Thursday, March 30, 2006

Dumbledore's death in the style of The Catcher in the Rye

"The whole thing was a bastard"

Rumor has it that the next Harry Potter doorstop will include the death of a major character -- supposedly the wizened wizard Dumbledore. The Guardian recently ran a competition to write an account of his death in the style of another author. The best entries are published here. My favorite is the scene written in the style of The Catcher in the Rye.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Consciousness Streaming

Consciousness Streaming

A crunching and droning noise outside today. A house is being demolished down the street with a backhoe -- no doubt to be replaced by another pink-brick monstrosity. . . Spring-like weather this afternoon: sunny, 63 degrees (Farenheit). So why do the neighbors still have a large, inflatable Santa Claus on their roof? . . . Bought a dozen apples today, golden delicious. Apples are out of season, so I'm wondering where they come from. South America? . . . Why am I sleepy at 6 PM but wide awake at 11? . . . Why don't I . . . remove all the "postage paid" envelopes from my junk mail, stuff them with full of flyers and brochures, and drop them in a mail box?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Science Fiction Plot Generator

Warp Drive

A lonely warrior is facing death in a high-tech temple. His planet is threatened by an unpredictable plant. With the help of an alcoholic neural implant, he must destroy a terrible invention in order to save his people.

A light-fingered hybrid man is scraping a living on a stormy planet. His homeworld was destroyed by a rogue poison. With the help of a lonely slave, he must travel through time in order to save his way of life.

A wealthy explorer is mourning in a high-tech brothel. His daughter is set up by a feral robot. With the help of a wealthy archaeologist, he must make the ultimate sacrifice in order to avert disaster and save his reality.

An optimistic offworlder is causing a disturbance in an unhealthy bunker. His lover is sold as meat by a advanced machine. With the help of a naive AI, he must become a vampire in order to avert disaster and save his people from slavery.

A genetically enhanced warlord is hiding out in a disease-ridden hospital. His ship is destroyed by a monstrous virus. With the help of a smart mutant, he must inject a dangerous serum in order to save his children.

Spark some warped ideas with the Science Fiction Plot Generator.

(via The Generator Blog)

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry


These pallid ingenues
unbutton their petals

at spring's first trickle.
Ducks settle their feathers

with elegant gestures
atop a pond's sheen,

and potentials unfreeze.
Even the moon shows a warm face;

the thawed sky
offers friendship.

A tepid breeze delivers
teasing pleasures--

stealing a hat, knocking
knick-knacks from a windowsill.

Last fall's craggy leaves
succumb to a rake.

A codger removes his jacket.
Another year to count,

another bloom to cut,
while the cold shadows of clouds

slowly disperse
like antique memories.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Drawing: new glasses, with Thoreau quote

My new glasses. I don't wear them all the time, so I went for the funky retro nerd frames. Feedback has been positive so far, except for the 15-year-old who told me they looked "ridiculous" (his favorite word, lately).

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Word of the Day

Word of the Day

hypnopompic (adj)

associated with the period between sleep and wakefulness

"Long after the physical scenes had faded and my conversation with Madame Blavatsky had given way, I mulled over the events in a delicious hypnopompic state, engraving the details on my memory and letting them unveil further shades of meaning."
--Rob Brezsny, The Televisionary Oracle

This word brings to mind the confusing period I experience most mornings between tumbling out of bed and gulping down my first cup of coffee. While I'm staggering around like Boris Karloff in Frankenstein, I'm often brooding over some bizarre or disturbing event--until I realize that "oh...that was just a dream."

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Small Talk

Small Talk

Hi, howya doin'? Nice weather, huh? Spring has sprung. Hey, how 'bout those Mets? You watch Lost? Coffee? I hate this crummy job, man. Donald Rumsfeld is giving the president his daily briefing on Iraq. He concludes by saying, "Yesterday, three Brazilian soldiers were killed." "OH NO!" the president exclaims. "That's terrible!" His staff sits stunned at this display of emotion, nervously watching as the president sits, head in hands. Finally, the president looks up and asks, "How many is a brazillion?"

Monday, March 20, 2006

Vernal Equinox

Here Comes the Sun

Happy vernal equinox! "If you can look into the seeds of time, and say which grain will grow and which will not, speak then to me." Today's weather forecast: "A few flurries are possible." Oh well.

Speaking of time, here's an interesting online clock.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry


Imagine a calm vista of him:
no more ring of tension,
no memento of costly outbursts
that filled tissue after tissue
with tears.

He is a smooth-running engine,
repaired and comfortable
with every metallic edge,
with a salty sea of corrosion,
while refineries pump their soothing oil.

The night is bathed
with a wet fog, a cool washcloth
that dampens the fire in the forest--
nude trees assuming
the color of iron--

and the secrets that swirl
behind his forehead:
blackened images flying
like witches above the Pacific,
chasing a teeming moon.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Lost in Translation

Lost in Translation

A Chinese menu translated into "English": May I Take Your Order?

Mmmmm. "Big bowl of immerses from fish head." "Salty egg vegetable sponge liver pig soup." "Carbon burns black bowel." "Cowboy leg." "Chicken ear jade liquid geng." (Do chickens have ears?)

I guess I shouldn't laugh. I'm sure some translations by native English-speakers into fractured "Chinese" are just as hilarious. But I can't help it.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Word of the Day

Word of the Day

mattoid (n)

A semi-insane person

"That man," said the Doctor in a low, earnest voice, "is a mattoid."

"A what?" said the Vicar.

"A mattoid. An abnormal man. Did you notice the effeminate delicacy of his face? His tendency to quite unmeaning laughter? His neglected hair? Then consider his singular dress..."

The Vicar's hand went up to his chin.

"Marks of mental weakness," said the Doctor.

--H.G. Wells, "The Wonderful Visit"

God, I loved reading Wells's science-fiction novels as a kid, especially The Time Machine, the full text of which is online here. It still seems like the most perfectly written SF novel ever, to me.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Sorry to Disappoint

Today's weirdest search-engine query that brought someone to this site:

primrose path to hell medieval poem soul

Off hand, I don't know of any medieval poems about the soul being on a primrose path to hell. But I wouldn't be surprised if there is one, or several. (That cliche had to come from somewhere.) Those medieval types were very concerned -- obsessed, even -- about the dangers and ease of sliding into eternal damnation. Threats of fire and brimstone were what kept the peasants in line back then (and keep fundies in line today, I suppose). Funny thing, though -- hell always seems to be a far more interesting place than heaven. "Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens," as the Talking Heads said, and at stressful times, that can seem appealing. (But boring, you say? How can one get bored in a "place" where time doesn't exist, hmm?) Artists always seem to have a lot more fun with their depictions of hell, though.

Anyway, gentle seeker, I hope you find your poem, if not your path.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Duct Tape Wall Tapings

Sticky Situations

It's amazing what you can do with a little duct tape. It's even more amazing what you can do with a lot of duct tape.

I don't know how to sew, so I used to hem my pants with duct tape. My wife thought this was hilarious.

Monday, March 13, 2006



This is one of the strangest websites I've visited lately, and at first I wasn't too sure if it was "for real." It's one of those disease sites, supposedly dedicated to glaucoma research -- but it seems to be celebrating the condition as much as fighting it. Keep your speakers on and you'll hear an angelic soprano singing a hymn to "glaucoooommmmmmaaaaaa..." Bizarre. And note the creepy eye in the bottom of the left frame -- it will follow you around the room.

I had my first eye exam in about five years the other day. No glaucoma, but I do need some new specs.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry

Talk Radio

When they see executions as an essential aspect of their movement, the clear ones mentally excavate the channels of their clocks and bookshelves, and distribute chrism among a series of comedians supplied by numerous abusive childhoods and directorates. These methods were perfected by factory workers. Oil paintings of their labors abound in each house, where the lights polish the dark windows like sunbeams on opaque ponds, and the sounds of creaking attic floorboards lend poignancy to the spiraling psychodramas that disturb all moralizing trumpet players -- those that beat the walls with their electric agitation. The siblings, who sit looking sullen in the dim light, drink from jam jars, contemplating violence and longing for public recognition of their great endeavors and the bouquets of the city. The roar of the pistons, the precipitation of steam, and the sweat of heavy men is recorded as hard music, songs derived from righteous masturbation and a riotous fate.

Saturday, March 11, 2006


Backbroke Valley

A woman sits down next to a cowboy in a saloon. She says, "Are you...a REAL cowboy?"

He replies: "Well, Ma'am, I brand calves, rope steers, mend fence, ride the range...think about cows a lot of the time...yep...reckon I'm a 'real' cowboy."

She says, "I'm a lesbian. I think about women all day, all evening, all the time...I think about making love with women."

They sat there sipping their beers. Then, a man walked in and sat on the other side of the cowboy.

He asks the cowboy, "Are you a REAL cowboy?"

The cowboy responded, "Well, I thought I was...but I just found out that I'm really a lesbian."

(via bridgit)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Word of the Day

Word of the Day

celeritous (adj)

quick, rapid

"There appeared in Forrest's right hand, which had seemed empty, which had seemed not to move or to perform in any celeritous and magic manner, a very small, stubby, nickel pistol, with a caliber much too great for it, and down whose rifled muzzle the earl found himself gazing."
--Gouverneur Morris, The Spread Eagle and Other Stories

I've never owned a gun myself, or felt any desire to. I did have a cap gun as a boy, but I don't think that counts. I mostly liked it for the loud bangs and smell of gunpowder it made. I would sometimes neglect the gun altogether and just expode the caps on the sidewalk by hitting them with rocks. Such fun! My father kept a rifle, unloaded, in his bedroom closet, and used to shoot woodchucks with it. I never touched it, because it scared the bejesus out of me. I wonder if he still has it.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Close Encounters

Close Encounters

At the news store today: While waiting in line to pay for my paper, I noticed that the white-haired woman in front of me, who was perhaps in her 80s, had a black eye, nearly swollen shut. She had a toddler with her--her grandson, I suppose--who was fiddling with the candy bars on the shelves under the cash register. He dumped a whole box of them onto the floor. The woman looked down and said, "Oh, don't do that. Don't make me bend over. My eye might fall out!" This produced much giggling from the cashier and the other customers standing nearby. The little boy, however, looked like he was about to cry. I wanted to ask the woman if she'd been in a fight, but I thought better of it.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Post your secrets

It's a Secret

PostSecret is an "ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard." The secrets tend to be more humorous than juicy, and the postcard graphics are alternately touching or hilarious.

(Damn, I can't remember where I found this one.)

I used to be somewhat obsessive about collecting and sending postcards, and not just when I was on vacation. E-mail and higher postal rates more or less killed that hobby, but I still have quite a collection of them here. Somewhere...

Monday, March 06, 2006

Art collectivization

Collective Action

An interesting NY Times article on the increasing number of art collectives argues that they "may undermine the cult of the artist as media star, dislodge the supremacy of the precious object and unsettle the economic structures that make the art world a mirror image of the inequities of American culture at large."

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry

Just Before

Dawn was rich:
a pageant of burning clouds,
like the rubies of a sultan,
dribbled from a golden jar.

Not car horns that morning,
but flutists midwifing
the sun-up
with auspicious trills.

The neighbor's pool
was a flashing ocean, blue as tourmaline,
and later, the mailman was a priest
bringing absolution, not bills.

Everyone I met
glowed like phosphorous
and their words were sweet
as syrup.

I knew I was coming down,
the fever about to take me,
my head already floating
two feet above my body.

But I took the morning’s blaze
as a fleeting gift,
a sugar-frosted illusion,
my world transformed

by the gorgeous mouth of hell,
a counterfeit of paradise.