May 14, 2010

I Do What I Can

by Tom C. Hunley

My wife says our children need help
being conceived, being born,
and I'm there for them, there for her.
My pleasure! I tell her.

But now that they're in the world,
our children need rides
to Tee Ball practice,
preschool, karate lessons.

They need rides but the driver
in front of me has needs too.
His car has died and he needs someone
to push. My pleasure, I tell him.

But now three people carrying a casket
need a fourth to help them. So I've become
a shoulder in a funeral procession.
But I've misunderstood. They don't need

someone to help carry the casket, they need
someone to crawl into the box and be
the dead body. My pleasure, I tell them.
So now I'm wearing this ridiculous

makeup, and the minister is talking
dust to dust, and they're parading by me,
all these women who used to be beautiful
wearing black hats, veils, and tears.

"I Do What I Can" by Tom C. Hunley, from Octopus. © Logan House, 2008. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It was on this day in 1925 that Virginia Woolf's (books by this author) novel Mrs Dalloway was published. It's about a woman named Clarissa Dalloway who is hosting a party in London. The entire novel is set on a single day in June, and it features stream-of-consciousness storytelling techniques. Virginia Woolf was a big fan of James Joyce's Ulysses, published three years prior, also set on a single day in June and featuring stream-of-consciousness storytelling techniques.

It's the birthday of Eoin Colfer, (pronounced Owen) (books by this author) born in Wexford, Ireland (1965) whose Artemis Fowl series of novels for young adults have sold more than 18 million copies around the world.

Colfer once described the series as "Die Hard with fairies." Its protagonist is a brilliant teenage criminal named Artemis Fowl II who masterminds various complicated scams around the world — the stories are set in Siberia, in Vietnam, in Morocco, in Paris, Chicago, parts of Ireland — all with the goal of getting filthy rich. The books are filled with fairies and fairy institutions; there's even a fairy government and a fairy police force.

He's written several novels for adults as well. His most recent was commissioned by the estate of Douglas Adams (who died of a heart attack in 2001), the author of the five The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. It's meant to be the sixth book in the "trilogy," which is what the series is still referred to despite the fact that it's long been technically inaccurate. Eoin Colfer has been a fan since childhood and said that being offered the chance to continue the series was "like suddenly being offered the superpower of your choice."

The book, entitled And Another Thing ... came out last year, on the 30th anniversary of Douglas Adams' first Hitchhiker book.

Eoin Colfer's And Another Thing ... begins: "According to a janitor's assistant at the Maximegalon University, who often loiters outside lecture halls, the universe is sixteen billion years old."

It's the birthday of musician, filmmaker installation artist, recording executive and writer David Byrne, (books by this author) born in Dumbarton, Scotland (1952), who's been called the "thinking man's rock star" by The New York Times and "Rock's Renaissance Man" by Time magazine.

He attended the Rhode Island School of Design, where he met the people with whom he formed the Talking Heads band in the 1970s.

David Byrne has written a number of books; recent ones include The New Sins (2001) which he says is about "what we often mistakenly consider virtues"; Envisioning Emotional Epistemological Information (2003) about Powerpoint Presentations; and most recently, The Bicycle Diaries (2009).

On this day in 1607, the London Company explorers from England landed in what would become Jamestown, Virginia, the first English settlement in the New World. The colony lay on the banks of the James River, sixty miles from the mouth of Chesapeake Bay.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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