Saturday, February 27, 2010


When I was preparing for the construction crew to come in and work on my house last month I had to shuffle a bunch of objects around for safety reasons, and while the siding and walls were being worked on and pounded on I had to take all of the art off of the walls. After that phase was completed I put things more or less back where they had been, although I switched a few paintings around. About a week later I looked at the corner of the dining room as shown in the photo above and was struck by the fact that the three prominent pieces of art all featured pretty much the same color scheme, with very similar shades of blue and rosy reddish-orange. The tea cabinet that Lu Yu is sitting on has similiar colors also.

The consistency was entirely unintentional. I definitely didn't notice it when I put things there. The fact that the three individuals pictured are Lu Yu, Saint Cecilia and Marcel Duchamp also reveals a great deal about me within a small, concentrated area of my house.

Ceramic statue of Lu Yu, Tang Dynasty writer of 茶經 (Cha Jing, loosely translated as the "Classic of Tea").

Borderline kitsch print of a painting of Saint Cecilia, the Patron Saint of Music. (The painting is not distorted the way the photo is.)

Painting/Collage of Marcel Duchamp, by Max Estenger. The small bit of text says, "le style, c'est l'homme."

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The 5 Edible Bats of Good Fortune

Last weekend I bought some Ling Gok (Trapa bicornis), also called "water caltrops," "devil pods," and ten thousand other names. I've never seen them available in the store before, but I believe that they are part of the commonly consumed foods for Lunar New Year. I like that the seed is lucky because it looks like a bat, which is lucky because its name (fú, 蝠​) is very similar to the word for good fortune (fú​, 福). I bought seven of them, and I don't intend to eat them because they're too awesome looking. They feel nice in my hand and make a nice dry rattling sound. I gave two of them away, so now I have five, but I just remembered that bats are usually in groups of five anyway, so it was fortuitous.

Water Caltrops with Butterfly

by Australian poet Jan Owen

from the May 2000 issue of Quadrant Magazine

"Things answer our gaze": Bachelard

The caltrops are too stale to boil with salt.
Posed on a Chinese plate, dreaming of flight,
they are black grotesques of primitive art,
bat fetish, owl mask, shaman horns.

Real wings are frayed red gold: the butterfly
was snagged on the balcony stucco yesterday.
I set it down on the same plate to die.
Already its tongue was a slack watch-spring

and its legs intending something feeble and fine
like a Chekhov heroine…