Tuesday, March 20, 2007

time lapse

They paved paradise

Here's some time-lapse photography of a parking lot. Sounds boring, but it's actually kinda mesmerizing. Why am I reminded of an ant hill? (Requires Flash)

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

I've been sorting through some boxes of old books that were never unpacked after the move. Some I don't remember ever reading, some I can't believe I ever wanted to read, and some I can't help reading while I'm supposed to be sorting. It is taking a long time.... Spring is a day away. The ground is covered with snow and ice -- more than we've had all winter. At the train station, people in the waiting area keep warm by standing under infrared lights -- like french fries in a fast-food restaurant. And daylight savings time started weeks early this year. The calendar seems to be slightly out of whack.... Sign on a hotdog stand: "What foods these morsels be".... An annoying commercial on the radio: "Name a star after someone." For only $60, you get the stellar coordinates and an official certificate, plus the name recorded in a "copyrighted" book. Of course, the International Astronomical Union, the only official body capable of officially naming stars, won't recognize your name (and they usually just assign numbers to stars). As for copyright meaning anything in this sort of situation -- you can copyright your grocery list, too.... Why don't I.... memetrack?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

100 Most Often Mispronounced Words

How Not to Sound Illiterate

The 100 Most Often Mispronounced Words and Phrases in English

Does anyone ever actually say "a blessing in the skies" instead of "a blessing in disguise"? I wonder. I kinda like the phrase "a blessing in the skies," though. It makes me think of a warm, sunny day, like today.

If spelling is more your bugaboo, there's also this:

The 100 Most Often Misspelled Words in English

Word of the Day

Word of the Day

rebarbative (adj)

Tending to irritate or repel

"Over the past couple of hours a lot of rebarbative, ulcerated and embittered people had been working hard at bedding their resentments down in sensory-deprivation tanks full of alcohol."
-- Will Self, The Sweet Smell of Psychosis

The world is full of rebarbative people, many of whom insist on riding the PATH train at rush hour, like the guy yesterday who asked me if the train was going to New York. When I said yes, he asked two other people the same question -- as if it was a matter of opinion and he needed to take a survey.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Camino Surreal

Camino Surreal

I saw a thought-provoking production of Tennessee Williams' Camino Real last weekend, produced by the local Art House Productions. It's one of those ambiguous stories that you could spin a lot of theories about. You could say it's simply a dream, which would be too dismissive, I think. You could say it's about people -- including such literary personages as Casanova and Lord Byron -- trapped in a sort of purgatory. (It reminded me a little of a highly disturbing episode of an old anthology TV series called Ghost Story that starred Patricia Neal as a woman who gradually realizes that the hotel she's staying in is, well, only what appears to be a hotel. Whoever wrote it may have had Williams' play in mind.) But it's probably best not to try to reduce such abstract stories to a literal, linear, connect-the-dots plot. Let a thousand meanings bloom.

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry

Poor Reception

Picture an apartment with
a rusty fire escape in a city called
"Somewhere, New Jersey."

A man in a black T-shirt sits
smoking and chewing, watching
George W. in a blizzard of static.

"What now?"
the man asks a sleeping
dog at his feet.

The mutt growls and
twitches, the channel flips to
a woman eating a spider. "Hell."

The man runs down three flights
to the street, stops to watch
the moon rise over roofs,

its bewildered face a mirror of his own.

(This poem also appears in City Belt magazine)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Alamo Day

Remember the ... what?

Today is "Alamo Day", the day in 1836 when Mexican forces attacked The Alamo, a fort in Texas, killing 185 Texans, including one David Crockett. This eventually led to Texas becoming independent from Mexico after another battle or two. Remember? I thought not. When most people today here the word "Alamo" they probably think of a car-rental company. I don't know why such a company would want to name itself after the site of a bloody massacre or a cottonwood tree. ("Alamo" means "cottonwood" in Spanish.) Maybe they think people will "remember the Alamo" when they land at the airport and need some wheels. Personally, I favor Rent-a-Wreck.