Thursday, December 29, 2011
It was time for another holiday dinner at the Brinkerhoff manse. Young Spencer, the black sheep of the family, was not looking forward to it. His father was a fishing boat captain and had no respect at all for Spencer's profession -- that of dictionary editor.
As the family sat down to a repast of brazed sailfish and checkered chitlings, the patriarch began to deliver his traditional rodomontade, which, as usual, was filled with imbecilic windiness. No one paid much attention, though. Spencer's comely sister, Adelia, exhibited her usual luminescent lassitude, with her chin planted firmly on her palm. His long-suffering mother, Philida, simply stared into the tureen of mashed potatoes.
Spencer, who fancied himself the Brinkerhoff's closest approximation to an upscale cutup, decided he'd had enough of his father's complaints about the fluctuating price of flounder. "I dig a sorrel pintaloosa!" he suddenly shouted, though he wasn't sure why. They were words he had been working on for the new edition of the dictionary, and they had simply come to him. His father halted in mid sentence and glared menacingly. Spencer was sure he had sounded like an adenoidal landlubber engaging in undignified ebullition to everyone at the table.
"What? What kind of fish is that?" Captain Brinkerhoff demanded. "It's not a fish!" replied Spencer. "Look it uuuupppp!" he bellowed, pounding the table with what he intended to be a raffish drub.
His diastolic boisterousness had the intended effect. His mother and sister began to giggle, nervously at first, then uncontrollably. And Captain Brinkerhoff was uncharacteristically silent for the duration of the feast.
[not to be continued]
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
"There were a lot of people dressed as demireps and acting like corybants on the Grammy Awards that year. Music and singing seemed less important to the proceedings than flash and spectacle. There was even a circus act. I'd rather see and hear Susan Boyle than some pop tart lip-syncing while dressed like a Vegas hooker and hanging umop-episdn."
--Leahcim Setag, Strange Loops
This week between Xmas and the new year always seems topsy-turvy. I usually burn off my remaining "use it or lose it" vacation time during this period, which means I don't have a set schedule to follow, which creates it's own brand of anxiety. I should clean the aquarium, rearrange the basement, reduce my pile of personal paperwork, perform maintenance on the computer, do laundry, wash the car.... There are any number of "shoulds". My wyfe would be happy to make a list for me. Instead, I'm slumped here on the couch, blogging, and listening to barmy music on the radio. In the middle of the day! And I seem to have a few Puritans tsk-tsking at me from some Office of Moral Persuasion inside my head. I think I'll go for a walk.
How to Deal with Slow Walkers
Sunday, December 25, 2011
And so this is Xmas.
I only got one thing I asked for on my list. There's no snow here in Upstate New York; it's a green Xmas. The gift I wanted to give my wyfe didn't arrive in time. We couldn't find the Yule Log on the TV here. And I ate something that doesn't agree with me.
This might sound like a bad Christmas, but it's not. Santa brought me some other gifts that I wouldn't have thought of, but I liked. I gave my wyfe some other presents that she appreciated. We finally found the Yule Log on an obscure channel.
And last night, my nephew set up his telescope in the backyard. It was a moonless night, a "midnight clear" with a temperature of 12 degrees (-11 C). We saw Jupiter, the Andromeda galaxy, and many stars, including a bright one that seemed to pulsate. It was... transmundane. Even transcendental, in a way.
"The sign of Christmas is a star, a light in darkness. See it not outside of yourself, but shining in the Heaven within...."
--A Course in Miracles
(Above you see one of two Xmas trees we have here. I thought the "Charlie Brown" one made a more interesting picture. The star is a lighting fixture/sculpture that an artist friend made. Click the pics for close-ups. Maybe they'll make you feel a bit transmundane.)
Thursday, December 22, 2011
A stunning development: McDonald's apparently no longer sells hamburgers. Instead, they now sell something called a "Cheeseburger No Cheese".
A rolling disco? A commuter van I rode in this evening had a laser light projector mounted over the dashboard that cast roving multi-colored light spots over the confused passengers. Rather annoying, but creativity kudos to the driver for decorating his control panel with something other that the usual plastic Jesus.
Someone gave me a bottle of red "Monsanto" wine for Xmas. Hmm. I thought Monsanto was a company that made industrial chemicals.
Surreal moment of the day: I ate lunch today with four guys who were all playing with the "Stupid Zombies" app simultaneously on their cell phones. Four adult guys....
Lalaloopsy -- the season's hottest toy, so they say, but this evening is the first time I've heard of it... uh, her. She's kind of gross, I think, with her Medusa-like locks, but I do like her name, which is hard to say with a straight face. Try it.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
The house is quiet. Just
footsteps on the ceiling,
the dryer spinning its characters.
The sounds of nothing,
of missing days:
scraped knees and running noses
and a darting goldfish in a filmy bowl.
A sun that lingers
like an unwakable dream,
cycling a blind man's recollections,
clear as a mirror.
Sounds drawing pictures--
a heart beats.
The ocean swells in a teacup.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Peculiar, abnormal, or drunk.
"We were doing fine, totally munted, dancing around with roses between our teeth, winking at flowergirls. Sister spots us -- making a spectacle of ourselves, she reckoned. I dropped the roses. But Sonny Boy dances up to his sister. Teases her. Puts an arm around her and she rips the roses right out of his mouth. Thorns sliced his lips up. Blood pissing all over the place."
--David Geary, A Man of the People
"Blood pissing all over the place." As a kid, I used to get spontaneous nosebleeds. I would wake up in the middle of the night sometimes, wondering why my pillow was wet. I would turn on the light and discover that I had been lying in a puddle of my own blood. Icky -- and munted in a way, in the sense of peculiar. I would sometimes get them during the day, at school, too, and would have to go to the nurse's office and lie down for a while, squeezing my nose with a tissue. It was very inconvenient and extremely embarrassing.
To this day, I don't know what caused them, but they were more frequent in the winter, so it may have had something to do with my nasal passages drying out too much in the cold, desiccated air. I haven't had a nosebleed in years, but every time I experience some post nasal drip I still half expect to look down and see a red blotch. (I know, I know: "Thank you for sharing, Michael.")
Monday, December 19, 2011
Sagittarius A* (sucks)
The Spielberg Face / The Kubrick Stare
Lana Del Rey
The Secret Life of Pronouns
I, Me, Mine: The Beatles and their pronouns
Sunday, December 18, 2011
This is my twin brother, the dangerous (haha) Mitchell Gates, pointing to the silly sign he posted as a jest outside the entrance to the Gizmeau Museum, where he works as a curator for Victorian automatons and other steampunk contraptions. He spends so much time winding up the "Automatic Man" that he's starting to feel robotically "automated" himself.
Actually, I just made that up. This is me, on vacation ("holiday") in London last July, outside the elaborate iron gates to ... I forget. There are many, many elaborate iron gates in London. (I was wearing the hat because of the bad haircut that an eccentric Brazilian hairstylist gave me last summer. I was wearing the jacket because it's actually quite cool in London in July, which reminded me of San Francisco weather.)
For some reason, my wyfe has chosen to include this picture (among others) with her annual Xmas letter, distributed to an always riveted readership of hundreds of friends and followers.
Click the pic NOW for a larger view. I'm ready for my close-up!
Moves Like Orson
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Relieved. The stupid war in Iraq is officially over. War is over, if you want it.... But it can take a tragically long time.
Amused. At the Xmas party I attended today, a confrere showed up with his pet ferret. It was a cacophonous party, complete with pounding DJ drumbeats, but the crepuscular little mammal kept his eyes closed, apparently asleep. When I rubbed its forehead, however, he stretched and revived a bit, clearly enjoying the brow massage.
Here are words I never thought I would say: "May I rub your ferret?"
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
example of wallydrag
When I get up at 6:30 AM every weekday, I'm Mr. Wally Drag.
Rattling in head when walk
That's me, for sure – lost in thought. I can walk for entire city blocks without remembering anything about what I've passed. It's a wonder I haven't been run over.
Hmm. If it was Pink Cadillacs it would sound like one of those faux-1950s doo-wop groups. Blue Cadillacs? A jazz trio? Junkyard El Dorados?
Poet name generator
My poet name is Lucius Cornelius Swanswaddle, according to the poet name generator. (If I was a "lady poet," it would be Forsythia Swanswaddle.)
just kick it magazyn
A magazine called Just Kick It? The journal of professional field-goal kickers -- or maybe the newsletter of the clinically depressed.
That would be a good name for this blog.
Amazingly awesome ramses ii statue
I don't recall ever writing here about a Ramses II statue, amazingly awesome or otherwise. I'd like to visit Egypt, see some ancient statues, and feel some awe.
Mannequin male art
What?? Some twisted people land here....
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
A straight-line sequence through the middle of everything, leading nowhere.
"Gesturingly overjoyed – yaaeeaa – motherfriend cockblasting wwhheeeee – resurrect the mayhem – Sodomy said I never switch off the mind but instead follow your kelemenopy...."
--Jason Earls, Red Zen: A Novel of Extreme and Bizarre Adventure in Which a Mystical Book on Buddhism Changes the Hero's Life
A straight line to nowhere. Things seem to be going swimmingly sometimes, and then they get suddenly interrupted. Derailed. Cut off. Somebody dies, a job ends unexpectedly, people vanish, your favorite TV show gets cancelled before all the threads unspool. The ship hits an iceberg.
Like the time my old Mustang broke down in the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge. Like the time I got "laid off" from my magazine editing job. Like the novel I abandoned because I couldn't figure out how to end it. But sometimes you have to reach nowhere ("now here") in order to figure out how to start over again.
Monday, December 12, 2011
There arrives a moment of total confusion. "Didn't I just hand her a twenty?" you think. "Um, wait," you say. "Is my change ten dollars -- or ten cents?"
At this, the giggling ceases, and she finds it necessary to grab your receipt out of the tote. She studies it for a second, then exclaims "Oh, thank you, thank you!" and snatches back the Hamilton, replacing it in your palm with a dime. An "I'm SO sorry" and more "thank yous" are received, along with more giggling.
Apparently, pointing out her mistake is humorous, but is nevertheless a conscientious act worthy of honest Abe. Or maybe not.
"It's okay. It's late," you mumble, as you start to wonder if you've been foolish. Should you have just shut up and pocketed the sawbuck? Is that what any normal person would do? Is she giggling at herself -- or at you?
You pick up your bag and leave, feeling both self-righteous and asinine -- a not unfamiliar mental mix.
Apple does Apple: the Beatles' album covers -- animated.
Sunday, December 11, 2011
--from Politically Correct Holiday Stories by James Finn Garner
Someone gave me Garner's book one Christmas, and it's a hoot. It also contains such stories as "'Twas the Night before Solstice" and "Frosty the Person of Snow," as well as PC versions of The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol.
Poor Rudolph. I always identified with him, especially when I was a spotted teenager with braces on my teeth.
Thursday, December 08, 2011
Her psychiatrist sits
with hands folded
in the all-white room.
"For a lifetime or two,
a couple of my mad selves
wore a suffocating iron
mask of tranquility."
A cello player draws back his bow.
Compare your life to the script
until you stop crying,
until you change your mind.
bits of seed pollen waft
from your brain, on the wind.
One day these words will take root.
You lopped it off,
that intricate braid
rooted in the day we met.
Now you show a different face,
a silly moon under the bob,
a shopping-mall attractive
to paint a smile on.
Wednesday, December 07, 2011
An idle person.
"Now then, y'little scobberlotcher," said the soldier, grasping Smeatt by the nape of his neck and shaking him violently, "stop all that squirmin' an' spek up. D'you know where they be?"
--Patrice Kindl, Goose Chase
I'm rarely idle (rather an understatement, but we won't go there), however, I will be at loose ends in the last week of this swiftly shriveling 2011. I don't have anything special planned for that week, except maybe to do some scribbling and shutterbugging. I like the idea of having a few serendipitous days. Something might actually happen. I might actually see something out of the ordinary. I might meet someone or go somewhere. I might stay up all night and sleep all day. I might have an adventure, or just hibernate. I might find something to write about. If I do, I'll be sure to let you know.
Tuesday, December 06, 2011
Great Lakes Entomologist. 2005.
It actually went so close to perfect that we could hardly believe it.
And when they do, we nail them.
Those parts range literally from boots on our feet to satellites zipping overhead.
They had night vision gear, so they moved quickly.
Interesting. It seems to have something to do with a successful clandestine military or espionage mission (code name "Zootaxa"?) in 2005 that involved "nailing" an entomologist -- possibly near the Great Lakes. Some poor scientist studying insects at night - a real threat to the government? I wonder why my name generated such a creepy tale. Try it; see if you have better luck.
Gosh, wouldn't it be cool to have this just reissued novel as an audiobook, recorded by Sheryl Lee?
Monday, December 05, 2011
I like to walk around the house in my stocking feet, but there's a problem. Inevitably, I find myself wandering into the kitchen at some point, and frequently there is a tiny, almost invisible puddle of cold water on the floor in there, just waiting for me to step in it. The feeling of walking around in a clammy wet sock is nearly ineffable, but I'll try: it's similar to that sensation you get when you're outside and it starts to rain, and single drop of frigid water drips into the space between your collar and your neck and proceeds to meander down your spine inside your shirt. You know the feeling won't last, but while it does, it's like a form of low-grade torture.
It's fascinating how so many patrons of the supermarket I generally shop at, which has narrower aisles than the ones in the suburbs, will suddenly stop, blocking the right-of-way, while they stare at, not the shelves, but nothing at all. It's as if they are having a Zen moment. Maybe they're just mentally reviewing their shopping lists, but I like to think it's a more profound occasion that that. It could be an existential realization: "Here I am, in this well-lighted place, surrounded by thousands and thousands of garishly packaged consumer products, and I can't decide what to buy. I'm struck by the triviality of it all, and I'll just stop and be alive here for a little, perfect moment." And then you say "excuse me" and they move reluctantly -- as they sink back into their quotidian consumer daze.
Speaking of shopping (what is it about this time of year that brings it to mind?), I still pay cash for certain things, and when I'm given change, I now return any pennies to the cashier. They never refuse them. Pennies are worthless to me – I don't even stop to pick them up off the street – but quite valuable to any sort of commercial emporium, since they can be used to make change. Some (most) customers still accept them, though I'm sure they mostly end up out of circulation in that jar on the dresser in the closet in the bedroom.
Saturday, December 03, 2011
Here's a picture I took on the movie set for Blast Radius, which I visited recently while working on an article for Insanity Fair. It's a Hitchcockian thriller about an opera star who travels the world working uncover for Britain's supersecret spy agency MI7. In the scene filmed here (in a converted warehouse space -- the ornamentation is all gilded Styrofoam) the superspy/tenor stops an assassination plot against the Arch Premier of Carpathia by using a modified electrolarynx to sing a subsonic note that demolecularizes the assassin's plastic explosives....
Actually, I just made that up. This is my photo of the chandelier and lobby of the Landmark Loew's Jersey Theatre, which is walking distance, more or less, from my castle. It's a restored 1920s movie palace where they show classic films once a month and only charge $1 for popcorn.
Click the pic to examine the fine detail of this paint-and-plaster Versailles.
Thursday, December 01, 2011
The Nest Learning Thermostat
Shut Up and Play the Hits
I'm James Franco
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
I never really had a nickname. Someone in college called me "Salamander" a few times (why? and why do I remember such things?), but it didn't stick. My mother used to call me "Pumpkin" for some reason. (I wasn't orange or spherical, and I didn't have a stem on top.) When I see her, I never remember to ask her why. She probably doesn't know, anyway.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
To stretch and yawn simultaneously.
"Rick shifts in his seat. 'If I don't eat soon I may have to pandiculate,' he says. 'Not while company is here,' Grub answers."
--Steven Sherrill, The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break
I pandiculate, you pandiculate, we all pandiculate.
I try to avoid doing this at work, or in awkward situations... like when someone thinks he/she is relating a fascinating narrative full of riveting details. Or when watching one of the cable movies from the LifeMark (?) channel that some significant other invited onto our flatscreen. Or, most recently, during an obligatory decorating-the-Xmas-tree session.
Monday, November 28, 2011
Th' Dialeckizer takes text o' other web pages an' instantly creates parodies of them! Fry mah hide! Try it out by seleckin' a dialeck, then interin' a URL o' English text. Eff'n yo' haf quesshuns about whut The Dialeckizer does o' how it does it, please see th' "Info'mashun" seckshun toward th' bottom of thar page.
True or False?
The less you know about someone, the more normal they seem.
What people think you said is usually sillier than what you actually said.
Truth tellers should wear running shoes.
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Stuffed. It's not so much that I ate a lot on Thanksgiving, but rather the type of comestibles I ingested. Turkey, yes indeed, but also stuffing, mashed potatoes, various types of casserole, specialty breads and rolls, and pie -- all heavy stuff I never or rarely eat. It was good, but I couldn't help feeling bloated afterward, like one of those Macy's parade balloons, except considerably heavier than air. I know why they call it stuffing.
Suspicious. Forced to listen to Xmas music while driving home from upstate New York after the holiday, I began to ponder the lyrics to "Winter Wonderland":
Later on, we'll conspire,
As we dream by the fire
To face unafraid,
The plans that we've made....
Hmm. The plans? That sounds suspiciously... conspiratorial. The song was composed in the 1930s, an era of radical political movements of right and left, as well as spies and counterspies. Was the composer, Felix Bernard, sending a hidden message to someone via a treacly holiday ditty?
In the meadow we can build a snowman,
Then pretend that he is Parson Brown
He'll say: Are you married?
We'll say: No man,
But you can do the job
When you're in town.
...We'll have lots of fun with Mister Snowman,
Until the other kids knock him down.
These are very odd lyrics, when you think about it. "Are you married"? (A code phrase used by spies to recognize each other.) "Do the job"? "Mister Snowman"? (Clearly a code name.) "Until the other kids knock him down"? The world was on the verge of universal war. What operative was receiving instructions when he heard Perry Como and the Andrews Sisters warbling this tune on the radio?
Amused. I'm about one-third of the way through 1Q84, Haruki Murakami's massive (900+ pages) new novel, a fascinating tale of alternate universes, literary deception, and assassination. As much as I'm enjoying it, it does seem padded in places. Whenever a character stops to eat, the author describes the meal in complete detail, and if the protagonist is cooking it himself, the description is so detailed it could be followed as a recipe. 1Q84 is many things, but one could almost call it a postmodern cookbook.
Friday, November 25, 2011
I've solved my Xmas shopping problem this Black Friday. Everyone on my list will receive one of these exquisite turtle sculptures from Tiffany, depicting the mating habits of Trachemys scripta elegans. Who wouldn't want to display one of these romantic and whimsical objets d'art on their mantlepiece... or bedside table?
Actually, I just made that up. This is one of the many jaw-droppingly tawdry bibelots, bagatelles, and white elephants displayed in a local Jersey City department store's window. I didn't see a price tag on this item, but Tiffany the place is not. It might be worth a Hamilton, though, to buy this as a obligation gift for that least favorite biped on your Xmas list.
(Don't be shy. Come out of your shell and click the pic for a closer view. You know you want to.)
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
As Jonas and Melody, two middle-aged professors of linguistics, were walking aimlessly about in the city center on a gray, empty Saturday, they came to an unsuspected esplanade. Across the plaza was a small art-house movie theater with a glowing marquee. In block letters, it said "Spurs and Saddles".
"What's 'Spurs and Saddles'"? Melody asked in a musing tone, as if she didn't really expect an answer.
"A film," said Jonas, in a flat voice.
"I know that!" Melody hissed. "I mean, I've never heard of it."
"It's an old silent, I think," Jonas replied. "From the 20s. Let's go see it!"
"Ahh, no!" said Melody. "I am not in the mood for manful atrociousness manifested in shoot-'em-ups, or achromatic rowdyism in the Old West. Even in silence."
"Apparently you are in the mood for improvident syntactics, however," Jonas sneered.
"Oh, please," said Melody. "Let's find an eatery instead. I'm ready for some light repast, some amusing crumpet, perhaps chased down by a glass of some pretentious vintage."
"I'm agreeable," Jonas said. "As long as we act out our little chow-down as if we were thespians masticating in a silent movie."
[not to be continued]
Monday, November 21, 2011
The paper drops
like a wizened leaf
from a tree in winter.
The sun kindles a landscape,
spreading elegies of fire.
appear at the windows.
I open a book, I write notes
like a prisoner
at the bottom of a well,
a dark place.
The house is full of ticking,
wind runs the city.
Twilight comes early, lamps
lit against the shriveling day.
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Stubborn or persistent.
"He behaved like some tricksy elf, uttering his most pertinacious screeches in time of family prayer, and distorting his visage at poor Mr. Little into such curiously ugly shapes as daunted the feeble divine from any caressing approaches whatever."
--Rose Terry Cooke, "Aceldama Sparks"
I am stubbornly persistent in my determination to.... what? Not a lot I can think of. To correct grammar and infelicities of expression, I suppose, but that's part of my job. There are the usual things that most everyone is persistent about, like brushing my teeth. I eat the same thing for breakfast every day, but that's more about being a creature of habit than "stubborn". I've known pertinacious people in my time, though, who shall be nameless, because they could very well be reading this. Some of the most interesting, otherwise likable people I've met are extremely stubborn about the most ridiculous things -- like not ever getting on an airplane or neglecting to see a doctor or just refusing to compromise with the nexus of imbroglios we call life in the 21st century. Yes, stupidly stubborn and unwilling to compromise.... Maybe they should run for Congress?
Thursday, November 17, 2011
A skillful, in-depth analysis of Kubrick's film The Shining is here. It's (ahem) pretty amazing. (Thanks, Scott)
Sitting here listening to the dishwasher do it's thing.... The rhythmic, undulating swishing of the water jets is like the sound of a hyperactive seashore. Too fast to be white noise, yet meditative nonetheless.
Not sure why I (we're) reluctant to put Halloween away. I still have an obese pumpkin sitting in the middle of my dining room table and an emaciated, anatomically correct plastic skeleton sitting across from me in the living room. Thanksgiving is coming too fast. And Christmas? Looming ominously on the horizon. I have no idea what I want for Xmas or what anybody else wants. Maybe a gift certificate for cha-cha lessons?
Could there be such a thing as a thinking zombie? Someone was telling me today about a book he read about an intellectual zombie. I thought all zombies were mindless -- in fact, that the very definition of a zombie is mindlessness (in addition to the whole flesh-eating thing). Zombies are insanely popular in the publishing world right now (nota bene: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), almost like vampires were a year ago. The question is why. Zombies could be a metaphor for current social conditions. Like vampires, they're both dead and alive -- the living dead. Kind of like our economy.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
wooden leg in sock
Hard to imagine someone sitting down at a computer and searching for this. Some strange fetish? On the other hand, I suppose it's hard to imagine someone taking a picture of something like this too.
catie uptown on Ridiclousness
Huh? Learn to spell, learn to type…. Or google sober.
A Marilyn Monrobot? If there isn't one already, I'm sure there will be one soon. How about it, Japanese readers?
how to wear a bowler hat
Confidently, or else forget it.
what's a rastafarian proctologist
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Amused. I was reading a description of a book called Shark Wars #2: The Battle of Riptide today, which contained the following passage: "Now Gray must train with Takiza Jaelynn Betta vam Delacrest Waveland ka Boom Boom, a wise and mysterious fighting fish who has promised to teach his young apprentice the ways of the ocean and the secret of what it means to be a great warrior." Takiza Jaelynn Betta vam Delacrest Waveland ka Boom Boom…. That's the best, or at least the most creative, character name I've heard in a long, long time. I shared it with someone who then claimed that it was his nickname in high school, but I'm skeptical. Anyway, I can't wait for the movie.
Intimidated. We've got a new washing machine and dryer! The old ones came with the house when we bought it five years ago, and the old dryer, at least, looked like it dated from the Kennedy Administration. It worked fine until about a week and a half ago, when it exhaled its last. This encouraged me to go underwear shopping while my wyfe researched the latest spin and dry options. A couple of days ago, two large silvery laundry computers (it seems inadequate to describe them as a washer and dryer) were delivered. I had to figure out how to program them before I could wash my delicates. Lots of dials, buttons, LEDs…. Apparently, I haven't been keeping up with advances in mechanical lavation.
Amazed. Is anything more out of fashion than the TV Batman of the 1960s? Camp and economic prostration don't really color coordinate. But, what the hell, they were showing the Batman movie from 1966 at the Landmark Loews Jersey Theater last weekend and I didn't have anything better to do. I thought the attendance would be sparse, but instead I found a line around the block waiting to get in. People from eight to eighty. Well. It's both a terrible movie but quite funny despite itself (and not always in the ways it intends to be), so it doesn't really matter, I suppose. It holds up as a time capsule and a goof. Some days you just can't get rid of a bomb.
Monday, November 14, 2011
An imagined perception of a pattern or meaning where none exists.
"....I was scared that the alien code would scramble my mind. And it turned out that I was right, because pretty soon it started to go bad for Jules and all the other clever people who did code for shits and giggles, because the temporary synesthesia and pareidolia became permanent, burned into their brains.... Jules began to see ugly patterns everywhere...."
--Paul J. McCauley, "Crimes and Glory"
When I was a kid I was "imaginative" and used to see miniature worlds in wallpaper patterns, faces in wood grain and cloud banks, and a demon's head and shoulders in a painting my grandmother had of... Snoqaulmie Falls. I mostly lost this ability as I grew up, though I still occasionally see things that aren't there out of the corner of my eye. Lately, it's mice in moving shadows. Except sometimes it really is mice.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
The Jersey City Municipal Aquarium is home to some of the largest koi carp in the world. These super-sized "goldfish" attract thousands of visitors every year who marvel at these finny behemoths as they glide around their brobdingnagian fishbowl -- often pausing to surprise passers-by as they give them the "fisheye" from the aquarium's street-side portholes.
Actually, I just made that up. Jersey City doesn't have an aquarium. (I do, but my zebra-fish and neon tetras only attract a handful of visitors per year.) This is a photo I snapped of a mural entitled "Koi Too" by local artist Ed Harris on Hutton Street near Central Avenue. Go fish: click the pic for a closer view.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
A companion "Creativity Tool", the Random Sentence Generator, spits out a simple, random sentence that almost seems to make a peculiar kind of sense. Examples: "How can the insidious ozone bubble?" You've got me there, but ozone bubbles do sound insidious. "The dropping trace reports a breach throughout the ingenious cleaner." Really? How then will I clean my ingenious?
Wednesday, November 09, 2011
Who is the mysterious "Rob da Bank" who receives "Special Thanks" on the album Crazy Clown Time? Ah, a little googling reveals a British disc jockey on BBC Radio 1. That makes sense. Sort of. He was one of the presenters on a show called Blue Room (hmmm), which featured a "unique blend of quirky chillout tunes." How very… Lynchian. (Uncredited on "Crazy Clown Time" [the song]: Yoko Ono, or someone who moans very much like her.)
People who sigh when they're sad, people who sigh when they're happy, people who sigh when they're angry, people who sigh when they're frustrated, people who sigh when they're feeling sorry for themselves, people who sigh when they're contented, people who sigh when they're tired -- there are so many meanings that can be conveyed with a sigh. Sighing is the universal language. But sometimes I still need an interpreter.
Every time I watch or read news reports about all these debates and campaigns, I think, "the circus has come to town."
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
--"Yeah? Where are you going to find any freewill reciprocation?" asked Clive.
--"Mmm. Maybe down at the B and G. I'm hungry anyway. I could go for some more of their functionary cheddar."
--"Ugh! We ordered that thing last time. I almost threw up later. I was ready to do the weepiest shimmy in the lavatory."
--"Well, try something different. Have some watercress salad. Stretch those taste buds a little. Telescopic asceticism."
--"Is that on the menu? Can you even read a menu when you're in your 'tallyho' head? Or do you just look at the pictures? I think they have a fetishistic ideogram for that cheesy thing. A big gooey hubcap of golden ooze."
Monday, November 07, 2011
In chess, a position in which one player can move only with loss or severe disadvantage. Metaphorically, a situation in which there are no good options.
"Gregor sighed. 'There's no such thing as fate. Just likelihoods, and situations where there's no right move, only moves of varying degrees of wrongness. It's a case of zugswang.'
'Zugzwang? Is that a dirty word for something interesting?'"
--T. A. Pratt, Poison Sleep
I haven't played chess in quite a while. I think I like the idea of chess, and the romantically medieval imagery of the pieces, more than the game itself, which I usually find protracted and frustrating, even if I'm winning. Too much like life. There have been times when I've felt like a pawn or a knight; never really like a king, a bishop, a rook, or a queen. And I rarely find that situations are black and white.
A recently unearthed deleted scene from Blue Velvet. Interesting scene; worth releasing as an extra; totally unnecessary to the film.
Sunday, November 06, 2011
This is my electronic weekend. I'm getting used to my new Eye Phone Four Ess, transferring my contacts (and it's amazing the number of people who are my "contacts" that I haven't heard from in several millennia) and trying to converse with Siri, the talking, voice-recognizing A.I. app included. So far, she doesn't seem to understand a word I say. "I didn't quite get that," she says when I ask a mundane question about the weather in my most stentorian voice. I was hoping for a HAL 9000 and instead I got a bubble-headed girl with a hearing problem. Oh, well – supposedly Siri gets better as more and more people talk to her. Can Siri jokes be far behind? I wonder what she says if you pose a more philosophical question to her -- or ask her to open the pod bay doors? "I'm sorry, Dave. I didn't quite get that."
I've also downloaded my first e-book to the e-reader I recently purchased from [a tall warrior woman]: Haruki Murakami's 1Q84. It's about 900 pages long, so I'm not going to have to purchase another e-book for several millennia. At least I won't have to lug a book the size of a dictionary or a bible along with me wherever I wander. By the way, how does one pronounce 1Q84? "One queue eighty-four", I suppose. ("Q" in Japanese is pronounced like "nine" in English, thus the Orwellian reference.) For some reason, I like to think of the title as "IQ 84" – which, according to the Wechsler Intelligence Scale, is classified as "dull normal intelligence" and "borderline mental retardation". That would be a generous description of Siri's present IQ, I imagine.
Postscript: I was too hasty in my judgment of Siri. It seems she was simply having a moment, a mental hiccup. I just asked her to "open the pod bay doors", and she snapped back with "I'm going to report you to the Intelligence Agent for harassment." So she's no dummy. She's a smart ass.
Thursday, November 03, 2011
Wednesday, November 02, 2011
Cold. I wore a sweater today, for the first time in many moons. That's when I know the season has changed -- when I get out the sweaters. Who needs a solstice?
Itchy. Another sign of changing weather, I guess -- dryer air, dryer skin, and I feel an urge to scratch in a particular spot. Unfortunately, I can't do it in public. And I spend most of the day in public. Tiny tortures take their toll.
Centered. I must have had a good dream last night, though I can't remember what it was. I woke up feeling like nothing the world could throw at me today, would... throw me. And it hasn't. A nice feeling. Too bad I can't bottle it.
Pensive. The "intersection of humanities and science" is a busy intersection, I find. Look both ways.
Meanwhile.... It's Crazy Clown Time! Interesting article about David Lynch's new album (which I've only heard bits and pieces of so far).
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
To walk about in the streets.
"Then he took to vicambulation, and lo! over the most maginificent shop in Riverdale -- a shop brilliant with gold and silver plate, and blazing with superb gems -- he perceived the name of Boss." --Mortimer Collins, The Vivian Romance
I haven't driven a car since.... I don't remember. The pleasing distinction about living in a metropolis is that one can walk to find just about any necessity. And I do. I also vicambulate, more or less aimlessly, as a form of moving meditation. When I have to travel to some vicinity outside my usual orbit, though, I patronize mass transit, as I've often mentioned here.For example, I board the "light rail" (that's what they call trolleys these days) in Newark, New Jersey (where I carry on), to convey myself from the train station to my actual place of employment. Unfortunately, however, later this week, a Hollywood production will be filming in the vicinity, which means the light rail will be unavailable for two days running, or, you might say, two days not running. (Apparently, Newark is a stand in for "Gotham City" in this particular film; I heard the director was looking for a noirish municipality that has had it's heyday, to put it politely.)
Anyway, I will be forced to either wend my way on foot or take advantage of a shuttle service that is both infrequent and usually egregiously congregated with commuters, like the proverbial sardine can. It will be especially so on those two bat days, I suspect. So I may just leave early and hoof it at the other end of the PATH line. Just a typical Gothamite pedestrian, dodging the fiendish cataclysms of some celluloid supervillain.
Monday, October 31, 2011
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Happy Halloween! This is the scary porch decoration I made out of kitchen knives, crucifixes, scissors, a saw, wire coat-hangers, and various bits of scrap metal. Creepy, huh? Maybe it will scare away all those little candy moochers. Click it for a closer view, if you dare....
Actually, I just made that up. This is a hanging whatsit that I photographed outside the Operations Museum in London last summer. Believe me, the museum, which preserves the history of medical surgery before the advent of antibiotics and anesthesia, is much scarier than any skull sculpture.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Snow in October here. Halloween and Christmas intertwined, just like at all the stores. I'm feeling some cognitive dissonace.
Someone enquired about my relationship with Bill again. I'm tired of being asked about it. I'm tired of denying it. So, I told him that Bill IS my cousin. And he didn't believe me. So... why did he ask?
I'm reading a friend's self-published book, a collection of short stories. It's pretty good, overall. A few people have suggested to me that I publish a book, and I certainly have enough material. The problem is I don't have enough people I could guilt trip or blackmail into buying it (not that that's the reason I bought the friend's book). Color me ambivalent.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Dreamed the sea,
that inconceivable Peace,
the one to which all flippers,
and catamarans are irrelevant,
the soft wound
from the moon's nativity
and mirror to her exile;
you could turn away or even leave
but it was there,
the magnetic tides
threading nets of remnants,
behind the eyes
and eardrums, arousing
waves of immanence
your most diaphanous
perceptions are yet too coarse
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
[Actual Google News and New York Times headlines]
"With New Smartphones, High Hopes for Nokia and Microsoft Union": I'm amazed that employees of these companies are being allowed to form a joint union -- and with the organizing aid of smartphones no less.... "Kirstie Alley May Lead 'Hollywood Whores' to Broadway": I knew she was having career problems, but I didn't think she'd have to resort to the world's oldest profession. Does she really think she and her ring will be more successful on 42nd Street than on the Sunset Boulevard?.... "Bringing Out the Superhero Side of Mr. Mom": Change a few diapers, and a guy's a superhero.... "No ear popping, dry eyes for 787 passengers": That's a lot of passengers. They must be talking about a cruise ship full of keratoconjunctivitis sicca sufferers with ear impactions.... I could go on, but I'll spare you.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
I wish this book was being published in installments, as it was in Japan -- it was divided into three novels there. If I had an IQ of 84, it might make the decision easier.... By the way, the Japanese pronunciation of "Q" is similar to how we English-speakers say "nine". So the title is a play on Orwell's 1984, and in fact, the novel is set in that year. Clever, Haruki.
Monday, October 24, 2011
A small, minor work.
"Although doubts still linger about the origin and authorship of this opuscule, no one would think of minimizing its doctrinal importance in the history of medieval metaphysics."
--Dennis J. Brand, The Book of Causes
"Opuscule" -- it sounds like a fancy word for a pimple, doesn't it?
The small, minor work I'm working on at the moment (though mostly in my head so far) is a short fictional story about a woman with a squeaky shoe. There are certain sounds that I find intensely annoying, and that is one of them. Others are the classic nails on a chalkboard, feedback, balloon rubbing, nose blowing, and smoke-detector bleeping. Put me in a room with all of those sounds occurring at once and I think my head would explode. Or maybe implode.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Thursday, October 20, 2011
I will accept nothing less than GENUINE alabaster.
alfred hitchcock doll
Really? Where can I get one? The suspense is killing me.
cheesy movie plot
My favorite is "Bikini Secrets":
"Mistaking aesthetics for ethics, a philosophy grad student (Harry Hamlin) convinces the neighborhood girls to wear nothing but bikinis after witnessing a hot-body contest. In the brief moments she wears clothes, Jennifer (Julie Strain) heats up the pool, the screen, and the sales figures. Richard Roundtree exceeds expectations as the Christ figure, Mitch."
Machines, Abstraction and Women
Sounds like a David Lynch art exhibit. Oh wait....
New Jersey should annex Pennsylvania and rename itself this. Our XXL governor likes to throw his weight around and could use some super-sized geography.
The Failure of American Typology in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf konkle
What? You actually landed on my page when you searched for THAT? This is not The Journal of the Humanities.
A blonde... rabbits... Inland Empire?
buick named maude
Do people still drive Buicks? If I had one, I would name it Mildred.
You will recall, regular readers, that "ostrobogulous" means "something weird, bizarre, unusual or pornographic". Hedgehogs are already pretty weird without any abstruse adjectives. Or is that the h-hog's name, à la Sonic? "Ostrobogulous the Hedgehog"? I could get on board with that.
what fast food restaurants have grey poupon
None? I always bring my own.
Beatitude: Dictionary of Jive
Blessed are the facetious, for they shall reveal absurdity.
hello kitty glass ashtray
How could anyone grind their butt out on that adorable face?
I'm mad, you're mad, we're all mad here
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
A notion or whim; also something contrived, a gimmmick.
"A flivver in flubberized flight, made possible by an absent-minded professor's discovery of the Law of Repulsive Attraction, is the latest whigmaleerie from Walt Disney's workshop of whimsy, although there is no end to what the man is up to."
----"Bounce and Bonanzas", staff, Life magazine, April 7, 1961
Notions can be dangerous. My wyfe and I were discussing possible Halloween costumes for the party we're invited to, and off the top of my head, I jokingly suggested she create a character named Helena Handbasket. I didn't expect her to take it seriously, but now she's constructing a basket to wear out of old garden hose (?!). It seems pretty wiggy (whiggy?) to me. (For lack of a better idea, I'm thinking I'll simply dress up as a tourist -- you know, Hawaiian shirt, camera and lei around my neck, sunglasses, NYC brochure in my chest pocket, and some kind of asshole hat. Maybe socks with sandals, too. I'll go around asking people how to get to the Statue of Liberty. Trick or treat?)
Monday, October 17, 2011
Sunday, October 16, 2011
At this weekend's Golden Door International Film Festival, I attended a screening of a fascinating little documentary by a Jersey City filmaker entitled the secret life of my small urban backyard. (Intentional lowercase.) It's a visual tour of the exotic insect life one can find (with an extreme close-up lens) less than two miles from New York City. It featured lots of miniature sex and violence, leavened by a dulcifying musical drone and the filmmaker's calm New Zealand accent.
It got me thinking about what could be going on in my own backyard, on both the micro and macro level. I suppose I could make a sitcom about the family of possums living in the tool shed or a medical drama about the strangely cancerous-looking (and mostly inedible) McIntosh apples that are currently being shed by the tree that dominates my little patch of urban landscape. But nah. And I'm too squeamish to investigate what is going on with all the fruit flies, and who knows what other multi-legged monsters, that are buzzing around the compost bin. I'm better off just writing about such glamorous topics, I think. I know my lane.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Yes, a desktop -- the old-fashioned kind. It's not my desk; this is a desk I observed and photographed when I visited the caretaker's house at a local cemetery. No, nobody died, nor was I paying my respects to the dearly departed. I was there to attend an art exhibit that my wyfe dragged me to, but I found this collection of objects on the caretaker's escritoire far more interesting than anything hanging on the walls. Peppers, papers, portraits, a pointer, a prince of peace... enough alliteration. Click the pic for a closer view. You know you want to, nosy.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Anathema comes ever to mind when thinking of you.
Your face is like an imperfectly shaven tennis ball.
Your aquiline senescence implores me to generalize within the realms of a starfish's lifelong hallucinations of gelatin pools and of actuaries floating upon the Rhine.
Entranced by the bitter harmony of your lips, I gaze beyond reason to find the oasis of your ruptured soul.
You are truly a wristwatch in a world of lumps.
You have the vocabulary of an aspidistra in panic.
Wallets of fur would bombard a triassic keychain rather than dialyse in your equable fishtank.
You ever remind me of the enigma of postage not sent.
I find your eye sockets to be a wondrous amusement park of neo-plastic pleasures and oncogenic delights.
Your raw sensuality flusters me like a dog sneezing into a ventilation fan.
Tribes of primitve hunters, with rhinestone codpieces rampant, should build pyramids of Chevy engines covered in butterscotch syrup to exalt the diastolic, ineffable, scintillated and cacophonous salamander of truth which slimes and distracts from each and every orifice of your holy refrigerator, Sears be its brand.
You can generate more of these at the Surrealist Compliment Generator.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
I've finally invested in an e-reader, which arrived today. Cool, but I'm currently mid-way through a conventional print-'n'-paper tome -- perhaps my last? -- and perusal of electronic compositions will have to wait a little longer.
Someone sitting right behind me in a restaurant today was scat singing and performing various musical vocalizations in a soft but quite perceptible voice. I didn't want to turn around and stare, because it might have been perceived as rude and also because I got the impression from the disjointed quality of his medley that the fellow was most likely demented. No one else was paying him any mind, which I thought was a little odd and made me consider, for a moment, if maybe I was the crazy one.
Somebody showed me a picture of a sleeping puppy embracing a teddy bear -- an image of almost unbearable cuteness -- and I suggested to a guy I know who plays in a punk band that it could be his next album cover. "Fantastic idea!" he said, seemingly sincerely. I guess irony is not dead.
Monday, October 10, 2011
Braided or twisted.
"Aware of such fabrications and embellishments, Stravinsky made it clear that he was uncomfortable. His copy of Conversations with Igor Stravinsky includes questions about Craft's garnishing of simple responses, for instance in a floridly descriptive phrase, 'kaleidoscopic montages for contortuplicate personalities.' Stravinsky underlined the passage and expressed his surprise with an exclamation mark in the margin."
--Charles M. Joseph, Stravinsky Inside Out
One of the artist's studios I visited during the recent Jersey City Studio Arts Tour (aka "the artists' studio tour") included some works that I found both fascinating and horrifying: constructions of found objects, cheap toys, plastic flowers, cast-off household objects, and all sorts of flotsam and jetsam, all twisted together with wire into 3D assemblages. There were many, many of these compilations, some small and some large, all over the studio. They were certainly artistically created, but I couldn't help being reminded of my wyfe's late aunt's house in California. She was a hoarder, and visiting her home was like walking around inside one of these agglomerations, which I, in the aunt's case, assumed were the physical manifestation of a troubled mind. It was hard to see at first, but there was a kind of mad order to her placement of all the clutter. Madness or genius? It's often hard to decide.
Sunday, October 09, 2011
Amused. The new issue of Weird, N.J. has arrived. (And I heard one of the editors interviewed on WFMU today.) There's something oddly comforting (not to mention entertaining) when reading about the experiences of people who visit haunted hotels, build 15-foot models of the Twin Towers in their backyards, see mysterious triangles in the sky, and encounter big, red-eyed monsters along lonely New Jersey roadsides at 3 A.M. They make me feel... normal (if a little boring) but also proud to be living in a state where such unusual things occur/seem to occur. Who knows?
Amused II. Why do people on the Internets keep saying they don't understand what David Lynch's Mulholland Drive is about, or what is going on in that film? To me it seems rather obvious -- much more so than in his Lost Highway or, God knows, Inland Empire. It's not just about objective reality, geniuses, it's about wishful dreams and what goes on in someone's head, and how different that can be from "reality". How appropriate that it is set in Tinsel Town. It's probably the best movie ever about Hollyweird, with the possible exception of Sunset Boulevard (notice the similarity in titles).
Thursday, October 06, 2011
Clive, a supreme introvert who somehow managed to be the office's inveterate irritant, made herculean attempts at sociability. Every Thursday, he held a "comfy conclave" for several of his "friends", who were actually his long-suffering employees. The theme this particular week, he announced with lascivious euphony, was Apoplectic Erotica -- though to Clive, this just signified a group viewing of 9 1/2 Weeks. "Sanitized crud", said his administrative aid, under his breath, to the sales manager, who was not-so-secretly an aficionado of funicular bondage. "This is vexatious selectivity," commented the bookkeeper during the third "week". "I wanted to see The DaVinci Coed."
(Most of the phrases come from here.)
Wednesday, October 05, 2011
"Quantum theory predicts that empty space should exert a repulsive force, like dark energy, but one that is stronger than what the astronomers have measured, leaving some physicists mumbling about multiple universes."
--"Three astronomers share Nobel Prize in physics", New York Times
Nothing is not a golden curtain rising. Nothing is not a jellyfish. Nothing is not a Starbucks coffee mug. Nothing is not a flatscreen. Nothing is not a grapefruit. Nothing is not a basketball. Nothing is not a hydroponic garden. Nothing is not a state of unrest. Nothing is not a hashtag. Nothing is not Webster's Third New International Dictionary. Nothing is not a Weed Wacker. Nothing is not a neat freak. Nothing is not a bulldog. Nothing is not a door knocker. Nothing is not a chandelier. Nothing is not a cookbook. Nothing is not "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill". Nothing is not a dishwasher. Nothing is not an anesthetic. Nothing is not a podcast. Nothing is not a skylight. Nothing is not a stop sign. Nothing is not a biplane. Nothing is not an iPhone. Nothing is not a cow. Nothing is not a corndog. Nothing is not a Douglas fir. Nothing is not a coyote. Nothing is not a watch fob. Nothing is not a creationist. Nothing is not a madhouse. Nothing is not Sacajawea or John Philip Sousa. Nothing is not a happy ending.
Tuesday, October 04, 2011
Light-hearted, carefree behavior.
"Corruption and collusion apart, the system discouraged initiative in making decisions. Better to avoid responsibility and stick to the rule book, the diagramma. From this sprang slackness, rhathymia, long delays in reaching decisions or paying out salaries, and downright collousness in ignoring positive distress."
--Iorwerth Eiddon Stephen Edwards, The Cambridge Ancient History
I need more rhathymia. Maybe we all do. The last time I engaged in any rhathymia was... hmm. I guess last Saturday, during the local Artist's Studio Tour, when I visited the studio of a sculptor who makes large Rube Goldberg-style contraptions out of metal pipes, wooden sticks, gears, bicycle chains, small electric motors, and dripping water. Many of them included hand cranks that visitors could turn to make various gadgets perform actions, like opening and closing a fish mouth (some of them were in the form of metallic fish) or make water tip cups over and ring bells. As I turned those cranks, I was five years old again... except... I kept thinking about the word rhathymia.
Monday, October 03, 2011
Someone who frequently sits next to me has a talking shoe and likes to make little mouse noises with it in a semi-conscious way while engaged in some sort of absorbing business. It doesn't happen constantly, and it's such a little (yet torturous) squeak.... Should I break my wall of silence and tell her to oil her damn shoe? I guess I'll have to before my brain congeals.
At the 4th Street Music Festival last weekend, I took refuge in one of the vendor's tents when a monsoon-like downpour suddenly started. It was a fellow who sells blow-up images from smutty old paperbacks on framed canvases -- covers from the type of trash literature that isn't published anymore but that decades ago one might find in an "adult" bookstore. (Do those even exist anymore?) He also has images from wacky old sci-fi novels, and a few that combine elements of both. He gave me his business card, which on one side depicts the cover for a scholarly tome entitled The Oversexed Astronauts, by (ha ha) M. Coxe. The cover depicts two guys wearing only the bottom haves of their spacesuits and having their way with a couple of naked astronettes. Under the title it says "Three glowing specimens of male virility with plenty of staying power in a round-the-clock orgy that was outasite." There's an upright rocket in the background. Subtle.
I see pale
in a looming evening
in a dark room.
I see me,
sitting on a cushion,
paying close attention
stirring only to close
a window against
to a mysterious
not to care
so awfully much.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
All of the pieces came from different artists working in different mediums. Some of it was quite stunning, some of it truly seemed random, and all of it made me feel a bit... fragmented. Juxtaposed. Cobbled together. I like genuine randomness, but this was curated randomness by a single person... I guess you could call it faked randomness, if you wanted to be blunt about it. Not that such is necessarily a bad thing -- like I said, much of it was stunning and most of the individual pieces could certainly stand as works of art on their own. But it didn't quite work for me.
They had some amputated parts of stuffed animals in a big bowl there that visitors could recombine (thanks to the miracle of Velcro) in amusing ways, but I wasn't in the mood.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Monday, September 26, 2011
To break or smash. Also: a mess. (When capitalized, this is apparently also the name, or part of the name, of some hipster band.)
"If any of the boys sounded the alarm, you could have forty or fifty little horrors milling around the stairs and the passages or running to banjax the getaway car. They are like a hornets' nest when they have got it in for someone -- and absolutely fearless."
--Andrew Nugent, Soul Murder
I'm tired of seeing all these banjaxed old pre-digital TV sets on the curbside, their cathode-ray tubes exposed and their circuit wires hanging out like the disembowled intestines of some slaughtered creature. Don't people know that you can't just throw away a TV set? The sanitation department will not pick them up, since they're practically hazmat with all the poisonous chemicals used in their manufacture. You have to take them somewhere, like the Incinerator Authority (in our fair city) or whatever the equivalent place is that accepts old appliances, paint and aerosol cans, and your dead batteries. Then they probably get shipped off to a Chinese landfill (thanks 60 Minutes). But at least we wouldn't have to look at these sad, broken relics of a bygone era and stumble over them for weeks on end while their ignorant owners wait for a trash pick-up that will never come.
Friday, September 23, 2011
The contents of the mantlepiece in my living room (left to right):
A fishbowl containing a piece of coral and a porcelain fish, and no water; a stack of small, 1960s-era souvenir glass ashtrays from Los Angeles and Las Vegas (once owned by my wyfe's late aunt); a pine nut; a Michael Jackson doll (from the Thriller days) wearing a red uniform jacket and a white glove and lying flat on his back; a 3D wooden snowflake; a photograph of our fireplace (yes--on top of the fireplace); a small metal replica of the Eiffel Tower; a tiny metal replica of the Space Needle; a tin Lucky Strikes cigarette case containing various ID and membership cards from the 1940s through 1960s that belonged to my wyfe's late aunt and her ex-husband; another stack of souvenir glass ashtrays (we don't smoke) from various California and Nevada motels and casinos; a painted seashell; a small Hello Kitty candle; and two glass paperweights, one containing a yellowed photograph of a fancy hotel and the other a photo of an unknown, sad-faced woman (1920s era?) with a curlicue of hair in the middle of her forehead.
Sometimes I think a semiotician could have a field day with this place.
The 3 Rs by David Lynch
Thursday, September 22, 2011
sell his own mother down the river
You have to wonder why someone would be searching for this phrase. And what the going rate is for a mom in wherever "down the river" is. New Orleans? I guess I could find out on Craigslist....
inside of white album
I believe there are secret, back-masked messages inside the White Album. They are telling me to hold my head up, free my mind, and come out and play in the road.
michael gates new jersey
Google reveals that I am number-one for this search phrase, even though there are seven people with that name in the Garden State. I wonder how often the others search for their own names and then land on my page -- and then want to change their names.
prism sun glass door
Watermelons, dropped from a height, can indeed be deadly weapons in the hands of frat boys. Bombs away!
drawing body parts
Drawing people is so hard. I wish I could draw my proximal phalanges....
humerous tombstone suggestions
Try this one, carved on a tombstone in Wiltshire, England:
out of sight:
He sought the leak
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
A confusing, complex, or embarrassing situation, a painful misunderstanding, or a scandal.
"He wanted to be an Untouchable, Paul did. That was his idea of a contemporary career. But then a girl walked up and touched him (slapped him, actually; it's a complicated story). And he joined us, here in the imbroglio."
--Donald Barthelme, "See the Moon?"
Oh, this is a pretty easy word, compared to most of the ones I foist upon you. I more or less knew what it meant without looking it up. But it's a word I like (I like the sound of it), and I came across it in the book I'm currently reading (with my eyes, not my ears): Sixty Stories, by the late Mr. Barthelme. It's a very amusing collection of off-the-wall literary pieces, most of which don't seem like stories at all, at least not in the sense of having a beginning, a middle, and nice little New Yorker-type wrap-it-up-with-a-tasteful-bow epiphany at the end. That's okay. I've laughed out loud more than once while reading this witty tome -- a rare pleasure.
Monday, September 19, 2011
Saturday, September 17, 2011
This is a Green-breasted Spotted Nuthatch, one of the rarest birds in North America, which I managed to photograph when it alighted briefly atop a floral mound in our local park. It's song is a tirelessly repeated musical trill: foo lee uuu, foo lee uuu....
Sorry to ruffle your feathers, but actually, I just made that up -- not that I really expected you to swallow it. This is a shrubbery, an impressive example of topiary that I encountered when we toured the gardens of Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, England, last July. Click on the pic for a close-up view -- unless you don't give a hoot.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
that little redhead
exploded for us,
igniting a tiny
in the big, dark place.
Your face bloomed,
orange and guileless
in the match-light:
out of childhood,
out of a sulfurous dream.
Fade to black.
So it is with our kind.
I endured it,
I let drop
that little cinder bone,
the dead stick.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
A couple of people I know are in a local band, and that band is about to release a self-produced (but studio-recorded) album. No big deal, right? Except it won't be on CD or vinyl (though they'd certainly like it to be the latter). And no, it's not going to be a download, though it may be that as well, eventually. It's going to be on cassette. That's almost unbelievably retro, but is it... cool? I can't remember the last time I listened to anything on cassette. I still have a boom box that can play them, so I'll be able to listen to the album, but I'm not sure if most people have retained the, uh, technology. Some people like the pops and clicks on vinyl records (not to mention the "warmer" sound), which seem to add an air of authenticity. Will they feel the same way about tape hiss? I guess we'll find out.
I discovered that I still have a 20-pound note in my wallet from my trip to England. I had exchanged my Brit bills at the airport just before leaving for home, but this one, all folded up, escaped my notice somehow. Maybe I'll take it to an American Express office next time I'm in Manhattan and trade it for greenbacks. Or maybe not. It's a souvenir of sorts, with HM the Queen's smirking mug on one side and some kind of graphic depicting "the division of labour in pin manufacturing" (huh?) on the other. It bears the signature of Andrew Bailey, the "chief cashier" of the Bank of England, which conjures on odd image in my mind: Andy standing behind a shop counter and working a cash register, like one of the check-out clerks at Stop & Shop.
Hipster central has unveiled David Lynch's cover art for his upcoming album. I like.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
To repeat oneself excessively.
"But his meaning is buried beneath layers of imperspicuity where he battologizes with novel conceits and becomes pleonastic and periphrastic. To him 'law is pragmatic and philosophic, not vapid beating of juristic wings in the void.'"
It can be annoying when someone repeats himself constantly, but it can be amusing, too. Whenever you hear the word or catchphrase elsewhere, you think of that person. The verbal tic becomes symbolic of him or her, like an sonic monogram or an aural coat of arms.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Here are some words and phrases I hear from people (who shall be nameless) all the time:
close the loop
have a conversation about....
exactly! [I'm guilty of this one myself]
what's interesting is....
can I ask you a question?
over to you
okay, okay, okay
here's the thing...
Reminder to my readers around the world: I expect you to help rescue these "words of the day" from oblivion by using them in daily conversation and reporting back to me the reactions you receive.
Monday, September 12, 2011
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Saturday, September 10, 2011
This is a portrait of King Arthur on the very Round Table around which such knights as Lancelot and Galahad sat drinking coffee or mead or whatever they imbibed in those apocryphal times. This piece of legendary furniture is housed in the "Great Hall" of Winchester Castle in Hampshire, England.
I didn't make this up! Henry VIII did. The table is a hoax, painted at Henry's command for Holy Roman Emperor Charles V's 1522 state visit. The table itself is considerably older than that, according to dendrochronology -- but the wood it's made of does not date back to Arthur's time. Fake, fake, fake.
Still, it's a fascinating artifact, so I took this picture of it when we visited Winchester in July. You may want to climb down from your beanstalk and click on the pic for a close-up look at old Art, holding his sword Excaliber. And you can see the entire tabletop here.
Thursday, September 08, 2011
Confused. Someone, a person I see almost every weekday, asked me if I had just received a haircut today. Now, I haven't had a haircut since late June, when I was almost buzzed bald by an eccentric Brazilian hairstylist who apparently has trouble following simple directions. So I said, no, I haven't had a haircut. "Oh, have you been wearing a hat then?" this person asked. "It looks matted down." I didn't know how to respond to that. I hadn't been wearing a hat, and a recent glance in the loo's mirror hadn't revealed anything out of the ordinary about my still rather short coif. So I ran my fingers through my hair and fluffed it up a bit in a mocking way, and everyone laughed. I guess you can see someone every day for years, but not really see him at all, until a random moment of undistracted clarity strikes and you suddenly picture the guy as he is in the moment, instead of your mentally prepackaged image from months ago.
Wednesday, September 07, 2011
archaism in Shakepeare
I guess there is some, isn't there? I don't lose sleep over it, though. "Thou clay-brained guts, thou knotty-pated fool, thou whoreson obscene greasy tallow-catch!" (Henry IV, part I) Who knows what a "tallow-catch" is anymore? I get the clear impression it isn't a good thing, though, and that's what matters.
That might be a good name for this blog. As far as I'm concerned, there is always room for surrealism.
science fiction plot ideas
How about this:
A light-fingered human-reptile hybrid man is scraping a living on a stormy planet. His homeworld was destroyed by a rogue virus. With the help of a lonely A.I. program, he must travel through time in order to save his unhatched egg.
find free mannequin parts
I don't even want to think about why you're googling for them....
why did I dare to turn down the hot water
I too sometimes scald or chill myself in the shower when I get a little too imprudent with the faucet handle. It's never occurred to me to google guilty questions about it, though.
nobody likes me because I'm different
Tell me about it.... Adult life is amazingly like high school, isn't it?
blonde bombshell and crazy cat lady
Interesting combination. That reminds me, for some reason, of Marilyn Monroe and her beloved dog, a Maltese named "Maf" -- short for "Mafia". The dog was a gift to her from Frank Sinatra, which raises all sorts of questions and speculative connections that have given birth to a thousand conspiracy theories. That way madness lies (more Shakespearean archaism).
simile of revenge
At first, I read that as "smile of revenge". A simile? Revenge is like a lollipop. Discuss.
What? How it it different? (Or is this a euphemism for saké?)
Tuesday, September 06, 2011
Having a violent desire to write.
"And as for the 'lady novelist,' who supplies the circulating libraries with endless small reading, one feels that she is a curious product of this scripturient age. No doubt she fills some useful, or necessary, purpose in the subtle economy of this mysterious universe; but what it is, besides making a little money for herself, and providing a stimulus to the trades of paper-making, printer, and binding, one must wait to know until the 'great day' when all secrets will be revealed."
--G.W. Foote, "The Mighty Atom", in Freethinker, May 17, 1896
My, how sexist. It should be noted, however, that Foote was comparing the "lady novelists" of his own day to Charlotte Bronte ("a Titaness") and (Ms.) George Elliot ("full of intellect and power"), whom he called "mighty predecessors".
I can't say I've ever experienced a "violent" desire to write -- though judging from the frequency of posts here, I think you could say I have a strong urge, bordering on obsession. But violence? Let's say you were some kind of busybody censor who somehow inserted yourself into my circle of acquaintance. Would I hit you over the head with my thesaurus if you tried to prevent me from pounding the keys? Maybe, if you were insistent and persistent about it. And it might not be such a terrible thing. Hell, it would give me something exciting to write about.