Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Quote of the Day: Laura Harring

"...And I'm working with the David Lynch Foundation as a goodwill ambassador, so I'm meeting with David and the rumor is that he's writing something. So we don't know what the future holds. I see another movie in David's future, that's for sure.

That you might be a part of?

(Laughs.) I can say no more."

More here.

Word of the Day: callithumping

callithumping (adj)

Loud, noisy, boisterous.

"It was only when the thing exploded later, into a fire-eating callithumping fat lady freak tent cinema-circus, that I began to understand the thing as a story. When they figured out who Derek Brownlow was, and what it meant."
--Emily Arsenault, The Broken Teaglass

I often think of "things" as stories. I sometimes feel like someone in a novel or film. I mentally collect situations that I can write about. I get interested in certain people because they seem like characters to me -- meaning they aren't boring. I guess I'm a...writer.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Wrapped in Plastic

wrapped in plastic

I like to roam about the neighborhood on weekends and photograph oddities. (Click the pic for a close up.)

'Shoot, Luke, or give up the gun'

Skedaddle over to Old West Slang and Phrases, A Writer's Guide for a bang-up, hog-killin' time. It's ace-high and according to Hoyle. Twig?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Rogues' Gallery

Like they just stepped out of Oliver Twist: Pictures of drunks arrested in Victorian England, circa 1903.

What's more interesting, to me, than the antique mugshots on this site (though they are an eyeful) are the professions listed for the "drunk and disorderly" miscreants, including:

wood chopper
tube drawer
bedstead polisher
grease merchant

What's a "tube drawer"? A "Jappaner"? How does one make a living as a "bedstead polisher"? Or is that some euphemism?

A lot of these people, even if they are listed as bricklayers or prostitutes, are extremely well-dressed by contemporary standards: jackets, ties, fancy hats, etc. I guess they were out for a night on the town, got tipsy, got arrested -- and in some cases got sentenced to weeks of "hard labour". Sheesh.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Microfiction: 'The Lady in the Lamp'

Ivan was exhausted. After an inexplicably sleepless night, it had been a long day at work, filled with obscure technical problems that had turned his 9 to 5 into a 9 to 8. He was walking home from the train station, feeling half in the real world and half in some photo-realistic hallucination that was only enhanced by his head cold. Then it began to rain. He reached into his backpack. No umbrella. He had forgotten it again.

As the downpour intensified, he looked around for some temporary shelter. A flashing neon sign drew his eye. It said "Vesuvius." Ivan had trod this route from the station to his home many times, but he had never noticed this establishment before. It looked like a bar-restaurant. The windows were tinted so dark as to be impenetrable, but a soft, orange-tinged glow from the glass door seemed inviting. He went in.

The landscape of the interior was strange in only one respect: the round tables, covered with black tablecloths, had what appeared to be flames shooting out of their centers. It took Ivan a few seconds to realize that these were lava lamps filled with glowing, floating, throbbing blobs of orange or blue. Only a few people were sitting at tables or at the bar in the back of the room. "Sit anywhere," a voice said.

He ordered a brandy and a muffin and, inevitably, found himself staring at the lava lamp before him. The brandy made him even sleepier, and the slowly rising and falling orange blobs inside the lamp were hypnotically relaxing. After a while, the largest blob began to morph into a face, a woman's face with large, almond-shaped eyes and sensuous lips. Ivan snorted and said, "Who might you be?" -- to himself, not expecting any answer.

"I am the genie of the lamp," the face said in a muffled, gurgling, but decidedly female voice.

"Oh my god, of course you are!" said Ivan, snickering. "And you're going to grant me three wishes, huh?"

"No," said the blob. "I can't while I'm inside this lamp. You would have to release me."

"How?" Ivan said.

"Break it open?" said he blob.

Ivan wasn't about to do that. He didn't believe in genies or wishes or talking lava lamps. He assumed he was in some kind of hypnagogic state brought on by exhaustion, a head cold and brandy. But there didn't seem to be any harm in playing along with this little fantasy he was having.

"No way. I'm not going to make a mess and cause a scene here. And those three-wishes stories always end badly. You're not real anyway," he said.

The blob laughed, and gurgled, "That's what they all first."

"Well, are there any little magic tricks you can do for me while you're stuck in there?" Ivan asked.

"No, but I can answer questions, if you like," the blob replied. "Questions about the future."

"Like a fortune teller?"

"Yes, like a fortune teller. Except I can tell you nothing about the stock market or lottery numbers or things of that nature."

Ivan giggled. "Then what good are you?"

"I can answer personal questions," said the blob. "You have already thought of one, have you not?"

It was true. Ivan did have a question he wanted answered, something he'd been thinking a lot about lately. "It's hard to put into words," he said. "I want to know if, if I'll ever have a...a moment of clarity."

The blob smiled at this.

"I want to know if a time will come when I'll know that every strange thing that's happened to me means something. That I made the right decisions. That I did the right things, took the right chances -- that it will all, finally, make some weird kind of sense. That life was worth living. That I'm not just a loser stumbling randomly through an absurd world."

"I can answer that if you're ready to hear the answer," said the blob.

"Another brandy, sir?" Interrupted the waiter. Ivan was startled and sat up straight in his chair. As he did so, his foot kicked against a cord under the table. Instantly, the lamp went dark and the blob-face sank into the ooze at the bottom.


"No, thanks," Ivan said. "Not yet. I don’t think I'm ready yet."

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Link Mania

My friend Joe D. is a piece of lint! Here is his sad story.


Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes by Dr. Daina Taimina
Afterthoughts of a Worm Hunter by David Crompton
Collectible Spoons of the Third Reich by James A. Yannes
Governing Lethal Behavior in Autonomous Robots by Ronald C. Arkin
The Changing World of Inflammatory Bowel Disease by Ellen Scherl and Marla Dubinsky
Baboon Metaphysics by Dorothy Cheney

These are real books, friends, and winners or runners-up in a contest for the "oddest titled book of the year" sponsored by Note to self: write book. details

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

Got an idea for a new short story, involving a lava lamp. Feeling creative. Stay tuned.... Did some homework tonight. Feel tired.... Getting a lot of wrong numbers and misdelivered snail mail recently. Feel like a mistake magnet.... "Reading" (listening to) a mystery novel about dictionary editors (The Broken Teaglass). Feel like I'm probably the only person on this planet who would enjoy a mystery story about dictionary editors.... Looking forward to seeing On the Waterfront at the Landmark Loew's Jersey Theatre this weekend. Can't believe I've never seen it....

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Random Sequence

Scenario 3 (excerpt 7)

....and for a moment, the protagonist imagines his esophagus is a rubber tube, as he glances at the garden hose curving around the side of the patio, even as he chokes a bit on the ceviche while blathering wittily. His dabbling in sarcastic repartee is designed to unmask her vituperative, but hidden, attitudes. She gesticulates like a graceful dowager as she describes the absent host's hospitalization after his slapdash encounter with the antique replica. "Hallelujah!" cries an unnamed, obese guest, as he belly-flops into the pool -- a joyous leviathan. The protagonist becomes bored with her anecdote and finds himself staring at the empty birdcage inside the house through the open window -- and at a mysterious object on the table beyond it. A checkbook? A blood-stained checkbook? More guests arrive: a paraprofessional and a seminarian. Cheery suburban greetings all around. Then, quite suddenly, a black cumulonimbus obscures the sun....

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Word of the Day: lagniappe

lagniappe (n)

A small gift presented to a customer with a purchase.

"Welcome to Burger World. May I take your order?" Sid said, mechanically.
"Yes, my child," said Nigel. "I would like one of those children's meals that includes a lagniappe, please."
Sid sighed and rolled his eyes. "I'm sorry," he said. "We don't serve Italian food here."
--Leahcim Setag, Strange Loops

It's funny about gifts. I really don't care much about receiving them anymore. If I want something in the nature of a physical object (within reason), I can usually get it for myself -- exactly the way I want it. Much better than relying on someone else's taste. I get more pleasure out of giving...not necessarily material things, but things like music files or information or recommendations. It's rarely reciprocated, but what the hell. Nobody gives Santa Claus anything, and he's a "right jolly old elf."

Monday, March 22, 2010

Quote of the Day: Living Transparently

"If you find yourself being one person online and on your blog, a different person with your college buddies, a different person with your parents, and another person with your work friends, are you asking yourself why? That's the question I've been asking lately, and it's yielded surprising results. It's made me start to realize: who cares? It takes baby steps, but it's easier than I thought to care less and less what people think of you and start living transparently. It doesn’t happen overnight. It won't be easy. It will sometimes be a struggle, especially for those of us who are accustomed to caring what everyone thinks. But transparency means finally being free to be you no matter what, it means you finally get to quit hiding and casting off the chains of what other people think - and it makes you a whole lot stronger. That is worth a little struggle."
--Nisha Chittal

Saturday, March 20, 2010

I Don't Bite

jug 2

Fear not. I'm full of sweet tea. Photo taken at the Bouckeville Antiques Fair, August 2007. Click for the close-up. Dare ya.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The T&T List

Mario Bava
Dutch villages
morse code
Avraham Herzfeld
LaLonde report
beer pong
Albert von Schrenck-Notzing
blood limes
9449 Petrbondy
Chepstow Castle
Mikael Gath

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Random Acts of Poetry

Psalm to the Sandman

All tribute to you, O capsule of sleep,
proconsul of the night!

Your mindless blank is praised above the stars
on the tongues of the worried, the disturbed.
You give power to foil their enemy,
the nerve-jangling wheel revolving endlessly.

When they are conscious of nothing, the work of your tablet,
the repose and the void you arrange,
when your warm shadow covers the mind,
each breath makes a calm wave on a far-away sea.

You have made them people in waiting,
suspended their memories in a dark sack,
given them power over daylight’s abrasions,
put all troubling things to rest.

All of them, saints and harridans,
yes, even the rulers of the earth,
men of the air, women of learning,
all that find their way to your respite,

give praise to your name, alchemical sandman,
the bestower of nothingness!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Word of the Day: clishmaclaver

clishmaclaver (n)

Casual talk or gossip.

"And now, Archie, if you'll hush your eternal clishmaclaver, we might get a little sleep against the morn's morn and our trip to London."
--Stanley David Porteus, The Restless Voyage

Let's see, do I know any good gossip? I know a friend (or ex-friend, actually) of my wyfe's is in jail in Kentucky, of all places. I know somebody who is currently on a "vision quest" in the Mojave Desert, according to a mutual friend (although I'm not sure the so-called quester would describe it that way). I know someone who's into S&M, big time, but doesn't know that I know.... I often know a lot more than people think I do. But I'll never tell.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Backbroke Valley

A woman sits down next to a cowboy in a saloon. She says, "Are you...a REAL cowboy?"

He replies: "Well, Ma'am, I brand calves, rope steers, mend fence, ride the range...think about cows a lot of the time...yep...reckon I'm a 'real' cowboy."

She says, "I'm a lesbian. I think about women all day, all evening, all the time...I think about making love with women."

They sat there sipping their beers. Then, a man walked in and sat on the other side of the cowboy.

He asks the cowboy, "Are you a REAL cowboy?"

The cowboy responds, "Well, I thought I was...but I just found out that I'm really a lesbian."

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sorry to Disappoint

I'm temporarily out of topics, so here are some recent Google search terms that brought some (probably) disgruntled souls to this benighted blahg:

Vitamin haiku

Oh, okay....

A, B, C, D, E
Should I buy all these tablets?
Real food has plenty

Ben Curtis nude home video

Ben Curtis is (was) the super-annoying "Dude, you're gettin' a Dell!" guy, from way back in the early 21st century. Why anyone wants to see this geek nude is beyond me, but I get this one a lot.

fight intp

It's a curse, I know, believe me, but you'd be better off making your peace with it. In your head, of course.

Hyperdimensional Oscillator

Try eBay.

dumbledore death drawing

Yeah, let's draw scenes from Hairy Plotter. We're not too obsessed....

Take thy face hence synecdoche

I'm impressed. "Take thy face hence" is actually a pretty good synecdoche for "scram".

philosofish restaurants

Hmm, a franchise opportunity? But I don't think my philosofish would taste very good. They might inspire some interesting dinner conversation, though.

Marilyn Chambers Outie Bellybutton

That's what you noticed? You're weird.

sergio maltagliati

I have no idea who he is, but I wish I had a poetic name like his.

is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious a real word

Yes. A silly one, but yes.

larry carlson sasquatch flash animation

Try here:

narayan dutt shrimali scandal

I am SO sick of hearing about Nirayan Dutt Shrimali and his shady antics! Can't they talk about ANYTHING else on CNN?

'Here's looking at you, data point.'

Famous Movie Quotes represented graphically. Something is lost in translation, I fear.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Word of the Day: bumbershoot


bumbershoot (n)

An umbrella.

"He stared ruefully at the remains of his bumbershoot, which had blown inside out."
--Analog Science Fiction and Fact, May 2006 issue

This is actually a more common word than I usually post; I already knew what it meant before stumbling across it. I didn't know, though, that there is a music and arts festival by that name that takes place every year in Seattle. It rains a lot in Seattle, you see....

This weekend, it's rained a lot here in New Jersey, too, along with high winds, and my own bumbershoot has "blown inside out" a few times, to the point that I need to get a new one. The umbrella is one of those inventions that has never been quite perfected. Either that, or the manufacturers deliberately make them too fragile to survive both wind and rain. Sometimes I think I'd rather wear one of those rubbery yellow rain ponchos or rain coats with the buckles, like I had as a kid. Uncool but might be worth it.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Quote of the Day

Posted today on Twitter:

"I will be working in the shop building a lamp from solid stock Douglas Fir. Hope you have a great weekend."
--David Lynch

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Want to See My 'Room'?

Midweek has published, in print and online, my essay about vile cinema and "the worst movie ever made" (The Room). You can read it here. There are two things I actually like about that waste of celluloid (or pixels): It made me laugh, at times, and it gave me something juicy to scribble about.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

My train was delayed this morning, because of "police activity". Annoying. When it finally got rolling, I could see what the problem was: a car was on one of the parallel tracks -- upside down. I couldn't tell if it was a Toyota.... Feeling amused by an audiobook called 2-minute Film Noir, a series of vignettes voiced by talented actors (with plenty of outer-borough accents). Lots of satirical scams, shoot-outs, and shadowy shenanigans, including some with a Twilight Zoneish twist.... Happy about the nice weather lately. Forty degrees and no precipitation equals "nice" after the snowpocalypse we had not long ago... twice.... Had a David Lynch moment at the drugstore while standing in line for the check-out. A very tall, blonde transvestite (I think) was ahead of me and singing along, loudly, to a Loretta Lynn song on the P.A. system. Then, when she got to the register, she kept asking the cashier (a young, puzzled, Middle Eastern-looking guy) if he thought the make-up she was buying was the right shade for her....

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Brain Dump

In the name of the fresco, rheostat, and parallelogram, let me prove that quibble exhaust can inspire a compass vector, dividing any plague or harbinger -- especially for brouhahas. Let us route for receivership with an inchoate method while we export honors celebrating kingdom come. Appendicitis attacks still exhibit hexagonal pangs when distorted, so we humbly beseech you to regurgitate some of your inadvertent grace at any moment. Just please, Lord, don't snap at a spasmodic jogger when blessing his plaintiff along the way. And hush my coprolalial mouth if it is your will to give that birdbath leeway. Amen!

Monday, March 08, 2010

Word of the Day: excerebro

excerebro (v)

To stupify, make senseless, or bash someone's head in.

"Professor Alamand proceeded to excerebro the class with his dull, repetitive lecture."
--Leahcim Setag, Strange Loops

Watching the Academy Awards tends to have this effect on people. I was doing some work on my laptop while watching last night, which may have prevented any loss of brain cells.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Give Peas a Chance... or Not

The infamous outtakes of Orson Welles trying to get through a commercial spot for canned peas are here.

"Crumb crisp coating....This is a lot of shit, you know that!"

Funny. And sad.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Fish Food for Thought

philosofish 16 small

More clip-art philosophy by me (and Anatole France). Click here for the BIG fish.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Bang! Bang!

Watch an animated version of The Beatles' bizarrely jaunty little ditty about a serial killer here.

"Pataphysical"? I always thought it was "metaphysical".

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

INTP: Incessantly Needing To Ponder

I recently took the Myers-Briggs personality test (the short version here), and discovered that I'm an "INTP". That means I'm an "Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving" type -- though, in my case, I suspect it could also mean "IN Twin Peaks". Here are a few facts about me, according to Myers-Briggs, as profiled here:

I'm one of those "pensive, analytical folks" with an "obsession with logical correctness". Call me "Spock".

I'm "relatively easy-going and amenable to almost anything until [my] principles are violated." Yeah. Sure. Whatever you want. Just don't ask me to bend my rules. I only do that if it's my own idea.

Yikes. "A major concern for INTPs is the haunting sense of impending failure." This is what keeps me going. Fear of failure is my rocket fuel.

Hmm. "Mathematics is a system where many INTPs love to play, similarly languages, computer systems--potentially any complex system." I actually hate math (I don't think it was taught to me correctly), but I like computers and love language. Maybe you've noticed.

As far as intuition goes, "INTPs enjoy games, formal or impromptu, which coax analogies, patterns and theories from the unseen into spontaneous expression in a way that defies their own comprehension." Yeah, "brain dumps" and other randomness -- me like.

I have "a relative absence of environmental awareness". This doesn't mean I don't know about climate change. It means I often tune out what's going on around me because I'm more interested in what's going on inside my 32-track mind. This is not always a good thing.

"When present, the INTP's concern for others is intense, albeit naive." Yes, and this gets me into trouble sometimes, as I tend to be too effusive or to assume someone is hurting more than they actually are. So sue me....

And so, gentle readers, now you know what you're dealing with. INTPs are said to make up about 1 percent of the population. I'm either a freak or very special, depending on how you look at it.

What INTPs do in bars.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The T&T List

James Earl Ray
The Third Man
Mohamed Atta
Urban Dictionary
vamp and fade
pink noise

Monday, March 01, 2010

Random Acts of Poetry


On a steeped night
that sticks to the skin,

he peels off seven layers
of wallpaper

as jingles and voices
waft by like smoke.

The poet scribbles and scribbles
about a ticking suitcase,

then shuts
the moon in a drawer,

bored as a caged monkey.
His thoughts rise

in word balloons
that appear to say:

You are a soft, pink dildo,
dishwasher safe.

You are a hard steel chisel.
But useless. No use.

The chakras won't open,
he's blind from the klieg lights.