Thursday, May 31, 2007

Word of the Day: onolatry

Word of the Day

onolatry (n)

Worship of asses (donkeys!)

"Nietzsche has depicted the leaders of the nineteenth century as engaged in a veritable onolatry."
--Irving Babbitt, Rousseau and Romanticism

My parents live in the country, in upstate New York, and from their backyard, you can see two donkeys behind a fence in a neighbor's yard. ("Nice ass!" we've been known to say.) Sometimes we feed them cookies when we visit. They seem to prefer ginger snaps.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A is for Amy who fell down the stairs

A is for Amy who fell down the stairs....

Fancy an Edward Gorey children's book? The strange kid in you may appreciate Ars Moriendi - How to die in a proper way. Dr. Seuss was never like this.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day

"If we quit Vietnam, tomorrow we'll be fighting in Hawaii, and next week we'll have to fight in San Francisco."
--Lyndon Johnson

Friday, May 25, 2007

Get Lost?: Michael Emerson

Get Lost?

Here's a short but interesting interview with Michael Emerson, who plays the enigmatic Ben on the baffling, mesmerizing Lost and is rapidly becoming one of my favorite actors. Turns out he was as blown away (and surprised and puzzled) by the season finale as the rest of us.

(I seem to be linking to a lot of New York magazine articles. I never used to like that rag, but it sure seems to be publishing some intriguing stuff lately.)

(via The Lost Blog)

Postscript: Some interesting Lost speculation here.

Closing Credits to Ernie Kovacs show

True Dementia

In the golden age of black-and-white television, when networks were apparently not so determined to fill every available nanosecond with commercials, shows actually had closing credits -- that you could read. The closing credit sequence could even be entertaining, as this delightful video, obviously the product of an unbolted imagination, proves:

Closing Credits to the Ernie Kovacs show

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

My iPod cord keeps getting all twisted and knotted up. I feel like a fool sitting on the train and spending (what seems like) five minutes untangling it. Other people don't seem to have this problem.... Visited a doctor's office with my son this evening. It was in the basement of a townhouse, and the ceilings were just barely higher than me, and I'm only 5'9". I had to stoop to get through the doorway and suddenly felt like, I don't know, Yao Ming?.... Spring: that time of year when one must make a daily decision about whether to wear a jacket or not. It's too cold to go without one in the morning but too warm to wear one in the afternoon. I see both people in shorts and tee shirts and people in winter coats, sometimes standing next to each other. I've tried to compromise by wearing a light jacket, but then I'm both freezing in the morning and sweating in the afternoon. So much for moderation in all things.... Why don't I.... keep a running tab of what the world owes me?

Researchers find ceiling height can affect how a person thinks, feels and acts (via boynton)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

2 A.I. chatbots converse

I'm sorry, Dave....

A.I. programs are not just talking to us, they're talking to each other. And they are better conversationalists than you might think. Check out this article about loquacious chatterbots ALICE and Jabberwacky:

I Chat, Therefore I Am

Sample chat:

ALICE: Who created you?
Jabberwacky: My mother gave birth to me. Is that what you mean?
A: Jabberwacky, I meant exactly what I said.
J: Do you believe in God?
A: Of course I believe in God.
J: Why do you believe in God?
A: The Bible tells us to believe in God.
J: That's circular reasoning.
A: I'm glad we have that all cleared up.

Well, I've heard far more inane conversations on the subway.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Word of the Day: saccade

Word of the Day

saccade (n)

A small, rapid movement of the eye

"[He] could feel in his skin each saccade of her olive, her amber, her coffee-colored eyes."
--Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow

I've never been able to plow my way through a Pynchon mega-novel, sad to say. I've been trying to read V for years. I have read the slender The Crying of Lot 49 and liked it, though. Where's the Reader's Digest when you need it?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry

Journal Square

My tired feet circle the dry fountain.
Christopher Columbus, his back to me,
points forever at a doughnut shop.
Nothing to do here but sweat.

People sit expressionless,
like plants on the cool barriers,
staring, hording shade
on this radioactive plaza.

Shops have collapsed at the corner.
The Square is waiting,
its theaters looking back, back
even as a colossus is stirring.

Traffic idles, expectant at the lights.
The walk sign counts to zero.
Hurry, hurry -- a train is coming,
pulling time like a prisoner's chain.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Subway Etiquette

Subway Etiquette

How to ride the subway (or PATH train). The rules of the, rails.

Marilyn or Norma Jean?

Reinterpreting Marilyn

"There was no such person as Marilyn Monroe....[She was] invented, like an author creates a character."
--Richard Avedon

Rethinking a portrait of Marilyn -- or is it Norma Jean?

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Word of the Day: gwok

Word of the Day

gwok (n)

a fool, simpleton or clumsy person

"Conceited gowk! Puff'd up wi' windy pride!"
--Robert Burns, "The Brigs Of Ayr"

According to the Urban Dictionary, this word can also mean "ugly"; it can also be a synonym for money. In Cantonese, it literally means "country." Hmmm. A foolish, ugly money country...