Tuesday, December 28, 2010

of cartographies

I must have the look of a guy who could use a map: disoriented, off track, out of place.

For Christmas last year my dad got us a great National Geographic world atlas. It's huge too, like a kitchen door with pages. The same year my brother gave me this beautiful physiographic map of Nevada from raven maps. One of the things I really like about this one is how starkly it shows the caprice of state boundaries, especially with western states, like a cut of meat laid out on white butcher paper. It’s about 4 x 5 feet and takes up an entire wall at our house!

And this year my mom went to visit my sister in Scotland where they found me this fabulous Seale/Rapin map of North America from 1745, “with the European settlements &. whatever elfe is remarkable in ye West Indies, from the lateft and beft obfervations.”It’s from the Carson Clark Gallery in Edinburgh, who does maps and sea charts from the 16th to 19th centuries.

While we’re on the subject, and limited wallspace isn’t an issue, here are a few more to look at.

Let's start with an old favorite.

A high school teacher of mine kept this one hung up in his classroom.

Joel Garreau’s “nine nations of north America," as of 1981.

this land is your land, this land is my land

Another favorite. Where to begin.

Maybe even better, this one goes a step further, putting "the West" back out on the margins, splitting the Prime Meridian, and centering the International Date Line.

Above, toy exports & toy imports. These Worldmapper guys have hundreds like this! Like, you can sort of see where Santa's elves live.

clothing imports look similar.

grain exports.

weapon exports.

nuclear weapons.

landmine casualties.

rabies deaths.

and books published.

the Book Depository shows a map of who's online buying what books where. the “live” thing is a little misleading, but a cool idea all the same.

below, a geography of narcissism and leisure, or "who's using facebook?"

On a similar note, here's this little piece of steampunk foppery from boingboing.

And check out Kevin Kelly’s 2009 internet mapping project on the Technium.

Also see mapping stereotypes, where there's an especially fine collection of inter-European prejudices. (Thanks for the tip, Jon P. Spencer!) Now they've even done a 2011 calendar.

Ex: the American view.

And, finally, for some more great old ones, the David Rumsey map collection has thousands of all kinds, like this heights of mountains, lengths of rivers from 1846.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

writer photos

A couple of weeks ago I was at this used bookstore with Tom, who, for an illiterate two-year-old who can only reach the second shelf, does pretty well at bookstores. This time we’d already run a few errands so he was a little antsier than usual. And as I was looking through the M's for a copy of Beloved, he started pulling stuff off the shelves.

At the library I once watched a mother beat her kid for getting all excited and pulling out too many books at once. I’d rather Tom like books than reverence or fear them, even if it means he trashes a few. I looked up and saw the backs of a bunch of James Patterson novels that had been set up on display facing the opposite side—James Patterson whose bib reads like a daytime TV series. So I handed one to Tom, reasoning to myself that he could do his worst and it would be like spoiling a $2 roll of paper towels. No problem.
But all the different author pics on the backs of those James Patterson novels was a little more unsettling. Patterson the dopey-eyed novelist. The wristwatch model. The waterside character with a mouth like a rabbit’s bum, as it were, and some sort of flattened baseball cap draped over his skull. Since then I’ve paid more attention to the photos writers and publishers choose to put on their dust jackets, who they’re trying to be there, what certain props and other accessories are supposed to mean, and why author photos at all.
Here are a few more examples.
Let's start with a couple of V.S. Naipaul, OK?

At left, the working writer. The earnest, enigmatic creator and custodian of a heaping tome of a (probably type-written) manuscript. Heavy glasses.
On the right, the elderly, joshing libertine, playfully thrusting a cat your way.

more cats:

Phillip K. Dick clutches one.
Mark Twain, in his white suit here, with a kitten and cigar. Like a nice cat, smoking, actually, is tremendously helpful for simultaneously offsetting and emphasizing the "thoughtful guy" ethos of a good author portrait.

Steinbeck holding his smoke like a riddle beside his face; I've always liked this one.
Bukowski, whose portrait would be incomplete (maybe indistinguishable) without a faceful.
And David Sedaris, of course.

As fine as smoke is, see how striking the turbulent clouds in this one of Borges for comparison.

And must a portrait be a human face? Why?

These last two of Borges are by Susana Mulé. With cane. Between two Asian men. (Also, another cat.)

Finally, maybe another genre itself: critics, theorists, and other such types.

Derrida, as always, looking like a rock star.
Slajov Žižek, who acts like a rock star. (Real awkward family photo material here.)
Walter Mignolo, quite appropriately placed in the foreground of what looks like a labrynth garden, sneaky guys milling around in the background.
And Christopher Lloyd?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Chac Mool

A few years ago I wanted to read Carlos Fuentes' story Chac Mool to some teenagers at Birch Creek Service Ranch, where I was working. I looked for an English translation but couldn't find any, so I did my own. I guess I didn't look around that hard because it turns out there are already some good translations out there.

Anyway, this is the first time my version has seen the light of day since it put 6 or 7 boys to sleep--halfway into the story--in a side canyon of Death Hollow.


Monday, September 06, 2010

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

losing contact

They are so skilled in running that without resting or tiring they run from morning until night following a deer. And in this way they kill many of them, because they follow them until they tire them, and sometimes they take them alive.
Many times when we were with these people, we went three or four days without eating, because nothing was available. To cheer us up, they told they told us that we should not be sad, because soon there would be prickly pears, and we would eat many and drink of their juice, and our bellies would be big, and we would be very content and happy without hunger whatsoever.
And when the time of the prickly pears returned, we again gathered in the same place. Inasmuch as we had resolved to to flee and had set the day to do so, that same day the Indians separated us, and each one of us went his own way. And I said to my companions that I would wait for them at the prickly pear grounds until the moon was full. And this day was the first of September [1534], and the first day of the new moon.* And I informed them that if they did not come during this time as we agreed, I would go alone and leave them behind.

- Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca

* Cabeza de Vaca's references to specific dates six years after losing contact with Spanish civilization cannot be taken literally.

related: running after antelope &c.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Peavine Half~Marathon

Announcing: The Peavine Mountain Half~Marathon.

Where: Beginning at Peavine Road (which is just off of North Virginia St. in Stead). If you're going up N. Virginia it's an unmarked dirt road on your left, shortly after you cross the railroad tracks; if you get to the zoo you've gone too far. Here's a great little map from USATF, where you can zoom in and look around. We'll be running up to the radio towers on the summit--8,200 feet--and then back down.

When: Saturday, August 28. Meet at 7:30 am, running by 8 am.

How: However you like. I'm running. You can run it too. Or bike it. Or walk some. Or round up another friend or two to relay with you. Tag in and out of a support vehicle. Whatever. Peavine Road is leveled and improved all the way up so you could drive a sedan to the top. No high clearance or 4x4 required. No kidding. No race clock. No hurry.

Distance: 14 miles total

Cost: Free, or course. Plus: there will be snacks!

Also: Did I mention it's beautiful? The grade of road itself is pretty gradual: no terribly killer steep stretches. From what I can tell, the total elevation gain is about 2,000 feet, perhaps slightly more.

A little more about Peavine: You know Peavine. It's the mountain north of Reno where they keep the big R & N. The one that's all yellowed over with cheat-grass when you look at it from the south. But the approach from Peavine Road (north) is spotted with sage, mule's ear, then gets into forests of mountain mahogany, with even a few groves of aspen, willow, and pines.

Finally: If you've got any more questions, here's a very legal event disclaimer and FAQ (a la Gil Scott Heron, as usual) for you to sign off on. Otherwise, feel free to post any other questions (or just sign up!) in the comments section.

related: suit run, wasatch plateau marathons