Sunday, August 31, 2003

Interior Monoblogue

What if James Joyce had a weblog?

It might read something like GENEALOGE.

Saturday, August 30, 2003

More Poetry Outtakes

Still Ticking

After the hurricane
Growing old is a relief.
Even if the light is too golden to be real.

As sunset bleeds into the lake,
A yellow star falls to the horizon.
A hand soothes the moment away.

I will fear nothing, knowing
All time must pass.

Friday, August 29, 2003

Quote of the Day

"I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman."
-- Arnold Schwarzenegger

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Is your children learning?

You can generate a genuine-sounding--that is, only partially coherent--W speech at Bush Speaks. Apparently, the program recombines random sentences from Fearless Leader's actual utterances, grouping sentences that seem vaguely related into paragraphs. The scrambled, stream-of-consciousness results sound eerily similar to Bush's actual off-the-cuff remarks.

Here's a sample:

"You know, in this town, sometimes people don't shoot straight with you. They kind of come in and tell you something and then they leave, and you're wondering what they said — or if they said something, whether they mean it. I can tell when they mean it. History has called us to action. I have asked all Americans to commit at least two years — 4,000 hours over a lifetime -- to the service of our neighbors and our nation. I've learned that you cannot lead by dividing people. I'm a uniter — not a divider. It is your duty to unite and love your neighbor like you would like to be liked yourself."

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Pure Trash

While pawing through a musty old bookcase at my someone's house recently, I found a paperback book, published in 1960, entitled Scandal in Suburbia, by Gardner F. Fox. The cover line reads: "The story of a doctor's love--under the scalpel of desire!" The illustration on the front depicts a handsome but pained-looking doctor embracing a sexy redhead dressed only in a slip.

In 1960, paperback books cost 35 cents and were still a fairly new concept. They had a seemy, often deserved, reputation as trash literature--the sort of book you would hide under the bed.

Here's a sample of Fox's prose:

"The teeth bit again, harder. There was a strange piquancy about standing on the other side of a door from a naked woman and having her bite his fingertips. So different from the overly familiar rites with Madge. He was off balance with Judy, not knowing what to expect; as a result he was pleasantly excited . . . .

Later, in bed, she said dreamily, "Joe, this won't be enough for me, just this afternoon with you."

"Flatterer," he grinned.

"We can go to a motel together, can't we?"

"Any time you say. You name it."

He got up on his hands and knees and began kissing her. He only stopped when she slid under him and pulled him down on top of her."

End of scene. That's about as explicit as it ever gets.

In this coarser age, the titles and covers of these lusty old potboilers are good for giggle, if nothing else. You'll find plenty of examples at:

Lured Paperback Cover of the Week

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Accept No Imitations!

Are you in need of an anti-nightmare machine? An artificial rock? An atom re-arranger? How about a building disintegrator, or a do-it-yourself tornado kit? A jet-propelled pogo stick?

You can find them all, and a host of other arcane yet useful items, in The Illustrated Catalog of ACME Products.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Haiku 3221

Does the honeybee
Know that it is what it is?
Or feel any fear?

I've been a busy bee today -- no time to blog, really. I trust the world will keep revolving, though.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

All About ME

According to Google, "Michael is":

a fine father
the best
just another driver
third after the two Williams
on your side
Canada bound
a full member of the Market Research Society
laid to rest amid words of comfort
just testing
serenaded, Bryan Adams style
entitled to voice his views on Tony Blair
safely in Rochester
the King of Daddies
level headed
the most popular name in North America
the kind of guy you love to hate
doing a GREAT JOB!
wheeling out an over-used and tired analogy
doing it for you!
suffering over human evolution

Quite an impressive list, all in all. Sorry about that tired analogy, though.

Friday, August 22, 2003

Bitter Frame?

Here's a fascinating (to me, anyway) article by John Brownlow about the trials of writing a script for the upcoming film Sylvia. The film is a biopic about Sylvia Plath, the tortured literary genius who wrote some of the finest poetry of the 20th century in a sort of frenzy during the last months of her life.

If Brownlow, director Christine Jeffs and actress Gwyneth Paltrow can capture a plausible Plath on film they will have the right to call themselves geniuses, if not miracle-workers, in my opinion. Plath's personality was apparently a writhing tangle of contradictions, and she seemed to have intense love/hate relationships with everyone, including her husband, father and mother. Her brilliance seemed to come from the same place as her self-destructiveness--wherever that was. As Brownlow notes, she has been described in various biographies as "perfectly normal, oppressed, manic, depressive, manic-depressive, schizophrenic, a borderline personality, a psychopath, a sociopath, a nymphomaniac, addicted to sleeping tablets, the victim of an Electra complex, a masochist, and very definitely a misogynist. Or was that a feminist?" I think she was probably most of those things, at various times, but they all pale beside the only thing that matters anymore--the poetry.

Anyway, even if you don't care about (or for) Plath, the article offers an interesting take on what it requires to develop a script for such a movie.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Haiku 6557

Here is an image:
A robed figure at the door
Selling wooden spoons
Total Recall

Why should California have all the fun? Sign a petition and tell Bush to recall himself.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Why they call it a 'dial tone'

According to Dr. Mac's Cultural Calendar for August 20, the telephone rotary dial was patented on this day in 1896.

I still have a rotary phone, one of three in the household and the only phone that functioned during the blackout. (The other two are cordless push-button types that require electrical current.) It no longer rings, for some technical reason having to do with digital phone lines, I suspect, but the dial still works and I can make calls with it. When I pulled it out of a closet and hooked it up in the bedroom about a year ago, my son asked me what it was and how it worked. I showed him how to use the dial, which he thought was quite peculiar. It is a weird device when you think about it -- a relic of a slower-moving world when it took (horrors!) 20 seconds to dial a phone number. (Why do we still say that we "dial" a number, anyway?) I bet a lot of people used that time to think more carefully about what they really wanted to say, though.
Quote of the Day

". . . the risks of making a film forced the businessmen to be risk averse, to play to the least critical audience: Teenage boys with disposable income. The problem is how to keep this "average" moviegoer, male, 16 to 25, high-school education at best, doesn't read books, gets his news from the eleven o'clock news if he bothers at all, never heard of Mussolini and thinks Korea is another part of downtown LA – this couch potato, this pimply undereducated oversexed slob with the attention span of a chicken – how do we keep him awake and interested, while staying awake and interested ourselves."
--From screenwriter/director Frank Pierson's commencement address to the 2003 USC film-school graduating class

And that's why they don't make 'em like they used to, film fans.

The full text is at Up Close and Personal.

Monday, August 18, 2003


The recent blackout should serve as a sharp reminder that the US's infrastructure is in near collapse and ruin in many areas -- thanks to the 30-year craze for "deregulation."

Of course, if you don't have to live in one, a ruin can be fascinating and even romantic. Or weirdly beautiful. The Ruins and Urban Exploration website has links to information on and photos of ghost towns, old cemeteries and catacombs, defunct amusement parks, abandoned insane asylums, the "fabulous ruins of Detroit," haunted (?) houses, unused train stations and tunnels, and all sorts of other signs of decay. Gone--or going--but not forgotten.

Friday, August 15, 2003

Darkness Falls

"They are the last romantics, these candles:
Upside down hearts of light tipping wax fingers,
And the fingers, taken in by their own haloes,
Grown milky, almost clear, like the bodies of saints."
--Sylvia Plath, "Candles"

We were living by candlelight here last night, watching the wax drip and the light flicker in the sweltering darkness. You could see the stars over New York City--something you never see otherwise. We sat on the front steps of our building for hours, listening to anonymous voices passing by in the darkness. Car lights occasionally caught faces for a second, like still photographs.

Now everything is back to normal -- almost. I still can't get my e-mail, though I can access the web. We may have to throw away most of what's in our refridgerator. We're told not to turn our air-conditioning on yet, so as not to overload "the system."

The system: so complex and delicate, and we're utterly dependent on it. They said, after the big blackout of 1965 ("Where were you when the lights went out?"), that it could never happen again. But so many things that could "never" happen have happened in the last few years . . .

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Good Evening

Today is Sir Alfred Hitchcock's birthday. I think he's my favorite film director.

Some quotes from the "master of suspense" and the "poet of anxiety":

Perhaps the strangest criticism I encounter is that I sometimes put wildly improbable things, grotesque unrealities, on the screen when actually the incident criticised is lifted bodily from real life. The reason is that the strange anomalies of real life, the inconsequences of human nature, appear unreal.

Dialogue should simply be a sound among other sounds, just something that comes out of the mouths of people whose eyes tell the story in visual terms.

For me, the cinema is not a slice of life, but a piece of cake.

There is no terror in a bang, only in the anticipation of it.

I’m not against the police; I’m just afraid of them.

Television has brought back murder into the home--where it belongs.

Drama is life with the dull bits cut out.

In the old days villains had moustaches and kicked the dog. Audiences are smarter today. They don’t want their villain to be thrown at them with green limelight on his face. They want an ordinary human being with failings.

Seeing a murder on television can help work off one's antagonisms. And if you haven't any antagonisms, the commercials will give you some.

I never said all actors are cattle; what I said was all actors should be treated like cattle.

The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them.

Monday, August 11, 2003

More Poetry Outtakes


For a moment, the earth stands still
as shredded bits of paper ride the wind.

The words
vanish from my consciousness,

as I gaze into the sky, squinting
to calculate the time.

I turn back.
The world seems new.

Sunday, August 10, 2003

The search continues . . .

Greetings to recent visitors who arrived on this page after googling for the following:

zebra jellyfish DNA
"It's a shame the French don't have a word for entrepreneur."
love, lust and lies
real nude blondes
Mr. Softee photos
kinky twists
Thruway wrong way accident
Martha pal checks into big house
bunions excercise
guestbook of mr. elton jones company
very sexy short stories -- free

I do hope you enjoyed your stay and weren't too awfully disappointed . . . .

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Quote of the Day

". . . Robust debate in a democracy will almost always involve occasional rhetorical excesses and leaps of faith, and we're all used to that. I've even been guilty of it myself on occasion. But there is a big difference between that and a systematic effort to manipulate facts in service to a totalistic ideology that is felt to be more important than the mandates of basic honesty.

Unfortunately, I think it is no longer possible to avoid the conclusion that what the country is dealing with in the Bush Presidency is the latter. That is really the nub of the problem -- the common source for most of the false impressions that have been frustrating the normal and healthy workings of our democracy."
--Al Gore, in a speech at New York University today

The full text is here, and it's eloquent by contemporary standards. Sounds like he's been working on it for a while.

Gore included the following quote, by the 2001 winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics, George Akerlof, within the speech:

"This is the worst government the US has ever had in its more than 200 years of history...This is not normal government policy." In describing the impact of the Bush policies on America's future, Akerloff added, "What we have here is a form of looting."

Tuesday, August 05, 2003


In the mood for some arty Flash animations and experimental music? Hurry on over to:

Modern Living

Creepy, alienated and existential, but with a twist of humor--this is some inspired lunacy.

Monday, August 04, 2003

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"?

Sunday, August 03, 2003

And the rest is history

This is the day, in 1977, when the Tandy Corporation (now known as Radio Shack) issued a press release introducing the TRS-80 computer, the first personal computer, as far as I know. Only 25 of them existed at the time. Within weeks thousands were ordered, but at the time, it was considered a geeky toy for hobbyists. Little did they know . . . . I remember the era of typewriters and telephones (sans voicemail), but I don't miss it.

(Thanks to Dr. Mac's Cultural Calendar.)

Friday, August 01, 2003

Surreal Instructions for a Bad Day

If the sun screen you erect in a tortured garden radiates a whorl of shadows, teardrop audits are in order. If balls of despair explode, a glass beaker will measure the outflow. Each milliliter equals one (personal) catastrophe.

You must sit far away from anyone who produces irritation fields, as these may induce sobbing and/or violent reactions. The mind should not be allowed to wander, due to its high sensitivity.

Place your thoughts at a distance from present surroundings, except in the following places: on steep hills, in dark tunnels, underground, or near sources of well-meaning interference. Damp cellars must be avoided.

You will not experience ideal results under conditions of excessive antagonism, disgust, psychic vibration or emotional impact.