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)

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Baseball non-fan visits Yankee Stadium

Field of Dreams

I'm still recovering from the weekend (and the intense week of work and commuting before it). Sunday was not a day of rest: I took my son, a 13-year-old baseball enthusiast, and two of his friends to Yankee Stadium to see the "Bombers" defeat the Texas Rangers. Not being much of a baseball or sports fan myself, I tend to find the spectators at such events far more interesting than the millionaires out on the field. It always strikes me as odd that people can become so passionate about an essentially meaningless ritual. The human ability for intense identification with people and activities that have nothing to do with one's own life always amazes me, though I'm "guilty" of it myself in other ways. I think it explains a lot about our popular culture, not to mention the current political scene. Escapism –- would life be bearable for any of us without at least a little of it? I participated in the ritual, by the way, clapping when everyone else did, standing up for home runs and the Star-Spangled warble, and even doing the "wave" with the rest of the crowd. Respect trumps sincerity.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Strindberg + helium

Inspired Lunacy

Flash literary division:

Strindberg + helium

(via Maud Newton)

Confidential Pentagon memo says Bush can set aside laws --WSJ

The Madness of King George, continued

An excerpt from an article in today's Wall Street Journal about a confidential Pentagon memo:

"To protect subordinates should they be charged with torture, the memo advised that Mr. Bush issue a 'presidential directive or other writing' that could serve as evidence, since authority to set aside the laws is 'inherent in the president.' "

And the Watergate is just a hotel in Washington . . .

(via Talking Points Memo)

Joan Didion on Ronald Reagan

Quote of the Day

"President Ronald Reagan, we were later told by his speechwriter Peggy Noonan, spent his off-camera time in the White House answering fifty letters a week, selected by the people who ran his mail operation, from citizens. He put the family pictures these citizens sent him in his pockets and desk drawers. When he did not have the zip code, he apologized to his secretary for not looking it up himself. He sharpened his own pencils, we were told by Helene von Damm, his secretary first in Sacramento and then in Washington, and he also got his own coffee.

"In the post-Reagan rush to establish that we knew all along about this peculiarity in that particular White House, we forgot the actual peculiarity of the place, which had less to do with the absence at the center than with the amount of centrifugal energy this absence left spinning free at the edges."
--Joan Didion, "In the Realm of the Fisher King"

Friday, June 04, 2004

'Shoot, Luke, or give up the gun'

"Hot as a whorehouse on nickel night"

Skedaddle over to Old West Slang and Phrases, A Writer's Guide for a bang-up, hog-killin' time. It's ace-high and according to Hoyle. Twig?

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Ultimate Flash Face

Make a Face

As a kid, I used to love to play with Mr. Potato Head. Ultimate Flash Face is almost as fun and far more realistic.

(via Unity of Multi)

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Word of the Day: Spanghew

Word of the Day

spanghew (v)

To throw or jerk violently, to cause to fly into the air, to jump like a toad or frog

Damien enjoyed sneaking up behind Mildred, tapping her on the shoulder, and watching her spanghew.