scruta

Either you are sorting it out, or you are full of it.

Friday, October 29, 2010

False Start #51

Moving house teaches you about ambition.

You find remnants of all the things you wanted to do, but didn’t, that just piled up dust in the pockets of your life.

You might despair, but there’s no need for it.

These old notebooks are chrysalises; these unread books are exoskeletons; these notes of old lovers are dormant buds.

Dust them off. Look at them closely, and you’ll find they bring new life.

posted by ferret at 7:24 pm  

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

False Start #50

My innocence, my freshness, my opening to the world is a vacant lot in the middle of a sprawling city of high-rises drowning the sky in concrete. Gnarled grasses worm their way around the cracked earth, cordoned off from the surroundings by high walls and chain link fences. A dirt path leads inside from the road, strewn with detritus collecting dust.

I walk by the lot often and see myself walking down into it, but never actually do. I always have some place to be. Still, the thought of being there never leaves my mind. It haunts me when I’m alone in elevators, deep in work at my desk or carousing over drinks in the dimly lit corners of the city. Though I never go there, I feel as if I visit the vacant lot every day.

I promise myself that it won’t be paved over, and no building will take its place.

I’ll chain myself to the bulldozers first.

posted by ferret at 3:23 pm  

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Eight Eccentrics of Shanghai

When I first came to Shanghai I was curious, and I asked its greatest sages to tell me the nature of Shanghai:

The first whispered  Shanghai is soft, malleable like the clays of the earth dredged up in springtime by blushing virgin women molding vessels for a great celebration.

The second spoke that Shanghai is hard, impenetrable, unassailable, a diamond so hard the lasers falter in its radiance, diverted into paths unknown, throwing the surest of men in their calculations to chance, to error and possible ruin.

The third railed Shanghai is a man, building himself from scratch, turning away the errors of the past, striving upward with an unassailable determination, reaching for the sky with hands that could grow fingers for fingers, nails for nails from the very thought of possibility, waiting for that moment to dig into a jugular and slake a thirst for power.

The fourth laughed that Shanghai is a woman, petty and longing for the capability of a man, searching for a mate to feed its desire, born in the streets of destitute greatness, the kind that longs for an order it knows it cannot have, but desires all the same.

The fifth said that Shanghai was fire, the kind that burned away all the viewpoints of old, to birth them better in a new light of day, miles beyond the haze of the rising sun, where the sun rays speak of new eras yet to coalesce in the shining.

The sixth said that Shanghai was flooding, ebbing, flowing, churning, rushing water, taking its toll, moving wherever it likes, held by the desire of gravity that says down, down and down. To follow it is a foolish errand, lashing oneself to a barrel only to know that it will topple over a waterfall deep towards its doom, where it might be eaten in the depths and recycled in the shallows.

The seventh said that Shanghai was death. He spoke little, and let the placid look on his face do the speaking.

The last spoke that Shanghai was life. His face contorted strangely and he laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed…

posted by ferret at 2:09 am  

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Picture Chips

[Ferret is ordering food at Subway, engaging in the strange dance that one goes through at such service locations in Shanghai. Do I bark my orders in Chinese or English? Both are acceptable, although there is an assumption as a foreigner that you will be doing the English-bark. Ferret chooses Chinese in all of its perversity, and works his way down the line, performing well enough. Until he gets to the cashier:]

Casher

Hello, twenty-three yuan.

Ferret

我要套餐。

I want the meal.

Cashier

什么?

What?

Ferret

套餐。

The meal.

Cashier

套餐,是吧?

Oh, the meal?

Ferret

是的。

Yes.

[The Cashier slaps a cup for a fountain soda on the counter and begins:]

Cashier

你要什么种类曲奇啊!

What kind of cookies do you want?

Ferret

[pausing as the word for "cookie" comes into his head:]

哦,我不要。我要那个图片。

Oh, I don’t want that. I want the picture.

[Ferret was searching for the word for "potato chips" which is 薯片 (shúpiàn), but thought about the other word for "potato" 土 (tù), but was tonally attracted to the second tone of 薯 (shú), so... 图片 (túpiàn). If this confuses you, reader, don't be alarmed. The Cashier was equally confused as to why Ferret was asking for a picture with his meal.]

Cashier

[realizing what he means]

哦,告诉我你要的,我帮你拿。

Oh, tell me which one you want, and I’ll grab it for you.

Ferret

没关系,我自己拿。

Don’t worry about it, I’ll grab it myself.

[Only later, as he is eating his sandwich outside, does Ferret realize that he asked for a "picture" instead of "potato chips." He sighs. Chinese you are a motherfucker.]

posted by ferret at 2:30 pm  

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Grave Mistake

Li

Liu.

Zhou

Xiao.

Li

Bo.

Zhou

The man’s a disgrace!

Li

A nuisance!

Zhou

A criminal!

Li

A traitor!

Zhou

The award was a sacrilege!

Li

An insult!

Zhou

A travesty!

Li

A grave error!

Zhou

Li?

Li

What is it?

Zhou

Who is Liu Xiaobo?

posted by ferret at 2:42 am  

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Soft Opening

[Ferret is at the opening of a new bar. He's had a few free drinks and he's talking with Northern Polecat.]

Ferret

So have they stopped giving away free booze?

Northern Polecat

I’m not sure yet, but I think they’ve got to cut it off soon.

Ferret

Yeah, the freeloaders are out in force now.

Northern Polecat

Plus they’ve still got to make it to the real opening.

Ferret

Oh? This is the soft opening?

Northern Polecat

Yeah.

Ferret

Well, they’ll start charging soon, and then everyone will get the fuck out.

Northern Polecat

That’s the thing though, isn’t it?

Ferret

What is?

Northern Polecat

When they’ll get the fuck out?

Ferret

You’re right. You know, I wonder: Is it possible that that’s part of the game. I mean, for a real soft opening. Like they just started charging everyone without telling them.

Northern Polecat

What like the mafia or something? Giant guys in suits suddenly materializing and telling everyone that you had to pay for your drinks?

Ferret

Maybe. I think it would be better if it were more like a game. I mean, everyone knew that they’d be charged at some point, and they’d be okay with it if they were. But it would just be this tension. Wait! Even better: Let’s say you had a bar that gave away free drinks only some of the time, like on a giant wheel of fortune or something. That exhilaration of trying to beat the system. At any minute that free drink in your hand could no longer be free. Would people want to drink that way?

Northern Polecat

Maybe.

Ferret

More than maybe.

Northern Polecat

It’s not very relaxing.

Ferret

Neither are flashing lights and loud music with bass so loud causes your heart to palpitate. It’s done. The bar will be called The Gambit. This is a ground floor opportunity. Are you in?

posted by ferret at 12:46 am  

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A game and two poems

The following two poems were composed collectively by Ferret and his friends during a rained-out beach holiday. With little to do and a penchant for poetry, Ferret and his compatriots each wrote 1 1/2 lines of verse on a piece of paper, folded the paper over to hide the first line and passed it along. These are the results:

No One was Harmed in the Making of this Poem

Our tale begins in the steamy depths of a Turkish bath,

In his opening gambit, he figured the math was in his hardened heart

And it moved him to tears to see in that room

An unborn boy, smoking, riddled with gloom

Throat gargle tea milk, wormed silk tissues fettered

With darting, shaved sparrows’ victory tune,

The teething assassins beat a retreat with

The bonny boy who took the alien spawn in hand

And sent it off to Neverland to choke several whores

A fantastic tale! Told by drunkards and bores

The bell summons ladies of the night

And the Jesus whores.

They left by the side door, upon a frond of

Memories shorn into a cake which the alien pulled

Into its heart pumping black blood, churning with the sound of

A thousand crying babes aching on the inside

Got trampled in an orgy, and half of them died.

Oh wale! Oh woe! The dead victims’ mothers cried.

“When shall we meet on the dwarf toss slide?”

Said the cowgirls. The plasma night pushed

Against the Amazon fence the green, bug-eyed

Extraterrestrial spat its venom, turning the surrounding crowds sick

Making the mothers run for the doors, their heavy legs

Unshaven, moist, almost goat-like pegs

An ode to my spindle legs, a crash of smut and

Belly pork dregs brings footfall celebratory smacks,

Lying, lying the shaker stood down.

***

From the Cuff

What will you recall, and what will you forget?

What in one’s mind is gone, you can’t regret.

Note the shallow fucks or bad stares, not the lost retreats

Or the moneyed snares.

Beat upon the classic drip leaf womb, thrown out amid the original nut crackers’ snap!

You do not think of Mr. Toad or his wild ride, your children’s stories

And how these teatime fantasies lied.

Chewed on wet young beef, belief of blonde whine

Filled women cried to be a bride,

Because they couldn’t hide the Cinderella songs

Those Snow White slippers through the gasps of wedding vows.

So the flag was raised glorious amid the roses of love and success.

A lemon better cheer fills the throats of old men

And the young women make lemonade with their seductive, saccharine

Sacrifices before the altars.

A flash of blinding purple cowers the horned headed

Frothing beasts, their purpose suddenly dreadful,

With their eyes full and puffing like steam organs

Removed of every stop.

Through the graves the deer were barking,

As the dappled light of dawn breezed through the mist

And the chapel bells were screaming off like earthquakes

Reverberating through the catacombs.

A group of drunk Germans slammed their fists onto

The crossword puzzles in outrage. And all of the letters

Of language became spurious, indicating only the scribbles

Of mangled monkeys high on dope.

Groped the band stand, blue skirted flirted and dirted

The headlights, so I said “Goodnight!”

posted by ferret at 2:50 pm  

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