Vinyl Seats

It was the height of the Cape Town summer, sweltering, especially in the confines of the white 90’s VW bus special. Piles of bodies, to the point of absurdity, fighting for whatever breath was left in the stifling interior, were crammed in without discretion. A hodgepodge of browns, blacks, empty stomachs, full stomachs, aching backs, the required bags from a special day in town, all hoping for something greater, populate every square inch of interior.  Continue reading

Change is always good

The plan, for the moment, is to transition By the Soles of My Feet into a personal journal chronicling upcoming travels. Don’t be fooled, this isn’t going to turn into a travel blog, those have been overdone, and offer a very simple interactive experience with the world. Instead, By the Soles of My Feet will attempt to tackle philosophical questions of a varied nature, seeking greater truths and insight that only new perspectives, inspired by new experiences, offer.

As soon as the multitude of realities are realized, and the moon aligns just so, I should be leaving the Central Coast of California for an extended trip around the good ol’ USA by motorcycle. This could very well be a pipe dream, as finances tend to play the spoiler, and in this case they have the potential to fill their traditional role, so please be patient as the details are ironed out.

In the mean time, all fiction, new and old, will be available at Getting the Bends

Also, all photography will be available at  Temporary Transition

Incult

Incult: coarse, uncultured (Merriam-Webster)

Whit and I decided, after much deliberation and head scratching, ideas offered and retracted in the same breath, on an investigative hike on Table Mountain as the center piece of our weekend, along with, of course, our customary celebration at the Armchair upon safe arrival in town. Nothing compliments an exhausting day in the African sun like a pint of Windhoek, a habit re-enforced after taking a particularly nasty fall bull-dogging down Lion’s Head on one of our countless outings. Taking my lead from Whit, who employed the dirtiest of tricks, questioning my manhood, poking fun at the chinks in my armor where fear and concern seeped through, prodded me into a speedy decent that quickly turned chaotic and uncontrollable. It wasn’t long after our arrival at the pub that I was able to laugh at the tumble with Whit, who had been taking the piss out of me since I came limping down the trail, bleeding and swearing loudly at the absurdity of the idea. What I really needed at the time, to nurse my bruised ego, and body, back to health, was the soft, feminine touch of the fairer sex, what I got in its stead was an ice-cold glass of fix it all. Continue reading

A Friend of Beethoven

I’m tired. It was a long walk today, longer than I was expecting, but my perpetual companions proffered a tired soul enough to make land. As of late, within the last couple of years, its hard to tell as my memory has begun to find uncertain purchase, and the difference in seasons is negligible here, one of the reasons I came west so long ago now, my body has begun to hurt and tire easily. Michael and David tell me its because I’m getting old, mocking my rickety, unsteady attempts at rising in the morning with calls of old man, old fart, and their favorite: worm food. That last one always make me laugh. They, in turn, have given up youthful aspirations; creases and deep set wrinkles, the marks of long years of laughter and sorrow, characterize once youthful faces. Friends, too caught up in the goings on of life, too distracted to notice the steady, rhythmic onslaught of old age are now deep within its clutches. We, moving in unison, shared youthful beauty, the respect and handsome accolades of middle age, and now the pity of those who navigate their way around our unsteady gait. All, except Anita, fight the ravages of time; she doesn’t look a day over 25, exactly as I met her so many years ago, baring an uncanny resemblance to my young wife. Maybe it is this recent sense, this recent awareness, that not an inconsiderable amount of time has passed in my life, and that the infinite well of vigor and vibrance of youth has begun to sputter and spurt. Continue reading

The Lure of the Writer’s Cabin

Much has been written about the writer’s cabin. Among the most notable recent books on the topic are “Heidegger’s Hut” by Adam Sharr and “A Place of My Own: The Architecture of Daydreams,” Michael Pollan’s account of  imagining and then actually constructing his own writing space. A standard Internet search can quickly yield images of the writing rooms (cabins, huts, sheds) of legendary scriveners: Dylan Thomas, Virginia Woolf, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Roald Dahl, Carl Jung, Henry Thoreau and — a writer of a markedly different sort —Ted Kaczynski, to name a few. And Jill Krementz’s 1999 collection of photographs “The Writer’s Desk” gives us tantalizing glimpses of writers sitting at their desks. But why the interest? Have these places somehow become secular sites of the sacred?

A statue of Henry David Thoreau and a replica of his hut are on display at Walden Pond Reservatio

A statue of Henry David Thoreau and a replica of his hut are on display at Walden Pond Reservatio

Who has not fantasized about the books they would write if only the right conditions could be found! I have carried around just such a dream, sparked by a weekend alone in an austere mountain cabin in the Austrian Alps when I was a boy. Rumination was unstoppable, and poetry just poured out. Continue reading

‘Mellon Collie’ Mystery Girl: The Story Behind An Iconic Album Cover

It recently got a deluxe makeover, but Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadnesswas born grand. The Smashing Pumpkins‘ 1995 opus, reissued this week as a massive collector’s box full of outtakes and new artwork, did everything at double scale — two hours of music on two CDs, whose themes of day and night hinted at greater statements about life and death. It was a commercial and creative peak for Billy Corgan and his bandmates: Built to be a classic, it turned out to be a monument. Continue reading

Pushing Science’s Limits in Sign Language Lexicon

Imagine trying to learn biology without ever using the word “organism.” Or studying to become a botanist when the only way of referring to photosynthesis is to spell the word out, letter by painstaking letter.

For deaf students, this game of scientific Password has long been the daily classroom and laboratory experience. Words like “organism” and “photosynthesis” — to say nothing of more obscure and harder-to-spell terms — have no single widely accepted equivalent in sign language. This means that deaf students and their teachers and interpreters must improvise, making it that much harder for the students to excel in science and pursue careers in it. Continue reading