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?"

Read more at EmptyBottle.org

(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.

Engrish.com 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)