Ice Friday: Short Words for These Four Years

Short words, key for these Trump Days, to keep in your head:

Feign: sham, fake

Naught: nil, zilch

Slake: quench one’s thirst

Sot: habitual drunkard

 

The Inspiration of “Manitou Island”

The Robinson Treaty made in the Year 1850 with the Ojibewa Indians of Lake Huron, conveying certain lands to the crown of Canada is a stark reminder of a history to regret.It’s very officious, legal and permanent-sounding: “…the sum of two thousand pounds of good and lawful money of Upper Canada…to convey unto Her Majesty, her heirs and successors for ever, all their right, title and interest to, and in the whole of…eastern and northern shores of Lake Huron, northern shores of Lake Superior, together with the islands…” The fact that our history is centered on stories like this – stealing tens of millions of acres of land to bleed it dry – inspired me to write a book some years ago, now being transformed into an illustrated novella: Manitou Island.

“Asawasanay.” Norma poured him a glass of water. “That’s a beautiful name.”     

“I was named after one of my forefathers. His name is on the Robinson Treaty, the treaty that signed away all of these lands.”

“I don’t understand,” Gerbi replied. “I mean, isn’t there some kind of custom to what you’re doing here? Don’t you have rituals or anything like that?”

“What would you have me do? Appear on a white stallion? Or perhaps you envisioned a birch-bark canoe.”  

“How did you get here?”   

“I hitchhiked.”

“You hitchhiked,” Gerbi repeated dully. 

Bachelor’s Corinne Rumored for Trump Post

Bachelor star Corinne has it all – crocodile smile, youthful approach, open heart, to say nothing of her naked determination to get the job done. And so it came as no surprise when she was pegged for a post in the Trump Administration.

“I want to get one,” Corinne quipped. “But just a little one.”

Prodded further, she conceded that her nanny would be vital in all future endeavors. “She knows how to cut my cucumbers just right.”

The Department of Agriculture has the inside track.*

(*Is there supposed to be a caveat at the end of a fake news story? I’m new at this.)

Walt Disney’s “Song of the South”

While researching my Undergraduate Thesis on Walt Disney, Goodness!, I visited the Walt Disney Archives in Burbank in 1986 to view Song of the South, their only film unavailable for public viewing. Not only did they deny me access to the film, but they refused to answer any questions about it. “Have you shelved the film because of racist stereotypes like Uncle Remus?”

“We cannot comment on that.”

My thesis was not in fact on the racism (nor sexism) inherent in the Disney creed but rather in their tendency to simplify (or rather stupefy) details of story. The best example of this was their decision to keep Jiminy Cricket alive throughout the Disney version of Pinnochio as a road buddy when in fact Pinnochio kills the insect in the opening pages of the original story by Carlos Collodi. The irony is that Song of the South is not a skeleton in Disney’s closet – Uncle Tom’s and all – but an example of just another film which uses gimmicks and song – Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Zip-A-Dee-A – to cover up bland story-telling and stereotypes that have undercut many Hollywood films.

To say nothing of the country as a whole.

Screenplay: “Nogo, The Anti-Trump”

The film opens with an extreme close-up of a black man, Nogo, driving at night on a deserted road. The camera pulls back to reveal Nogo being followed by a full-size pickup truck, its high beams bearing down. Nogo is forced off the road. The driver and passengers, each bearing arms, lean out of the truck as Nogo leaps out, tire iron in hand.“Tolerance! You got that?” He smashes out a headlight and then the other as the driver raises a shotgun. Nogo stares back, defiant. “You better have more than that.”

Black out, gun shots. Opening credits roll. 

Yes, just think Django Unchained meets Punch Drunk Love meets Easy Rider.

Ice Friday: Dino Buzzati’s “Tartar Steppes”

Little by little his hopes grew fainter. It is difficult to believe in a thing when one is alone and there is no one to speak to. It was at this point that Drogo realized how far apart men are whatever their affection for each other, that if you suffer, the pain is yours and yours alone. No one else can take upon himself the least part of it; that you suffer it does not mean that others feel pain even though their love is great: hence the loneliness of life.

Making Grilled Cheese for Claus Meyer

I am not a cook. I only make one thing: grilled cheese sandwiches. I mentioned my grilled-cheese sandwich abilities in passing during a party, and truth be told, I wasn’t really aware of who I was talking to, nor even really what I was talking about, but I did not tell the person before me, Claus Meyer, that I was good at making grilled cheese sandwiches.

Surprisingly, he seemed interested. “I would like to try that.”

Shortly thereafter I had learned who he was, that he was a famed chef and restauranteur, co-founder of Noma in Denmark, voted best restaurant in the world four separate years.

“You say it is a good sandwich. I would like to try them too.”

And so we invited Claus and his wife for dinner, and, yes, I made my grilled cheese sandwiches, or “cheese toasts” as he called them. And he liked them. “The bread is right. It is crisp. The cheese is perfectly melted.” He had three pieces. “Yes, they are very good.”

My secret you ask? Well, I’ve just started working on my book, Melted Just Right which should be ready in the fall of 2017.