Pithyism #1+One

WITHOUT SIMPLE PLEASURES, LIFE CAN devolve into a complicated search for meaning; with simple pleasures, it still depends on you.

Prosatio Silban and the Disconsolate Wineherd

EVEN OVER THE CLANK OF his galleywagon, Prosatio Silban could hear the sobs.

The weeper, a well-to-do farmer by his dress, was standing beside a well-appointed and -laden wagon at the crossroads leading out of Vineol, a town renowned throughout the Uulian Commonwell for the delicacy and refinement of its wines. The day was hot for the region and season, and had been so for many days – hot, cloudless but with an occasional breeze at the right moment. Prosatio Silban wondered why the man was giving such unguarded vent, and reined his galleywagon to a halt.

“It’s too warm a day for such distress,” Prosatio Silban offered, dismounting.

The farmer produced a large handkerchief, blew noisily. “Not if the sun has blasted your crop, and with it your hopes for wintertime eating,” he said, and bowed. “Pars Killiup.”

“Prosatio Silban, The Cook for Any Price. May I be of service to you?”

Pars Killiup turned to his carriage. “Only if you can turn dross into gold, or rot into bounty. Look.” He drew back the wagon’s canvas cover, revealing several barrels, then pried the lid off of one. Inside was a tight-packed mass of what looked like black wrinkled berries, glinting here and there with rainbow sparks. A musky, tangy aroma rose from the barrel; unfamiliar, yet not unpleasant.

“Some of the finest winefruit this side of the Rimless Sea, or was before the heat ruined it,” he said. “I harvested the raisings anyway, just to give the lads something to do, and was taking it to the river. But the thought was more than I could bear, and so you found me.”

Prosatio Silban thought of the Uulian proverb, Disaster: Opportunity for the attentive. Aloud, he said, “Everything has its proper place. We will take these to market.”

“What? Why? So my neighbors can share my disgrace?”

“Not in Vineol. In Pastisi.”

“Pastisi? But Pastisi is nothing but brewers and bakers! They don’t even buy wine, let alone winefruit. Besides, it’s at least a dayride from here.”

“Nevertheless,” said Prosatio Silban. “You will sell these for more than they would bring if fresh.”

“Eh? Are you some sort of wizard?”

“No. Simply a cook who knows his customers.”

“Well, then. I have already lost my livelihood; I suppose you can’t make things worse.”

And so, following a journey divided by supper (grilled something and beets with a half-bottle of white duliac), a peaceful sleep, and breakfast (eggs with gravy, biscuits, sliced citrion and a bracing pot of yava), masters Silban and Killiup wedged themselves into the bustling marketplace of Pastisi.

“Now then.” Prosatio Silban opened the barrel they’d unloaded. “Within an hour, you’ll be the richest man in Vineol.”

“How so?”

Prosatio Silban was cut off by a gruff “What are these?” from a brawny chap in a brown baker’s tunic.

“‘These?’” Prosatio Silban replied, raising his voice a trifle. “’‘These’ have never before been seen on this side of the Rimless Sea. Taste one.”

The baker sniffed, raised an eyebrow. “Hm. Sweet.” He chewed, eyes closed, nodding. “Not cloying. Fruity. What are they?”

“That is the secret,” Prosatio Silban said. “My friend, Pars Killiup, has developed a method whereby the essence of a fruit may be concentrated within its skin by removing its waters.”

“Eh? Magik?” asked an old woman who had stopped to listen.

“No, madam,” Prosatio Silban replied. “Not magik, but a simple process sanctioned by the Flickering Gods—and, of course, Pars Killiup.”

The woman wrinkled her brow. “Looks like ruined winefruit to me,” she said.

Prosatio Silban closed his eyes as if in pain. “Ruined fruit is garbage. One does not sell garbage in the marketplace of Pastisi.”

“True,” said a boy leading a goat. “What are you selling?”

The old woman chewed, raised her eyebrows. “Something tasty, whatever else it be,” she said.

“How much d’you want for them?” asked the baker.

“What are you selling?” asked a man in the livery of a Pastisi noble.

“Something good for custard,” said the boy with the goat.

“Or bread,” said the baker.

“Or biscuits,” said the woman.

“How much for that barrel?” asked the liveried noble.

That evening, Prosatio Silban and PK dined on a truffled squab apiece atop a rich pilaf of rice, jo-beans and cashews – sweetened with the last handful of Pars Killiup’s accidental discovery. “This is delicious,” he said, raising his empty glass. “But how did you know?”

“Everything has its proper place,” Prosatio Silban replied, pouring the last of the duliac. “You just have to know where it is.”

Monotheist Koan

Q: CAN GOD MAKE A rock so heavy He can’t lift it?
A: Yes. But God can lift it anyway.

Pithyism #2<1

MARRIAGE IS NOT A MATTER of being with the one you get along with better than anyone, so much as one with whom not getting along is preferable to being alone — and without whom you wouldn’t get along at all.

(On the occasion of his 16th wedding anniversary, which is three months shy of their 22nd meeting-anniversary, which latter is (two years less than) half his life, which really isn’t long enough at all)

Sizing Science Fiction

ADMIT IT: YOU’VE ALWAYS WANTED to compare the Millenium Falcon to a Danube-class runabout. Well, they’re about the same length according to Jeff Russell’s STARSHIP DIMENSIONS. SD scales nearly every species, starship and space station in the visual science-fiction universe (I mean, he’s got Robbie the Robot and the whale probe from Star Trek IV and the space stations from 2001 and DS9 and even real vehicles like the Apollo rockets and ISS and and and GoshWowBoyOBoy).

Metaphorager say: 5 beanies. Click ’em out.

5thoughts: James Joyce

James Joyce

Fig. 1: James Joyce

IN HONOR OF BLOOMSDAY 2010, five thoughts on the man who made it possible:

1. James Joyce is yet another proof that one man’s mind can be bigger than his skull. (If not, generational banks of Joyce scholars would have quit writing about him long ago.)

2.) Until Finnegan’s Wake, no Irishman had ever beat the Jews for mind-stretching eloquence. (Since the Talmud, the best we’ve done is Groucho Marx and Yehuda Amichai.)

3.) Come to think of it, FW and the Talmud do make two nice bookends for the Western literary tradition: what the Talmud does to Aristotle, Joyce does to Webster. (Said comeuppances piercingly beautiful to see.)

4.) If a man can spend a quarter of his life writing his Perfect Book, there’s hope for the rest of us.

5.) But only if we can manage not to be humbled by such wit-wraps as “Nations have their ego, just like individuals,” “History is a nightmare from which I am trying to wake,” or “Men are governed by lines of intellect – women: by curves of emotion.” Or: “Agenbite of inwit.” Or even:


tell me all about

Anna Livia! I want to hear all

about Anna Livia. Well, you know Anna Livia? Yes, of course, we all know Anna Livia. Tell me all. Tell me now.

(O, now, what’s the use? Another Guinness pour my muse, poor favor, purring kittenkilkenny of katzenjammers … [tape ends])