Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Seth Roberts

Seth Roberts, maestro of the quantified self, professor, author, and blogger, died suddenly this past weekend. I never met him in person, but his work-- and his blog, especially-- were a magnificent inspiration to me, and to so many others. Mark Frauenfelder, founder of Boing Boing and editor of Cool Tools, posted a video of Seth Roberts talking about some of his key insights here.


Monday, April 28, 2014

Literally Short Film Awards

For its 10th anniversary, Literal Magazine is holding a short film contest. 

I am a big, big fan of Literal. Having edited my own literary magazine, Tameme, for a mere 3 issues,  I stand in awe of all that editor Rose Mary Salum and her team have accomplished-- and continue to accomplish. I'll be posting a note soon about the latest anthology, a beautiful and path-breaking collection of Arab and Jewish short stories out of Latin America, Delta de las arenas.

PS Check out my latest book reviews in Literal:
*Making a New World and Mexico and Mexicans in the Making of the United States by John Tutino
*Our Lost Border, edited by Sarah Cortez and Sergio Troncoso
*From This Wicked Patch of Dust and Crossing Borders by Sergio Troncoso

And an article, now ancient history: "Twitter Is"

Donna Schwenk's Cultured Food Life

Screenshot from Donna Schwenk's video
featured on her home page
How to culture vegetables? How to make Kefir? An excellent, very informative website with an on-line store and a free ebook and more is Donna Schwenk's Cultured Food Life. I found her 17 minute video (on her home page) well worth watching. I can say that Kefir and yoghurt has done the same for me and the book she mentions, Nourishing Traditions, is one I keep handy.

P.S. More about probiotics over at Seth Roberts' blog.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Cyberflanerie: Solveig Eggerz in Ireland, Poodle Skirts, Chicken Training, Lyme Disease, Financial Bloggers to Save the World, Etc.

Solveig Eggerz, one of my favorite writers, is offering a workshop June 7-13, 2014 in Ireland. Check it out on her workshop page.

(P.S. Listen in anytime to my interview with Eggerz here.)

Amuse-gueule du jour: The Page Turner ( a two minute video)

Whodathunk? Juli Lynn Charlot, the poodle skirt lady, lives in Tepoz!

Can I make my poodle skirt out of hemp? The Contrary Farmer is optimistic. Actually, seriously, this is an important article.

Basel gets a bashin' in the NYT.

Should you ever feel the need to train chickens, Cold Nose College is the place to go.

Ye Olde Lyme disease. Yet another story about suffering and misdiagnosis.

Mr Money Mustache guest-blogs on the quest of financial bloggers to save the world over at Early Retirement Extreme.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The End of the Sherry by Bruce Berger


Blue collar and provincial Puerto Real in the police state that was Franco's Spain might seem an unlikely venue for an amusing, eccentric, and very sensitive artist's memoir. A graduate of Yale and a grad school drop out, pianist and writer Bruce Berger's whole life seems unlikely, lived wildly out of sequence, and in The End of the Sherry, the Spanish chapters thereof beset by, in his words, "a curious passivity." From the moment Berger washes up in a bar in Puerto Real, he and his beer-slurping dog drift and bob in the flow of happenstance. There are gigs with a rock band, a flash-in-the-pan career as a fishmonger, a pointless foray into Tangiers-- yet always with sails set toward his true loves, music and writing.

I first came across Bruce Berger's work in his travel memoir of Baja California, Almost an Island, and was enchanted by the beauty of his language, his courage in always pushing past clichés, and, best of all, his scrumptiously puckish sense of humor. Yes, I laughed out loud a lot in reading The End of the Sherry, too, and shook my head in wonder at the strangeness of his adventures and enthusiasms, and prodigious talent for cross-cultural friendships. Masterfully poetic, this belated coming-of-age / travel memoir throws a weird and wonderful lava-lamp light on his other works, even while standing solidly on its own, an exemplar of those genres.

In sum, a five star read.

> Recommended literary travel memoirs (updated)


Monday, April 14, 2014

Cyberflanerie: Mesmerically Mesmeric Edition

Re: Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution. One of the more interesting aspects for me in going through Francisco I. Madero's personal library was the large number of books on mesmerism and, related to that, magnetic healing and hypnotism. In his Spiritist Manual, Madero often talks about invisible vital "fluids"-- a concept straight out of Mesmerism. More about all that anon.

And apropos of all that, over at Greg Kaminsky's excellent and very adventurous podcast series, Occult of Personality, he interviews Lee Gerrard-Barlow, an English Mesmerist, hypnotherapist and NLP practitioner. Gerrard-Barlow provides a rich history of Mesmerism. He also talks about getting past literal interpretations-- key, in my view to approaching any kind of understanding of the esoteric.

And read Gerrard-Barlow's article for Trebuchet, "Modern Day Mesmerism."

Watch some mesmerism in action on Gerrard-Barlow's Arcana Therapies YouTube Channel.
a screenshot from

Some of the books in Madero's personal library:

Filiatre, Jean. Hypnotisme et magnétisme sommanbulisme, suggestion et telépathie influence personalle (cours pratique).
Lambroso, César. El Hipnotismo.
Majewski, Adrien. Mediumnité Guérissant par l'application des fluides électriques magnétiques ey humains. 
Rossi-Pagnoni, M.M. F. and Dr. Moroni. Médniumnité hypnotique.
Rouxel. Rapport du magnetisme et du spiritisme.
Sage, M. Le Sommeil Naturel et l'Hypnose.


Monday, April 07, 2014

Looking at Mexico in New Ways: An Interview with John Tutino

John Tutino says, "The whole big picture of where we thought Mexico fit in the world is somewhere between wrong and mythical."

Marfa Mondays is back… put your seat belts on for this one hour in-depth interview with John Tutino, professor of History at Georgetown University and author of the award-winning paradigm-smasher Making a New World: Founding Capitalism in the Bajío and Spanish North America.

***Listen to the podcast anytime here.***

See also: My review for Literal of Tutino's two books, Making a New World and (as editor) Mexico and the Mexicans in the Making of the United States.

Check out the dedicated Marfa Mondays blog
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