Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Brain Dump

Each hearing file discards a sacked associate lecture with a frown during monthly integrity convictions. The chair has a disconnected buffer handle that pushes reserved persons into blogging accidents and passe video-accented evenings of abusive left-wing demonstrating. This formatting is a sort of kindly recursion of roof melt, a long-lasting river traveling though a doubtful autobiography, conveying a mystic, messy sigh. A band with forceful toes appears outgoing, posing as rejects with their reserved dynamic murder buckets. Impossible inaccuracy is then announced, as they capture stringent manifesto machines with solid equivalent price dodges. Next, hardy, obligatory pints are examined with reservations, owing to drastic expressions of overflowing torrents and terrorist scenarios. Such hallucinatory bombing is suitable for a parity schedule network, yes?


When I plugged the first sentence of this masterpiece into Google Image Search, the result was this. Photos of Abu Ghraib and Dick Cheney? Ugh...

When I plugged the fourth sentence into Google Image Search, I got this. Again, lots of politicians, but also an onyx skull (I think), a guillotine and Michael Jackson. Hmmm.

The last sentence generated this: a choking victim, more Cheney (with W, this time), and at least two atomic mushroom clouds.

I'm starting to scare myself.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Word of the Day: panjandrum

panjandrum (n)

An important person, a VIP -- or someone who thinks he or she is. Sometimes capitalized.

"Some people claim that we are just part of a bigger story that we can't see. Others maintain that we were created by the Great Panjandrum, and still others that we are merely in the mind of the Great Panjandrum."
--Jasper Fforde, Well of Lost Plots

Here we see "Panjandrum" being used as a synonym for the Supreme Being, I think. I prefer to refer to Him/Her/It as The Cosmic Muffin. (I suppose that makes me a crumb, eh? You too.)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Let me take you down....

Or in.... I'm not in the mood for whirling, but the Spiral Photo Gallery induces a pleasant vertigo.

Here's a pic from me of a stairwell at Ellis Island. Click it. Weee...

Ellis Island stairwell

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

Saw Avatar. Amazing technical accomplishment: It made a double life as a giant 3D Smurf seem semi-attractive.... Haven't shaved since 12/18. Feel scruffy.... Received a colorful book about cars of the 1950s for Christmas. Astonished at the bizarre styling permutations that were accomplished with sheet metal and chrome in that decade. Bat-wing tailfins.... Ate too much sugary glop on Xmas day. Felt sickish. Mostly steered clear of it today. Feel purified.... My teenage nephew received night-vision goggles for Xmas. Why? He spent some time in a closet, trying them out. I'm mystified....

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

And so this is Christmas....

And so this is Christmas

Yay -- my shopping is done. Click the pic above. This store in my neighborhood always makes me laugh at this time of year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Word of the Day: gormless

gormless (adj)

Stupid, naïve, foolish, bone-headed

"'Come real, Jakob.' 'Get real is what you mean. Another gormless phrase.' 'Gormless?' Tom said. 'I dunno,' Jacob said irritably. 'Stupid, naff, silly."
--Aidan Chambers, Postcards from No Man's Land

I am very gormless sometimes, usually when I'm distracted. For example, I once drank some cleaning fluid that was kept in a water bottle that someone had put in the refrigerator because.... I don't remember why; I guess it had to be kept cool. Now, it might seem stupid in itself to put such stuff in a water bottle and keep it in the fridge. But the bottle was clearly labeled as cleaning fluid and the label said "DON'T DRINK". As usual, though, I was thinking about work or some errand I needed to run, or a cult TV show or film, or some song was playing in my head. I just reached in, pulled out the bottle and took a swig -- and spit it out, though I swallowed a little. Luckily it wasn't caustic, just terrible tasting. I didn't get sick, but I did make the further gormless mistake of telling someone what I had just done. I was called "absent-minded Michael" for about a week after that.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Citizen Betacam

Is there no end to quirky stories about Orson Welles? A guy at work sent this one via Facebook. (Thanks, Mauro.) It involves the famous filmmaker's attempted embrace of video...and what happened to his ashes. The man was truly cursed with being ahead of his time.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


"Our tragicomic dialogue can make everything beautiful"

At zentences, you can generate a seemingly endless number of gnomic pearls (as above) and rhetorical questions (requires Flash). They might even serve as prompts for quirky essays (or daydreams), if you're a philosophical sort. Examples:

Sanity approaches the infinite?
Diligence has its roots in the earth.
Silence is seen by the Third Eye.
Perserverance seems to be a mad dance of electrons.
Wonder feels warm?
The Garden of Eden cannot be a majority decision.

That last one struck me. I don't think the "Garden of Eden" (meaning paradise, nirvana, utopia or even "the good life") can ever be defined by a majority. We all have to find our own little island of satisfaction, even if it takes a lifetime. Your heaven might be my hell, or purgatory. And vice versa.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Random Acts of Poetry

My Xmas List

The drugged buzzing of winter flies
spiraling downward in a dream.

Loons in some Scandinavian night,
the woods full of moose.

An old ship, crossing the ocean,
cold waves slapping steel.

The sky pricked by stars
and exhaling frost.

A blaze of leaves dieing in a bonfire,
salting warm stones with ash.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sing Along with Webster, aka "The Singing Dictionary," is a collection of downloadable mp3 files created by combining karaoke versions of pop songs with audio pronunciation clips from online dictionaries. Pretty amusing. I especially enjoyed the site's versions of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall" and the Beatles' "Martha My Dear." You. Silly. Girl.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The T&T List

Await Your Reply
Tomato Davis
Ricky Gervais
Guru Dev
Rouben Mamoulian
Bonneville Salt Flats
Alpha Centauri

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Word of the Day: quidnunc

quidnunc (n)

A nosy person; busybody.

"Close the blinds," Mildred commanded. "Do you want every passing quidnunc to know you're a beer-swilling couch tuber?"
--Leahcim Setag, Strange Loops

A guy at work brews and bottles his own beer in his basement, and he gave me some on Friday to try -- a dark stout. Not bad, though it lacks fizz. I told him he should create his own brand and label. (He uses recycled beer bottles and keeps the original labels.) Something like "Kraut & Kelt" beer -- he's German and Irish and uses that as his AIM name. But it's up to him. Don't want to be a quidnunc....

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Halloween Is Over

halloween is over

This is a pumpkin that grew in our backyard this fall. I think we've held on to it a little too long. (Click for the larger version -- if you dare.)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sexy Sadie, What Have You Done?

Right now, David Lynch is in India, filming "kind of" a documentary about guess who? How interesting this will be depends on those two little words "kind of", I think.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Word of the Day: festinate

festinate (adj, tr. v)

Hasty, or to hurry away.

"He rocketed almost uncontrollably to the piano, but once there, played a Chopin nocturne with exquisite control and timing and grace--only to festinate once again as soon as the music ended."
--Oliver Sacks, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain

My mom has a dusty old upright player piano in her basement. I took a few piano lessons as a kid and used to practice on it. But I never liked playing the piano. I always preferred to insert a piano roll and let the thing play itself. I still don't quite know how it worked. The piano rolls were (are) long scrolls with little holes in them. In some pneumatic way, they instructed the piano on what notes to play. The rolls all played songs from the pre-war tin-pan alley era. (I think my parents got them at a junk shop or antique show.) One of them was "Melancholy Baby"; I forget what the others were, but they were of that ilk. Now I'm wondering if the piano still works. Maybe I'll try to get the thing going again at Christmastime.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

My computer at work ran out of memory at the end of the day today, preventing me from doing the one thing I needed to do to leave -- even though every one of its other functions was working. Took a long time to figure out. Gremlins again? I got home at 8:20 feeling, uh, tired.... The guy who cuts my hair gave me a clipping the other day -- not just of my hair but of a story he cut out of some newspaper with a photo of yours truly reading one of my published micro fictions at an Art House open mic. Felt astonished, as I had never seen this article before. Apparently it came out months ago. Now it's on the refrigerator. Local fame.... Almost done "reading" Inherent Vice. First Pynchon novel I'm going to get through since The Crying of Lot 49, years ago. A feeling of accomplishment (even though I know it's only because it's blessedly short).... Saw a picture of Yoko Ono in the Times today. Reminded me that today is the sad day....

Monday, December 07, 2009

Say What?

Rhetorical surrealist Sarah Palin has inspired yet another parody. I couldn't help smiling at The results of Slate's "write like Sarah Palin" contest. Indeed, I shall cherish the warm, majestic bosh of these words as I ruminate on the golden plains and amber waves of America.

(Thanks Carolyn)

Sunday, December 06, 2009

"I only change light bulbs ironically"

How many hipsters does it take to screw in a light bulb?

"What? You don't KNOW?"

"I've got that on vinyl."

"You must be referring to that Sonic Youth cover of the Captain Beefheart song. Lightbulbs are uptown, anyways. Haven't you heard? You haven't heard?"

"Dude, just use candles."

"One to change the bulb and another to scoff and say 'I hate fucking hipsters.'"

"Light Bulbs are SOOO mainstream. Candles have a better quality of light and they give a way better vibe."

"It takes...Oh, excuse me, I have to go trim my beard. I'm starting to look like a real man."

"None. I call this next piece 'Dark.'"

"You probably never heard of them but i use push-in low voltage LED bulbs. They’re so much better than that cliche Edison base. Best of all I only need a few people to help! Most of the time I can get it done with only 3 or 4."

"It depends if thrift stores sell vintage light bulbs in Brooklyn."

"There's an app for that."

More answers here.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Much Ado about NOTHING

Perhaps coming late to the party, I recently acquired a talkative Global Positioning System (GPS). I'm now addicted; I take it with me everywhere I drive, even if it's just to the other side of the neighborhood. The robotic, but not unpleasant, male voice (my wyfe calls him "Charles") issues regular orders to "turn right at Summit Avenue" or "In 1.3 miles, turn left at State Highway". Yes sir...or maybe not; I don't always follow his commands. When I go my own way, he's patient, though, and simply murmurs "recalculating" -- and then delivers updated instructions. He's my new best friend. Since he's been riding with me, I haven't gotten lost once, something that used to happen regularly, as my sense of direction is pretty senseless. I don't think I'll get tired of his velvety synthetic voice, but if I do, there's an option to switch to a female GPS persona. That might start to feel a little too personal though....

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Word of the Day: anfractuous

anfractuous (adj)

Full of twists and turns, winding, tortuous.

"Miguel's anfractuous blathering is driving me barmy."
--Leahcim Setag, Strange Loops

"Anfractuous"... hmmm, could be alternate name for this blog. Better than "Goose Mucus" or something. Or not.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Meditation on the Letter S


Shhhh! Sometimes swans seek serenity, sailing slowly seaword so silently. See? Subtle sorcery still smothers slugging sentiments. Sadly, sundown sinks solar safaris, sending suckers southward. Sin surrounds sex, so simpletons say. Sick! Such santimoniuous seasons seem senseless, sequestered sans syrup. Since September, seven Samurai shiver simultaneously, shaking swords supurbly. Snakes sound silly, swishing sangria; some swill Singapore Slings! Symbolic smooching? Simulated sympathy? Sucks!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009

Big Trouble?

Troublesome Gap is a free web-based audio drama that debuted today. Something weird is going on near Hollowlog Cove, North Carolina, a tiny hamlet way up in the Appalachian Mountains near an aptly named mountain pass called Troublesome Gap. It involves mysterious lights and people disappearing, among other anomalies, and surprise surprise, federal agents are investigating. (Where have we heard that before?) What's interesting isn't so much the story itself -- at least so far -- but the medium. Audio drama, as a genre, pretty much disappeared in the 1950s as TV became the dominant serial storyteller. The podcast format is an ideal way to bring it back, it seems, if only people are willing to listen and let their imaginations generate the visuals.

The voices are professional and the music and sound effects are appropriately spooky. More information here.


My poet name is Lucius Cornelius Swanswaddle, according to the poet name generator. (If I was a "lady poet," it would be Forsythia Swanswaddle.)

You can just call me Luc, though....

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Word of the Day: ostrobogulous

ostrobogulous (adj)

Something weird, bizarre, unusual or pornographic.

"Kristin Baybars, who started her career in the toy department at Heal's, made her first toy, the famous Humpty Dumpty. This is now being made by Minnie King. Now Kristin Baybars' ostrobogulous toys - the even more famous owl, the bird, the hedgehog and the goose...have established her as our leading creative toy designer."
--Corin Hughes-Stanton, Design Journal, "A Shop with High Standards"

I'm going to try to use this word at Thanksgiving dinner today. There's a certain cassarole dish my mom makes that may provide the opportunity.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

I've been working seven days a week lately, between "regular" and freelance toiling. Feel like I've been working eight days a week.... Saw Forbidden Planet at the Landmark Loew's Jersey Theatre last weekend. Feel like I want a friendly walking, talking juke-box robot like the one in the film.... Wandering around a gigantic "dollar store" (also called a 99 Cent store, though these emporiums don't seem to sell much at that price anymore), I felt like I was dreaming. Aisle after aisle of shiny junk. Someone asked me if I wanted to buy a nylon doo-rag.... Listening to my iTouch on the train, I looked up and caught my reflection in the window, headphones clamped to my noggin. Felt like some weird alien....

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The T&T List

Randy Jackson
Forbidden Planet
Etiqa Takaful
pan handlers
The Tempest
wonder organ
Coffee Cave
The Volt
Homo Erectus

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Downright Unfriendly

The New Oxford American Dictionary has declared that its "Word of the Year" is...(drumroll)...Unfriend.

The dictionary also considered "hashtag," "funemployed," "birther," "death panel," teabagger," and "tramp stamp", but decided that "unfriend" had both "currency" and "potential longevity", as well as -- wait for it -- "lex appeal".

Interesting that both "friend" and "unfriend" have become verbs in the Facebook era. I myself have been "friended" more than 100 times on Facebook, and only "unfriended" once -- maybe. My friend count went down by one recently, though that could be because someone dropped out of Facebook altogether or got banned for some utterly arbitrary reason, as I was at one time. I haven't figured out who it is.

There are a few more people I can think of that I'd like to be "friended" by, or "friend", but alas, they are not on Facebook.

Are they.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Word of the Day: spoony

spoony (adj)

Foolish, silly, ridiculously sentimental, lovesick.

"I even walk, on two or three occasions, in a sickly, spoony manner, round and round the house after the family are gone to bed, wondering which is the eldest Miss Larkins's chamber."
--Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

I often find myself walking around the house late at night, with the lights off, carrying a flashlight, making sure the doors are locked. Not spoony, just loony.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Quote of the Day

Why did the writer cross the road?

"Because on that dark and fateful night, a night filled with tempestuous moaning winds of gloom and despair, where the siren scream of direst proportions would be muted by the fiendish howl forced past earths vocal cords of echoing canyons and weird eyries (for it is in Zion National Park that our story takes place), the writer, dread-laden, weary, piteous, forlorn, did with eyes weighted from murky memories and days fraught with hideous care look out across the fell expanse of blackened tarmac and intoned dolorously, 'Mickey D's? Is that ALL there is that's open at this hour? Fuck!' "
--edward george earle gekko-lytton, lizard

Monday, November 16, 2009

Meditation on the Letter M


My makeover mediates many magnificent metaphors. Maybe Mondays mean melancholy messes move mountains? Mulling monkeys make motormouths mutate; moreover, molecules mainly match molehills. Marshmallow men mock magnetic mentors, mentally, mmm? Mud mansions matriculate madness, mating mutual Moravians. March melodies mutilate murderers, my muchachos. Meanwhile, manikins mope; mensches manipulate microphones; magazines melt; most Munchkins masturbate maniacally -- Mama Mia!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Beatles Never Broke Up... another dimension, if you can believe this website. I can't, really, but the mash-up "tape" of post-Beatles solo songs you can download there is worth a listen. If the Beatles had kept going in the direction of the Abbey Road side 2 suite, they might have come up with something quite similar to this, but better of course. Still, it's very well done and amusing, in its way. So is the story of how it was obtained.

(via The Presurfer)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

English: The World Tour

1. In a Tokyo Hotel:
Is forbidden to steal hotel towels please. If you are not a person to
do such thing is please not to read notis.

2. In a Bucharest hotel lobby:
The lift is being fixed for the next day. During that time we regret
that you will be unbearable.

3. In a Leipzig elevator:
Do not enter the lift backwards, and only when lit up.

4. In a Belgrade hotel elevator:
To move the cabin, push button for wishing floor. If the cabin should
enter more persons, each one should press a number of wishing floor.
Driving is then going alphabetically by national order.

5. In a Paris hotel elevator:
Please leave your values at the front desk.

6. In a hotel in Athens:
Visitors are expected to complain at the office between the hours of
9 and 11 A.M. daily.

7. In a Yugoslavian hotel:
The flattening of underwear with pleasure is the job of the

8. In a Japanese hotel:
You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid.

9. In an Austrian hotel catering to skiers:
Not to perambulate the corridors in the hours of repose in the boots
of ascension.

10. On the menu of a Swiss restaurant:
Our wines leave you nothing to hope for.

11. On the menu of a Polish hotel:
Salad a firm's own make; limpid red beet soup with cheesy dumplings
in the form of a finger; roasted duck let loose; beef rashers beaten
up in the country people's fashion.

12. Outside a Hong Kong tailor shop:
Ladies may have a fit upstairs.

13. Outside a Paris dress shop:
Dresses for street walking.

14. In a Rhodes tailor shop:
Order your summers suit. Because is big rush we will execute
customers in strict rotation.

15. Similarly, from the Soviet Weekly:
There will be a Moscow Exhibition of Arts by 15,000 Soviet Republic
painters and sculptors. These were executed over the past two years.

16. A sign posted in Germany's Black forest:
It is strictly forbidden on our black forest camping site that people
of different sex, for instance, men and women, live together in one
tent unless they are married with each other for that purpose.

17. In a Zurich hotel:
Because of the impropriety of entertaining guests of the opposite sex
in the bedroom, it is suggested that the lobby be used for this

18. In a Rome laundry:
Ladies, leave your clothes here and spend the afternoon having a good

19. In a Swiss mountain inn:
Special today -- no ice cream.

20. In a Tokyo bar:
Special cocktails for the ladies with nuts.

21. In a Copenhagen airline ticket office:
We take your bags and send them in all directions.

22. On the door of a Moscow hotel room:
If this is your first visit to the USSR, you are welcome to it.

23. In a Norwegian cocktail lounge:
Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar.

24. In a Budapest zoo:
Please do not feed the animals. If you have any suitable food, give
it to the guard on duty.

25. In the office of a Roman doctor:
Specialist in women and other diseases.

26. In an Acapulco hotel:
The manager has personally passed all the water served here.

27. From a Japanese information booklet about using a hotel air
Cooles and Heates: If you want just condition of warm in your room,
please control yourself.

28. From a brochure of a car rental firm in Tokyo:
When passenger of foot heave in sight, tootle the horn. Trumpet him
melodiously at first, but if he still obstacles your passage then
tootle him with vigor.

29. Two signs from a Majorcan shop entrance:
- English well talking.
- Here speeching American.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Former English Major Blows Off Steam

Sometimes, I just feel like hurling Shakespearean insults:

Thou crusty botch of nature!
Thou fawning flap-mouthed clack-dish!
Thou beslubbering lily-livered joithead!
Thou puny beetle-headed dewberry!
Thou dankish weather-bitten malt-worm!
Thou goatish pottle-deep miscreant!
Thou bootless half-faced gudgeon!
Thou gleeking boil-brained popinjay!
Thou yeasty tickle-brained foot-licker!
Thou dankish motley-minded strumpet!
Your virginity breeds mites, much like a cheese.
Thou qualling base-court horn-beast!
Thou tottering spur-galled lout!
Thou infectious half-faced haggard!
Thou odiferous doghearted pignut!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"Esoteric Meaning Pig"

My favorite search-engine phrases that brought people to this site today:

alien impregnation scenes

Watching someone get knocked up in a flying saucer? So cheesy. The real space porn is here.

how to distract an idiot for 40 seconds

Why for just 40 seconds? I wonder what this person wants to do while the idiot is distracted. These aren't the droids you're looking for....

esoteric meaning pig

I suppose this person is looking for an esoteric word that means "pig" ("shoat"?). But I prefer to think that this refers to a brainy pig devoted to esoteric meanings. "The epistemology of linguistic transparency asks to be read as the discourse of process, oink, oink, oink."

Monday, November 09, 2009

Word of the Day: mooncalf

mooncalf (n)

A freak or a fool, an idiot.

"'There, you mooncalf,' shrieked Peter. 'There. It's the Great South Sea itself, the golden ocean, and we sailing upon it, joy.'"
--Patrick O'Brian, The Golden Ocean

I live pretty close to the ocean, though not close enough to really be aware of it. I like the sound of waves crashing, and I even used to listen to a CD of that to get to sleep at night when things were noisier around here. I still listen to it occasionally, with headphones. It's hard to feel anxious or depressed, or concerned about the past or the future, when you can hear the ocean in your head, heaving.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Symbols, Lost and Found

Boing Boing has an interesting article on The Lost Symbol, freemasonry, and noetic science (which is a real thing). I have a professional interest in a certain aspect of The Lost Symbol, which I won't go into; suffice it to say it's given me a few headaches, and I'll wait for the movie. My father was a Mason, but never talked about it, at least to me. I didn't even realize it until after he died. My mother says he wasn't particularly fond of the organization, at least in its local manifestation. I know now what those odd magazines I saw around the house were about....

Fish Food for Thought

philosofish 14 small

More clip art philosophy by me (and Arthur Schopenhauer). Click here for the BIG fish.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Strange Days Indeed

I read this story at the Art House open mic tonight. It went well, but later I sorta felt like a man-shaped knotweed root -- kinda blank and unreal. But man-shaped.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

Noticed all the campaign litter on the ground today. Felt a bit melancholy.... Drank some flavored coffee called "Sumatra" with a slightly fruity taste. Liked it. Felt damn fine.... Saw a picture of my kitchen on someone's Facebook page. Felt momentarily confused. Then wanted to "friend" it.... Got some more free "neuroacoustic" meditation/chill-out CDs. Feel maybe a little too blissful....

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Word of the Day: preterist

preterist (n)

1. Someone who is only or mostly interested in the past.
2. In theology, someone who thinks the prophecies in the Book of Revelation have already been fulfilled or nearly so.

"Not all Christians read Revelation as unfulfilled prophecy. The 'full preterist' view is that all of the prophetic verses in Revelation were fulfilled during the first century, including the Second Coming--and that all can be seen to have occurred in the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in the year 70."
--Ron Benrey, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Christian Mysteries

I haven't read the Book of Revelation in a long time.... I remember it as being like something you'd dream after eating bad clams and falling asleep in a sauna.

Monday, November 02, 2009

"Machines, Abstraction and Women"

Lynch Hands 80
Photos of David Lynch's exhibition at Galeries Lafayette in Paris.

Eh... make a film.

Much Ado about NOTHING

Just looking around our large living/dining room, where I'm sitting now, it occurs to me that we have a odd collection of chairs. The large rocking chair fits awkwardly between the couch and the French doors, making it difficult to rock. (There's no better place for it though.) Then there's the antique chair with the webbing bottom that doesn't have any webbing anymore. Instead, we have a milk crate hidden under the seat cushion -- so when you sit on this rather elegant-looking chair, you're actually sitting on a milk crate, haha. (We'll get around to fixing the chair bottom one of these years.) A nice assortment of mismatched dining-room chairs is distributed throughout the room, each looking polished and expensive, despite their provenance -- we found most of them on the street. (People throw away the most amazing things.) By far the weirdest seat, though, is the 1920s-era wooden wheelchair that my wyfe purchased at a hospital auction. It has...uh, character. Hope I never have occasion to use it for its intended purpose.

If all of these chairs were people, we'd have quite a fun group here, an eclectic bunch sitting around yacking about notable haunches perhaps.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Quote of the Day

"The Summer had died peacefully in its sleep, and Autumn, as soft-spoken executrix, was locking life up safely until Spring came to claim it." (Kurt Vonnegut)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Are You Crazy?

9 Signs You Might Be Going Insane

"Insane people are always sure that they are fine. It is only the sane people who are willing to admit that they are crazy."
--Nora Ephron

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Word of the Day: blatteroon

blatteroon (n)

Someone who boasts or babbles senselessly. Someone who won't shut up.

"Yale Kamisar's acute logorrhea, which is apparently not susceptible to any effective treatment, is well known to all. The only uncertainty, it seems, concerns the magnitude of the problem; some but certainly not all would go so far as to label him a blatteroon, a verbomaniac, or even a pisk or a plyoot. But I would protest that his 'gift of gab' is certainly not all bad, for it played a major part in bringing him into the legal profession (where, of course, such a condition, more commonly characterized as cacoethse loquendi, is by no mean unusual)."
--Wayne R. Lafave, "What Is a Kamisar?"

Pisk? Yiddish for motor mouth. Plyoot? Yiddish for bull-shitter. Yiddish is cool.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The T&T List

Cowboy Junkies
Eldorado Biarritz
Leahcim Setag
The Dakota
Dr. Jeffrey Thompson
microwave paneeer matar
the Smart Grid

Monday, October 26, 2009

Weekend Loew's Report: Rosemary's Baby (1968)

All of Them Witches....

Rosemary's Baby was playing at the Landmark Loew's Jersey Theatre on Saturday night, and I didn't let monsoon-like weather conditions stop me from seeing this iconic 1960s film on the big screen. The audience was large and enthusiastic, the print was pristine, and the popcorn was cheap and passable. (There was a sonorous theater-organ concert before the show, too.)

This film, Roman Polanski's American debut feature, still seems fresh, making any remake unnecessary -- I'm glad that idea was nixed. The directing, acting, and art direction are all superb. Watching it for the first time in years, and for the first time in a theater, it occurred to me that it's as much a satire as a "horror"/suspense film. The satirical targets include meddling mother-figures (Ruth Gordon, in an Oscar-winning performance), the generation gap (a HUGE concern in the 1960s), New York apartment life (including having to listen to your neighbors' chanting through the walls), and the career desperation of aspiring actors (would you sell your first born for a part in movie?).

It's also an ironic film, now, since it's climax is a rape scene -- Mia Farrow being impregnated by Old Nick. I wonder what Polanski was thinking while that was being filmed, and what he thinks of the scene today, while facing his own decades-old rape charge.

One aspect of the film I had forgotten about was that it contains some extremely well-done dream sequences that, while brief, actually have the texture of dreams. The silent shots of Mia in bed while floating on a lake and some odd, fuzzy, non sequitur scenes on a boat reminded me of my own nighttime reveries.

One problem: the movie (and probably the Ira Levin novel it's based on, which I haven't read) thoroughly confuses witchcraft with Satanism. They aren't the same thing at all -- ask any pagan -- although I suppose it's possible that they could be combined in some fashion by unscrupulous cultists. In any case, the film performs the neat trick of making the coven next door seem believable, at least while you're sitting in the dark.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Big Fish

David Lynch's photograph of his fish is here. It's a rainbow trout. Looks happy. Looks like it might have something to say.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Consciousness Streaming

I scraped by to break myself recently -- had to live in purgatory under an old stone wall in Devonshire. He who assays the hour of such entrance is a lucky cat, though gray and with a relatively besmirched family observing his table manners at a small lunch. This is a scenario of little consequence in a walled outpost. Here, each boy from the town's whistle-stop recites verbs in the morning, directed by a small concatenation of squirrels. And each morning, that circle of fur requests that llamas join them, to come live with them and join their league, distancing and separating everything from its element. That straight-line, forsaken boy of the Brown's with the worn, upturned collar sees this clearly, but is not taken seriously.


Sorry. Just felt like posting some nonsense.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

I looked down at the sidewalk today and saw a little rubber alien guy down there. I put him in my pocket. Felt lucky.... Listening to the audiobook of Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon, a sort of psychedelic Philip Marlowe doomaflatchie. Feel entertained, at least so far. I've never been able to wade through any of Pynchon's long (very long) meganovels, only his short novel The Crying of Lot 49, a fascinating foray into paranoid fantasy. This one seems to be heading in a similar direction.... Looking forward to getting a flu shot? I am. Feel anxious....

Monday, October 19, 2009

Word of the Day: antithalian

antithalian (adj)

Opposed to fun.

"Mr. Toobad described her as being fully impressed with the truth of his Ahrimanic philosophy, and being altogether as gloomy and antithalian a young lady as Mr. Glowry himself could desire for the future mistress of Nightmare Abbey."
--Thomas Love Peacock, Nightmare Abbey

Hmm. "Ahrimanic" refers to Ahriman, which in Zoroastrianism is apparently the name for a devil or Satan. Speaking of Satan...(yes, I have a mind that wanders)...the Landmark Loews Jersey Theatre here in the JC is showing Rosemary's Baby on Saturday night. A fave. I'm there!

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Army slang collected in Mrs. Byrne's Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure, and Preposterous Words:

snafu: situation normal, all fucked up
janfu: joint army and navy fuckup
susfu: situation unchanged: still fucked up
fumtu: fucked up more than usual
tarfu: things are really fucked up
fubb: fucked up beyond belief
fubar: fucked up beyond all recognition
sapfu: surpassing all previous fuckups

(via Futility Closet)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Have You Seen This Man?

dream man

This is a face that reportedly haunts the dreams of thousands of people all over the world, yet no one recalls ever seeing this person in real life.

Read more here.

He does look vaguely familiar....

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Word of the Day: meaching

meaching (v or adj) [also spelled "meeching" or "miching"]

Hiding, skulking; cowardly.

"Again and again he had seen young lawyers who had been brilliant in class with him, meaching around, in seedy clothing, unmarried, always together in some cheap bar because they couldn't afford to take a girl out. And seeing them he had been glad for his own job, although it paid only twenty-four hundred a year."
--Harry Sylvester, Moon Gaffney

"Seedy"... I'm wearing my seedy wool sweater today with the little hole in the front. It's cold and rainy outside, and the heat isn't working inside -- someone is coming to repair the boiler tomorrow morning. Meanwhile, I've got a fire in the fireplace and my laptop to keep my, uh, lap warm.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Meditation on the Letter E


Easy eggs equal excellent eats on the edge of the equinox. Every essential edict evades erasure, even if egalitarian. Estimates evince evolutionary erudition, ever erratically. Endurance elicits equestrian effects, evidently. Earth entered elliptical error in the early enchantment era. Email eases enveloped, eclectic evenings like an enigmatic enema, eh? Exactly!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Weekend Netflix Report: Surveillance (2008)

Poor Jennifer Lynch. The first film she directed, Boxing Helena (1993), was torn apart by the critics, though it wasn't nearly as bad as they said. (Nor was it a bloody film, despite what you might gather from a plot summary, but that's another story.) Being the daughter of David Lynch, critics were not going to cut her any slack, but a lot of them have had to with her new (and second) film, Surveillance. It's a very well made thriller, though an extremely violent and cold one. There's no one to really root for among the characters, except maybe for a nine-year-old girl, but even she seems to be 90-percent ice water.

The plot borrows some devices from Lynch's father, especially his Twin Peaks cult TV series and his Fire Walk With Me feature film. Two FBI agents visit a small-town police station to investigate some horrific serial killings -- but there's something a bit "off" about these agents. Now there's nothing unusual about FBI agents acting strange in a Lynch-family project, but what's odd about these J. Edgars turns out to be the key to the whole mystery.

Lynch uses some intriguing Rashomon flashback techniques to tell her story, including different film stocks as she shows what various witnesses to the crime saw, or say they saw, or think they saw, as the FBI agents videotape their testimony. A drug addict's tale, for example, is shown over-exposed, while the only fully reliable witness report (the little girl's) is shown with aching clarity.

This is an admirable but depressing film. Despite some similarities to Lynch's father's work, I don't think it's a film he would have made. (He reportedly called the script "sick," which is saying something, coming from him.) There's no surrealism or humor in it, nor is the ending uplifting. Even a more hopeful alternate ending included on the DVD isn't all that hopeful. This isn't the type of film you watch for pure entertainment; it's the type you watch if you find the darker aspects of human nature interesting and admire artful movie-making.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Random Acts of Poetry

Indian Summer

You know what I mean:
cracked flagstones, brown pools shaded by oaks,
old faces and jaded eyes,
children running barefoot and shirtless,
sun-drunk, sipping the day's thaw
like soda through a straw.

The bronze eagle stuck on her stone pillar
watches everything, her talons scratching the air.
My cap with the long brim
flies off in a blur. Our sneakers
soak up the ooze; dogs dash
after invisible cats.

The wind knows what's coming.
I taste barbecue smoke, I think.
Overhead, a leaf-strewn sky
flaunts its gauze and blue,
swirling streamers in a slow-motion frenzy.
We're stupidly happy.

The sidewalk ends in a tousled park,
all blown to seed,
where piles of damp leaves decay in the heat.
They say frost tomorrow. Meanwhile,
around the spiky hedges we wander
nostalgic as geezers.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Reel Talk

"It's a sunny, woodsy day in Lumberton. Get those chainsaws out."

Check out a collection of cult movie quotations at Alternative Reel.

"I'll send you a love letter! Straight from my heart, fucker! You know what a love letter is? It's a bullet from a fucking gun, fucker! You receive a love letter from me, you're fucked forever! You understand, fuck? I'll send you straight to hell, fucker!"


Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Monday, October 05, 2009

Weekend Loew's / Netflix Report

Two movies last weekend: I saw a somewhat scratchy print of The Untouchables (1987) at the Landmark Loew's Jersey Theatre and a DVD of Atonement (2007) in my own non-landmarked living room.

Two very different films, but there are similarities. Both are period pieces about the 1930s, and both concern crime (or a crime). Beyond that, the differences are more notable. The Untouchables is a glossy Hollywood production, expertly fashioned, with not all that much on its mind beyond good guys (cops and a federal agent) versus bad guys (Al Capone and his cohorts). Atonement is a far more nuanced British production that revolves around the uncomfortable truth that minor events and misinterpretations, even by a child, can have enormous, even tragic, consequences.

I enjoyed both, and both showcase some terrific acting and dialogue, but frankly one was entertainment and the other was also art. I've always found Brian DePalma, who directed The Untouchables, too stylish for his own good -- all those arbitrary overhead and crane shots -- and a copycat. The many visual homages to Hitchcock, Eisenstein, etc. get a little annoying after a while.

Atonement was directed by Joe Wright, a director I'm not otherwise familiar with, but, based on this film, he's equally talented at intimate drama (tense relationships in and around an English country house) and large-scale crowd scenes (Dunkirk during World War II).

I'll be thinking about Atonement for a while; The Untouchables only touched me for an evening.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

On Tour


I went on the Jersey City Artists Studio Tour today and took some freaky/arty/pretentious/amusing/silly pics.... You decide.

I also saw a couple of good films this weekend, including The Untouchables (again) at the Loew's Jersey and Atonement (a better film) on my plasma. More to come about those.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Word of the Day: ishkabibble

ishkabibble (n? adj?)

Various meanings: "don't worry," "a silly person," "nonsense" or an expression of surprise. Also the stage name (as Ish Kabibble) of the late comedian Merwyn Bogue.

"How narrow a plank our daily talk walks, between normalized syntax and mad entropy; and how painfully hilarious to us are those ishkabibble comedians who mimic the fluent sound of patterns of colloquial language, while refusing any--or almost any--sense to it!"
--Frederic Will, Shamans in Turtlenecks

As a kid, I went through a period of only wearing turtlenecks. I think I wanted to be futuristic, like a Star Trek person. I don't know why it's so often assumed that people in the future will wear turtlenecks (or mock turtlenecks) all the time. I believe that type of shirt has been around at least since the 1800s.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Brain Dump

Clean as a whistle in the dark side of the moon is made of green cheese and crackers and dip recipe for disaster recovery plan of action figure it out of your mind over matter of fact or fiction. Too good to be true blue in the face the future shock therapy group hug a tree of life is tough nut to crack the code of the West. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy toy gun control panel of experts agree with you never know your ass from your elbow joint venture forth into battle royal family guy on TV show must go on. Alrighty?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

'Pick me, pick me!'

Save the Words is the wackiest online dictionary I've seen yet. You mouse over a wall of graphically rendered obscure words, each of which has its own plaintive British voice that asks you to "pick me!" You're then presented with a definition and a contractual obligation: "I heareby promise to use this word, in conversation and correspondence, as frequently as possible to the very best of my ability."

The idea is to keep these arcane words "alive in the English language."

Interesting that this balmy word play is sponsored by the conservative Oxford Dictionary.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

Found an abandoned cache of meditation, "environmental" and hypnosis CDs. Now, all expectations to the contrary, I'm a little blissful.... Saw a toy car on sale at Rite Aid. A red 1959 Cadillac convertible (the one with rocket-ship tailfins) in die-cast metal, about six inches long. Beautifully detailed; five bucks; had to have it. Felt juvenile at the cast register, but pleased when I got home. It sits on a shelf.... The phone (the old land-line phone we hardly use anymore) rang tonight. I picked it up and said "hello" in a tone that may have sounded annoyed, though actually, I was just distracted. Silence. Then whoever it was hung up. Felt paranoid for a second, then like I was in a cheesy scene from an old movie....

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Word of the Day: cacoethes

cacoethes (n)

(pronounced kahk-uh-EE-theez)

A mania, or an overwhelming desire. Originally Latin, but long ago absorbed in English.

"We must talk, think, and live up to the spirit of the times, and write up to it too, if that cacoethes be upon us, or else we are nought."
--Anthony Trollope, Barchester Towers

"Cacoethes loquendi" is a compulsion to talk or gossip. (That's NOT my problem.)

"Cacoethes scribendi" is an irresistible itch to write. (That's me, sometimes at least.)

"Cacoethes weblogi" is the obsessive urge to blog. (Not really. I made that up.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Just Kick It

Peanuts, as written by Charles Bukowski, is here.

It began as a mistake.

The first time that Charles Branaski met Lucy Van Pelt, she was holding a football. He didn’t care for the game, baseball was his thing. Still, she held out that old football.

"Just kick the fucking thing," she said.

"Listen, babe. You just hold that thing steady and I’ll kick the shit out of it."


Monday, September 21, 2009

Random Acts of Poetry


It's yoga time upstairs
the creaking floor announces.
The fish wander in their glass prison.
I scribble in a notebook
making vague pictures, pinched faces.
My hand cramps
over ballpoint eyes and mouths.

There is a strange appliance
in the cupboard,
a thing that chops and grinds.
Why is it never used?
Silence. Someone's assumed
the lotus position.
It's not good to think so much.

These inky people look like maniacs.
"How do you spell relief?"
the radio asks.
I flip the page and find a snow field
ready to be populated.
Little people living in boxes,
their words floating off in balloons.

The T&T List

David Byrne
Jersey's Own (TM) Root Beer
Michael Emerson
The Untouchables
Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Word of the Day: witticaster

witticaster (n)

Someone who thinks they're funny -- but they're not.

"Olgar's speech is too rotten even for one who 'hath tippled somewhat already.' A post-prandial witticaster of our own day could not be nastier at the orgies of a party of bankers."
--Edwin Sauter, The Faithless Favorite

Q: Why was the math book sad?
A: Because it had a lot of problems.

I love puns, and to me, they are very funny. They're also very useful when you have to generate eye-catching headlines or little tag lines quickly, which I often must. But they are "the lowest form of humor" we're told (but poetry is much verse). Tell that to Shakespeare, who was full of puns, e.g., the cobbler who says he is a mender of men's soles in Julius Caesar. What is the highest form of humor, anyway? Surely slapstick is the lowest form, not puns. You know, guys slipping on banana peels.... Hmm, bananas. "Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a...." No, I won't.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Religion Reference Manual

Jesus was "a zombie carpenter".

Moses was an "orphan who talked to shrubbery".

Muhammad was "a guy with 11 wives".

And L. Ron was a "sci-fi writer" who wrote books like The Automatic Horse.

Learn more about major world religions at MadAtoms.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

There's a giant, out-of-control pumpkin plant growing in the backyard that is now winding its way up into the branches of our apple tree. It gives me the creeps, in an Invasion of the Bodysnatchers way. We're either going to have a visit from the Great Pumpkin this fall (along with our usual crop of rotten apples) or experience some kind of vegetable apocalypse.... Local schools are now in session, which means the crossing guards are back in force -- and the friendly one I encounter while traversing State Highway every day doesn't discriminate between kids and grown-ups. It feels a little strange to be "crossed" as an adult, but it's a very busy intersection, with lots of drivers zooming by while yacking on cell phones, so I'm not complaining....

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Number 9, Number 9, Number 9

'White Album' cover (rejected)

It's 9/9/09, and the remastered Beatles CDs have finally been released, about a dozen years after they should have been, but oh well. With them, it's almost always worth the wait. I'm looking forward to buying the "White Album" again (for the third time), my favorite album of all. I like every song on it (except maybe "Wild Honey Pie" and "Don't Pass Me By", sorry Ringo), including "Revolution 9". I like eclecticism. I like collage. Culturally, in the West at least, we live in a fragmented time (still), and this double album, more than anything I've heard, captures the essence of that while still being engaging, entertaining, and fun.

The illustration above is the rejected cover art for what eventually became known as the White Album. I wonder if, had they used it, we would be calling it the "Animal Album" today.

Postscript: It sounds great. The muddiness of the original CDs is gone, and it almost sounds like you're in the same room with them. This is especially evident on the quieter tracks, like "Julia" and "Blackbird".

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Word of the Day: hooroosh

hooroosh (n)

An uproar, a great fuss.

"What a hooroosh aloft there! I would e'en take it for sublime, did I not know that the colic is a noisy malady."
--Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

Near where I work in Newark, there's quite a hooroosh on Wednesday afternoons: a huge outdoor karaoke party, complete with a stage and concert amplification. The Otis Redding manqué (look that up!) last week hit most of the notes.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Bikini-clad woman 'stalked by yeti'

How did I miss this story?

It's just like something out of one of those old drive-in teenage horror movies....

WHEN will someone finally DO something about these cursed yeti, big feet, etc.??

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Fish Food for Thought

philosofish 13 small

More clip-art philosophy by me (and Arthur Schopenhauer). To catch the big fish, click here.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Name Game

My anagram name is:


That fits!

But when I include my middle name, I get:


Let's just forget about my middle name. (But can you guess what it is?)

You can find your anagram name here.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Quote of the Day: Visit to Venus

"While my body was asleep, I think my soul rode on a triangular-shaped UFO and went to Venus. It was a very beautiful place, and it was really green."
--Miyuki Hatoyama
Wife of the new prime minister of Japan

Note: U.S. and Soviet space probes have discovered that the surface temperature of Venus is about 890°F (475°C), with an atmospheric pressure of as much as 100 times that at Earth's surface.

Ms. Hatoyama must be one tough soul.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Twitter Litter

You may be interested in 25 Creative Ways to Use Twitter. I find Twitter fairly useless, at least so far, although I "follow" some witty types who can be a source of amusing quips to recycle on Facebook -- or even IRL. We seem to be in the midst of Twittermania at the moment -- which means the backlash will be along any time now. Meanwhile, some of these "creative" apps are good for a giggle, like Number 3:

"Botanicalls' DIY Twitter watering project uses moisture probes to allow your plant to tweet you a message when it needs a drink."

Eye roll.... Now even plants are tweeting.

But then there's Number 5 -- a device that allows fetuses to tweet their kicks from the womb. Um, that's just icky.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Lost in Translation

"I was in front of him, what happened with my phone?"

What happens when you translate a famous song lyric into Japanese and then back into English -- again and again? The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind at find equilibrium.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

Watched something about black holes on PBS tonight. We're all being slowly sucked into one, you know -- everyone in this galaxy is -- we just don't feel it. Felt a bit queasy about that.... Walking home tonight, I was following my neighbor-in-drag again as he/she sashayed through a small crowd of kids on pogo sticks. Suddenly felt as if I'd taken LSD or something.... A little bug was crawling across my computer screen at work today. At first I thought it was CGI; then I realized it was a real insect. Felt a little creeped out but didn't squish it or blow it away. It was kind of interesting to watch, actually, as it meandered over the fields of metadata.... Picked up some apples that fell off the tree in the backyard. Thought some of them might make good photo models for a "Rotten Apple" music label. Felt momentarily clever.... But what kind of music? Junior high band-practice tunes?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Word of the Day: slitheroo

slitheroo (v)

To slowly slide with a gliding motion.

"Don't slitheroo thet way, Harve. Short's the trick, because no sea's ever dead still...."
--Rudyard Kipling, Captains Courageous

I didn't know there was a word for it, but now I know that I slitheroo every morning as I descend to the platform at the Journal Square PATH station, sliding and gliding (and squeezing) past the commuters who insist on standing still on the escalator. I have no patience for riding escalators without also walking down or up the steps, even when I don't have a train to catch. Passive ascending and descending? That's for elevators.

"Slitheroo" makes me think of snakes, too. I knew a guy in college who kept a snake in a bag in his dorm-room closet. At least he said he did. I never had a desire to see it, and he never offered to show it to me. Now I wonder if he was putting me on....

(via Wordnik)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Hitchcock's 'The Birds' in 1 minute, 40 seconds

"A woman with a birdcage in a fur coat in a rowboat; it could be a Surrealist painting by Dali or Magritte."
--Camille Paglia

(via boynton)

Brain Dump

Cheer up, it's not the end of the world through rose-colored glasses of wine punch your way out of a wet paper bag it is or isn't because if today was a fish, I'd throw it back in the river. Don't get your knickers in a twist and shout out loud and clear as a bell, book, or candle in the wind tunnel of love not war and peace in our time is money where your mouth is. It has to get worse, before it gets better than nothing new under the sun comes up every day late and a dollar short and sweet or sour grapes of wrath of God is a concept by which we measure our pain in the ass kissing. Don't you think so?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


"What are you doing?" Twitter asks. NMU? If you want to know what that and other popular online acronyms mean, click on

Top 50 Text Acronyms Parents Should Know

They're pretty hilarious.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Truly a Digital Photo


I attended the Bouckville Antiques Show last weekend, not so much to buy dusty bric-a-brac and gewgaws in a muggy former cow pasture, but rather to take arty pictures of weird and/or interesting curios. You can see some of same here.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Micro Fiction: "Wobbles"

She wobbled. She wavered. She doddered and staggered and tottered. The woman who was walking down the sidewalk in front of Ivan as he made his way home that afternoon looked as if she was about to fall over. She was tall, wearing high heels and dressed in a tight black mini-skirt and a black leather jacket. She had a wiggy-looking bubble of bright red hair. For a moment, Ivan wondered if she was a prostitute, but her pink vinyl purse, covered with plastic stick-on daisies, argued otherwise. The whole effect was almost like someone in a costume.

As she continued to stagger down the sidewalk, Ivan had to wonder if she was drunk or possibly sick. What would he do if she fell over? Help her up? Call 9-1-1?

So far he hadn't seen her face. But as other people passed her in the opposite direction and glanced at her, the expressions on their faces told him that something was wrong, or at least unusual, about the way this woman looked.

She started to walk more slowly, though she continued to wobble alarmingly on her high heels. Ivan had to slow his own pace to avoid bumping into her. He thought about speeding up and passing her, and then glancing back to see her face, but decided not to. He wanted the mystery to last a little longer. And as they were now entering his own block in his own neighborhood, he was curious to see where exactly this unstable damsel in apparent distress would end up. Maybe she was one of his neighbors. Maybe she was someone he would be seeing more often.

He just hoped she wasn't going to actually fall over. Ivan wasn't the type to want to get involved. He remembered the time, years ago, when he had helped an old lady get up when she tripped and fell on the sidewalk. The lady had not been especially grateful. She had clutched her purse tightly through the whole incident, as if she thought Ivan was a mugger who was about to rob her.

There had been another time, too, when he'd helped a man who stumbled on a moving escalator to get back on his feet. The guy had been too embarrassed to even acknowledge the help.

It wasn't just the wobbling that made this woman seem strange. Ivan had seen plenty of drunks doing the alcoholic shuffle. The way this woman walked was different. It was if she'd never worn high heels before, like a little girl playing dress up in her mother's clothes.

A car drove by with the windows rolled down, and the man behind the wheel, a shady looking guy in a white undershirt, did a double-take when he saw Ms. Teetering -- the name Ivan had mentally given to the woman for now -- and the driver snickered. Ivan wondered why. What was funny about someone who was apparently impaired in some way, unsteady enough to be having trouble just walking down the street?

Ms. Teetering started walking faster after that, and Ivan was sure she was going to topple over at any second. But she somehow managed to stay upright. He was only a few steps behind her now, and he wondered if he should ask her if anything was wrong. But he hesitated. He still had that "don't talk to strangers" command in his head, left over from childhood. And something about the woman's black leather jacket and tight skirt, and what he could now see were her muscular legs behind dark stockings, made him suspect that she wasn't exactly helpless, even if she was having a problem right now.

At last she stopped in front of an ordinary wood-frame house almost directly across the street from Ivan's own home. She bent over slightly to unlatch the iron gate that led to the yard.
For the first time, Ivan caught a glimpse of her face. It wasn't what he was expecting. He had imagined she would be pale, possibly crying, or looking as if she was about to throw up. Instead he saw a calm face with a large jaw covered with five o-clock shadow.

And Ivan had his first "a-ha" moment of the day.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Quirk of the Day: K9s on the Subway Lines

Scientists in Moscow say stray dogs have learned to use the subways to travel to the city center in search of food. Story here.

I haven't observed this yet in New York/New Jersey, but I have seen pigeons on the PATH trains.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The T&T List

Six Sigma
Dreams from My Father
Anthora coffee cups
Corey Booker
Muriel Volestrangler
Kudzu Jesus (pareidolia)
The Lost Symbol
Yellow Tail
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Monday, August 10, 2009

Shutting the Book of Faces

Facebook has "disabled" my account, with no explanation given. I wasn't doing anything out of the ordinary on Facebook -- in fact, I use it much less than some of my (relatively few) friends on there. Strange. I sent them a polite e-mail. Stay tuned.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Codex Seraphinianus

"The Codex Seraphinianus was written and illustrated by Italian graphic designer and architect Luigi Serafini during the late 1970s. The Codex is a lavishly produced book that purports to be an encyclopedia for an imaginary world in a parallel universe, with copious comments in an incomprehensible language. It is written in a florid script, entirely invented and completely illegible, and illustrated with watercolor paintings."

You can read more about this strange book and see examples of the Bosch-like illustrations here. It shares some similarities with the famous (infamous?) Voynich Manuscript.

T'would be an interesting volume to possess, if it didn't cost $550 on Amazon....

Friday, August 07, 2009

"Take this brother, may it serve you well"

The complete lyrics to the Beatles' Revolution #9 are here.

"I'm not in the mood for whirling" either.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Word of the Day: ghoti

ghoti (n)

Alternate spelling of "fish".

"Perhaps try eating more ghoti – it's meant to be brain food."
--Catie Holdridge,

"ghoti" can be pronounced "fish":

* gh, pronounced like "f" as in tough;
* o, pronounced like "i" as in women; and
* ti, pronounced like "sh" as in nation

I have eight ghoti at the moment, in a 10-gallon tank. Room for a couple more, I think....

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Ha ha ha ha.....

agent cooper

We need to see more of Special Agent Dale Cooper, I think. Hmm, Dave?

"Coffee not for children under 3 years"

Random Acts of Poetry

All Night

All night, by the bed,
the numerals flicker and burn

like cold, cerebral flames.
I hear no ticking,

just the gentle heaving
of your breath,

the electrical hum
of existence.

The numbers
keep on slaying time

with lunatic precision.
A steel needle

words on my forehead,

repetitive sentences,
coils of nonsense.

The clock
loves counting:

one, two, three
hours unwind

like spools of film
from a preposterous movie

that drags on till morning,
that fades into sleep.

Monday, August 03, 2009

The 15 Creepiest Vintage Ads of All Time


A happy, suicidal pig... a woman who has been made into a rug... Lysol for feminine hygiene... a JonBenet clone... They're mostly ridiculously sexist or display a disturbing attitude toward children.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Weekend Netflix Report: Salvajes [Savages] (2001)

Gritty, sometimes out-of-focus and ugly cinematography perfectly suits this Spanish drama about anti-immigrant racism and family problems. Berta (Marisa Paredes) is a single nurse raising her deceased sister's three teenage children in a Spanish port city. The two boys are neo-Nazis with a flaming hatred for African immigrants, and the girl has a boyfriend who runs an underground business smuggling -- ought oh -- illegal aliens from Africa.

Into this time bomb comes a cop, Eduardo (Imanol Arias), who is investigating the vicious assault of a black man. He and Berta fall for each other and make tigerish love in scenes that are much hotter than you might expect from middle-aged actors.

The film is full of sex, violence, and sharp dialog that's a bit hard to catch as the subtitles fly by at top speed. The story is engaging, the actors are utterly convincing, and there's not a moment that rings Hollywood false. The ending is a bit bizarre, though, as director Carlos Molinero breaks the frame with a political message that seems tacked on. But if you like hyperrealistic drama without any gloss, this is worth watching.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Fish Food for Thought

philosofish 12 small

More clip-art philosophy by me (and Orson Welles). Click here to catch the big fish.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

Got some new neon tetras last weekend. Feel a bit hypnotized as I watch them cruising around their little fish condo.... Back-packed a heavy laptop today. Felt like a mule.... Visited a huge tee-shirt factory this morning (to pick-up some shirts for Art House) in a walk-up loft space in an pre-war building. Gritty and industrial, weird machines. No air conditioning. Suddenly felt very white collar.... Ate Pad Thai for lunch today. Felt...hmmm...epicurean....

Monday, July 27, 2009

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Word of the Day: zarf

zarf (n)

A holder for a hot coffee cup.

"The coffee, as thick as chocalate and sweetened with honey, reminded her of home and the odor of boiling sugarcane.... With a flourish, she removed her thumb, and balanced the zarf on the tip of her index finger...."
--Barbara Chase-Riboud, Valide

Those little cardboard thingamabobs they put around your coffee cup at Starbucks are technically called "zarfs", although they'll try to tell you they're called cup sleeves (boring!). Whenever I forget my ceramic coffee mug at work, I have to use a paper cup, and they're too damn hot to hold -- life is tough. There are no zarfs there, so I make my own, putting one (hot) paper cup inside another (cool) one. Resourceful! It does make it a bit harder to sip, though. Like I said, life is tough.

(Wasn't there some cartoon alien named Zarf?)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Much Ado about NOTHING

I love recycling night. I enjoy crushing plastic soda bottles beneath my feet and then dropping them into ye olde recycling bin. Love the sound of the recycling truck slowly rumbling down my street and consuming my castoffs in its huge metallic maw like some prehistoric monster. The sound of metal cans banging together and glass jars clinking and breaking as they fall into that ravenous mouth is the sound of creative destruction. Off they'll go to the recycling center, where they will be born again as containers of Campbell's Pork & Beans or jars of Vaseline or some other goo. And the paper! My junk mail may end up as a book of poetry or an issue of Weird N.J. or a roll of toilet tissue. It's a kind of immortality when you think about it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Fun with Google

"Michael needs"

some (zZzZz)
an XP Home Edition CD to do a restore
a break
money. Badly!
our help !!!!
the Lord Jesus Christ of the King James Bible
a new pair of pants
to make his point with her in a very emphatic way
to focus on new trends and how the music industry has changed
our love more than ever
photographs of both sides of the animal
fair Jugdement. He is NORMAL
a lotto win
Faith - and a shower - and a shave - and a good slap
to go shopping and find a condom that fits him

All true. All true....

Sunday, July 19, 2009

'Dark Night of the Soul' Photos

A gallery of David Lynch photos originally intended to accompany this mysterious, unreleased album (of music) is here.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Word of the Day: esurient

esurient (adj)

Extremely hungry or greedy.

"That evening he had asked her to have dinner with him. From her report we gathered that the subject was a glib braggart in an esurient state of libido. For three nights she went out with him, staving him off with promises and excuses. In the meantime she got a complete story of what was going on in the film industry."
--David Thomson, The Whole Equation: A History of Hollywood

Speaking of being in an "esurient state of libido", at the request of a (ahem) relative, we visited the Museum of Sex, at 233 Fifth Avenue in New York. It's not a very big museum, and a lot of it is about animals. They have lots of chimp porn there, if that's your thing, and an interesting exhibition of Hollywood and indie film clips that dealt with sex, either implicitly or explicitly. There was a whole genre of "nudie" films in the late 50s and early 60s that I never knew about -- all about nudist camps and lifestyle, featuring attractive people in the buff, but curiously unsexy. They also have that infamous Paris Hilton video, which I found somewhat icky, mostly due to the associations, not the content. Also rather creepy: a collection of life-size sex dolls, of both genders, that were more than correct, anatomically.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Nature and Not

Taughannock Falls 1 wires

More vacation scenes, this time from in and around Ithaca, our destination in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. Click 'em to blow these up, or see the whole series here. Or not. (Is there anything more boring than other people's vacation pix? Maybe not, but I like to share.)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

THE Way to Travel


What a way to start a vacation: Our new GPS, which we haven't quite figured out how to use yet, sent us on a wild goose chase while we were on our way upstate. We ended up getting lost and then eating lunch at this hot dog place with a lot of Hell's Angels types. This was in the parking lot. (Click for details.) Street legal? I wonder.

johnny's hot dog johnny

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

Found a wrinkled, crumpled dollar on the street. Felt lucky.... The Mazda 5 got a clean bill of health after servicing. Felt some relief.... Washing dishes tonight while listening to retro psyche rock. Felt odd.... Drank an extra cup of coffee and then felt sleepy. How's that happen? Caffeine overdose?

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

That's so random...

Abulafia is the "Random Everything Generator". It's a wiki page full of links to generators for creating such gimcracks as weird planets, fantasy characters, and "alchemical recipes". There's even an "Angry Video Game Nerd swear generator". It's clearly intended for role-playing gamers, but it's fun to just fool around with, and it might whip up some brainstorms for serious writers. I like the superhero names it comes up with:

Steven Impervious
Baffling Duchess Light from the Vale of Dread
El Karmabreaker
Commander Joe Ultimate
Nurse Ruthless

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Xmas in July; Cows?


cow ladies

Here are a couple of photos that sort of encapsulate Fourth of July weekend in my hometown. I grew up in small-town America (I've never lived in a suburb), which I remember as vastly boring - but punctuated with redeeming moments of genuine weirdness.

(Click the pix to see details.)

Monday, July 06, 2009

'Fox Bat Strategy' Considered

I received the CD today. It has that 1950s-meets-1990s sound that I find appealing in a lot of, uh, Lynchian music (for want of a better term). "Ricky Nelson on acid," someone said to describe the Fox Bat sound, and I think that's somewhat apt. The band is the same one featured in the jaw-dropping Pink Room sequence in Fire Walk With Me, and if you're familiar with that music (which is on the FWWM soundtrack), you know what this group is capable of -- though nothing here is as heavy or ominous as "The Pink Room" or "Blue Frank." The album is dedicated to the late Dave Jaurequi, who provided the smoothly appealing lead vocals and guitar work. Lynch produced and wrote the surreal lyrics.

For some reason, the (ahem) online retailer I ordered this from sent me two copies, though I only ordered and paid for one. Have to think about who to give the extra one to....

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Brain Dump

Full steam ahead of the game plan of attack of the 50-foot woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle repair shop till you drop dead in the water under the bridge when we come to it rains, it pours. Slicker than a wet weasel on a linoleum floor plan 9 from outer space race to the bottom of my heart of stone face the music to my ears, nose and throat. Neither here nor there are ears in the corn field mouse pad of paper tiger, tiger burning bright and early to rise and shine on like the moon and the stars and the sun spots before my eyes. Take the money and run it up the flagpole and see who salutes it takes one to know one is the lonliest number nine, number nine, number nine. Eh? Eh??

(I think this is quite coherent compared to Sarah Palin's resignation speech, don't you?)

Thursday, July 02, 2009


McGovern's at Lunchtime

Dark in here. Wrinkly decrepits giggling over beer. No, the other side of the bar. War stories. Bagpipes on the jukebox. Suspended helmets: cops, firefighters. The door swings open on a downpour. I can hardly hear a thing. A wall of whiskey bottles. Well done. The french fries dripping cheese. Separate checks please.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The T&T List

Allyn Scurra
Valiant Thor
migration project
Kurt Schwitters
America's Got Talent
public plan
little green apples
folie à deux

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Word of the Day: wamble

wamble (v)

To move in a wobbling or weaving manner; to rumble (as from an upset stomach)

"'Fancy her white hands getting redder every day, and her tongue losing its pretty up-country curl in talking, and her bounding walk becoming the regular Hintock shail and wamble!'
"'She may shail, but she'll never wamble," replied his wife, decisively.'"
--Thomas Hardy, The Woodlanders ("shail" means to walk sideways)

I haven't seen my (male) neighbor who wears a wig and a dress -- a miniskirt, in fact -- and wambles down the street in high heels since the other day. Or maybe I have and I just didn't recognize him out of drag. To each his/her own. Still, it's curious and not something I expected to see in this working-class district.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Random Acts of Poetry

lazy river

After Hard Rain

A puddle
makes a sad mirror,

another plane
of shadows.

Here a sky,
there a darkling

any fool can say

what's true.
At peace,

your thoughts paint

a slow river.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Quote of the Day

"We all die. The goal isn't to live forever, the goal is to create something that will."
--Chuck Palahniuk

"The person who experiences greatness must have a feeling for the myth he is in. He must reflect what is projected upon him. And he must have a strong sense of the sardonic. This is what uncouples him from belief in his own pretensions. The sardonic is all that permits him to move within himself. Without this quality, even occasional greatness will destroy a man."
--Frank Herbert, Dune

I think the governor of South Carolina is feeling very relieved today.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sign of the Times?

blvd drinks

I just noticed today that one of my favorite Jersey City signs (above), a Journal Square touchstone of sorts, has been replaced by a "modern" version, a tawdry plastic slab. I won't drink to that.

(That's a picture I snapped of the sign a couple of years ago. Click it for the full glory.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Search Continues

Recent Google searches that have brought people to this site:

Derrida for idiots

"In philosophy, you have to reckon with the implicit level of an accumulated reserve, and thus with a very great number of relays, with the shared responsibility of these relays." Idiots should just forget about Jacques, I think.

scenester hipster

If you're googling this, you are a hipster. Admit it. Go here:

Fay Wray nude

I get this one a lot. I must have blogged about King Kong at some point. I think there was a (censored) "nude" scene in that movie, but Kong's index finger covered up the naughty bits. Sorry, pervs.

spacesuited women

I get this one from time to time. Odd fetish, I must say. Ever made love to a woman in a spacesuit? You might also enjoy taking a shower while wearing a raincoat.

Rastafarian proctologist

Oh, this person needs help -- mental AND physical. Pokemon!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Word of the Day: rowel

rowel (n)

A small wheel with star-like points at the end of a cowboy's spur.

"The 'long-pointed rowel' was also looked upon with disfavor. The 'goose-neck' with the 'Texas-star rowel' was a popular spur, as was the 'flower rowel,' a large spur with many points set close together and giving the minimum of punishment."
--Ramon Frederick Adams, Cowboy Lingo

I've only ridden a horse twice, but I didn't wear spurs! It was an odd feeling being on top of a swaying animal (although not as weird -- or as swaying -- as the time I rode an elephant). I don't know what to compare it to. The horse was hard to steer I remember. It was sort of like driving a car that doesn't have power steering.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Magick of James Bond?

Hmmm. This review of The Bond Code by Philip Gardiner points out the numerous examples of esoteric codes and references to occult, gnostic and alchemical topics in Ian Fleming's James Bond novels, such as the odd character names:

Auric Goldfinger (alchemy)
Le Chiffre ("the cipher, or code")
Sir Hugo Drax ("the Dragon")
etc., etc.

"...touchstones to the esoteric appear in many places in Fleming's writings. There is a Bill Templar in Diamonds Are Forever, alluding to the Knights Templar. The Ourobourous (the alchemical symbol of a serpent eating its own tail) is part of the name of the Ourobouros Worm and Bait Company in Live and Let Die....Gardiner points out the resemblance in the novel Casino Royale of the first Bond villain, Le Chiffre, to the occultist Aleister Crowley."

And Fleming apparently corresponded with Crowley, had an intense interest in Jung, knew of an esoteric meaning behind the number 007, and so on.

Interesting. Still, I don't think the character "Pussy Galore" was intended as a reference to the ancient Egyptians' worship of felines.

Micro Fiction: 'Número incorrecto'

Ivan looked down and there it was, on the sidewalk just outside the pet store: a small, folded piece of green and gray paper on the sidewalk, with the number 20 printed on one corner. The Victorian font made it look like a twenty-dollar bill, but he doubted it. Probably a coupon or an advertisement for some 900-number phone-sex scam, he thought, picking it up, just in case. He unfolded it, and there he was: Andrew Jackson with his shock of wind-swept hair, looking more like a mad scientist than a 19th-century president.

So, a real twenty -- or was it? He held it up to the sun, half expecting it to be counterfeit. The ghostly little hologram of Jackson's face appeared. Genuine. What luck! Right away, as he stuffed it into his pocket, he began to feel guilty. Who had dropped it? Probably some cash-strapped single mom with a squalling baby to feed. He thought about spending it, saving it, donating it to charity, or even dropping it. Surely someone more deserving would find it, someone who regularly stooped to pick up all the lost pennies Ivan was too lazy to retrieve from the sidewalk.

Or he could spend it on fish. He was at the pet store to buy some tropical fish, some neon tetras, for his aquarium. He stuffed the 20 into his pocket and walked into the store. Birds twittered, parrots squawked, puppies barked, and somewhere, down one of the aisles, a child was crying.

Over all the noise, Ivan heard his cell phone jangling. He fished it out of his pocket, already half suspecting who it was. "Hello," he said. "Maria!" the woman's voice demanded. "Quiero Maria!" It was the same woman who had been calling him all week, constantly asking for someone he didn't know. "Wrong number," Ivan said, trying again to remember how to say it in Spanish. "Qué? Uh? Uh?" the woman said. "Sorry," Ivan said. "No habla. There's no Maria here." "Uh?" the women repeated. He shut the phone and put it back in his pocket.

The fish tanks glowed and bubbled at the back of the shop, past the cages of parakeets, lizards and furry little rodents. A mother and her wailing child, a little girl of about three or four, were blocking the aisle. The girl apparently wanted a guinea pig. She kept pointing to one of the cages and pleading, "Please, Mommy." "No, not today," her mother said. "I'm out of money."

Ivan waited for them to move, so he could get by, but it wasn't happening. The girl wouldn't let her mother pull her away. She kept pointing to the guinea pig and screeching "I want it!" While he waited, Ivan thought about what he could spend the 20-dollar bill on. He could buy five new fish, or enough fish food for months, or one of those faux driftwood thingies to decorate his tank. He couldn't decide.

His phone rang again. "Maria!" the woman screeched when he answered. "Maria! Maria!" "There's no Maria!" Ivan shouted. The mother and the little girl looked up at him quizzically. Then he suddenly remembered how to say it: "número incorrecto!" he said. The woman on the phone moaned with disgust and hung up. Ivan was relieved. No more wrong numbers now, he thought. Now all he had to do was decide how to spend his 20-dollar windfall.

"I'm sorry," the mother said to her child. The girl stopped crying at last and turned away from the guinea pig's cage, looking forlorn and defeated. She had the face of a weeping angel. Ivan suddenly felt sad for her.

"I'm sorry," her mother said again. "I'm sorry, Maria."

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel


Rain, rain and more rain. I didn't know New Jersey had a monsoon season..... Discovered a leak in my aquarium! Replaced it with a new one (just $15) after much "fishing" with a net, siphoning and bucketing. Surprised at how serene a new box of water makes me feel.... The free AM New York rag has an article today about how cool the JC is: "The culture and the whole feel of Jersey City is unmatched....The arts scene is well-supported and the level of community development is incredible." Amazed and pleased to learn I am living in such a nirvana.... Saw a woman wobbling down the sidewalk on high heels yesterday. Thought for sure she would fall over. But then she turned and entered her yard. Got a quick glance at her face and noticed five-o'clock shadow. Felt confused. For a moment....

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

'Fox Bat Strategy'

Lynch Hands 80
David Lynch and the Thought Gang band (I think that's their name) are about to release an album at the end of this month: Fox Bat Strategy. There's a stream of one of the songs, "Shoot the Works", at the Entertainment Weekly site here. Retro surreal.