Hemingway’s 6 Word Story…

September 26, 2008

This has to be one of the most powerful stories ever:

For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn

so much is send in such a short statement…wow, just wow.


This I Believe

September 12, 2008

The essays that NPR has compile for “This I Believe” are amazing and should be archived forever in the Library of Congress along with other great works of American art. They cut through the crap and into the heart of the struggles, joys and daily life of what it really is to be an American here and now. When historians are reading about us 10 million years from now these stories are what is really going help them understand what and how we interacted with the world called Earth. Anyway, I think everyone should read one of these story/essays to understand what I am talking about. Try this one that is written about the power of being there especially in a time like after Hurricane Katrina.


This stamps is a great one. It shows us a glimpse of the actual Cannery Row that Steinbeck talked about in his novel by the same now. Today if you were to walk in that area of Monterey you would see nothing at all similar to the hard living, factory and canning world that Steinbeck describes. Now is it Bubba Gumps, Candy stores and screaming children. There is something in me that hates it for what it is now. Something about the somber, hardness of it, turned into a tourist hellhole just makes you want to vomit and scream all at the same time…Here’s to better times, or maybe I should say harders times.

Cannery Row - Postage stamp

Cannery Row – Postage


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Alright this is a deep analysis test. You need to read this text and post in the comments what you think they are actually talking about. I will give you a hint, it’s not the hills. Don’t go snooping around to sites that give it away. this is a test for yourself and for you to see your own understanding of lit.

I will post the answer soon enough 🙂

Hills Like White Elephants
By Ernest Hemingway

The hills across the valley of the Ebro were long and white. On this side there was no shade and no trees and the station was between two lines of rails in the sun. Close against the side of the station there was the warm shadow of the building and a curtain, made of strings of bamboo beads, hung across the open door into the bar, to keep out flies. The American and the girl with him sat at a table in the shade, outside the building. It was very hot and the express from Barcelona would come in forty minutes. It stopped at this junction for two minutes and went to Madrid.
‘What should we drink?’ the girl asked. She had taken off her hat and put it on the table.

‘It’s pretty hot,’ the man said.

‘Let’s drink beer.’

‘Dos cervezas,’ the man said into the curtain.

‘Big ones?’ a woman asked from the doorway.

‘Yes. Two big ones.’

The woman brought two glasses of beer and two felt pads. She put the felt pads and the beer glass on the table and looked at the man and the girl. The girl was looking off at the line of hills. They were white in the sun and the country was brown and dry.

‘They look like white elephants,’ she said.

‘I’ve never seen one,’ the man drank his beer.

‘No, you wouldn’t have.’

‘I might have,’ the man said. ‘Just because you say I wouldn’t have doesn’t prove anything.’

The girl looked at the bead curtain. ‘They’ve painted something on it,’ she said. ‘What does it say?’

‘Anis del Toro. It’s a drink.’

‘Could we try it?’

The man called ‘Listen’ through the curtain. The woman came out from the bar.

‘Four reales.’ ‘We want two Anis del Toro.’

‘With water?’

‘Do you want it with water?’

‘I don’t know,’ the girl said. ‘Is it good with water?’

‘It’s all right.’

‘You want them with water?’ asked the woman.

‘Yes, with water.’

‘It tastes like liquorice,’ the girl said and put the glass down.

‘That’s the way with everything.’

‘Yes,’ said the girl. ‘Everything tastes of liquorice. Especially all the things you’ve waited so long for, like absinthe.’

‘Oh, cut it out.’

‘You started it,’ the girl said. ‘I was being amused. I was having a fine time.’

‘Well, let’s try and have a fine time.’

‘All right. I was trying. I said the mountains looked like white elephants. Wasn’t that bright?’

‘That was bright.’

‘I wanted to try this new drink. That’s all we do, isn’t it – look at things and try new drinks?’

‘I guess so.’

The girl looked across at the hills.

‘They’re lovely hills,’ she said. ‘They don’t really look like white elephants. I just meant the colouring of their skin through the trees.’

‘Should we have another drink?’

‘All right.’

The warm wind blew the bead curtain against the table.

‘The beer’s nice and cool,’ the man said.

‘It’s lovely,’ the girl said.

‘It’s really an awfully simple operation, Jig,’ the man said. ‘It’s not really an operation at all.’

The girl looked at the ground the table legs rested on.

‘I know you wouldn’t mind it, Jig. It’s really not anything. It’s just to let the air in.’

The girl did not say anything.

‘I’ll go with you and I’ll stay with you all the time. They just let the air in and then it’s all perfectly natural.’

‘Then what will we do afterwards?’

‘We’ll be fine afterwards. Just like we were before.’

‘What makes you think so?’

‘That’s the only thing that bothers us. It’s the only thing that’s made us unhappy.’

The girl looked at the bead curtain, put her hand out and took hold of two of the strings of beads.

‘And you think then we’ll be all right and be happy.’

‘I know we will. Yon don’t have to be afraid. I’ve known lots of people that have done it.’

‘So have I,’ said the girl. ‘And afterwards they were all so happy.’

‘Well,’ the man said, ‘if you don’t want to you don’t have to. I wouldn’t have you do it if you didn’t want to. But I know it’s perfectly simple.’

‘And you really want to?’

‘I think it’s the best thing to do. But I don’t want you to do it if you don’t really want to.’

‘And if I do it you’ll be happy and things will be like they were and you’ll love me?’

‘I love you now. You know I love you.’

‘I know. But if I do it, then it will be nice again if I say things are like white elephants, and you’ll like it?’

‘I’ll love it. I love it now but I just can’t think about it. You know how I get when I worry.’

‘If I do it you won’t ever worry?’

‘I won’t worry about that because it’s perfectly simple.’

‘Then I’ll do it. Because I don’t care about me.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘I don’t care about me.’

‘Well, I care about you.’

‘Oh, yes. But I don’t care about me. And I’ll do it and then everything will be fine.’

‘I don’t want you to do it if you feel that way.’

The girl stood up and walked to the end of the station. Across, on the other side, were fields of grain and trees along the banks of the Ebro. Far away, beyond the river, were mountains. The shadow of a cloud moved across the field of grain and she saw the river through the trees.

‘And we could have all this,’ she said. ‘And we could have everything and every day we make it more impossible.’

‘What did you say?’

‘I said we could have everything.’

‘No, we can’t.’

‘We can have the whole world.’

‘No, we can’t.’

‘We can go everywhere.’

‘No, we can’t. It isn’t ours any more.’

‘It’s ours.’

‘No, it isn’t. And once they take it away, you never get it back.’

‘But they haven’t taken it away.’

‘We’ll wait and see.’

‘Come on back in the shade,’ he said. ‘You mustn’t feel that way.’

‘I don’t feel any way,’ the girl said. ‘I just know things.’

‘I don’t want you to do anything that you don’t want to do -‘

‘Nor that isn’t good for me,’ she said. ‘I know. Could we have another beer?’

‘All right. But you’ve got to realize – ‘

‘I realize,’ the girl said. ‘Can’t we maybe stop talking?’

They sat down at the table and the girl looked across at the hills on the dry side of the valley and the man looked at her and at the table.

‘You’ve got to realize,’ he said, ‘ that I don’t want you to do it if you don’t want to. I’m perfectly willing to go through with it if it means anything to you.’

‘Doesn’t it mean anything to you? We could get along.’

‘Of course it does. But I don’t want anybody but you. I don’t want anyone else. And I know it’s perfectly simple.’

‘Yes, you know it’s perfectly simple.’

‘It’s all right for you to say that, but I do know it.’

‘Would you do something for me now?’

‘I’d do anything for you.’

‘Would you please please please please please please please stop talking?’

He did not say anything but looked at the bags against the wall of the station. There were labels on them from all the hotels where they had spent nights.

‘But I don’t want you to,’ he said, ‘I don’t care anything about it.’

‘I’ll scream,’ the girl siad.

The woman came out through the curtains with two glasses of beer and put them down on the damp felt pads. ‘The train comes in five minutes,’ she said.

‘What did she say?’ asked the girl.

‘That the train is coming in five minutes.’

The girl smiled brightly at the woman, to thank her.

‘I’d better take the bags over to the other side of the station,’ the man said. She smiled at him.

‘All right. Then come back and we’ll finish the beer.’

He picked up the two heavy bags and carried them around the station to the other tracks. He looked up the tracks but could not see the train. Coming back, he walked through the bar-room, where people waiting for the train were drinking. He drank an Anis at the bar and looked at the people. They were all waiting reasonably for the train. He went out through the bead curtain. She was sitting at the table and smiled at him.

‘Do you feel better?’ he asked.

‘I feel fine,’ she said. ‘There’s nothing wrong with me. I feel fine.’

Mark Twain Mug & Quote

June 14, 2008

I like this quote because it is really funny on the surface, but also has a much deeper underside that speaks to real advice every person should embody. In fact, it has two key points that I think Twain would want a person to understand, and live by. The first, is that you must be skeptical of what you read, hear or gather. There is no such thing as perfect information and if you take everything at face value you will part of the blind masses making senseless decisions that are bound to destroy the freedoms and liberties of another person. Two, don’t be so serious! I know these two interpretations seem to be in contradiction to each other but they aren’t. Both deal with the relaxed, non-fanatical approach to life. If this quote was a friend of yours, he would be the person that sits in a rocking chair on the porch saying “Take it easy…”

Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.
-Mark Twain

Mark Twain mug

Mark Twain


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David Sedaris is one of the great satirists of our time and this little essay reading that he did on Letterman about his “Stadium Pal,” is further proof of that. I read his book “Me Talk Pretty One Day” when I was college and this video brings right back to that book. Also, here is a link (to give you taste for his style) to his story “You Can’t Kill the Rooster.” You need to read it! Also check out the essay below.

Lifted from Nymag’s Culture Vulture…this is a recent quote about books from John Hodgman (author of “The Areas of My Expertise“) while speaking at BEA:

Many a time I will be antiquing, and I’ll say, ‘What’s that old-timey curio over there? What is that, a candlestick telephone, one of those old pull-chain toilets? Oh no, it’s a book. I used to help make those things! I will buy it and use it to decorate my chain of casual family-dining restaurants.

Right on point and truly hilarious. I love Hodgman because he is quite, well spoken and his humor is subtle, not crass and loud. It is easy to listen to, but complex to fully understand which are the true elements of a good humorist. I know that he would lambaste me for over analyzing him, and in fact I hope he does.

Just to close talking about “A River Runs Through It,” I wanted to compare it to the novel “A Separate Peace.” I think that Finny is the perfect character that is just like Paul. They are too perfect to exist in a world that is destructive and imperfect like this one. Paul couldn’t handle the vices of the world and Finny couldn’t handle the horror of the world, and both ended up being destroyed by it. Just an interesting thought for a literary comparison. Also I found this fly fishing card and just thought the drawing was so beautiful that I had to include it in the post. So to close out the week here is a great artistic rendering for “A River Runs Through It.”

Flyfishers Choice profilecard

Flyfishers Choice


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So I just finished reading the Norman Maclean story “A River Runs Through It,” and I gotta say it was pretty awe inspiring. Maclean uses fly fishing to help the reader understand his and her place in the world and how that world is something greater, bigger and impossible to control. This is typified by the lead character’s brother Paul. Paul is an amazing fly fisherman and an out-of-control gambler, and despite the beauty he brings into the world, his life is destroyed by his poor gambling habits which get him killed. The narrator and the narrator’s father try to save Paul but to no avail since, as they say, the people that need the most help are the ones that it is impossible to help. Anyway, it just goes to show us the control we think we have on the world and how it is actually not so. Instead we must embrace that beauty we see, if not for a moment to try and be one with that moment because it is fleeting and will not last forever.

So I finished Vonnegut’s “player Piano” on Sunday and really like it although I don’t think the message is the most happy and hopeful for our country. Basically man is making himself useless through his overthinking everything. In the book man wants to machine everything so much that he becomes obsolete and has no purpose. Without purpose there is no reason to live and people become crazy and kill, or just die. Both options that no one wants. Just interesting to see that without purpose, you take away the soul of a person. People don’t need material things like TVs and recliners, they need to belong, they need to feel like they have added something to this world. That is what we all strive for and it is sad to see that we strip it from ourselves on a daily basis. “Player Piano” is a warning against that, make sure that you think of the person and the humanity you steal each step in life. But maybe we won’t be like the characters in his book, I just fear that we are already in the early stages…