Sunday, February 28, 2010

Word of the Day: floccinaucinihilipilificate

floccinaucinihilipilificate (v) (say it 10 times fast)

To judge something to be worthless.

"...floccinaucinihilipilificate and/or shut up and die like an aviator and/or do a thelma and louise ending and/or work out your own salvation..."
--Darren Wershler-Henry, Tapeworm Foundry

Is there anything as worthless as a penny? I don't know why I keep jars full of them. I don't know why I pick them up off the sidewalk. They aren't even made of pure copper anymore, because that would make each one worth more than one cent, and people would melt them down, though the juice wouldn't be worth the effort to squeeze, if you ask me. (Now they're mostly made of zinc, which is itself pretty worthless, unless you have a cold. I wonder if sucking on a penny would be as effective as sucking on a zinc lozenge.) Someone suggested they could be used as as a training tool for Jedi to practice lightsaber deflection. And I suppose you could spin them on the table at the diner for amusement while waiting for your tuna melt to arrive.

Friday, February 26, 2010

'How to Speak Hip'

How to Speak Hip

"Relax, cat, me and this other guy are going to help you out."

"Any declarative sentence can begin with 'like' and end with 'man'."

"You dig?"

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Quote of the Day: Snowfall

Backyard Blizzard 2010a

"Change is one of the great things about snow. It has the same effect as Mardi Gras or Carnival. It is time-out from the ordinary. Like dressing up and dancing in the street, the snowed-on world is not simply the regular world with a covering over it, it is somewhere newly made and unknown, all familiarity erased into whiteness. And none of the every day rules apply. There are special dispensations -- you may not be able to go to school or work; if you do, there's nothing regular about it, everything is late, teachers don't arrive, appointments aren't kept, the ineluctable timetable of the day is suddenly eluctable."
--Jenny Diski

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

Looking forward to seeing Notorious and The Third Man at the Landmark Loew's Jersey Theatre this Saturday.... Riding in a commuter van tonight, the windows were so heavily tinted that I missed my stop. Couldn't see a thing; there might as well not have been any windows. Finally got off when I saw something familiar though the windshield, but I had a long walk back to my block. Felt annoyed, but at least it wasn't raining. I actually prefer to walk to and from from the train station at Journal Square, but I only do that when (1.) the temperature is above freezing and (2.) it isn't raining or snowing. I think I can count the days like that this winter on one hand.... Listening to the audiobook Black Wings Has My Angel, which is a guilty pleasure -- an old noir classic. Still can't figure out why the author chose that title, though. Maybe the answer is at the end.... Speaking of answers at the end, I guess that's what Lost is moving toward. I don't see, yet, how it can be anything but a letdown, or at least an anti-climax. Feel nervous about that, having invested so much time, but maybe I'll be surprised. Hope the last episode is a mind-blower, a la Twin Peaks.... More mean Mommy Nature coming. Feel stoical....

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Lost Her Head

body parts 1
My living room is becoming more and more surreal. My wyfe brought home this antique wheelchair from a hospital auction a couple of years ago, and a couple of days ago, she brought home this mannequin -- with some spare parts, but no head (although we also have a disembodied mannequin head or two around here). Click it, above or below, for closer inspection. You know you want to.

body parts 2 BW

Monday, February 22, 2010

Word of the Day: ingurgitate

ingurgitate (v)

To gulp or swallow greedily.

"I was beginning to think that my taste-buds had been ruined by the horrors I've had to ingurgitate during the Siege....Incidentally, did I ever tell you of the book I want to write about taste?"
--Robert Baldick, Dinner at Magny's

We have a bird feeder hanging from the apple tree in our back yard. The free food has attracted flocks of small, ravenous birds (chickadees and sparrows, I think), as well as the occasional red cardinal and blue jay. They literally fight over the seeds, and ingurgitate so fast that they end up dropping a lot of them onto the ground, where fat squirrels scarf them up. It's quite a pig-out session, until the neighbor's cat strolls through the yard; then they all scatter until he/she leaves. I wish I had a video camera and could capture these wildlife vignettes. To me, it's more entertaining and edifying than, say, Jersey Shore.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Machine-Age Mandalas


Rings 'n' Things: Bike Works NYC Chainring Archive

Round and round and round it goes, and where it stops, nobody knows.

I haven't ridden a bike in a couple of years. Looking at this site makes me want to again. Hurry up, spring.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Brain Dump


Force a joking frog into launching fake gold ingots toward your girlfriend during menstruation. Under a robustly painted ceiling, seek a cache of silver filings as you misinterpret luggage tags and magical, body-built populations. In the future, watch for a goody-good contemplating the gutter with an ugly skin burst. Consider synthesizers as you invade the privacy of prosthesis recipients while pouring gin on a horde of TV-listing editors. Remember: coastal astringency suffocates figurative microsurgery sessions, so improvise a movie featuring thunderstruck tenants in their sweaty pajamas. At home, screen tranquilizing images of socializing extraterrestrials engaged in filleting. Consider undergarment prank efforts, but only with bittersweet benevolence. Then burrow into the backyard of the crankiest, most constipated chiropractor you can find. Slurp honey mustard while lounging in your nap chair and contemplating the budding intelligence of house plants and the savage greediness of persistent houseflies.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

'YOU are the Plastic Ono Band'

I guess everything comes back in some form if you wait long enough.

I used to play the album Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band in college just to freak people out. As you may have heard, the POB has reformed (reunited?) and even performed in concert at the Brooklyn Academy of Music last night, with original band members Ono, Eric Clapton, Klaus Voorman, Alan White, new member Sean Lennon, and a bunch of guest stars. I would have liked to have seen that, but there are videos of recent performances on YouTube, and maybe some of the BAM show will show up on there eventually as well.

Give them a chance -- Mummy's only looking for her hand in the snow....

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I, Copy Editor

According to Google, copy editors are....

no longer getting the recognition they deserve
multi-skilled problem solvers
the watchdogs of credibility
surgeons, removing growths of error and irrelevance
highly trained, intelligent people
unsung heroes
doing more work than ever before
like quality controllers
the grammatical gatekeepers, so to speak, of the media world
waging their style wars before a wider audience
stretched thin
not walking dictionaries, but the real pros question everything
always concerned
roadkill on the information superhighway
in high demand
a dear (sometimes) and exasperating (usually) breed
the last set of eyes before yours
ready to help you today!
aware that someone is always watching

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Word of the Day: williwaw

williwaw (n)

A sudden gust of wind or a violent commotion.

"The parting of a staysail-sheet in a williwaw, when the sea was turbulent and she was plunging into the storm, brought me forward to see instantly a dark cliff ahead and breakers so close under the bows that I felt surely lost, and in my thoughts cried, 'Is the hand of fate against me, after all, leading me in the end to this dark spot?'"
--Joshua Slocum, Sailing Alone Around the World

I often feel that the "hand of fate is against me." Don't you? But sooner or later (often much later), some williwaw comes along, and the perspective changes, and I think, "That's the way it had to be, so boo hoo hoo...." Well, I don't usually cry.

Sometimes I feel like I'm "sailing alone around the world" too, but that's a different bottle of whine.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

Watching the Winter Olympics. Feel the Native American dancers in the opening ceremony should get medals for their two-hour endurance dancing.... Can't tell the difference between the "awesome" competitors and the medicre ones; feel clueless (but probably not alone).... Revised and expanded my review (or rant) about The Room (see below). Hope Midweek will publish it.... Had a Martini last night, which I don't think I've ever ordered before. I remembered my father giving me olives from his when I was a kid. Felt a little nostalgic.... Bought a 25-pound bag of rock salt today and muled it home on foot from the store. Felt virile....haha....

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The T&T List

Will Durst
The Psychedelic Furs
Roman Polanski
Bravo Smokes
Lesghi Star
Route 280

Thursday, February 11, 2010

#24 Dream

Right now, dishcloths are plotting to maintain Web pages about a nervous meals-on-wheels van. My maypole and snorkel are flaming, and toxic waste barrels that I work with may be half-dead.

Friday will be here at last in less than an hour, and after a tough week, incoherent babbling seems perfectly appropriate to me. You can find more of this sort of applesauce at 24 Dreaming, a site that generates surreal statements, apparently based (loosely) on actual plot summaries from the TV series 24. They're fun. Doesn't seem to matter if, like me, you don't watch the show -- as long as you gyre and gimble in the wabe.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Backyard Blizzard

Backyard Blizzard 2010b

This is the chain-link gate leading to my backyard, covered with some funny white stuff that fell from the sky. (I like to take pictures of gates... not sure why.) You can take a closer look here.

And you can see more amazing photos of my winter wonderland here.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Word of the Day: zaddik

zaddik (n)

A righteous and saintly person by Jewish religious standards.

"He drew a beautiful picture of the ideal zaddik, who is "so absorbed in meditation on the Divine wisdom that he cannot descend to the lower steps upon which ordinary people stand."
--Jacob Salmon Raisin, The Haskalah Movement in Russia

Hmm. I wonder if the meditation I do on the PATH train each morning on my way to Newark will ever get me to that level.

Monday, February 08, 2010

How much is that hipster in the window?

Check out the Hipster Puppies. More for the captions than the canine photos. To wit:

a combination of cough syrup and sunstroke meant freddie did a terrible job manning the “kiss the freaky frog” booth at burning man

penny cannot believe you put a tablespoon of butter in the pasta when she’s told you a thousand times that she’s vegan.

dill can’t wait for them to announce the pitchfork festival lineup so he can make fun of it and then go to it anyway

raven thinks you should really see more of werner herzog’s work before you try and have this conversation

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Weekend Bad Movie Report: 'The Room'

Room for Improvement

Some people like to slow down on the highway to get an eyeful of grisly car accidents. Lots of us will stare transfixed at photos of spectacular train wrecks. The peculiar fascination of these real-life disasters is only rarely approached by anything on the movie screen, but when it is, a transcendent moment of terrible beauty is born. I like to call it vile cinema.

It's not enough for a film to be incompetent, tedious, or painful to watch; to be truly vile, it must conjure the devil himself -- it must cast an unholy spell that makes it impossible to pull your retinas away. It must bring a contradictory phrase to mind: "so bad it's good."

To make a vile film, a filmmaker has to be sincere. Parody and camp can fail, but they lack the air of innocent tragedy that make vile films so compelling.

Case in point: a few weeks ago, I attended a screening of The Room (2003), part of the Movies Under the Drop Ceiling Series sponsored by Jersey City's Art House Productions. This film is often called "the worst film ever made" and "the Citizen Kane of bad movies."

It is indeed a bad film in every respect -- amateurish acting and dialog, continuity flubs, ham-handed editing, poor dubbing, pointless stock footage, etc. The story revolves around the relationship between Johnny (Tommy Wisseau), a long-haired "banker" with an Arnold Schwarzenegger accent, and Lisa (Juliette Danielle), a bleached-blonde "sociopath" who looks like a cross between Courtney Love and Britney Spears. The two are engaged, but Lisa is "bored" with Johnny and initiates an affair with Johnny's best friend Mark (Greg Sestero), who looks like a male model. The sex scenes, which are long and embarrassing, are accompanied on the soundtrack by cheesy R&B songs.

There are many tangents involving minor characters (they all seem to live in the same San Francisco apartment building), but these subplots are quickly introduced and then abandoned. Lisa's mother, for example, very casually drops the news that she has breast cancer, but this is never mentioned again. A young friend of Johnny's is revealed to be involved in drug deals, but after a single dramatic scene, this detail is ignored. Several times, the story comes to a standstill as the male characters go outside to play catch with a football. People behave and speak in idiotic ways, and the plot moves in circles until the "tragic" ending.

Most of the film takes place in a single set: Johnny and Lisa's living room, which has framed photos of spoons on the walls and a TV set placed behind a sofa. Perhaps as an homage to Seinfeld, the characters come and go as they please, walking in through the front door without knocking.

Tommy Wisseau served as lead actor, director, producer and executive producer for the film, which he (no surprise) self-financed. In interviews that can be found on the Web and in the extras section of the DVD, he seems to think he's made a good, even important film; he comes across a sincere, innocent--and vile. He has been quoted as saying the film explains "what not to do." He's commenting on the way the characters treat each other, but he might as well be referring to the entire production.

The saving grace of the film is that it is, as you may have gathered, not only vile but unintentionally hilarious, which is why Art House Productions showed it. The audience threw popcorn at the screen and talked to the characters throughout -- which, with a film of this quality, is entertaining rather than annoying.

Perhaps not surprisingly, The Room has developed a cult following similar to that of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. It's been a midnight movie in many major cities, including New York. At these events, Wisseau often sells T-shirts, DVDs, and soundtracks to fans -- proving that the spectacular failure of the vile can sometimes be as profitable as success.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Pity Party!

With certain very important exceptions, I think most people get what they want from me and then dump me. They get work, favors, entertainment when they're bored, even my writing (here or elsewhere) and then "move on" when I'm no longer useful or convenient. I don't think it's malice. It's more like indifference. I'm not quite useful enough, or I don't fit into the right friendship demographic. And maybe I'm just not giving or charming enough. I'm not saying I'm not partly to blame.

I can't say I've gotten used to it over the years, but it no longer surprises me much.

Maybe I'm being naive here. Maybe most people actually feel the same way and are just more stoic or numb to it or blasé about it.

Maybe I should just get over myself.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

The 'Lost' Books

GalleyCat, the book publishing industry blog, has a list of favorite books mentioned in the TV series Lost, with links to reviews of said books. The ones I've read are Valis by Philip K. Dick and Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O'Connor. Both are pretty mind-bending, but in very different ways.

Valis is a...a...gnostic sci-fi novel, I guess you could say. It's one of those books that is very difficult to categorize. But those are the kind I like best. (Those are the TV shows and films I like best, too.)

Everything That Rises Must Converge is a collection of twisted Southern Gothic short stories as only O'Connor could write them. They are all about broken people finding violent redemption. Sound familiar?

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Red Room Redux

Ariana Delwari isn't a singer or songwriter who does anything for me, though her Hollywood-by-way-of-Afghanistan background is at least unique. But David Lynch's new promo video for her album, Lion of Panjshir, is interesting in one respect: he seems to have filmed her in the Black Lodge, complete with red drapes and windy sound effects. (Scroll down to second video.)

Tuesday, February 02, 2010


Jack loved Kate but unlike Jack, James hated Kate. Kate loved James, but Jack, James hated; unlike Jack, Kate hated James. Jack loved James, but Jack, James hated, but unlike Jack, James hated Kate. James loved Kate, hated Jack. But Kate, James hated, unlike Jack. Kate hated Jack, James hated Kate, unlike Jack, who loved Kate but hated Kate. James, unlike Jack, loved Kate, but hated Jack; James hated Kate and Jack. Jack hated James, but James, unlike Jack, loved Kate and hated Kate. Jack loved James but hated Kate, but unlike Jack, James loved Kate and hated Jack....

Monday, February 01, 2010

Word of the Day: corybantic

corybantic (adj)

Frantic, frenzied, or ecstatic. The "corybants" were ancient worshipers of the goddess Cybele whose rites were celebrated with music and ecstatic dances.

"It was as though the old Cornish giants had come back to life for a corybantic dance with the demirips of their race--dancing to the music of the sea sucking and gurgling into the caves at the base of the cliffs."
--Arthur J. Rees, The Moon Rock

"Demirips" is, I think, an alternate spelling of demireps. A demirep is "a person of doubtful reputation or respectability", according to

There were a lot of people dressed as demireps and acting like corybants on the Grammy Awards last night. Music and singing seemed less important to the proceedings than flash and spectacle. There was even a circus act. I'd rather see and hear Susan Boyle than some pop tart lip-syncing while dressed like a Vegas hooker and hanging upside down... at least on the Grammies.