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?