Saturday, July 31, 2010

Fish Food for Thought

philosofish 21 small

Agree? More clip-art philosophy by me (and C. P. Snow). Click here for the BIG fish.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Strange Days Indeed

More conversing with "Joey Pants" today, who said, "Sometimes I forget I have a brain."


Post facto, by invitation (that's new), I read the story linked below at "JC Opens Up the Mic 2010 Kickoff Event" this evening as a "featured performer" (one of 12).

("JC" is Jersey City, not Jesus Christ.)

Chicken of the Sea

I had to submit a bio for the program, and wanted to spice it with something a little weird. So I included the fact that I "once had a paying gig writing restaurant reviews for eateries [I] never visited." Which is true - and a long story, perhaps for another time.


Random: A deleted scene from a Twin Peaks script

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sound barricades itself into rolls of peanut butter when you speak

"Your affluent effluent drives even the most zeal-minded to imbibe."

Everyone needs a compliment now and then, but it's hard to come up with something original. You might try some of the novel extolations below on your friends and rivals. If you deliver them fast enough, they might not even notice the 100-percent inanity content.

"You foment graciously, as ever any dying monster did rot."

"Wheals and boils come forth as testament to your fine sense of haut couture."

"Your cleverness ferments meat without the need of oxygen."

"Woe is me, for I must forever more huddle, unminded, in the dark shadow of your undeserved engine of procreation."

"Come, let me gnaw your fingernails that I may absorb and lose myself in the wise and gritty detritus that is you."

"I find your eye sockets to be a wondrous amusement park filled with neo-plastic pleasures and oncogenic delights."

"Your sweet voice is like the snap of a bra strap upon a sunburnt back."

"The sand runes crossing your divided consciousness do speak of contemptuous cardinals setting a Spanish village ablaze."

"You turn the atmosphere wild with currents of vitriol when you smile at the passing insects."

You can generate more of these at the Surrealist Compliment Generator.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

"Joey Pants", the character who's been wandering around my daily haunts with that accent, does push-ups and yoga on the carpet, wears a pork-pie hat, and addresses me as follows: "You eat healthy. Where'd you get that sandwich?" "Oh, man, you...uh...promote?" "Are you editors?" "Whose bike is this? This is a beautiful bike." "No, it's an autobiography about how my mental illness sublimated itself..." I feel...puzzled (I still don't know who he is) but amused....


As I walk to the train station every day, I tend to see the same backpack- or messenger-bag-wearing pedestrians hoofing it in the same direction. I often feel like we're in a walking foot-race. The guy (these are mostly guys) who's more inclined that day to ignore the walk/don't walk signs and play toreador with rushing cars (piloted by drivers yacking on cell phones) tends to win. It's not necessarily the guy with the longest legs. Sometimes it's me. But the thrill of victory is rather feeble....


My wyfe brought home a lot of old-lady costume jewelery from her deceased aunt's house, and some of it is weird and interesting: lots of dragonflies, Asian deities, and...mice. Not sure what we'll do with it, but for now, it all glitters on a tray and makes me feel like there's something numinous here....


Somebody called me a grammar Nazi today. Not pleasant....


Postscript: Um, it actually IS him. I've never seen a single episode....

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Brain Dump

Translation Uncertain

Hector: Gnik nus eht semoc ereh?
Conseula: Presto obrigado! Tanta mucho!
Hector: Mundo paparazzi mi amore....
Conseula: Chicka ferdy, ha ha!
Hector: Klaatu barada nikto! Hee hee!
Conseula: No es cosa de brujeria...
Hector: Amore de felice corazón.
Conseula: No es cosa de brujería, hmm?
Hector: Gnihgual s'ydobyreve, huh?
Conseula: Niar! Enihsnus!
Hector: Lissum, blussak a mizure, habuts-an-oh'en...
Conseula: Tidja tidja tuplay!
Hector: Pleh!
Conseula: Y ese punto de alegría.
Hector: Ah! Böwakawa, poussé, poussé!
Conseula: Hee hee!
Hector: Ha ha ha!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Word of the Day: neroli

neroli (n)

An essential oil distilled from the flowers of the orange.

"Add 3 to 4 drops of neroli essential oil to 1/2 cup safflower, sweet almond, grapeseed, or sunflower oil. Use this on your scalp for a tantalizing scent before a date. During a date, you can use this same oil as a stimulating massage oil."
--Stephanie Rose Bird, Sticks, Stones, Roots & Bones: Hoodoo, Mojo & Conjuring with Herbs

That would be some date!

Not sure why Wallace circled this word in his dictionary. Probably he just liked the sound of it -- and maybe he also knew that neroli oil is used in aromatherapy as an antidepressant, which is something he definitely needed. It's also said to be a hypnotic, aphrodisiac and a euphoric -- sort of a citrus ecstasy.

(Neroli is one of the words that the late David Foster Wallace circled in his dictionary.)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

'Grim Augery': Dark Night of the Soul Photos

After some legal knots were finally untangled, the Danger Mouse/Sparklehorse/David Lynch collaborative album Dark Night of the Soul has now been released, and it's an eclectic pleasure (for me anyway). The album was originally supposed to be released with an accompanying book of Lynch's photographs inspired by the music, but instead the book was released by itself with a blank CD, apparently as a sarcastic comment on the legal roadblock. The new CD includes a few of the photos in a booklet, but more of them can be viewed here. They're funny and disturbing, sometimes simultaneously. Typical Lynch -- and that's peachy keen.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Photo of the Week

no sign

I joined the local Existentialist Club (that's the Club's sign, above), which meets on the third Thursday of every other month (except June and December) to discuss classic philosophical tomes, such as Time, Essence, and Reality: A Systematic Reevaluation of Nothingness and Semantic Modes of Non-Essential Functioning. Occasionally, we also read self-help books, like Non-Existence: What to Do if It Suddenly Strikes You. Everybody wears black, and refreshments are served (Olestra chips and non-alcoholic beer). An ambivalently good time is had by all.

Actually, I just made that up. This is a sign frame I saw on Central Avenue that caught my eye and put me in a pensive mood.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Random Sequence

Scenario 19 (excerpt 2)

Malcolm and Harold, two gray-haired business men, stand behind a table covered with miscellaneous objects.

"It's all in the terminology," says Malcolm, demonstrating once again his grasp of strategic brand-name development.

Harold looks skeptical. "I'm an inventor, not a marketeer," he says. "But it's just a more efficiently shaped flyswatter. And you want to call it a...a...."

"Slap Wanker!" Malcolm says emphatically. "You'll sell scads more."

"Sounds a bit, uh, sordid, if you ask me," says Harold.

"Piffle," Malcolm says. "You have to get people's attention. That's why I want you to rename your website. You should call it 'Spooge Equipment to Go' or something very similar. Something eye-catching. You have to compete with the likes of Harriet Carter and Carol Wright -- boring names, but superstars in the 'I love widgets' retail arena."

"But calling a thermos-blender combination a....what was it?"

"Speedboat Margarita Cooler."

"And my first-aid fanny pack?"

"Boo-boo Mommy Kit."

Harold sighs. "Okay. But this..." -- he picks up his ladybug yo-yo -- "is a simple child's toy."

"No! It's a Bug Wrangler."

Harold rolls his eyes. "It's just a yo-yo!"

"Ha! And the Ultra SonicCare is just a toothbrush."

"And my garden-hose sprayer attachment -- how can you call it a..."

"....Back Yard Baster. Gotta be."

"And this, this little shovel with the telescoping handle...."

"It's a Lazyman Pooperscooper," says Malcolm. "Of course it is. What would you call it? An extendable shovel? Zzzzzz."

Harold picks up his flyswatter and slaps Malcolm on the top of the head. "Wanker!" he says.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Coffee Kills


I love coffee, but not as much as French writer Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850), who had a genuine coffee addiction. According to Lapham's Quarterly, "He would consume up to fifty cups a day...and when desperate, would chew on the beans themselves." Before dying at age 51 from "the effects of caffeine poisoning" (now there's a way to go), he wrote an essay entitled "The Pleasures and Pains of Coffee". For those of you too sleepy to click on that, I offer this brief quotation from Monsieur de Balzac, author of La Comédie humaine:

"The state coffee puts one in when it is drunk on an empty stomach under these magisterial conditions produces a kind of animation that looks like anger: one's voice rises, one's gestures suggest unhealthy impatience: one wants everything to proceed with the speed of ideas; one becomes brusque, ill-tempered about nothing. One actually becomes that fickle character, The Poet, condemned by grocers and their like....[S]parks shoot all the way up to the brain. From that moment on, everything becomes agitated. Ideas quick-march into motion like battalions of a grand army to its legendary fighting ground, and the battle rages. Memories charge in, bright flags on high; the cavalry of metaphor deploys with a magnificent gallop; the artillery of logic rushes up with clattering wagons and cartridges; on imagination's orders, sharpshooters sight and fire; forms and shapes and characters rear up; the paper is spread with ink—for the nightly labor begins and ends with torrents of this black water, as a battle opens and concludes with black powder."

Today, he would have been a crack addict, I fear.

(via Popular Coffee News)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Word of the Day: mendacious

mendacious (adj)

False, dishonest, lying, or untruthful.

"And then she would say quite simply, without taking (as she would once have taken) the precaution of covering herself, just in case, with a little fragment borrowed from the truth, that she had at that very moment arrived by the morning train. These words were mendacious; at least for Odette they were mendacious, insubstantial, lacking (what they would have if true) a basis of support in her memory of her actual arrival at the station; she was even prevented from forming a mental picture of whatever quite different thing she had been doing at the moment she pretended to have been alighting from the train."
--Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past: Swann's Way, Within a Budding Grove

I ride the PATH train back and forth every day, but never think of myself as "alighting" from it -- more like charging out of it with the rest of the herd. My life is not very "Proustian" I guess, though I have a pretty good memory of "things past", including the time I tried to actually read Marcel's book. I thought his long and winding sentences were elegant, but I found the endless accumulation of thousands of them to be...what's the word...soporific. (Note to self: use "soporific" in conversation tomorrow. Resist temptation to be mendacious and say "grinchy" if someone asks what you mean.)

(Mendacious, by the way, is one of the words that the late David Foster Wallace circled in his dictionary.)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

The local Wheelchair Wonder wizzed by me while I was wandering home today. His tricked-out electric wheelchair has several unusual items (especially for a wheelchair) on the back: a couple of fake skulls, several American flags, a "U.S.A." logo, and three Hawaiian hula-dancer figurines. The elderly occupant of this vehicle wears a shiny metallic vest, sort of like chain mail. I estimate he was rolling by at about 15 mph. He waved at one of my neighbors who was talking on a cell phone in her front yard and continued to zip down the sidewalk. Felt like I had just experienced a Lynchian moment....

In other neighborhood news: according to the local paper, a trash-filled "house of horrors" has been discovered on my block, complete with cats, dogs, birds, human and animal feces, an elderly occupant and a not-quite elderly occupant, both now carted off to a hospital. Ewww!....

I've been reading some Woody Allen paperbacks that fell into my temporary possession. (It would never have occurred to me to buy them.) Side Effects is hilarious; Getting Even not so much (so far). But still, take a break from making fey films and put pen to paper, WA....

In the "You Thought You Had Problems?" department, here's a book I won't be reading, but its title brightened my day today: Defiance: How to Succeed in Business Despite Being Hounded by the FBI, the KGB, the INS, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, Interpol, and Mafia Hit Men. (That's a real, non-fiction book. Google if you don't believe it....)

Monday, July 19, 2010

The T&T List

The Typewriter Is Holy
Hap Map
Patrick Phungwayo
Col du Tourmalet
National Ocean Council
Bullwinkle RIP
Important Announcement

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Photo of the Week

jellyfish 3

These are some jellyfish that I photographed in Long Island Sound during the scuba-diving class I take from the Learning Annex. The instructor assured us that there weren't a lot of jellyfish in the area, but obviously there were. I was afraid of being stung, but more afraid of the shark that swam by....

Actually, I just made that up. I snapped this photo at the Adventure Aquarium in Camden, New Jersey, yesterday. Click it for a closer view. I took a lot of other photos there, too, of colorful fish and anemones.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Word of the Day: legatee

legatee (n)

A person who receives a legacy (a bequest, an inheritance) in a will.

"You don't," said Mr. Pecksniff, with a melancholy pressure of his hand, "quite understand my nature yet, I find. No, Sir, I am not a legatee. I am proud to say I am not a legatee. I am proud to say that neither of my children is a legatee. And yet, Sir, I was with him at his own request. He understood me somewhat better, Sir. He wrote and said, 'I am sick. I am sinking. Come to me!' I went to him. I sat beside his bed, Sir, and I stood beside his grave. Yes, at the risk of offending even you, I did it, Sir. Though the avowal should lead to our instant separation, and to the severing of those tender ties between us which have recently been formed, I make it. But I am not a legatee," said Mr. Pecksniff, smiling dispassionately; "and I never expected to be a legatee. I knew better!"
--Charles Dickens, Martin Chuzzlewit

Dickens was a genius at making up odd, rather comical Anglo-Saxon names: Martin Chuzzlewit, Mr. Pecksniff, Mr. Pickwick, Alfred Jingle, Augustus Snodgrass, Mr. Bumble, Vincent Crummles, Wackford Squeers, Dick Swiveller, Mr. Toots, Betsey Trotwood, Uriah Heep, Honoria Dedlock, William Guppy, Joshua Smallweed, Mrs. Jellyby, Herbert Pocket, Nicodemus Boffin, and of course, Ebenezer Scrooge. (These are all from here.)

How would you like to go through life with a name like Wackford Squeers or, heavens, Dick Swiveller? Imagine the playground teasing.... I wouldn't mind having a distinctive name like Nicodemus Boffin, though, instead of the common one I share with thousands across the nation, some unsavory.

(Legatee, by the way, is one of the words that the late David Foster Wallace circled in his dictionary.)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I Write Like...David Foster Wallace?

I Write Like is a website that purports to tell you what famous scribbler you write like, by analyzing your word choice and writing style and comparing them to those of famous authors. I plugged my "Long, Strange Trip" blog post below into their analyzer, and the celebrity scrivener I most write like turns out to be David Foster Wallace, author of Infinite Jest, which I've never read. Interesting. I like the words he circled in his dictionary (see "Word of the Day" posts below) and that article about David Lynch he wrote. According to Wikipedia, "Wallace's writing voice is a postmodern mixture of high- and low-brow linguistic traits. He juxtaposes, often within a single sentence, colloquialisms and polysyllabic, obscure, or esoteric words."

Here is some DFW writing I admire. Pity he offed himself.

(via The Presurfer)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Brain Dump

359 PM EDT TUE JUL 13 2010




Monday, July 12, 2010

Much Ado about NOTHING

A Long, Strange Trip

The weekend car trip from Jersey City to upstate New York had been uneventful. Leaving the Thruway, I turned onto Route 28, a two-lane country road, which eventually connects to Route 20, which takes me directly to my mom's house. Route 28 makes its winding way several miles up a long hill, past farms and fields, and it's rare to see more than a few other cars while driving it.

So I was surprised when I had to stop for a long line of traffic ahead of me. "There must be an accident," I thought, "a bad one if there's this many cars stopped dead on old Route 28." I thought maybe a truck had lost its brakes while coming down the hill and struck a car. Maybe the state police had stopped traffic while the wreckage was being removed. Maybe they'd start directing traffic around it in a minute or two. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

After about 45 minutes, the cars ahead still hadn't moved more than a few feet, and now there was a line of cars behind me, too. I began to notice something peculiar about the other drivers. Some were getting out of their cars and talking to each other as if they were friends. And most of them didn't look like rural upstaters but instead like hippies -- long-haired, tie-dyed, multi-generational hippies -- a class of people I thought had pretty much vanished decades ago. This was beginning to feel like a bizarre dream.

"What the hell is going on," I thought. I rolled down the window, intending to ask one of the passing "freaks", a guy in sandals wearing a yellow T-shirt that said "Play Dead", if he knew what the hold-up was. Before I could say anything, he flashed a grin and asked, "You going to the Dead concert?"

"Uhh, no..." I said, feeling confused. The Dead? The Grateful Dead? Weren't they...dead? Hadn't I heard that their leader, Jerry Garcia, had died? This was starting to make sense, though. There was no accident. This was a traffic jam -- a hippie traffic jam of people trying to get to a rock concert. Woodstock Nation, or the 21st-century equivalent, was keeping me from my mommy. "How much further is it to the concert?" I asked. "Five miles!" the guy said, still smiling. "You might want to get off on one of the side roads."

There was indeed a side-road turn-off just a few feet ahead. I had no idea where it might lead, but I decided I might as well try it. It felt good to be moving again, but after a few twists and turns the road brought me right back into the line of cars on Route 28 again.

I decided to be stoical and just observe the slow-moving caravan. Some people had abandoned their cars and were apparently walking to the concert, which I guessed must be in some farmer's field. I noticed that some of the local residents along Route 28 had signs in their driveways offering ten-dollar parking. So they knew about this huge upstate concert -- why was it news to me?

Gazing at the car ahead, I could see that it was full of partiers, including a girl with blonde dreadlocks who had her bare feet sticking out of the window. She was laughing about something. After a while, she got out of the car and strolled into some tall reeds by the roadside. The people in her car were shouting something at her. She turned and gave them "the finger." Then she squatted down into the reeds. "When you've got to go, you've got to go," I thought.

Eventually, the line of cars ahead of me began to go, too -- inching at first, but then at about 10 miles per hour. We came to another side-road turn-off that must have led directly to the concert site. There were two state troopers directing the cars to turn there. They seemed amused when I indicated that I wanted to go straight, but they motioned me forward.

Suddenly, I was on the open road again, cruising along at 60 mph with Route 28 all to myself. Truckin'....

I later found out that the concert was by former members of the Grateful Dead (formerly Dead members?), and that it was held on the grounds of a dead millionaire's country estate, which had been turned into a concert venue. Apparently, the concert hadn't been publicized much, if at all. I guess the Deadhead cult network doesn't need mainstream media to announce its plans.

Moral of the story: as Stephen King once said, "When you turn off the main road, you have to be prepared to see some funny houses."

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Photo of the Week

Medieval JC

This is the mysterious medieval arch whose presence in dear old Jersey City (Heights), at Pershing Field, has never been fully explained. Carbon dating indicates that it dates from the 13th century, and the cut and arrangement of the stones is said to be quite similar to those used in Exeter Cathedral in England. Archaeologists have theorized that medieval British explorers visited the area but then realized that they were not, in fact, in Gibraltar, and left before finishing the construction of their castle or fortress.

Actually, I just made that up. This arch was part of Jersey City's old (but not that old) medieval-style Armory building that once stood at Montgomery Street and Bergen Avenue. It was destroyed (burned, I think) in 1927. The arch survived and was moved to Pershing Field. The turrets are inhabited by pigeons, as I discovered while taking this photo. Click it for a closer view, my lords and ladies.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Word of the Day: kohl

kohl (n)

A cosmetic used to darken the eyelids. (Think Cleopatra or Jack Sparrow, not a former German chancellor)

"A girl like Claudia could make Eagle Scouts steal from their grandmothers. She wore makeup with the brand name Urban Decay. She had bottle red hair and kohl-deepened eyes, and she was as seductive as Spanish fly on Cody's defenseless adolescent libido."
--Susan Wiggs, The You I Never Knew

Hmmm, "Urban Decay". You can see the photos I've contributed to the Urban Decay group on Flickr here. Pretty pictures of ugly things.

(Kohl, by the way, is one of the words that the late David Foster Wallace circled in his dictionary.)

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

Saw a black guy on a motorcycle wearing a Nazi-style helmet today. Seemed odd.... Got stuck in a five-mile hippie traffic jam last weekend on a country road in upstate New York. They were all on their way to a Dead concert (or a concert by formerly Dead members, or something). Frustrated by the delay at first, then decided it might make a good basis for a short story, if I can figure out how to end it.... Played a clarinet (well, got some notes out of it) last Monday, for the first time since high school. My nephew got an old one from someone and wants to learn to play, and I showed him how to get something other than squeaks from it. My feeling: he should forget the horn and get a bass guitar.... Hot, steamy day... that revolving door... The sudden 30-degree difference when going from outside to inside makes me queasy....

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Random Sequence

Scenario 16 (excerpt 1)

The Qualification Gazebo, or Crank It Up

Arthur, a professional retiree, was an arm-chair intellectual. His primary concern (which his psychiatrist secretly considered an hilarious pathology) was "analysis smog". This he defined as the silly, mistaken interpretations of significant trends and events by what he called "minds from beyond" -- the class of out-of-reach, out-of-touch, ivory-tower pundits whose opinions "polluted" the pages of elite newspapers and websites, and the windy chat shows of the cable networks. He considered their collective views to be the "oblivious vista" of a of cabal of cranks, whose minds had turned to gelatin.

Determined to provide an alternative to their "jelly zone" of commentary, Arthur wrote letters to the editor and posted in the comment sections of websites. Both means of Arthurian expression were almost universally ignored.

Frustrated, Arthur constructed an elaborate "Qualification Gazebo" in his front yard, where passers-by could sit and hear his refutations of daily editorials and CNN transcripts. Few did, although some stopped by in the summer months when he began to offer free piña coladas. They would feign interest, nodding politely while they sipped. Otherwise, Arthur simply talked to himself, conveyed his opinions in random phone calls, or shouted at whoever happened to be walking or driving past his house.

Arthur's long-suffering wife tolerated this activity, though she could be seen ruefully shaking her head at times in the picture window behind the gazebo, as Arthur pontificated. "I just humor him," she told anyone who inquired. "He's such a tension godzilla when he hears or reads anything he disagrees with. Let him blow off his steam." Arthur's psychiatrist fully agreed.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Fish Food for Thought

philosofish 20 small

Agree? More clip-art philosophy by me (and C.S. Lewis). Click here for the BIG fish.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Photo of the Week


Happy 4th of July weekend, or Independence Day as it's actually called. Somehow, this picture (that I snapped a few years ago) symbolizes, to me, the state of the nation these days. The picture is in focus but the flag is fuzzy. Things are out of sync. Click it for a closer view, but don't expect clarity. Here's something to think about: What do we need independence from today?

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Quotations from Aunt Betty

Below are some quotes from Aunt Betty, the member of the extended in-law family who died recently. She was quite an amusing conversationalist and enjoyed sending us witty postcards filled with charming non-sequiturs, nonsense, and other bon mots.

"Would love to see you but have no excuse as my crucial non-cooperative light bulb was replaced Thursday."

"I have large mole hills overlooking greenery in back. What to do and be good environmentalist?? At least they are architects of sorts."

"Richard has selected a lovely refrigerator that does not depend for a living on BLUE ICE."

"Whether it's a poem, a jingle, a verse, a charade, an advent window or a watchacalit, I welcome it or grabbit for my Holiday Loquat tree with loving pause (paws?)"

"Hi from the land of recalls where the Terminator has just held his press conference. I'm going to the dental surgeon to be cheered up." [Aunt Betty lived in Kahleefornyuh.]

"Escargot is disappointed, as he expected to be honored on the new stamp, as indeed he should have been."

"Holly Davis sometimes leaves a note asking me if my 'fixer upper' house is for sale. She has given me a free pad (to suggest I find another pad?)"

"I have wisely learned over the years to be paranoid."