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.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Consciousness streaming

Consciousness Streaming

I eat Grape Nuts for breakfast. Always wondered about the name. They aren't nuts and they sure aren't grapes. Maybe it has something to do with grapeshot? Anyway, they've had a kind of unpleasant "earthy" taste lately. What's up, Post Cereal? Maybe I should try plain old Corn Flakes...I didn't get a chance to go on at the open mic tonight, because they ran out of time. Ah, well. It's good to have a backlog...Wasps are now building a nest inside the roof of my front porch--and just when we had got rid of the ants and the mice. What's next? Locusts?...Why don't I...take obladiblada?

Visual Version

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Word of the Day: Honeyfuggle

Word of the Day

honeyfuggle (v)

To deceive with flattery or sweet-talk

"I won't honeyfuggle you about how tight things are."
--Gregory Benford, Furious Gulf

I'm trying to imagine what would happen if I used this word in conversation. I think I might be misunderstood.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Hobo Signs and Symbols

Sign Language

Modern hieroglyphics: A collection of Hobo Signs and Symbols from the early 20th century. Some are obvious ("I8"), others are mysterious.

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry

Waiting Room

We sat in fixed positions,
he and I

so that we wouldn't disappear.
Our day had fled through the window.

This waiting had the quality of enamel,
like a souvenir plate spinning in place.

Most of the furniture was vacant
and the radiator spat in the corner.

The chair had a frayed edge,
and the receptionist used bad grammar;

she had a problem with her larynx.
I felt a sensitivity

to her wrenched voice,
as she gargled into the phone.

Then my leg fell asleep.
So I made ambitious circles

with my feet
like a nervous orangutan

while the man across from me
pretended to be blind.

I was inclined to disturb him,
ask what was so fascinating

about his year-old Newsweek.
It might have inspired

a ping-ponging argument
to smash the tedium

of that afternoon room.
But the dull lines of his face

revealed no devilry,
not a single urge

to step forward
though the door of living

until his name was called.