I knew Portishead was a band. But no one told me it was a place. In fact, it’s a “friendly progressive town that fuses characterful history with modern contemporary.”

Time and Distance

Some time between 1993 and 1994, my friend Andy Steward said, I may never forget it, that: In America, 200 years is a long time but 200 miles isn’t a long distance. In England, 200 years isn’t a long time, but is a long distance. Place influences time, and time influences place.

There You Are

“Wherever you go, there you are.” It’s a hokey aphorism, but as I listened to Jarvis Cocker discuss fame on Adam Buxton’s podcast, it seemed a lot less hokey. Earlier in his life, he expected fame to be almost heaven-like. “Getting famous,” he says, “is a common thing people want to do.” He speculates that it […]


I recently read Aeschylus’s Prometheus Bound for the first time. It was good, like, very good in a way I wasn’t expecting. I wasn’t expecting bad, but it was moving in a way that reading, for example, Hesiod isn’t. But I also don’t know if Hesiod was setting out to wow an audience with The Theogeny in the same […]

Conk a Dook

I “finished” the 600+ pages of Finnegans Wake on May 16th. I read it in fits and starts over roughly 4 months. Why the scare quotes? I didn’t finish so much as I gave up and skimmed the last 3/8 of the book. The reading experience was difficult—infuriatingly so at times—and fun, but not quite in equal […]

How I Cook a Pork Chop

Here’s how I cook a pork chop. It’s a mix of methods I’ve collected over time. The basic outline is: Use good meat Salt and wait Sear, roast, and rest Meat It’s a cliché, but you really do need to start with good meat. Most often I walk down the hill and get bone-in loin […]

In Praise of “In Praise of Shadows”

Jun’ichirō Tanizaki’s In Praise of Shadows (陰翳礼讃, 1933) is a book I wish I’d read before visiting Japan in 2017. Something I didn’t understand until reading Tanizaki’s book is that empty rooms weren’t empty. On entering the interiors of some ancient temple buildings I recall thinking the rooms were bare, stark, even unsettlingly empty in a way […]

Ballad Measure, Emily Dickinson, and Gilligan’s Island

Ballad measure, or common meter, is a stanza of four lines. The 1st and 3rd lines have 4 beats and the 2nd and 4th lines have 3 beats with a silent 4th. Here’s Emily Dickinson in ballad measure: Because I could not stop for Death –He kindly stopped for me –The Carriage held but just […]

A Blog, or: 10,000 Noiseless Typewriters

I wanted to name this blog something more exciting than “blog.” So I went looking around for synonyms and then wandered over to the Google Ngram viewer to see if usage of “blog” was declining and, yep, it is. But who are these people blogging int he 1920s/30s? The earliest usage of “blog” cited by […]