Sunday, December 31, 2006

Sylvia Plath Ringtones!

Her blacks crackle and drag

You can now download Sylvia Plath ringtones for your cell phone. "The black telephone's off at the root" might be cool, emphasizing your cell phone's wirelessness. Or maybe "You bastard, I'm through!" It would certainly get your attention.

Sorry to Disappoint

Looking for love in all the wrong places

Recent search-engine queries that have brought seekers here:

kinky twist instructions

I get this one a lot. I think it has something to do with hairstyles.

greek vases homunculus

Speaking of kinky, some of those ancient Greek vases featured, uh, interesting artwork. I don't recall ever seeing a homunculus on one, however. Don't recall discussing Greek vases here before, either, for that matter. I think I used "homunculus" once in a poem, though.

Ricardo Blaustein

Sounds familiar. I can't place him right now, but his name has no doubt appeared here in some context.

Amit Chaudhuri

No idea who he is, though that doesn't mean his name hasn't popped up here. I've quoted a lot of people.

Agnes vacuum cleaner

I don't know who she is. Yeah, yeah, I know: "But, gee, I'd like to meet her."

love lust lies

I get this one almost every day, for some reason. Some AOL person. If only I had more to write about along those lines, I'm sure I'd get a lot more hits.

werewolf names generator

How about...Wolfgang?

gunnison exhibitionists

Gunnison Beach is the famous/infamous nude beach on the Jersey Shore (or "down the shore" as you're supposed to say). I did visit it once, briefly and entirely by accident (honest), and wrote about it here. I imagine this person was looking for pictures, though. Sorry to disappoint!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Full Moon Names for 2007

I never knew...

...that each full moon has its own name, derived from Native American tradition. This is where the phrase "once in a blue moon" comes from. We will soon be observing the annual Wolf Moon (January 3rd), sometimes also called "the moon after Yule."

Full Moon Names for 2007

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Hudson Reporter - My back yard

On Lines

My essay is online at the Hudson Current site. I've written for the print edition before, but this is the first time they've put me up on their website too.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Definition of revenant - Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

Word of the Day

revenant (n)

One who returns from a long absence or from death.

"A specter is always a revenant. It begins by coming back."
--Jacques Derrida

My wife's favorite (acoustic) band, Mad Agnes, has released a new CD called Revenants. Great music. Great word, too.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Complete Idiot's Guide (random thoughts)

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

At the Willowbrook Mall today: a huge crowd of people, all ages and sizes. I had to bob and weave and (yes) twist and turn as I made my way to the record store. (That sounds almost quaint now, doesn't it? Record store? They will all be out of business soon, I suppose, or they will only exist online as virtual stores.) A woman with bleached, cotton-candy hair and thick, pancake makeup was barking orders to a clerk -- the manager, apparently. I couldn't find the CD I was looking for and asked her if they might have it in stock. She suddenly became apologetic and sweet; no, they don't have it. Nuts. I will probably have to download it and make my own CD to give as an Xmas gift..... On PBS tonight: "Xmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir," with special guest...that opera singer. Can't think of her name now -- Fleming? Rhonda Fleming? Something like that. Her voice was spectacular, but way too polished and professional sounding for all the old Xmas chestnuts. Like driving a Maserati to the corner store to pick up some eggnog..... Then there was a program about artistic depictions of Mary through the ages, as the "perfect woman, the perfect mother." If there was a Mary, she was, in my opinion, a teenager who was kicked out of town for getting unwed pregnant and had to have her baby in a barn. I doubt it had anything to do with a census or taxes. I imagine her as a religious fanatic convinced that there had to be some divine reason why God would put her in such a pickle. Poor Joseph; I'm sure he didn't know what to think..... Bush's solution to the Iraq fiasco is to (drum roll) send more troops. Dig the hole deeper. Can't retreat. Must save face. How many lives is Bush's face worth, I wonder..... Why don't I... wrap gifts before Xmas eve? I'm not a last-minute shopper, just a last-minute wrapper. There might be an Xmas hip-hop song in that....

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Definition of consilience - Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

Word of the Day

consilience (n)
consilient (adj)

The combining of different branches of knowledge into a comprehensive theory

"Mandle is interested in design that integrates left and right brain activity, incorporates art and engineering, brings aesthetics and function together, like Leonardo da Vinci -- perhaps the world's most consilient artist and designer ever -- drew."
--Ethan Zuckerman, My Heart's in Accra

The definition sounds very much like that great buzz word of the 90s: synergy. Or maybe just "synthesis." I don't think I'll use the word consilience much, if at all. I don't quite trust a word that contains both "con" and (what sounds like) "silly."

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Word of the Day

Word of the Day

mumpsimus (n)

A person who persists in a mistaken expression or practice, or an erroneous belief that is obstinately adhered to.

Hmmm. Who might we apply this word to? I'm thinking of someone at a high level of government...

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping


I went to see/hear Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping at a local church tonight. It was quite entertaining and rousing. Reverend Billy is an ersatz southern-style preacher (complete with white suit and dyed-blond pompadour) backed by a large gospel choir and a rock band. Instead of fundamentalism or faith healing, though, he travels the country preaching "anti-shopping" and promotes "Buy Nothing Day" (aka Black Friday) -- quite a radical message this time of year. I'm not sure I agree that shoppng is always evil -- I believe it predates capitalism and has always been with us in some form -- but the music was fantastic, as was the satire.

dogseat has some photos of this event.

Thursday, November 30, 2006


Funny Guy

Sebastien Gendry is an advocate of "laughter yoga." His video is, well, amusing.


And so this is Christmas....

I took this photo on nearby Central Avenue -- before Thanksgiving. It was chosen as a "Photo of the Week" by CityBelt magazine.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

Fog and 50+ degrees. Is it almost December? Or almost...May? Is it just me, or is this whole Iraq thing really going off the rails now? Is a problem that has no solution really a "problem"? Or is it more of a, I don't know... a wound? A self-inflicted wound... More and more houses around here are becoming encrusted with those damn twinkly little lights. I like the big old "Rudolph's nose" type retro lights, in multiple colors, better. You know, sort of an ironic statement: Xmas lights are tacky, so why not go all the way?.... My son typed up and printed out his Xmas list. He wants an Xbox and a new computer, in that order, but the PC is "just barely" in second place, meaning he wants both. But Santa can't fit both in his sleigh... Took a prescription to the drug store this evening. The woman behind the counter said they have it in 20mg and 30mg but not 25mg. They have to order it "special," but it won't be in until Tuesday. That's almost a week. And here I thought we were living in the 21st century.... Why don't I... answer the phone anymore?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry

Sitting There

My mind on a sunset:
Screen-saver leaves the color of flame.
Vague complaints pool in the haunches.
My foot's asleep.

I fiddle with
A loose button on my chest,
Wishing to attack all troubles
With spool and needle.

Poke, pull, that gentle hiss.
Thoughts like a crooked stitch:
My head has been burgled
By a flock of magpies.

There's so much care in a square.
My hands, my spiders live lives
Of their own, it seems.
They're spinning a tangle of silk.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

doodle therapy

op art

If you're in the mood to doodle, try Grappa - Rainbow. And keep clicking "Next" for more trippy time wasters.

Oooh ahhh

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Hard words

What a Concept

The Dropanchor Chronicle is an "SAT vocabulary novel" deliberately stuffed full of "hard" words. (Most of them on the sample pages I've seen don't seem all that hard to me. But then, I got over 700 on the SAT verbal.) Still, it's a great idea, and high-school students preparing for the test probably find it helpful. I have no idea what the plot of the novel is, but the chapter titles sound fascinating. Examples: "The Megalomaniac Bullfrog," "The Supercilious Eyebrows," "Captain Pariah" and "The Non-Dilatory Quadralith."

Sunday, November 19, 2006


Space-Time Continuum

I caught 2001: A Space Odyssey on the big screen at the Loew's last night, complete with a live introduction by Keir Dullea ("I'm sorry, Dave..."). It was as impressive as ever, and not too terribly dated, except for the title, of course. (Maybe it's Kubrick's typo? Maybe the title is actually 2100: A Space Odyssey?) It's interesting -- to me at least -- to note all the predictions the film made that haven't come true:

--Our space program is truly pathetic compared to what Clarke and Kubrick thought it might be like by 2001. No giant, wheel-like space station, complete with artificial gravity, a Hilton hotel and a Howard Johnson's. No moon base.
--Kubrick apparently thought that women would still be wearing bouffant hairstyles in the 21st century.
--He thought the Soviet Union would still be around.
--Picturephones were commonplace in Kubrick's 2001, and easy enough for four-year-old girls to operate. They were provided by the Bell System (remember that?), which still used its old liberty-bell symbol from the 60s.
--Pan Am was not only still in business, but had expanded its operations to Earth orbit.
--Talking computers possessed enough intelligence to have nervous breakdowns and become homicidal. We can be thankful that some things haven't advanced too far, I suppose.
--Seems it was harder to conceive of black people in space than it was to conceive of black slabs manipulating human evolution.

Kubrick got many things right, though. A few:

--The spaceships and most of the interiors and furnishings look as modern today as they did in 1968.
--Men had abandoned neckties, which is pretty much true today (except my son still has to wear one to school).
--Flat, square-cornered video screens are everywhere. The computer graphics on those screen are close to what we see today.
--People use credit cards.
--Biometric ID -- in the form of voice-print identification -- is used. I think that exists today, though it's not widely used yet.
--The astronauts appear to have something like laptop computers, or actually more like e-book readers, which can display video as well as text. We're almost there.

2001 did indeed prove to be a pivotal, disruptive year, though not in the way Kubrick imagined. I wonder if we would have preferred his universe.

Funny Analogies

Their vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever

"Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long it had rusted shut."

Some real gems here:

The 25 Funniest Analogies Collected by High School English Teachers

Sunday, November 12, 2006

My back yard

My back yard

Some people think it's a luxury to have a back yard in this urban area. But it can also be a nagging burden.

When I moved from my Jersey City apartment to a house in the Heights about a year ago, one of the things that appealed to me about the new place was the grassy little yard in back, centered around an ancient apple tree. I had visions of gardening, barbecues, and apple pies.

It hasn't quite turned out like that.

The drawback to having a yard is that . . . grass grows. Seems obvious, but I hadn't really thought about that before moving. Within a couple of weeks, though, when I looked out of the kitchen window, I could see my yard slowly turning into what looked like a patch of the New Jersey Meadowlands.

I hadn't mowed a lawn since I was teenager, and the thought of using a noisy, smelly, gasoline-powered contraption to trim my modest plot just seemed too suburban. I saw a rechargeable electric model online and decided to order that. After returning the first mower delivered, which turned out to be defective, and receiving a replacement, I was ready to attack what was starting to look like a lush savannah.

By now, more than a month had passed since we'd moved in, and the grass was about six inches high. Luckily, the mower had a tall-grass setting, but it nevertheless choked a few times as I slowly pushed it through the thick growth, feeling like a farmer harvesting his grain.

I kept hitting little bumps along the way, which I feared might be rocks that would damage the mower. But they turned out to be fallen apples -- not the juicy red mackintoshes I had hoped our tree would produce, but tiny yellow crabapples spotted with wormholes. No pies from these, I realized. I filled a bucket with them before I finished the mowing. The grass wasn't as short as I would have liked, but at least the yard looked tended, tamed and somewhat inviting.

The neighbors' dog thought it looked appealing, too. Within a few days, I began to notice large holes in the lawn beneath the fence that separates our property from theirs. Soon I began to see the dog in the yard, too, chasing the squirrels and cats that often wandered through.

I plugged up the holes with some spare cinderblocks, but the dog kept digging under the fence in other places. After a half dozen complaints, his owner finally put some chain link on the ground along the fence, which kept the dog from digging. Now he just stares longingly at our yard from his perch on the neighbor's second-story deck.

The cats and squirrels still come and go as they please, but that isn't a problem -- except that they keep tripping our backyard motion sensors after dark. (The sensors were installed by the previous owners, who were a bit paranoid.) At odd times, the floodlights will click on, and the backyard will suddenly light up like a miniature nighttime soccer field. I still haven't figured out where the motion sensors are or how to turn them off -- or whether I should. Who knows how many burglars scuttle away like scared roaches every time those lights snap on.

As I write this, it's autumn, and the grass has finally stopped growing, or at least it's slowed down. Apples no longer fall, but the leaves are piling up. I need to buy a rake. Sometimes I think having a back yard is not worth all this trouble.

But then I look out at the yard from the window over the kitchen sink and see that yellow flowers are still blooming along the back fence. And I think, "Here I am, less than a couple of miles from Manhattan, and Mother Nature is flaunting her charms in my back yard." And I feel blessed.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Word of the Day

Word of the Day

propinquitous (adj)

Near in time or place; close to

"Was Lillie to be married to young Whitewood, or some other conveniently propinquitous admirer?"
--John W. De Forest, Miss Ravenel's Conversion

Halloween has come and gone already? The holidays are propinquitous? Where's the pause button?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Consciousness Streaming

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

My son is, right now, carving a jack o'lantern. Pumpkins are pretty gross when you cut them open -- lots of slimy guts and a garbagy smell. Amazing that such delicious pies can be made from them.... Sample ballots arrived in the mail today. I must vote, but I'm sick of hearing about the candidates, sick of the negativity and attempts at manipulation. No wonder the turnout is always so low.... but we must stop the naked emperor.... Dragged all the summer clothes out of my closet over the weekend and replaced them with the winter togs that were stored away. I'm warmer now. Some of the things that I never wear, but could be worn, I took to the charity collection box down the street. One time I did that and later saw a homeless guy wearing one of my shirts, which freaked me....

Visual Version

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Other Woman

The Other Woman

I've always been fascinated by the Plath-Hughes soap-opera (mostly because of its literary by-products). One of the more important characters has always been something of a mystery, though. But that's changing.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Flickr: Photos from Channel Z

Where am I?

Sorry I haven't been around here much lately. I've been Flickr-ing a lot. To be continued...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Word of the Day

Word of the Day

chaussure (n)

footgear; shoes

"'I delight in Hessian boots,' said Rebecca. Jos Sedley, who admired his own legs prodigiously, and always wore this ornamental chaussure, was extremely pleased at this remark...."
--William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair

I wear sneakers most days, as I work in a casual place. Today I wore leather shoes, though -- no special reason -- and felt a bit more grown up, if slightly less comfortable.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Consciousness Streaming

Consciouness Streaming

October: time to turn off the AC and turn up the heat. Time to put my bermudas away and get out the winter shirts -- if I can remember where I put them. Frost coming, leaves falling; my uncle died on Friday, age 91. Not sure if I can make it to the memorial service, a five-hour drive away... I saw my breath this morning, for the first time this season... Change is in the air, but... Why don't I... go to bed now...

Visual Version

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Tucson Weekly: Mysteries in the Mountains

Twilight Zone

"Deep in the mountains close to the Mexican border, a mysterious place exists where time is altered at random...."

Whether this story (from Tucson Weekly) is truth or fiction, or a little of both, it gives me the creeps: Mysteries in the Mountains.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Spam Poem

Random Acts of Poetry

I received the following text in a spam e-mail today. I think it's actually pretty good, for spam. (The title and line breaks are mine.)

Hypnotic Abstraction

A secretly dirt-encrusted tornado
is ostensibly hypnotic.

Now and then, the inferiority complex
accurately buys an expensive gift

for some vacuum cleaner
from a vacuum cleaner. Furthermore,

a satellite behind a carpet tack trembles,
and the self-loathing fairy

single-handledly pees on a turn signal.
Indeed, a pine cone overwhelmingly cooks

cheese grits for a so-called mastadon.
A cough syrup requires assistance

from an abstraction.


Quote of the Day:

"Reality leaves a lot to the imagination."
--John Lennon (born October 9th 1940)

Sunday, October 08, 2006



It's amazing how nature can thrive in the strangest places.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Found elsewhere

Nota Bene

Sony's Portable Reader. Have I seen the future?


Small world: Blue Tea showcases an amazing gallery of colorful biological image photography.


The 18th-century Internet? A history of the coffeehouse

Monday, October 02, 2006

Word of the Day: stultiloquy

Word of the Day

stultiloquy (n)

Foolish talk; babbling

"In all the mad incongruity, the turgid stultiloquy of life, I felt, at least, securely anchored to myself."
--John Steinbeck, Cup of Gold: : A Life of Sir Henry Morgan, Buccaneer, with Occasional Reference to History

Would make a good name for a blog, I suppose....

Friday, September 29, 2006

Consciousness Streaming

Consciousness Streaming (steaming... screaming...)

On the radio right now: "I Forgot to Remember to Forget," an early Beatles tune (but not written by them, I think). Great title, though.... Last weekend was action packed: I attended a memorial service for a friend's father, followed by two Hitchcock movies at the Loew's (Rope and Vertigo), then, on Sunday, a seminar-type thingee at the Jersey City Museum about "independent publishing" -- which is sort of what I'm doing here, no? I want to do nothing this weekend, except sleep and do errands and replace some of the burnt-out light bulbs around here. That type of thing.... So, Congross has decided to give Fearless Leader the power to lock up anybody he has a "mind" to as an "enemy combatant" and throw away the key, at least for the duration of our endless "war on terrah." When did I fall down the rabbit hole?

Visual Version

Sunday, September 24, 2006

One-Sentence Stories

Making a long story short

The One Sentence archive is a collection of stories told in, yes, one sentence. The 50 most popular sentences/stories, as rated by visitors, are on the linked page, but as the site notes, "Just like high school...sometimes the losers are the cooler kids to hang around with."

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry

End of Summer

Maple seeds helicopter into the grass.
The yellowjackets buzz drunkenly around a glass.

And my sleeves grow long again.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Found elsewhere

Nota Bene

Now and zen, I like to read a small stone for its quiet epiphanies, which are haiku-like but without the 5-7-5 syllabic strait-jacket.


Australian boynton has an interesting quote from Steve Irwin, wildlife warrior.


The Eggcorn Database is a collection of interesting, sometimes almost poetic, lexical mistakes in English compositions. Example: "I got a call on my self-phone early this morning, waking me up." (via Maud Newton)

Monday, September 11, 2006

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Word of the Day: Shrift

Word of the Day

shrift (n)

Confession (implying penance and absolution)

"Benvolio: See, where he comes. So please you step aside,
I'll know his grievance, or be much denied.

Montague: I would thou wert so happy by thy stay
To hear true shrift. Come, madam, let's away"
--Romeo and Juliet, Act I, Scene 1


"Ratcliffe: Make a short shrift; he longs to see your head."
--Richard III,, Act III, Scene 4

I think this word is only used today in the phrase "short shrift," which originated with Shakespeare (at least his is the first recorded use of it) and has come to mean brushing off someone else's feelings in an offhand, callous manner.

I have a CD, called Lost in a Moment, by a musical duo who call themselves Shrift. Their album is hard to describe; it's sort of Brazilian-flavored ambient/chill-out music with some beautiful, but subtle, vocals and electronica. You can find some information about Shrift here. Anyway, the CD made me think of the word.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Poet Name Generator


My poet name is Lucius Cornelius Swanswaddle, according to the poet name generator. (If I was a "lady poet," it would be Forsythia Swanswaddle.)

(via Watermark)

Consciousness Streaming

Consciousness Streaming

Wind, rain and October temperatures--happy Labor Day Weekend!... Bus, train, bus, train--being carless over the last couple of days (the spouse needed it) has given me a new appreciation for driving to work, despite the low-grade torture of Northern New Jersey traffic and high gas prices. What takes 45 minutes by car takes almost two hours by public transportation, thanks largely to a rattletrap bus that seems to stop at every other block. Oh well. At least I got a lot of reading done... What happens to a chameleon if it crawls across a mirror?... JC Fridays is coming 'round again -- a day of free art events here in the JC, held quarterly. Daylight Gallery, for example, is showing "Transformations: artists, musicians, singers and poets explore transformation -- experience and meaning." Apparently, this will include some photographs by the fine Jim Legge... Why don't I... Put on some really comfortable shoes. Walk somewhere in them. Remember to take an umbrella...

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry

Dinner and a Show

A dowager sun of ocher
Shines against the windows,

As we exit
And quicken our feet.

We hear Hebrew on Broadway
Passing by a fruit stand.

An invisible chain in coils
Encircles a prostitute.

And it almost breaks us down,
This game of counting doors.

Words can satisfy
Or pierce like a hypo;

The amplified voices
Testifying for the moon

Like stentorian birds, complaining
Of a sky cindered with night,

While dirty men
Seek to eat.

Meat and pepper wait
Just beyond the light,

Behind those steamy,
unbreakable panes.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Found elsewhere

Nota Bene

Flickr: Wunderkammer is a sort of online curio cabinet of strange objects, marvels and "wonders" like those found in old-fashioned museums of the 16th-18th centuries. I like this Flickr collection of Magical Cards, too. (via Blue Tea)


2 blowhards discusses the current tab mania in graphic design. Tabs are everywhere -- at the top of every web page, it seems, but even in print advertisements and magazine covers, where they're completely non-functional. Which raises a question: just what is it that tabs have come to symbolize? Cyber-sophistication, apparently, or... file cabinet chic?


"We don't really have any mind at all. We think we have a mind; we think we have this thing called my mind, that it's a particular mind. Then we lock ourselves into this structure of our own creation. It's a little prison we put ourselves in. But actually, we aren't anything in particular at all. Once we realize this, then we have complete freedom -- whether we're exploring the mind through writing, or through just sitting there quietly, observing the thoughts as they come up. It's all the same; it's the same free-flowing mind that's taking place. It can be found and expressed in any activity."
--Steve Hagen (via whiskey river)


"If not for the courage of the fearless crew, the Minnow would be lost, the Minnow would be lost." TV addicts rejoice: The original S.S. Minnow, or one of them, has been found.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Word of the Day

Word of the Day

impecunious (adj)

poor; penniless

"It began with a contribution from the first impecunious painter in payment of an overdue board-bill, his painting being hung on a nail beside the clock. Now, all over the walls...are pinned, tacked, pasted and hung...sketches in oil, pastel, water color, pencil and charcoal...bearing the signature of some poor, stranded painter, preceded by the suggestive line, 'To my dear friend, the landlord'--silent reminders all of a small cash balance which circumstances quite beyond their control had prevented their liquidating at the precise hour of their departure."
--Francis Hopkinson Smith, The Veiled Lady

I always seem to be "penniless" when I'm in the check-out line and the cashier rings up a sale price with a "1" or "2" on the end. It's only as I'm stuffing a handful of the resulting change in my pocket that I remember that big jar of pennies at home on my dresser.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Consciousness Streaming

Consciousness Streaming

Sometimes I feel like a dust magnet--especially when I look down at my computer keyboard and see that coating of tiny gray particles between each key. Ah choo.... I need to get a haircut. I need to mow the lawn. I'm too busy to do either right now. And so, until the weekend, the shagginess intensifies.... No, Mr. Eliot, April is not the cruelest month. August is. What is supposed to be the traditional vacation month always turns out to be my busy season. Last year, it was the nightmare process of moving to a new house, which was ultimately worth the torture in the end (double meaning!). This year, I'm just doing double duty, work-wise.... so.... Why don't I.... sleep for 12 hours this Saturday?

Visual Version

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

5 Steps To Being More Photogenic - Digital Camera University

Say cheese?

Five Steps To Being More Photogenic, from an outfit called the Digital Camera University. It boils down to: stand on one foot, don't smile TOO much, look slightly above (not directly into) the lens, lean toward the camera a bit, and squeeze your buttocks.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry

Zabriskie Street

The frame houses stand
Shoulder to shoulder,
Intimate as a church choir,
This crowd of stocky

Geezers staring,
Blank-eyed and dumbfounded
At a wiggly image
In a funhouse mirror.

Some greybeards
Are in sad repair--
Fallen arches, suffering
From shingles.

And the whole crowd presents
A mouth of uneven teeth,
Rows of dull Chicklets
with a sad gap here and there

That some rapacious dentist
Will fill with his quick mortar
And cookie-cutter caps
Of bright, false brick.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Found elsewhere

Nota Bene

"The tender boughs of innocence burn first, and the wind rises... and then all goodness is in jeopardy." A lovingly created guide to the incomparable Twin Peaks, including a pretty amazing, Java-enabled character chart. (via things)


Lucid dreaming: hallucinatory art photography by Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison. Fascinating. It reminds me, though, of why I'm sometimes glad I don't remember most of my dreams. (via wood s lot)


Fast on the draw: A one-hour alphabet, drawn and colored over the course of an hour, with some help from Photoshop. Impressive. "O is for ogre..."


What Flying Was Like in the 1960s (via boynton)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Word of the Day

Word of the Day

ubiety (n)

The state of being in a particular place

"Despite that lapse, she was content, even rhapsodic, and as if her little heaven upon earth, this paragon of ubiety, were somehow not enough, inadequate to cause that happy welling of spirit, the rejoicing in her idyll...."
--Craig Bell, Lost in the Elysian Fields

My ubiety involves being at 40.748 latitude and -74.050 longitude. Can't say I'm rejoicing in my idyll, but there are worse places.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Consciousness Streaming

Consciousness Streaming

Overheard conversation, apparently between two off-duty cops: "He gets lots of death threats. The house is guarded 24 hours a day, plain-clothes cops, unmarked cars..." Took my sports-obsessed offspring to Giants Stadium last weekend to see a Jets practice that was open to the public. It was free -- but hot dogs were $5.00, pretzels were $3.00 and a can of soda was $4.50... Is there anywhere that a certain insurance company with a gecko for a mascot won't advertise? Saw some upside-down skywriting the other day, boasting of their "lower rates"... Why don't I... doodle?

Visual Version

Friday, August 04, 2006

Random Word Generator

What's the Word

The Random Word Generator (Plus) will supply you with nouns, verbs, adjectives, interjections, etc., at various levels of complexity, from very common to obscure. Just what is a "scutcheon," anyway?

A companion "Creativity Tool," the Random Sentence Generator, spits out a simple, random sentence that almost seems to make a peculiar kind of sense. Examples: "How can the insidious ozone bubble?" You've got me there, but ozone bubbles do sound insidious. "The dropping trace reports a breach throughout the ingenious cleaner." Really? How then will I clean my ingenious?

Thursday, August 03, 2006


My 'hood

Another one of my neighbors

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry

Jersey City Jimmy

Jersey City Jimmy jabbered with a jolly journeyman
who filled his head with fancies of a funny fly-by-night
to soothe the city's senses and its pity-party plight.

Jersey City Jimmy jibed and joined a jiggy juggler,
a flim-flam fellow who taught riddles, rhymes and repartee,
a model mentor till Jim was jazzed for a jamboree.

Jersey City Jimmy jim-jammed with jokers and jackals
till the cranky crowd he courted began to boo and bleat,
and he felt the fearsome folly of that dirty city heat.

Jersey City Jimmy jitter-bugged his way to Journal Square,
fell into a frothy fountain with a frenzied foolish frown,
then caught a train for the towers of a taller terror town.


Blame it on the heat.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Found elsewhere

Nota Bene

Dazzle your eyes with a huge collection of very strange statues from around the world.


If you ever fly (on an airplane, I mean), you're probably familiar with the Skymall catalog of practical and, shall we say, unique items. Here's an amusing run-down of Skymall's 10 Worst Products.

(via The Presurfer)


To coincide with the 50th anniversary of the novel's publication, a new version of On the Road, based on Kerouac's "scroll," will be published next year as a book, says The Boston Globe. According to the article, the "scroll" includes several passages cut from previously published versions, as well as a different first sentence and a more abrupt ending. "A cocker spaniel owned by one of Kerouac's friends apparently ate the last section, according to Jim Canary, the head of special collections conservation at Indiana University's Lilly Library."

(via the Literary Saloon)


Give me that old-time surrealism: RaShOmoN offers a vintage YouTube video.

(via boynton)


"When people wait for methods of public transportation they stare in the direction from which the train, or bus will come. It's as if they believe that by staring they can will an earlier arrival. Watched pots do boil and watched for trains and buses do arrive. Only the experience of time for the person staring shifts around." Fatshadow waits for the bus.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Word of the Day

Word of the Day

anastrophe (n)

Inversion of the normal syntactic order of words

"Mrs. Woolf also makes use of other figures of speech, such as anastrophe (the deliberate inversion of word order)..."
--Monarch Notes, Works of Virginia Woolf: To the Lighthouse

Thanks to my Star Wars-obsessed offspring, I'm aware that the most famous anastropher (is that a word?) in contemporary popular culture is Yoda:

"Ready are you? What know you of ready? For eight hundred years have I trained Jedi. My own counsel will I keep on who is to be trained. A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind. This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away... to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing. Hmph. Adventure. Heh! Excitement. Heh! A Jedi craves not these things."

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Consciousness Streaming

Consciousness Streaming

Took my son to the orthodontist today and was surprised to see that all the "dentist" chairs were equipped with widescreen TVs. A DVD of some Bruce Willis movie, in which he portrays an "image consultant," was playing. More painful than a toothache?... Listened, briefly, to "Z-100," the "number one hits station" in the car. They were playing some "new music," which consisted of a three-note ostinato competing with some forgettable and oddly passionless rap lyrics. An ugly, humorless song, definitely not Top 40 material (in my admittedly non-expert opinion), and it went on and on for about five minutes. Payola?... Wickedly hot today. While I was out walking around, doing various errands, a mixture of sweat and sunscreen ran into my eyes, which made them sting like hell. I suppose I should wear a sweatband around my head. Better to look like a bit of an idjit than to go blind... Why don't I... take all my loose change to the coin machine at the supermarket?

Visual Version

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Make some fireworks


Create some fireworks (requires Java).

A childhood memory: driving with my parents and siblings one muggy summer night to see a fireworks display in a nearby town. When we got there, we sat on the hood of the car to watch the pyrotechnics -- all except for my little brother, who curled up on the floor behind the driver's seat to escape the thunderous booms.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry

In Your Dreams

A fisherman becomes a flounder, then swims off
into the mouth of a sperm whale.

The whale spits out a howling baby,
which grows up into a weeping widow.

A woman jumps off a twenty-storey building
and bursts into a million ball bearings.

They roll everywhere and make us slip
and crack like china dolls.

Condors descend and fly off with the pieces,
then drop them onto an orange desert.

Millions of cacti sprout and point their spikes
into a blackening sky.

Rain falls for the first time in twenty years,
and rivers wander off to the sea.

A fisherman drops his hook off a dock
and waits for something to happen.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Found elsewhere

Nota Bene

A website entitled Imagining the Tenth Dimension might also be called String Theory for Dummies -- but it's still hard to understand. What it most effectively conveys is how limited our minds are.


"Things I Saw with My Own Eyes," over at Whiskey River, is a wonderful poem by Dan Chiasson.


There's a description on of the yet-to-be-released new Thomas Pynchon novel. Apparently, Pynchon wrote the blurb himself. Here's an amusing excerpt: "Spanning the period between the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 and the years just after World War I ... With a worldwide disaster looming just a few years ahead, it is a time of unrestrained corporate greed, false religiosity, moronic fecklessness, and evil intent in high places. No reference to the present day is intended or should be inferred." (via Maud Newton)


The blogger formerly known as Wanderlust is questioning everything these days. I guess.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Word of the Day

Word of the Day

hesternal (adj)

Of yesterday

"I passed up a side street, one of those deserted ways that abound just off the big streets, resorts, apparently, for such people and things as are not quite strident or not quite energetic enough for the ordinary glare of life; dim places, fusty with hesternal excitements and the thrills of yesteryear."
--Rupert Brooke, Letters from America

Speaking of the "thrills of yesteryear," I've taken to riding a bike in the local park in the evenings, something I haven't done -- at least on a regular basis -- since I was 13 or 14, I think. It can be quite thrilling, what with all the other bikes, baby strollers, joggers and urban hikers I have to share the byways with.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Consciousness Streaming

Consciousness Streaming

Visited a sci-fi store in New York today with my son. It's called Forbidden Planet. I thought I'd see nothing but teenagers there, but I wasn't even the oldest person shopping. I saw pre-teens to senior citizens perusing the action figures and comic books. Interesting... I've started taking fish oil capsules. They seem to have a calming effect (not that I'm particularly stressed right now). Maybe, like the Tin Man, I need a lube job... The problem with having central AC in a two-storey house is that it's always a little too warm upstairs and a little too cool downstairs (heat rises). Still, when it's 97 degrees (36 C) outside, I shouldn't complain... I'm feeling a bit curious about why a strange woman was staring at me in an elevator today. I get that sometimes. People think they know me from somewhere... Why don't I... create my own alphabet?

Visual Version

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Writers on Writing

Writers on Writing

I like this page of quotations by writers about writing. As you might expect, they're quite pithy.

"Know something, sugar? Stories only happen to people who can tell them." --Allan Gurganus

Monday, July 17, 2006

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry

Gold Coast

So many ghosts on First Street.
You can almost hear their whispered

lament: Something about dying
as these hoary bricks

crumble before towering phalluses,
the 24-karat ingot weight

of your spectacular
views and mortgages.

So quaint, you think.
First a factory floor,

then the coldwater flat
of an artist.

And you "love" artists.
You love them to death.

You'll even keep a few
around, like pets,

jesters in the court
of the golden man.

But there's a charge
for visions evicted,

portraits unpainted,
scraps never reimagined

into intricate mosaics
and maps of the mind,

for the musician's
silenced grace note

that might, for once,
have moved you.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Found elsewhere

Nota Bene

Dark Lanes has a list of hilarious chemists' last words. "And now, the taste test."


Check out these abstract paintings by Cheeta. Not bad for a chimpanzee, eh? (I especially like this one.) And yes, this is THE Cheeta from the old Tarzan movies. He's retired from acting but is still painting at age 74. There's an article about him here. (via 2 Blowhards)


"It promises to be a long summer," says Baghdad Burning. "We're almost at the mid-way point, but it feels like the days are just crawling by. It's a combination of the heat, the flies, the hours upon hours of no electricity and the corpses which keep appearing everywhere."

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Iraq War Memorial - Know War

Know War

An Iraq War memorial

Word of the Day

Word of the Day

jeremiad (n)

A long lament or complaint, or an angry harangue, derived from the name of the Hebrew prophet Jeremiah.

"...virtually every one of Albee's plays can be read as an American jeremiad, which Sacvan Bercovitch has called 'a nationwide ritual of progress [that] contributed to the success of the republic.'"
--Lincoln Konkle, "Good, Better, Best, Bested: The Failure of American Typology in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

Woolf is one of my favorite plays. I even wrote a paper on it in college. Or a few papers, if I recall. It can be analyzed from several angles: political, Freudian, rhetorical, dramatic, etc. George and Martha...hmmm.

"I said I was impressed. I'm beside myself with jealousy. What do you want me to do, throw up?"

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Consciousness streaming

Consciousness Streaming

Ever driven Route I-78 in New Jersey during rush hour? I'm doing it twice a day this week, dodging tractor-trailers at 70 mph. Yesterday, someone in a silver Corvette drove across the raised median between the local and express lanes, right in front of me, and then sped off, weaving through the heavy traffic at about 100 miles an hour. Sometimes I wonder if these drivers think they're playing a video game... I thought I had left my favorite belt at the security checkpoint at the airport (I usually take it off before attempting to walk through the metal detector), but I just found it curled up in my suitcase. I guess I didn't wear it that day. Sometimes I'm amazed at my absent-mindedness about these little things... Image on a Tarot card: A man with a severed head floating in space with a couple of tree branches across his back (two of wands). The meaning is supposedly "be a good listener." Or else?... Why don't I... make eye contact with everyone I pass during the day? Is it illegal or something?

Visual Version

Monday, July 10, 2006

How people read web content

An "F" in Reading

Here's some interesting (and perhaps disturbing) results from an eye-tracking study that shows that people read web pages -- including blogs, I assume -- in a roughly F-shaped pattern. They read the first few lines horizontally,
a bit and read some more horizontally, but typically not as much as at first.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Skyline view

My 'hood

A view of New York from a local park in Jersey City, NJ.

You can see more of my pics at Channel Z

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry

Eric's Hangover

Not hell, no,
but a street--

broken glass,
chicken bones.

Does no one stop
for the light?

The sun's
a naked lightbulb.

Someone's been drinking
golden Absolut

or was it
apricot brandy?

A patrol car

turnpike pile-up,
some emergency

in my head, my head,
my timpani of pain.

Black trash bags
on concrete,

another high-rise
bringing me down,

or was it
something I ate?


Not about me. This is an internal monologue for a character in a short story I'm working on.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Found elsewhere

Nota Bene

Bread and Roses suspects there is a black hole in his house. My mother knows there is a black hole in her house. In fact, that's what she calls the little junk room off her laundry room. And my basement is some kind of gravity well.

Goodnight June: the Known Human had a bad one. And they say April is the cruelest month.

Mr. Joe Clifford Faust treats us to some micro fiction, inspired by these guys.

Making Stuff is about just that. And believe me, it's no ordinary stuff...

Friday, June 30, 2006

Word of the Day

Word of the Day

orc (n)

A monster, demon, goblin, etc.

"Not six feet away, busy cleaning a vacant table, was an orc. And not just any orc. This one clearly had some man in its bloodline somewhere."
--Andy Duncan, "Senator Bilbo"

This word occurs most frequently in fantasy literature, most notably in Tolkien's works. The orc around these parts would be the Jersey Devil, a creature most often described as being somewhat similar to a pterosaur that supposedly lives in the Pine Barrens.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Random Thoughts

Consciousness Streaming

I'm wondering what it means to dream about finding a large insect in your bathtub... There's lots to do at a water park. But swimming isn't one of them... Watched the movie Troy on HBO in our motel room recently (nothing better to do). So did they actually have blond, surfer-dude-looking guys in ancient Greece? And, no matter how hot she was, why fight a war over Helen? (Though, admittedly, that's at least a reason, something the Iraq war apparently lacks)... What would happen if you sent a werewolf to the moon?... Someone told me yesterday that all paper currency in the United States has minute traces of heroin and cocaine powder on it -- so not to put it in my mouth. I don't know how credible this factoid is, and it never occurred to me to put money in my mouth anyway. But could you become addicted to stuffing money in your pie hole?... Why don't I... drive in one direction until I reach the ocean?

Visual Version

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Kurt Vonnegut's wit and wisdom

"What are people for?"

"Tiger got to hunt. Bird got to fly. Man got to sit and wonder 'why, why, why?'"

More such wisdom can be found among Kurt Vonnegut's confetti prints, a series of adages rendered in graffiti-like form with watercolors. Many are attributed to "Bokonon," a character Vonnegut created for his novel Cat's Cradle.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry


Tending to imagine,
at the post office, even,
he made a white dove
out of an envelope.

At home, the walnut mother
sat calmly in her bowl,
happy among framed pictures
until night fell.

His wringing hands
roiled the clouds,
made weather wetter
for chessboard royalty.

Nine-o'clock black
was the nothing of space,
or an empty mind
long erased by age.

Dropped matchsticks
formed broken crosses,
stick-figure portraits
of starving saints.

Later, he turned pages,
touched dead heron wings,
let his insides bleed
a comet tail of words.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Found elsewhere

Nota Bene

Pax Nortona tell us How to Spot and Handle a Sociopath. Having worked for such a person in the past, with fairly disastrous consequences, I found this edifying.

I like Verlag, a sharp new typeface based on one originally created for the Guggenheim Museum. (via Maud Newton)

Feel small: The Size Of Our World, compared to various other objects in the universe. (via The Presurfer)

Yes, homeless people blog. And thanks to library connections and free wireless access in some cities, more homeless people have e-mail accounts than postal addresses.

Poet Amit Chaudhuri constantly mishears the word "rioting" as "writing" while listening to the BBC, which has resulted in this. (via the Literary Saloon)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Word of the Day

Word of the Day

mondegreen (n or adj)

A mishearing of a phrase, so that it acquires a new meaning

"Maybe the reason I like 'Hotel California'," said Parker, "is that it's one of those mondegreen songs."
--John Martin Hill, The Christmas Hour

I mishear song lyrics all the time. For years, I thought it was "sweet Loretta Modern" in the song "Get Back," and I was disappointed to find out that it's actually "sweet Loretta Martin." I still like my version better, and it actually makes sense in the context of the song, I think.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Random Thoughts

Consciousness Streaming

?aixelsyd eriuqca ouy naC ...I'm directed to wear "dressy casual" clothes for an upcoming event. I think I know what they mean. But isn't that a contradiction in terms? Sort of like being carefully sloppy?... Why are there no chain restaurants for Indian food? Not that I want there to be, but it's puzzling... Today is the first day of summer (here in the northern hemisphere), which means that, in about a week, people will start saying, "I can't believe how fast the summer is going!"... Why don't I... stop making sense?

Visual Version

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Blessing Generator

Holy Syncretism!

The Worldwide Blessing Generator puts blessings and prayers from all world religions into its computerized blender and then whips up a "random hybrid of spiritual goodness." Example:

May a kindly spirit, a kindly genius be present,
and let you live with happiness and hilarity together.
Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.
Be aware and dream.

I feel vaguely sanctified now.

(via The Presurfer) - The Singing Dictionary

Sing Along with Webster, aka "The Singing Dictionary," is a collection of downloadable mp3 files created by combining karaoke versions of pop songs with audio pronunciation clips from online dictionaries. Pretty amusing. I especially enjoyed the site's versions of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall" and the Beatles' "Martha My Dear." You. Silly. Girl.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry

After Hard Rain

A puddle
makes a sad mirror,

another plane
of shadows.

Here a sky,
there a darkling

any fool can say

what's true.
At peace,

your thoughts paint

a slow river.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Found elsewhere

Nota Bene

Rare find: Blue Tea has discovered some art photography that is also "cute, humorous, and fun."

John Baker has some wise counsel for writers. Are those clothes on the floor -- or a blue shirt, a green sock and a pair of khaki pants?

The decidedly uninhibited (and non-PC) Mere Existence is thinking about doing "God's work." By sowing his oats. On an island. Off the coast of Croatia.

"The legs I'll suck on later." Spinning gets literary about lobster.

I don't know if Witold Riedel is a surreal essayist, a poet or a stream-of-consciousness diarist. Does it matter?

Friday, June 16, 2006

Word of the Day: catawampus

Word of the Day

catawampus (adj or n)

askew, crooked, diagonal (adj)
an imaginary wild animal (n)

"Parking was no problem. We got out and walked toward the entrance, which was recessed into the corner of the building, catawampus to the sidewalk."
--Stuart M. Kaminsky, The Cold War Swap

I'm trying to imagine what an animal called a "catawampus" might look like. I'm picturing a swamp-dwelling creature that would be a cross between a lion and an octopus.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Mystic Seer Knows All

Be careful what you ask...

If you've ever seen the classic Twilight Zone episode "Nick of Time," you'll want to pay a visit to the The Mystic Seer.

Or maybe not.

Consciousness Streaming

Consciousness Streaming

Several cool dollar-store DVDs that I bought a few months ago (Charade, The Lady Vanishes, One-Eyed Jacks, etc.) sit on a shelf, unwatched. Not sure why. Actually, I think I know why: I spend all my free time blogging... Seen on a walk today: a brown Christmas wreath on someone's front door, looking sad and bedraggled. Hello? It's June... How come as soon as I buy a new pair of sunglasses, the sky clouds up? Similarly, when I buy an umbrella, the weather clears. Could it be that I can actually control the weather? This might be a lucrative skill to have... Am I drinking too much coffee if I have traces of blood in my caffeine system? But coffee is the wind beneath my wings... Anagrams! "George W. Bush" = "he grew bogus." (Actually, he always was.)... Why don't I... have a comedic sidekick?

Visual Version

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Mystery Faces

Weird and Wonderful

Check out these strangely haunting photos of young women from the 1950s and '60s, probably from an orthodontist's office. (That's my guess, anyway; the origin of the images is unknown.) What's even more interesting than the pics is the wild speculation by many of the site's visitors about the purpose of the photos--and why most of the subjects have their initials written on their foreheads.

The photos are at the SWAPATORIUM blog, and the whole site is worth a look. It describes itself as "A Journey Through Junkland: flea markets, thrift stores, antique shops, garage and estate sales, found photographs, collecting, odd finds, swaps and more." Lots of interesting and arcane stuff there.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Random Acts of Poetry: Scenario

Random Acts of Poetry


The soft-focus roses arrive.
White clapboards flourish
in green, indefinite suburbs.

Smiling in driveways,
with a hint of guitar,
model citizens emote,

almost kissing their phones.
Mouths coo blurred words,
children tumble and scream--

so happy it's frightening.
Even the dog is euphoric.
Under a blue-blank sky,

you say distance is nothing
to your white-haired,
cable-knit grandparents,

far off in their golden cameo.
As the commercial fades to black,
where do you, where do they go?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Found elsewhere

Nota Bene

Inspired by 666, Watermark rants brilliantly about AIDS.

Steve has a close encounter on a city bus. Public transportation is a goldmine for writers, isn't it?

Morsels for meditation: fait accompli continues his sophisticated fortune-cookie thing. Chew on this: "Maturity: the state of mind that allows one to love a friend even when that friend does not admire one's writing."

Ouch! Amazing Dutch painter (I almost wrote "painer") Erik Suidman captures some disturbing emotions.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Word of the Day: ratiocination

Word of the Day

Ratiocination (n)

The process of exact thinking or a reasoned train of thought

"...I doubt he knew of its existence. Ratiocination it was. He was quite intrigued with ratiocination."

"What?" Mike asked.

"The process of deductive reasoning. Old hat to you and Mr. Wallace, perhaps, but when Poe wrote his first tale of ratiocination--'The Murders in the Rue Morgue'--the word 'detective' had not yet been used in the English language."
--Linda Fairstein, Entombed

It's annoying when authors create stupid characters who say "What?" simply to allow the protagonist to explain some obscure word or concept. These Dr. Watson characters are stand-ins for the reader, of course. I suppose they're a necessary evil in mystery stories.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



Random thoughts....666

Consciousness Streaming

Today is 6/6/06. I'm not worried. Did anything especially bad happen on June 6th 1966? On June 6th 1906? Or June 6th 1006? Not that I know of... My Star Wars obsessed offspring has a question. Why is it that every time a spaceship in those movies crashes or is hit by something (anything, even a rock), it explodes in an enormous fireball? Why do the "walker" machines explode when they simply fall over? Are they all full of dynamite or gasoline?... Weird: A couple I met recently apparently doesn't realize it, but I used to live next door to them. I used to see them all the time while standing at the kitchen sink (doing dishes) and looking out the window. I could see right into their apartment and would often see them walking back and forth. Not sure if I should mention this... Women can be named "April," "May," or "June." Why not July? Or February?... Two people I know have recently decided to change their names, informally, not legally. OK. Why don't I... ask everyone to call me, oh, I don't know, Desmond from now on?

Visual Version

Monday, June 05, 2006

Writer Resources - Name Generator

Paging Mr. Otto Shumake...

Stuck for a moniker? A random name generator for writers creates lists of interesting appellations, in English, French, German, "Celtic" or Japanese. These sound like interesting fellows: Byron Honse, Otto Shumake, Dennis Peyre, Dallas Ogas, Nick Koko, Norris Higdon, Kenneth Somsy, Nicholas Nichois and Millard Shihadeh. Perfect for a story about a quirky softball team. (Female names can be generated, too.)

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry

Beach Day

It resembles a limeade spritz:
this crashing of the sea.

The rock pool pumps
like a heart.

Foam suggests
mounds of dirty meringue

or nothing in particular.
I've run out of metaphors.

Up on the highway,
a rumble machine

wavers in the heat and rolls
its belt of black tar.

Stones will be sand
one of these millennia.

I lie down, thinking of magma
spreading its ooze of fire,

and the whole day dissolves.
They will find me fossilized

like a Mesozoic fish
in a stone that falls out of a wall.


I don't know what brought this on -- except that summer is coming and I was shopping for some new swimming trunks yesterday.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Found Elsewhere

Nota Bene

Google giveth: grapez searches for wisdom, finds some, and makes a sonnet out of the results.

Dark Lanes offers "Rules for When You Find Yourself in a Horror Movie." Example: "If your car runs out of gas at night on a lonely road, do not go to the nearby deserted-looking house to phone for help. If you think that it is strange because you thought you had 3/4 of a tank, shoot yourself instead. You are going to die anyway, and will most likely be eaten." Hmm. Where would the horror movie genre be without stupid motorists, car trouble, and that nearby deserted-looking house (and the endless variations on this plot device)?

Kristina Wright has many questions, some of which I've thought about myself, such as "What the hell is Humanities?" (are Humanities?)

The Literary Saloon reveals that the "Recommended" table or rack you always see in chain bookstores isn't what it seems to be. You thought the staff read the books? And then chose their favorites? Hahahahaha...

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Word of the Day: deliriant

Word of the Day

deliriant (n or adj)

1. A poison which causes a persistent delirium, or mental aberration (n)
2. Frenzied, delirious (adj)

"Train stations kept filling up; deliriant crowds, people involved for the first time in their lives, could not get enough of Peron and Eva."
--Evita: Truth or Dare, Ricardo Blaustein

Did you know that antihistamines are deliriants? My seasonal allergies were acting up yesterday, so I took some over-the-counter Loratadine (Rite Aid's antihistamine knock-off of Claritin). No hallucinations, no rabbits with pocket watches, but, thanks to the "fourth estate," I did see a square watermelon and a three-armed baby. Hey, isn't there a blonde missing on Aruba?

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Impeachment? No. Impalement!

Tyrannothesaurus Rex

Impeachment? No. Impalement!

(via wood s lot)

Consciousness Streaming

Consciousness Streaming

I recently discovered, via a genealogy site, that the name "Gates" was sometimes spelled "Jaques" in 17th-century England. I know that spelling rules were lax and word pronunciation was different back then, but "Gates" and "Jaques" don't even seem close. So I'm puzzled. But hell, maybe I should call myself Michael Jaques. Would make a nice pen name anyway... The phantom ringer: We have a cordless phone in our kitchen that rings once every hour. When we pick up, no one is there. Star 69 doesn't reveal that anyone is actually calling us. I'm stumped... What will I do on Wednesday nights, now that L O S T is done for the season? Maybe read a book... Why don't I... wear a Mona Lisa smile today?

Visual Version (May not be safe for work)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Unusual Cards

Weird and Wonderful

Unusual Cards is a collection of blank greeting cards featuring the very strange collage work of artist Francesca Berrini. In the mix: children, dinosaurs, meat, pin-up girls, cave people, giant cakes and Jesus.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry

Break Time

Somewhere above
the arctic circle

stars form
absent faces in a dream.

These are signals, symbols
that come in waves

from an inland ocean,

as the periodic breezes
of a clouded afternoon

in the summer of the dog.
It's time for a break

at the dance school.
Time for the coffee,

the whiskey,
half an hour of it,

before each coat hanger
takes another spin.

Let's make a joke of structure!
Drop all our mail in the furnace.

So many people today
are made of paper.

No more a threat to us
than a snake in a cage,

than my mother
with her wooden spoon.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Noted around the Web

Nota Bene

Pax Nortona discusses a study that reveals why working-class people so often act (and vote) against their own interests.

Michael "Blowhard" meditates on the pleasures of pulp fiction (the genre, not the movie).

Fantastic Planet gives thanks for the resurgent interest in Gnosticism that The Da Vinci Code has inspired. (About time, after 2,000 years...)

Sunshine State goes under the sea, with camera in hand (which calls to mind the random thought that I met Jacques Cousteau once. Long story...)

JC Fridays is coming around again. It's a day of free arts events here in Jersey City, held quarterly. On display at one of the venues will be these halcyon images by Ken Browar. Take a look, especially if you're feeling frazzled.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Word of the Day: sublittoral

Word of the Day

sublittoral (adj)

Several related meanings: "Of or relating to the deeper part of a lake below the area in which rooted plants grow." "Permanantly covered with sea water." "Under the shore." Used figuratively, it seems to mean "underwater" or "muffled."

"The sound of gliding feet emerged from a dozen other noises, from the sublittoral drone of maintenance systems, from the rustle of newsprint as shoppers scanned their horoscopes in the tabloids up front, from the whispers of elderly women with talcumed faces, from the steady rattle of cars going over a loose manhole cover just outside the entrance."
--Don Delillo, White Noise

I'm finally reading White Noise. Can't believe I didn't read it a long time ago, as I love Delillo. (I especially liked his Libra. Only a brilliant novelist could fashion a sympathetic portrait of Lee Harvey Oswald.) Noise, which is full of poetic prose, has its terrifying aspects, but it's essentially a very funny satire--or so it seems to me. I'm only half way through it.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry


We, man and woman,
decided last evening
to impersonate dark trees.

Our elbows
were crooked branches.
Our feet disappeared in the dirt.

My thoughts hardened
to wood. You hardly breathed for fear
of roosting nightbirds.

We went too far in the forest.
By morning our fingers
scratched at the sky.

To the whack of an ax
we drank our warm rain,
mindless and mum to the root.

Monday, May 22, 2006

YouTube - Laughing Yoga


Relieve stress with Laughing Yoga. Quite a hilarious YouTube video.

Site "translated" into Cockney

'Ave a look, right, guvnor

Thanks ter The Dialectizer, yer can now read the Cockney version of this site. It is ter larf.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Flickr: Photos of Jersey City


I've put some of my photos of neighborhood scenes and oddities up on Flickr:

Images from Channel Z

Some of my scribbling is there, too.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Word of the Day: perspicuous

Word of the Day

perspicuous (adj)

Easily understood, clear

"Maps are the instruments that render reality not just perspicuous but surveyable from end to end."
--Albert Borgmann, Holding on to Reality

My favorite TV show at the moment is L O S T, which is about a group of plane-crash survivors on a tropical island. Or is it? What this series is really about is far from perspicuous, but that's the secret of its appeal, I think.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Consciousness Streaming

Consciousness Streaming

The doorbell rings: a real-estate agent asking if I want to sell my house. Since when do they go door to door?...Our local post office's unofficial doorman is a friendly homeless (I think) guy who opens the door for everybody and confers blessings on them. I usually give him some change. He seems pretty lucid; wonder how he fell through the cracks...Yesterday, my son clubbed a sick mouse to death with a pool stick. Sometimes I wonder about him...Sooner or later, Sexy Sadie makes a fool of everyone...Why don't I...wake up early and enjoy the sunrise? (Actually, I'd be more likely to just stay up all night.)

Visual Version

Monday, May 15, 2006

Strange search-engine queries

Sorry to Disappoint

Here are some recent search-engine queries that brought web surfers to my blog:

used Japanese ice cream trucks

My favorite. How cool would it be to drive around in one of those?

interpretation of Muriel Spark's Bang Bang You're Dead

I've never read it. Sounds like a fun read -- but not the kind that needs much interpretation. (I could be wrong.)

cosmic headboards

Good name for an acid rock band.

make crossbows

Not war?

apple tree drawings

Hmm. Maybe I should try one. I have an apple tree in my back yard.

Julie Strain having sex

No idea who she is or why she'd be doing that here.

how to bathe

If you've learned how to surf the Web and still don't know how to do this, you've got a big problem. Ask your mom?

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry


As I sat there, glass in hand,
wandering the trails of my mind,

I woke to find myself
staring out the window

indifferently at weeds,
a broken fence, a rusty shed,

a carpet of grass with birds
pecking for worms.

I wanted something different,
something missing, an old desire.

It was a hard but loving thing,
with a warm scent.

Kind to me whatever my faults.
Always there, but now invisible,

I supposed.
Turning the glass,

I saw a million tiny globes,
hinting at other worlds.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Contest: write a horrible sentence

It was a dark and stormy night

Cries of "Ahoy!" broke the turgid silence of the golf course; the Cap'n approached.

The annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest challenges entrants to write "the world's most atrocious first line to a novel." Above is one of the, uh, winners.

Here's an especially bad (but to me, amusing) winner from the 2000 contest:

"Gwendolyn, a world-class mountaineer, summoned the last of her strength for one more heroic haul on the nylon strap (for she was, after so many failed attempts, dangerously close to exhaustion) and looked heavenward with resolve, aware that, in spite of her fatigue and anguish, she must breach the crevice in one well-coordinated movement, somehow cleave the smooth fissure with the flimsy synthetic strand even though she was chaffed raw by her repeated efforts, or more sensibly, just give the heave-ho to this new-fangled (and painfully small) Victoria's Secret thong and slip into her well-worn -- and infinitely more roomy -- knickers."
--Gary Dahl

(By the way, it actually is dark and stormy here tonight.)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Word of the Day

Word of the Day

twee (adj)

nauseatingly sweet or cute

"Like some cutesy-retro hotel chain, he used the word 'ye' a lot and virtually every word he wrote he ended in 'e'. It all felt rather twee."
--Dominic Streatfeild, Cocaine: An Unauthorized Biography

I've been searching for some Mother's Day cards that aren't either insipid or twee. No easy task.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Short story published

Hooray for ... me?

My short story "Snow in the City" has been published (reprinted, actually) in Writing to Entertain, a secondary-school resource package published by the UK-based ZigZag Education. According to the introduction, the package "takes the students step-by-step, lesson-by-lesson through the process of short story writing. It was written with boys' literacy in mind, but the scheme is suitable for students of all abilities as it aims to stimulate imagination, reflection and description." My piece is one of the examples in the "Short Story Bank" section at the end, and I'm in good company: two of the other stories are by Jack London and Dave Eggers. I never dreamed I'd be an exemplar for British schoolboys. Hallo, Harry...

Sunday, May 07, 2006



These manhole covers in Japan have a mandala-like quality that must make walking around the city a spiritual experience.

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry


When you stopped speaking to me
when you refused to exist,

in any undreamlike way,
I tried to send you a message,

typing virtual letters
on a bright screen,

thinking I could create there
some verbal spell

that would prod you
back to life. You have reduced me

to this with your absence.
Were you ever there at all?

Ever read
"The Turn of the Screw"?

I must assume
you know a lot about the void,

vacuum fluctuations,
being like a hole in the dark,

your face only visible
out of the corner of my eye.

Wishful thinking
can still make much

of motes in the air.
And so your presence,

your vague perfume on the wind,
startles me awake.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

self portrait

Self Portrait

I need a new picture for article bios. These are test shots. Feel free to vote on them: (1) smile, (2) smile B&W, (3) happy nerd or (4) serious nerd.