Friday, December 30, 2005

Word of the Day: ishkabibble

Word of the Day

ishkabibble (n? adj?)

Various meanings: "don't worry," "a silly person," "nonsense" or an expression of surprise.

"How narrow a plank our daily talk walks, between normalized syntax and mad entropy; and how painfully hilarious to us are those ishkabibble comedians who mimic the fluent sound of patterns of colloquial language, while refusing any--or almost any--sense to it!"
--Frederic Will, Shamans in Turtlenecks

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

None of this is true

None of this is true

A couple of days ago my parents were watching a TV show about sex in the Dark Ages. They were very disturbed by the whole thing, so they asked my friend Miguel about it, and he said:

"Whoa!... Shut up! I was just learning about the Dark Ages in class!"

But when my parents got to the part about the sex, Miguel suddenly got this dangerous look in his eyes. Then, just now, Miguel's uncle told me that the reason Miguel was so freaked out was because he found this weird page about sex. Occasionally Miguel can be very unpredictable like that.

Stuck for a subject? Try Instant Blog Post.

This Is the title of my post

This is the title of my blog post

This is the first sentence of my blog post about David Moser's self-referential short story. This is the second sentence. This is the sentence that suggests you read Moser's story if you like experimental writing and mind games. This is the last sentence of my blog post.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

What I really want for Christmas

According to Google

What I really want for Christmas is...

"Brian Wilson's ninth official solo album"
"Peace in the Universe and all Parallel dimensions"
"a Big Mouth Billy Bass or a Travis the Singing Trout"
"an apartment close to my university"
"to NEVER leave your lap"
"to see my daughter have a great one!"
"nothing at all. You may ask why. The reason is I have not been good at all the hole [sic] year"
"peace, and since that ain't happ-nin, I wonder if anyone might track me down a copy of Herotodous" [sic]
"to have my book indexed by Google Print and Yahoo!'s Open Content Alliance"
"(shhhh. . .) a couple truckloads of aged manure. That's my most heartfelt desire"
"a new banjo, an apple iBook, a boyfriend, a personal chiropracter, and for my X-friend to stop being a bitch"
"a telepathic computer"
"my Master, a dungeon and being tortured/beaten"
"respect. Well, and attention. Should I wear the see-through dress again?"
"a good old fashion pick ax" [sic]
"Star Trek technology"
"A Palace Like That One, Daddy!"
"a pet reindeer, especially Rudolph"
"a Tivo that can capture multiple, simultaneous programs from the incoming cable feed (for 'trainwreck nights')"
"a Nietzsche plushie, although I wouldn't turn down a Soctrates [sic] or a Van Gogh (with detachable ear)"

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Word of the Day: Ninnyhammer

Word of the Day

ninnyhammer (n)

A fool, simpleton or silly person

"You silly, awkward, illbred, country sow...have you no more manners than to rail at Hocus, that has saved that clodpated numskull'd ninnyhammer of yours from ruin, and all his family?"
--Jonathan Swift, "The History of John Bull"

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Jim Earl and His Big Page of Crap

Big Page of Crap

I can't wait, Jim. I wanted to name my page this, but I chickened.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A Present for the Paranoid

Gift Idea

For that paranoiac on your Xmas shopping list:

The 'Safe Bedside Table' has a removable leg that acts as a club and a top that doubles as a shield for self-defence. This is for people who are willing to take on an intruder, providing an extra sense of security whilst in bed.

Of course you'd have to dump everything--lamp, alarm clock, water glass and sleeping pills, etc.--on the floor first. The noise might even scare the intruder away before you got around to clubbing him...Somehow, I doubt this will sell too well in the trigger-happy U.S. People here who worry about this sort of thing tend to sleep with pistols under their pillows.

(via Yet Another Damn Blog)

The Terminator

Tookie Terminated

Let's see. Who has the official power of life and death in this country?

Mr. Freeze

Conan the Barbarian

And of course...

The Terminator

Only in America, folks.

Monday, December 12, 2005

George Plimpton : Man of Letters. Man of Action

Paper Lion

Here is a groovy* site about the late writer, editor and professional dilettante George Plimpton. I remember my father, a sports fan, reading Paper Lion, a book about Plimpton's experiences as a pro football player for a day. (It was later made into an Alan Alda movie.) And several years ago, I read Plimpton's Edie, a weird book, assembled entirely from quotations, about a forgotten Warhol "superstar." It said a lot about the sixties, if not its blank-slate subject.

Plimpton loved fireworks (of the literal 4th-of-July kind), and the site's design and Java pyrotechnics reflect that.

*I'm tired of the word cool, so I went retro.

(via growabrain)

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry


It's yoga time upstairs
the creaking floor announces.
The fish wander in their glass prison.
I scribble in a notebook
making vague pictures, pinched faces.
My hand cramps
over ballpoint eyes and mouths.

There is a strange appliance
in the cupboard,
a thing that chops and grinds.
Why is it never used?
Silence. Someone's assumed
the lotus position.
It's not good to think so much.

These inky people look like maniacs.
"How do you spell relief?"
the radio asks.
I flip the page and find a snow field
ready to be populated.
Little people living in boxes,
their words floating off in balloons.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Create a Band Online

You Rock

You can assemble your own virtual rock band at I named my band Digital Dan and the Ringtones. It includes Adam on percussion, Hardcore Paul on rhythm guitar, Rachel on bass and Tommy on keyboards. They really rock, but their sound is a bit, uh, repetitive. A one-hit wonder I'm afraid.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Top 10 bookshops

Best Sellers

Author Jeremy Mercer lists his ten favorite bookshops from around the world. "I love all booksellers," he says. "Anybody who helps spread the word is doing noble work."

I'm not so sure. The only bookshop in my neighborhood isn't much of a bookshop at all--it's a "news" store that sells newspapers, magazines, knick-knacks and greeting cards in addition to books. Many of the dusty paperbacks on its shelves look, to put it kindly, well thumbed. I asked the proprietor once how much she charged for the "used books." She seemed insulted by the question and informed me that the books weren't used, just abused by her customers who, she claimed, read them but don't buy--and that whatever it said on the cover was the price. That's why I don't buy books there, but I do stop in every day to pick up the newspaper and, occasionally, a magazine. And I've never seen anyone reading books in the store.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day

"First of all, I am a real Minimalist, because I don't do very much. I know some minimalists who call themselves minimalist, but they do loads of minimalism. That is cheating. I really don't do very much."
--Robert Wyatt

Monday, December 05, 2005

19th-century and early 20th audio recordings

Oldies. Real Oldies

At the Cylinders of the Month Archive you can hear mp3s of pop songs recorded on wax or tinfoil cylinders in the 1890s through the early 1900s. I suppose the artists, nearly all forgotten now, were the Kelly Clarksons and Rob Thomases of their day. Sophie Tucker was the only name I (vaguely) recognized.

Happy Holidlays

Happy Holidays!

This is just wrong.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

A visit from the FBI

Special Agent

We had the first snow of the year here this morning (Sunday), and I was almost enjoying my sidewalk shoveling. I was nearly finished when a long, black Mercedes pulled up in front of the apartment house next door. A rather shabbily dressed guy who looked like a skinny Santa Claus (he had a white beard anyway) stepped out with a big shovel and began to push snow from in front of the house into the street. Must be the landlord, I thought, although his grizzled appearance didn't match the role or the car. I smiled, but he ignored me, or maybe didn't notice me as he plowed the sidewalk.

I was about to speak to him when my young neighbor pulled up on his motorcycle. He's Asian--perhaps Japanese or Korean--and doesn't speak much English. "Hello, how are you?" he said. I was going to answer, but then I realized he was talking to the shoveler next door. "Hey how are you," said the landlord. It wasn't a question. "Do you have the rent for me?" "Tomorrow," said the neighbor. "I work tomorrow," Mr. Shoveler said, in what I thought was an unnecessarily nasty tone. "But I'm here today." "Tomorrow--no problem," said the neighbor. They went back and forth this way several times, saying the same things over and over.

While this ping pong was going on, I took a closer look at the Mercedes. There was a round sticker on the back window, and I squinted to read it: Federal Bureau of Investigation.

"What time tomorrow?" the landlord finally said, and the standoff collapsed. The neighbor went into the house and Scrooge finished his shoveling.

"How-ya-doin'." he finally said to me. "Pretty good," I said, but he wasn't listening. He got back in his car and drove away.

For some reason, I kept thinking of that memorable quote from Hitchcock's North by Northwest: "Seems to me you fellows could stand a little less training from the FBI and a little more from the Actor's Studio."

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Word of the day: spondulicks

Word of the Day

spondulicks (n)

money; cash

"I haven't got enough spondulicks to take a street-car ride."
--Alice Hegan Rice, Calvary Alley

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry

Curious George

Midwives love secrets:
why an hourglass turns,
how the sun melds many into one.
You are light and grace notes today,
and a mystery for that.

A rumble beneath my feet
spirits me away.
A TV screen fills with mute faces.
My reflection in plate glass
could be anyone.

These apes are always on time,
their little hands spinning on dials
or numbers flickering fast.
Monday dissolves into Tuesday,
much strangeness is left unsaid.

Yeah, if only.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Dreamlines art generator

Dream Weaver

Dreamlines creates a painting-like image based on the words you enter, using Google's Image search. The results are abstract or semi-representational, depending (apparently) on how concrete your terms are. Above is what the site produced when I typed in "blue house."

(via Blue Tea)

Monday, November 28, 2005

Cliche popularity contest

You can say that again

Is there anything so popular as a cliche? The Cliche Challenge tracks the voguishness of overused words and phrases, based on the number of references to them found by Google over a three-month period. Bottom line? At the end of the day, visiting this state-of-the-art site could be an historic opportunity, if you're monitoring the situation.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Kerouac, bit by bit


I've decided that I like episodic books -- books I can put down and then pick up again, sometimes months later, without feeling that I need to start over again from page 1. One such is Kerouac's On the Road, a picaresque freight-train of jazz-prose chapters that I started reading last summer, figuring it was about time. (I had read some of Kerouac's other novels before, but never, for some reason, his magnum opus.) About halfway through, I became entangled in a life-changing event -- I moved -- and actually couldn't find the book for a while. Now I'm reading it again, bit by bit, between work and various holiday jaunts and obligations. The starting and stopping doesn't seem to matter . . . I miss the days when I could just sit and read a book all day, though. That kind of sustained attention seems harder and harder to achieve, and not just because I'm constantly interrupted by the slings and arrows of adult life. I think my attention span is actually getting shorter -- maybe from spending too much time online.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Zen story generator

Koan Zone

Zen again and again: a random Zen story generator. (Just keep reloading the page.)

Computer-generated webpage design

"Just Another Website"

Strange Banana is an online program that creates a random webpage design that you can save and use if you want. They're better than some human-generated designs I've seen.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Time Magazine's All-Time 100 Best Novels


In its infinite wisdom (or arrogance, depending on how you look at it), Time magazine has revealed its All-TIME 100 [Best] Novels list. I'm happy/relieved to see that I've read quite a few of them, and it reminded me of a favorite of mine that I haven't thought about in a while: Nathanael West's The Day of the Locust. (I seem to be drawn to satirical novels. Wonder what that says about me.)

The list only includes English-language novels from 1923 to the present, which seems arbitrary. Maybe they plan to compile foreign-language and pre-1923 lists in the future.

They have this to say about another fave of mine, 1984, which seems, sadly (and ironically), not to have become dated: "It is Orwell's triumph, and the century's misfortune, that 1984 is as prescient as it is pessimistic."

Monday, November 21, 2005

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry


Template of a planet
painted on a billiard ball,

caroming a zigzag--
bone-hard egg, polished stone,

tissue and sinew
barely hanging on.


On a dry plain,
a setting sun, sets free.

The absence of an ache
releases a bird, red feathers--

flying south.
A flame in the sky.


Later the heavenly
game, connect the dots,

begins. I see fish,
gods, dishes,

the old faces, hear a murmuring --
something about a garden.

Friday, November 18, 2005

New York Underground: hidden world

Sub Conscious

Thanks to its skyscrapers, New York is usually thought of as a "tall" city, but it's also a deep one. A cool graphic.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The books famous people loved in college.

Book Crush

The books famous people loved in college

My favorite book from college reading days was probably The Catcher in the Rye. Somehow I missed reading it in high school. (I also liked its female analogue, The Bell Jar.) Another favorite: Twain's The Mysterious Stranger. I enjoyed reading a lot of Shakespeare and Dickens then, too--something I wish I had time for today. Yeah, I was an English major. Do they even exist anymore?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Well Said

Well Said

Saw this online today:

"Hysteria is good for catapulting the chaos."

Jimmy Carter: 'This isn't the real America'

Quote of the Day

"In recent years, I have become increasingly concerned by a host of radical government policies that now threaten many basic principles espoused by all previous administrations, Democratic and Republican. These include the rudimentary American commitment to peace, economic and social justice, civil liberties, our environment and human rights. Also endangered are our historic commitments to providing citizens with truthful information, treating dissenting voices and beliefs with respect, state and local autonomy and fiscal responsibility...

"Another disturbing realization is that, unlike during other times of national crisis, the burden of conflict is now concentrated exclusively on the few heroic men and women sent back repeatedly to fight in the quagmire of Iraq. The rest of our nation has not been asked to make any sacrifice, and every effort has been made to conceal or minimize public awareness of casualties...

"Of even greater concern is that the U.S. has repudiated the Geneva accords and espoused the use of torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, and secretly through proxy regimes elsewhere with the so-called extraordinary rendition program. It is embarrassing to see the president and vice president insisting that the CIA should be free to perpetrate 'cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment' on people in U.S. custody..."
--Jimmy Carter, from "This Isn't the Real America"

Read more here.

It is quite extraordinary for an ex-president to make a statement like this about a current administration.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Word of the Day: Incalescence

Word of the Day

incalescence (n)

The action or process of heating or becoming hot

Though we could hear the teapot's incalescence, there was no one in the kitchen.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Stuff and Nonsense

Stuff and Nonsense

Who knew that shopping for a couch could be so complicated? Furniture stores today--at least the ones out in the 'burbs--are the size of aircraft hangers. Visiting one is like being trapped in a fever dream in which, no matter how far you walk, you can never find your way out of the living room.

These luxurious warehouses are full of every imaginable variation on the theme of chair, sofa, bed and table, but it's hard to find anything basic and simple. I saw enormous beds that looked like something Napoleon would have slept in, complete with Corinthian columns for bedposts and carved headboards. I saw tasseled divans suitable for a reclining Cleopatra and gilded coffee tables that might have held Louis XIV's chips-and-dip. Lots of leather, too: imposing, brass-studded chairs and couches that would look appropriate--where? The offices of superstar attorneys or insecure power brokers? You have to wonder who buys all this vainglory. Delusions of grandeur must be epidemic. "People want to look rich," my wife says, "even if they aren't."

Oddly, many of the lamps and accessories that surrounded these items looked like things you would see in the home of a neurotic art dealer or aboard a flying saucer. Weird metal sculptures, zebra-patterned lamp shades and improbable ashtrays--the people who set up the displays in these mega stores at least have a sense of humor. Could it be us they're snickering at?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

ET phone home: the Hyperdimensional Oscillator

Phone Home

The Hyperdimensional Oscillator (tm) corrects and filters the cosmic energies flowing into the human body to bring increased harmony and balance to the body’s electrical system.

The Hyperdimensional Oscillator (tm) is specially prepared to emit cosmic resonant energy frequencies that synchronize and promote a healthy human bioenergy field.

The Hyperdimensional Oscillator (tm) facilitates communication with higher dimensions including entities commonly termed 'Extraterrestials' or 'ETs'.

Yes, this is a real product, and you can buy one at the "special introductory price" of only $89.95 here. I think I'll pass, but let me know how you like it if you get one.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry

Carpenter's Lament

Moments seem to collapse.
Everything outside disappears,
fading into shades,

as I wince at a nail jab
from the scrap in my hand. There is a sense
of injustice, work unrewarded,

as the hammer crashes--bang--
to the floor. I'm sent back to the body;
no more fantasy of competence.

What is this building but the temporary
attraction of sawdust,
a rickety box of sticks?

Even the smallest blood drop
screams of self-awareness.
Voices intrude from the world--

"You OK?"
Salt, I am salty. And my tongue
pierces the dusty air.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Friday, November 04, 2005


Word of the Day

bafflegab (n)

Pretentious jargon or unintelligible language

[Bafflegab is] "multiloquence characterized by consummate interfusion of circumlocution or periphrasis, inscrutability, and other familiar manifestations of abstruse expatiation commonly utilized for promulgations implementing Procrustean determinations by governmental bodies." --Milton Smith


Thursday, November 03, 2005

Bound for Glory: America in Color, 1939-1943

Colorful Depression

Thanks to photos and films I've seen, I usually think of the Great Depression as a black-and-white or sepia period, sort of like Kansas in the celluloid Wizard of Oz. But color film, though relatively rare, existed back then, and the Library of Congress has produced an eye-opening online exhibition of color Depression-era photos. See if you don't agree that the people and locales in these pix seem much more lifelike--and contemporary--without the distancing effect of monochrome photography.

(via 2blowhards)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005



There's no stoplight at the intersection near my house. If I counted all the minutes I've spent standing on the corner there, waiting for a break in the traffic so I could cross, I'm sure it would depress me profoundly. Or maybe it would make me insanely angry, crazy enough to run into the street, playing chicken with the cars like some demented matador.

It's a feeling of total futility as I stand there, watching 20 or 30 cars swish by. I often have an existential moment. I feel like a trivial blob of protoplasm, aware of the world's indifference and my own impatience and anxiety. Should I make a run for it? To be or not to be?

Occasionally, the drivers take pity. They slow to a crawl and flash their lights, or make odd hand gestures--usually an impatient swatting motion, as if I was an insect buzzing along the windshield. I'm obviously supposed to be grateful, so I smile and wave as I trot across, feeling like the town nuisance, he who must be indulged.

Sometimes I wish there were crossing guards for adults.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

360-degree Panoramas

You Are There offers 360-degree views from the top of the Matterhorn, U2's Vertigo concert, Live 8, various protest events and festivals, Christos's "The Gates," Easter in Corfu, the Sydney Opera House, Yokohama by night, Niagara Falls, etc, etc. Vertigo indeed. Requires Quicktime; probably helps to have a large monitor, too.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Curse of the Zombie Pumpkins! - pumpkin carving patterns

Terror has a new face

You'll find some unique Jack O'Lantern stencils at Curse of the Zombie Pumpkins! - pumpkin carving patterns. (The site seems to be loading slowly now--even via broadband--as the holiday approaches.)

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry


Out here is no shelter:
cold stones only, gray and wet,
and an atmosphere of filmy liquid.

The clouds churn
odd figments, a slow procession
of ghosts on the blurred streets

finding their snaky paths
under black bats harassed by a wind
that respects no human, no tree.

Dripping branches deliver slow torture
even in a dry respite,
dropping tiny shocks on the scalp

or inside the collar, running
chilled fingers along the spine,
pulling the mind back

to the serrated moment
and those humid tales
of drowning waters

that fill damp newspapers.

(Inspired by ten days of nonstop rain earlier this month)

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Tuesday, October 25, 2005



Life leads the thoughtful man on a path of many windings.
Now the course is checked, now it runs straight again.
Here winged thoughts may pour freely forth in words,
There the heavy burden of knowledge must be shut away in silence.
But when two people are at one in their inmost hearts,
They shatter even the strength of iron or of bronze.
And when two people understand each other in their inmost hearts,
Their words are sweet and strong, like the fragrance of orchids.

--I Ching

Sooner or later a person begins to notice that everything that happens to him is perfect, relates directly to who he is, had to happen, was meant to happen, plays its little role in fulfilling his destiny.

--Paul Williams

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Surrealist Compliments For All

Your affluent effluent drives even the most zeal-minded to imbibe

Everyone needs a compliment now and then, but it's hard to come up with something original. You might try some of the novel extolations below on your friends and rivals. If you deliver them fast enough, they might not even notice the 100 percent inanity content.

"You foment graciously, as ever any dying monster did rot."

"Wheals and boils come forth as testament to your fine sense of haut couture."

"Your cleverness ferments meat without the need of oxygen."

"Woe is me, for I must forever more huddle, unminded, in the dark shadow of your undeserved engine of procreation."

"Come, let me gnaw your fingernails that I may absorb and lose myself in the wise and gritty detritus that is you."

"I find your eye sockets to be a wondrous amusement park filled with neo-plastic pleasures and oncogenic delights."

"Your sweet voice is like the snap of a bra strap upon a sunburnt back."

"The sand runes crossing your divided consciousness do speak of contemptuous cardinals setting a Spanish village ablaze."

"You turn the atmosphere wild with currents of vitriol when you smile at the passing insects."

You can generate more of these at the Surrealist Compliment Generator.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Real (Humerous) Tombstone Epitaphs

Die Laughing?

Here lies a collection of humerous epitaphs from real tombstones. A sample:

Here lies the body of our Anna
Done to death by a banana
It wasn't the fruit that laid her low
But the skin of the thing that made her go.

(via The Presurfer)

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day

A gem from Liz Smith's column today:

"...And here's this ripe quote from dynamo Judith Regan, one of my favorite mythological moderns, in that if she didn't exist we'd have to invent her:
There are ruthless, horrifying people anywhere there's money and power, whether it's politics or Hollywood or the garment business or Wall Street. Wherever there's money, power, and glamour, you're gonna get egomaniacal, narcissistically disturbed people.

Miss Regan admits she is perhaps 'sometimes a little short' with those who work for her."

Monday, October 17, 2005

Word of the Day: suilline

Word of the Day

suilline (adj)

Of or relating to pigs

Little Freida's suilline appetite surprised everyone at the table.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Free Money

Free Money

I looked down and there it was: a small, folded piece of green and gray paper on the sidewalk, with the number 20 printed on one corner. The Victorian font made it look like a twenty-dollar bill, but I doubted it. Probably a coupon or an advertisement for some 900-number phone-sex scam, I thought, picking it up (just in case). I unfolded it, and there he was: Andrew Jackson with his shock of wind-swept hair, looking more like a mad scientist than a 19th-century president. A real twenty -- or was it? I held it up to the sun, half expecting it to be counterfeit. The ghostly little hologram of Jackson's face appeared. Genuine. What luck! Right away, as I stuffed it into my pocket, I began to feel guilty. Who had dropped it? Probably some cash-strapped single mom with a squalling baby to feed. I thought about spending it, saving it, donating it to charity, or even dropping it. Surely someone more deserving than middle-class me would find it, someone who regularly stooped to pick up all the lost pennies I was too lazy to retrieve from the sidewalk. Before I could decide, I arrived back home from my walk. Ambivalence, my old enemy, had triumphed again. Only this time I was $20 richer in defeat. For now, the improbable bill resides in my wallet, in my back pocket. I'm sitting on it, warming it, thinking about it, but I'll probably forget about it sooner or later. And it will disappear, like all the others, into some merchant's cash register. Easy go.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Sweden's new funeral rite - bodies freeze-dried, powdered and made into tree mulch

Buried, cremated or freeze-dried?

Ashes to ashes, dust to mulch? In Sweden it will soon be possible to have your corpse freeze-dried, powdered and made into tree mulch, says the UK's Telegraph. "Swedes will ... have the chance to bury their dead according to the pioneering method, which involves freezing the body, dipping it in liquid nitrogen and gently vibrating it to shatter it into powder. This is put into a small box made of potato or corn starch and placed in a shallow grave, where it will disintegrate within six to 12 months. People are to be encouraged to plant a tree on the grave. It would feed off the compost formed from the body, to emphasise the organic cycle of life."

Good idea. Sometimes I think I'd be much happier as a tree. I'm sure the Druids would approve.

(via Yet Another Damn Blog)

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry

Two Fat Men

Benched in the park, not yet engorged,
two larded men grin and waggle their jowls,

each flaunting a prosperous planet
under his taut shirt.

Fingers plump as sausages
rattle the wrappers.

Sugar-stuffed, well-oiled,
these porkers chew over an amplitude,

savoring the aftertaste of some rich dish,
a luxuriance spread

and swollen to the pornographic.
Tired hearts must bubble

under useless porticos of flesh,
ticking off the days

of succulence and suet.
Meanwhile, a gaunt squirrel

devours each crumb that drops
from its copious heaven,

while pigeons strut and adulate
these insatiable Buddhas.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Anxiety Culture: Family Values Generator

"Stop being infantile, you exasperating little milksop . . ."

Anxiety Culture describes itself as "a web magazine with a wealth of ideas and gimmicks for navigating the crazy, paranoid, work-obsessed, media crapulent times we live in." The site's Family Values Generator offers a wealth of parental invective (like the sample above) at the click of a button. Might come in handy as a frustration reliever with the holidays approaching.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Quote of the Day: Lennon

Quote of the Day

"Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted."
--John Lennon

I imagine this is what he would say about blogging.

Friday, October 07, 2005

haiku error messages

Laugh or Cry??

A clever someone has written a series of computer error messages in haiku. Sample:

Windows NT crashed.
I am the Blue Screen of Death.
No one hears your screams.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Word of the Day: gelastic

Word of the Day

gelastic (adj)

Provoking laughter

Only Desmond's gelastic comments made the tedious seminar bearable.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Quote of the Day: Steve Martin

Quote of the Day

"Writing is one of the most easy, pain-free, and happy ways to pass the time in all the arts. For example, right now I am sitting in my rose garden and typing on my new computer. Each rose represents a story, so I'm never at a loss for what to write. I just look deep into the heart of the rose and read its story and write it down through typing, which I enjoy anyway. I could be typing "kjfiu joewmv jiw" and would enjoy it as much as typing words that actually make sense. I simply relish the movement of my fingers on the keys. Sometimes, it is true, agony visits the head of a writer. At these moments, I stop writing and relax with a coffee at my favorite restaurant, knowing that words can be changed, rethought, fiddled with, and, of course, ultimately denied. Painters don't have that luxury. If they go to a coffee shop, their paint dries into a hard mass."
--Steve Martin, "Writing Is Easy"

(via whiskey river)

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry

Indian Summer

You know what I mean:
cracked flagstones, brown pools shaded by oaks,
old faces and jaded eyes,
children running barefoot and shirtless,
sun-drunk, sipping the day's thaw
like soda through a straw.

The bronze eagle stuck on her stone pillar
watches everything, her talons scratching the air.
My cap with the long brim
flies off in a blur. Our sneakers
soak up the ooze; dogs dash
after invisible cats.

The wind knows what's coming.
I taste barbecue smoke, I think.
Overhead, a leaf-strewn sky
flaunts its gauze and blue,
swirling streamers in a slow-motion frenzy.
We're stupidly happy.

The sidewalk ends in a tousled park,
all blown to seed,
where piles of damp leaves decay in the heat.
They say frost tomorrow. Meanwhile,
around the spiky hedges we wander
nostalgic as geezers.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

The Willing Mind - Historic Prints & Photographs

Ocular Confections

The Willing Mind is an online gallery of historic prints and photographs, with an emphasis on popular culture. It appears to be only partly finished, but already includes some intriguing and downright kooky graphics. Fun.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Word of the Day: entheomania

Word of the Day

entheomania (n)

Abnormal belief that one is divinely inspired

The king's entheomania was the root cause of his subjects' general woe.

Thursday, September 29, 2005



I stepped outside this morning and saw it immediately: a huge, black mushroom cloud rising above the jagged rooftops across the street. A second later I heard a loud thunderclap, combined with a strange whooshing sound. I felt that acidic, twisting, 9/11 sensation in my stomach: fear. The black cloud was moving toward me, and I stepped back into the house. I stared out the window for a couple of minutes, then turned on the radio. There was nothing about it on the news, but I thought it was probably too soon for it to be reported. Outside the window, tiny snowflakes seemed to fall for a few seconds. I began to hear sirens. But cars were moving and people were walking by as if nothing was wrong. The cloud seemed to have dissipated. Something had obviously exploded, though. There are chemical factories near here, I thought nervously, but then I decided that the cloud had looked too close to be one of those. I went outside and noticed a faint smell of diesel fuel in the air. Sirens were wailing, but that's not unusual here in the city. No one within sight seemed concerned: a woman wheeled a baby stroller by and a man across the street was laughing into his cell phone. I went about my business, thinking that perhaps I would read about a gas-station explosion in the next day's paper. Or that maybe I had imagined the whole thing (cue Twilight Zone theme song). But a faint cloud of fear followed me for the next hour or so -- a 21st century feeling, I decided.

Postscript, September 30th: Nothing in today's newspaper about the explosion. There are spots of white powder all over the cars and fences in the neighborhood, as well as my backyard deck. A guy who was cleaning his car told me it was "cement dust." So far, no one I've talked to knows what exploded. I'm not sure I like living in a place where there are mysterious explosions and dust falls that aren't explained or even acknowledged.

Post postscript: If it actually is cement dust, I'm wondering if maybe the "explosion" was actually a building demolition. That wouldn't be newsworthy, I guess, though the dust cloud certainly made a mess around here.

Post post postscript, October 4th: Something about this finally showed up in the local paper -- but only as a passing mention in an editorial and in a letter to the editor. Turns out it was "nontoxic" coal ash from an industrial chimney that was being "blasted out" for cleaning. How is that legal? And wouldn't any miner tell you that there's nothing nontoxic about coal ash?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day

"There are clues everywhere--all around us. But the puzzle maker is clever. The clues, although surrounding us, are somehow mistaken for something else. And the something else--the wrong interpretation of the clues--we call our world. Our world is a magical smoke screen. How should we interpret the happy song of the meadowlark, or the robust flavor of a wild strawberry?"
--Margaret Lanterman

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Tuesday to do

Tuesday to do

Move air mattress, replace rubber toilet "flapper," sit on a commuter van's damp seat, make conversation with a man covered with some white powdery substance, buy frozen cherry slush, use an Easy Eraser cleaning sponge, pick up Clarinex, drink Snapple lemonade, read the Daily News, edit letter, order Chicken Tenders, watch Bob Dylan, load HP Multipurpose Paper, fix Jam 1.

Visual Version

Monday, September 26, 2005

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry


The landscape loses the river
where chain-mailed fishes leapt.

I trace it in a book, with my finger,
even as they cook on the seared shore--

under a flickering sun,
framed in a dusty pane.

Outside the door
the brown grass sprawls,

a bone-thin dog sniffs an invisible trail;
black trees tap the siding.

There's nothing for a dowsing rod.
Under leaves brown as leather

and mysterious withered shapes,
shucked skins are hidden like mummies.

A dark hour descends,
a dry mouth exhales,

tumbleweeds invade my sleep.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Original 'Alice' online at the British Library

Go Ask Alice

Lewis Carroll's original, hand-written manuscript of Alice in Wonderland (then called Alice's Adventures Underground) has been put online by the British Library here. If you have Shockwave installed, you can virtually turn the 3D pages, and there's an optional voiceover if, like the real Alice, you like to be read to. Many of Carroll's amateur illustrations are similar in form to Tenniel's in the published version, interestingly enough.

Other books the British Library has put online at the site include the Diamond Sutra, Jane Austen's History of England, Leonardo's sketchbook, the Lindisfarne Gospels and the circa-1570s Mercator Atlas of Europe, among others.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Word of the Day: xilinous

Word of the Day

xilinous (adj)

Of or pertaining to cotton

"A xilinous swab is what I need!" Captain Morgan shouted. The first mate thought he was referring to a nefarious deck hand, but actually he only wanted to clean his ears.

Monday, September 19, 2005

A Nice Day for Sitting in the Car

A Nice Day for Sitting in the Car

I've never understood why some people like to just sit in their cars, going nowhere. Today I was picking my son up from school and had to park in an awkward space, a bit too near a fire hydrant. There was a car in front of me, though, that I thought was about to leave. It was a compact car that could seat four people at most, and there were already three full-sized adults in it. I assumed they were waiting for someone to come out of the school and would then leave--and that I could then pull into the space. But no. A good-sized boy came out of the school and got into the car, taking up the last seat in the back. I started my car, getting ready to move. But they just sat there. Five minutes went by. They started opening papers and books, and it looked like the boy had started his homework. I could see the driver's eyes in her rear-view mirror, and it looked like she was taking a nap. Very mysterious. Finally, my son came and we left. The little car full of people was still parked, with no sign of imminent movement. For all I know, they're still there.

Just another slice of life from here in Weirdsville.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Eerie Sounds of Saturn

Music of the Spheres

Perfect background noise for a Halloween party, or a low-budget flying-saucer movie: NASA's recordings of eerie radio emissions from the planet Saturn (via the Cassini space probe) can be downloaded as a WAV file here. I'm a big fan of "white noise," particularly as a sleep aid (somebody snores), but these unearthly tones would give me nightmares.

(via Incoming Signals)

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Evil Clown Generator

Evil Clown

I've never liked clowns, and I was terrified of them as a kid. Something about their unpredictable antics made (makes) me uneasy. The Evil Clown Generator is fun, though--maybe because I get to have some control over what happens on screen. You can click on buttons to change the jester's facial features, or just hold your cursor over eyes, nose or mouth to see a rapid-fire series of different evil/funny expressions.

Monday, September 12, 2005



Fall must be coming -- I'm sneezing my head off and my nose itches. Yet it was 90 degrees today (32 C), and they're talking about the possibility of both hurricanes and wild fires on the Weather Channel. September is a schizoid month. I like it better than drowsy August, though, when the whole lazy, heat-stroked world seems to have collapsed onto a chaise lounge. September is more serious and stimulating, but not quite percolating yet. I'm tired of all this tropical air. I want to wear a jacket, buy a pumpkin, get busy and clear my head. And my sinuses.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

"How I failed the Turing test"

Human? Prove it

Convincing online correspondents that you're not a chatbot can be difficult (more difficult than making them think you are a celebrity), as Jason Striegel found out: How I failed the Turing test.

(via Scribbled Lines)

Nine Eleven


Nine-eleven again. This is the first anniversary when I haven't felt much of anything, even though I watched the towers collapse with my own (bugging) eyes four years ago. It seemed like the end of the world then, but here we all are. Well, not all of us . . .

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Word of the Day: ordalian

Word of the Day

odalian (adj)

Relating to an ordeal

Owing to his "delicate" back, Zachary considered any task requiring physical labor to be an ordalian imposition.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


Strange Attractors

These fractal images have a weirdly organic look. Kind of beautiful.

(via The Presurfer)

Quote of the Day: Horse show judge to the rescue?

Quote of the Day

"...This is the price we as citizens pay when people who don't really care much about the citizens to begin with reward their flunkies and sugar-daddies with patronage appointments. This is the price we pay when horse show judges are entrusted with the responsibility of protecting us from dangerous circumstances. This is what failure of the institutions intended to defend us from dire circumstances looks like. From all appearances, we're on our own from now on since these clowns don't seem to think that there's a thing in the world for which they need to apologize."

More at RuminateThis: The Deadly Cost of Politics

(via wood s lot)

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Random Title Generator

Books That Never Were

Rough Consort
The Green Crying
The Butterfly's Sorcerer
The School of the Servants
Forgotten Witches
Academy of Night
The Silvery Husband
Death's Wings
The Game of the Healer
The Burning Dream
The Angel of the Moon
The Trembling Secret

They may sound vaguely familiar, but the titles above, spawned by the Random Title Generator, are entirely fictitious. Rough Consort sounds like it could be a nasty Princess Diana bio. Forgotten Witches could be about Salem's B-team. The Silvery Husband--or I Married a Robot? The Burning Dream--the story of an overly ambitious pyromaniac, perhaps. And The Trembling Secret sounds like a long-lost Wilkie Collins page turner.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry

Sad Horns

Catastrophe's whirlpool
pulled the doomstruck down

stilling their vibrations,
stirring a gumbo

of rainbow poison,
wood, nails and upholstery,

filling a lake
thick with dead fish,

the soft, liquefying
faces of the drowned.

put on dark glasses,

knew nothing
about sheeted things on wagons.

Weeks later,
memory drains,

and the sea slinks back
with a dolorous sigh.

The sun bakes the ruined walls,
while elsewhere

the world hums on,
and here the sad horns moan.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Dead bodies everywhere; link to NOLA blog

"Dead bodies everywhere"

A Katrina/NOLA blog with updates every few minutes: The Interdictor

As the Martian Anthropologist points out, with competent and concerned national leadership, it all could have been forseen and avoided.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Word of the Day: Diluvial

Word of the Day

diluvial (adj)

Pertaining to floods; brought about by a flood

"Moreover the Indian Ocean lies within the region of typhoons; and if, at the height of an inundation, a hurricane from the south-east swept up the Persian Gulf, driving its shallow waters upon the delta and damming back the outflow, perhaps for hundreds of miles up-stream, a diluvial catastrophe, fairly up to the mark of Hasisadra's, might easily result."
--Thomas Henry Huxley

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Them Apples

Them Apples

My tiny backyard is dominated by an ancient apple tree, which drops wormy little golden apples all over the lawn. Today, I was picking them up with something called a "Gopher Pick-Up & Reaching Tool"--a clasping device like the ones store clerks use to reach things on high shelves. I dropped about a dozen of them, in various stages of decomposition, into a trash bag.

Almost anything can trigger a chain of free associations for me, especially when I'm engaged in a dull task. So I thought about Eve and the apple, the silly little Macintosh computer I used to have at work, Mr. Crabby Appleton ("Rotten to the core!"), the Beatles' apple obsession, the Golden Apples of the Sun, and the many cultural riffs on the mythological aura of golden apples.

I like the idea of having an apple tree in my yard. It just seems right, even if I can't eat the apples--worms not being my favorite source of protein. It's like having my own little Eden, complete with forbidden fruit.

(And yeah, I'm mindful that if I lived down in NOLA, it would be underwater. Say a prayer.)

Monday, August 29, 2005

Zen for Dummies

Zen for Dummies

BuddhaNet Multimedia presents the Book of Zen here. It's a sort of Zen comic book in Flash movie format.

"The little things? The little moments? They aren't little."
--John Zabat-Zinn

(via whiskey river)

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry


Thoughts shake in the wind,
till there's fallout:

words dropping
precipitous notions

like rain
into a swimming pool,

insects and leaves

as particles or
waves or

like pictures,
dots of light--

a churning mob
of millions

before my widened eyes,
my opened ears

cupped to hear
what the sky must say.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Klingon Fairy Tales

"Goldilocks Dies With Honor at the Hands of the Three Bears"

Honor the spiky titles of Klingon fairy tales here.

(via Maud Newton)

Try this fairy tale generator. As with most text generators, the results are only semi-coherent, but the hotchpotch stories have an appealing (to me) surreal quality.

(via Blue Tea)

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Overheard on the Street Today


... on the street today:

Woman to female companion:
"I'm the one who takes the medication, but he's the one who acts like he's on drugs."

One small boy to another:
"... because I don't let gay people into my house...What?! You say I'M a gay?!"

Woman discussing her dog with a male companion:
"You need to be careful of him, although he's slow to anger."

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Big Fish

Big Fish

The aquarium sits next to the computer on my desk, and the fish sometimes pause to stare at me as I type. At least I think that's what they're doing. I must seem like a very weird creature to them, living on the other side of a transparent wall and unable to float around at will. Big, dry and constrained by gravity--that's me: a sort of odd, five-pointed star-fish-out-of-water. I used to feel sorry for them, confined as they are to their glass capsule. But aren't we all living in transparent boxes, bumping up against our own limitations from time to time? Aren't there plenty of invisible walls surrounding us, keeping us apart? Break them down, it's tempting to think. But what would happen to the fish?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Past Life Analysis

The Man I Used to Be

Go to Past Life Analysis to find out who you were in your last life. Just type in your birthdate. Turns out that I was a male born around the year 800 in what is now Ukraine. I was a map maker, astrologer and astronomer. I was a "quiet person" with "creative talents which waited until this life to be liberated." I was sometimes considered strange: "It always seemed to you that your perceptions of the world [were] somewhat different. Your lesson is to trust your intuition as your best guide in your present life. Do you remember now?"

Yeah, that sounds like me alright.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day

"It was on these false premises - that Iraq was both a collaborator on 9/11 and about to inflict mushroom clouds on America - that honorable and brave young Americans were sent off to fight. Among them were the 19 marine reservists from a single suburban Cleveland battalion slaughtered in just three days at the start of this month. As they perished, another Ohio marine reservist who had served in Iraq came close to winning a Congressional election in southern Ohio. Paul Hackett, a Democrat who called the president a 'chicken hawk,' received 48 percent of the vote in exactly the kind of bedrock conservative Ohio district that decided the 2004 election for Mr. Bush .... What lies ahead now in Iraq instead is not victory, which Mr. Bush has never clearly defined anyway, but an exit (or triage) strategy that may echo Johnson's March 1968 plan for retreat from Vietnam: some kind of negotiations (in this case, with Sunni elements of the insurgency), followed by more inflated claims about the readiness of the local troops-in-training, whom we'll then throw to the wolves. Such an outcome may lead to even greater disaster, but this administration long ago squandered the credibility needed to make the difficult case that more human and financial resources might prevent Iraq from continuing its descent into civil war and its devolution into jihad central."
--Frank Rich, The New York Times

More here. (Requires free registration.)

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Word of the Day: Caballine

Word of the Day

caballine (adj)

Suitable for a horse

"How do you expect me to swallow such a caballine tablet?" Mr. Hargreaves asked the bewildered pharmacist.

Friday, August 12, 2005



The AC breaks down and the house is full of soup, stirred by fans. Sidewalks are hot plates; the car, a teapot. Everybody's all wet. The sun is unforgivable. Hydrants open, and streets become rivers of laughing children. Thunderheads boil up in the distance like Himalayas. Stores and offices feel like Frigidaires, and I wish I could linger. All day I wonder why woolen coats crowd in the closet. Were they ever needed? I sit and drink an ocean of colorful sweetness and don't want to move.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Weird new words for the new Oxford Dictionary

Time to walk my labradoodle

Do chuggers bother you when you want to rock up to a restaurant with your cockapoo to hoover a supersized ruby murray?

The new edition of the Oxford Dictionary of English is out, and it includes a host of new words, many of which are "blends," the editors say: "To suit the pace of our lifestyle today there is a growing tendency to mix words together to make entirely new ones called blends." Example: "potty-mouthed." Details here.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry (summer rerun)

Sandy Hook (August 2004)

The air is vacuumed clean,
and all misgivings drain

from an uneasy day.
At the end of the street,

past the wild grass’s
endless deference to the wind,

waves are polishing
three primal rocks

with ceaseless caresses.
Time might as well stop.

The gigantic iris of the bay
gazes at the hot, absolute sky

with perfect attention,
a hypnotized witness.

Now my footprints disappear,
at the edge of the surf,

no more enduring than foam.
I bend and realize

the shell is broken.
Inhale, exhale.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Conversation Stoppers

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!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Quote of the Day: The Palm Tree Garden

Quote of the Day

"The Palm Tree Garden symbol represents the communal nature of Phildickian and Anarcho-Gnosticism, the exchange of ideas and information and interaction between fellow adherents of the Path of Eternal Questioning. It's a sign that can be worn by radical ontonauts, a sign that indicates a willingness to collaborate but not to dictate, converse but not groupthink, argue but not hate. It represents individuals banded together against the Archonic powers that control the Universe in whatever form or fashion the individual understands. It represents partaking in the Informational Sacrament, breaking down that wall in the Black Iron Prison, even if one needs to use the bars in one's cell to build a ladder."

More here.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Word of the Day: galactophagist

Word of the Day

galactophagist (n)

a milk drinker

Edwina was determined to raise a brilliant child. "Here you are, my little galactophagist," she said as she gave the baby his bottle.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Go Electric Wheelchairs

Batteries Included

I've seen a lot of people tooling around in electric wheelchairs recently. Just today, I saw two on a short walk to the post office. It's almost enough to make me think a convention might be going on somewhere nearby, but this isn't any sort of convention town. I wonder if the prices for these machines have dropped recently, as I don't see all that many people on crutches anymore.

All these whirring wheelchairs make me think of my late uncle, a paraplegic, who used an electic model when I was a kid, at a time when such things weren't so common. He also had an elevator in his house, the first one I remember riding on, and all sorts of other gadgets. In my childish way, I didn't think of him as handicapped -- he had a very full life, which included owning and running a restaurant -- just "different" and rather fascinating. A trip to see him was a treat.

I suppose in times past, people who couldn't walk were pretty much house-bound. Today they're tearing down the sidewalk with kids and shopping bags on their laps.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Animated "Maxwell Silver Hammer"

Bang Bang

Watch an animated version of The Beatles' bizarrely jaunty little ditty about a serial killer here.

(via The Presurfer)

HOT AIR: Postal Experiments

Time on Their Hands

Made me laugh: Postal Experiments, from the Annals of Improbable Research.

David Shrigley List Of Photographs

Words and Pictures

David Shrigley does a rare thing: humorous art photography. Irony, yes, but no sledge hammers.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry


On a steeped night
that sticks to the skin,

he peels off seven layers
of wallpaper

as jingles and voices
waft by like smoke.

The poet scribbles and scribbles
about a ticking suitcase,

then shuts
the moon in a drawer,

bored as a caged monkey.
His thoughts rise

in word balloons
that appear to say:

You are a soft, pink dildo,
dishwasher safe.

You are a hard steel chisel.
But useless. No use.

The chakras won't open,
he's blind from the klieg lights.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Close Encounters

Close Encounters

Took a long walk today. Observed the following:

A young girl carrying pink flowers and singing "Happy Birthday."

An old man wearing a black baseball cap that said "USS Clifton Sprague."

A man loading a gold-painted statue of a naked woman in an obscene posture onto the back of a pick-up truck. Immediately followed by:

A white Virgin Mary statue in a blue "bath tub" style shrine.

A man wearing a gas mask, standing in the doorway of a dilapidated house.

I saw all of these things on the first half of the walk, but nothing notable on the way back. That may be because I was tired and no longer so perceptive. I seem to see more unusual things when I set my mind to it.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day

"The thing that makes reading and writing suspect in the eyes of the market economy is that it's not corrupted. It's a threat to the GNP, to the gene engineer. It's an invisible, sedate, almost inert process. Reading is the last act of secular prayer. Even if you're reading in an airport, you're making a womb unto yourself--you're blocking the end results of information and communication long enough to be in a kind of stationary, meditative aspect. A book is a done deal and nothing you do is going to alter the content, and that's antithetical to the idea that drives our society right now, which is about changing the future, being an agent, getting and taking charge of your destiny and altering it. The destiny of a written narrative is outside the realm of the time. For so long as you are reading, you are also outside the realm of the time."
--Richard Powers

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

How to Fold a Shirt

Practical Advice

How to Fold a Shirt, just like a clerk in a clothing store.

Virtual bubble paper!

Pop Culture

Toil and trouble? Burst a bubble.

More bubble fun. Kind of sick when you think about it, but technically impressive.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Do you have any grey poupon?

Do you have any grey poupon?

Asked for mustard today in my son's preferred fast-food restaurant and they had none. (The restaurant shall be nameless; let's just say it aspires to a "regal" reputation.) What is mustard, anyway? I thought as I ate my naked chicken sandwich. A plant, a weed. More specifically, the dictionary tells me it is "a pungent yellow powder of the seeds of any of several common mustards (Brassica hirta, B. nigra, or B. juncea) used as a condiment or in medicine as a stimulant and diuretic, an emetic, or a counterirritant." A stimulant and diuretic? Who knew? That's actually the last thing I need, drinking as much coffee as I do ... When I think of mustard, I think of the brown or yellow stuff that I spread on sandwiches, that I sometimes would eat by itself on a piece of bread as a kid. Or the sayings: If I had faith as big as a mustard seed (a very tiny seed), I could say to a mountain "move," and it would move. I'm not sure that would be a nice thing to do, actually ... "Mean Mister Mustard sleeps in the park/Shaves in the dark tryin' to save paper/Sleeps in a hole in the road/Saving up to buy him some clothes/Keeps a ten bob note up his nose/Such a mean old man." Mr. Mustard was the radio handle I used at one time. Not that I was mean. Just somebody who could "cut the mustard," or, at least, that's the image I wanted to project. But where does that phrase come from? No one seems to know for sure. ... And mustard gas? It is not made from mustard, I'm told, though it smells like it is ... As a condiment, mustard dates back thousands of years, apparently. According to the Mustard Museum, it is "America's favorite condiment." Hmm. A restaurant without mustard should be ashamed of itself. "Have it your way" indeed.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Word of the Day: labeorphily

Word of the Day

labeorphily (n)

Collection and study of beer-bottle labels

Confronted with the huge number of empties by the back door, Wilbert blamed his obsessive labeorphily.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry

Behind Shut Lids

I see her old
low hills running,
snake river's
silvered pools,
deep maple shade
under blue blazes.

Sunday in the car,
their plowed furrows
patches of cows,
a stick barn's tilt.

Then that house,
charcoal mist
of booming clouds;
I can almost
hear the rain hiss,
eaves drip.

I'm safe, dry
among her heavy
glass globules,
tiny worlds,
memory's paperweights.
Then as now.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Spooky photos of children

Wise Beyond Their Years

Portrait photographer Loretta Lux creates spooky but beautiful photos of grave-looking children who seem to know or see something adults have forgotten about or don't perceive. That's my interpretation, anyway.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Play that tabla...

Heat and a Beat

Last night: It was hot, the windows were open and my next-door neighbor was playing his tabla, a percussion instrument used in classical Indian music. (He's not Indian, by the way.) I didn't mind. It made me think of my college days, when I used to listen, occasionally, to Ravi Shankar albums, which made me feel sultry and international—never mind any subzero temperatures outside. This despite the fact that I had (and have) no real understanding of this type of music. It was just a sound to me, useful for changing the mood of a room or a situation. Perhaps this was a form of passive imperialism, an exploitation of another culture's musical heritage to create a faux-sophisticated aural wallpaper. (Although I'm sure Shankar appreciates his Western album sales, however clueless his fans are about what they're listening to.) Last night it was too hot to bother with such qualms. My mind was empty--a blank, a tabula rasa. Or a tabla rasa.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Creepy Dolls

What a Doll

Creepy dolls. "All of these dolls have been sold," the site says. You have to wonder who would buy them, and for what purpose. To scare the kiddies?

Monday, July 18, 2005

Freud on Seuss

The Cat on the Couch

Break out the cigars! At Freud on Seuss, we finally learn what The Cat in the Hat was really all about, thanks to the trenchant insights of psychoanalysis. A sample:

The children, unable to control the Id, Ego, and Superego allow these creatures to run free and mess up the house, or more symbolically, control their lives. This rampage continues until the fish, or Christ symbol, warns that the mother is returning to reinstate the Oedipal triangle that existed before her abandonment of the children. At this point, Seuss introduces a many-armed cleaning device which represents the psychoanalytic couch, which proceeds to put the two youngsters' lives back in order.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry


You felt the same mindless
wind of that country,

a landscape unrolling
in every direction.

I look straight up
at the same white sky,

one pin on the map,
while the stones mumble.

You grew things, you
"kept house" for the census.

Everything goes but that.
Still I knot old strings together

though there is only now
and a dead tree ---

a tangle of branches,
selves that would never

conceive of me.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Word of the Day: Pridian

Word of the Day

pridian (adj)

Relating to yesterday

"Thrice a-week, at least, does Gann breakfast in bed -- sure sign of pridian intoxication."
--William Makepeace Thackeray, A Shabby Genteel Story

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

A Guy Named Ethel

A Guy Named Ethel

I've been doing some genealogical research, trying to trace back one line of my family (the Gates line) back through several generations. Some interesting male names were apparently popular in the 1800s. A lot of them start with the letter E: Elias, Elisha and, surprisingly, Ethel. Yes, Ethel, which means "noble," was once a male moniker. Now I'm wondering if the reason why no one in my family seems to know the name of my grandfather's grandfather is that Grandpa never talked about him, at least by name -- possibly because his name was Ethel and he didn't want to have to explain that, or listen to the snickering. A Google search for "Mr. Ethel" reveals that it was a fairly common male first name before the 20th century, and still is in some places, like Nigeria. It also reveals that Ernest Borgnine was once known as "Mr. Ethel Merman."

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Shakespeare Insult Kit

Thou artless, beetle-headed boar-pig . . .

Thou gleeking, flap-mouthed foot-licker . . .

That Shakespeare had quite the vocabulary. With the Shakespeare Insult Kit, you can choose a single nasty adjective from Column 1, a hypenated combo from Column 2, and a colorful noun from Column 3 to create a taunt your enemy won't soon forget.

Niagara Falls from Space


A vertiginous view of Niagara Falls State Park, apparently photographed by a satellite.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Haiku madness

Haiku Madness

Laughter haiku

Seek the giggle cure
Prozac without prescription
Stupid jokes cure blues

Salad haiku

Lettuce tomato
Diced green pepper in a toss
Here comes Paul Newman

Vitamin haiku

A, B, C, D, E
Should I buy all these tablets?
Real food has plenty

Writer haiku

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

Saturday, July 09, 2005



"A bomb outrage to have any influence on public opinion now must go beyond the intention of vengeance or terrorism. It must be purely destructive. It must be that, and only that, beyond the faintest suspicion of any other object. . . . But what is one to say to an act of destructive ferocity so absurd as to be incomprehensible, inexplicable, almost unthinkable; in fact, mad? Madness alone is truly terrifying, inasmuch as you cannot placate it either by threats, persuasion, or bribes."
--Joseph Conrad, The Secret Agent

"A journalist is someone who cannot distinguish between a bicycle accident and the end of civilization."
--George Bernard Shaw

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Something Happened

Something Happened

Just outside the wrought-iron fence surrounding a house down the block, neighbors have erected a small shrine. A framed photo of a young man wearing a football jersey is attached to the fence, with a semicircle of flowers and tall, flickering votive candles on the sidewalk beneath. I have no idea who the fellow in the picture is, or what happened to him. Due to an electrical power failure downtown, the local newspaper hasn't been published for the last two days. Yesterday, while I was walking on the opposite side of the street, I saw a man holding a professional-looking video camera standing next to the shrine, while a TV reporter explained that "he never returned from a trip to see the fireworks on July fourth." Or something like that. The reporter, dressed in a dark business suit on a 90-degree day, kept repeating the sentence over and over, never quite getting it out perfectly, at least while I was within earshot. I kept walking, as I don't like such scenes. And I think I prefer the mystery to knowing what happened, anyway.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Word of the Day: hypnoetic

Word of the Day

hypnoetic (adj)

Pertaining to logical but unconscious mental processes

When Horace said he would "sleep on it," we knew the problem was about to be solved, thanks to his hypnoetic talents.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Picture This

Picture This

Me sitting in my parent's sunny backyard, surrounded by green hills and gardens buzzing with life. I'm eating a turkey sandwich. A few inches away, Fred, a large, white, well-fed dog (a Turkish Akbash) stands watching me, wagging his tail and whining. He is tied to a heavy iron chair, and his leash is stretched taut. He stares at me with sad brown eyes as I slowly eat the sandwich, feeling absurdly guilty.

Just another holiday weekend in the country.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry


A rip opens in the fabric
of morning,

and now the laundry
drips tears.

Joy or sadness?
The shaving mirror is silent.

A gray horse gallops
toward a hungry horizon.

What does it mean
to dream of black swans?

Thursday, June 30, 2005

David Lynch's weather report

From Film Director to Weatherman

David Lynch tells us what the weather is doing in Los Angeles, in a daily webcast, at DAVIDLYNCH.COM/dailyreport/. OK . . . but I'd prefer that he make a movie.

Face Generator

Funny Face

The Eric Myer Photography site features a random face generator that allows you to combine 20 different head shots (mostly of, shall we say, nonconformists) to make new faces. Loads of puerile fun, and it might even serve as a brainstorming tool for creating fictional characters.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Dental Hygiene


Visited the dentist today to have my six-month check-up and teeth cleaning. I always wonder why the hygienist keeps asking questions ("Do you floss?" "Do you smoke?") when she has her fingers and that little mirror in my mouth. I'm forced to answer with "uh-huh" and "unh-unh," like a Neanderthal. She kept asking me if I was "OK," even though I was just lying there calmly, with my eyes closed, while she hacked away at my mouth with a pickax. Maybe she thought I had fainted. I kept thinking about cave exploration, torture devices and the pros and cons of obsessive teeth brushing.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry

Pink Slip

Following the directions
of a clock's hands,
I saw newspapers
flying through a pale sky.

I walked in zigzags, thinking
check, checkmate,
avoiding each "buddy"
wanting change.

Afternoon circulated,
then was cancelled
as the day collapsed
like a leaky balloon.

Indifferent twittering
bounced off a wall,
and I wished all commuters
were monks in India.

All the while,
time throbbed in my temples,
as I composed prayers
to the great Abracadabra.

That night,
the words of my diary marched
like ants across a page.
By morning

I was a professional
shoe tier, meditating
upon the Titanic's orchestra
sliding into a cold, black sea.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Thursday, June 23, 2005

What I'm listening to

Musical Notes

Boynton dared me to take this music quiz:

Total volume of music on your computer:

122 MB. I don't think that's much by today's standards. I tend to burn music to CD and then wipe it off my hard drive.

The last album you purchased was:

I haven't purchased one in a while, but I think it was Finest Hour by Antonio Carlos Jobim. Brazilian jazz. Blame it on the bossa nova. I often buy music that I can listen to while working (i.e., that doesn't demand too much concentration or make me want to dance around the room).

Song playing right now:

None right now.

Five songs you’ve been listening to a lot recently, from several genres:

I tend to listen to entire albums, not just songs, but . . .

"Wonderful World," Eva Cassidy. Cover of the old Louis Armstrong song.
"Imperial March (Darth Vader's Theme)," John Williams. Not because I really want to. My son is a big Star Wars fan.
"Thorns of Glory," The Plagues. Someone gave me this independent art-rock CD, and I enjoy it when I'm in the mood for that sort of thing.
"I Am the Sky," Paramahansa Yogananda. For relaxing.
"Just a Little Bit," 50 Cent. Smutty and hilarious. I only listen to this in the car on the radio, because my son always wants to listen to the "Z-100" current-hits station. 50 is a poet, of sorts.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Longest Word?

The Longest Word?

Like to impress people with your big words? Try methionylalanylthreonyl ... leucine. The full word (here) contains 64,060 letters and refers to a type of protein containing 8,797 amino acids. Bet you can't say that one ten times fast.

(via The Presurfer)

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day

"We all have at least two sides. The world we live in is a world of opposites. And the trick is to reconcile those opposing things. I've always liked both sides. In order to appreciate one you have to know the other. The more darkness you can gather up, the more light you can see too."
--David Lynch

Monday, June 20, 2005

Last Night's Adventure

Last Night's Adventure

I was giving my brother's friend (a teenage boy; this took place a long time ago) a ride home late at night. When we got to his house, we started arguing about something--I can't remember what. He bit my finger! I was so angry that I slugged him, got out of the car and walked away. After a while, I realized that I shouldn't leave the car with him, so I walked back. The car was gone and so was the kid. His creepy relatives were there, however, just hanging out in the driveway. I asked one of them, an ugly older man wearing a dark business suit, what had happened to the car. He said it had been moved to a parking lot up the street and offered to walk with me to it. It turned out that the "parking lot" was actually the enormous underground parking garage for a huge nightclub, the outside of which was covered with glowing signs and neon. (The "signs" were blank, however.) We went inside, to the club's office, which had red walls and garish furniture, like a Hollywood whore house. An old woman in a white fur-lined bathrobe, who seemed to be in charge, told us where to find the car in the garage. When we went down to the garage, however, there had been a fire and all the cars had been destroyed. I woke up. (A variation on the anxiety dream, I guess, directed by my internal David Lynch.)

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry


A baby cries
beneath each rock,

in this strange film
dedicated to the wet salt

and roses of memory,
with its meandering

soundtrack of soprano ahhs
and harp songs.

My part is to walk
a thousand pathways,

evading the maintenance men,
who pick up hearts with spikes

and coo in the language of birds:
We must

arrange our exits patiently,
as the script winds

to its climax,
long-awaited and carved in stone.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Vintage Base Ball

"The ballist hit a sockdolager on a jimjam"

I'm not much of a sports fan, but I enjoyed taking my baseball-obsessed Little Leaguer to observe a vintage ball game played by 1860s rules today. The game seemed a lot more like softball than modern baseball, and there were no gloves used. The players wore antique (reproduction) uniforms like the one above, and said things like "well done!" when someone got a base hit, which made us laugh. The program listed some of the 1860s game lingo, which we also found amusing:

striker (means batter)
mascot (batboy)
the garden (the outfield)
muff (error)
muckle (power)
kicking (complaining to the umpire)
ballist (player)
muffin (unskilled player)
crank (fan)
hand down (out)
ace (run)
timber (bat)
jimjam (wild pitch)
sockdolager (a long hit)
outshoot (curveball)
cake (player of little skill)

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Bond movie flow chart

Bond. James Bond

The formula may be shaken (not stirred), but it's still a matter of filling in the blanks: a Bond movie flow chart.

(via Incoming Signals)

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Word of the Day: Omphaloskepsis

Word of the Day

omphaloskepsis (n)

Navel-gazing, especially as an aid to meditation; introspection

As the grass grew waist high and the weeds bloomed, Victor seemed a victim of procrastination. But it was more that he preferred omphaloskepsis to yard work.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Absolutely Nothing About Michael Jackson

Absolutely Nothing About Michael Jackson

Observed in my travels today: two dead chickens and a dead pigeon in the street about a block from where I live. They seemed to have fallen out of a disintegrating cardboard box. They had their heads and all their feathers, so it wasn't clear what killed them. It's unusual to see chickens in this urban area, although I suppose some people keep them. (A morning rooster crow is not unheard of.) I suspect they were the victims of a (cue scary violins) . . . ritual slaying. I've heard rumors that adherents of Santeria, a religious practice that involves animal sacrifice, live around here. According to the Wikipedia, "Chickens are the most common form of sacrifice; their blood is offered to the Orisha [a type of spirit]. Drum music and dancing are used to induce a trance state in specific participants, who may become possessed by an Orisha who then speaks through them." Supposedly, though, the animals are cooked and eaten afterwards, not put in a box and dumped in the street. Curious.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Franconia Notch, June 3, 2005

Up a Notch

My friend took some vertiginous photos of New Hampshire's stunning Franconia Notch State Park on a recent visit. Check them out at:

Franconia Notch, June 3, 2005

"The Picture of Everything"

It's All Too Much

Take the concept behind the Sgt. Pepper cover, expand on it exponentially, and you just might come up with something like The Picture of Everything. Sit back and let the evening go.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry

12 Hours

Afternoon, and my hand plows
the grass tops

that wave like delirious crowds
along the melting blacktop.

I scrawl ridiculous scenarios
across my chalkboard mind.

At sunset, a madman might see
stage-flat horizons of burning copper,

a sugar-cube city dissolving
in some dark liquid.

Tonight, the sky is a bowl of black fish.
The wind spins seeds

across a clamshell moon,
and the wires above us

vibrate with questions
that will fizzle like sparklers by dawn.

Friday, June 10, 2005



"Chance is always powerful. Let your hook be always cast; in the pool where you least expect it, there will be a fish."

"A big fish in a small pond will eventually starve."
--John Leax

Thursday, June 09, 2005

54-year-old baby

Big Baby (or Money Changes Everything)

Whatever. A 54-year-old man dresses like a baby, wears diapers and sleeps in a crib. Some extreme variation on the Peter Pan syndrome, I guess.

Sultry Day


Ninety degrees at the moment (32 celsius), but it feels hotter. On a day like today, I like nothing better than biting into a cool plum. (I think Wiliam Carlos Williams had something to say about that.) Plums, if they're ripe and sweet, are like little buddhas, imparting a moment of pure, succulent nirvana. Or so it seems when you've just come in from a long walk in the roasting sun and your face is dripping onto your chest. Ninety-one will be the high temperature today, according to the forecast. Only one more degree. No, I won't melt.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Silent Film Ladies & Gents

Lost World

According to the Rolling Stone review, Revenge of the Sith would have worked better as a silent film. Maybe, maybe not, but it reminded me of the Silent Ladies & Gents site, which includes 14,000 images of 1,350 actors from the silent film era. For fans of the truly obscure, there's even a page of animal stars, including a sweet-looking cow named Brown Eyes.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Urban Fairytales: Alice Triumphant

Urban Fairytales

Alice Triumphant

"Portrait of an old bag," Alice thought, as she caught her reflection in a shop window. "A wrinkled old bag in goddamn wheelchair." The chair hit a pothole in the sidewalk and jolted to a stop. Alice pressed the accelerator key, but the wheels only spun in place. She sighed and looked around her. A woman in what seemed to be a gypsy costume was sitting behind a table outside the nearest store and smiling at her. She was old, but not as old as Alice, at least by the looks of her. The table was covered with fancy boxes of tea. "What are you grinning at?" Alice said. "Would you like to try some tea?" the "gypsy" asked. "Tea? That's the last thing I need!" said Alice. The woman rose from behind the table, still smiling, and pushed Alice's wheelchair out of the pothole. "Well, thanks," Alice murmured. "Here, try this," the woman said, dropping a tea bag into Alice's lap. "It's muscolo tea. Good for the nerves and the limbs."

That night, Alice brewed the tea, and found it delicious. It made her arms and legs tingle, in a pleasant way, all the way to down to her fingertips and toes. The sensation wasn't enough to make her forget about her looming rent day, though. The rent was already two months overdue. Soon she'd have to move back in with her idiot son and his bitchy wife, she thought. It made her want to cry.

The next day, Alice rolled out of her building, only to meet her landlord, Derek, halfway down the block. "Today, Alice, today!" he said. "I don't have it, OK? I don't have it!" she said. His face began to turn red, and he began to shake his finger at her. She hated that. Almost before she knew what she was doing, she reached up and grabbed Derek by the scruff of his shirt and his belt buckle. She raised him, all 200 pounds of him, high over her head with hardly any effort at all. "A miracle," she thought. Derek squirmed and cursed at her, but she decided to leave him up there for a while. After a minute, he quieted down and began to whimper. His baseball cap fell off and onto the sidewalk. A crowd was gathering, and some of them began to drop money into the hat. Alice felt warm and powerful all over. She wasn't going to lose her apartment now, she thought--oh no. And that triumph would be only the beginning.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Word of the Day: cwm

Word of the Day

cwm (n)

A valley (originally Welsh). Pronounced like "koom"

Below a fertile cwm spread, with barns and the orchards of summer,
Behind, the terraced sides of a mountain, abrupt, in places rising high . . .

(Apologies to Walt Whitman for the slightly altered quotation.)

Hmm. A real word with no vowels? Read more about this strange little word here.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Questions for a Doppelgänger

Random Acts of Poetry

Questions for a Doppelgänger

Are you sincere?
Do you mean it when you say,
"This time, this is the real me,
sitting on a rock"?

Are you sincere?
Do you think
wisdom falls like water from your lips,
making no mess upon the floor?

Are you sincere?
Have you ever
been naked in a mirror,
seen your self evaporate?

Are you sincere?
Is that you in the photograph
grinning like a chimpanzee,
or the ghost of some other hominid?

Are you sincere?
Could that really be you
singing on the radio, up on a screen?
You know the words so well.

Are you sincere?
How often have you thought,
"I didn't mean to be a bastard,
forgive me, forgive me"?

Are you sincere?
Is it ever really you
squinting in the sunlight,
tripping in the dark?

Or is it me,
dropping stones into a pond,
seeing my face dissolve
in the blossoming of circles?

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Weeds and Seeds: Ahh-Choo


Weeds and seeds everywhere, and I'm sneezing every five minutes, it seems. (So many people have "blessed" me today that I'm feeling like Saint Michael of Hay Fever.) A snowstorm of floating white fluff balls filled the hot, blue sky this afternoon, which means the trees and weeds are engaging in their annual reproductive orgy. It's like I'm living in some creepy vegetable porn film. Actually, I like weeds, especially the flowering kind. I admire their persistence (easy for me to say, since I don't have a lawn or garden to tend at the moment). I've always thought that even dandelions were beautiful, and I used to pick them for my mom when I was a kid. I never understood, at the time, why she didn't seem to appreciate them much. (Though I recall that she would put them in a little vase of water--just to humor me, I suppose.) . . . At the bank the other day, I noticed that the garden plot near the door was full of tall grass and weeds, which surprised me. That doesn't seem like the type of image a conservative institution would want to project. Hmm. "You're money will grow like a weed at Crabgrass Bank"? . . . You can see some very attractive weeds here.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

IFILM - Lucy in the Sky with William Shatner

Where No Man Has Gone Before

Just what the world's been waiting for: A music video of William Shatner's take on Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. Awfully hilarious or hilariously awful? You decide.

Weird Bikes: Bicycle Forest Home Builders Gallery

Psych Bikes

Creative (not to say bizarre) bicycle designs are showcased at The Bicycle Forest - Home Builders Gallery. And I thought I was weird for pedaling a vintage Schwinn around.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

When Nature Calls

When Nature Calls

My Memorial Day: I drank too much coffee in the morning. Later on, while traipsing through the cemetery with my relatives (who were tending some graves), I suddenly had to "go to the bathroom." A problem. Final resting places don't have rest rooms. My father then reminded me of an old saying: "All the world is a man's urinal." Well. I availed myself of the thick underbrush just outside of the graveyard. That wasn't how I intended to pay my respects, but the living must take precedence and all that. I snapped some pictures, too.


Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day

"A man takes contradiction and advice much more easily than people think, only he will not bear it when violently given, even if it is well-founded. Hearts are flowers. They remain open to the softly falling dew, but shut upon the violent downpour of rain."
--Jean Paul Richter

Friday, May 27, 2005

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry

Psalm to the Night

The dark is my refuge; it hides me well.
It whispers strange advice about moths and ink:
thoughts spinning webs full of ornate secrets
and sleek lies, like soft fur.
It tastes of moon powder or dry milk, smells like the rain-soaked earth
and coffee grounds. Planets fill the sky with holy sequins,
so many tiny mirrors, bright and indifferent; I am made of dark matter.
Cold fingers massage my limbs as the hours drift by like slow ghosts, and I shiver
and do not sleep. I welcome no morning when life hurts.
Shadows offer safety from buzzing tubes of laboratory light
and shelter the candle flame still flickering within.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Like, what? Beatnik play discovered

Beat me

I've never read much Jack Kerouac--just The Dharma Bums and The Subterraneans--but I read recently that a lost play by him has been discovered in a dusty warehouse in this very city. The title is--what a surprise--Beat Generation, and it will be published in October. "It details a day in the drink and drug-fuelled life of Kerouac's alter ego, Jack Duluoz," according to the BBC. I look forward to reading it, or seeing it performed, as I have some affection for the Beats. Just about everything in recent history that could conceivably be called countercultural can be traced back to them, I suppose: rap, punk, "spoken word" in all its permutations. When I read something at the local open mic, I'm conforming to some kind of, like, beat stereotype, I suppose--me with my goatee and black jeans. So it goes on. The beat goes on. Ughh. Now I won't get that stupid song out of my head all afternoon . . .

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Quote of the Day: When the President Talks to God

Quote of the Day

"When the president talks to God
Are the conversations brief or long?
Does he ask to rape our women's' rights
And send poor farm kids off to die?
Does God suggest an oil hike
When the president talks to God?
When the president talks to God
Does he fake that drawl or merely nod?
Agree which convicts should be killed?
Where prisons should be built and filled?
Which voter fraud must be concealed
When the president talks to God?"
--Conor Oberst, "When the President Talks to God"

Well, Dylan he's not. But this song was performed on The Tonight Show (!) earlier this month. Who says no one is writing protest songs today?

You can read the complete lyrics and download the song for free at: onegoodmove: When the President Talks to God