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Black Lamb

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Now in its 14th year of publication, this magazine was created to offer the discerning reader a stimulating selection of excellent original writing. Black Lamb Review is a literate rather than a literary publication. Regular columns by writers in a variety of geographic locations and vocations are supplemented by features, reviews, articles on books and authors, and a selection of “departments,” including an acerbic advice column and a lamb recipe.

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Archive for the 'Garrison' Category

Getting the hang of it

Thanksgiving — one of those damned colonial mysteries

November 1st, 2010

BY CATE GARRISON

No matter how long you live there, a foreign country remains mysterious. Even when the language purports to be the same as your mother tongue, some little turn of phrase or cultural reference, or just the accenting of an unexpected syllable, can send you rushing to the reference library in your effort to acculturate.

thanksgiving.jpgThe basic, innocent pleasures of everyday American life hold terrors for the immigrant. The indecipherable dishes listed at drive-through (“thru”?) restaurants, plain sailing for the native, can scare the living daylights out of the newly landed stranger as disembodied voices call for split-second choices among incomprehensible offerings. “Er, um, a twenty-piece bucket, please!” once yelled my uprooted eight-year-old in a panic to conform. How could I know he was about to receive a score of chicken legs in a plastic container? At least he fared better than his five-year-old brother, whose fearful, dry-mouthed response on the same occasion was a frantically whispered “Hello, wall!”

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Food Issue, Garrison | Link to this Entry

Chaper Eighteen: JJ helps with the fire drill

May 1st, 2007

BY CATE GARRISON

Despite the drama occasioned by our dog JJ’s consumption of our Mercedes’ innards, it wasn’t long before most of my nearest and dearest settled back into their old ways. That is to say, my husband began to spend most of his time away from home again, apparently at work. My sons continued their lives of school, friends, homework, and video games, and, increasingly, inhaled the contents of the fridge, which due to JJ’s unwillingness to remain alone were increasingly difficult to replace. Handy Jack, therefore, continued to provide his regular services of odd-job man, dog sitter and walker, and general family companion. True, after falling into his arms over the car-eating fiasco (an experience that had provoked the odd dormant emotion), I had wondered about sacking him. But he was literally our meal ticket. Though my husband’s salary provided the funds, Handy Jack’s presence enabled me to go out and buy groceries. All in all, he was too useful, too affable, too necessary to us all for me to make the break.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: Garrison, JJ Chronicles | Link to this Entry

Guilty pleasures

How literature can wreck a prefectly good marriage

April 1st, 2007

househusband.jpgBY CATE GARRISON

I am racked with guilt about my husband. When I hear him come home from grocery shopping or walking the dog, I start like a child caught red-handed in mischief, jump up from the computer where I’ve been writing, and run, with a shit-eating grin on my face, to help him unpack the heavy, brown paper bags he’s hauled from the car, or to unclip the pooch from his leash. When I hear the sound of the vacuum cleaner starting up and realize, once again, that my more conscientious spouse is embarking on the much-neglected housework, I dash to pick up a feather duster, or a toilet brush, and pretend I was always intending to play my wifely part. My conscience is pricked not so much by the thought that as a woman these chores should fall to me (though despite decades of feminist striving I frequently still do) but by the deep-down, incontrovertible knowledge that, baby, I done him wrong.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Marriage Issue, Garrison | Link to this Entry

Partners in crime

March 1st, 2007

BY CATE GARRISON

CHAPTER 17 OF THE JJ CHRONICLES

Geographically orphaned by my rattish parents’ abrupt departure from the sinking ship of my marital home, a disaster occasioned by our dog JJ’s consumption of my car’s internal organs, I had no one to consult about my next move, and, namely, the relation of the above events to my increasingly absent American husband. Clearly a phone call had to be made to his office, where he seemed to live. Once my children, my dog, and I had returned home from depositing the Aged Ps at the airport, delaying tactics were in short supply, though I still hadn’t finished mentally writing the script of my story. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t intend to tell the truth (though whether the whole truth and nothing but was a matter of some internal debate). My hesitation was more to do with who to blame. The dog for actually eating the car? My mother for insisting on leaving him inside it while she slaked her hunger? Myself for acquiescing despite my better judgment? And then there was the matter of repair costs. “Could be a fair amount,” might sound more acceptable than “over three thousand dollars,” for example, though I was doubtful he’d consider any amount as “fair.” To protect youth and innocence from anything that might sound like equivocation, I sent my two live-in lads off to their bedrooms. I’m not sure why I pointed the dog in the direction of his bat cave. I suppose youth, rather than innocence, was still on his side.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: Garrison | Link to this Entry

A quick buzz

... and perhaps just a touch more occasionally

November 1st, 2006

BY CATE GARRISON

My grandfather used to smoke one cigarette a year to round off his Christmas dinner. The whole event smacked of ritual, with a proper blend of anticipation, anxiety, and awe. From the moment the last bite of pudding had been put away, we waited tensely for my grandmother to fetch, with an air of long-suffering disapproval, a box of Lucifers from her kitchen. Who provided the lonely fag I cannot say, though in those days they could be purchased singly. My grandfather would strike the match with expert flair on the bottom of his shoe and light up. He smoked elegantly, without any of the coughing or puking one might associate with such an infrequent indulgence. At about the third puff, he would start to blow smoke rings of great concentricity and thick, blue intensity, through the middle of which we children would try to poke our fingers.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Smoking & Drinking Issue, Garrison | Link to this Entry

I love Larry

March 1st, 2006

BY CATE GARRISON

One of the best things about moving back to the city from the High Desert is the happy rediscovery of old friends… and even more, the reconnection with old chums from television. Perhaps for the same political reasons as those which drove our rustic video store to deem Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 911 unsuitable viewing material and refuse to stock or order it, or our one and only fitness center to show only Fox News on the supra-treadmill monitors, our country cable company would not stoop to offering us, inter alia, the Comedy Channel (no South Park, no Daily Show) or BBC America (no Mile High, no Bad Girls, no Coupling, no Monty Python or Black Adder reruns). It’s a nice little irony therefore that, while in order to avoid such soul-destroying homespun activities as card games, knitting, and singing around the piano, our evenings over the mountain were of necessity devoted to the Goggle Box, however limited, we are now tempted to stay home more than ever, despite being surrounded by restaurants, bars, cinemas, and pleasure domes of every kind, stately or otherwise.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Television Issue, Garrison | Link to this Entry

It’s just Christmas

December 1st, 2004

BY CATE GARRISON

I don’t know why I love Christmas.

The excitement I feel on December 24 has nothing to do with anticipated presents. I cherish no childhood memories of tearing into gorgeously wrapped parcels to discover every item on my Santa Claus list. As a rule, the offerings the Obese Old Deer-whipper left me when I was a kid filled me with nothing but disappointment.

There was the year, for example, that my mother told me He would bring a box of multi-colored nail polishes, complete with files and little scissors, if only I’d stop biting my finger nails.

I did.

He didn’t.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Christmas Issue, Garrison | Link to this Entry

Magnificent perfection

The best movie of all time

September 1st, 2003

BY CATE GARRISON

hollywood.jpgAll writers, rumor has it, fancy themselves as movie critics. What could be easier, after all, than expressing one’s viewpoint after a trip to the cinema? Doesn’t everyone do that naturally? Imagine the joy of opining for a living!

Me, I’m the proverbial exception, especially when it comes to my favorite film. I know why I like it, of course, but a list of splendid qualities hardly makes for interesting reading. What, after all, can be said about perfection? The best example of the best genre, the best casting, the best dialogue, the best music, a classic story line, a seminal role in cinematic history, along with all the usual best director, producer, leading and supporting actor categories — these are but a few of the attributes of my personal Oscar winner.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Movie Issue, Garrison | Link to this Entry

Wondrous land

Finding Charles Dodgson and Alice Liddell everywhere

June 1st, 2003

BY CATE GARRISON

I was born a million miles away in a little village on the side of a hill…

(“When you say ‘hill,’” the Queen interrupted, “I could show you hills, in comparison with which you’d call that a valley.”)

alicerunningShe’s right, her boastful Red Majesty, who somehow has followed me from England to the United States. Ben Nevis, Snowdon, the so-called mountains of the English Lakes, all are tiny, benign pimples, mere beauty spots on the face of the earth compared with the roiling, boiling, majestic carbuncles of the High Cascades beyond whose eastern slopes I now make my home. Like Alice, I’m in a constant state of wonder, and not just at the newer, bigger, exhilaratingly more dangerous topography. The flora and fauna bewilder either in their unfamiliarity (for dodos, mock turtles and gryphons, read coyotes, moose, elk and bears) or, more tantalizingly, in an apparent sameness that turns out, looking-glass-like, to be an illusion. Consider the robin; compared to its tiny English cousin, the new world bird is a heavyweight, like Alice’s incongruously huge gnat (“…about the size of a chicken, Alice thought”).

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Book Issue, Books and Authors, Garrison | Link to this Entry

Author profile

December 1st, 2002

Cate Garrison began her working life as a translator and interpreter in Brussels, Belgium, followed by fifteen years as a college professor of French, education, and English as a Foreign Language in the north of England, where she also pursued her avocation as an actor. After immigrating to the U.S. in 1987, she worked for several years as theater critic for Willamette Week in Portland, Ore.; she still enjoys rereading the accumulated hate mail. Thanks to her hard-working husband, who recently, briefly retired, she has been able to indulge herself mostly in “writing for pleasure;” a recent financial disaster (read all about it at lifeafterrhodes.blogspot.com) has meant that, not only has her spouse returned to work, but Cate herself has levered herself up from her derrière and begun to try to trade words for money. She has recently completed not one but two novels that were languishing in the attic and is currently biting her nails in hopes that some agent out there will love them. She appears in two columns in Black Lamb: Small Corner and The JJ Chronicles.

Posted by: The Editors
Category: Garrison | Link to this Entry

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