Wednesday, December 29, 2004

How to write a best-selling fantasy novel

Never take the easy way out of a crisis

How to write a best-selling fantasy novel

Sample quote: "Fantasy Worlds always have inexplicable gaps in their technology. They are ruled by councils of venerable sages who are the guardians of the accumulated learning of thousands of years and yet have never got around to inventing anything that might actually help them against wights, trolls and orcs - such as a .44 Magnum. Many Fantasy Worlds possess fine metal working, wood-working and the ability to make crossbows, catapults and elaborate secret trapdoors but have no wheeled transport."

(via The Presurfer)

Sri Lankan Blogger

Swept Away

A blogger and photographer reports from Sri Lanka:

Extra Extra

Some stunning images. And note the contrast between the post of December 25th and that of the 26th -- a reminder of how quickly the world can turn upside down.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Quotes of the Day

Quotes of the Day

"Life is no more than a dew drop balancing on the end of a blade of grass."
--popular Buddhist saying in Sri Lanka

(via Mad, Mad World)

"That which prevents you from doing your work has become your work."
--Susan Sontag, 1933-2004, RIP

Monday, December 27, 2004

Word of the Day: callithumpian

Word of the Day

callithump (n)

A riotous, noisy parade

As a Broadway connoiseur, Helena thought of her apartment above 42nd Street as the realization of a dream -- though she dreaded the annual New Year's Eve callithump.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day

". . . sometimes all it takes is a wink or a nod from some unexpected place to vary the tedium of a baffling existence."
--Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Volume 1.

I'm only about 50 pages into this book, which I got for Christmas. But I can already tell that it's going to be a pleasure to read all the way through -- not so much for what it reveals about it's always enigmatic subject but for the mesmeric voice it's written in.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Close Encounters

Close Encounters

Seen on the street today:

A young guy with swirling tattoos all over his face and a prominent nose ring, walking a large bulldog. The bulldog was by far the better looking of the two.

Down at the Station

I visited a city police station today, for the first time in my life, to report my stolen bicycle. I was slightly nervous about it, expecting a grim, film-noir environment full of no-nonsense officers. Instead, it seemed more like a run-down car rental agency, complete with a long wooden counter, tacky Xmas decorations and a TV on the wall tuned to the Food Channel. (The perky woman on screen was demonstrating how to make a holiday pizza. "A party is never more than a half hour away," she said.)

Behind the counter and milling around the office were several jovial cops who kept cracking jokes. I felt like I had walked onto the set of a 1980s sitcom. After I explained that the bike was stolen from my basement, the officer who took down my information asked me if I was the owner of the building. I said that I live in a condo and that I own just one of the units. "But who's the building's owner?" he wanted to know. The female officer sitting next to him chimed in to explain the condominium concept.

After I listed the details about the bicycle and the theft, they had me sit in a separate room, where I shared a bench with a young woman who appeared to have been in an accident, or possibly beaten up, though not too badly. She was chatting amiably on a cell phone. After about five minutes, I was summoned back to the front counter, where I was given a form I would need to obtain the official police report to give to my insurance company.

In sum, an utterly banal experience. I've heard that Alfred Hitchcock had a life-long fear of policemen. Maybe a visit to the local station would have cured him of it.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Quote of the Day: "It was the night before Christmas . . ."

Quote of the Day

"It was the night before Christmas. The house was very quiet. No creatures were stirring in the house. There weren’t even any mice stirring. The stockings had been hung carefully by the chimney. The children hoped that Saint Nicholas would come and fill them."
--"The Night Before Christmas" by James Thurber "in the Hemingway manner"

Hilarious. Read more at The New Yorker.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry

All Night

All night, by the bed,
the numerals flicker and burn

like cold, cerebral flames.
I hear no ticking,

just the gentle heaving
of your breath,

the electrical hum
of existence.

The numbers
keep on slaying time

with lunatic precision.
A steel needle

words on my forehead,

repetitive sentences,
coils of nonsense.

The clock
loves counting:

one, two, three
hours unwind

like spools of film
from a preposterous movie

that drags on till morning,
that fades into sleep.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Consciousness Streamed

Consciousness Streamed

The most wonderful time of the year: My bicycle has been stolen. Oh well. I got it for free when my wife won some contest. Easy come . . . It's really hard to find Xmas cards for my business contacts that aren't tacky, saccharine or overtly religious. I always end up with some quasi Currier & Ives snow-scene type as a compromise. Boring . . . my holiday shopping is done, except that I'm waiting on UPS to deliver one more package. Will it come in time? What would this season be without a bit of suspense? . . . Freezing rain today. Odd that none of the Xmas songs mention that type of weather . . .

Friday, December 17, 2004

Holy Grail, Batman!

Keep on playing those mind games forever . . .

Some call it magic, the search for the grail.

All about the never-ending search for an old cup.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Economics Made Easy

Economics Made Easy

"There's a trade deficit. That's easy to resolve: People can buy more United States products if they're worried about the trade deficit."
--George W. Bush, renowned economist

What, me worry?

(via Talking Points Memo)

All the Lonely People

All the Lonely People

For that lonesome guy on your Xmas list: "Lap Pillow" Offers Solace to Lonely Men

Kind of sad . . .

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Word of the Day: Popinjay

Word of the Day

popinjay (n)

A vain or conceited person

When Victoria discovered that Friedrich had a whole album of photographic self portraits, she began to think of him as a bit of a popinjay.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Home for the Holidays

Home for the Holidays

Take one suburban house, add 60,000 lights and 250 holiday figurines, and what do you have? For better or worse, a quintessentially American* way to say that Christmastime is here again. Check it out at Lighting up the Season. I wonder what the neighbors think.

*Not so quintessential, actually. I am now informed that these expressions of exuberant electrical Xmas excess also occur in Australia, and maybe other places, too.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry


Winter calls you back like a long-lost pearl.
The sky unfreezes at your gaze. Old stars blink out
as you rise above these ringing hills.

We can exhale at last, our faces tilting like pious flowers
at an outdoor revival. Your forgiveness
defies cold logic. Our mouths gape; we're stupid fish.

I don't deserve to live,
any more than a scabrous lizard deserves to bask on a rock
in the palm of the desert.

burnt me one summer; I could only stagger, red and tight.
I learned to fear you that year.

But the paltry days twist every misgiving inside out.
I wear layers of woolens,
my breath steams our cold panes, I shiver in the dark.

Today this spinning planet bows to sanity.
Ice will crack and slide
from the roof. Each new year, a gift.

Friday, December 10, 2004

You Will Go to the Moon

You Will Go to the Moon

I liked to read books about space as a kid -- so much so that I even thought I would be living (or at least vacationing) on the Moon by now. Mostly, though, I enjoyed the books for their illustrations of sleek spaceships and bizarre planets. Today, you can still see some classic examples of those naive dreamscapes on a website devoted to space art. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 . . .

(via Maud Newton)

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Deep Thoughts

Deep Thoughts

Why is coffee often advertised as "mountain grown"? What's so great about growing coffee beans on a mountain instead of, say, in a valley? . . . Can you get high from sniffing book bindings? That new book smell is one of my favorite aromas. Eat a book today . . . My son wants to know if "everyone" will move to another solar system before the sun blows up several billion years from now. "I suppose so," I said. It's never too early to start planning for your move, the realtors say. Sometimes I wish I could do it now . . .

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Close Encounters

Close Encounters

Seen on the street today:

A young woman wearing a Santa-type hat, walking with two children. She kept yelling "Hey Faggot!" repeatedly to a man walking on the opposite side of the street. After a while he yelled back for her to "shut up." I got the impression that they knew each other.

Word of the Day: lickspittle

Word of the Day

lickspittle (n)

A fawning underling, a toady

Mr Maus was thrilled by his appointment as the department's manager, until he discovered that "the Big Cheese" wanted nothing more than a lickspittle in the position.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Consciousness Streamed

Consciousness Streamed

How many versions of "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" are there? Every time I turn on the radio in the car (which my wife keeps tuned to the "all holiday classics" station) I hear it. I'm getting plenty sick of this treacly musical endorsement of marital infidelity . . . I can never find the right pen for me -- either the ink is too light and hard to read or it's easy to read but bleeds through to the other side of the paper. Maybe I need thicker paper, not a better pen . . . Watched a two-hour documentary about Ben Franklin on The History Channel last night. Their conclusion: Franklin remains an enduring mystery, a man of many masks, perhaps because he had "no inner life." Is that possible? Can someone be that wise, successful and influential and essentially be a mindless robot? . . . Misty tonight -- hard to decide whether to use an umbrella or not. I didn't feel any drops, but I saw them in the nimbus surrounding a street light. Is it raining or not? I decided not to bother with the umbrella, then came home damp but not "wet." So much ambiguity . . .

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Eureka: a "Retro Idea Library"


The Retro Idea Library is a free source of 1940s/50s-vintage stock photography dedicated to deep thoughts and moments of pure inspiration. (Apparently, us guys only got good ideas back then when wearing a necktie.)

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Brain Dump

Brain Dump

Mysterious rumblings from the apartment above mine -- I think the guy who lives up there is either installing new kitchen appliances or fooling around with a jackhammer. Time for a white noise CD . . . I never think to flip the page on the wall calendar until two or three days into the month. I did it this morning and discovered that the picture symbolizing December is a shot of Marilyn Monroe in a tight red sweater. All I want for Christmas is . . . It sometimes seems that the more coffee I drink the sleepier I get. I wonder if caffeine has a reverse effect after a certain point . . . It is very disconcerting to reach for your favorite coffee mug and find a bug crawling on it. Maybe I should take this as a sign to drink more green tea.

My Excite

Big Brother is watching you

All hail our Fearless Leader. If it's good enough for Kim Jong-Il . . .
You could look it up . . .

The top ten words looked up in Merriam-Webster's online dictionary this year were: 1. blog 2. incumbent 3. electoral 4. insurgent 5. hurricane 6. cicada 7. peloton 8. partisan 9. sovereignty and 10. defenestration. Today's challenge: use all ten in a sentence.

"Florida's insurgent 'Hurricane' blog criticized the incumbents for electoral shenanigans, which it compared to a plague of partisan cicadas roaming the state in a peloton and threatening its sovereignty with defenestration." (Not sure if that really makes any sense, though.)

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

4D Meets 3D

For the time-traveler on your shopping list . . .

A four-dimensional solid projected into 3D space: The 120-Cell.

And only $400!


Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry

Third Eye

I look at the trees,
see them clothed in winter sticks,
but also the blaze of fall,
the glut of summer,
spring’s threadbare coat.

I see the house,
each shingle a molecule,
the timbers in phantom trees,
the windows blowing
in the sands of Pangea.

I watch this property
eaten by spectral flames,
the frame a glowing skeleton,
ashes at the end
of every twisting path.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Word of the Day: Whilom

Word of the Day

whilom (adj)


Natalia was astonished to see Bernardo, her whilom inamorato, perambulating down the street. She quickly hid behind a convenient pot of shrubbery.


Can't believe I haven't posted here in a week. Blame it on turkey, traveling and a fugacious broadband connection. Why do wind storms play havoc with a cable internet hook-up when cable TV remains unaffected?

Tuesday, November 23, 2004


Last Night's Adventure

I was working in some bureaucratic place--a large, old-fashioned office building with many long hallways and shiny floors. The atmosphere was oppressive, like something out of Orwell or Kafka. My assignment was to write a letter, a task I took very seriously. I labored over it, getting the wording just right (I thought).

When I was finally finished, I took it to my "boss," who was in a large, dark, classroom-like office on the other side of the building. This boss was a woman, somewhat like someone I used to work for but with a different, uglier face. She was non-plussed by my efforts, as she had been working on the letter herself. (There seemed to have been some miscommunication about the assignment.)

I was embarrassed and angry, but careful not to let it show. She let me read the letter she had written. (I have no memory of what the letter was about, by the way, just of its style.) Her version was, I thought, illogical and full of highly emotional language--totally unlike the carefully neutral, businesslike tone of my letter.

The scene ended with me feeling that I had to agree that hers was better, even though it seemed utterly ridiculous to me.

An annoying dream that made me glad to wake up!

Sunday, November 21, 2004

"All I want for christmas is"

According to Google

All I want for Christmas is . . .

a Bombed-Out Dollhouse
a Real Good Tan
My Two Front Teeth
a comedy about two New York City children who launch a hilarious scheme to get what they most want this holiday
a Grinning Alien Sasquatch
a few more customers
a service plan
a dukla prague away kit
a Job
a Tax Increase
a Good Night's Sleep
a Gang Bang
a sense of purpose
a new me
a Glow in the Dark Fish
a Break
a US$10 million Zeppelin
a Soil Sample from You
Flash for Palm Archive Daemonite
My Son Back
the presumption of innocence
a guy in striped tights
a wonderful, funny story that our family has enjoyed for the past 13 years
an e-mail program that works
My Country Back

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day

"They do abuse the king that flatter him. ... Whereas reproof, obedient and in order, fits kings, as they are men, for they may err.''
--Shakespeare, Pericles

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Consciousness Streaming (brain dump nonsense)

Consciousness Streaming

Is Jesus a Republican? I don't thiiinnkkk so . . . Why am I always trying to read three books at once? Takes me forever to finish them. I remember as a child that I could polish off even a thick book in a day or two, because I concentrated on one at a time. But nothing seems to hold my interest like that anymore. The influence of too much time spent "juggling" work tasks, perhaps . . . Why do fast-food workers always ask you if its "for here or to go" -- even after you've just told them that it's "for here" . . . Why don't you tape all your phone conversations, add a drum track and offer them for sale on eBay as underground rap recordings? . . .

Monday, November 15, 2004

Word of the Day: Bruxing

Word of the Day

bruxing (n)

Nervous grinding and clenching of the teeth

Desmond's incessant nocturnal bruxing drove his college roommate mad.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry

Late November

Almost over:
The paper drops
like a wizened leaf
from a tree in winter.

The sun kindles a landscape,
spreading elegies of fire.
White fingers
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.

Friday, November 12, 2004


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.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Consciousness Streamed

The drop in the temperature doesn't bother me so much as the slant: the stark sun hanging low in the sky, even at noon, forcing me to squint and casting elongated, film-noir shadows . . . Some people have festooned their facades with Xmas decorations already--not just those annoying twinkle lights but styrofoam candy canes and plastic elves--really puts me in the Yule mood (not) . . . Why do I see so many pairs of running shoes suspended by their laces from electrical wires, hanging over the middle of the street? Do people just get tired of their shoes and fling them up there? Whose job is it to take them down and what do they do with them? . . .

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Music of the Spheres

Music of the Spheres

Our solar system is like a giant orchestra. The plasma and magnetic fields generated by the planets can be converted into sounds audible to the human ear, and radio-wave detectors aboard various space probes have recorded this "music." Give a listen at NASA Space Sounds. Come to think of it, the planets sound more like Tibetan monks than an orchestra.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Streaming Consciousness

Streaming Consciousness

An odd humming noise outside this morning and a smell of tar. The building next door was getting a new roof, I think . . . Still feeling a bit of an election hangover . . . Halloween already seems like a year ago. The jack-o'-lantern is still here, rotting away, looking like the head of a decrepit geezer . . . Bought a "dream catcher" at the dollar store to put over my son's bed. He has bad dreams, seems to like the idea of this Native American thingamabob, made with loops and strings, beads and feathers . . . listened to "Mind Games" today, for uplift ("pushing the barriers, planting seeds / playing the mind guerrilla / chanting the mantra, peace on earth") . . . Why am I sleepy at 6 PM but wide awake at 11? . . . Alarming news: my cell phone battery has been recalled by the manufacturer, because it can "short-circuit, overheat and burn users [and] cause smoke and property damage." What next? . . .

Monday, November 08, 2004

Word of the Day: Makebate

Word of the Day

makebate (n)

A person who creates discord or conflict

"I am no makebate, no inciter of quarrels," said Nelson. "I simply think that a discussion of one's religion shouldn't be taboo in polite company."

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day

"The battlefield is now deserted, but the smoke of spent gunfire lingers in the morning mist. Underfoot, the earth is softened with the blood of Democracy’s wounds. The brazenly triumphant Warrior King calls for peace, but few of his former enemies, deceived countless times already, risk trusting his empty promises. It is time to take to the hills and regroup for another day. As has been shown throughout the ages, when battling a foe with superior force and overwhelming odds, a guerilla war with focused goals and cunning strategy is the only path of resistance."

--from "Out of the Ashes" at Starlight News

Friday, November 05, 2004

People are angry . . .

Anger Management

Fight Club, anyone? Seen on Craig's List:

I predict we'll see more such rage, especially if the rumors that are starting to fly about rigged electronic voting systems gain credence.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Haiku of the Day

Haiku of the Day

Gullible Red States
You know not what you have done
Too bad for the rest

--Jay Hipps (via

Sometimes the voices are wrong . . .

Note to George

Sometimes the voices in your head are wrong.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day

"When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall, always."
--Mahatma Gandhi

Random Acts of Poetry: Meander

Random Acts of Poetry


For a moment,
the shining street was lost.
Fog curtain,

Heliopolis behind a scrim.
The day found definition
in a ghost aperture.

I passed blunt corners
where stoics stood implacable
as men on poker cards.

At Riverview's promenade
the gray birds were massing--
rock dove, living stone.

On the spiral walk
a figure beckoned
between ash and hawthorn.

I stepped forward;
someone said, "here you are."
Was I sorry I had come?

Tuesday, November 02, 2004


Record Turnout

I was surprised. There were more people voting than usual, but there was no one in line for my precinct's machine. I only had to wait for the woman tending the machine to finish cooing over a little girl in the next line over. I think it helped that I went to vote around 11 AM -- after the morning crowd but before the lunchtime crowd.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead

Today is the Day of the Dead in Mexico, a holiday for celebrating dead ancestors. It's not Halloween Part Two--I don't think Halloween (Samhain) is celebrated in Mexico--though it may appear that way to us in the US. Mexicans are joyful today as they decorate altars with skulls and skeletons. Quite a contrast to the fear, morbidity and denial that death inspires up here.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Weird Science: QuickTime animations

Weird Science

Some mind-bending (and head exploding) QuickTime animations based on computer algorithms are online at Ron Fedkiw. I couldn't get all of them to play, but even the still images are intriguing. It all has something to do with "dynamic implicit surfaces."

Word of the Day: Barmecidal

Word of the Day

barmecidal (adj)

Presenting only the illusion of abundance

Zenobia had a vast collection of wax and plastic fruit, which she called her barmecidal feast.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day

"Like father, like son.
One term and you're done.
As it was for forty-one,
so it is for forty-three.
This is my will;
so mote it be."

This is what we're supposed to mutter to ourselves as we vote on Tuesday, a pagan friend writes. Might be worth a try.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Random Acts of Poetry: 6:30 AM (fragment)

Random Acts of Poetry

6:30 AM (fragment)

Already the sky is graying.
He pulls the blanket over his head,

cradles a steaming cup.
Cold bones unstiffen, limbs relax,

dreams falter.
He sips the dark

as his head powers up, caffeine
slowly swirling down to his fingertips.

He refuses, for the moment, to acknowledge time.
It is put off.

Bell and trains,
keys and lists can wait.

His hot breath fills a womb.
Nothing owns him now.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Thoughts on The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

Strange Days Indeed

I just got back from seeing The Manchurian Candidate (the original 1962 version), which I'd never seen before, at the local film revival theater. What a great movie. The plot--which revolves around the notion that someone can be brainwashed to kill and then forget about it--is absurd, but the movie works brilliantly as surreal political satire. The famous film critic Pauline Kael called it "the most sophisticated satire ever made in Hollywood." I couldn't help noticing the almost spooky contemporary resonances. The villains scheme to exploit a terrorist act designed to "[rally] a nation of viewers to hysteria, to sweep us up into the White House with powers that will make martial law seem like anarchy." Yikes. If you've seen the film, you may remember one of its most puzzling aspects: the character played by Janet Leigh (her last name is "Chaney"), who seems to serve no purpose at all to the movie's plot, but says and does some very peculiar things. Definitely a film to see more than once, I think.

Earlier in the day, I attended a Halloween fundraising/costume party, organized by my wife, at my son's school. I was in charge of taking the admission money at the door, and I wore a conical wizard's hat (complete with stars and crescents). Typecasting, I know.

Nobody told me there'd be days like this.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day

"By the way, is anyone else as startled as I am by how much time many of us spend these days peering into glowing screens? Digital cameras, Palm Pilots, cellphones ... We're spending an amazing amount of our lives staring at backlit screens -- we're like a nation of people transfixed by gods-in-the-form-of-lightbulbs. It's as though we're expecting to find something in our backlit screens that's really significant, something more than a mere phone number or spreadsheet.

What do you suppose we're hoping to find in there? Perhaps with just one more click, we'll find Meaning Itself."
--"Michael Blowhard" at

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Word of the Day: Pinchbeck

Word of the Day

pinchbeck (n or adj)

Something cheap or counterfeit; an alloy of zinc and copper used to imitate gold

Magdalen was counting on the sale of Aunt Philomena's wedding band to finance her trip to the Azores. It was Mr. Dash's sad duty to inform her that it was nothing but a pinchbeck curtain ring.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Random Acts of Poetry: Premonitions

Random Acts of Poetry


Comes the night,
several super-people
say they've heard
all about you.

They carry
knives, they live
in tiny rooms
above a loud cafe.

Feet pound
outside the door
before falling down
an abandoned mine.

in your head breathe:
you might as well
give up.

A little child says love
doesn't bleed enough--
she's hidden her innocence
in the dark.

A far-away bell
rings, the front page
cries results
are in doubt.

Monday, October 18, 2004

In Godzilla's Footsteps: Academic Conference

Now I've Heard Everything

"To commemorate the King of the Monsters' fiftieth birthday, the University of Kansas Center for East Asian Studies is hosting a conference in which scholars from around the world will consider the Godzilla films and their surprising impact on global culture."

In Godzilla's Footsteps: Japan's Pop Culture Icons on the Global Stage

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Write to a swing voter

Influence the Outcome

The upcoming US election will undoubtedly have quite an impact, one way or another, around the globe. But people who live outside the US (and I know there are some who read this blog . . .) don't have any say in it. Or do they? The Guardian newspaper in Britain has set up a program whereby people from outside the US can write to "swing" (undecided) voters in key states and encourage them to do the right thing. Here's the link: My fellow non-Americans ...

Friday, October 15, 2004

Short Stories

Abbreviated Tales

In "Brief encounters" author William Boyd classifies what he believes are the seven types of short stories. He laments that the market for these works has pretty much "dried up" in recent decades but, oddly, doesn't mention that the Web has become a new venue for short-story writers (though generally not a paying one).

He lists the following "Ten Truly Great Short Stories in no particular order":

"Spring at Fialta" by Vladimir Nabokov
"My Dream of Flying to Wake Island" by JG Ballard
"Funes, the Memorious" by JL Borges
"Prelude" by Katherine Mansfield
"The Dead" by James Joyce
"Mrs Bathhurst" by Rudyard Kipling
"Day of the Dying Rabbit" by John Updike
"In the Ravine" by Anton Chekhov
"Bang-Bang You're Dead" by Muriel Spark
"Hills Like White Elephants" by Ernest Hemingway

I've only read two of them!

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day

"At times, to be silent is to lie."
--Unamuno (Spanish philosopher)

(Via William Gibson's recently reactivated blog, by way of Maud Newton)

Zoom In by Zip Code

Time Well Wasted

Yet another nifty Flash utility. Zoom in further and further, digit by digit, on any US geographic location while typing its Zip Code: ZipDecode

(via 3 Bruces)

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Word of the Day: Hobbledehoy

Word of the Day

hobbledehoy (n)

A gawky, awkward youth

Young Alec hated being called a teen-ager (too "corny," he said) or an adolescent (too "clinical"). "Hobbledehoy!" he said one day while perusing the dictionary. "That's what I am!" He promptly scribbled the word down the length of his leg cast.

Monday, October 11, 2004

R.I.P. Derrida: The Idiot's Guide to Deconstruction

Deconstruction for Dummies

Rest in peace, Jacques Derrida. About a century ago, I went through a structuralism/ post-structuralism phase that included plowing through some of Derrida's writings (or "texts" as he would call them). I never felt that I grasped his deconstructionist thought entirely--though I'm sure he would point out that words like "grasped," "thought" and "entirely" are fraught with difficulty. As Derrida once said in an interview, " 'Thought' means nothing: it is the substantified void of a highly derivative ideality." Ahem. If you'd like to try your hand at deconstruction, here's a very simple (relatively speaking) guide to tearing anything apart:

How to Do Deconstruction

(via things)

An excellent article on Derrida in the New York Times (free registration required): What Derrida Really Meant

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Random Acts of Poetry: Psalm to the Lamp

Random Acts of Poetry

Psalm to the Lamp

This lamp is my lodestar,
I will not fall

asleep before dull angels.
It draws me a pale pool of fire,

throws shadows away.
It shows me a moon's worth of eye sheen between flickers.

The mind's tricks depend on a high chandelier
of meanings, filaments reflecting bead-chains of notions.

A lamp drives out bleakness, and light lives--
but can fail in a thunderous click.

Pray the light holds back this suffocating evening's bag of somber velvet;
may all night's children abide within this circle.

Surely its lambent beam will follow the labors of my dreaming hands
and a shimmer of reverie will fill the lit room.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Imagine John Lennon at 64

Birthday greetings, bottle of wine . . .

John Lennon would have been 64 today.

In "Imagine John Lennon at 64", several people who knew him -- really knew him -- speculate on what he would be doing today.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Mr. Wonderful Talking Doll

Mr. Wonderful

"The ball game really isn't that important. I'd rather spend time with you. Why don't we go to the mall? And let's talk about our relationship."

Every woman's dream come true?

Quote of the Day: Unending Crisis

Quote of the Day

". . . What made these misrepresentations seem more grave in 2004 was the larger misrepresentation: the fact that the administration had taken us, ineptly, with the aid and encouragement of those who had 'never thought,' or who had 'misunderstood,' or who 'didn't realize,' into a war, or a 'noble expedition,' or a 'grand historical experiment,' which was draining the lives and futures of our children and disrupting fragile arrangements throughout the world even as it provided the unending 'crisis' required to perpetuate the administration and enact its agenda. 'This is a great opportunity,' the President was reported by Bob Woodward to have said in an NSC meeting on the evening of September 11, 2001. That large numbers of Americans continued to support him could be construed as evidence of their generosity, but it was also evidence of how shallowly rooted our commitment to self-government had turned out to be."

--Joan Didion, "Politics in the 'New Normal' America"

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Wouldn't it be nice?

According to Google

Wouldn't it be nice if . . .

US elections could be as fraud-free as those in the so-called third world?
the world was Cadbury Chocolate roads and trees 'n' birds 'n' bees . . .
we were older?
it were raining. Then we couldn't see the trees explode . . .
it were over?
this problem would just go away?
my display would automatically resize . . .
your web site visitors could get in touch with you? Instantaneously!
Gallagher were dead?
there was an Open Source version of these MS products?
Sandy used some facts instead of inflammatory rhetoric?
all the Muslims studied Christianity before they became Muslims.
we could all go back to the good old days of kindergarten?
your boss had to run for re-election?
there was not a monopoly on beer?
the Internet were as simple and effective as television and the telephone?
I could be David Letterman?
my friends and I weren't always tempted with so much sex in movies and TV?
I didn't need as much sleep at night.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004


Psychedelic Barbershop

I've never been much of a Beach Boys or Brian Wilson fan and, until recently, owned exactly none of their albums. After reading some of the rapturous reviews of SMiLE, the "new" Brian Wilson album that he began working on in 1966 and then abandoned for 37 years, I decided to buy it, however. I'm glad I did. How can I describe it? Try this: a melodic meditation on American history, childhood and the four elements, as meditated upon by a psychedelic barbershop quartet, using multi-layered, four-part harmonies and surreal lyrics. Words are inadequate, but that may give you a hint of what this strange pop masterpiece is like. I wonder what its impact would have been had it been released as planned in 1967. It doesn't sound like a 60s relic, nor like anything on the current pop-music scene.

Here's an entire website devoted to SMiLE (past and present), which is often described as the most famous and legendary "lost" album in popular music history: The Smile Shop.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Word of the Day: Nescience

Word of the Day

nescience (n)


"Your nescience never fails to impress me," Abigail cooed whenever Mr. Dumas offered yet another of his outrageously ill-informed opinions. He would then grin at what he assumed was her admiration.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Random Acts of Poetry: Apple Picking (October 2004)

Random Acts of Poetry

Apple Picking (October 2004)

No one here but trees shedding their apples--
apples hanging like kamikazes, but underfoot mostly.
A battlefield of dead apples, and a mountain
heaped up in the distance, interrupting the sky.

Apples like ruddy people, their dark bruises
soft to the touch, little wounds.
Why pity the fallen; it's too late for them.
The pail fills quickly, a mob of bald heads.

Dogs bark into a shrill wind, and there's a smell
of burning leaves blowing in.
The seller flaunts indifference:
Apples are sold by weight, not perfection.

They ride with me in the front seat.
I eat them, dirty as they are, biting,
throwing the cores out the window, wondering,
in the end, if even their black seeds matter.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Quote of the Day: Stalinist and Capitalist Attitudes about Writing and Blogging

Quote of the Day

". . . As I have said many times before, blogging and the Net amount to a folk revolution. It fills working stiffs and employers with dread because it refuses to define itself based on market surveys. What I like about bloggers is that they define their product for themselves and are grateful for any attention they get. To blog is to be free to mispell, break the rules of grammar, and metaphorize, to be vivid where others would be dull, to be original where the market suppliers resort to cliche’."

Read more at Pax Nortona -- Stalinist and Capitalist Attitudes about Writing and Blogging.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Pictures from an Exhibition: Yoko Ono

A Really Big Shoe

Pictures from an exhibition: Yoko Ono's "Odyssey of a Cockroach".

(via Boing Boing)

Bushisms from the debate

Say What?

One of my favorite Bushisms from the "debate" -- um, uhh, it's "hard work" to choose just one -- was "That's why it's essential that we make sure that we keep weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of people like Al Qaeda, which we are."

People like Al Queda. That Al -- he's such a troublemaker. Somebody should take him down a peg or two.

(The reference to "Al" struck me as funny, because my son is currently under the impression that the math he's studying in school was invented by a guy named Al Gebra.)

Then there's that other mischief-maker, "Warren Terra." Can't somebody find that guy, dead or alive?

Other gems:

"I see on the TV screens how hard it is." Good to know he's not completely out of touch with what's happening on the ground in Iraq.

"The moo-lahs." Sounds like a bovine singing group.

"Mixed messages send the wrong signals." There's something about that sentence that just makes my brain hurt.

"Don't forget Poland!" Remember the Alamo!

"It's hard work to try to love her as best I can." This rather creepy statement was in reference to meeting the widow of a soldier killed in Iraq. Such an ordeal for him! Being president really must be hard, hard work. I guess that's why he spends so much time on vacation.

Bush also mumbled something about trying to keep "a leash" on his daughters. Incredible. Has he already forgotten about "Apu Giraffe"?

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Word of the Day: Tatterdemalion

Word of the Day

tatterdemalion (n)

A person who dresses in rags; a ragamuffin

Despite his sizable fortune, Cedric insisted on dressing like a scarecrow. Though he was often mistaken for a vagrant, he told anyone who cared to inquire that he was "a mere tatterdemalion."

Monday, September 27, 2004

Random Acts of Poetry: The Box

Random Acts of Poetry

The Box

The odor of time
becomes the basement air,
a sticky smell
of rotting sci-fi books
and unsettled dust
that catches in the webs
at filmy windows.
I give in to the past,
look into the box,

tear open a rip
between here and then,
find my fleeting way back
in a photo buried
among musty coats
and yellowed clippings—
my own face, age sixteen.
I touch an untouchable
artifact of unknowing.

The creatures on Centauri B
see each star’s arc
from birth to destination.
They see the sky’s
net of shining strings.
They see
people like centipedes--
a fetus at one end,
Methuselah the other.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Those obscure, underrated Beatle songs

Only a Northern Song?

Writers at The Village Broadsheet are reviewing some of the more "obscure" songs by a certain underrated, forgotten band from the 60s. "What this all boils down to," they say, "is this: we'd really love to turn you on to some new perspectives on the songs you've been hearing since you first learned what the radio is for. Try to expel from your mind the negative nostalgia-baiting of revisionist hipster thinking that forces you to believe that you were humming Clash songs at seven and not grinning ear-to-ear to 'Yellow Submarine.' Try hard to remember a time when pop was just about pop, not trying to see whose record collection is hipper. Try and remember that without the Beatles, we'd all still be listening to that watered-down, post-military-haircut Elvis late-50s crap."

First up this week: "She's Leaving Home."

Friday, September 24, 2004

Pro wrestling: what is it?


My son watches professional wrestling. There--I've said it. The family secret is out.

Actually, I watch it myself, at least for a few seconds at a time as I'm traversing the living room.

I'm not sure how to categorize pro wrestling. On the surface, it appears to be a sport, yet it has few, if any, rules. (What kind of "sport" is it that includes throwing your opponent into the audience--without penalty?) A lot of the action is obviously rehearsed, and has more to do with acrobatic tricks than "wrestling." The "referee" allows punching, kicking, throwing chairs -- and in fact has no function at all in the "matches," except as window-dressing.

Wrestling shows appear to be a form of reality TV, but this is an illusion. The matches are as carefully choreographed and scripted as a Broadway musical, but with a lot more (fake) violence. I'm sure the audience is aware that they are watching a pseudo-event--my 13-year-old son is fully aware of this--but as they clap and chant and cheer (and laugh) they don't seem to care.

There's actually not as much physical action in these shows as you might expect. Much of the time is taken up with taunting and posing. The wrestlers--men who have transformed themselves into cartoon characters with the aid (apparently) of steroids and depilatories--spend most of their time trash-talking about their opponents. They appear to engage in elaborate feuds, which typically include "back stage" mini-dramas involving their girlfriends (who are often wrestlers themselves), their managers and their cars. These disputes revolve around a single theme: who disrespected who.

I think I've got it: These shows are soap operas for men.

SoYouWanna learn about professional wrestling?

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Word of the Day: Sabermetrician

Word of the Day

sabermetrician (n)

Someone who studies baseball statistics

Ambrose--always reluctant to admit to his opulent life of uninterrupted leisure--hesitated over the survey form. Finally, with a sardonic smile, he filled in his occupation as "sabermetrician."

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day

"A year from now, I'll be very surprised if there is not some grand square in Baghdad that is named after President Bush."

Richard Perle, neocon extraordinaire
American Enterprise Institute keynote speech
September 22, 2003

Surprise, Dick!

I try to imagine

I try to imagine . . .

What it must be like . . .

. . . to be a 40-something man, kneeling, blindfolded, with a video camera pointed at me and a bunch of masked gunmen behind me.

But I just can't.

. . . to be listening to someone recite my death warrent in Arabic, while tears stream down my face and I rock back and forth, back and forth.

But I just can't.

. . . to be thinking about my sobbing 13-year-old daughter back in Apple Pie, Wisconsin, USA--or wherever the hell it is--knowing that she'll be replaying this scene in her mind every day for the rest of her life.

But I just can't.

. . . to be wondering what the hell I'm doing here in the middle of this gratuitous madness, this fiasco, and how it all came down to this.

But I just can't.

Monday, September 20, 2004



"A pretend cowboy President whose horses are rented? A constitutional amendment to protect the sanctity of marriage in a nation where half of all marriages end in divorce? An inner powerbroker circle of oil company gassholes and oil prices at all-time highs? A leader who claims to receive instructions from his god (or from 'beyond the stars', whatever that means), making offhand remarks about crusades? Invading a country that posed no threat, while the Norks built more nukes and threaten to turn Seoul into a lake of fire? Talking about corporate responsibility and pumping a few billion into your vice-president's old company? Contracting out your warfare needs to the lowest (or best-connected) bidder? Running a gulag in Cuba, of all places? Torturing children in Iraq while proudly (if spuriously) proclaiming 'no child left behind' back home? Reducing the taxes of the richest, then making populist proclamations like 'there's no point taxing the rich because they just dodge their tax bill anyway'? Osama bin who?"


(via Sharp Sand)

And, by the way, why aren't Jenna and Barbara in the army instead on in the pages of Vogue magazine?

Read E.L. Doctorow's recent essay on moral vacancy.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Random Acts of Poetry: Dreamer

Random Acts of Poetry


Once, I had marbles:
lucid glass and porcelain, agates,

with banners whirled
in frozen hues through drops of ice,

those polished orbs
staring back without judgment.

Or a handful of planets.
I pitched one star to a firmament,

knocked them
from their bauble galaxy into chaos,

then gathered them together,
a benevolent god

keeping my jewels in a muslin sack.
I poured them out, one tapping one,

warmed each in my palm,
held it to the light,

sitting alone and staring
into a mysterious center,

just me and a cat's eye.
Time, no tyrant.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day

"Yon towers, whose tops do buss the clouds, must kiss their own feet. . . The fall of every stone will cost a drop of Grecian blood."
--Troilus and Cressida

Word of the Day: Slubberdegullion

Word of the Day

slubberdegullion (n)

A mean, filthy wretch; a slobberer

Derwin feared he would have to pay for the mad revels of the night, and indeed he awoke that morning in a knot of sodden sheets, feeling like a slubberdegullion.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Say It in Engrish!

Say It in Engrish!

We all make mistakes, and when it comes to using English words and phrases in ads and product designs, the Japanese make plenty. showcases numerous examples, including a clothing store that calls itself COWPOO and a snack food named GERM BREAD.

As the website explains, most of these unintentionally hilarious errors are "not an attempt to communicate -- English is used as a design element in Japanese products and advertising to give them a modern look and feel (or just to "look cool"). There is often no attempt to try to get it right, nor do the vast majority of the Japanese population (= consumers) ever attempt to read the English design element in question . . . "

Monday, September 13, 2004

Sometimes I wish . . .

Sometimes I wish . . .

. . . I was an actor in a movie instead of living this life in real time. Then if I said something stupid, the director would yell "cut" and I'd get to play the scene over again. Instead of talking in cliches, I'd always sound bright and witty.

Did I really say "I see light at the end of the tunnel" today?

Oh, well.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

That Day, Again

That Day

Sometimes, it seems like a lot longer than three years. Here's a picture I took on 9/11:

Read something I wrote in October 2001 about that day and my visits to the towers here.

I just can't get them out of my mind.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Word of the Day: Oojah

Word of the Day

oojah (n)

A whatchamacallit, a thingumabob

Portia had been ruminating for weeks over what to name her "junk shop," as she referred to her second-hand gift store. Then it came to her. "Oojah," she whispered, as she fondled a lamp made from a moose antler.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004


falling man


This is a picture that I found on a site that offers free clip art. I suppose it's intended to illustrate the hubris of "modern" (Victorian) technology. It reminded me, though, of the story of Icarus, the mythological Greek fellow whose artificial wings melted when he flew too close to the sun, so that he fell into the sea.

But is this man really falling -- or soaring? I assumed he was falling, since I know that such a contraption could never work, but now I wonder if that is what the pre-Wright Brothers illustrator had in mind. Is the expression on the man's face one of terror or wonder? Are his arms and legs splayed to brace for a fall, or is he flying like a bird?

He looks weightless. Could he be suspended in that terrible moment when we don't know whether the risks we take are going to work out or not?

"Flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss." –Douglas Adams

Dictionary of Jive

The Beatitudes

Have a ball with this jelly. Got your boots on? That's mellow, Jack.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Random Acts of Poetry: Prophet

Random Acts of Poetry


I see pale
in a looming evening
in a dark room.
I see me,

sitting on a cushion,
paying close attention
to spooling

stirring only to close
a window against
traffic racket
or relieve
cramped ankles,

eyes closed,
to a mysterious
like "chrysalis,"

silently chiming.
I'm beginning
not to care
so awfully much.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Word of the Day: Truckle

Word of the Day

truckle (v)

To yield or bend obsequiously to another's will; to submit, give in; to creep.

"You must never truckle to the Colonel's whims, Miranda," Mrs. Chuzzlewit warned, "or you will surely end up crushed beneath the grinding heel of his boot." She paused, searching for the proper simile. "Like one of his malodorous cigar butts."

Help for Insomniacs

Help for Insomniacs

Not feeling sleepy?

(via boynton)

Thursday, September 02, 2004



After a week of working in a client's office (I usually work from home), I'm getting tired of thinking up new shirt-pants "office casual" combos to wear every morning. Why can't every office just issue its workers a corporate uniform -- a standard tunic or something.

In the future, I'm sure that people will just wear the same outfit (or identical copies) all the time. Don't believe me? Just watch Star Trek or Lost in Space or any number of futuristic TV space operas. Same damn clothes in every episode.

Quote of the Day: The most dangerous man . . .

Quote of the Day

"The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost invariably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And if he is not romantic personally, he is apt to spread discontent among those who are." - H.L. Mencken

I'm so glad the Republicult is leaving town.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Deep Sea Creatures

The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

More real-life surrealism, this time online:

Deep Sea Creatures

Freud (or Jung) once said that the ocean is a symbol of the subconscious. I think I'll have nightmares tonight.

(via fantastic planet)

Monday, August 30, 2004

Today's Surreal Moment

Today's Surreal Moment

Standing in line at the bus terminal, staring up at the catwalks, girders and sodium vapor lights overhead, I see a sign: DO NOT WALK ON CEILING.

OK. I won't walk on the ceiling today. I won't fly like a bird, sit on a cloud, vanish into thin air, spontaneously combust, visit Venus or grow a third eye, either. I promise.

On the way home, observed a guy on the bus intently reading a thick, hardcover book, entitled STAR -- a novel by that stellar literary author Pamela Anderson. I guess everybody has a book in them.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

According to Google: "kids love me because . . ."

According to Google

Kids love me because . . .

I'm a cranky, anti-social half-wit
I am their best friend and parents too
I have been cooking like there is no tomorrow
I always have a smile
I'm (a) the same gender as their mother and (2) strong enough to toss them around in the air
I treat them with respect
they didn't have there [sic] presentations done and needed more time
I'm so soft and make giraffe sounds
i am silly and a kid with them
I keep up with them when we play sports like basketball, tennis,
softball, and going on fun walk/jogs, playing games, etc.
I write stories that tell them about their capacity for evil
they are all wrestling fans
of my ablity to relate to them on there [sic] level no matter what age
I am fun and energetic, and relate to them well
in their eyes I look like kind of a big doll :)
I'm fun to be around. So please contact me asap

Random Acts of Poetry: Pacific

Random Acts of Poetry


Dreamed the sea,
that inconceivable Peace,
the one to which all flippers,
effluent streams,
day-tripping dippers,
sunburning sex,
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
for sanding.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Conversational Terrorism: How NOT to Talk!

Conversation Stoppers

"Why do you ask?"

Always answer an unwelcome question with another question, I say.

More of this sort of thing can be found here:

Conversational Terrorism: How NOT to Talk!

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Ultimate California experience

When I close my eyes, I see palm trees

I'm still recovering from my exhausting "vacation." I think I had the ultimate California experience while on the West Coast: I was wading in the waves at the beach in Santa Monica and got knocked down by a guy on a surf board. "Sorry, dude!" he said.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Word of the Day: Octothorpe

Word of the Day

octothorpe (n)

A name for the telephone handset symbol #

It was a slow day at the pet store, and as the birds screamed and the puppies squealed, Sebastion stared at the telephone keypad, hoping that Fatima would call. Pound symbol or octothorpe? Which was correct? In the end, did it matter?

I'm back . . .

Saturday, August 07, 2004

On hiatus

I'm on vacation for a while. I'll blog from the road if I get the chance. Meanwhile, try some of the links here.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Google Search: "i wish I could"

According to Google

I wish I could . . .

shimmy like my sister Kate
Go back to college
do more to reach into the raptures of your heart
say all the things that I should say
break all the chains holding me
go back home
play the piano like you
say the same
be of more help
swim with the sharks
do it over again
write like that
fight like Roberto Duran
be there for that
have told her
be someone new for a day
tell him the person who killed his mother was in jail
tell you
pay off your ex for you too
go through life in slow motion
take those words back
let go and accept certain things the way that they are
take back what I have done
be lucid again

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Quote of the Day from "The Naked Crowd"

Quote of the Day

"In an indifferent and socially atomised universe, 'everyone is pained by the thought of disappearing, unheard and unseen' as a result, everyone is tempted to become a writer, turning himself 'into a universe of words'. But 'when everyone wakes up as a writer', Kundera warns, 'the age of universal deafness and incomprehension will have arrived'. Now, we are living in an age of graphomania; we are experiencing the constant din of intimate typing -- in email, in chatrooms, on the web and in the workplace. The clacking noise we hear in the air is the noise of endless personal disclosure. But as Kundera recognised, instead of forging emotional connections with strangers, personal exposure in a vacuum may increase social isolation, rather than alleviate it."

Read more at The Naked Crowd.

Word of the Day: honorificabilitudinitatibus

Word of the Day

honorificabilitudinitatibus (adj)

With honor

"O, they have lived long on the alms-basket of words.
I marvel thy master hath not eaten thee for a word;
for thou art not so long by the head as
honorificabilitudinitatibus: thou art easier
swallowed than a flap-dragon."

--Love's Labor's Lost, Act 5, Scene 1

In the context of the play, this odd passage from Shakespeare seems to be a bit of sarcasm aimed at a pedant. A flap-dragon was (is?) a flaming raisin, used in a game in which people grabbed raisins out of a dish of burning brandy and extinguished them in their mouths before eating them. What fun!

Monday, August 02, 2004

Subservient President

Some say he is merely a puppet . . .

Do what you will with Subservient President.

Day of Terror

Day of Terror

This was "terror day." Terror alerts have been issued for NYC and Northern New Jersey--for specific buildings in those areas at least. Just my luck, I had to venture into New York today, to take my son to his doctor appointment.

We are supposed to be "vigilant"--about what is never specified. I tried to be vigilant, but the only thing out of the ordinary that I noticed was an unusually large number of police standing around looking bored and a group of soldiers on duty at Grand Central Terminal wearing camouflage fatigues. (What good is jungle camouflage at Grand Central?) They were examining the tattoos on some guy's arm with great interest.

A couple of terrifying (if momentary) events did befall me today. I wear lightweight hiking shoes, and a loop on my left shoe somehow got stuck on a hook on my right shoe while I was sitting on the subway. I only discovered this when the train arrived at my stop. Ever had someone tie your shoelaces together? That's exactly what it was like. I stood up in a panic and almost fell over. I had to pull my shoe off completely to get out before the doors closed. Terrifying . . .

On the way home, we somehow got on the wrong bus and ended up on the opposite side of town from where we live. I had a tiny moment of terror as the bus turned down the "wrong" street. But then I decided to accept the situation, sit back and enjoy the ride. That was my contribution today to the never-ending war on terror.

Friday, July 30, 2004

New Words

New Words

bushamey (noun)
High crimes and misdemeanors

bushify (verb)
To distort intelligence

bushrepellisations (plural noun)
Deliberately misleading statements

bushawativattropriva (noun)
Outrage fatigue

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

"Do you really want to get rid of George W. Bush?"


How to start your week with a positive outlook

1. Open a new file in your PC
2. Name it "George W. Bush"
3. Send it to the trash
4. Empty the trash
5. Your PC will ask you: "Do you really want to get rid of George W.
6. Answer calmly, "Yes," and press the mouse button firmly.

(via "RushIsRot" at The DU Lounge)

The 10 worst album covers of all time

Graphic Horror

Not for the squeamish:

The 10 worst album covers of all time

10 more

And a lot more here: show and tell galleries

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Word of the Day: Jobbernowl

Word of the Day

Jobbernowl (n)

A blockhead, a stupid person

Mr. Dour yelled "jobbernowl!" and slammed down the phone. Apparently, it was another wrong number.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Close Encounter

Close Encounter

Today, I was on my way to where my car is parked, and saw a casually dressed bloke (about 30, shorts, sleeveless T shirt and baseball cap, needed a shave) standing near it and having a loud, animated conversation with . . . no one. He was going on and on about sitting on a sofa. "If I want to sit by you on the sofa, what's the matter with that?" he kept saying, with variations, while gesturing wildly with his hands and staring into space. Feeling rather spooked, I decided to approach the car from the opposite side--until I noticed that he had something in his ear, with a thin cord winding down from it into his pocket. Maybe the whole world hasn't gone insane after all, I thought.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Poem: A Visitation

Random Acts of Poetry

A Visitation

He’s here again, nosing out of the woods,
testing the evening lawn.
Who could shoot him in his tawny pause,
shatter his heart or pierce

that swooping pylon of neck?
The thin, impossible chic of those legs,
those velvet-swaddled horns—
Plato spoke of such perfection.

A deer visits and grace overflows,
cleansing a tainted day.
It’s not that I bow before nature
or adulate elegance, or see in this a sign.

It’s just that here, now, time rests
and I forget all pretense and irony.
With his stately gait, his intricate crown,
he could be one of the mythical kings,

taking a numinous form,
doing me an improbable honor--
me alone. Stupidly, I shout "look!"
He looks up and is gone.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day

"It takes courage to love, but pain through love is the purifying fire which those who love generously know. We all know people who are so much afraid of pain that they shut themselves up like clams in a shell and, giving out nothing, receive nothing and therefore shrink until life is a mere living death."
--Eleanor Roosevelt

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Suggested Reading and Links about Dreams

I Have a Dream

This beautiful page of suggested readings on dreams and dream interpretation includes links to Freud's classic The Interpretation of Dreams, essays on Tibetan Buddhist dream yoga and Jungian dream analysis, G. William Domhoff's piece on "The Purpose of Dreams," and advice on "How to Remember Your Dreams" from The Lucidity Institute. The site's main page also offers a free service for answering general questions about dreams. Dream on . . . .

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

U.S. Newswire - Labor Department Launches Web Site to Help the Homeless

Theater of the Absurd

U.S. Labor Department Launches Web Site to Help the Homeless

' "This Web page furthers the Administration's commitment to helping the homeless, including homeless veterans," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao, who serves as vice chairman of the Interagency Council on Homelessness." '

Yes, all you homeless people with laptops and modems, now you have your own website . . .

(OK, I know some homeless people have it together enough to use computers in libraries. But those are the ones who probably have all the information available on this site.)

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Word of the Day: Tantara

Word of the Day

tantara (n)

A trumpet or horn fanfare

Augusta always made quite an impression. Whenever she entered a room, I could almost hear a tantara.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Alice in Wonderland Online

Down the Rabbit Hole

cheshire cat

Here's an online version of Alice in Wonderland, featuring illustrations from nine historical artists (including Tenniel) and two contemporary artists. Lewis Carroll's hand-written draft of the book, Alice's Adventures under Ground, with his own illustrations, is here.

Alice always reminds me not to take life so seriously. You're nothing but a pack of cards!

(via The Presurfer)

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Strange Eating

"Tastes Just Like Chicken"

Someone asked me today what the strangest food was that I had ever eaten. I didn't have to think for long. Back in the days when I used to travel for work, I once tried sautéed bull testicles in Mexico; on another trip I had baked pigeon in Morocco. (I ate the latter, served with rice, with my fingers, which is how they eat dinner in Morocco.) I don't recall that either had a particularly sharp taste. I wouldn't have guessed that I was eating anything out of the ordinary from the taste alone. I'm not sure which of the two was the "strangest" -- probably the testicles, for the shock value. I'm more often reminded of eating the pigeon, though, since I don't often see bulls outside my window.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Is "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" a real word referring to Irish hookers?

Something Quite Atrocious

Is "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" a real word referring to Irish hookers?

No. But the article above provides some interesting clues about where and how it may have been coined. It predates the Disney film version of Mary Poppins and never appeared in the original P.L. Travers books.

(via grow-a-brain)

Ultra-realistic pencil drawings

Pencil on Paper

You will have a hard time believing that the pencil drawings at Gas Tank City aren't photographs or paintings. I'd say these ultra-realistic pictures are a testament to both mimetic genius and human endurance.

(via things)

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Bush to screen population for mental illness

The Madness of King George, continued

This really is beyond parody:

Bush to screen population for mental illness

"President Bush plans to unveil next month a sweeping mental health initiative that recommends screening for every citizen and promotes the use of expensive antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs favored by supporters of the administration."

That's all we need -- W deciding who among us is "mentally ill" (perhaps those who don't support his policies?) and requires antipsychotic medication.

Oh brave new world . . .

And here's some real evidence of mental maturity.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Word of the Day: hebetude

Word of the Day

hebetude (n)

Mental dullness or slowness

The inept Mayor Smalltree's re-election would depend entirely on the hebetude of the townspeople, Malechi thought.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Poem: Moving Day

Random Acts of Poetry

Moving Day

With the rooms empty
and every door ajar
and the boxes down the stairs,
a potent stillness,
the outrider of change,
drifts in,

brushes the baseboards,
maunders and swirls,
finding no one in the livingroom
nothing in the kitchen
to stop or delay it,
only faded shades,

floors that creak,
dustballs in corners,
blank spaces on walls.
Forgotten objects--
a missing shoe, a broken toy,
magazines and coat hangers,

a glass by the sink,
old newspapers,
last year's calendar--
alone testify
to someone's life,
this interrupted story.

Once, fingers wandered
over guitar strings;
the bathroom mirror
held tired faces,
a day began and ended
that mattered somehow,

footsteps were heard,
a door opened,
babies screamed, children left.
Now, only the light changes,
like the sky relected in water,
a vague and broken image.

At night, the lights of cars
rushing up the street
animate the walls
and make shadows dance
like dogged memories
across the bedroom floor.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Saturn's rings in color

Ring Thing

There's something almost hypnotic about these color photos of Saturn's rings, via the Cassini spacecraft now in orbit around the planet. A slightly higher resolution image is here.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Alcohol: Not my drug of choice


I don't know why I've never been driven to drink, as things have happened to me (as they do to all of us, I suppose) that could have sent me to the bottle. But beyond the first beer, or the second glass of wine, I don't care much for alcohol. I don't enjoy the mental fog it brings, and it has never made me uninhibited--just the opposite. I become extremely cautious about what I say and do, knowing that I'm not quite in my right mind anymore.

My drug of choice is caffeine. It makes me feel smarter, perkier, more alive. I drink enough of it so that it doesn't make me nervous, even after the fourth cup of the day. And, to my knowledge, no one has ever proved that it has any ill effects, except on, maybe, fetuses. (I'll stop drinking it if I get pregnant.)

American coffee is weak, anyway. A Brazilian I met once referred to it as "brown water." They drink it 100-proof down there.

I'm in good company: caffeine is the world's most popular drug.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Word of the Day: Gowpen

Word of the Day

gowpen (n)

a double handful

Lacking a cup, Gavin drank a gowpen of water from the stream.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Sharp’s sub-1mm e-book reader

Paper Thin

Check out this new e-book reader. Are we getting closer to the "electronic paper" promised land?

Google Search: "my hero is"

According to Google

My hero is . . .

my Mom
my older brother
created and written by Paul Mendelson
my friend because she always cheers me up when I am sad
Michael Owen
clearly a 'fish out of water' comedy
a teacher who challenged me to find out what I believe in and gave me the courage to stand-up for it
my wonderful husband
my fiancee Spc. Jesse Sibson of the 153rd Engineer Battalion out of Huron SD
a special place we have designed to allow you to recognize the special hero in your life
an interactive site made for the entire family
a Big Bear Production
a British comedy about a superhero named Thermoman
a fighting man
an interactive educational website
my father
my teacher
no exception
an interesting look at education in Korea
not a huge fan of the Bush administration
a wonderful person
slowly but surely winning audiences over
John Chapman , also known as Johnny Appleseed
Itzhak Perlman

Monday, July 05, 2004

Why I rarely watch local TV news

Why I rarely watch local TV news

I live in the New York metro area. Truly newsworthy events in this area usually show up on the national news. Sports and weather coverage I can get on the web. I don't like news stories about horrible traffic accidents, babies falling out of windows, etc. There is nothing I can do about these upsetting things. Most of all, I don't like phony "happy talk." (That's why I also don't watch morning talk shows.) Why does anyone watch local TV news?

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Random Acts of Poetry: Match

Random Acts of Poetry (summer rerun)


Electricity lost,
that little redhead
exploded for us,
igniting a tiny
scratch dazzle
in the big dark place.

Your face bloomed,
orange and guileless
in the match-light:
a flicker
out of childhood,
out of a sulfurous dream.

Fade to black.
So it is with our kind.
I endured it,
not despairing.
I let drop
that little cinder bone,
the dead stick.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Prominent DC Shrink Diagnoses Bush to be a Paranoid, Sadistic Meglomaniac

The Madness of King George, continued

Prominent DC Shrink Diagnoses Bush to be a Paranoid, Sadistic Meglomaniac

"A new book by a prominent Washington psychoanalyst says President George W. Bush is a 'paranoid meglomaniac' as well as a sadist and 'untreated alcoholic.' The doctor's analysis appears to confirm earlier reports the President may be emotionally unstable."

My Pet Goat: The Real Story

Quote of the Day

"The girl had a pet goat. She liked to go running with her pet goat. She played with her goat in her house. She played with her goat in her yard. But the goat did something that made the girl's dad mad. The goat ate things. He ate cans and he ate cakes. He ate cakes and he ate cats. One day her dad said, that goat must go. He ate too many things. The girl said, that if you let the goat stay with us, I will see that he stops eating all those things. Her dad said he will try it. So the goat stayed and the girl made him stop eating cans and cakes and cats and cakes. But one day a car robber went into the girls house. He saw a big red car in the house and said, I will steal that car. He ran to the car and started to open the door. The girl and the goat were playing in the back yard. They did not see the car robber. More to come."

--From "The Pet Goat"
by Siegfried Engelmann & Elaine C. Bruner
Lesson 60, page 153
Reading Mastery 2, storybook #1
SRA (Scientific Research Associates)
McGraw-Hill, 1995
ISBN# 0026863553

This is the story that W continued to read with the elementary school class for several minutes after he was informed that a second plane had struck the World Trade Center. (Contrary to popular belief, the class was not reading from a stand-alone children's book called My Pet Goat; no such book exists.) More information about this can be found here.

Such a fascinating little story . . .

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Lost in New Jersey

Drive Me Crazy

I have to admit -- I don't like driving. And that's a painful admission in an auto-obsessed culture like ours.

It might be different if I was cruising through the countryside under cerulean skies with the top down. Instead, I'm usually lost in Weird New Jersey on some four-lane turnpike -- dodging pot holes and trucks coming at me at 70 mph.

Today I had to drive my son to his friend's house, a friend that recently moved to a town I've never visited. The route looked relatively simple on MapQuest. I just had to get onto Route 1-9 and then exit onto Route 280 West. But the place where these thoroughfares come together turned out to be a tangled web of highways, city streets, bridges and overpasses. And cars, cars, more cars, and trucks -- all filled with impatient people who seemed to know exactly where they were going.

To make a protracted story breviloquent, I got on the wrong route and eventually had to get off to ask directions. I found myself in what seemed to be an entirely African-American town that I still don't know the name of. I stopped in at a gas station/food store and asked the man behind the bullet-proof glass at the counter how to get back to the right route. He looked at me blankly, as if I'd asked how to get to Utopia Planitia. Then a winsome woman customer offered to help. Her directions were complicated, but she wrote them down for me on the back of some expired lottery tickets. I thanked her profusely and returned to the car, where my son was waiting patiently. About 30 minutes later, we arrived at his friend's house--mission accomplished. Driving back home turned out to be a lot easier; the route was more straightforward, somehow.

My vision of Hell--or one of them, anyway--is traveling down a six-lane superhighway at 70 mph, surrounded by tractor-trailers and SUVs, and suddenly realizing I'm on the wrong road and I'll never get off.

Word of the Day: atrabilious

Word of the Day

atrabilious (adj)

1. Gloomy; melancholic
2. Irritable; peevish

Serena refused to invite the atrabilious Mr. Morne, who could spoil a party just by opening his mouth.

People who write misanthropic poetry could be described as atrabilious.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004 -- Brad Turner

Your Dream Man

My friend Brad has a knack for analyzing dreams, including some of my own that I've posted
here. Now he's offering to do the same for others at Dream-Insights.

"Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart .... Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.
--Carl Jung

"A dream that is not interpreted is like a letter that has not been opened."
--The Talmud

Monday, June 28, 2004

Mix your own Revolution 9

Number 9 Number 9 Number 9

"Take this brother; may it serve you well."

Mix your own version of the Beatles' oddest "song":


(via Incoming Signals)

Cheesy Movie Plot Generator

Hatching a Plot

How many of these late-night cable movies have you seen?

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.

Sins and Summer

Taking a break to get some surf and sun, Ashley (Ashlie Rhey) dances exotically for money to win the custody of her daughter. A sensitive hunk with a guitar (Wil Wheaton) won't let her forget the past. Todd Bridges and Dana Plato won't stop till they get enough. We've had enough the moment they appear onscreen.

Dialing for Merit Badges

Left with his kids' troop after the Scout Master falls ill, Brian (Steve Guttenberg) finds love in the yellow pages in opposition to his friends' advice. Local sheriff and recent divorcee Lisa Cliff (Shelly Long) learns the true meaning of a dead line. Marilyn Chambers tries (unsuccesfully) to hide with the scouts while disguised as a teenager.

Sins and Secrets

A frustrated poet with a flair for purple clothes (Robert Davi) hires a hit-man for a secret job on the brink of losing it all. Undersexed and underpaid, Linda (Shannon Whirry) trades what she knows for what she can never have. Tom Bosley plays the improbable "Mr.Nookie".

Intimate Desires

A man suffering from impotency (Nick Cassavetes) enters a deadly affair while attempting to commit his wife to a mental institution. Hiding her own history, the mysterious Brenda (Deborah Shelton) can't say no. Edward Albert confuses as a palmist and soothsayer.


They may sound vaguely familiar, but the correct answer is "none." These are all plots created by The Late-Night Cable-Movie Plot Generator. That last one sounds like it might make a nifty David Lynch movie.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Poetry: Venus

Random Acts of Poetry


She stands alone,
her bare
feet reflected
in a dark pool
of polished stone.

Her hair,
untied for the night
from its impossible weave,
promises a shower
of pale spirals

from her Circe head,
while a drapery
of gauze
defines her
narcotic form

till I startle awake.
The air is hot.
Men would melt
in her killing embrace.
Acid vapors cloud her eyes.

And even as her star
rises in east,
bedecking the sky
with a crystal tear,
she burns and whispers a lie.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Word of the Day: Gaberlunzie

Word of the Day

Gaberlunzie (n)

(Originally Scottish) A wandering beggar

The gaberlunzie offered to sing for a copper, or to refrain from singing for two coppers.

Here's an interesting, and purportedly true, folk tale about a Gaberlunzie Man who isn't what he seems.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

The Condensed Bill Clinton - Slate reads My Life so you don't have to.

All the Juicy Bits

Don't have time to read Bill's 957-page "turgid" autobiography? Try The Condensed Bill Clinton, via Slate magazine.

Some samples:

On sex:

Page 197: "I was so exhausted I fell asleep while the stripper was dancing and the goat head was looking up at me."

Of special interest to Freudians:

Page 14: "Hillary says the first time she ever saw me, I was in the Yale Law School lounge bragging to skeptical fellow students about the size of Hope watermelons."

On Hillary:

Page 182: Hillary tries to cut her own hair before Bill's mother arrives for a visit. "It was a minor fiasco; she looked more like a punk rocker than someone who had just walked out of Jeff Dwire's beauty salon. With no makeup, a work shirt and jeans, and bare feet coated with tar from walking on the beach at Milford, she might as well have been a space alien."

On life not lived:

Page 172: "I had fantasized from time to time about being a doorman at New York's Plaza Hotel, at the south end of Central Park. Plaza doormen had nice uniforms and met interesting people from all over the world. I imagined garnering large tips from guests who thought that, despite my strange southern accent, I made good conversation."

Despite his flaws, I really miss Clinton, probably the best US president of my lifetime so far.

Nobody died when Clinton lied.

Nota Bene

Budget for the 9/11 Commission: $15 million.
Budget for Ken Starr's investigation of Bill Clinton: $70 million.
(Your tax dollars at work.)

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Marilyn Monroe Robot

Do robots dream of electric sheep?

I doubt it, but they can probably count them really well . . . I've always like robots, ever since I was a wee lad watching Lost in Space. And I've always had a, well, warm feeling for Marilyn Monroe, my favorite sex symbol/icon. So it was that I was pleasantly surprised to stumble across the Marilyn Monrobot. She's joined on artist Clayton Bailey's site by several other "robots," including the "Giant Metal Robug" and "Celeste the Robot Teabag"--all artfully constructed from spare parts.

I'm sure we'll see a much more sophisticated Monrobot in a few years -- probably some kind of android that looks like her, or maybe a digital comeback on the silver screen.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Consciousness Streamed

I scraped by to break myself recently -- had to live in purgatory under an old stone wall in Devonshire. He who assays the hour of such entrance is a lucky cat, though gray and with a relatively besmirched family observing his table manners at a small lunch. This is
a scenario of little consequence in a walled outpost. Here, each boy from the town's whistle-stop recites verbs in the morning, directed by a small concatenation of squirrels. And each morning, that circle of fur requests that llamas join them, to come live with them and join their league, distancing and separating everything from its element. That straight-line, forsaken boy of the Brown's with the worn, upturned collar sees this clearly, but is not taken seriously.


Sorry. Just felt like writing some nonsense.

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Bush told he is playing into Bin Laden's hands

Quote of the Day

"Anonymous, who published an analysis of al-Qaida last year called Through Our Enemies' Eyes, thinks it quite possible that another devastating strike against the US could come during the election campaign, not with the intention of changing the administration, as was the case in the Madrid bombing, but of keeping the same one in place.

'I'm very sure they can't have a better administration for them than the one they have now,' he said.

'One way to keep the Republicans in power is to mount an attack that would rally the country around the president.' "

Read the full article at:
Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Bush told he is playing into Bin Laden's hands

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Poem: Long Night

Random Acts of Poetry

Long Night

Lean streets split the city
like deep cracks in parched mud.

Neon strings outlined storefronts,
their vivid sentences, inarguable.

Lamp-posts: black stick figures
painted circles of waxen light.

Sidewalks were dark rivers
full of strange fish.

Broken bottles, spent tires, rags,
papers, used condoms were underfoot.

Dead drunks squatted in doorsteps
outside worn tenements.

A cafe overflowed with apes
arguing over chessboards.

And overhead a second, poorer world
had colonized the sky—

windows full of sad faces, babies
crying endlessly in the dark.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

CD Review: N.U. Unruh Euphorie im Zeitalter der digitalen Informations?bertragung

Sounds Weird . . .

I like these audio samples of music made from ordinary office and household noises: motors, oscillators, alarms, beepers, phones, toys, video games, door bells, office machines, etc.

The ever-intriguing Unity of Multi blog lists a variety of musical compositions made from samples, including earthquake rumbles as recorded by seismographs, animal noises and "copying machine music."

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Freeze Frame

Seen on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan today:

A young, well-dressed woman walking along in high heels. The backs of her ankles were bleeding slightly, as if a small animal had been nibbling on her Achilles' tendons. She did not seem to be in pain or even aware of it.

(I'm convinced that NYC is the people-watching capital of the world. I rarely fail to observe at least one bizarre or bewildering person whenever I venture into the city.)

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Popular Science | Tech '54, Where Are You?

Low Tech

How long could you survive (or stand to survive) using only the technology of 1954? A magazine writer spends 10 days living with the technology of 50 years ago: Tech '54, Where Are You? Sample quote: "After scouring the streets for a working pay phone (an increasingly rare commodity), I put in my last quarter--and get a busy signal. Of course the phone eats my quarter. I feel sorry for people who still have to use these things on a regular basis, and recall the comment famously attributed to William Gibson: 'The future is already here, it's just not evenly distributed.' "

Monday, June 14, 2004

Top Ten Favorite Words

Drumroll, please . . .

. . . and the Top 10 favorite words for 2004, according to Merriam-Webster Online, are:

1. defenestration
2. serendipity
3. onomatopoeia
4. discombobulate
5. plethora
6. callipygian
7. juxtapose
8. persnickety
9. kerfuffle
10. flibbertigibbet

I think that's a nice selection; in fact, I made one of those, kerfuffle, my word of the day back on May 3rd.

The only one I wasn't familiar with is callipygian, which is an adjective meaning, ahem, "having shapely buttocks."

The year is only half over, though--shouldn't this be among the plethora of end-of-the-year lists, Merriam?

(via The Presurfer)

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Poem: Sunset

Random Acts of Poetry


It looked like the end of the world.
The whole sky papered over

with an absurd and intricate wing pattern:
You might have thought

the sky had sprouted feathers,
spreading oily quills

that tickled the skin.
Across the sky-bowl's center

they were metallic, glinting
of blue steel

and glass of seasick green;
but in the west

the wingtips burned
and the flaming plumes of Phoenix

sheltered the sun like a rare pearl
too precious to be seen.

The wing was bigger than the earth
and determined to keep a confidence.

The real sky was hidden away that evening.
The sky held a terrible secret.

Friday, June 11, 2004



Check out this veddy kewl wall of found art, en español: Populardelujo

(via Incoming Signals)

Sergio Maltagliati: Color Keyboard

Listen to the Color of Your Dreams

When I'm in the right mood, I enjoy some pretty weird music -- Yoko Ono, Brian Eno, Steven Halpern, Alex North in his wilder moments (Africa), and others. I've sometimes wished that I could be an avant-garde composer myself, generating copious clouds of titillative tones or dastardly dissonance. The Color Keyboard by Italian composer Sergio Maltagliati makes that seem possible. Give it a try: impress your friends (?), annoy your neighbors.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Word of the Day: Catafalque

Word of the Day

catafalque (n)

A raised platform that a casket rests on during a funeral or memorial service

"I don't want a plain box," Renata said. "I want a sarcophagus on a marble catafalque."

See: "What's a Catafalque?" in Slate

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Singing Postcards

Wish You Were Hear

Once upon a time, people sent each other Singing Postcards. Click on the record to hear the "sound postcard."

(via Unity of Multi)