Monday, September 30, 2002

When Time Stopped

"The 20th century ended on September 11th, 2001. On that day, the implications of the theory of spectacle came home to roost. On that day, the world was presented with a spectacle of monumental proportions – an act of total negation so extreme that it was almost beyond conception."

Read more at:

The Long Kiss Goodbye to the 20th Century


Quote of the Day

"Windows XP is a 64-bit remake of a 32-bit extension for a 16-bit patch to an 8-bit operating system originally coded for a 4-bit microprocessor by a 2-bit company that can't stand 1-bit of competition."
--Jim Coil

Sunday, September 29, 2002

Them hos be frontin', and I ain't down wit dat

Who has time to write their own rap lyrics anymore? Here's a site that will do it for ya:

Amanda's's RAPGEN


There's no place like home

On Friday night, the family and I went to see a showing of The Wizard of Oz at the Loews Jersey. I had never seen Oz in a movie theater before—and what a theater! The (partially) restored Loews, built in 1929, is a faux Renaissance palace, complete with Corinthian columns, red plush carpeting, grand stairways and enormous chandeliers. It has boxes and balaconies, seating for 1,000, and a huge stage with a curtain. It's everything that cineplexes aren’t today and was a perfect setting to watch a classic film.

There are many aspects of Oz that are dated by today's standards: painted flats and mattes used as backdrops, for example. To me, it doesn't matter, though--it's a dream, after all, and the relatively primitive stagecraft just makes it seem more dreamlike. And many of the special effects hold up quite well--especially the tornado scene.

I must have seen this movie a hundred times on TV, but only as an adult have I come to understand that it has a deeper, underlying meaning—and that even though this is considered the quintessential American film, it’s meaning is actually almost . . . Buddhist. “Brains” (wisdom), “heart” (compassion), “courage” and “a home” are all found inside you—they’re not something that can be found “out there.” You must find them within you. And you won’t find them by just being informed that they are there (“she wouldn’t have believed me”), but only by finding out for yourself. That’s what everyone’s life journey (“follow the yellow brick road”) is all about. Each of those yellow bricks is an experience, a tiny, golden opportunity to learn.

Friday, September 27, 2002

Why Osama bin Laden wants the US to invade Iraq - Op Ads

(Thanks to The Presurfer)


Haiku 247

A scrap of parchment
On the wind that passes by.
Still writers seek fame.

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

He's so predictable . . .

I read a book once entitled King, Warrior, Magician, Lover about the four compass points of the male psyche. Here's a pop version of the concept, based on contemporary "types" that many will recognize, I suspect:

The Field Guide to North American Males

Are you artsy, athletic, work-obsessed or "casual"?

Monday, September 23, 2002

More Poetry Outtakes

We Blend Into the Sky

While we agree on nothing,
Flavors from childhood
Haunt us both in sleep.
Pretend you aren't the killer, you said.
I will if you will--
But it changes nothing.
We blend into the sky.
All of us. Eventually.

Sunday, September 22, 2002

Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book?

At a time in which more and more books are being published while fewer people read them--and fewer media outlets review them--what's an author to do? The frustrating business of book promotion is explored in Bribes, threats and naked readings.

I think I'll stick to web writing for now, thank you.

Saturday, September 21, 2002

Quote of the Day

"When everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane."
--Steven Wright

Friday, September 20, 2002

On Foot

I took the car in to be fixed today. It's having electrical problems--first the turn signal began to blink erratically, then one of the break lights went out. Then two of the four interior speakers fell silent and the driver's-side power window died. It's as if the car is having a slow-motion nervous breakdown.

The dealer's service shop is on the other side of town, so the problem became "How do I get home after I drop the car off?" It's a long walk to a convenient bus route from there, and I hate to waste money on cab fare. The weather is clear today, if a bit muggy, so I decided to walk. It's probably three miles in all, by the circuitous route I had to follow, but I have a good pair of walking shoes.

Interesting the encounters you have on an urban hike. At least four people asked me what time it was. This often happens to me when I'm walking about. I wonder if they really don't know what time it is, or if they're just trying to make some momentary connection with another human being. In a small town, you could say "hello" or "nice day," and get a nod or smile or "hi" in return, but that sort of greeting makes people suspicious in the city. It's often a prelude to "Can you spare a quarter?" or even a mugging, so people ignore it or move away quickly. You have to have a reason to talk to someone on a city street. So, 'Could you tell me what time it is?' someone leaning against the side of a building asks. "Almost 12:30," I say, glancing at my wrist. Sometimes I'm tempted to ask them why they don't wear a watch. They aren't expensive, after all--Burger King gives them away with a Kid's Meal. Sometimes I'm tempted to say, "It's later than you think."

I'm often asked for directions, too, which is ironic, because I have a terrible sense of direction. But I look harmless yet authoritative in my middle-class white-guy way, I suppose, so I'm the one they pick. They pull up alongside me in their cars, roll down their windows, and ask, "Could you tell me how to get to . . . ." I try to help, but I wonder how many times I've steered someone in the wrong direction. I wonder how many people have cursed me as they traveled deeper and deeper into the gritty labyrinth of Jersey City.

Oh, well. I'm home at last. My legs are tired as I sit here sipping a cup of coffee. It's a good feeling.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Surf's Up

Back in the early days of the WWW, aimless web-surfing was a popular activity. People would just follow links to see where they'd end up. Sooner or later, you'd always turn up something interesting or useful, or a least something weird. Then the web became immense and commercial, and people began to feel overwhelmed by its size and variety. They turned to search engines and began to look only for specifics.

But it's still possible to web-surf. Here's a site that makes it simple:

Random Website Surfing with the Magic Lighthouse

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Flow-charting the future

An interesting projection of future outcomes if the U.S. goes to war with Iraq:

Exploring the possibilities

Monday, September 16, 2002

Saddam Hussein: Music Video Star

Yes, it's true. PBS says it's true, so it must be true, but I find it hard to believe. Nevertheless, here's the proof:

frontline: the survival of saddam: video

Did you know that he's also a novelist? An Iraqi publisher has released several of his novels. A wise business decision, no doubt. And I bet they are best sellers.

Sunday, September 15, 2002

Grecian Formula

I usually don't like "cute" movies, but My Big Fat Greek Wedding (which my wife convinced me to see last night) managed to transcend its romance-novel formula with some sharp character acting and a palpable sense of being based on someone's (exagerated) real-life experience. There was no Hollywood gloss or slickness, which was refreshing. And I did laugh at times, which I can't say about most so-called comedies. B+

Friday, September 13, 2002

We're watching you with our spy satellite

Ever wonder what your place looks like from space? Go to the TerraServer V5.0 Homepage and type in your address, using "advanced search." You may get a different perspective on things. (It made me feel like a very tiny insect.)

Thursday, September 12, 2002

All we are saying . . .

A free MP3 download from the one and only Yoko Ono:

Mind Train Records - Give Peace a Chance 2002

Try it -- it is mega-cool.

3,000 people died and all I got was this lousy T-shirt

A somewhat tasteless satire of 9/11 hoopla and commercialism:

The Twin Towers over Ground Zero Theme Park

Be sure to click on Abe Lincoln!

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Quote of the Day

"The danger is not that you'll think you're a genius when you aren't; it's that you'll think it matters."
--David Bradley

Monday, September 09, 2002

Live Long and Prosper

Here's a Guide To Living Forever.

If you can call it living.

While waiting in line at the bank today, I heard a man who said he was 70 years old (he looked older) complaining about his mother. He said she was 96 and couldn't endorse her government checks, because "she doesn't know what's going on anymore." He laughed and then said, "When I get old I think I'll shoot myself."

Sunday, September 08, 2002

Keychain emotions

In the selling of 9/11, a writer laments the commercialization of September 11--the commemorative plates, medallions, sweatshirts, caps, crystal replicas of the WTC towers, etc. I must admit that I find all the trinkets and trash pretty distasteful myself. (The manufacturers of this stuff claim they donate some percentage of the proceeds to charity, but you have to wonder if anyone's actually monitoring that.)

There's something about us Americans--probably our extreme materialism--that makes (some of) us want to crystalize our emotions in the form of merchandise. It's crass, trite, childish and rather sad--as if we had no other means of communicating what we feel. What will be even sadder, though, will be seeing all of this stuff in flea markets and yard sales a few years from now. So much for "remembrance."

Saturday, September 07, 2002

Who's your daddy?

In the "life is unfair" department, ever notice that just about every successful Hollyweird actor, writer or director is related to someone "in the business"? Shameless nepotism has a long and hallowed tradition in film and TV. Here's a page that lists only some of the most obvious examples:

The Hollywood Nepotism Page

And here's a link to "Hollywood's First Annual Nepotism Award."

Thursday, September 05, 2002

The Twists & Turns List

Hamid Karzai
Kelly Clarkson
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Lance Bass
Charlton Heston
Britney Spears
Andrew Cuomo
Eva Braun
Quentin Tarantino

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

Extra Credit

What should schools teach children about Sept. 11? A "psychobabbly, America-is-to-blame-because-of-its-own-racism approach" or a "moralizing, absolutist approach that emphasizes America's virtue above all else"? Here's an article that suggests another alternative:

Sept. 11 Goes to School

In Memoriam

A friend who works as a librarian in a prison writes:

"What are you doing Sept. 11? The prison is having memorial services all morning. This is a good thing. All the books I've bought on Taliban, Terrorism, Jihad, Sept. 11 are moving off the shelves (and surprisingly they are coming back to be re-circulated!)."

I can't remember a time of so much collective memorial as we're about to experience next week. The only thing I can compare it to is JFK's funeral in 1963. (I was a wee tot, but I vaguely recall the black-and-white TV images.) But that was a localized event in Washington, DC, that the rest of the nation could only experience vicariously. The Sept. 11 memorials are different, not least because it seems they will occur all over the country--even in prisons--and just about anyone who wants to participate in one will be able to do so (though obviously the most central events will be in New York).

I'm not planning to do anything special on the 11th. I may or may not watch the TV coverage. I'm still not sure I'm ready to relive it all. I do think things might start to feel different on Sept. 12, however, as, with the perspective of a full year, "that day" begins to slip into history.

Monday, September 02, 2002

Somebody finally said it . . . .

Psychopaths rule at work

After reading this article, a friend and former co-worker wrote:

"I'd like to know what it cost them to do that study ... we could have told them that for nothing!"

Heads for Sale

I've now added some of my, ahem, "artistic" photography to my main site. Here's a sample:

Fifteen heads are better than one, right?