Dec 28, 2007

Bluer Than Indigo, Mr. Robbins, and Darrell Bob Houston

I just happened to read Wikipedia's entry for Jitterbug Perfume a few minutes ago and feel like I've been struck by lightening.  I'm stunned by the irony of the following (most) profound statement appearing in a section called "Trivia" (!?) at the end of the article. Here it is:
"In the somewhat esoteric final lines of the book, note this: "And then you'll be blue. Bluer than indigo." This is based on an old Chinese proverb by Xun Zi: blue dye is made from indigo colored grass, yet the blue dye's color is much deeper than the color of its origin. In other words, the pupil can exceed the master."
I mean...did you know that?
One can't help but wonder if our beloved Mr. Robbins had this in mind as he wrote the words of love and dedication to his brother/friend Darrell Bob Houston, who died in 1984-- the same year that Jitterbug Perfume was published.  The fact that Darrell Bob was an astonishing gonzo journalist and diamond-bright author in his own right adds even more profundity to the pupil/master -- bluer than indigo statement.  It fits so perfectly.
Wishing all of you an astonishing day~

~ PEACE ~ 
Nonconform Freely

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Dec 26, 2007

Steve Gillard on the Mystery

Steve has a very interesting series of posts about treating each moment as a gift over at The Gravity Vortex. He argues that everything from cleaning out the garage to existential ecstasy is a gift. Fun reading.


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Nov 22, 2007

Cowgirls, Page 325--Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is the page wherein Jelly explains that it's not just the Whoopers who are "drugged" by the peyote laced fishmeal they ingest, we are all "drugged" by what goes into our bodies. 
"You mean...?"
"Peyote!" said Debbie and Jelly together.
"Then that professor was right.  They are drugged."
"Aw, come off it, Sissy," said Jelly.  "What do you mean, 'drugged'?  Every living thing is a chemical composition and anything that is added to it changes that composition.  When you eat a cheeseburger or a three muskateers bar, it changes your body chemistry.  The kind of food you eat, the kind of air you breathe, can change your mental state.  Does that mean you're drugged?  Drugged is a stupid word."
So, to all of you astonishing afTRlifers, if you're planning to run afowl of the law (any law), today is the day to do it, while you're stuffed full of that turkey/tofurkey.
Happy Thanksgiving.  YOU are the turkeys I'm most thankful for.  :~) 
Love, love and more love~

~ PEACE ~ 
Nonconform Freely

Be a better sports nut! Let your teams follow you with Yahoo Mobile. Try it now.

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Oct 23, 2007

Schnooner School

Posted by Dale

Tom has finished writing his latest book. Here's a preview: Gracie Goes to Schooner School. It's now in the hands of the editors. We'll keep you informed of the progress.

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Oct 15, 2007

An Interview with Charles L. Heald

An Interview with Charles L. Heald,
Cover Artist for Another Roadside Attraction.

My son recently gave me a signed first edition of Another Roadside Attraction for my birthday. I had seen the cover art of the jacket of that edition once before in the early 1970's and it had stuck with me, almost hauntingly. Now that I own the book and the art, I decided to find out about the artist. Thus I have came to Larry Heald's website and found haunting images aplenty. What a wonderful collection! I wanted to know more about this artist and his connection with the work of Tom Robbins and he kindly consented to the following email interview. --Dale Kirby

Was there something about the Northwest that drew you as an artist to move out there for your education?

Yes. That would be my brother, Paul. I was going to a small college, with a very small art department, back in Michigan, working summers in Yellowstone. I'd noticed that the further west I traveled, the better I liked it. The people, like the landscape, opened up and let me in, and I followed Horace Greely's suggestion. Paul was in Seattle starting his grad work at UW, and spoke of it's beauty. I hopped a train in Livingston, Montana, and got to Seattle in time for fall quarter, 1960.

When did you get to know or know about Tom Robbins? Was it as an art
critic or a novelist?

I think it was around 1962. Paul had a show of his paintings at one of the handful of galleries that existed in Seattle at the time, and Tom, the new critic in town, had written a rather unflattering review of his work. Paul figured Tom had missed the point, and invited him over to his place for dinner. They became good friends and Tom was then introduced to a bunch of young artists, including myself, and, being the open creative person he is, became one of the gang. As I remember it, the tone of his reviews changed from rather harsh (but clever) slam dunks that would keep people from even going to the gallery to more in depth observations that enticed the public to go have a look for themselves.

Skagit Valley seems to be a magnet for artists from Morris Graves onward. Was there an art movement in Skagit Valley when you lived there?

There certainly were a bunch of artists around, and they were all active, but there was no activity as a cohesive group. The show at the Seattle Art Museum in 1974, was perhaps the first time we looked at ourselves as a group, but even then, we were just a bunch of artists and urban escapees living in the same beautiful area.

Who were some of the people in the Skagit Valley artists group?

Guy Anderson was the patriarch, a legend in his time. None of us flocked around him as some sort of guru, however. We just loved him, and he loved us. He was old enough to be the grandfather of most of us, and yet he had a youthful spirit no one could resist. A lifetime of creativity does that to a person it seems. Larry Beck and his wife, Gertrude Pacific, lived and worked in the Conway Bank. Clayton James was in LaConner, Paul Havas was on Fir Island along with Art Jorgenson, Rick Dekker up in Blanchard, Richard Gilkey and R. Allen Jensen down in Stanwood, Charlie Krafft and Robert Sund out at Fishtown. Max Benjamin and Phil McCracken lived out on the islands, so we didn't see much of them. There were a few others, but these were the folks I associated with most.

How did you come to do the cover art for Another Roadside Attraction?

Tom wrote me a letter while he was living in South Bend, WA and I was living in Inverness, CA, telling me he was writing a novel and asking if, providing he could find a publisher, I'd be interested in doing illustrations. When the publisher was found, it became the dust jacket. That was in 1969.

Did you read the book before you did the art?

No. I had no idea what the book was about, just the elements Tom mentioned. However I did know Tom, which was quite enough, and knowing a book can't be judged by its cover, I didn't worry about it. Tom wrote and told me to include the following: A Weenie Man (whatever that is) pointing a cane at a young gypsy-type woman holding the mummified body of Christ in a carnival tent, with a Skagit type landscape and including butterflies and mushrooms. Of course I had no idea what the book was about with those directions, but I could tell I was going to like it. Had I read the book first, and been given a "free hand", there's no telling what it would have looked like!

Was there a human model for the picture of Amanda?

No. However looking at it now, it does resemble my first wife a bit.

Have you had much contact with TR since you left the Skagit Valley? Have you followed his work and/or he followed yours?

I usually get up to Seattle and the Skagit once or twice a year, to deliver paintings, and visit my brother and other artist friends, including Tom, when he's not gallivanting about the globe doing research on his next novel. I've read all Tom's books and occasionally catch other stuff in periodicals. I doubt that he's seen much of my work for the last several years, due to its relative unavailability. Most of it is right here in my storeroom.

What are your influences--both artistically and philosophically--in your art?

I get asked this, or a variation of, this question from time to time and it always throws me for a loop. I should have a standardized answer prepared for convenience, but I'm generally not willing to think about it to the extent it would take to come up with anything worth passing along. To the question as you put it, I'd say: other artists, past and present, and philosophers, past and present, which includes everyone I know. Throw in the mysteries of the universe, the marvels of this planet we live on, the miracle of nature and life, and the baffling behavior of the human critter.

Your paintings are natural and supranatural at the same time. What are your theories on painting?

I really can't think of any. I just love to paint and then to see what happens. In a sense, I guess you might say I create my own reality, which in view of the confusing answer to the last question, makes a certain amount of sense.

I found the section fascinating where you showed pictures you had done some time before, and how they changed as you reworked them. Do you do a lot of "revising" as you work?

Right from the very beginning, I'm revising. Nothing is ever finished. At some point I quit, but that never means that a few days, weeks or years later I won't completely repaint the thing. Sometimes I start with a preconception, but never have I ended up with that concept. Often the paintings have nothing to do with the original idea. Something like life itself, perhaps.

One of your paintings in particular stirred my soul. It was the one of the mountain cabin with the crescent moon in the window. What was the inspiration for that image?

"Unfinished Painting VII" is the seventh of a sub series that's been going for quite awhile. In fact the first was done in 1971 and was included in the Skagit Valley Artists show at the Seattle Art Museum in 1974. And in fact it's now in their collection, unless they tossed it out. The idea of the whole series is a play on the title "Unfinished Painting" that art historians stick on paintings they find in the studios of dead artists, and which appear to have never been resolved. As I recall, they all contain a bucket of spilled paint and the suggestion that an accident has occured while the painter is transforming an interior-exterior space with a new sky color. I think there are some others on the site, if you can find them.

Have you illustrated any other books or done other cover art?

Only my own book which is entitled, "Homestead Fire Prevention and Supression", a book on fighting wildfires. Not exactly an artistic endeavor. However I did three album covers for some musician friends, The Youngbloods. "Elephant Mountain", "High on a Ridgetop", and "Country Home".

What's your favorite work of yours?

I have some favorites from every period over the last 40 years of painting. Some of them were of the genre in which I was working, but often they were the ones that were instrumental in breaking me free from it. It's been suggested that the current series based on the Pacific Coast are my best ever. I like that idea. That's how it should be.

Any last thoughts?

These questions have stirred up all sorts of memories. The sixties and early seventies were a sweet time for artists, writers, musicians and other creative folk. Things went sour for many, but the spirit lives on in some. We obviously didn't change the world, although we thought we were at the time. It appeared as if we had something to look forward to. Like all things these days (worthwhile and otherwise), it became commercialized, popularized, commonplace and reduced to its dollar value. To the prez who says, "It's the economy, stupid", I'd like to say, "It's the stupid economy!", and besides that, buster! @#%^&*, etc.

:-) Thanks so much, Larry.

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Oct 5, 2007

- Sent Using Google Toolbar

TOM ROBBINS: My life and work.

Forget cyberspace. The Northwest's master of Zen-punk prose spends his time exploring mythospace. And here, with a new novel hitting stores this week, he speaks out about what he sees, how he works, who he loves, and what really, really matters in the end.

Roger Downey

published: May 03, 2000

  • Rick Dahms
JUST ABOUT THIS TIME of year 24 years ago, I drove my still nearly new VW Superbeetle up to La Conner for a chat with Tom Robbins about a book he'd just written: his second novel, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. Last week I hit the road for La Conner again, to talk with Robbins (in the same room of the same house I visited in 1976) on the occasion of his seventh and latest, Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates, published this week. Tom and I both arrived in Seattle back in the mid-'60s; then I knew him as The Seattle Times' jazz-bo of a visual arts critic, as the host of KRAB-FM's every-Sunday-evening s�ce of underground rock, as an amiable magus prone to donning Fantasia-style wizard gear to preside over drug-sodden street celebrations of the alternative lifestyle. Somehow it fit that the guy I knew would have written a cult bestseller (Another Roadside Attraction) in his spare time, but another novel? Ol' Tom a Novelist, a Fictioneer, a Molder of Significant Form? I couldn't get used to the idea. A quarter-century and five more books later, I still can't. Fortunately, Robbins hasn't either. Fierce Invalids―episodes from the life of an accident-prone CIA op with a taste for mind-expanding drugs, Finnegan's Wake, and legally untouchable girl-flesh―no more resembles a rule-made contemporary fiction than its six elder siblings did, but it's vintage Robbins in the rich layering of its literary lasagna: plot, preachments, precepts, and prophecy all bubbling merrily together. We hereby celebrate Robbins' Lucky Number Seven with some thoughts on life and art in the Great Northwest composed by the master on the occasion of receiving the Golden Bumbershoot award, plus some extemporaneous observations of life, love, lust, and literature that haven't found their way into the canonical works―yet.

On life

Privacy is essential to me. I'm on the cusp between Cancer and Leo, so I'm actually torn between retiring to the hermit's cave and wanting the spotlight on center stage. But it's very difficult to tap into the eternal sources if you're cavorting in public. Whom the Gods would destroy they first make popular. Being in the spotlight inflates the ego, and I concur wholeheartedly with Joseph Campbell that Hell is a large, stiff ego.

For the first few years after my first two books appeared, I hadn't given many interviews or allowed my picture to be circulated, a lot of people believe that I was a woman. I guess it was my well-developed anima. But mystique is a magnet, and every summer I used to get college students from all over the United States beating a path to my door. Once I started doing readings and book tours that stopped happening: You maintain your privacy by going public. It sort of directs the fire away from who you really are. Like the guy in the old cowboy movie: He would put his hat up on a stick and all the bad guys would shoot at the hat while he snuck around and came at 'em from behind.

On literature

My approach to writing is intuitive, not analytical, which is one of the things that makes it hard to talk about. Because I'm not a formula writer, every time I start a book it's beginning all over again. I don't know how to write a novel, I couldn't tell you how to write a novel, it's a new adventure every time I begin one, and I like it that way. I rarely have even the vaguest sense of plot when I begin a book, what I usually begin with is about three―things, three themes, concepts, ideas, that are completely unrelated. Well, everything is related, but I'm not aware of the relationships, the connections are not present in my mind. And then I hold auditions in the teatro cognito and a character or two will show up, frequently a woman, and I will put that character in a scene, and it's like putting that character in a little boat and pushing it out into the water, and then I literally follow that character out of that scene and into the next, one scene begetting the next.

My books, for all their surface looseness, are actually very, very tight, and they're full of cross-references, and the themes are complex, so to be able to write that way with any degree of artistry and to make these disparate elements come together so smoothly that they appear seamless, that the reader would believe they were there from the beginning, requires not only that I write very, very slowly but maintain an enormous degree of focus and concentration; you have to be able to hold many, many different things in your mind at once, because once you get beyond 50 pages, you can't go back every day and read what you've already written. It takes intense concentration to do that, at the end of my writ-ing day, and my writing days have been get-ting shorter and shorter; you feel like you've been wrestling in radioactive quicksand with Xena the Warrior Princess and her five fat uncles.

I haven't voluntarily read a review of one of my books since 1977, though I've had a couple stuck in my face. But in a New York Times review of the one before last, the writer said something like, "Robbins needs to make up his mind between whether he wants to be funny or serious." And I remember thinking, 'I'll make my mind up when God makes up his.' How can you read the newspapers every day or watch TV news and not see that the world is simultaneously most tragically serious and ridiculously funny? If I have learned anything in my life, it is that there is no wisdom without playfulness. All that the truly wise teachers I have met have in common is a kind of childlike playfulness that seems to go hand in hand with enlightenment.

I want to edify as I entertain―Cancer is the teacher sign―but I don't want to be pedantic or heavy-handed about it. I write fiction rather than essays because it's just ever so much more fun. You're in the same business that God is in, plus you can get away with linguistic gymnastics a lot easier in fiction. But there is a particular breed of fiction reviewer I call plot junkies, people who only review plots, and these are the ones who are likely to describe my work as "zany," a word which, along with "whimsical," I have increasingly come to despise.

The trouble is, that average reviewer in America is totally unfamiliar with both the main sources for my writing, which are, first, my interest in Asian systems of liberation, and second, Greek mythology. I don't mean retelling Greek myths like Updike and others, but going back and drawing from the same well of the collective unconscious. Reviewers also describe my work as "cartoonish," which I take as a compliment, because I love cartooning, and cartooning is very Greek. The creators of the Greek myths worked like cartoonists, painting in big bold strokes without a lot of physical or psychological detail. There's frequent and often kinky sex. Supernatural and fantastic events are presented as if they were ordinary everyday experience. Animals and inanimate objects are often as important as the human figures, and used in symbolic ways. So I'm much more interested in mythospace than cyberspace. As I think I say somewhere in this book, "Man has always defined himself through narration." Trouble is, now corporations tell our stories for us. And the message of the corporate story is always the same: To be special you must conform, to be valid you must consume.

On love

Our sensual energy is the most powerful energy we possess, which is why it's so baffling that every religious system in modern history has suppressed the sensual. Only in Hindu tantra did they have the wisdom and courage to employ sensuality and harness it for spiritual purposes. Sex and drugs, that's where it's always been. Rocket fuel to blast off into enlightenment.

I only really understood that I'm different from a lot of other men when I started paying a little attention to golf. I got interested because so many men I knew were playing it: artists, not corporate types. I couldn't understand the attraction. For me, golf is basketball for men who can't jump and chess for men who can't think. But I think I've got to the bottom of it. Most men secretly hate women and love golf. I, on the other hand. . . .

Until 13 years ago I was a serial monogamist. I had this history of three-year relationships and two-year flings. I don't consider them failures; I may have pissed some people off, but as a matter of fact I am still friends with most of my former girlfriends. But getting to know a strange woman intimately is such a thrill that I've wanted to experience it over and over again. I love the idea of the mail-order bride, though I've never got that far. To bring a strange woman into your home and become totally intimate with her. . . .

On marriage

About 14 years ago I had been unattached for some time and was quite happy that way. But one day I performed a wedding ceremony for someone from Microsoft, and weddings always make me lusty, so after the service I started looking around for talent, and I saw a cute little blonde who seemed to be unattached, and there was no food at the reception, only cake, so I went up to the little blonde and asked her to dinner. So some while later she called me at home and said, "I'm coming through La Conner on my way to the San Juans, and since you bought me dinner, I'd like to return the favor." So she came, and she brought Alexa, who is tall and dark, with her.

So we all went out to dinner, and I found myself sitting between light and dark, which is where we all are, isn't it, and I kept feeling more attracted to the dark. So when they were saying goodbye after dinner, which I ended up paying for, by the way, the blonde gave me a little kiss and went out the door to the car. So as Alexa was about to go out the door herself, she leaned over and gave me a little kiss too, and there was this shudder of electricity. We sort of looked at each other a moment and then she kissed me again. And then she left too.

I didn't pursue it. Ten or 12 days later, getting toward Christmas, I got a little package in the mail: from Alexa, just a note, thanks for dinner, and a key chain with one of those glitter-filled magic wands attached, and a key painted with purple nail polish. And a Seattle phone number.

Well, what's a guy to do? I called her. She was in the tub. Great, warm telephone voice. "Thanks for the note. What's the key?" "The key to your heart," she said. Oh. Well, want to get together some time? Sure, how about Saturday? We agreed she'd come up to visit me because I was still feeling much too independent and cocky to go down there. But there must have been something going on with me because when I called the Black Swan to book a table I asked the proprietor to order in a bottle of Roederer Cristal, so I can't claim to have been entirely oblivious.

Next morning over a truck-stop breakfast of biscuits and gravy and long-neck Buds she mentioned that she'd been psychic since adolescence and that she made her living reading the Tarot. So I said, "You should read the cards for me sometime," and she looked at me with these green wolf eyes and said, "I already did." And I said, Oh reaaally, what did they say? And she said, "Well, essentially, they said you were going to lose your heart." And I, still cocky, said, "To whom?" And she just looked at me and shook her head, like "You Kartoffelkopf, you just don't get it, do you?" And I didn't. But I soon did. January 17. We'll have been together 13 years and three months on Monday.

On his readers

I love my readers, they seem to me to be nimble-minded and fun. This always hasn't been true, it certainly wasn't in the '80s, but my audience these days is probably 80 percent kids in their teens and 20s: the generation we've been told were not going to read, the hackers and the slackers. And I think they're great, I love hanging out with them; the kids are all right.

Ten books everybody should read because they're not remotely enlightened until they do

Understanding Media by Marshall MacLuhan
The Archaic Revival by Terence McKenna
The Tao of Physics by Frijdof Capra
The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are by Alan Watts
The Masks of God by Joseph Campbell
On Glory Roads by Eleanor Munro
The Banquet Years by Roger Shattuck
The Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets compiled by Barbara G. Walker
News of the Universe by Robert Bly
The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James

Six things I'm glad I wrote

I never go back and read my books; I'm saving that for my golden years. But I retain a strong affection for:
*the passage in Even Cowgirls Get the Blues building up to the first description of Sissy Hankshaw's enormous thumbs
*the opening gambit in Jitterbug Perfume: "The beet is the most intense of vegetables. . . ."
*the bed mite passage from Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas

In the new book I'm fond of:
*the riff on Jahweh and Lucifer settling out of court
*the place on page 272 about making a morning social call without showering: "He'd awakened too late to bathe properly, and Cupid's briny chlorines clung to him like clamskin britches."
*page 314's metaphors in celebration of the hymen

Five men of wisdom and power who set an example for us all

*Alan Watts, the greatest philosopher of the 20th century in his own right, not merely as an interpreter of Eastern systems of liberation. Like very few philosophers, he actually lived his philosophy.
*Morris Graves
*Oscar Wilde, for his example and his writing both. He had an intense social conscience, he was generous to everyone, accurately observant of his time, enlightened in many areas as well as wonderfully witty. He was a great man who happened to fall in love with a jerk.
*Friedrich Nietzsche
*Allan Ginsburg. Somebody was talking about visiting a Third World village and seeing the children suffering from undernourishment and disease, and he said, I just wanted to go up to those children and hug them. And the person he was talking to said, If you'd been Ginsburg you would have.

Seven albums I'd want with me if I was marooned on a desert island

*Dylan: Blonde on Blonde, probably, or Blood on the Tracks
*The opera choruses of Verdi, 'specially the lament of the Hebrew slaves from Nabucco
*Laurie Anderson's Big Science
*The Threepenny Opera (1959 original cast with Lotte Lenya)
*Leonard Cohen's I'm Your Man
*The Beatles' Greatest Hits, if there is such an album; I would choose the one with "All My Loving" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand," because I am convinced that time will prove they are right up there with the best of Schubert.
*Perez Prado's Havana 3 AM, so if I were stuck on the island alone I could dance by myself

Read Tom Robbin's Here in Geoduck Junction.

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Sep 26, 2007

The Paradox of God

I started Tom Robbins’ last novel yesterday, Villa Incognito. (You might say I’m doing the Alpha-Omega thing: going from his first to his last...) Within the first five pages I found a wonderful description of the paradoxical nature of God:

Before moving on, however, we must address the probability that the perceptive reader will have noticed in our narration an apparent and perhaps troubling inconsistency. Unless the author is simply too careless and sloppy to be trusted, why does he sometimes write “Tanuki” (singular, individual, a capitalized proper noun) and at other times, even in the same paragraph, write “tanukis” (plural, generic, an uncapitalized common noun)? The explanation is simple. This badgerish creature, like God, is both one and many.

Both. In the same instant. Like God.

As anybody who knows anything about the Unknowable well knows, “God” and “gods” are interchangeable. The exclusivistic patriarchal Jehovah/Allah freaks are not incorrect when they insist that there is but one Supreme Being and that “he” is immutable and absolute. However, neither are the wide-eyed inclusive pagans and primitives wrong when they recognize gods of fire alongside gods of rivers; honor a moon goddess, a crocodile spirit, and deities who reside in, among countless other places, tree trunks, rain clouds, peyote buttons, and neon lighting (especially the flashing whites and the greens).

Thus, if the reader is wise enough not to try to impose human limitations or narrow notions of uniformity on the Divine Principle, is nimble-minded enough to realize that he or she can be (perhaps should be!) simultaneously monotheistic and pantheistic, then he or she will have scant problem in accepting the paradoxical essence of our small friend, Tanuki of the tanukis.

Nice. Hindus have a phrase for this: Achintya Bheda Abheda Tattva. The Truth (tattva) is simultaneously and inconceivably (achintya) one and yet different (bheda abheda). It was in support and in the pursuit of this philosophy/theology of mystery that I named my blog, Facilitating Paradox.

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Aug 17, 2007

Recent long Interview with Tom

Posted by Dale

Steve Gillard has sent me a link to a long interview with Tom at

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Aug 11, 2007

Welcome a new blog team member

Please welcome David Soliday as the new Dharma Yum blogteam member. David has his own blog at Facilitating Paradox.

Educated and yet still wise, David's posts have shined on the AFTRLife Discussion List and we are happy to have him contribute here.


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Aug 3, 2007

If you could have extra features...

If you could request another novel to flesh out some part of one of Tom's novels, which would it be? I'd like to see more about Outlaw College, Amandas future and Thor, Sissy and her kids, the Cowgirls, or Villa Incognito twice as long.  What would y'all like to see?

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Jul 30, 2007

Meet author Tom Robbins and support sensible marijuana policy!

Marijuana Policy Project Alert: Mass. July 25, 2007

Meet author Tom Robbins and support sensible marijuana policy!
Bestselling author Tom Robbins, who has penned such classics as Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, and the Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy (CSMP) invite you to attend a VIP reception hosted by Woody Kaplan and Wendy Kaminer at their beautiful home overlooking the Charles River in Boston's Back Bay. This event will raise much-needed funds for the signature drive to place a binding marijuana decriminalization initiative on the November 2008 state ballot.
Find out more about this event and purchase tickets here.
The signature drive, which must begin on September 19 and end on November 21, will cost approximately $350,000. If we can raise the money for the signature drive this summer and fall, CSMP will be able to concentrate the next stage of fundraising on money for voter outreach and educational TV and radio ads. The initiative would change Massachusetts state law so that personal possession of a small amount of marijuana would be a civil fine instead of a criminal sanction and would be the first-ever statewide ballot initiative to remove all criminal penalties for the possession of marijuana.
Who: Woody Kaplan, Wendy Kaminer, and special guest author Tom Robbins will be joined by MPP's Rob Kampia and CSMP's campaign manager Whitney A. Taylor
What: VIP reception to support the Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy
Where: 2 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston
When: Friday, September 14, 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $250 in advance or $350 at the door.
Purchase tickets here.
Please join us for this VIP reception and learn about how CSMP intends to pass the first statewide ballot initiative to decriminalize marijuana anywhere in the country!
For questions about ticketing, please call CSMP campaign manager Whitney A. Taylor at (617) 901-7765. Help fund MPP's projects
MPP hopes that each of the 100,000 subscribers on our national e-mail list will make at least one financial donation to MPP's work in 2007. Please click here to donate now.
MPP will be able to tackle all of the projects in its 2007 strategic plan if you and other allies are generous enough to fund our work.
Popular Links:
• MPP's home page
• State-by-state medical marijuana laws
• MPP news releases
• 2006 strategic plan
• Download hand-outs
• About the Marijuana Policy Project

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Jul 23, 2007

Page 203 of Cowgirls

Posted by Dale

Most cultures have said it -- perhaps with the exception of Attila the Hun’s people—and it doesn’t take cosmic wisdom to realize that if we treated people the way we would like to be treated (this is in general and doesn’t apply to our impulse to get pleasured by every hottie that comes along) then the world would be a pretty good place. Robbins reminds me of the potential we as humans have to live such beautiful lives and instead we so often get mired in all the base emotions. As Robbins writes, “mankind [is] a royal fuck-up”. With that understood how can we live the best lives we can imagine?

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Jul 22, 2007

Happy Birthday "Tom Robbins" from the blogosphere.

Google Blogs Alert for: "Tom Robbins"

On this day in History, July 22
By geri
And today is the birthday of Tom Robbins, the American author and master of the sentence, -- who wrote two of my favorite novels, Jitterbug Perfume (1984) and Still Life With Woodpecker (1980) -- born in 1936.
Good News Network -

Reader's Almanac: 7/22
Tom Robbins, who was born today in 1936 LINKS OF THE DAY RETURN TO LAOS: From Detectives Beyond Borders, a review of a novel set in Southeast Asia with the evocative title "The Coroner's Lunch." Why authors deliberately choose bland ...
Bill Peschel -

Interversity: The Saturday Knights
By pmmasterson(mpardaiolo)
Barfly: I like reading Tom Robbins, Chuck Palahniuk, Hunter S. Thompson et al. I definitely get motivated off that stuff. Caddyshack, Big Lebowski are a couple movies I can't burn out on. Tilson: Wild life ... wild people ... wild ...
Audiversity -

Villa Incognito by Tom Robbins
Acceptable: Worn cover, creasing to a few leaves. $3.25.
Lorem Ipsum Books New Arrivals -

On this day in history- Jul 22
By looking4good(looking4good)
1936 - Tom Robbins was born. American author. 1937 - New Deal: The United States Senate votes down President Franklin D. Roosevelt's proposal to add more justices to the Supreme Court of the United States. ...
Nothingandall -

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Jul 21, 2007

The Duty of Superior Men and Women, Cowgirls, p. 201

Posted by: Monkey Wrench Mary
In times of widespread chaos and confusion, it has been the duty of more advanced human beings--artists, scientists, clowns and philosophers--to create order. In times such as ours, however, when there is too much order, too much management, too much programming and control, it becomes the duty of superior men and women to fling their favorite monkey wrenches into the machinery. To relieve the repression of the human spirit, they must sow doubt and disruption. ~The Chink~

Well now, has there ever been a more concentrated soup of superior minds and monkey wrenches than right here on the afTRlife? I mean, who else can loose a flock of red-headed woodpeckers (in all their forms), tribes of Clockwork shamen, troups of tightrope walking arialists, battalions of baboons and cans o' beans, conch shells and dirty socks?

In celebration of the Birth of Our Tom, perhaps tomorrow would be an appropriate day to launch our Monkey Wrench Revolution. The time to get out our most creative arsenal of pranks, hijinx, capers and monkey wrenches and fling them with all our might, in tandem and with great joy, into the machinery.

I've recently learned (news sometimes travels slowly to the northwest wilds) that people in Japan (or was it Hong Kong?) take the day of Buddha's birth off from work. I propose that we all call in well on Monday to allow for recovery from tomorrow's celebration of Tom's birthday. It's the least we can do.

With bowed head and raised fist, I cry~
Revolution, Sisters and Brothers!

Nonconform Freely

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Jul 17, 2007

Nothing Worth Dying For; Cowgirls, Page 197

Posted by Mary

Here it is, then. Right here on page 19, at the end of the third full paragraph, spoken by the Chink (Himself):

"There are many things worth living for, there are a few things worth dying for, but there is nothing worth killing for."

These simple and elegant words should be carved in stone above every capitol building, every temple, every courthouse around the world. They should be scrawled in every alleyway, tattoo'd in every parlor and embedded in every backstreet dream. They should be shouted from mountaintops, whispered sweetly in little ears, tapped out in morse code and rapped hip-hop style in song. And certainly they should be inscribed on every coin.

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Jul 15, 2007

They say it's your birthday.

Posted by Dale
Happy Birthday Tom! July 22 is the magical day.
Snail mail to PO Box 338, LaConner, WA 98257
Email to (send voice or video files if you like
Phone it in to (805) 754-2441

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Jul 6, 2007

In Honor of National Kissing Day

by MaryW

Today, July 6, is National Kissing Day (at least here up over). To commerate this tingling bliss that "calls the nymphs and satyrs back to life," let's turn to page 99 in Wild Ducks Flying Backward. As you read, dear afTRlifers, let the words form in a soft, North Carolina drawl and kissing becomes a hot honeyed bourbon...kisssin'. Ready? Here we go:
Kissing is our greatest invention. On the list of great inventions, it ranks higher than the Termos bottle and the Airstream trailer. Higher, even, than room service, possibly because the msain reason room service was created was so that people could stay in bed and kiss without going hungry.
...Kissing molded the face into a brand new shape, the pucker shape, and then, like some renegade scientist grafting plops of sea urchin onto halves of ripe pink plumns, it found a way to fuse the puckers, to meld them and animate them, so that one pucker rubbing against another generates heat, moisture, and a luminous neuro-mmuscular friction...
...The best kisses...are those between lovers, because those are the consequential ones, the risky ones, the transformative ones, the ones that call the nymphs and satyrs back to life, the many-layered kisses that we dive into as into a fairy-tale frog pond or the murky gene pool of our origins...
No other flesh like lip flesh! No meat like mouth meat! The musical clink of tooth against tooth! The wonderful curiosity of tongues!
A toe-tingling, lip-smacking happy kisssin' day to you all!

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Jul 4, 2007

Fourth of July

by MaryW

Today is the Fourth of July; America's birthday. Putting aside for now my personal feelings regarding the arrogance and brutality surrounding the birth of this nation, tonight might be an appropriate time to recall Tom's thoughts as expressed in a Seattle Weekly interview in 2003:

Quite probably the worst thing about the inevitable and totally unjustifiable war with Iraq is that there's no chance the U.S. might lose it. America is a young country, and intellectually, emotionally, and physically, it has been exhibiting all the characteristics of an adolescent bully, a pubescent punk who's too big for his britches and too strong for his age. Someday, perhaps, we may grow out of our mindless, pimple-faced arrogance, but in the meantime, it might do us a ton of good to have our butts kicked. Unfortunately, like most of the targets we pick on, Iraq is much too weak to give us the thrashing our continuously overbearing behavior deserves, while Saddam is even less deserving of victory than Bush.
~ Seattle Weekly, March 5, 2003 ~

What's to be done with this violent child? Fratboy counselors advise that violent behavior stems from low self esteem; but could it be that our own bully boy suffers from too much self esteem?

How to deal with this bully that is us? True, it might do us good to get our butts kicked, teach us a lesson...but isn't there another way? A time-out?

What if...what if each of us in this country assumed parental responsibilties for our out of control child. What if... all of us together took a clue from Mr. Robbins--neutralized hatred with love, tears with laughter, violence with play, brutality with gentleness, theivery with generousity, horror with joy. What if...we taught this child that is us--to write an epic poem, one that would take a hundred years (or two) to set down in rhyme; that the power of idyllic metaphor is so vivid it can become our reality. What if... we sat this unruly child down in a roomful of fingerpaints and let him paint his way out of the corner, taught him to share his milk and cookies and play niclely with others.

Tom said in another interview (can't remember the cite just now) that "there are some things worth fighting for, few things worth dying for, and nothing worth killing for." Good to remember and a vital lesson to teach our children.

Especially the bullies.

Have a wonderful Fourth of July. Celebrate your independance--nonconform freely.

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Jun 28, 2007

Daffy Yum, Cowgirls, Page 178

Bonanza Jellybean is the finest letter writer I know.  Just listen to this:
Riding the range in the spring sunshine I see my shadow against the grass and I swear that shadow extends far beyond this place. This prairie. This world. It's like my life is sparkling in every direction, through all of space and all of time. You of all people understand.
                                                          I love you.
                                                          Bonanza Jellybean
No matter what our circumstance or station in life, we've all been blessed with just such moments, usually when we least expect them.  In fact, that is precisely when they are most likely to appear.  The moment our expectations and desires fall away we enter a sparkling state of grace that transcends space and time.
That Bonanza Jellybean sure got it right.
Love and a coyote moon to you all~

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Jun 26, 2007

Review of Wild Ducks Flying Backward

Posted by Dale

Cassandra Riddle has written a review of Wild Ducks for the
Purdue Student Paper. Very nice job.

I like her name combo. Casandra + Riddle.

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Faux Tom on Myspace

Posted by Dale

A fan started a myspace, er, space for Tom Robbins. He clearly states that it's not really Tom Robbins but a lot of people are having fun with. Then again wouldn't it be like Tom to make a fan site and claims it's not really him? But it's not.

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New on the Aftrlife

Posted by Dale
I've added a third introduction to the webpage. Each of the three is randomly generated whenever you visit. With the rotating images, text and quotes you should get a different experience each time you visit the site.

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Jun 25, 2007

Like-minded blog

Posted by Dale

I've added a new blog to the blogroll. It's Facilitating Paradox by aftrlifer, David.

Good stuff.

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Jun 22, 2007

Cowgirls, Page 172--Voluntary Craziness

"There are two kinds of crazy people..."

Tom's compassion, understanding and acceptance of people who choose to live outside the box is a golden thread running through all of his books. He has a way of not only making quirks tolerable, but preferable to the gray, lemming-like drugery of "normalicy." The effect is twofold--first it educates the "normal" ones, gives them a new way of seeing. and next, it provides great comfort and encouragement to those of us who choose not to fall in line and stay quietly inside our pretty pigeon holes.

This is one of those pages.
"There are two kinds of crazy people...[t]hose whose primitive instincts, sexual and agressive, have been misdirected, blunted, confused or shattered at an early age by environmental and/or biological factors beyond their control. Not many of these people can...regain that balance we call 'sanity.'...But there are other people who choose to be crazy in order to cope with what they regard as a crazy world. They have adopted craziness as a lifestyle...the only way you can get them to give up their craziness is to convince them that the world is actually sane...I have found such a conviction almost impossible to support."

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Jun 21, 2007

Live Blogging the Zeitgeist

Actually I'm just liveblogging a juggling show at the public library. I just happened to be here trying out the free wifi when they set up the intro for a summer reading program with David Cousins. He did Kung Fu juggling of clubs. Unfortunately my low battery indicater just went on so I'll be deadblogging in a couple of minutes.

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Jun 20, 2007

Robbinsesque Scholarship

I ran across an interesting book title on Amazon.

An Eliadean Interpretation of Frank G. Speck's Account of the Cherokee Booger Dance (Native American Studies, 14) by William D. Powers (Hardcover - Oct 2003)

I don't know what it's about, but I'll bet Tom has read it.

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Jun 18, 2007

Tom's work habits

"I once heard Tom Robbins say, when his book tour took him to Denver’s Tattered Cover bookstore, that he shows up at the page faithfully every morning at the same time so that the Muse would know where to find him;"

Good article on writing habits at Burnz Post.

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Jun 16, 2007

Page 166, Cowgirls--The Page That Says It All

(Bantam Edition, 2003) This is the page--the blank page--the page that says it all. The between-the-lines page. The page where clouds burst and secrets spill, and deepest mysteries are revealed.

This is the page of infinite possibilities and alternate universes; the page where clockwork dreams come true.

This page offers without reserve the answers to the really big questions. Secrets of the universe open before you; they are as luminous as swirling stars above the Rubber Rose.

This page is the ultimate temptation. The sultry seductress, the red-hot lover. Quivering, you offer your stolid resistance, but it's no good. Give in to its persistant wiles.

This is the page where outside the lines is all there is. Get out your colors and go wild.

This is the page where Dale's Desert Tortoise snuggles up with The Chink and together they hold court. No question goes unanswered, no fantasy unfulfilled.

Jelly Bean Bonanza and Tom Robbins stretch this page taught between them, offering it to you as a gift. Climb on! They'll toss you higher than that rain cloud, laughing all the while from the sheer joy of it all.

This is the page where Whoopers flourish and dance between every line.

This is the page where everything begins, hesitant and shy; the first step.

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Jun 13, 2007

Daffy Yum Page 163

Sissy meets The Chink! He looked like "the little man with the big answers." And he took her to the clockworks. God I loved the clockworks when I first read about it. It was so much like the way life marks time. It made me decide that I was a Zen Taoist--someone who loved the flow but with a few surprises thrown in--the mellowness of meaning and the flashes of enlightenment.

I once had a desert tortoise and I'd let it roam free while I was working in the garden. And no matter how much I tried to keep my eye on him, he found some way to burrow under something and hide. Then I'd spend twenty minutes looking for him. I even wrote a haiku about that turtle:

Now you see him
Now you see him
Now you see him
Now you don't.

The Chink was as steady and as elusive at that tortoise (which happened to have a wild hair or two.)

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Jun 7, 2007

Cowgirls, Page 157--The Whoopers!

We've reached the page where Tom finds the words to describe the Whoopers. If you've read the post excerpting DB's description of this precise moment, (see Crane Research) when Tom joined him in Japan to research the Tancho cranes , (who most closely resemble Whoopers) you can imagine the two young friends huddled beneath a tarp in the center of the reserve, peering through a hole cut in the tarp to observe the gigantic birds flying low above them. Tom absorbed the essence of the moment and in time, transformed it into the magic of this very page, page 157

A symbol of longevity, Tanchos have long been called the Thousand Year Cranes in Japan . People living in the village near the reserve began feeding the Tancho cranes generations ago in order to help them through a particularly hard and early winter that arrived before their usual migration. Remarkably, the cranes chose to stay at that spot through subsequent winters as well. To this very day, villagers continue to feed the Tanchos throughout the winters and have created an official reserve to protect them. These Tancho cranes are the only flock in the world choosing to remain in one place rather than migrate.

My question is--where do the villagers get all those peyote buttons? :~)

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May 26, 2007


After Tom's 1970 visit to Japan, ostensibly to research the tancho cranes which most closely resembled the whoopers featured in Cowgirls, but most importantly to visit his brother/friend Darrell Bob Houston who was there on a year-long Alicia Patterson fellowship, Darrell Bob went to work for the LA Times and Tom returned to La Connor. During his time on the LA Times' national desk, Darrell Bob worked earnestly on his book, "King of the Midnight Blue," a fictionalized account of skyjacker DB Cooper, based on the gleaming persona of Neal Cassady.

Darrell Bob and Tom kept in close touch through letters between LA and La Connor. Darrell Bob shared both his euphoric joys and successes and heart-wrenching disappointments with Tom. Finally, in 1973, the latter began to pile up--immense and unforeseen events, both personal and professional, and even the strong, irrepressible Darrell Bob began to bow toward despondency. One day, Darrell Bob looked up from his desk at the LA Times to see none other than his friend Tom Robbins standing there, without a word, holding a sunflower "as big as a Volkswagen." The last they were seen from the vantage of the LA Times, Tom and Darrell Bob were headed north--to home. Is it a coincidence that on page 145 of Cowgirls, Tom describes just such a sunflower? "Giant sunflowers, like junkie scarecrows on the nod, dozed in one spot with their dry heads drooped upon their breastbones."

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Cowgirls, Page 145

Sissy distinguishes the horse-loving set from the cowgirls. To the former, admittedly or not, the magnificent steeds are merely "thousand-pound organic vibrators," sophisticated masturbating machines. They are given by parents to their little blossoming girls as a diversion from the temptations of boys, and some of those girls never quite outgrow their passion for a good equine romp.

That, however, is not the cowgirl way.

Further along--

"Their lives extended another day, flies buzzed everything within their range, monotonously eulogizing themselves, like the patriots who persist in praising the glory of a culture long after it is decadent and doomed."

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May 7, 2007

Cowgirls, Page 133

"Politics are for people who have a passion for changing life but lack a passion for living it."

Oh, that gopi/Krishna/Chink wisdom...

Shhhh...wait. Listen.
Is that a flute?

I must be going...

Ha-ha, ho-ho, hee-hee)

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May 6, 2007

Belly Up--or Down?

At the Kushiro tancho reserve in eastern Hokkaido, Mr. Takahashi, dedicated caretaker, explains that as a rule, the cranes mate for life. If one crane of a mated pair dies, the survivor will protect the corpse for a long period. If the corpse is belly side up, the survivor will "remarry" as if it recognizes the death, but if the corpse is belly side down, the survivor will not remarry. (

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Mar 23, 2007

A new aftrlifer in town

All decked out in Frog Pajamas and ready to party, Noah Thomas, son of aftrlifer elzbelita, is looking good. And there ain't no half about that sleep.

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Mar 13, 2007

P. Diddy vs Tanuki

In a news item quoted by litbrit at Shakespeare's Sister raccoon dogs aka Tanukis are being used for fur on clothing illegally. P. Diddy's line of clothing had "dog" fur on its collars as unadvertised. Major clothing stores are being cited as selling many lines of clothing with the dead dog skin as an accessory.

On a happier note, Wikipedia says,

A common schoolyard song in Japan (the tune of which can be heard in the arcade game Ponpoko and a variation of which is sung in the Studio Ghibli film Pom Poko) makes explicit reference to the tanuki's anatomy:

Tan Tan Tanuki no kintama wa,
Kaze mo nai no ni,
Bura bura
(Roughly translated, this means "Tan-tan-tanuki's testicles, there isn't even any wind but still go swing-swing-swing".[1] A more precise translation would be "tan tan tanuki's balls, even when there's no wind, go swing-swing" [citation needed]. It then proceeds to continue for several verses, with many regional variations. It is sung to the melody of an American Baptist hymn called Shall We Gather At The River?.[2])

A hymn to Tanuki's big balls.

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Mar 3, 2007

Daffy Yum--Page 60

Ah...La Lune...

There is magic afoot tonight...the full moon outside the window shining down upon page 60 where it also shines upon the girls at the Rubber Rose Ranch. This is the true harmonic conversion. And what is the sincronomious harmony we hear so clearly on this moonlit night? It is the ethereal and haunting refrain





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Blog Talk

give me one reason to be beautifulBy shadowmeursault(shadowmeursault) --both from Tom Robbins' Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates Giants Orbiting. still-shot from Neil Gaiman's Mirrormask. * 'we' refers to me and the mouse in my pocket. the mouse in my pocket, by the by, fully endorses and agrees with ...
Without Mercy or Malice -

Relaxing in Robertson’s rock poolsBy Cat He hoped we were enjoying our VD (Valentine’s Day) and we talked literature (he actually had pretty great taste in books - Tom Robbins, Paulo Coelho), travel, spirituality, youth work (he teaches art to “disadvantaged black South ...Traveling Cat -

Rache gets EU nod to export biltongRache gets EU nod to export biltong By Tom Robbins Cape Town - ... to start exhibiting the product at food trade fairs in London and Germany from next ...EU Politics Today: EU South Africa... -

Still Life With Woodpecker by Tom RobbinsBy pagepassage(pagepassage) "Inessential insanities are a brittle amalgamation of ambition, aggression, and pre-adolescent anxiety--garbage that should have been dumped long ago. Essential insanities are those impulses one instinctively senses are virtuous and
Page Passage -

'ne mozaigi lan?'*By Erinc Salor(Erinc Salor) (For a taste, I recommend Tom Robbins' Jitterbug Perfume) This is a reason, I suspect, to love Brussels. Maybe not as much as London, but still, the subway is shabby an dirty enough to be worthy of a real city and one can still eat one ...

Still Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins, because it has stuff like "Elmer, the Greek god of glue" and "playing octogenarian mermaid". 5. One book that made you cry. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. They were buckets, I tell you. The Daily Inquibbler -

Book meme (and okay, my last post today :p)By Fil of the Future(Fil of the Future) Still Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins, because it has stuff like "Elmer, the Greek god of glue" and "playing octogenarian mermaid". 5. One book that made you cry. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. They were buckets, I tell you. ...The Daily Inquibbler -

chromemagpie @ 2007-03-01T21:35:00By chromemagpie(chromemagpie) 2. jPod - Douglas Coupland 1. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues - Tom Robbins This was another gifted book from my (now former) Little Boss. The entire thing is handwritten, with drawing and sketch throughout. Cool book.Ooooh! Shiny! -

Still life with Woodpecker by Tom RobbinsWriting on inside cover or fly. Worn cover. Spine creased. $3.00.

Before Christmas I was talking to a friend about what I was ...By themusk\n\nI realized the Bible was much more like a Tom Robbins novel than I ever imagined. In fact, Thomas Pynchon couldn’t be more abstract and strange than Revelations. I’m always open to any possibility or idea, but the more I seek in any ...
Lorem Ipsum Books New Arrivals -

Before Christmas I was talking to a friend about what I was ...By themusk I realized the Bible was much more like a Tom Robbins novel than I ever imagined. In fact, Thomas Pynchon couldn’t be more abstract and strange than Revelations. I’m always open to any possibility or idea, but the more I seek in any ...Spent Elemental Ratios -

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Mar 1, 2007

Rain gone down

My ISP is down today temporarily. That's why you can't get into the Aftrlife website. Thanks for trying though.

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Feb 26, 2007

Have you seen your 23 today?

No I don't mean the new movie with Jim Carrey although I am looking forward to seeing that. I'm talking about the number 23, the real star of that movie. Tom Robbins believes as William Burroughs believed that 23 is a special number that shows up in syncronistic ways in our day to day activities. Tom has said that he doesn't get out of bed in the morning until he hears the number 23 on the radio.

The latest example of 23 that I've seen is the story of the sorority that kicked out all it's overweight, ethnic or socially awkward girls. They had 23 girls before they started their jihad against the unseemly. They ended up with 12 skinny white girls, 6 of whom quit in protest at the culling. They plan to use these "attractive" girls to rebuild the sorority into the image of their warped sense of what a sorority should be.

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Feb 21, 2007

Stuffed full of Robbins

A new toystore builds bears and quotes Woodpecker.

A new location of the stuffed-animal toystore Build-a-Bear recently opened in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Large lettering on the wall greets customers as they enter, and it reads: "It's never too late to have a happy childhood." My daughter "got" the quote and liked it. I'm pleased she's only 9 but has already gotten a little dose of Robbins. (Forgive me if I keep Switters away from her a little bit longer...)

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Feb 11, 2007

Daffy Yum - Day 40

I love this quote, "Maybe sound travels further in time than in space."

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Feb 10, 2007

Daffy Yum - Day 40

Things are taking a bizarre turn for Sissy as she is invited to a dance for Goodwill Industries and finds herself among "the handicapped."

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Feb 9, 2007

Daffy Yum - Day 39

According to my calculations Sissy Hankshaw was born in 1943. That means next year is retirement age for Sissy. Amanda from A Roadside Attraction is only about 55. Do you ever imagine what they would be like at this age? They'd both probably have grand children. The Chink would probably have passed. So the two might be widows living together somewhere in Washington state.

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Feb 4, 2007

Daffy Yum - Jellybean

Aurora Jellybean, nee Virginia Shaw, is mentioned in the Author's Notes in Cowgirls. My first thought was that Tom had named Bonanza Jellybean after her, but it seems to have been the other way around, although Aurora came first.

Born in Seattle in 1944, Shaw studied art at the University of Washington and Cornish College of the Arts, then found her way up to Skagit Valley to become a kind of legend around La Conner. Her paintings were included in many regional exhibits of the period. "She really said no to nothing," Rust said. "I think Tom Robbins named her. She officially changed her name to Aurora in about 1970, and then had this amazing kind of life. She was quite beautiful and smart."

Quote from Celebrating a life through light-filled art
By Sheila Farr
Seattle Times art critic

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Jan 27, 2007

Daffy Yum - Day 23-26

Ya might know I would miss a couple of days right on the magic number 23! fnord! Like the joke Uma told in Pulp Fiction, I must Ketchup!

These pages cover Sissy's palm-reading experience mostly from Madame Zoe's point of view. The contrasts between the trailor in which Zoe resides and the spiritual realm of which she is supposed to be a frequenter are hilarious. But Madame Zoe, thanks to some knowledge of psychology and some dumb luck does make some pretty good predictions. She predicts Sissy's marriage to Julian and impregnation by the Chink. She notices Sissy's latent attraction to other women too. Once again Robbins does his own prognostication with story details.

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Jan 24, 2007

Ode Warrior

Rocky Mountain News
By Jenny Shank, Special To The News
May 16, 2003

Tom Robbins answers the phone in his New York City hotel room with the deadpan greeting: "Intensive care."

When asked if the speaker is Tom Robbins, he replies, "You know, I haven't looked in the mirror yet. But I'm afraid that you've got the right party. I tell you, I am about one scalpel away from a frontal lobotomy, so take it easy on me. If you were to see me this morning, you would think I was just one enormous liver with two red eyeballs sticking out of it."

Robbins' modus operandi has always been to disarm readers with humor and outrageous metaphors, then engage them in discussions of life, philosophy and language. Judging by the throng of passionate followers who flock to his readings and snap up copies of his books, he is doing something right.

Robbins, who comes to Denver on Monday to promote his eighth novel, Villa Incognito, won't disappoint fans who have come to expect a wild ride from his books. The new novel, set in Japan, Vietnam, Thailand and the United States, concerns Tanuki, a lusty, sake-swilling animal from Japanese folklore, the women who love him, and a trio of Americans who went missing in action in Vietnam and instead of returning home, set up a jungle utopia that can be reached only via a dodgy high-wire crossing.

Exploration of ideas

Robbins is up to his old linguistic tricks in Villa Incognito, continuing on his joyful quest to put two words together in ways that they have never been put together before.

"The very best part of writing for me is to create situations in which language can happen," he says.

Robbins' characters and plots are often so outlandish that it can seem as though he conjured them from the ether, but when he explains the elements of Villa Incognito, it becomes clear that they are logical explorations of his ideas and experiences. To account for his interest in Tanuki, Robbins tells a story that stretches many decades.

"When I first moved to Seattle in 1962, I was right out of college, I had no money, and I found a little Japanese restaurant called Tenkatsu that served a substantial bowl of miso soup for 25 cents. So I took my lunches and my dinners there, and I could attend to my gastronomical and nutritional needs for 50 cents a day.

"And in the window of that restaurant was a statue of an animal up on his hind legs. I thought it was a bear, but it had this enormous scrotum, which I thought was rather odd. I assumed it was some kind of virility symbol or totem, but what was it doing in the window of a restaurant? I was too shy to ask about it. It became a familiar figure to me, but I didn't really know anything about it.

"So now we fast-forward to 1987, and my financial situation has changed, along with many other things, and I've purchased a condo down on the waterfront in Seattle. I was in Los Angeles shopping for furniture, and I went into a Japanese antique store and there was this figure."

Robbins bought the statue that reminded him of the one that stood in the Japanese restaurant.

"I was overcome with this wave of nostalgia for Tenkatsu, and how comforting that place was for me, and how it got me through those lean years."

Eventually, a guest at Robbins' house recognized the statue as Tanuki, from Japanese folklore.

"Tanuki is a kind of trickster figure," Robbins explains. "The primary trickster figure is Kitsune, the fox" - who also makes an appearance in the novel - "and Tanuki is sort of the Jerry Lewis to his Dean Martin. The fox is the straight man - which I suppose is taking things to the extreme to call a trickster a straight man. But Tanuki is not the powerful figure that the fox is. What he represents to me, at least, is the liberated state of elevated innocence. He's all appetite, but in the way that a baby is.

"If you have a baby in the house, it's like having a Zen master on call 24 hours a day, because they're so pure."

Vietnam twist

The other elements of Villa Incognito were also percolating in Robbins' subconscious for many years.

"The most important phrase in the vocabulary of any creative artist is 'What if?' and back when the MIAs were in the news, I began asking myself the question, 'What if there were MIAs that had chosen to stay missing?'

"What would their motives have been for deciding not to come back? What sort of lives would they be leading? And is it possible that both their motives and their lives might be vastly different from what most people would assume?

"And then in this mysterious, complex way that writing fiction evolves, I started folding the MIA story into the Tanuki story."

Robbins is a patient, painstaking writer, and when he is working on a novel he sets a goal of two pages a day.

"You try not to leave a sentence until you think it's as good as you can make it, which is not a way that I necessarily recommend to anyone else to write. It's probably a ridiculous way to write, but it works for me."

Robbins' technique also demands patience from his fans, who usually have to wait four or more years between his novels. This technique, however, is responsible for the characteristic jumbles of subconscious influences in Robbins' novels.

"I'm primarily an intuitive writer. Which is not to say I don't think about what I'm going to write. I think about it 24 hours a day, practically, when I'm actually involved, embedded in a book. But I learned long ago - I've been doing this, well, actually I've been writing since I was 5 years old, and I've been writing novels for 30 years - so I have learned to trust my intuition.

"And I try not to keep too much of the plot or too many of the ideas in my conscious mind. I like to leave them to marinate down in the green ooze at the bottom of my brainpan and kind of squeeze them out, little by little, like toothpaste from a tube."

Robbins says his novels are "very carefully plotted, but not in advance. I can't imagine doing that."

"I was on a panel in October with John Irving," Robbins says, "and he announced to the audience that he could never begin a book unless he knew exactly how it was going to end. And I was astonished by that. Someone - I think it was (V.S.) Naipaul - said that if you know what is going to happen in advance, then the book is dead before you write it."

Ego trips

At 66, Robbins seems to be a contented man, grateful for his admiring readers and the attendant commercial success of his books, with few complaints about his career. He does allow, however, that he has "mixed feelings" about book tours.

"I get a lot of love when I'm out on tour. I just actually flew in from Albuquerque, and I was touched and honored and surprised by how many people came. About 500 people showed up for my reading there, and I was surprised by how many of them said that my books had touched their lives, and in many cases had changed their lives. And I never set out to do that. . . . So it really is a treat for me to get out and meet readers, to see who's reading my books, to make sure it isn't totally the lunatic fringe.

"But at the same time it is enormously tiring, even when I'm not in New York and out drinking red wine half the night. By the time I get to Denver, I will have turned into Casper, the Friendly Ghost. I'll just be an empty, dead sheet with a smile painted on it.

"But I still look forward to coming to Denver. My last book sold more copies in Denver than in any other city in the United States. There are good readers in Denver and you have a wonderful bookstore in the Tattered Cover."

Two characters in Villa Incognito move to Boulder at the end of the book so that one of them can attend the Naropa Institute, "and also I was kind of giving a little nod to the Denver area because they've been so good to me," Robbins says.

Still another Colorado connection in the story has to do with a song that Robbins interweaves throughout the novel, written by one of the characters. Robbins originally began writing this song at the request of Colorado jam band supreme The String Cheese Incident, which asked him to give them some lyrics.

"At that time I had only three verses, and they weren't as polished as those that actually ended up in the book. And they told me that they didn't think there was enough there."

The longer version of the song Meet Me In Cognito might tempt SCI, as it abides by the first jam band commandment: Never end a song when you can continue it.

And the meandering, self-reveling music of a jam band would be the perfect accompaniment to Robbins' unrestrained and linguistically nubile prose.

Ode warrior
Jenny Shank's short stories have appeared in The Michigan Quarterly Review, CutBank and other publications, and one was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She lives in Denver.
Copyright 2005, Rocky Mountain News. All Rights Reserved.

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Jan 23, 2007

Daffy Yum - Day 22 Fuzzy Romance

Sissy's mom takes her to the Palmist, Madame Zoe. They dressed in Sunday best for the reading of the p(s)alms. The description of Sissy's full lips on angular body fits Uma Thurman to a T.

In other pseudo-religious news, Saudi Arabian Imams are considering banning the letter X from that country because of its similarity (?) to the Christian cross. That's it! I'm no longer using the suspiciously crescent-shaped letter C in my correspondence with the Saudis. Stop the inanity!

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Jan 22, 2007

Daffy Yum - Day 21 Cosmic Neon

I pass by a palm reader's neon sign every day. I haven't been tempted, like Sissy was, to stop by and get a handjob, so to speak, from Madame Whoever. But Tom is right. The palm to be read is red.

I'm watching a new DVD doc about Leonard Cohen. My first thought was, 'Why get a bunch of singers together to sing Cohen's songs less well than Cohen sang them?' But it does have its redeeming moments. Worth Seeing. It's called I'm Your Man.

"You'll never untangle the circumstances that brought you to this moment." Leonard Cohen

If we can't figure it out, why in the world should we think that our imaginary beings could? Why do we think we could make up a god that knows more than we know?

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Jan 21, 2007

Daffy Yum - Day 20 Jumping Harlequins

I like Robbins attention to detail here, "Mr. Hankshaw looked from his wife to the doctor to his high-top Red Wing work shoes (in which stolen laces had been recently replace)..."--referring to the Hankshaw boys' attempts to lengthen their thumbs a few pages earlier.

I bet that if Sissy's big thumbs were just a little more common there would be an internet newsgroup called alt.erotica.women.thumbs.big.big.big. But I guess there is in a way. The aftrlife is a website, two discussion groups and a blog dedicated to any and all Robbins-created exotic erotica.

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Jan 20, 2007

Daffy Yum - Day 19 Good morning Eyeshine

Ah the obscure-quotes-quoting Dr. Dreyfus appears to examine Sissy's thumbs. Does he remind anyone else of the mask-wearing Marcel LeFevre in Jitterbug Perfume? A certain vagueness suggesting higher cogitation?

Does anyone know what "eyeshine treatment" Robbins is referring to?

In other news:
If you want to read a short interview with a classy communicator. Try this one with Noam Chomsky at the satirical magazine, The Beast Their Fifty Most Loathsome Americans article is interesting too.

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Jan 19, 2007

Daffy Yum - Day 18 Getting the wiggles out

Another one of my favorite quotes today, perverts with a "pallor that comes from sitting around stuffy rooms reading Playboy and the Bible". And more on the sexuality of young girls which is less uncomfortable to contemplate in Margaret Mead's books than in a male authors'.

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Jan 18, 2007

Daffy Yum - Day 17 Mixed Feelings

It's entertaining but a bit difficult to read about young Sissy hitch-hiking in spite of all the advising against it. I just remember that this is a fable and a fantasy. And, hey, it all turned out all right.
To the right a picture of my mind under the Robbins influence.

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Jan 17, 2007

Daffy Yum - Day 16 Rhine-stoned

Ah one of my favorite quotes, Robbins' criticism of the men of Richmond as "men who knew more about the carburetor than they knew about the clitoris"; a quote that inspired me to apply myself to learning as much as I could about one of these subjects (and the inner workings of cars did not interest me) and taught me the true educational meaning of the old advertising slogan, "Ask someone who owns one."

Here's a nice comment from Michael a couple of days ago:

#14..this page,which speaks to me about growing 'naturally' without yielding to excess pressures to grow up reminded me of....."Neoteny" is "remaining young", and it may be ironic that it is so little known, because human evolution has been dominated by it. Humans have evolved to their relatively high state by retaining the immature characteristics of their ancestors. Humans are the most advanced of mammals - although a case could be made for the dolphins - because they seldom grow up. Behavioral traits such as curiosity about the world, flexibility of response, and playfulness are common to practically all young mammals but are usually rapidly lost with the onset of maturity in all but humans. Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature. SLWW.....and isn't there another line where he mentions the dolphins 'vestigial thumb'!? michael

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Daffy Yum - Day 15 It's a stretch

I accidentally deleted a comment that said "DY 15 No no noooooo not another penis enlargement ad." Because I thought it was a penis enlargement ad, but now I see the appropriateness of the comment. On Day 15 Robbins compares Sissy's brothers' attempts to enlarge their own thumbs (indirectly increasing the size of another part of their bodies) to an attempt by pianist (pee'n'est) Robert Schuman to stretch his fingers because of complaints from his girlfriend. The perils of trying to be all that you can't be.

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Jan 15, 2007

Daffy Yum - Day 14 Not all thumbs

I love the irony of this sentence, "As the settlers pushed ever westward they were threatened constantly by hoards of savage Indians." Gee, I wonder why!

So Sissy grows her body without the slightest effort or attention. Is it intelligent lack of design?

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Jan 14, 2007

Daffy Yum - Day 13 Finding the digital magic.

Sissy first hitchin'. In the movie they pointed out that the make of car was named after a famous Indian Chief, Pontiac.

I got a letter from Tom yesterday. Those eye operations have really been a pain, literally. Send him some healing love if you have some to spare.

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Jan 13, 2007

Daffy Yum - Day 12 Outrageousness

As I recall Tom once said that he hoped each of his novels would make even his fans uncomfortable. Well, young girls hitchhiking and getting molested is the issue that makes me uncomfortable in this novel. I know it was written on the cusp between the idealism (and relative safety) of hitchhiking in On the Road. And the freeway horrors of the next 30 years. And I realize that the point of the book is that women can do anything men can. And I realize that Tom says, "Don't be outraged, be outrageous." But this particular theme, of girls hitchhiking, makes me want to put a "For Adults Only" label on these pages. I think it doesn't take into consideration the violent sexual psychosis that has been rampant in America for quite a long time.

So I enjoy the fantasy of Sissy hitchhiking, but I see the sad reality that would make it a bad idea to pursue that fantasy in life.

Still love the book though.

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Jan 12, 2007

Daffy Yum - Day 11 The Hitchiker Always Comes Twice

Tom sums up page 11. "sixty acres of lipstick criminal moonlight"

Thanks to Michael who says, he is glad Sissy came twice. (because she hitchhiked to the Rubber Rose twice)for the inspiration for the title of today's blog post.

Denise has provided a great picture of her homemade tattoo of an amoeba (which is the official mascot of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues) to illustrate...

The Tattoo Incident

Dale... count me in too. ECGTB is perfect since I have the goat w/panties tattoo. I'll even try to do better then I did in our last Yum.

Cool! You can be the official body-art spokesperson of the Daffy Yum.

Well... If I must shoulder responsibility I shall endure it with levity. Can I mandate all Yummers a TR related tat?

Sure mandate away (or womandate if you prefer). Have you had experience
herding cats before? :-)

And all getting tattoos, no less. But i'm in anyway.
Mine will be of the sharpie variety, design tbd.

Hey there Dale. I must say that with the response, so far, that it looks like we shalleth have a nicely sized herd for the Yum. Good thing I know catnip is the trick to cat herding.

The first "tattoo" is in honor of the book's official mascot, the amoeba, on my inner forearm, near the elbow (an easy place to graffiti on oneself). It's adapted from a photo on, colors embellished. I posted a photo in the miscellaneous folder.

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Jan 11, 2007

Daffy Yum - Day 10 Improved Visuals

Well I'm embarassed and ashamed. Usually I watch movies twice, but I was so in love with Cowgirls, the book, that I rejected the movie upon one viewing. And I've been close-minded about it for a long time. But I was wrong. Or at least I never gave it another chance to prove me wrong, until this week. I re-watched Cowgirls, the movie, and found it delightful in spite of its faults. (Delight in spite of everything?) The movie was visually beautiful and had a sweetness that you don't find much in movies anymore. Sure it had some pacing problems and the characters tended to make speeches--beautiful Tom Robbins words--but speeches nonetheless. But just as some people faulted Villa Incognito for being too short, I faulted this movie for not having the elements that I had learned to expect from movies (movie cliches?). But I found that if I accepted that the movie was sort of self-conscious (like a Robbins novel) that if I suspended the suspension of disbelief, that I could enjoy the movie for what it was...itself.

I'll write more about the movie later, but today as I read of Sissy's arrival at the Rubber Rose I had some beautiful visuals from the movie in my head and it made me appreciate the book more. This page explains why there was some controversy about Dale Evans. And it reminds me of a bumper sticker I used to have, "Success eliminates as many options as failure." which drew quite a lot of comment in success-mad Malibu where I was then living.

So, my apologies to Van Sant.

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