Magellan Without Elcano

Ferdinand Magellan set out from Seville with five ships in 1519.

Two years later, he was dead on a Philippine island.

Why does he get credit for the “first circumnavigation of the globe”?

If it weren’t for Juan Sebastian Elcano, who completed the circle, there would be no circumnavigation.

Self thinks the return leg was just as important — no, more — than the first leg.

Magellan set out with five ships and 270 men. Stocked to the gills, supported by experienced crew. Two years later, it was left to Elcano to return a demoralized crew back to Spain. He did it in one year, with one ship, the Victoria, which sailed from the Philippines to Borneo, across the Indian Ocean, around the Cape of Good Hope, north along the west coast of Africa, finally reaching Spain on 6 September 1522, with 18 of the original 270 men.

Now, that’s a journey. That’s epic.

Three years later, Elcano went on another expedition, but this time he was not so lucky. According to Wikipedia, Elcano died while on the Loaisa expedition to claim the East Indies on behalf of Charles I of Spain.  The cause of death was malnutrition.

Stay tuned.

Ambience 2: Mendocino, January 2017

  • Things like light, temperature, smell, sound, and sometimes taste, all work together to create ambience.

— Jeff Golenski, The Daily Post

Back in Mendocino for Second Saturday, which was last night. Self didn’t get much sleep the night before, so the last 60 miles to the coast were harrowing. But she made it!

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Mendocino Hotel, Main Street, Mendocino

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Winter Fog, Mendocino This Morning

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Water Tower, Albion Street, Mendocino Village

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Economist Books of the Year 2015

Yes, self is a year behind in her reading of The Economist. So pathetic.

Anyhoo, here are the books self picked to add to her reading list: four histories, three works of fiction, one book on Culture, Society and Travel.

HISTORIES

  • Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War, by Susan Southard — “a searing account of five teenage survivors of the bombing of Nagasaki”
  • Waterloo: The History of Four Days, Three Armies and Three Battles, by Bernard Cornwell — “a great and terrible story of a battle . . . fought 200 years ago, told with energy and clarity”
  • The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East — “how a multinational Muslim empire was destroyed by the first World War”
  • SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome, by Mary Beard — “about Rome from its myth-shrouded origins to the early third century”

CULTURE, SOCIETY AND TRAVEL

  • Plucked: A History of Hair Removal, by Rebecca Herzig — “a curious account of hair-erasing, and why people have tried clamshell razors, lasers, lye depilatories, tweezers, waxes, threading and electrolysis to try and free themselves from hairiness”

FICTION

  • Seiobo There Below, by Laszlo Krasznahorkai — Seventeen stories, “a fitting winner of the 2005 Man Booker International Prize”
  • Submission, by Michael Houellebecq — “France under Muslim rule,” 2022
  • An Account of the Decline of the Great Auk, According to One Who Saw It, by Jessie Greengrass — a “spectacularly accomplished, chilly debut collection of short stories about thwarted lives and opportunities missed”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Names From Around WordPress

Browsing WordPress for posts on this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge, NAMES.

Here are some that intrigued:

Enjoy!

Stay tuned.

2nd Post for the New Year, 1 January 2017: “There For Six Months” (A Re-Post, Because Still Relevant)

A student, Kevin ______, wrote this years ago. The class was Composition & Rhetoric. The assignment was for students to write an autobiographical essay. But self didn’t have the heart to grade the student down for thinking outside the box, especially after he told her it was the first poem he ever wrote.

He was 20. Never wrote another thing.

There For Six Months

Underneath Pink Floyd’s alluring rhapsody
the phone was ringing,
Hey you, out there on your own,
sitting naked by the phone, would you touch me
and my older brother is telling me that
come January, he’ll be in Iraq,
serving his time of duty for six months
in the war
see also: abuse of power, see also: corpses

Meanwhile, people all around are nestled away in their cozy,
unobtrusive shells: human anti-socialism,
one thousand and one bloody bodies, our own an afterthought.
Warming cups of soup, chicken-noodle flavor,
and stacks of crackers on a folded napkin, for dipping.

Hey you, don’t help them to bury the light,
don’t give in without a fight
And my brother is telling me that if he makes it back
there’s a good chance he’ll be based in the west coast,
see also: home, see also: happiness
There’s shake and shiver undertones in his voice
when he keeps saying, Don’t worry,
they trained me how to live, but all I can wonder is
if they trained him how to die.

That last part is so perfect, with the words of Pink Floyd cutting in and out and the “shake and shiver undertones” in the brother’s voice. Self has no words.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The New York Times Magazine, 1 January 2017

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Comfort the mind with this wonderful excerpt from Jonathan Mahler’s “Search Party,” in the 1 January 2017 New York Times Magazine.

Our most famous self-investigator is, of course, our incoming president, Donald J. Trump; perhaps no one is more committed to embracing and trumpeting unproven claims from the internet. Six years ago, as he flirted with the idea of running for president, he became especially preoccupied with a theory being advanced by a right-wing extremist named Joseph Farah. A self’described ex-Communist, Farah presided over a nonprofit organization, the Western Center for Journalism, which was dedicated to promoting “philosophical diversity” in the news media, and now runs a popular website, WorldNetDaily, which bills itself as “America’s Independent News Network.” The Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that monitors U.S. hate groups, has a different point of view, calling Farah “the internet king of the antigovernment ‘Patriot’ movement.

Farah had floated plenty of specious arguments in the past, among them the claim that gay men orchestrated the Holocaust, and that Muslims have a 20-point plan for conquering the United States by 2020. But the Farah campaign that captured Trump’s imagination held that America’s first black president, Barack Obama, might have been born outside the United States.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More Resilient

“. . . let’s close the year on a strong note and celebrate our individual and collective fortitude: it may have been a rough year for many of us, but we’re a tough bunch.”

— Ben Huberman, The Daily Post

It’s been almost two decades since self was last in Capitola-by-the-Sea. She decided to spend Christmas there, and nothing had changed. Now, that’s resilience:

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A crab carries its home on its back. It is nothing if not resilient. Self is a Cancer, born on the 14th of July. She is resilient:

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To celebrate Christmas, after the year San Franciscans have just had, shows the city’s resilience. Here’s Union Square’s Christmas Tree, with a sign saying “Believe” on a billboard across the street, on Geary:

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Union Square, December 2016: Despite the trauma of the elections, the city will survive.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Mejhiren Drops a New Chapter of “When the Moon Fell In Love With the Sun”

Take out the names Katniss and Peeta and this could be anything: a fairy tale that adheres to its magical conventions but has such a complexity of description and symbol that it seems to be operating on a level that is completely meta. Maybe this is a hallucination: there is no large wooden house by a lake, there is no lone victor who dresses himself in bearskin when he comes to fetch Katniss from her childhood home and brings her to his house as a servant. It’s all a dream. It’s like Memento, all jagged pieces. It’s about fragmentation. Literally.

The author updates about once a year.

Yes.

Every year we have a chapter that tells us what happens when Katniss wakes up each morning: the mysterious companion of her night-time disappears. She doesn’t know if it’s Peeta or someone else. If it’s Peeta, why the heck doesn’t he just tell Katniss, Yes it’s me that comes and sleeps next to you every night? For the reader it’s been five years (Admittedly, in the story it’s only five nights, but anyhoo) of tension, confusion and speculation. (Who is Mejhiren? She has a tumblr called Porchwood. That’s all self knows)

If this is serialization, it’s also torture. All the author is willing to give are crumbs, carefully doled out. You must be a masochist.

Yes, yes, self will admit, she is a masochist. So are hundreds of thousands of other fan fiction enthusiasts. We’re all masochists, we all exist in a state of suspended animation. Thank you, Mejhiren, for updating right after the news broke of George Michael’s death.

Anyhoo, this chapter begins with Katniss waking up in bed alone (naturally). Nothing is different. She keeps trying to piece together clues. And this morning there is a new one: a feather.

What does this mean?

Scooting out of bed, I press a kiss to the feather and tuck it away in my drawer of precious things alongside the wintergreen sprig and the orange, which I decide to split with my companion tonight, peel and all. Perhaps my visitor is a bird himself, I think, a little madly, wooed by my newfound gentleness in the woods, and the feather is his own. Oranges are very precious, of course, but many birds love fruit, peels and rinds and all, and I resolve to ask Peeta if he’s found one that prefers oranges yet. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s tried it already.

“We’d make a fine pair,” I tell my absent companion as I collect the nest from his pillow and carry it to my dresser-top to await this evening’s treat.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Latest Isn’t Who We Thought

George Michael, Nooooooooo!!!

2016 is ending terrible.

I’m never gonna dance again.
Guilty feet have got no rhythm.
Though it’s easy to pretend
I know you’re not a fool.
I should have known better than to cheat a friend
And waste a chance that I’ve been given
So I’m never gonna dance again
The way I danced with you.

— George Michael lyrics, “Careless Whisper”

There better not be anyone else. You hear, 2016? NO ONE ELSE . . .

IN COLD BLOOD, p. 150

Self is full speed ahead on this book.

The excerpt below is about Alvin Dewey, lead detective on the Clutter murders.

He’s stepped into a coffee shop and gets heckled:

“I got a houseful of women who won’t go to the bathroom alone.”

Dewey had become accustomed to this brand of abuse; it was a routine part of his existence. He swallowed the second cup of coffee, smiled.

“Hell, I’m not cracking jokes. I mean it. Why don’t you arrest somebody? That’s what you ‘re paid for.”

“Hush your meanness,” said Mrs. Hartman. “We’re all in the same boat. Alvin’s doing as good as he can.”

The ranch hand waited until his quarry had reached the door, then fired a farewell volley: “If you ever run for sheriff again, just forget my vote, because you ain’t gonna get it.”

Self teaches memoir writing. The trickiest part of it is that remembered dialogue is far from accurate.

But, in this case, the “remembered dialogue” is by a third party who wasn’t even there.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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