Monday, October 18, 2010

Dykie Dolls

My Rosie the Riveter action figure arrived in the mail today. I already have a smaller Rosie, equipped with a lunch box and drill. But the Rosie I received today is a 9" action figure with blue overalls, a red bandanna, and gloves!

For those of you who may not know, Rosie the Riveter is an icon of the WWII era. She represents the thousands of women who went to work in shipyards, aircraft assembly lines, and weapons facilities while 'the boys' were away at war.

The icon of Rosie the Riveter and the "We Can Do It" posters of the time helped spur the women's
movement decades later. After the war, the women were removed from their jobs so the men could return to work. Not surprisingly women received lesser pay for the same jobs and skills as men. These injustices precipitated the first stirrings of the Women's Rights Movement in the 60's and 70's.

The Rosie I received today is part of a series of dolls made by the Minnesota Historical Society called "Eleanor's Girls," to pay tribute to the valor of women who served in varied capacities during WWII. I also bought a WASPS (Women's Air Force Service Pilots) doll. Eleanor Roosevelt, of course, was a champion of the rights of many, including women. She also was a model herself of women serving in nontraditional roles for the time.

Despite all the history and honor, I bought the dolls mainly because they are truly unique. I have never seen such dykie dolls in all my life! They even beat the bastardized scooter barbie dolls I made last year! Look at the pilot's boots!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

New Art

I went to JP Open Studios last weekend, and bought 2 pieces from an artist named Amy Hitchcock. In January I will be taking a class with her called "Assemblages With Found Objects" at the Eliot School of Arts & Crafts in Jamaica Plain.

Tamara Lempicka

Apparently there is a goddess in heaven, because this woman Tamara Lempicka existed. I can't fathom how incredibly gorgeous her work is, yet she is relatively unknown. If I were to conjure up sleek, Art Deco era images of women in my mind, her paintings would be my dream come true.

Briefly, she was born in Poland and emigrated to Paris in the 1920's, later escaping the Nazi regime. She settled in the United States in her later years. Tamara lived to be an old lady, heartily disapproving of the Sixties generation, because she thought the hippies weren't radical enough. There's nothing like the Roaring Twenties and early Thirties in Paris. What an era!

Tamara Lempicka was bisexual, hence she painted alluring images of mostly women, though she was married to several men. To add to her decadence, she became a Baroness through one of her marriages! Lempicka was influenced by the Cubists and Surrealists. Naturally she hobnobbed with the likes of Vita Sacksville West, Djuna Barnes, Picasso, Gide, Cocteau and others.

Artist friends: is she one of the few female artists in history to paint naked, sexy, and in some cases very masculine women?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Friday, October 1, 2010

Trash Talk

Here's my friend Jonathan acting in a short movie he also wrote. It's called "Trash Talk." He's the handsome devil with dark hair.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Best of Ghost Hunters?

I admit that I watch the series "Ghost Hunters," and "Ghost Hunters International," and I love these shows.

The lure of the paranormal sucks me in every time.

Though I
do watch the shows because of my love of history and historical sites, I also watch it because of course I'm hoping that I'll see something very convincing and believable.

For the most part the shows disappoint and fall short repeatedly. There's lots of flying orbs, indistinct voices, and blurry images. However, I keep coming back because on both shows there have been some very eerie and convincing footage at times.

1. This EVP, as they call it, kind of freaked me out. The following are two clips of the same event, at a prison in Poland from Season One, episode 23. The two ghost hunters hear a fairly clear and loud female voice, speaking in what sounds like Russian or Polish. There's also emotion in her voice. It's either outright trickery, or can't be explained by me.
Go to 3:59 on tape....
Go to beginning of tape.....

2. The following clip is from a hotel in Brazil, from Season 1, Episode 16. When I watched it again, I was not as impressed as the first time. I don't know why it made such an impression on me. Here you can see a figure walking through the kitchen hallway. Go to 4:13 on the video.

3. Lastly, here is a long and very audible EVP from "Ghost Hunters," Season 4 , Episode 7 Interestingly, it was captured at the Mt. Washington Resort in NH.
Watch the beginning of the clip.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Telekinesis Debunking

My sister enjoys reading the skeptic blogs and such. She sent me this link of James Randi very convincingly debunking a so-called psychic named James Hydrick on "That's My Line," in 1981. James Randi, who is now 82 years old, is offering 1 million dollars to anyone who can demonstrate proof of the paranormal. He has challenged many famous psychics to tests, and they have avoided him. He's even been sued for libel by Uri Geller.

I believe there are realities beyond the human mind or understanding, and that humans may be able to experience or perceive these realities at times. These realities, though, are probably more profound than some guy moving a pencil or bending a spoon. As James Randi shows, the paranormal has never been proven to exist whatsoever with any sound scientific means.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Room of One's Own

Yesterday I spent time at my new studio space! Recent developments have allowed my friend MK to rent out a small yet inspiring and sunny corner of her studio! I'm not calling myself an "artist," (too much pressure) but a person who likes to look at and create images I like. So there.

I'm at the Atlantic Works Galleries on Border St. in East Boston.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Foreign Accent Syndrome

In my mind (pardon the pun) there's no subject more fascinating than neuroscience. Whenever I see articles about recent discoveries, I'm glued to the article. Especially interesting to me is how speech and language are manifested (for most people) in the left hemisphere. Having some knowledge of speech/language development and anatomy, I'm quite aware of the damage that occurs ---like Broca's Aphasia, apraxia of speech, and Wernicke's Aphasia-- in the adult brain due to TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury).

One kind of brain damage effect I had not heard of before is called "Foreign Accent Syndrome." The article I read was about an English woman named Kay Russell who suffered a severe migraine, and subsequently developed a French accent. (see below)

Most people with the Foreign Accent Syndrome have no prior skill or experience with the foreign language they develop an accent for. In fact, English speakers can develop accents that sound Russian or Chinese, or a variation of English such as Australian or Jamaican. Some subjects will also have odd changes in reading or writing ability. For example, Kay Russell writes English prose as a native speaker of French would, with the grammar and syntax differences expected.

Subjects who are bilingual or trilingual will suffer very odd effects. For example, a bilingual Korean women lost her ability to speak Korean, but could read it. She could only speak English, which was her acquired language! I was especially intrigued to find she lost her native language ability! Years ago when I was working in a nursing home as a teenager, I remember an elderly woman who suddenly began speaking fluent Sicilian Italian after 45 years of not speaking Italian! She had lost her acquired English completely.

From a speech/language anatomy standpoint, people do not actually develop pure foreign accents, as a native speaker of a certain language would. Instead, damage to the brain causes changes in the speaker's intonation, stressing, patterns, and pitch. Vowels may be longer, or altered. As listeners try their best to understand what they are hearing, it is natural for them to assign a known accent. Some listeners, for example, think Kay Russell sounds Russian or Eastern European. In any case, Foreign Accent Syndrome, though it may seem alluring or sexy at first thought, is very distressing to people. Our voices, indeed, are very much a part of our identity and personality.

The DNA of Chocolate Has Been Sequenced

Forget about humans and sheep, now the genome of chocolate has nearly been sequenced by scientists. News like this makes chocolate lovers very happy. Apparently botanists hope the DNA information will help devise 'super' cacao trees, capable of producing more cocoa beans, and resisting disease better. Seventy percent of the world's chocolate is grown in West Africa, by small farmers! Here's an article from the Washington Post below, with more detail.

Scientists have painstakingly mapped the DNA of human beings, corn, turkeys - and now chocolate.
A group of researchers led by McLean candy company Mars is nearly done sequencing the genome of the cacao tree, which produces the seeds used to make cocoa. The information will speed up the process for creating a stronger tree that is more resistant to disease and easier to grow for millions of farmers.

And a better tree, they hope, means more chocolate for everyone for years to come.

Rather than keep the delicious secrets to itself, the company behind M&M's and Snickers has decided to share the information with the world.
"The information is so rich and so accurate we felt there was no reason to hold back," said Howard-Yana Shapiro, a Santa-bearded chocolate scientist whose technical title is global staff officer of plant science and research at Mars.

The goal of the genome project is not to genetically engineer chocolate. Rather it's to improve the traditional method of breeding trees, a laborious, trial-and-error process in which researchers try to isolate the sweetest traits and replicate them. That can take as long as 15 years to complete.

With a map of the cacao tree's genetic makeup, scientists could cut that process down to two or three years. For instance, they could extract the DNA of a young tree and see whether it has the right genes for resisting diseases instead of waiting years for the tree to mature.

But enough about the science. Bottom line: Will the new information result in better-tasting chocolate?
Perhaps, Shapiro said. He noted that some discerning eaters have complained that the quality of cocoa has fallen in recent years, but no one knows whether that is because of soil, weather or genetics. At least one of the keys to flavor is the fatty acid content of the cocoa. "Now finally, we have insight on how to stabilize it and raise it over time," Shapiro said.

The world's cocoa supply is grown mostly by small farmers because the process is so laborious.
It begins with picking a pod off a cacao tree. The farmer then splits open the pod and scrapes the seeds out. Then the beans are fermented for a number of days, which is when they get their tasty chocolate flavor. Lastly the beans have to be dried. The cacao plant is especially hard to grow because it is highly vulnerable to pests and disease. According to Mars, farmers suffer $700 million to $800 million worth of damage every year.

More than 70 percent of the world's cocoa supply comes from West Africa, where the biggest source is Cote d'Ivoire, followed by Ghana. Indonesia is the world's third-largest producer.
Brazil used to be one of the top producers of cacao, until a fungus called witches'-broom struck the crop in the late 1980s and devastated the country's industry. "It was a wake-up call," Shapiro said. "Imagine what would happen if something hit Africa."

The United States does not produce much cocoa, only a small amount in Hawaii and Puerto Rico. But because domestic companies such as Mars and Hershey's rely so much on the ingredient, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been trying to breed a better cacao tree since 1999.
In 2008, Mars, in partnership with IBM and the USDA, began sequencing the cacao genome. Mars committed $10 million to the project and decided to share preliminary results with the public three years ahead of schedule. During their work sequencing the cocoa genome, researchers learned a few things about the raw makeup of chocolate. Its DNA is much easier to read compared with other crops, allowing scientists to yield more information about the cacao tree's characteristics, said David Kuhn, a USDA research molecular biologist based in Miami.
So eating too much chocolate may be an indulgence that expands the waist. But, as it turns out, Kuhn said, "it's a very well-behaved genome."

© 2010 The Washington Post. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Temporarily Suspended

This blog is temporarily suspended. I'm not ready to give it up completely, but I haven't been writing regularly. Let's see what comes of the near future.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The X-Woman of Siberia

There have been many articles lately about a humanoid 'pinky finger' anthropologists have recently analyzed. The bone was unearthed in 2008 in a cave in Denisova, Siberia. Scientists are dubbing her X-woman, and it seems she is a genetically distinct hominin from modern humans and Neanderthals. This would mean that at about 48,000 to 30,000 years ago Modern Humans, Neanderthals, and another human creature co-existed in Central Asia.

At first, I thought: "How can scientists say it's a distinct hominin with only a pinky bone?"Of course I wasn't thinking immediately of the marvel of DNA. No doubt paleoanthropologists like Leaky would be dumbfounded to imagine a new species could ever be identified from a pinky bone. But mitochondrial DNA tells the tale, if we are interpreting it properly.

Scientists are aware of several migrations of human creatures out of Africa. The Denisova cave creature may represent a previously unknown and distinct species, that left Africa 1 million years ago. To give some perspective, modern humans and Neantherthals share a common ancestor from 466,000 years ago. (Neanderthals still remain our nearest and dearest human cousins). Earlier migrations included Homoheidelbergensis from 650,000 years ago, and Homo Erectus from 2 million years ago.

What this discovery and others will yield in the future is hard to say. One thing remains certain, though, that DNA analysis will skyrocket our understanding and knowledge of human evolution. No longer do we have to unearth whole skulls and knees and hands to find the 'missing link'. Perhaps a finger bone or tooth may do.

Will we find other lines of humans in Asia and Europe, or evidence of interbreeding?

If several human creatures co-existed in various parts of the earth, it is hard to imagine a lack of interaction and interbreeding. The question remains, though, if this interbreeding left any genetic effects. Do all modern humans descend from one group that dominated and extinguished all other humanoid groups? Or are there genetic remainders in some of us from some of these other creatures? It's an interesting and sexy question which will require further discoveries and further analysis to answer.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Where Were You?

YouTube is pretty amazing. I was home sick today and found myself thinking about the Challenger disaster of 1986. Within minutes I was re-watching the footage of that day. I remember I was with my grandmother that cold, gray January day. We were both napping, then woke up to find out what had happened on the news. I remember feeling the complete disbelief many felt, when I saw what was obviously a fatal explosion of the craft. I couldn't conceive that Christa McAuliffe could be dead. I thought: "N.A.S.A. would never put an ordinary citizen in such danger." Wrong.

There's nothing like live footage, which you find yourself watching over and over again. It's almost as if you're looking for the exact moment when something else could have happened to avert disaster. But then the disaster keeps happening over and over again. It's an odd feeling.

I do not remember watching the Reagan
assassination attempt live, but later. This footage really captures the confusion and mayhem of the moment. The police and secret service officers can't even get the patrol car door open to arrest the suspect! There's a lot of swearing and yelling. I always felt awful for what happened to James Brady that day, though I applaud his later efforts to work towards gun control. Brady even got Reagan to endorse the Brady Bill! Until I read up on the incident, I had forgotten that Reagan had actually been hit. The bullet punctured his lung, and if it had traveled another inch to his heart Reagan likely would have died. March 30, 1981--- I would have been in high school that day.

When Columbine happened, I was in Amsterdam. I did not find out until later in that evening, after a day touring tulip gardens, when my friend and I watched the news. It was very odd to experience an American tragedy from a European perspective. We felt like we weren't getting all the information, and that there was a lot more coverage in the U.S. that we were missing. We felt understandably a little homesick.

Of course the ultimate disaster coverage caught live on tape is 9/11/2001. I remember it was a fairly sunny Tuesday morning, and I was at work. When I first heard about the planes, I thought it was the World Trade Center in Boston. I worried about my aunt, who at the time worked for the government at the Kennedy Building in Government Center. Despite the idea that Boston could be under terrorist attack, I calmed myself and thought: "Okay. I'll deal with what's coming." Since I worked in a public school with 350 children, I did not see the footage as it was unfolding. The principal decided watching television live would be too upsetting to the kids. The first time I saw anything that had happened was that afternoon when I got home. My mouth dropped open when I first saw the image of the planes flying into the World Trade Center. It was just too horrible and shocking to believe.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Pinhorns of Scilly Cove, Newfoundland, Canada

As you may know I've completed or attempted quite a lot of family research. It's the love of history and the unknown past that motivates me. My paternal grandmother, Rachel Charlotte Andrews (1903-1997), was born in a hamlet in Trinity Bay, Newfoundland called Winterton. In former days it was called Scilly Cove. Through the years I have visited Winterton three times. Of course I still have lots of relatives there.

It was with great luck on my third visit that I found out about my great-grandmother Jedidah Pinhorn's family line. A man and woman in town, both descendants of the same great-great-great-great grandfather, had traced the family. Not surprisingly, they had very inaccurate information about our immediate family, since my grandmother emigrated to America in the 1920's.

The Pinhorn families (three brothers) originally migrated to Newfoundland, Canada in the 1600's from England. Here is a picture of some of the Pinhorn ancestors.

My Pinhorn Line in Winterton

The woman seated is Minnie Pinhorn, & the man standing is Abraham Pinhorn (not confirmed). The woman on the right is definitely my great-grandmother Jedidah Pinhorn.

Generation No. 1

1. BENJAMIN PINHORN was born 1737 in Fordingbridge, Hampshire, England. He married (1) ELIZABETH PITEE. She was born 1754. He married (2) ELIZABETH. She died 1759. He married (3) ELIZABETH. She died 1762.

2. i. BENJAMIN PINHORN, b. 1754; d. 1818, Winterton, Newfoundland, Canada.

ii. JOSEPH PINHORN, b. 1759; d. 1826.
iii. WILLIAM PINHORN, b. 1757; d. 1818.


Generation No. 2

2. BENJAMIN PINHORN (BENJAMIN1) was born 1754, and died 1818 in Winterton, Newfoundland, Canada. He married ELIZABETH 1784. She was born 1772, and died December 20, 1847.

i. EMMA PINHORN, b. 1785.
ii. SARAH PINHORN, b. 1788.
iii. ELIZABETH PINHORN, b. 1790.
iv. JOHN PINHORN, b. 1794, Scilly Cove, Newfoundland; d. 1814.
vi. ROBERT PINHORN, b. 1800.
vii. LYDIA PINHORN, b. 1802; d. 1882.
viii. WILLIAM PINHORN, b. 1803, Scilly Cove, Newfoundland.
ix. MARY PINHORN, b. 1808.

Generation No. 3

3. WILLIAM PINHORN (BENJAMIN2, BENJAMIN1) was born 1803 in Scilly Cove, Newfoundland. He married MARY.

Children of WILLIAM PINHORN and MARY are:
i. BENJAMIN PINHORN, b. 1842; d. September 29, 1913.
ii. ELIZABETH PINHORN, b. 1845, Scilly Cove, Newfoundland; d. 1915; m. HUBERT REID.
iii. SAMUEL PINHORN, b. 1846, Scilly Cove, Newfoundland; d. 1924; m. ALICE RYAN.
iv. RACHEL PINHORN, b. 1849.
v. WILLIAM PINHORN, b. 1853, Scilly Cove, Newfoundland; d. 1926.
vi. ROBERT PINHORN, b. 1855; d. 1934.
Generation No. 4

4. BENJAMIN PINHORN (WILLIAM3, BENJAMIN2, BENJAMIN1) was born 1842, and died September 29, 1913. He married ELLEN DOWNEY. She was born 1850, and died 1898.

ii. MARY MARIA 'MINNIE' PINHORN, b. 1876; d. 1952. m. Daniel Hindy
iv. JEDIDAH PINHORN, b. 1882, Winterton, Newfoundland, d. 1945
v. ABRAHAM PINHORN, b. 1884; d. 1958; m. AMELIA JANE ADEY.

Generation No. 5

6. JEDIDAH PINHORN (BENJAMIN4, WILLIAM3, BENJAMIN2, BENJAMIN1) was born 1882 in Winterton, Newfoundland, Canada, and died 1945 in Winterton, Newfoundland, Canada. She married SAMUEL ANDREWS July 07, 1903. He was born September 17, 1879 in Winterton, Newfoundland, Canada, and died June 20, 1963 in Winterton, Newfoundland, Canada.

i. RACHEL CHARLOTTE ANDREWS, b. September 1903, Winterton, Newfoundland, Canada; d. November 26, 1997.
ii. WILSON ANDREWS, b. July 16, 1905; d. March 03, 1977.
iii. SARAH ELIZABETH ANDREWS, b. August 13, 1908; d. 1994.
iv. NEHEMIAH ANDREWS, b. June 10, 1911; d. 1997; m. BESSIE HISCOCK.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Monument Valley

Monument Valley is a strange land, nothing like I've ever seen, or probably anyone has ever seen. For good reasons it is the setting for many Westerns. Getting out of the protection of your car, and walking around there is isolating and creepy. You definitely feel you are totally on your own, independent, your being against the elements and the unknown. The vastness around me I'm sure I was not perceiving with reality.

To me, Monument Valley looks like a million year old depleted ocean. Not knowing enough about geology, it probably is. You sense around you a once lush, abounding life, with thousands of strange critters, that has since disappeared. All around you there are signs of water, in the rocks, cliffs, the sand, but there's no water. Maybe it's just an illusion the brain plays on you when you're in the desert.

Monday, March 8, 2010

100 Geographical Terms

This '100' list was prompted by my recent trip to Arizona. While driving around I saw the word 'wash' frequently. What was a wash? After inquiring from some locals, I discovered a wash is a dry river bed that once or twice a year may spring into a raging torrent. I guess when it rains in Arizona, it rains, and a wash is the drainage.

1. mesa
2. wash
3. plateau
4. badlands
5. gully
6. ravine
7. cliff
8. bluff
9. prairie
10. field
11. hill
12. mountain
13. canyon

14. pass
15. river
16. stream
17. pond
18. lake
19. desert
20. heath
21. alp
22. creek
23. forest
24. woods

25. crevasse
26. grassland
27. valley
28. ocean
29. sea
30. sandbar
31. bay
32. cove
33. bog
34. swamp

35. marsh
36. atoll
37. archipelago
38. canal
39. cave
40. peninsula
41. cape
42. channel
43. fjord
44. continent
45. delta
46. estuary
47. hemisphere

48. geyser
49. waterfall
50. gulf
52. island
53. cay
54. glacier
55. rock
56. isthmus
57. key
58. lagoon
59. pole
60. circle
61. oasis
62. plain
63. drybed
64. reef

65. sound
66. tributary
67. strait
68. holler
69. tundra
70. volcano
71. wetland
72. brook
73. pass
74. cataract
75. divide
76. shelf
77. country
78. equator
79. line
80. corner
81. fault
82. floodplain
83. flora
84. globe
85. hiterland
86. heartland

87. inlet
88. jet stream
89. tide
90. sinkhole
91. mount
92. oceania
93. piedmont
94. foothill
95. rainforest
96. region
97. tropic
98. watershed
99. dam

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Grand Canyon!

Last week I visited the Grand Canyon! Seeing the Grand Canyon has been on my 'bucket list' for awhile. Since I really enjoy seeing the wonders of the outdoors best, I felt I HAD to see the Grand Canyon. Here are some winter scenes of the Canyon. In addition, there was one moment of complete silence, which I'll share. It was amazing to view such vastness in front of me, with complete silence all around. Awesome!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Get Back

Got to get back..... to writing on blog......

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Antique Camera

Here's my latest antique acquisition. It's a Kodak No. 3A Autographic Model C Camera. It was made between 1910 and 1913. It's not worth much (40$), but I just love the look of it.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Portrait of the Activist as a Young Girl

I've been digging through some old papers lately, and found this letter my sister Jen wrote to me when I was in my last year of high school (March 9, 1981), and she was in sixth grade. Her plea is very heartfelt, and I believe she feels similarly today.

I wrote some sage, older sisterly advice, but I didn't include it. Apparently she didn't like my response because she crossed it out and wrote: "Nobody understands!" Here is a transcript of her letter.

"I hate hunters!! they kill animals. I hate all people who hurt any amimals! I wish the animals would kill lots of people and take over the world. I love animals and they love me, I know. and I love to watch birds and animals I love pigeons too. lots and lots of people hate pigeons. Dad hates pigeons but I love them, too. They are too dumb!! Wrong. people won't listen, there too dumb to know were animals too. I love every animal there is. I know we have to eat, but how do vegetarians live? answer that. "

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Pretty Mouth and Green My Eyes

I was leaving work today, and someone asked me: "Ms. Taylor, who is your hero?" I spontaneously blurted out: "Emily Dickinson."

Not that she
isn't a heroine of mine, she is. But if given time to ponder, I would be hard pressed to pick one hero (many of my heroes are artists). J.D. Salinger is another literary hero of mine, and I was saddened to hear he died today at the age of 91. His writings "Raise High the Roof Beams Carpenters, and, Seymour, an Introduction," and "Nine Stories" had an enormous impact on me as a teenager and young adult. I also read "Catcher in the Rye," like every other high school pupil.

I adored the biting sarcasm, nihilism, dark humor, and existentialism of Salinger's works. His works were both hilarious and tragic at the same time. Attached to these fantastically weird stories was a fantastically weird author, who supposedly locked himself away in the hills of N.H. for 45 years. No one knows if J.D. Salinger has written anything since the 1960's. It would be exciting if they found some unpublished, unknown works. At the same time, I want Holden Caulfield and Seymour Glass to stay exactly where they are. Here's the entire text of one of my favorite Salinger short stories: "A Perfect Day for Bananafish."

Originally Published in The New Yorker, Jan. 31, 1948.
THERE WERE ninety-seven New York advertising men in the hotel, and, the way they were monopolizing the long-distance lines, the girl in 507 had to wait from noon till almost two-thirty to get her call through. She used the time, though. She read an article in a women's pocket-size magazine, called "Sex Is Fun-or Hell." She washed her comb and brush. She took the spot out of the skirt of her beige suit. She moved the button on her Saks blouse. She tweezed out two freshly surfaced hairs in her mole. When the operator finally rang her room, she was sitting on the window seat and had almost finished putting lacquer on the nails of her left hand.
She was a girl who for a ringing phone dropped exactly nothing. She looked as if her phone had been ringing continually ever since she had reached puberty.
With her little lacquer brush, while the phone was ringing, she went over the nail of her little finger, accentuating the line of the moon. She then replaced the cap on the bottle of lacquer and, standing up, passed her left--the wet--hand back and forth through the air. With her dry hand, she picked up a congested ashtray from the window seat and carried it with her over to the night table, on which the phone stood. She sat down on one of the made-up twin beds and--it was the fifth or sixth ring--picked up the phone.
"Hello," she said, keeping the fingers of her left hand outstretched and away from her white silk dressing gown, which was all that she was wearing, except mules--her rings were in the bathroom.
"I have your call to New York now, Mrs. Glass," the operator said.
"Thank you," said the girl, and made room on the night table for the ashtray.
A woman's voice came through. "Muriel? Is that you?"
The girl turned the receiver slightly away from her ear. "Yes, Mother. How are you?" she said.
"I've been worried to death about you. Why haven't you phoned? Are you all right?"
"I tried to get you last night and the night before. The phone here's been--"
"Are you all right, Muriel?"
The girl increased the angle between the receiver and her ear. "I'm fine. I'm hot. This is the hottest day they've had in Florida in--"
"Why haven't you called me? I've been worried to--"
"Mother, darling, don't yell at me. I can hear you beautifully," said the girl. "I called you twice last night. Once just after--"
"I told your father you'd probably call last night. But, no, he had to-Are you all right, Muriel? Tell me the truth."
"I'm fine. Stop asking me that, please."
"When did you get there?"
"I don't know. Wednesday morning, early."
"Who drove?"
"He did," said the girl. "And don't get excited. He drove very nicely. I was amazed."
"He drove? Muriel, you gave me your word of--"
"Mother," the girl interrupted, "I just told you. He drove very nicely. Under fifty the whole way, as a matter of fact."
"Did he try any of that funny business with the trees?"
"I said he drove very nicely, Mother. Now, please. I asked him to stay close to the white line, and all, and he knew what I meant, and he did. He was even trying not to look at the trees-you could tell. Did Daddy get the car fixed, incidentally?"
"Not yet. They want four hundred dollars, just to--"
"Mother, Seymour told Daddy that he'd pay for it. There's no reason for--"
"Well, we'll see. How did he behave--in the car and all?"
"All right," said the girl.
"Did he keep calling you that awful--"
"No. He has something new now."
"Oh, what's the difference, Mother?"
"Muriel, I want to know. Your father--"
"All right, all right. He calls me Miss Spiritual Tramp of 1948," the girl said, and giggled.
"It isn't funny, Muriel. It isn't funny at all. It's horrible. It's sad, actually. When I think how--"
"Mother," the girl interrupted, "listen to me. You remember that book he sent me from Germany? You know--those German poems. What'd I do with it? I've been racking my--"
"You have it."
"Are you sure?" said the girl.
"Certainly. That is, I have it. It's in Freddy's room. You left it here and I didn't have room for it in the--Why? Does he want it?"
"No. Only, he asked me about it, when we were driving down. He wanted to know if I'd read it."
"It was in German!"
"Yes, dear. That doesn't make any difference," said the girl, crossing her legs. "He said that the poems happen to be written by the only great poet of the century. He said I should've bought a translation or something. Or learned the language, if you please."
"Awful. Awful. It's sad, actually, is what it is. Your father said last night--"
"Just a second, Mother," the girl said. She went over to the window seat for her cigarettes, lit one, and returned to her seat on the bed. "Mother?" she said, exhaling smoke.
"Muriel. Now, listen to me."
"I'm listening."
"Your father talked to Dr. Sivetski."
"Oh?" said the girl.
"He told him everything. At least, he said he did--you know your father. The trees. That business with the window. Those horrible things he said to Granny about her plans for passing away. What he did with all those lovely pictures from Bermuda--everything."
"Well?" said the girl.
"Well. In the first place, he said it was a perfect crime the Army released him from the hospital--my word of honor. He very definitely told your father there's a chance--a very great chance, he said--that Seymour may completely lose control of himself. My word of honor."
"There's a psychiatrist here at the hotel," said the girl.
"Who? What's his name?"
"I don't know. Rieser or something. He's supposed to be very good."
"Never heard of him."
"Well, he's supposed to be very good, anyway."
"Muriel, don't be fresh, please. We're very worried about you. Your father wanted to wire you last night to come home, as a matter of f--"
"I'm not coming home right now, Mother. So relax."
"Muriel. My word of honor. Dr. Sivetski said Seymour may completely lose contr--"
"I just got here, Mother. This is the first vacation I've had in years, and I'm not going to just pack everything and come home," said the girl. "I couldn't travel now anyway. I'm so sunburned I can hardly move."
"You're badly sunburned? Didn't you use that jar of Bronze I put in your bag? I put it right--"
"I used it. I'm burned anyway."
"That's terrible. Where are you burned?"
"All over, dear, all over."
"That's terrible."
"I'll live."
"Tell me, did you talk to this psychiatrist?"
"Well, sort of," said the girl.
"What'd he say? Where was Seymour when you talked to him?"
"In the Ocean Room, playing the piano. He's played the piano both nights we've been here."
"Well, what'd he say?"
"Oh, nothing much. He spoke to me first. I was sitting next to him at Bingo last night, and he asked me if that wasn't my husband playing the piano in the other room. I said yes, it was, and he asked me if Seymour's been sick or something. So I said--"
"Why'd he ask that?"
"I don't know, Mother. I guess because he's so pale and all," said the girl. "Anyway, after Bingo he and his wife asked me if I wouldn't like to join them for a drink. So I did. His wife was horrible. You remember that awful dinner dress we saw in Bonwit's window? The one you said you'd have to have a tiny, tiny--"
"The green?"
"She had it on. And all hips. She kept asking me if Seymour's related to that Suzanne Glass that has that place on Madison Avenue--the millinery."
"What'd he say, though? The doctor."
"Oh. Well, nothing much, really. I mean we were in the bar and all. It was terribly noisy."
"Yes, but did--did you tell him what he tried to do with Granny's chair?"
"No, Mother. I didn't go into details very much," said the girl. "I'll probably get a chance to talk to him again. He's in the bar all day long."
"Did he say he thought there was a chance he might get--you know--funny or anything? Do something to you!"
"Not exactly," said the girl. "He had to have more facts, Mother. They have to know about your childhood--all that stuff. I told you, we could hardly talk, it was so noisy in there."
"Well. How's your blue coat?"
"All right. I had some of the padding taken out."
"How are the clothes this year?"
"Terrible. But out of this world. You see sequins--everything," said the girl.
"How's your room?"
"All right. Just all right, though. We couldn't get the room we had before the war," said the girl. "The people are awful this year. You should see what sits next to us in the dining room. At the next table. They look as if they drove down in a truck."
"Well, it's that way all over. How's your ballerina?"
"It's too long. I told you it was too long."
"Muriel, I'm only going to ask you once more--are you really all right?"
"Yes, Mother," said the girl. "For the ninetieth time."
"And you don't want to come home?"
"No, Mother."
"Your father said last night that he'd be more than willing to pay for it if you'd go away someplace by yourself and think things over. You could take a lovely cruise. We both thought--"
"No, thanks," said the girl, and uncrossed her legs. "Mother, this call is costing a for--"
"When I think of how you waited for that boy all through the war-I mean when you think of all those crazy little wives who--"
"Mother," said the girl, "we'd better hang up. Seymour may come in any minute."
"Where is he?"
"On the beach."
"On the beach? By himself? Does he behave himself on the beach?"
"Mother," said the girl, "you talk about him as though he were a raving maniac--"
"I said nothing of the kind, Muriel."
"Well, you sound that way. I mean all he does is lie there. He won't take his bathrobe off."
"He won't take his bathrobe off? Why not?"
"I don't know. I guess because he's so pale."
"My goodness, he needs the sun. Can't you make him?
"You know Seymour," said the girl, and crossed her legs again. "He says he doesn't want a lot of fools looking at his tattoo."
"He doesn't have any tattoo! Did he get one in the Army?"
"No, Mother. No, dear," said the girl, and stood up. "Listen, I'll call you tomorrow, maybe."
"Muriel. Now, listen to me."
"Yes, Mother," said the girl, putting her weight on her right leg.
"Call me the instant he does, or says, anything at all funny--you know what I mean. Do you hear me?"
"Mother, I'm not afraid of Seymour."
"Muriel, I want you to promise me."
"All right, I promise. Goodbye, Mother," said the girl. "My love to Daddy." She hung up.

"See more glass," said Sybil Carpenter, who was staying at the hotel with her mother. "Did you see more glass?"
"Pussycat, stop saying that. It's driving Mommy absolutely crazy. Hold still, please."
Mrs. Carpenter was putting sun-tan oil on Sybil's shoulders, spreading it down over the delicate, winglike blades of her back. Sybil was sitting insecurely on a huge, inflated beach ball, facing the ocean. She was wearing a canary-yellow two-piece bathing suit, one piece of which she would not actually be needing for another nine or ten years.
"It was really just an ordinary silk handkerchief--you could see when you got up close," said the woman in the beach chair beside Mrs. Carpenter's. "I wish I knew how she tied it. It was really darling."
"It sounds darling," Mrs. Carpenter agreed. "Sybil, hold still, pussy."
"Did you see more glass?" said Sybil.
Mrs. Carpenter sighed. "All right," she said. She replaced the cap on the sun-tan oil bottle. "Now run and play, pussy. Mommy's going up to the hotel and have a Martini with Mrs. Hubbel. I'll bring you the olive."
Set loose, Sybil immediately ran down to the flat part of the beach and began to walk in the direction of Fisherman's Pavilion. Stopping only to sink a foot in a soggy, collapsed castle, she was soon out of the area reserved for guests of the hotel.
She walked for about a quarter of a mile and then suddenly broke into an oblique run up the soft part of the beach. She stopped short when she reached the place where a young man was lying on his back.
"Are you going in the water, see more glass?" she said.
The young man started, his right hand going to the lapels of his terry-cloth robe. He turned over on his stomach, letting a sausaged towel fall away from his eyes, and squinted up at Sybil.
"Hey. Hello, Sybil."
"Are you going in the water?"
"I was waiting for you," said the young man. "What's new?"
"What?" said Sybil.
"What's new? What's on the program?"
"My daddy's coming tomorrow on a nairiplane," Sybil said, kicking sand.
"Not in my face, baby," the young man said, putting his hand on Sybil's ankle. "Well, it's about time he got here, your daddy. I've been expecting him hourly. Hourly."
"Where's the lady?" Sybil said.
"The lady?" the young man brushed some sand out of his thin hair. "That's hard to say, Sybil. She may be in any one of a thousand places. At the hairdresser's. Having her hair dyed mink. Or making dolls for poor children, in her room." Lying prone now, he made two fists, set one on top of the other, and rested his chin on the top one. "Ask me something else, Sybil," he said. "That's a fine bathing suit you have on. If there's one thing I like, it's a blue bathing suit."
Sybil stared at him, then looked down at her protruding stomach. "This is a yellow," she said. "This is a yellow."
"It is? Come a little closer." Sybil took a step forward. "You're absolutely right. What a fool I am."
"Are you going in the water?" Sybil said.
"I'm seriously considering it. I'm giving it plenty of thought, Sybil, you'll be glad to know."
Sybil prodded the rubber float that the young man sometimes used as a head-rest. "It needs air," she said.
"You're right. It needs more air than I'm willing to admit." He took away his fists and let his chin rest on the sand. "Sybil," he said, "you're looking fine. It's good to see you. Tell me about yourself." He reached in front of him and took both of Sybil's ankles in his hands. "I'm Capricorn," he said. "What are you?"
"Sharon Lipschutz said you let her sit on the piano seat with you," Sybil said.
"Sharon Lipschutz said that?"
Sybil nodded vigorously.
He let go of her ankles, drew in his hands, and laid the side of his face on his right forearm. "Well," he said, "you know how those things happen, Sybil. I was sitting there, playing. And you were nowhere in sight. And Sharon Lipschutz came over and sat down next to me. I couldn't push her off, could I?"
"Oh, no. No. I couldn't do that," said the young man. "I'll tell you what I did do, though."
"I pretended she was you."
Sybil immediately stooped and began to dig in the sand. "Let's go in the water," she said.
"All right," said the young man. "I think I can work it in."
"Next time, push her off," Sybil said. "Push who off?"
"Sharon Lipschutz."
"Ah, Sharon Lipschutz," said the young man. "How that name comes up. Mixing memory and desire." He suddenly got to his feet. He looked at the ocean. "Sybil," he said, "I'll tell you what we'll do. We'll see if we can catch a bananafish."
"A what?"
"A bananafish," he said, and undid the belt of his robe. He took off the robe. His shoulders were white and narrow, and his trunks were royal blue. He folded the robe, first lengthwise, then in thirds. He unrolled the towel he had used over his eyes, spread it out on the sand, and then laid the folded robe on top of it. He bent over, picked up the float, and secured it under his right arm. Then, with his left hand, he took Sybil's hand.
The two started to walk down to the ocean.
"I imagine you've seen quite a few bananafish in your day," the young man said.
Sybil shook her head.
"You haven't? Where do you live, anyway?"
"I don't know," said Sybil.
"Sure you know. You must know. Sharon Lipschutz knows where she lives and she's only three and a half."
Sybil stopped walking and yanked her hand away from him. She picked up an ordinary beach shell and looked at it with elaborate interest. She threw it down. "Whirly Wood, Connecticut," she said, and resumed walking, stomach foremost.
"Whirly Wood, Connecticut," said the young man. "Is that anywhere near Whirly Wood, Connecticut, by any chance?"
Sybil looked at him. "That's where I live," she said impatiently. "I live in Whirly Wood, Connecticut." She ran a few steps ahead of him, caught up her left foot in her left hand, and hopped two or three times.
"You have no idea how clear that makes everything," the young man said.
Sybil released her foot. "Did you read `Little Black Sambo'?" she said.
"It's very funny you ask me that," he said. "It so happens I just finished reading it last night." He reached down and took back Sybil's hand. "What did you think of it?" he asked her.
"Did the tigers run all around that tree?"
"I thought they'd never stop. I never saw so many tigers."
"There were only six," Sybil said.
"Only six!" said the young man. "Do you call that only?"
"Do you like wax?" Sybil asked.
"Do I like what?" asked the young man. "Wax."
"Very much. Don't you?"
Sybil nodded. "Do you like olives?" she asked.
"Olives--yes. Olives and wax. I never go anyplace without 'em."
"Do you like Sharon Lipschutz?" Sybil asked.
"Yes. Yes, I do," said the young man. "What I like particularly about her is that she never does anything mean to little dogs in the lobby of the hotel. That little toy bull that belongs to that lady from Canada, for instance. You probably won't believe this, but some little girls like to poke that little dog with balloon sticks. Sharon doesn't. She's never mean or unkind. That's why I like her so much."
Sybil was silent.
"I like to chew candles," she said finally.
"Who doesn't?" said the young man, getting his feet wet. "Wow! It's cold." He dropped the rubber float on its back. "No, wait just a second, Sybil. Wait'll we get out a little bit."
They waded out till the water was up to Sybil's waist. Then the young man picked her up and laid her down on her stomach on the float.
"Don't you ever wear a bathing cap or anything?" he asked.
"Don't let go," Sybil ordered. "You hold me, now."
"Miss Carpenter. Please. I know my business," the young man said. "You just keep your eyes open for any bananafish. This is a perfect day for bananafish."
"I don't see any," Sybil said.
"That's understandable. Their habits are very peculiar." He kept pushing the float. The water was not quite up to his chest. "They lead a very tragic life," he said. "You know what they do, Sybil?"
She shook her head.
"Well, they swim into a hole where there's a lot of bananas. They're very ordinary-looking fish when they swim in. But once they get in, they behave like pigs. Why, I've known some bananafish to swim into a banana hole and eat as many as seventy-eight bananas." He edged the float and its passenger a foot closer to the horizon. "Naturally, after that they're so fat they can't get out of the hole again. Can't fit through the door."
"Not too far out," Sybil said. "What happens to them?"
"What happens to who?"
"The bananafish."
"Oh, you mean after they eat so many bananas they can't get out of the banana hole?"
"Yes," said Sybil.
"Well, I hate to tell you, Sybil. They die."
"Why?" asked Sybil.
"Well, they get banana fever. It's a terrible disease."
"Here comes a wave," Sybil said nervously.
"We'll ignore it. We'll snub it," said the young man. "Two snobs." He took Sybil's ankles in his hands and pressed down and forward. The float nosed over the top of the wave. The water soaked Sybil's blond hair, but her scream was full of pleasure.
With her hand, when the float was level again, she wiped away a flat, wet band of hair from her eyes, and reported, "I just saw one."
"Saw what, my love?"
"A bananafish."
"My God, no!" said the young man. "Did he have any bananas in his mouth?"
"Yes," said Sybil. "Six."
The young man suddenly picked up one of Sybil's wet feet, which were drooping over the end of the float, and kissed the arch.
"Hey!" said the owner of the foot, turning around.
"Hey, yourself We're going in now. You had enough?"
"Sorry," he said, and pushed the float toward shore until Sybil got off it. He carried it the rest of the way.
"Goodbye," said Sybil, and ran without regret in the direction of the hotel.
The young man put on his robe, closed the lapels tight, and jammed his towel into his pocket. He picked up the slimy wet, cumbersome float and put it under his arm. He plodded alone through the soft, hot sand toward the hotel.
On the sub-main floor of the hotel, which the management directed bathers to use, a woman with zinc salve on her nose got into the elevator with the young man.
"I see you're looking at my feet," he said to her when the car was in motion.
"I beg your pardon?" said the woman.
"I said I see you're looking at my feet."
"I beg your pardon. I happened to be looking at the floor," said the woman, and faced the doors of the car.
"If you want to look at my feet, say so," said the young man. "But don't be a God-damned sneak about it."
"Let me out here, please," the woman said quickly to the girl operating the car.
The car doors opened and the woman got out without looking back.
"I have two normal feet and I can't see the slightest God-damned reason why anybody should stare at them," said the young man. "Five, please." He took his room key out of his robe pocket.
He got off at the fifth floor, walked down the hall, and let himself into 507. The room smelled of new calfskin luggage and nail-lacquer remover.
He glanced at the girl lying asleep on one of the twin beds. Then he went over to one of the pieces of luggage, opened it, and from under a pile of shorts and undershirts he took out an Ortgies calibre 7.65 automatic. He released the magazine, looked at it, then reinserted it. He cocked the piece. Then he went over and sat down on the unoccupied twin bed, looked at the girl, aimed the pistol, and fired a bullet through his right temple.

Friday, January 1, 2010


Happy New Year! I remember the monumental year 2000, and 1999, already 10 years ago! Time flies when you came of age in the 1980's.