Monday, January 31, 2011

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

Unstable: It melts and then it freezes. I nearly slipped and fell three times on my way to the train station this morning. One of those glissades was almost into a moving car. Should have worn skates.

Sympathetic: with Lionel Logue (The King's Speech), a "nobody" autodidact who had "no letters after [his] name" but the kind of experience that made the difference. I have a couple of letters after my name, but not the ones people bother to put on their business cards. Experience is my only currency.

Curious: Why does the Chevy Volt, an electric car, have a silvery fake grill on the front?

Amused: By all the yelling and expletives streaming from one of the soundproof (?) studios at work. Joey [trousers] is in there, creating content.

Wondering: How King Tut and Cleopatra would opine about the demonstrations in Egypt. They weren't exactly democrats (that would have been ahistorical), but Cleo at least was concerned about providing for her subjects.

Excited: About the deleted scenes from Blue Velvet, long thought lost, that have recently been unearthed, just in time for the Blu-ray re-re-re-release (suspiciously perhaps). Now if that French distribution company would just let DL have those FWWM outtakes -- the holy grail of Lynchiana.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Photo of the Week: Snow Lump

snow lump

Here you see the results of my labors with a shovel: a gigantic lump of frozen precipitation taking the form of crystals of intricately branched, hexagonal shape and conglomerated into a mass of flakes, formed directly from the freezing of air-borne water vapor.

This photo is in black-and-white, though it would appear virtually identical in color; the starkness of this configuration of snow and iron, which greets me each time I leave or return to the house, is what inspired the snap.

Sometimes I wish the entire world was monochromatic, like a creaky old movie in which everything seems simpler, clear-cut, more... more... black and white.

Click the pic for a shiver.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Word of the Day: shemozzle

shemozzle (n)

A state of confusion and chaos; an uproar.

"No end of a shemozzle there's been there lately," he said. "Marina Gregg's been having hysterics most days. Said some coffee she was given was poisoned."
--Agatha Christie, The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side

Quite a shemozzle in Egypt these days. Overdue I think. Tell old pharaoh to let my people go.

A few years ago, when I lived in a slightly more urban area, one of my Saturday-night entertainments was simply to look out of my living-room window at a different sort of shemozzle. A crowd of drunken young men would often spill out of a divey bar across the street that called itself The Oasis (but I called The Fight Club). Inevitably, noisy spats would break out, including knife-wielding contretemps. The fracas would eventually draw a wailing squad car to the scene, at which point all the dipsomaniacs and belligerents would scatter, roach-like, in all directions. It was better than reality TV.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The T&T List

Stuxnet
Polar Rose
Strbske Pleso
Calabi-Yau manifolds
The Hidden Reality
kombu dashi
Bonne Bell Lip Smackers
Le Pain Quotidien
Zihuatanejo
Jeff Weiner
10.1.2
Shrine Auditorium

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Head Rattle: State of the Onion

I.

More snow. I give up. My attempts to control the weather telepathically by thinking about palm trees and bikinis has failed. I embrace winter. I adore a winter landscape of frosted trees and frozen slush. Surely that will now lead to a warming trend? Speaking of winter, I recently attended a black-tie event at which many female congregants wore open-toed sandals. In January. When it was 15 degrees (F). And we had six inches of snow on the ground (we still do). Maybe they were trying to control the weather. Guys I see on the street wearing bermuda shorts this time of year: you're just as perplexing.

II.

The State of the Onion! When is a speech like an onion? When it's the "State of the Union", which is (or should be) not a speech but a report. When delivered as a speech, it has too many layers. It's about everything: the economy, foreign relations, terrorism, immigration, energy, the environment, healthcare, the budget, education, the role of government, plus obligatory absurdities about "the greatest country on earth", blah, blah. And so, being a speech about everything, it is really a speech about salmon nothing. Which is why last night's State of the Onion, delivered by a man whose rhetorical skills can rival a Kennedy or a Reagan, was so utterly cliched and dull. He should have mailed in a hardcopy, as presidents before Woodrow Wilson generally did, and as Jimmy Carter did as recently as 1981.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Random Acts of Poetry

Digging

Low hills on Channel 13
cup a reverence
around a hole in the ground.

Diggings and scrapings
with garden tools
echo off dead crater walls

where life once extended
like a run-on sentence,
adding too many centuries.

The digger carries on, carries
his leathery body
like a sack of pipes,

eyes bright chisels
chipping at strange mounds, reveling
in broken dishes

and the trash of the ancients.
Who were these stone-faced people,
God's voiceover asks,

so proud of their mallets
and ugly jugs?
What totems did they bow to?

Who are these doctors,
picking through bones and teeth
like patient grave robbers

while thousands lounge on couches--
we peepers, safe in our millennium,
anxious to fathom a mystery pit.

And what does dusty litter
whisper about those
who might fear demons,

we curious gods gazing
through the flickering squares
of the future?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Word of the Day: exfluncticate

exfluncticate (v)

To destroy completely.

"Pony up and we can catawamptiously exfluncticate the codfish aristocracy once and for all."
--The Kingsley Commission

I used to watch a cable TV show called Battlebots, in which teams of engineers/nerds created actual robots that fought each other until one or the other machine was exfluncticated. There was something cathartic about it, and I didn't have to feel vaguely sleezy like I would if I were to flip the channel to, for example, professional wrestling or even boxing. Whatever happened to the Battlebots of yesteryear? Oh wait....

~~~

Meanwhile....

Destruction Therapy

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Almost True

Mr. Phil Osofish** sits in a metal and faux-leather row chair in the baggage claim area of Newark Liberty International Airport, Terminal A, waiting for a plane to land. In front of him are three escalators, two down and one up, conveying a multifarious collection of humans and luggage. A hippie descends with a guitar and a sly grin, as if he's seeing something no one else can. A businessman in an overcoat stares at his watch as he steps off. A woman on crutches struggles down and almost falls as she reaches the bottom.

One of the escalators needs oil. It makes a whistling sort of squeaking sound like an angry bird. The noise begins to annoy Phil, so he straps on some headphones, plugs them into an iPod, and begins to listen to, not music, but a post-modern short story about a group of travelers en route to a reunion of former actors who have portrayed Ronald McDonald in television commercials. At this point in the story, the travelers have landed at an airport and are attempting, comically and unsuccessfully, to rent a car.

The coincidence of locales gives Phil an odd feeling of significance, as if something important is about to happen. He has a strange feeling that someone he knows, someone other than the person he is waiting for, is about to descend on one of the escalators. He feels he is in a story himself. He's not sure how this character will react to seeing him: surprise, pleasure, terror, or, worst of all, indifference. Either one of them could feel any one of these things, or some peculiar, unbearable combination.

But it doesn't happen. An Asian woman in a sari with two children descends and hugs a man carrying flowers. Two blond student-types with backpacks stumble off, looking exhausted. A bearded hipster in a leather jacket rides down wearing a bored expression. Then the person Phil has come to the airport for appears and smiles. Phil takes off his headphones and stands up.

And he's happy and sad at the same time.

~~~
**In other words, me. See my Philosofish here.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Photo of the Week

snow car

This is not my car.

My photo of the week was not snapped during today's latest snowtastrophe, but rather two weekends ago, in the lull between...snopocalypses. (Is there a plural form of "apocalypse"?) This poor, forsaken 1953 Buick slumps in a small, gritty parking lot that I pass on foot every Saturday on my way to the countinghouse. It apparently hasn't moved in years. There is something fantastically poignant about this vehicular corpse -- thus the photo.

Click the pic; scan the sedan.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

Stoic: Snow again tonight. I've moved to Alaska, NJ, apparently. Silver-white winters that melt into spring are among my most abhorred things. Wordnik has 56 words for snow, including "diamond dust", "metohkangmi", and "crud".

Relatively serene: There are many ways to deal with stress: meditation, vacation, perambulation, mas… tication. One of the best, which I've recently rediscovered, is delegation!

Forgetful, ethnocentric: Somebody I "know" keeps sitting beside me on the PATH train and engaging me in conversation, which is congenial enough, but I can't extract his name from my cerebrum, even though he's enunciated it for me a few times. It's not a Western name, which is my problem, I guess.

~~~

Meanwhile....

Two Suns... the cure for snow or the end of the world? Probably neither, just two too cool.

"Where we're from, the birds sing a pretty song, and there's always music in the air." A Selected David Lynch Discography

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sorry to Disappoint

Below are some of the search terms that recently brought seekers to this font of wisdom. Most of them probably went away disappointed. So sorry about that....

dale cooper coffee
He likes it "Black as midnight on a moonless night" "And hot!" Just the way I also fetishize it.

creative names for eatery
Fukui Sushi? Aunt Chiladas? Wok & Roll? For Crusts Sake? I Feel Like Crepe? (I don't claim these are original.)

being sure of yourself means you are a fool
Probably true, if you mean overconfidence. I always identified more with that tortoise.

Saragossa Manuscript essay
Think Inland Empire was confusing/confounding/convoluted? The Saragossa Manuscript, a Polish film from the mid 60s and a possible David Lynch inspiration, makes it seem like Mary Poppins. I scribbled a bit about Saragossa here.

I wish January turns to March
Yeah, I'm satiated with the snow, too. The problem is, around here, March can be just as hiemal. April may be the cruelest month, but it does have daffodils.

you serve me dotcom
I serve you dotcom, you serve me eyeballs, m'kay?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Brain Dump

Day of existence: this imitates time and other drama. It's a new year they've given us, man and woman, and as for the part that occupies the quietude with it, well, you've lived now in other realms, a strategy which enjoys success, but with nasty qualms. Time was visited by them -- mystery solved after two years of periodic collisions, all divided, like a child who uses the persona of whatever cactus flower Mommy married. Thus far, because this part of the house could have been predicted, everything seems complete after years in the monkey life. The pencil remains by your feet, though, the temporary death of scribbling, and by these lights, calculation lengthens. This demands an attempt to make it father to the persona built around the people you think you are, in this or another place, in any order preferred. It remains to be seen how well all this fits in a very small compartment. But I'm over that uncertainty now! All that's required is an indication of the map of the labyrinth, a composition yet to come, though here.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Word of the Day: Sitzfleisch

Sitzfleisch (n)

The ability to endure or persist through determination.

"They simply hadn't enough Sitzfleisch to squat
under a bho-tree and get to Nirvana by contemplating
anything, least of all their own navel."
--D. H. Lawrence, Things

I'm all about Sitzfleisch, come to think of it. In my life I've grown up with an alcoholic parent, lived in a rural area and then moved to New York City, overcome painful shyness (though I backslide), been fired, been rejected by friends both male and female, been depressed, failed in business, had to reinvent myself, blah, blah, blah, boo, hoo, hoo. It's not really anything out of the ordinary, but ordinary in this world is awful. But not, for me, unbearable. Sitzfleisch hasn't gotten me "far", but it's gotten me somewhere. And that's better than being nowhere.

~~~

Meanwhile....

Stuff and Things

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Head Rattle

Dwelling on guns and insanity lately....

I.

As far as I'm concerned, civilians should only have three types of concealable "firearms": (1.) Squirt Guns. Imagine if the current mad shooter had used H2O instead of bullets. Whatever delusional anti-government declaration he was trying to convey (if that was part of it; seems likely) would have been made with no casualties. He probably would have been arrested for disturbing the peace and might be in a psych ward now instead of facing a probable death sentence. (2.) Cap Gun. I had fun with these as a kid. I was more interested in the noise it made and the gunpowder odor the exploding caps emitted than in the gun itself. In fact, I would often remove the caps and hit them with rocks instead of firing the toy pistol. None of this made me want a Glock as an adult. (3.) Glue Gun. My wyfe is actually "armed" with one of these, which she uses to bond various unlikely objects together into artworks. This sort of gun could be injurious at close range, but mostly to the fingers of the "shooter".

II.

Confidential to E.H.P.: I'm an extremely patient human. Whenever the situation changes (physically or mentally), let's go fishing again.

III.

I watched It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World in uninterrupted HDTV last night. I haven't seen this quintessentially American slapstick comedy about insane greed in ages. It actually made me chortle out loud, which is not easy to do these days. The print was pristine -- it looked like it could have been shot yesterday, except for some bouffants, the early 60s auto styling (much more imaginative than today's) and the relatively youthful visages of just about every comedian and comic actor you could name from that era. The film, which features some incredible pre-digital stunts and gorgeous cinematography of the California desert, was released in early November 1963. If it had been released about two weeks later, they might well have added another Mad to that title.

I also watched In the Loop -- a very different kind of madness, and a very different kind of funny.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Photo of the Week ~ Random Acts of Poetry

prism

Click this photo to have a quasi-religious experience.

Our front door's cut-glass panel functions like a series of prisms, turning sunshine into rainbows on our drawing-room's bamboo floor.

Let's see if that works as a poem:

~~~

Spectrum

Our front door's
cut-glass panel

Funtions like a series
of prisms

Turning sunshine
into rainbows

On our drawing-room's
bamboo floor.

~~~

Yeah, kinda.

~~~

Meanwhile....

Things Real People Don't Say About Advertising

(Thanks, Joe A.)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

Embarrassed: The problem with wearing snow boots is that my hooves aren't used to them. So I tripped and tumbled on the escalator at Journal Square today -- the "up" escalator, fortuitously. No harm done, except to my dignity.

Annoyed: With the new "head" I had to buy for my electric toothbrush (the toothbrush dentists recommend). It was quite expensive and is cacophonous. It sounds like a power drill, which isn't a sound I care to hear at seven in the morning. Especially in my mouth.

Pleased: My "new" astrological sign is Sagittarius, thanks to my home world's wobble (as explained here). I never liked the whole goat thing much. We should all look forward to the new Age of Ophiuchus (whenever it is), as Aquarius hasn't exactly delivered "harmony and understanding, sympathy and trust abounding".

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Word of the Day: velleity

velleity (n)

A slight wish; a mild desire.

"The dope salesman may know everything that's ever going to happen to Tchitcherine, and decide it's no use - or, out of the moment's velleity, lay it right out for the young fool."
--Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow

I have many velleities throughout the day, like anyone: to be warmer, for a cup of coffee, to conjure something to write about, to retrocede time. For a break. For a laugh. For something that might surprise you. Sometimes they even manifest. My wishes are not equine, but I've ridden a few.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Much Ado about NOTHING

Good news! I don't need a root canal after all.

This morning, I visited a dental specialist who evaluated my current oral botheration: occasional pain when masticating some morsel or sipping some libation that is either intensely frigid or piping hot. First I had to be tortured a little, however. It started with a bit of weirdness, when the hygienist who escorted me to the recliner of pain insisted that I use some hand sanitizer. I don't quite fathom the connection between antiseptic hands and super-sensitive teeth, but I humored her. Then Dr. Paroxysm came in and started "testing" my teeth, first by sticking a tiny poker into a flame (seriously) and then against some of my molars. Owww! Then he pressed what felt like an ice cube from Pluto against the same denticles. Ahhh! The pains faded fast, however, so he concluded that my roots are actually sound, no canals need to be excavated, and the sensitivity is just a...mystery. Relief! And this little interlude of torment only cost me 200 bucks.

Later, at work, I had another conversation with Joey [trousers], the film and TV actor who wanders about the office between bouts of, uh, content creation, as we say. He wanted to know why we pull down the window shades on the panoramic vistas that are theoretically visible though the fenestration I face while seated at my workbench. I explained that I experience eyestrain when the afternoon sun sheds its dazzle. He then delivered some poetic utterances about the snow-covered hills visible through another window, which led to some reflections on the pleasures of skiing. He loves cold weather, he said.

Strange days indeed.

tooth

Monday, January 10, 2011

Fish Food for Thought

philosofish 25 small

Agree? More clip-art philosophy by me (and Mark Twain). Click here for the BIG fish.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Random Sequence

Scenario 32

[Two contemporary cowboys at a table, drinking beer.]

"I need me a revenge certificate," said Cody.
"A what?" said Barney.
"A revenge certificate. I got my revenge. I want somethin' I can frame and hang on the wall."
"Revenge for what?" Barney inquired.
"For the stupid gift certificate Darla give me, the one for the food facial at the Face Place."
"What's a food facial?"
"That's when they put cucumber slices on your eyes and all this glop, this veggie paste, on your face and neck," Cody explained.
"Why'd you want a thing like that?" Barney asked.
"I didn't! Darla got it and regifted it," said Cody.
"Damn. And you used it?"
"Yeah, she talked me into it. It was godawful. A godawful gooey bonanza for the gip that thought it up, though. While he plastered this crap all over my face, the fat guy what did it was tryin' to sell me more gift certificates, like to the Beat Mall."
"The what?"
"The Beat Mall. This place down at the strip mall where you can go into different rooms where they're playin' different beats that you can dance to or do aerobics to or some shit."
"You can not be serious."
"Yeah, I am," said Cody. "Then he asked me if I'd want to buy a storage chandelier, maybe for Darla."
"Huh?"
"A storage chandelier. He's sellin' 'em. It's got these hollow candlesticks that you can keep cash or yer valuables in. Don't ask."
"You didn't buy one, did you?"
"Hell no. But he almost sold me some smell cushions."
"What?
"Smell cushions, or 'aroma' cushions he called 'em. Like pillows that smell like roses or baked bread or something. He said they would put Darla in the mood. They got some kind of aphro... aphro... some kind of musk that makes you want to screw. So he said."
"You believe that?"
"Hell no! I do dearly wish it was true, but he had a weird smile and those shifty eyes."
"Trouble," Barney said.
"Trouble," Cody agreed.
"So how'd you get yer revenge?"
"He had all these salad cups, sort of like Cup-a-Soup -- you know? -- but with like salad. I swear he was probably puttin' 'em in a blender to make his face goo. Anyway, he wanted to sell me some of those too. I swear he was like a fast-talkin' used-car salesman, this prissy fat dude running this Face Place. Anyway, when he wiped all the shit off me and told me I looked like one million bucks -- I didn't see no difference -- he excused his self to go to the crapper. I saw he had one of the open salad cups on his desk, so I figured he was fixin' to eat it for lunch once he finished tryin' to gip me. So I quick like chewed up some tobacco and spit in it. Salad dressing! Then I vamooosed."
"Cool. I guess," Barney said. "What would yer certificate say?"
"For Meritorous Spittin' and Splittin' after Gettin' a Gippin'. Or somethin' like that."

FIN

Friday, January 07, 2011

Photo of the Week

2 cigarettes

"I'm used to dark being a bit darker than this...." said "Epiclectic" when I posted this photo on Flickr. Indeed.

This is a record album cover I found in my mother's junk room when I visited the family seat. She has a whole magazine rack full of scratched-up old vinyl mood-music discs from the Mad Men era. It seems that compilation albums with provocative covers that had little or nothing to do with the instrumentals within were ubiquitous then -- music to put on the hi-fi while you sipped cocktails and puffed Newports. Classy! Freud would have had a field day with this one. She looks a bit butch, don't you think?

Click it and you'll be kissing close.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

The T&T List

Bayesian analysis
3NET
315 Johns
The Adventures of Guille and Belinda and the Enigmatic Meaning of Their Dreams
Lamar Odom
Codfish fritters
Hete Bliksem
tessellation
Ricardo Kak√°
QRae II confined-space gas detector
Malus domestica
The Boomerang Range

~~~

Meanwhile...

"The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter -- it is the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning."
--Mark Twain

"Leprosy,/Suddenly I'm not half the man I used to be/ There are pieces falling out of me/Oh, leprosy came suddenly."
--Marcus Cahill

Please Stand By....

Temporary technical difficulties. (Translation: Last night, Blogspot was being a recalcitrant beast.)

How long can you hold your breath?

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Head Rattle

I.

I despise being introduced to humans I've met before, sometimes multiple times. I don't recall names, but I remember eyes, nose, mouth, hair. At the group-show art opening tonight, the one in which my wyfe's hand/mirror thing made its debut (see bizarre photograph below), I re-met several reps of the local gentry, all of whom claimed to remember me. I doubt they would if they passed me on the street without the company of my wyfe, however. Someone I did know there pretty well suggested I might adopt a more memorable name: Mike Rofiction.

II.

There was an appalling scene at the PATH train station this A.M. rush hour. Due to a "car equipment problem" a seething mass of humanity huddled on the concourse level, shoulder to shoulder, waiting for trains to convey them to Manhattan. It reminded me a bit of the scene in Times Square each New Year's Eve. Cops were preventing them from escalating down to the actual train platforms, for fear of overcrowding and unexpected encounters with the tracks. Luckily for me, I was able to bypass the throngs, because I wasn't going to the Appleopolis, but rather to Newark. Yes, that's counted a lucky thing...going to Newark....

III.

This David Foster Wallace tome I'm "reading" is now on to a short story about one of Lyndon Baines Johnson's minions in the early to mid 1960s. It's an engaging character study (a counterfeit memoir, actually) with, of course, a ready-made dramatic plot (a certain assassination and aftermath) and a ready-made colorful curmudgeon for the central character to play off of. So maybe it's cheating, with all those prefabricated elements, but it's enjoyable PoMo fiction nonetheless. Maybe I should emulate and write a story about, I don't know, Marilyn Monroe's dog. Oh wait....

Monday, January 03, 2011

Lynchpin

It is with mixed emotion that I pass along a link to 35 Years of David Lynch. Such retrospective cogitations usually commemorate a completed career. And I certainly hope we haven't seen the last of a filmmaking Lynch. I appreciate his Renaissance-man explorations of other mediums, particularly music, and his dedication to meditation, even if I'm rather tired of hearing about the latter. (Talk about meditation is about as interesting to me as dancing about architecture -- and I meditate.) But I'd like to be gobsmacked again by something totally unexpected on a movie screen. Or a flatscreen. Or even a computer monitor.

Nevertheless, the site is an enjoyable read, and a visual keepsake.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Word of the Day: sardoodledum

sardoodledum (n)

Dramatic works with exaggerated, contrived, trivial, or deplorable plots; soap opera; melodrama.

"It is essentially an actor's play -- a thing of big, old-fashioned scenes which hit shamelessly below the belt, of canvas and of greasepaint, of Sardoodledum set to song, of melodious verses and creaking melodramatics, of tall rhetoric and full-blown romanticism, of easy pathos and somewhat tarnished grandeur."
--John Mason Brown, Two on the Aisle

Sometimes life imitates daytime drama. The New Year's party we attended was given by a woman who divorced, then decided to have a child with a married man who now lives in another country, but whom she manages to visit there periodically, along with their two-year-old. Meanwhile, as she was planning this party (with a very animated two-year-old "monkey" underfoot), her mother lay dying in a nursing home, and she was expecting a number of relatives from elsewhere around the nation to arrive within a day or so (to say their farewells to Mother); they would all be staying in her tiny apartment. Also meanwhile, she's been constructing a labyrinthine website showcase for her creative endeavors.

I was mightily impressed. Under similar circumstances, I can't imagine summoning the enterprise to mount a New Year's party (or even to get out of bed), but some people manage to survive and even thrive while living in a melodrama, a soap opera, a true-life...sardoodledum.

By the way, when you search for "sardoodledum" in Google Images (click the link above), for some reason, many depictions of the Beatles, and specifically the "cute one", result. Ob-la-di, ob-la-da.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Much Ado about NOTHING

MMXI

Welcome to January. The streets are lined with melting snow mounds, slowly trickling into nonexistence. Pedestrians trudge single-file down narrow sidewalk trails, puddle jumpers resolving to cure millennial hangovers. Cars swish past at half speed, circling for spaces, for niches of nothing. Time's snail creeps its way down the darkening afternoon, groping toward yet another future. The old year's a ghost; the new one's nervous. What's that looming though the twilight? Is this the year? What kind of days are these? Questions accumulate at compound interest.

1/1/11