Thursday, December 06, 2007

Pieces of Eight

Steve Caratzas has tagged me with this meme thing.

"The assignment: To write about certain topics in blocks of 8."

I've added two questions, so that there are now EIGHT. (Symmetry!)

8 passions in my life:

La Reina
French music

8 things to do before I die:

Spend time in Buenos Aires
Spend time in Ireland
Do the Camino de Santiago again
Learn French
Learn to play the piano
Play (on the piano) and sing Fats Waller songs
Figure out what I want to be when I grow up
Finish this bloody post

8 things I often say

I don't understand.
That's interesting.
You've never seen _____?!?!?
Te quiero
What about turkey burger?
Brooklyn Lager
Oh, for Christ's sake, TACKLE the guy!

8 books I read recently

Jonathan Gould - Can't Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain, and America
Stephen Colbert - I Am America (And So Can You)
Robert L. Mitchell - The poetic voice of Charles Cros: A centennial study of his songs
William Rees (ed./trans.) - Penguin anthology of French poetry, 1820-1950
Kenneth Rexroth - One Hundred Poems from the French
Lee Server - Ava Gardner: "Love Is Nothing"
Mark Maske - War Without Death: A Year of Extreme Competition in Pro Football's NFC East
Thomas Merton - Zen and the Birds of Appetite

8 films that mean something to me


Top Hat

To Have and Have Not


Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Pierrot le fou

Christmas in Connecticut

El Espíritu de la colmena
[Spirit of the Beehive]

(And for 8.5 . . . 8 1/2)

8 songs that mean something to me

Bob Dylan: "Blood on the Tracks"
John Coltrane & Eric Dolphy: "Spiritual"
Jerry Jeff Walker: "London Homesick Blues"
Lester Young: "Blue Lester"
Fats Waller: "My Very Good Friend the Milkman"
The Beatles: "Tomorrow Never Knows"
Maurice Ravel: "Pavane pour une infante défunte"
George Gershwin: "Rhapsody in Blue"

8 living people I'd like to have as dinner guests

(Taking for granted that La Reina would be co-hosting . )

Charlotte Gainsbourg
Jim Jarmusch
Subcomandante Marcos
Juliette Gréco
Hank Jones
Penélope Cruz Sánchez
Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso
Bob Dylan
(or Willie Nelson if Bob seems like he's gonna get all aloof and nasty that night.)
(or Tom Waits if Bob's gets all aloof and Willie's too stoned to find the house.)

8 people who I'm passing this on to

I don't even know eight people to pass this on to. How about 4?



Garpu the Fork said...

You did the Camino de Santiago? I really want to...and I'd love to drag the Hoopy Frood along, even though he's not Catholic, because that's a hell of a way to see France and Spain.

cowboyangel said...


I would say most of the people on the Camino weren't Catholic, or even religious. People do the Camino for many reasons, one of which is simply to walk across Spain. One doesn't need to be a Buddhist to trek through Nepal!

We didn't do any of the French part. 30 days walking across Spain was enough for us. But if I do it again, I might start just over the border in France.

And I recommend walking it. Not biking.

Garpu the Fork said...

About how many miles per day did you wind up walking? I walk a lot, but my partner-in-crime doesn't.

crystal said...

I think it was around when I first met you that I'd written something about the Camino, now doubtless deleted :-)

Penelope Cruz - I like her too.

These things are interesting because you can learn stuff about someone that you never suspected :-) Thanks for the tag!

Jeff said...

Great list, William, and thanks for the tag. Tomorrow Never Knows. Isn't that the Tibetan Book of the Dead played backwards? That might be even tougher to pick up than French.

Speaking of dinner guests, do you happen to know Michael Zweig over there at Stony Brook at all? He sounds like he'd be an interesting guy to have over for dinner.

cowboyangel said...


The amount you walk each day varies depending on how much time you have and where in the Camino you are. You stay each night in refugios that have been established along the way. In some cases, you have a choice to walk to a closer one, or continue on to a farther one. In other cases, the refugio for the day is moderately close; on other days, the only one is pretty far away. I think it's almost 500 miles from Roncesvalles, up in the Pyrenees, near the French border, to Santiago de Compostela. So, that averages out to a little over 16 miles a day. Some days might be 12, some might be closer to 20.

A major piece of advice that everyone told us and we promptly ignored: You have to walk the Camino at your own pace. La Reina and I had this nice, romantic image of ourselves strolling together hand-in-hand across Spain. That wasn't the case. She wanted to stop all the time and look at things. I wanted to establish a good rhythm. I tend to walk faster, even though she has longer legs. I had done a lot of hiking before; she hadn't. She developed knee tendinitis. For some miraculous reason, I only had to deal with blisters once. She, like most people, had to deal with them quite a bit. About 2/3 of the way through, after increasing tension, I tried to send her home. We eventually worked things out, but the Camino is a very unique experience, and even if one isn't doing it for spiritual reasons, there are a number of spiritual lessons that come out of it. Another couple we knew actually broke up about 1/4 of the way into the Camino. (Interestingly, the woman met a Brazilian guy further down the road. They eventually married.)

So, if you and your partner have different walking styles and needs, I suggest you don't try to walk together all the time, but find a way to be together sometimes and alone at others. Maybe wait down the road for the other person. Go ahead for 2 days - whatever works. It's a fantastic experience - but it can be an intense one. For whatever reason, your inner life really comes out - the good and the bad. It's instructive, but not always pleasant. It's as demanding emotionally, spiritually and psychologically as it is physically. You wake up on the 15th day and can't believe you have to walk 15 miles AGAIN.

If you really get serious about doing it, I'd be happy to answer more questions.

cowboyangel said...

Crystal, You should go on the Camino. I don't know why, but I feel like it would be a great experience for you.

cowboyangel said...


I know who Zweig is and actually exchanged emails with him once, but I've never met him or even read his books. He does seem to be doing some interesting work. I should get one of his books. Have you read him?

Yeah, John basically lifted the words of TNK from Timothy Leary's version of the Tibetan Book of the Dead. I love Ringo's drumming on that one. I keep dreaming that Yo La Tengo might record a 45-minute version of the song one day. I think they would come closest to capturing the spirit and sound of TNK.

Jeff said...


I just started reading Joe Bageant's Deer Hunting with Jesus, and he quoted some work Zweig had done on studying the struggles of the middle and working classes in America. He sounds like an interesting guy.

Garpu the Fork said...

Hee. Well i figure that the Hoopy Frood and I have already survived an airport at Christmastime, so there isn't much else we can't live through. ;)