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Black Lamb


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 'Starbuck' Category

Practice wife

April 1st, 2007


“Sit down so you can enjoy that!”

That’s probably the last thing I’ll remember from my first marriage, my practice wife erupting, harping on my favored practice of eating a kitchen sink salad I’d just thrown together, scarfing it up actually at the kitchen sink, standing, on my feet, imagine that. A couple of kinds of lettuce, daikon (I’d say Japanese radish — thick and sweet, that grows like a giant white carrot — except when you’re living in Japan, you don’t say that), shaved carrots, olives, chunks of tomatoes, sharp cheddar, raw nuts, sprouts, and whatever else the fridge was hiding, drenched in olive oil and balsamic and minced garlic and cracked pepper… eaten directly from the stainless steel bowl I mixed it in, a pure pleasure.

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

I saw the cutest thing…

March 1st, 2007


I was nearing our apartment in Brooklyn on a bright brisk day, and near a neighbor’s stoop saw a little sparrow standing sentinel over the mangled body of its compatriot: neck torn, thoroughly flattened ruffles, supine. Birds aren’t supposed to do supine. Must’ve been a cat done that, I thought. And that little sparrow sentinel was as puffed up and erect as an honor guard, motionless, a picture of stoic mourning and regard. Trying to assume a portion of his mantle of respect, I shuffled quietly past, not two feet past, and looked back at the maudlin, heart-tugging scene… and the little sparrow was pecking chunks of flesh out of that torn neck, avidly.

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

Perpetuum mobile

March 1st, 2006


It can’t be true. But we seem to be the only family that, when the baby arrived, instead of killing the television, went out and corralled a wide screen behemoth instead. A massive rectangular box enclosing a 42-inch (measured on the diagonal) screen hunches ponderously on its new built-in cabinet, with its own accent lighting above it in its very own freshly remodeled alcove or, should I say, grotto. See, we babyandtv.jpgnot only got the ostentatious evil eye, we tore out closets and some spineless shelving to refashion our library into a den of iniquitous couch-potatoing. Even got a snazzy red Ultrasuede™ couch/bed to potato in, in thrall to our Shrine to High Definition viewing of the requisite low- and middle-brow cable fare.

These things happen when an obscure relation mentions you in passing, in their will. I suppose the tidy lump of inheritance could’ve been the bedrock of a college trust for imminent Ada Rae, but, well, you know. We like TV. Like Winston Smith liked you-know-whom at the end. I have since vowed to help her develop, as soon as practicable, a cross-over dribble or killer spike or acey serve, something worthy of a scholarship. I mean, a parent’s job includes keeping the future in focus and all.

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

Jive turkey

December 1st, 2004


I was mortally offended. Driving back in the dark down a long black scar of a byway through the black Central Valley night squeezed in the back of my aunt’s station wagon with my then wife and sister and a couple of slivers off the family tree, the bobbing of twin headlights hypnotically approaching then zip-flashing past to plunge us into further darkness, I realized: no leftovers. I had left my other uncle’s house without a bag of fixings for the long stretch of lunches ahead.

turkeymeasuring.jpgWe’re a turkey family. No Christmas ham or fatty goose or blue plate specials. Grandma would corral one of the hugest tom turkey Butterballs from the deepest, iciest aisle of Safeway, sequester herself in the kitchen (don’t you dare come in here!) with its sputtering, capacious four-burner, and somehow, hours later, at the appointed hour, the triply extended dining room table would instantly groan (a delightful groan) with a dozen piping hot dishes around a perfectly crisped succulent bird for Dad to carve. Fluffy mashed potatoes, rice-zucchini (casserole, but we never appended that word it was just “rice-zucchini” longingly and lovingly), whitebread stuffing, green beans, rolls tucked into a basket covered by a cloth chicken cozy she had sewn herself, lonely almond green beans, lonelier candied yams, more gravy than a thirty pound bird could’ve supplied… everything hit the table hot, we never learned how.

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

Illiberal aliens

September 1st, 2003


Dripping. There was a lot of dripping in Alien. Some oozing, some corrosive bloodletting, too, but mostly it was the drip drip drip — that time-keeping water torture as we waited for our hapless heroes, spelunking down the obscure dank corridors of that interstellar rustbucket, to get it one by one. Classic.

What were they thinking? I normally hate movies that arbitrarily divvy up some juicy but dim gang for their serial disposal — dismemberment, engorgement, disemboweling — as if the scriptwriting crew were just emptying out some dictionary of violent death, Thesaurus Rex on a measured rampage. But Alien had something more compelling than mere fluency with the vocabulary of filmic suspense.

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

Nineteen years later

June 1st, 2003


For well more than a decade, I lived without bookshelves.

There was a time in the hazy past before that when I lined my room with them. At one point, though, I boxed up my college books and put them in liberating storage, in the sweet fecund orwellcrawlspace of my grandmother’s basement, like burying the inconvenient child in some loamy orphanage. The books had been an attempt not so much artful as blunt-force to manifest my oh-so-interesting mind. Over the preceding years, many of them, often the ones I had never read, had been prominently — blatantly — displayed on various orange-crate and cinder-block shelves. I intended to, I promised myself. Even started to, on several occasions. Mine was the kind of intellect that surrounded itself with deep, serious, picaresque, yearning, exalted thought. People needed to know that. The bigger the book, the more outré or difficult the writer, the better. Finnegans Wake. Giles Goat-Boy. JR. Gravity’s Rainbow. That sort of thing.

It worked with records, too. You know the routine. You enter someone’s apartment for the first time, and in the interstitial moments when left half-alone while the screwtop wine is decanted, you peruse the spines and inform yourself of the breadth and depth of your host. You read, in the quirks and fixations, personality.
These illiterate days, I guess it’s furniture and accoutrements, the pornography of objects, how well one shops, and appoints. One gleans insight from that.

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

Author profile

December 1st, 2002

Stephen Starbuck, doting father of brilliant, willful Ada, muses occasionally on parenthood and nostalgic bits as he hurtles precipitously into a precocious dotage. And, despite his assertions to the contrary, he apparently did move 3,000 miles to live in Brooklyn. His Black Lamb column Just Visiting morphed into Dada-ism with the birth of his first child.

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


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