Saturday, January 31, 2009

Love in Vane (and how to use a semicolon)


I like weather vanes (and rabbits too), even though I usually know which way the wind is blowing. This is a picture I took of a local vane; click it for the life-size version.

More vane-ity here. (via The Presurfer)

By the way, this post demonstrates the proper use of a semicolon to join independent clauses not conjoined by a conjunction (such as "and" or "but"). I'm a copy editor and I should know.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Much Ado about NOTHING

We ordered Japanese food for lunch today from restaurant that calls itself -- believe it -- Chinatown. That has to be the least creative name for an eatery ever. (They offer both Japanese and Chinese dishes.) Naming a restaurant is usually a personal, carefully thought-out exercise, I imagine. Sometimes the name is poetic or refers to an obscure knick knack: We have a restaurant called The Iron Monkey here in Jersey City. It may also be boastful or reflect delusions of grandeur: White Castle (a fast-food chain) or The VIP Diner (a diner for, apparently, very important people hungry for hamburger deluxe or chicken pot pie). Simply descriptive names are popular, too: there's a soda-fountain-type place on Kennedy Boulevard near here that calls itself Boulevard DRINKS. And family names are understandable -- e.g., McDonald's. But Chinatown? That sounds like a place-holder for someone who is stumped for a name. How about...uh...Asian Appetite?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Brain Dump

Where there's a will, there's a way to go on a trip wire service with a smile though your heart is breaking and entering a number from one to ten dollars to doughnuts and coffee shop till you drop the gun control system of higher education. Many hands make light work of art and science fiction and poetry slam the door to door hinge on whether or not to worry wort removal service with a smile. Rome wasn't built in a day time travel agent of change your clothes horse of a different color my world of difference.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Word of the Day: oneiric

oneiric (adj)

Related to or suggestive of dreams.

"A certain degree of detachment from merely 'obvious' circumstances, a certain distance and oneiric cast of mind, is required for any creative action."
--David Bentley Hart, The Beauty of the Infinite

The oneiric song "#9 Dream" is always rattling around my head lately.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Not Your Father's Writing Prompts

Do you need prompting?

I find most creative-writing prompts uninspiring ("What if you were invisible?"), but these are actually creative in themselves. Maybe I'll try some.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Semi-Famous Person

Shhh. A semi-famous person lives down the street from me. You can tell where the semi-famous person lives, because the house stands out from the hodge-podge of two-storey, wooden-frame, semi-Victorian boxes that line the street. It has an unusual paint job: bright yellow, with each gingerbread detail outlined in black, gold or green.

The semi-famous person can sometimes be seen walking on the avenue. Even if you've met the semi-famous person before (as I have) and have engaged this partial celebrity in conversation, the semi-famous person may not recognize you -- may, in fact, stare right through you as if you aren't there, unless you are bold and say "hi." (The significant other of the semi-famous person will happily acknowledge you, however.)

I don't believe this is rudeness or snobbery. The semi-famous person is simply lost in thought. I suppose this is because the ideas that have made the semi-famous person semi famous have to be generated continuously, even while shopping at the 99-cent store or CVS.

You would not think the semi-famous person to be semi famous by noting this minor celebrity's attire or general demeanor. The semi-famous person blends in quite well, in that way, with the jeans-and-T-shirt crowd that one usually sees around here -- though the T-shirts are adorned with graphics that might be called artistic or facetious.

The semi-famous person sometimes has large parties, which I have been honored to attend. At these gatherings, the semi-famous person usually does not circulate but rather sits in a corner and "holds court", so to speak. One comes up, says hello, and engages in a brief conversation, which may be banal or bizarre, depending on the mood of the semi-famous person. I have found this to be a confusing but oddly stimulating experience.

You are probably wondering who the semi-famous person is, but I won't tell you. I must respect the semi-famous person's privacy. You probably haven't heard of this somewhat eminent person anyway, unless you live in the neighborhood -- or travel in certain semi celebrated circles.

This is a blog rerun, from about a year and a half ago. I'm repeating it because The Hudson Current (the local arts paper) finally published it this week. Yay.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

Chinese food tonight. Feel sweet and sour..... I keep seeing the same strangers over and over on the train. Feels weird, like I both know them and really don't.... Lo-Jack keeps calling to tell me the car may have been stolen. But there it sits in the garage. Feel mystified, exasperated..... Watched three hours of Lost last night. Felt even more confused than before -- and surprised to see Ana Lucia (played by Jersey City native Michelle Rodriguez) pop up in a cameo. When a character dies on this show, it doesn't mean you'll never see them again.... Wondering what Caroline Kennedy, someone I sort of admire, was thinking. Feel embarrassed for her....

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Word of the Day: niveous

niveous (adj)

Snowy or like snow.

"An imperceptible smile would then appear on the little nun's niveous face and a tender sentiment would be revived in her delicate heart on catching sight of her childhood friend."
--Mario Vargas Llosa, Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter

I'm getting tired of all the niveous sidewalks around here. One of our neighbors (an absentee landlord) never shovels, and a dwarf glacier is forming in front of his house.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Much Ado about NOTHING

This is sweater weather. My favorite sweater is a bulky, charcoal-colored wool V-neck that has a hole in it. I don't know how it got there. It looks like a cigarette burn, but I don't smoke.

The hole is in the chest area. It isn't very big -- about the size of a pea -- but my shirt shows through, and if it's a light-colored shirt, the hole is fairly obvious. But I don't care. I think it makes the sweater look more lived in and idiosyncratic. It gives it character. Distressed clothing seems to be "in" these days -- just look at the jeans on sale in clothing stores. They often look like they've been beaten with chains. No one wants to wear new clothes anymore, or at least not clothes that look new. That's not the mood now.

I think I feel warmer in a sweater with a hole in it than I would wearing a more perfect garment.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Watch List: films I might like to see

Work buddy Scott, a cineaste and sometime scriptwriter, suggested I populate my Netflix queue with the following films. Let me know if you've seen any of these:

The Counterfeiters
The Wire
, Season 1 and 2
To Live (Chinese?)
In Bruges
Cassandra's Dream
Youth without Youth
Lars and the Real Girl
(I've actually seen this one. It was good.)
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
No Country for Old Men
(Saw it. Great...)
Into the Wild
Lust, Caution
We Own the Night
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Friday, January 16, 2009

It Could Be Worse

You could be living in Hieronymus Bosch's hell.

Unhappy-Meal toys: Hieronymus Bosch action figures.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sky Mandala

sky mandala

A photo I took in California last summer. (Click on it to see larger version.) August seems like a long time ago, doesn't it? Current temperature here: 15 F, -9 C.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Word of the Day: abstemious

abstemious (adj)

Restraint in consuming food or alcohol.

"Well, I ain't one to preach the abstemious life, but he's got a problem with the juice."
"Abstemious?" Mike arched his eyebrows. "Where'd you learn that word?"
--Mark Winegardner, Mario Puzo, The Godfather Returns

I don't have any godparents. I wonder if that explains anything.

Your Move: David Lynch in Israel

A 20-minute film about the director's trip to Israel is here. People everywhere ask him pretty much the same questions it seems. (I wish he would give up the cigarettes.)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Brain Dump

To be or not to be kind and generous offer to pay to play the game of life science and technology. All the world's a stage of development cost of living for the moment of time to go for it takes a village voice training center of attention shoppers. Double, double, toil and trouble in paradise lost and found art world news of the day or night sky high point of view from the top of the morning. To thine own self be true or false move up or down the street level of violence against women and children first and last word.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

Saw some of Dubya's final news conference; felt like throwing a shoe.... Found out someone I know has colon cancer. Felt stunned.... Started reading The Woman in Black by Susan Hill, a faux Victorian ghost story/horror novel. Wasn't expecting much, but felt intrigued.... Microwaved some pizza for dinner tonight. Still feel bloated.... Almost slipped on the ice this morning but was just in time to catch the bus, the one I usually miss; felt lucky....

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Japanese Gallery of Psychiatric Art



Check out these surreal images from Japanese psychiatric medication advertisements, 1956-2003. It seems the symptoms the medications were designed to cure were illustrated, usually symbolically, on the packaging -- which I'm sure was the most fun the commercial illustrators for these products ever had on the job. The images depict (I assume) depression, paranoia, anxiety and schizophrenia, but also bliss. Surrealism seems to be the preferred visual style for conveying mental states all around the world, although abstraction, psychedelia, conventional illustration, sculpture and noirish photography are also represented here. The most disturbing image, however, is a simple photo of a woman wearing an "Electric Hypnotic Machine."

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Fish Food for Thought


More clip-art philosophy, by me (and Descartes). There's another one in this series here:


What are you drinking tonight?

Me: coffee, followed by a little Yellow Tail (that decent but cheap wine with the kangaroo on the label). I don't drink (alcohol) much, but it's been a nerve-wracking week.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Word of the Day: illapse

illapse (n or v)

To fall or glide into, the act of falling or gliding into something.

"What moves thee, if the senses stir not? Light/Moves thee from Heaven, spontaneous, self-inform'd;/Or, likelier, gliding down with swift illapse/By will divine."
--Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy

Hmm, gliding into something.... I recall driving a Volkswagen on a gusty winter night in upstate New York and gliding off the road into a snowbank. Car, passenger and driver were unharmed in this illapse.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

Sat behind a Marine in uniform on the bus yesterday. He was talking about Afghanistan on his cell phone. "I can't wait to get over there," he said. Felt concerned.... An artist friend came over and drew a portrait of Philip, and I took a picture of it with my new camera. Felt twice removed.... Went into work yesterday (Friday) for the first day this (holiday) week. Felt like Monday.... Noticed last night that the street light outside our house is burnt out. Felt the darkness as almost palpable.... Flippling channels last night, I watched a few minutes of a "reality" show in which Miss America contestants were running around a cruise ship, looking for clues in a treasure hunt. Felt mindless.... Watching the birds at the bird feeder in the backyard this morning. They seem to fight over the seeds. They're either greedy or very hungry. Felt transfixed....