Half a Hectare of Plastic Grass

I understand there were parties all across this great land of ours yesterday celebrating whichever two teams were battling one another for the Super Bowl prize (which, for all I know, is an enormous gold-plated bowl). I celebrated with way too much coffee and Mike Leigh's Secrets & Lies. I'll take a Mike Leigh movie over sports any day.

However, Saturday night, I attended a party one might consider fairly close to something like a Super Bowl party. I had been invited to Urban-15's Carnival party. George and Catherine aimed their satellite dish towards Brazil, and about 30 to 40 guests lounged in the basement space watching the parade on a big rear-projection screen. Friday and Saturday were the parades from São Paulo; Sunday and Monday, Rio de Janeiro. (I believe that's how it breaks down.) I should point out that one of the remarkable differences between the Super Bowl and Carnival is that Carnival has more nudity, and as such isn't so deadly dull as a bunch of overly-padded wankers chasing a big inflated chicharrón up and down half a hectare of plastic grass.

Urban-15's dance and drum troupe get much of their inspiration from this Brazilian bacchanalia, but I prefer their local variation to the insane opulence of what Carnival (at least the televised parades) has become. Sadly, it ain't Black Orpheus anymore. (And if it still is, in the gritty back alleys of Rio, I might have to head down there next year.)

All in all, it was a very nice time spent with some wonderful people.


I should be out looking for a job. But instead all I did today was to run a few errands, got caught up on a couple of science audio podcasts, and enjoyed a nice bike ride.

Here's a photo I took noonish.

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The river is two blocks from me, and from here I can look across the San Antonio river at this line of silos. They are on the edge of the Blue Star Arts Complex. Artists rent out the silos as studios. I'm quite taken with this view. In the foreground is a line of palm trees, and I often shoot through them to frame the composition. Actually, I'm pretty sure I've posted very similar shots before on this blog. Visually, I find it a compelling “prospect” (a word we rarely use anymore to convey the idea of a scenic view, so at the risk of sounding oh so Hudson Valley School, I've placed it in quotes).

It's barely into February and I'm glimpsing hints of spring. No tress budding yet, but the crickets have started up with their electric drone, and this morning I saw a chaotic nest of field ants swarming and hundreds of them were wearing wings (this is a behavior I've always associated with spring or summer).

I don't doubt that famous groundhog is similarly confused.


My novel-writing group is meeting again after a holiday hiatus. We've worked out an arrangement with the fine folks at Gemini Ink (San Antonio's premier literary non-profit organization).

Tonight we discussed an excellent short story by Rebecca. (I guess she fell behind a bit on her novel, so she let us read an earlier piece.) Rebecca's from Mexico, and the piece in question was previously published in a magazine from Spain. The version she provided she had recently translated into English. It's a beautiful piece of gritty, urban magical realism. She struggles a bit with the American idiom, but even via a translation-in-progress, it's clear she's a gifted writer.

We also discussed an eighteen page chunk of my current novel-in-progress, The Cucuy Club.

It's odd to hear people make comments on a first-person narrative I've written. The piece is about as autobiographical as one can get and still be called a work of fiction. You know, that Frederick Exley or Janet Frame kind of thing. And so when readers start passing judgment on the narrator, it can start to get under your skin like some sort of accidental group therapy session.

“Oh, is that what you think? Well, fuck you!”

But they were kind.


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