replied that she loved the sunset picture — I said, ‘That’s the sunrise! And hot already!’

Buck standing under the mister.

June 24th was the PRCA rodeo here, I went down to see what was happening and saw friends Hattie Barham, the wonderful photographer, up on her stand as always, sat by Robin Moore bank clerk and her husband and kids. There was bronc riding, calf roping, breakaway roping for women, and barrel racing. Everybody trying to make points to continue on the competitive circuit toward the NFR in Vegas this fall.

As soon as they announced the bull riding, the pickup men and clowns gathered instantly. On guard, on watch.

My photos are terrible and so is my little camera, Hattie of course will have beautiful images. She was a professional journalist photographer and traveled the world for quite a few years, for AFP and others. She and her husband now own a well service company here and are very busy with all the new people moving in since Covid.

Then yesterday Michael and Naomi Nye came out from San Antonio — they had been to the Flato ranch near Rocksprings, and I was so delighted to see them again! I had not seen them since they lost their beloved son to Covid. We had long talks, good lunch at the Lost Maples cafe and a visit here at my house. Naomi (world’s greatest poet) brought me a splendid book self-printed by a historian of letters from the 1860’s to 1880’s a real treasure, as it will have a wealth of details from that time period. Michael took some pictures which I will put up later on as he hasn’t sent them yet. A very special time with them.

And that’s it for June 27th

6/18/23 Cormac McCarthy RIP

He had such a liberating influence on my own writing…that is, All The Pretty Horses did. The book was a surprising, even shocking discovery. He threw away all the conventions of the literary novel — passive, over-sensitive protagonists, the urban environment, intricate social treachery, status attacks and ambushes etc. — and yet it was a ‘literary’ novel. Or as Northrop Frye would define it, a romance, which is related to the tale, the story. Things happen. Everything is at stake.

foto NYT

So from there I went on to The Crossing and Cities of the Plain, Sutteree, and these went back to the passive protagonist novel, which is difficult to read, complicated to excuse, and boring to slog through no matter how gorgeous the prose and his prose was nothing short, sometimes, of miraculous.

I subscribe to Lincoln Michel’s substack Counter Craft and in his tribute to McCarthy he notes the stylistic shift from the early Southern Gothic novels (which he prefers) to the later southwestern books (Pretty Horses, No Country For Old Men, The Road etc.), remarking that his prose became more stripped down and spare. Respectfully, that’s not altogether true. What happened was that his main characters, his protagonists, begin to show up moving, doing, fighting, thinking ahead, with the plot evolving and smoking around them.

I’ve written about this problem before on my blog so I won’t go into it except to say a writer has an increasingly intractable problem with a passive protagonist as his/her work goes on in that you have to have more and more horrible things happening to your main character in order to keep the work moving forward. The reader gives up in frustration as Protag cowers and suffers yet again. There are many, many articles online concerning this aspect of character-building, just type in ‘passive protagonist’ and don’t let me bore you any more with it.

This is what the screenwriter did with the character of Captain Kidd in the movie version of News of the World — he robbed the Captain of all intelligence, all agency, all instrumentality. The Captain just seemed to get stupider as the movie went on and all the work fell on the shoulders of a poor, traumatized ten-year-old girl. It made Jefferson Kyle Kidd seem lazy if not actually devious; a taker. A parasite.

So McCarthy stepped out of this snare with Pretty Horses and the book — the romance — is a masterpiece. I admire it enormously. Plot matters. And as in the best literature language becomes a kind of life-form, independent of the writer with its own eternally evolving parameters of tension and pressure and density and perilous beauty. As in a summer thunderhead.

If you look carefully at the character of Gene Harrogate in Suttree you will see that McCarthy knew he was too good to abandon and that he was as yet unborn or undeveloped and so he appeared later in Pretty Horses as Jimmy Blevins, but far harder and a born criminal. He was perfectly drawn and utterly believable.

However; one tires of the endless depictions of glossy, breathtaking violence in Blood Meridian and of McCarthy’s bottomless fascination with rotting bodies, decay, wet garbage and the startling effects of unchecked disease upon eyes or teeth. It never goes anywhere. He kept this in the lower registers in his later southwestern novels and that, along with the assertive, intelligent character of his protagonists is what makes his later novels so great.


Yoga Kitty

You can tell I am desperate for some subject to make a blog post with (dangling participle) when I put up silly cat pictures.

Yoga Kitty says, stay organized.

Do not despair. Despair is for those who are disorganized and can’t find their socks or their notes or their place in the Universe, even though the Universe is directly outside their windows knocking, knocking, knocking on the glass. Be here now, says Yoga Kitty, because being there then is …I forget.

Never mind.

The uncorrected galleys, the Advanced Reader’s Copies, are out and a box of twenty was mailed to me and I am giving them away like sample medications that your doctor hands to you instead of you having to pay $500 per bottle. Chenneville is restorative and hypnotic, you’ll never be the same again.

It’s going to rain again.

End of totally mindless post.

Memorial Day May 28 (not exactly but…) ’23

Since it’s Memorial Day I always put up some remembrance of my dad’s cousin;

(this is not him; photo from Brave images of the landing at Anzio Beach)

James Marshall Jiles

Texas 36th Division

Killed at Anzio Beach Italy

March, 1943

5/19/23 The McMurtry book is out

U of T press has reached pub date on their collection of essays, Pastures of the Empty Page; Writers on the life and Legacy of Larry McMurty . My essay is the second one, ‘The Boy With the Lamp’. It’s a goodlooking book and George Getschow worked very hard on it.