Blood Clots, Boat Parts, and Some Educated Guesses about Jack Johnson

Here are a couple interesting articles I’ve found over the last week, along with a report from a recent conversation over coffee with friends.

A Blood Clot in the Brain, and an Artist is Born

An accountant in his late 40s suffered a stroke and soon found himself compelled to sketch and paint prolifically. We have heard stories of this category before, but let’s make an agreement, you and I, that we do our best to never stop marveling at the vastness of the brain’s complexities and capabilities. There is some interesting (and mostly accessible) scientific conclusions in this article about how our brains produce new ideas, evaluate those ideas and process creativity in general. The event that temporarily “damaged” this man’s brain also unlocked part of it that was new to him. I don’t know what to tell you about that today besides, “Think on that.”

Boat Parts or Names of Unvaccinaded Children?

I love a good McSweeney’s list.

Other News

One morning recently I had coffee with two friends.

Jack Johnson was playing, and we were discussing the very likely probability of his lifestyle not requiring him to keep much more in the way of clothes than a couple pairs of board shorts.

I guessed his concerts were probably a pretty dependable place to find white-guy dreadlocks.

Then I thought this and did not share it: It seemed like there might be some guy, an eccentric, to put it politely, who collected white-guy dreadlocks as a hobby, and really only needed a sharp pair of scissors, a steady hand, and regular tickets to Jack Johnson shows.

Two Articles about a Good View

It’s been a long week here at the Trotter adobe. All but two of our numbers were down with a bug, myself included, so the time I might have spent reading and writing, I spent moaning and wailing, and cooking rice for myself at 3am. I know I’m a terrible patient, but you can ask my wife how many times I have literally almost died of being slightly uncomfortable. That excellent excuse out of the way, here are a couple articles of note:

Roaming through Woody Guthrie’s New York

I’m a fan of Woody Guthrie’s music, as you may remember, so I try to read every article I see with his name in it. This one follows the story of two of his grandchildren touring places he lived in New York City. My main entry into Guthrie’s music was through reading The Grapes of Wrath, so I have a distinctly Dust Bowl picture of him in my mind, which is why I was surprised to learn from this article that he wrote “This Land is Your Land” from an apartment over a tuxedo shop in New York City with a view of the Empire State building. They know this because he had the practice of noting his location and his view on the same sheet he wrote his lyrics.

We do not create things in a vacuum. We are influenced by our context, so making a note of those things while we make whatever it is we’re making might give some sweet bits of insight to our families one day about where we were sitting and what we saw, especially if it was something we momentarily transcended to write a song about some troubled farmers in Oklahoma.

Faith in Eventually

This is a short but powerful read from Jason Fried, one of the co-founders of Basecamp, on not getting so caught up in the details being right that we forget to keep moving forward.

It’s important to know when to say “it’s fine for now, but it won’t be fine for later.”

This is the kind of article that’s worth printing out and keep close by.

Currently Reading

It’s been a busy week between family and work, so I haven’t had the extra time to get much writing done, but I have been reading, so I wanted to at least share a couple of titles I think will be worth your time.

I would not want to say that any of the persons on our train were impossible, because that sounds snobbish; but I will say this – some of them were highly improbable.

– Irvin S. Cobb, Roughing it De Luxe

I’ve been on the slow track to watching Ken Burns’ National Parks documentary over the last month, and, natrually, it is full of writings from long ago. They quoted a few lines about the Grand Canyon written by Irvin S. Cobb, a humorist from the early 1900s. Roughing it De Luxe, the book where these lines appear, is so far a very funny account of Cobb and a bunch of pampered, compulsive passengers from all over the country taking a luxury train ride West to see the Grand Canyon and obsessing about whether they have brought appropriate clothing. The ebook for this title, and many of Cobb’s other works, is available for free on Amazon.

Later, at home, it is discovered that while she was eating cashews from a bowl, she also ate her hearing aid.

– Lydia Davis, Can’t and Won’t

As I said previously, I recently discovered Lydia Davis’ work. I’m making my way through her latest collection of short stories, Can’t and Won’t, and I’m really enjoying it so far. The stories are a mix of her own dreams (such as the one quoted above), translations of short stories by French author Gustave Flaubert, and other longer pieces that seem autobiographical. There is a lot of humor in her work, but it’s not slapstick, and she will have a lump in your throat before you realize it.