Reading for the Day: “Spook”, pp. 252-253

Ah, yes.  In all the excitement of seeing hot new Spock in the “Star Trek” movie yesterday (Now hubby is ruing the day that he trundled wifey along, for self has not been able to stop talking about “Star Trek” for almost 24 hours), self almost forgot that she has still to finish Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, hot best-selling writer Mary Roach’s follow-up to Stiff.

Self nearly put it down, countless times, but she is no closer to getting her hands on Sebastian Barry’s A Long, Long Way, so she just has to trudge morosely on, reading all of Mary’s wise-cracks about the kooks she encounters in her search for scientific proof of the after-life.

Mercifully, self has nearly reached the end of the book.  A reviewer on Amazon said “the last two chapters” were the best.  Which kept self going.  But all she finds worth quoting in these last sections is a paragraph that has nothing to do with the ostensible subject of this book, but has to do with Mary Roach’s take on southern hospitality, to wit:

I haven’t spent much time in the South, and I didn’t realize how helpful people are there.  They help you even if you don’t ask for help.  I went to Food Lion yesterday, and the checkout clerk told me my yogurt was on special if I had an MVP card.  “Trudy,” he said to the bagger when I found out I didn’t. “Give me your MVP card.”  It’s the kind of place where you call a total stranger on the phone, and his wife will say, “Hang on, I’ll go run and see if I can catch him before he goes off on his tractor!”

Oh, this is all so fascinating, dear blog readers.  Apparently Mary Roach thinks everyone in the south drives tractors.  Or perhaps she was merely making use of hyperbole, for comic/satirical effect.  But it’s getting pretty grim by now, and —  oh my goodness, here’s a nugget on the very next page:  Mary meets one Grant Sperry, whose occupation is billed as “forensic handwriting expert,” who “has been an expert witness in some three hundred federal and state cases,” including Waco, and whose main claim to fame seems to be that he “can read the imprints of your writing on a pad as much as ten pages down from the page you wrote on.”  The aforementioned information is in a parenthetical statement on p. 253.  That’s the trouble with this book: the really interesting information has nothing to do with its ostensible subject, the scientific effort to determine whether there is or is not an afterlife.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Good Morning!

It is Mother’s Day.  Self’s first thoughts upon rising to consciousness this morning (while trying not to let whiney dogs hear her get up  —  some mornings, their ears are so sharp that self barely even has time to crack open a book before they start pestering her) were about yesterday’s “Star Trek” movie.  Zach Quinto/Spock, Leonard Nimoy as Old Spock, Chris Pine as new-and-improved James T. Kirk, Zoe Saldana as hot new Lieutenant Uhura, John Cho as sword-flashing Zulu, and so forth and so on.

And then she realized that she had an on-line class that she begins teaching on the morrow.  Which then led to two hours of frantic up-loading of course materials and drawing up of “Welcome” announcements (Self never uses canned ones —  something about “keeping it fresh”).

Then she read e-mail from someone in New York, which confirms that she will indeed be returning there next month.

Then she picked up latest issue of Poets & Writers (to clear her head), and found, on p. 19, an item about sending your words up to space on the KEO Satellite (projected launch date:  2010 or 2011), and then read this:

What sort of enlightened perspective might the planet’s progeny form after processing the seventy-two issues of Calyx (www.calyxpress.org), the thirty-three-year-old journal of women’s writing based in Corvallis, Oregon?  The biannual was the first —  or one of the first, anyway —  to publish the work of Julia Alvarez, Chitra Divakaruni, Linda Hogan, Molly Gloss, Natalie Goldberg, Barbara Kingsolver, and Sharon Olds.

Calyx published self’s first book, Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila (It amuses self to remember now:  son was a mere five-year-old).  And they published, one year when they were so broke that all they could publish was one book, the anthology of Filipino women’s writings that self and Virginia Cerenio co-edited, Going Home to a Landscape (and saved self’s life, for that was a time when self was having trouble even thinking of herself as a writer, much less an editor).

Happy Mother’s Day, Calyx, for you birthed self and so many many other women artists, who pay obeisance to you now, with gratitude and love.

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