Sentence of the Day: Phil Klay

It’s been one whole day and self is still reading the same story she began this morning, “Money as a Weapons System.” She sincerely hopes she won’t still be reading it,  this time tomorrow.

I was new to the cc game, a game played with skill by staff officers throughout the military, but I knew enough to know that the more senior people you could comfortably cc on your e-mails, the more everyone had to put up with whatever bullshit your e-mails were actually about.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

And STILL More From “Money As a Weapons System” (Story # 5 in Phil Klay’s REDEPLOYMENT)

The title’s a little too obvious. The story itself is layered with irony. It’s all about how American good intentions are worthless. (“The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” a quote from who, self knows not, but you’re welcome)

The narrator is an adviser who gets sent to Iraq as part of the Rebuilding. Shortly after his arrival (via helicopter, a true gift from above!), he has this conversation:

“Cindy’s a true believer . . . “

“What is she working on?”

“She’s our womens initiative adviser,” said Bob. “She used to be on a local school board back in wherever the fuck she’s from. Kansas or Idaho or something. She handles our women’s business association, and she’s starting an agricultural project for widows.”

“She knows about farming?” I said hopefully.

“Nope, but I taught her how to google.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More from Story #5 of REDEPLOYMENT: “Money As a Weapons System”

The narrator is introduced to his translator, “a short and pudgy Sunni Muslim everybody referred to as the Professor.”

“Why do they call you the Professor?” I asked him.

“Because I was a professor,” he said, taking off his glasses and rubbing them . . . “before you came and destroyed this country.”

We were getting off to an awkward start. “You know,” I said, “when all this started I opposed the war . . . “

“You have baked Iraq like a cake,” he said . . .

Self really hopes there aren’t too many nasty stories left; it is really hard to read about IEDs and “light’em up” and night patrols, especially when it is in fact night, which will be arriving in less than 12 hours.

After Redeployment, the next two books on self’s reading list are:

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And she will read them in this order: SPQR first, followed by Rubicon.

She ordered Conspirata, by Robert Harris (a novel about Cicero), and it was delivered to the Tyrone Guthrie Centre a few days ago. Unfortunately, the copy was in French. She contacted the bookseller and they told her that in fact the only other copies they had were in Italian. But Mary Clerkin came in and saved the day and put in a request from the local library in Clones.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Story # 5 in REDEPLOYMENT: “Money As a Weapons System”

All the stories are very, very good, and Phil Klay richly deserves his National Book Award.

Story #4 was made up almost entirely of acronyms. Story #5 is from the point of view of some “liberal” do-gooder who arrives in Iraq to assist in the rebuilding of that country. It’s almost entirely conversation, and the characters say “Look” as in “Look, I don’t mean . . . ” a lot. A lot a lot a lot.

Self decided to take the opportunity for a little reflection. About her own use, in RL (Real Life) of the word “Look” in conversation:

“Look, I may seem crazy to you, but I am definitely sane.”

“Look, I don’t mean to be judgmental but . . . ”

“Look, I really want to go home, but I have no friends.”

And then she realized that “Look” is one word she never, ever uses. She doesn’t hear her women friends using it, either.

Does that make “Look” a gender-ed word? (It means: I am so exasperated. For the nth time, let me show you what I mean. Rather than say all that, you could get away with just saying: Look)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading THE DECLINE AND FALL, Help!

Stayed up till the wee hours reading. Not that anything really captured her attention.

The section she arrived at last night (Chapter V: The Progress of Christianity) was nothing but page after page after page after page about religion. Specifically, about Christianity. About moral precepts. About the sacred institution of marriage. About the elements of a spiritual life.

Where are those Roman emperors: Caligula, Nero, Commodus et. al.? Where are those vein-slitting Praetors? Where are those gladiatorial combats? Where are those extravagant Roman processions? Where are those ambitious Roman generals? Is this book really about the Decline and Fall?

Declines are usually pretty interesting. Bad things happen during declines: riots, conspiracies, murders, wars, dissolution, desperation, unfettered evil. Shall self continue?

Stay tuned.

What The Writing Desk Looks Like Today, Saturday, 11 March

Necessary Writing Accoutrements Today:

  • a pair of scissors
  • a found book: Leap Into the City: Cultural Positions, Political Conditions, Seven Scenes from Europe, edited by Katrin Klingan and Ines Kappert
  • a hardbound copy of The Oxford English Dictionary (Word of the day: omerta. Self, can you just not? Why do you all the time have to be so bloodthirsty???)

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Sentence of the Day: MONTCALM and WOLFE, p. 492

On the French commander Vaudreuil:

“He was courageous, except in the immediate presence of danger, and failed only when the crisis came.”

The dryness, oh the dryness!

Stay tuned.

Liao Yiwu: Introduction to Liu Xia’s collection EMPTY CHAIRS (Graywolf Press, 2015)

She is no longer the bird she once was, the one that flew high to Tibet, alone; the one that made circles around Lake Namtso, the mirror of heaven; the one that laughed until out of breath. Instead, she became a tree. She can’t move her own nest — Liu Xiaobo can’t move, so she can’t either. She’s turned from a bird into a tree, her feathers becoming white and withered. But as a tree she still sings the songs of birds. — Liao Yiwu, February 2014

from One Bird Then Another

by Liu Xia

One winter night — yes
it was a winter night — the bird
came to us while we were soundly
sleeping. Neither of us saw it.
In the morning we saw — sun on glass —
its small shadow
imprinted, staying
for a long time, refusing
to leave.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“This Tormented Frontier”: Montcalm and Wolfe, p. 248

Tallying up: Thus far, in Montcalm and Wolfe, there have been:

Two battles, both disastrous (for the English). The good news for the English is that summer is over and everyone, even the French and their Indian allies, go home to cool their heels.

But there is no rest for George Washington, 24. Given the deaths of his immediate superiors, he finds himself in the winter of 1755 in charge of the entire western frontier (300-plus miles)

Unlike this current winter in the U.S., it was “piercing cold.”

It’s a momentous winter because, the following May (1756), England finally “openly declares war.” (Self is mighty confused: all those men killed, all that shooting and maneuvering — what was that? Covert ops circa 1755? lol)

Last night, self read Francis Parkman’s accounts of the battles during the summer of 1755. It was such exciting reading. Tonight, alas, it’s significantly less exciting because it’s winter and nothing is happening except that the governor of Pennsylvania is at odds with the Assembly.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amwritingfantasy: More “Down”

So far in self’s story, the two characters (who are as yet unnamed) argue about anything and everything while Pinkie Pie (the name of the bathosphere) floats expectantly a few yards away.

It’s the end of the world, people. The sky’s all kinds of lurid colors, and what these two want to talk about is:

I haven’t seen cake in almost 30 years. Even forgot what it tastes like.

Are you serious? All right, let me refresh your memory: Cake is sand, rain, and seaweed, all mixed together.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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