Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

Crazy: My neighbor was throwing away a little garden statue of a frog sitting on a mushroom and playing a guitar, somewhat chipped. So I picked it up off the sidewalk and brought it home, where it currently sits near the fireplace. It will look okay in a corner of the backyard, I think, but I don't know what possessed me. The last thing we need is more junk. It must be the influence of my wyfe, who frequently brings home cast-off finnimbruns. Sigh.

Misunderstood: I've always liked the novel and the British TV mini-series I, Claudius. That is all I can say about this.

Puzzled and filled with micro-annoyance: TinyURL, via a posting on my Facebook wall, tells me that a link I "liked" was "used by its creator in violation of our terms of use. TinyURL has a strict no abuse policy...." I don't remember liking any link at all recently, let alone a tiny, abusive one. TinyURL is a "free URL redirection service", so of course they left an unsolicited link to their generic TinyURL page on my wall after informing me about the abuse. I guess that's not abusive? A tiny bit?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Much Ado about NOTHING

Would YOU Make a Good Manger?

I spend a lot of time, both in my day job and in my occasional freelance assignments, fixing up other people's writing -- including their typographical errors, or as they are popularly known, typos. I sometimes even, jokingly, call myself a "typo cop". These little slips of the mind or the typing fingers are easy for me to spot (it helps that I get paid to find them), provided they are made by other people. My own are much harder to see, because, like every other writer, I know what I meant to say, and so, I see "the" when reviewing my own writing, even if it's spelled teh. (In the copyediting trade, we call that particular type of error a vowel movement.)

I guess that's what happened to a writer (and copyeditor?) for a New York City newspaper who committed this sentence to print:

"Perhaps most notably, 58 percent of the surveyed bosses said they hadn't received any management training whatsoever before becoming a manger."

Becoming a manger? Merriam-Webster defines "manger" as "a trough or open box in a stable designed to hold feed or fodder for livestock." That's not how I think of any bosses I have had, though some might have been more effective had they heeded that calling.

What would it mean to become a manger? Surely it wouldn't require a lot of management training. Would it be a bad life? After all, thanks to a certain story in the Bible, mangers have a much more exalted place in Western culture than any other piece of farm equipment. Perhaps most of us would rather be a manger than, say, a milking machine or a manure spreader. It wouldn't be a difficult job, lying around in a barn while cows eat hay or grain off your concave abdomen. It might tickle though, or irritate -- cows have sandpapery tongues -- and it would surely become boring in a hurry. Still, I suppose there are worse ways to spend one's day....

How did I get on this subject?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Random Acts of Poetry


Imagine a calm vista of him:
no more ring of tension,
no memento of costly outbursts
that filled tissue after tissue
with tears.

He is a smooth-running engine,
repaired and comfortable
with every metallic edge,
with a salty sea of corrosion,
while refineries pump their soothing oil.

The night is bathed
with a wet fog, a cool washcloth
that dampens the fire in the forest--
nude trees assuming
the color of iron--

and the secrets that swirl
behind his forehead:
blackened images flying
like witches above the Pacific,
chasing a teeming moon.



Do you need a pan flute? Nah. Or maybe a new god?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Word of the Day: punctiform

punctiform (adj)

Shaped or formed like a point or dot.

"But with her it was different: the happiness I derived from her was the joy of being concealed, punctiform, in her, and of protecting her, punctiform, in me; it was at the same time vicious contemplation (thanks to the promiscuity of the punctiform convergence of us all in her) and also chastity (given her punctiform impenetrability)."
--Italo Calvino, Cosmicomics

Strange word, which yields a number of weird, rather icky (though safe for work) images if you click on the Google images link above.

The Calvino quote must hold the record for the number of uses of "punctiform" in a sentence. It comes from a circa 1965 short story narrated by an entity existing inside the conceptual point that contained all matter before the Big Bang, before time and space existed. (We would call it a singularity today.) That's a "state", if you will, that the human mind can't conceive of, but Calvino, by giving it a humorous voice, makes it a somewhat approachable notion.

Something else that's both punctiform and inconceivable, or nearly so: the Braille menu I saw in a fast-food restaurant recently. Just gimme those nuggets.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The T&T List

Miley Cyrus
Jawbone Jambox
Clovis people
Trylle Trilogy
Burj Khalifa
Nacho Mastretta
vegetable frittata
Pareto's law
Your Man in India
Zeo headband



Here's what's really going on in David Lynch's Inland Empire -- or an interpretation, anyway, including a comparison with Inception, and with lots of excellent screen caps from the UK Blu-Ray release.

BTW, there's a whole book on this subject.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Photo of the Week: Head Shot

deer head

Just try to imagine a scenario that would enable me to shoot such a thing. (The photo, not the deer!)

(A) I was on a Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me location shoot. This was a prop for the scene (not included in the final cut of the film) in which the Log Lady beats Leland Palmer over the head with her log as he dances to a scratchy vinyl recording of the big-band hit "When The Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob Bobbin' Along".

(B) I was covering a druid ceremony in Venison, New Jersey, as a reporter for Gnosis magazine, at which a deer was ritually slaughtered.

(C) I was wandering around at the Bouckeville Antiques Fair in upstate New York one August searching for quirky finnimbruns (look it up!) to photograph.

Click the pic for closer inspection. You know you want to.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Head Rattle


Elizabeth Taylor: dead. My favorite celluloid Liz memory is seeing a score of "Nubian" slaves hauling her on a giant Sphinx, while she's wearing a solid gold bird-feather hoodie, into the "Roman forum" before a cheering crowd of thousands of plebians and aristocrats (extras; "who's catering this gig?"), and then bowing before Rex Harrison/Julius Caesar and giving him (and us) a big wink. That was both the apotheosis and last gasp of the old Hollywood, even if it was shot in Rome.


Never was a big Duran Duran fan, although I always liked the melodramatic "A View to a Kill". How about that live DD concert stream last night, overlayed with a random grab-bag of Lynchian tropes and doodling: fire, smoke, spinning objects, industrial widgets, dancing dolls, cheese heads, etc.? Kinda silly. Funds, though, for a future feature, one hopes. Big fish?


What is an "intellectual fantasy"? Apparently, I'm going to find out as I read (yes, read) Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino. Reach out and touch the moon? Quite literally? Okay....

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Random Acts of Poetry

Talk Radio

When they see executions as an essential aspect of their movement, the clear ones mentally excavate the channels of their clocks and bookshelves, and distribute chrism among a series of comedians supplied by numerous abusive childhoods and directorates. These methods were perfected by factory workers. Oil paintings of their labors abound in each house, where the lights polish the dark windows like sunbeams on opaque ponds, and the sounds of creaking attic floorboards lend poignancy to the spiraling psychodramas that disturb all moralizing trumpet players -- those that beat the walls with their electric agitation. The siblings, who sit looking sullen in the dim light, drink from jam jars, contemplating violence and longing for public recognition of their great endeavors and the bouquets of the city. The roar of the pistons, the precipitation of steam, and the sweat of heavy men is recorded as hard music, songs derived from righteous masturbation and a riotous fate.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Word of the Day: lamprophony

lamprophony (n)

Vocal loudness and clarity.

"For one not ordinarily given to hysteria or undue lamprophony, she sure let out all the stops; on that oral occasion her anti-airplane philippic peeled paper off the walls, all of the house plants turned brown, and neither of the dogs showed up for three days."
--The AOPA Pilot

Some people are in love with the sound of their own voice. Some deserve to be, being mellifluous enough to go pro with their utterance; others are just loud. When I can hear every word you say even if there is a thick wall between us, you need to pipe down. This means you, semi-detached neighbors who apparently conduct demented exorcisms next door.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Fish Food for Thought

philosofish 27 small

Agree? More clip-art philosophy by me (and Umberto Eco). You can catch the BIG fish here.

More Philosofish here.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Random Sequence

[random phrases worked into a story]

Infatuate Mightiness

John and A.J., two middle-aged, unemployed actors, sat at a bar, sipping Yeunglings. It was Valentine's Day, but neither had a Valentine.
"So what is it you're looking for, then?" John asked.
"In a woman?"
"No, in a robot! Yes, in a woman," John said. "Your ideal."
"Well, let's see... physically, I like an aphrodisiac blondness and a certain unaccented slightness," said A.J.
John rolled his eyes. "You've been reading the dictionary again," he said. "What the hell do you mean?"
"A blonde, to put it plainly. And one that doesn't look like a commodious flowerpot."
John choked a little on his beer as he snickered. "I shouldn't drink with poets," he said. "How about some nice cleavage, huh?"
"You are a caveman," said A.J. "But yes, I like a woman who dresses with a little exciting peekaboo."
"One that plays hard to get?"
"Nah, but not an overeager kisser -- not at first," said A.J. "And I don't like a woman who takes an odoriferous shortcut, if you know what I mean."
"No I don't," said John with a sigh.
"I don't like perfume," said A.J. "I'm looking for a certain wifely fluidity," he added after a long pause.
"I mean, I want a woman who'll act like a wife when appropriate but more like a buddy at other times."
"Good luck."
"But I'll know her when I see her. And maybe I'll throw all those prerequisites out the window," said A.J. "My own... infatuate mightiness -- that's what I really want."
"I give up," said John, draining his beer. I'm going home to my dog. And my thesaurus."

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Photo of the Week

chandelier 1

Here we see the planet Corona, home to phosphorescent, silicon-based life forms that resemble cubic zirconia and....

Nevermind. This is a chandelier that caught my eye at the local lighting-fixture store. Click it and bedazzle yourself.

If you're a lunatic, better look up and howl at the full "supermoon" tonight. It's at perigee. If you don't know what that means, this will explain it. The supermoon is also called the "full worm moon" and the "full crow moon" -- Algonquin (Native American) terms for the March moon that heralds the return of spring, when earthworms reappear and crows start...crowing.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

(or felt)

Surreal: I had lunch today with a leprechaun... or a guy dressed as one (see March 11 below). Walking through the streets of Newark, New Jersey, with a leprechaun makes one appreciate one's everyday anonymity.

Paranoid: Man and woman (clearly not a "couple" couple) who keep glancing at me on the 8:45 LR train but pretending not to: whoever you think I am, I'm not him.

Peeved: at my neighbors who keep dumping their pre-digital TV sets and cathode-tube computer monitors out on the street, expecting the garbage men to pick them up. They can't, chuckleheads. That's hazmat. That's why it's still sitting there three days later, waiting for you to send it to a Chinese landfill.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Word of the Day: nihilarian

nihilarian (n)

One who deals with useless or unimportant things, or is engaged in trivial activities.

"At loose ends after his assignment ended, Caleb became a nihilarian, spending each day starting and then abandoning crossword puzzles, walking aimlessly around the neighborhood, and polishing the silverware."
--Mel Ghaciates, Figments & Fragments

"Nihilarian" would be a splendid name for a blog, or maybe "nilhilarity". Blogging may seem useless, but I used to scribble ad nauseum in an actual diary, which nobody read except me. Truly nihilarious, because I couldn't stand to read it -- and still can't. I tend to be an extreme solipsist when writing only for myself. Or talking to myself. A transcript of that would be a word salad with pine-nut dressing.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Brain Dump


The games people play the stock market economy size of the problem child of nature photography album of the year of the RABBIT hole in the wall street journal of the American Medical Association with shady characters for your novel or short story of my life in the fast lane change of pace maker of the genuine Swiss Army knife in the back problems or solutions to global warming trend spotting before period piece of cake recipe for disaster planning session player ejected from the game.



New fauxhemians?

"It's about last call, a sloppy kiss goodbye and a solo saunter to a rock show in an abandoned building. It's where a tree grows."

Monday, March 14, 2011

Much Ado about NOTHING

The ongoing saga of my denticles.

9:00 AM: I recline once again on the chaise lounge of pain while dental hygienist "Mindy" invades my orality with various torture instruments, including a pick, a vacuum pump, and an electric sander, while shining a thousand-watt interrogation lamp in my eyes. As always, Mindy begins with some polite banter about current atmospheric conditions as she places a plastic pillow behind my head and swabs my gums with "numbing gel" (which never seems to dull my discomfort). We decide we can agree that we don't like cold weather.

Like all dentists and hygienists, she obtains a perverse pleasure out of asking me questions while my mouth is full of various apparatus. Mindy's favorite question is always "Are you alright?", which she will repeat at least a dozen times during the tribulation, to which I can only grunt a reply like some inarticulate caveman. I would prefer to keep my eyes closed while she roots around in my pie hole, but I know that will only elicit more inquiries as to my state of being: she'll think I've fainted.

So I keep my eyes open, trying not to stare at her nerd-girl face but rather to look out the window at midtown skyscrapers and rooftop water tanks. I try to imagine some twisted voyeur looking back at me through binoculars from a midtown office, taking a perverse pleasure in my distress: Let me entertain you. Then I notice that there is a tiny camera lens attached to the Kleig light that is illuminating my kisser. I'm afraid to ask why.

Periodically, Mindy commands me to rinse with a cup of water mixed with blue mouthwash. I swish and then spit the liquid, mixed with bloody smidgens, into the chair's receptacle. I imagine her watching videos this evening of my plaque removal.

10:05 AM: Finally she finishes with me and hands me a warm, microwaved face towel. "Just like being in a spa, right?" she jests.

"Not quite," I say, wiping my lips. She hands me a card commanding me to return for a repeat tormenting in June.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Long Story Short

The One Sentence archive is a collection of stories told in, yes, one sentence. The 50 most popular sentences/stories, as rated by visitors, are on the linked page, but as the site notes, "Just like high school...sometimes the losers are the cooler kids to hang around with."



What your favorite classic rock band says about you

Actually, I can do two pull-ups.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Word of the Day: tittynope

tittynope (n)

A small quantity of something left over.

"Jebediah kept the late Captain Wagstaff's wooden leg in the attic, as a memento of his days at sea with the old salt. But after the cursed termites got to it, only a tittynope remained."
--Leahcim Setag, Strange Loops

I don't know why I have a hard time throwing leftovers away. We ordered Chinese a week ago, and there's a tittynope of lo mein still in the refrigerator, slowly congealing. Most unappetizing. I don't think any amount of microwaving could resurrect it into an edible state. "Lo mein" is Chinese for "tossed noodles", by the way. And that's what I should do -- toss it.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Head Rattle


Japan. Who needs Godzilla? This is horrifying. Just what the world needs right now: earthquakes, tsunami (they are never called "tidal waves" anymore, for some reason), and nuclear meltdowns. I guess I should stop complaining about the weather. The only earthquakes we have here are a little vibrator every few years that I never notice.


A fellow I work with was offered, on a dare from someone in another department, $100 to come into the office on St. Patrick's Day dressed as a leprechaun, which he already resembles a bit. He says he's going to do it. And he's not even Irish, to my knowledge. His last name is Russian, the same as a famous 19th-century Russian author's. There is such a thing as a Russian leprechaun: you combine Irish whiskey cream and Russian vodka with dry sherry and coffee liqueur. And then you apparently feel like a a leprechaun. (I wouldn't know.)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

H20 to Go?

cup of rain box

Drip, drip, drip. Drip, drip, drip. Dibble, dibble, dibble, drip, drip, drip! Drop, drop, drop. Drop, drop, drop. Dobble, dobble, dobble, drop, drop, drop! Dibble, dibble, dibble, drip, drip, drip. Dobble, dobble, dobble, drop, drop, drop! Drip. Dibble, dibble. Drop. Dobble, dobble. Dibble, drip, drip! Dobble, drop, drop! Drip, drip, drip, drop, drip, drop....

It's raining like crazy here, and I'm about ready to check in to the Weedhaven Laughing Academy.

Snow, rain, wind, frigidity...that is, wintriness. Sick of it.

So here's a "seriously jaw-dropping picture of the sun".

Thanks, CF.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

Excited: Not. The new phone book arrived today. I couldn't find myself inside; instead, I found a post card inserted between Zyadco Wireless Corp. and a "superguarantee" that says, "Residential white pages are not included in this directory. The residential white pages are now online at" Well, that's the end of an era. I always liked looking myself up in the phone book whenever I felt the need for some tangible evidence that I actually exist. But I might have disappeared from it soon anyway, since I'm thinking of getting rid of the land line.

Puzzled: I observed a teenager sucking his thumb in a public place today. Experienced some cognitive dissonance and vicarious embarrassment.

Thoughtful: I'm reading (no quotation marks around the word) The Story of My Disappearance, by Paul Watkins, a psychological adventure-mystery about a fellow living under a false identity. The notion of doing that seems appealing on the surface -- who hasn't fantasized about "disappearing" -- but it seems there's a price to be paid, if I catch Watkins' drift. Eighty-eight pages in; 213 total.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Word of the Day: metagrobolize

metagrobolize (v)

To confuse, perplex.

"We simply hung about deck, moping, oppressed, bored and metagrobolized, none breathing a word to the other. Pantagruel lay slumbering on a stool, close to the upper cabin, a copy of Heliodorus in his hand."
--François Rabelais, The Five Books of Gargantua and Pantagruel:
in the modern translation of Jacques Le Clercq

I'm confused. Is "Heliodorus" a book or a person, François? Probably a human. According to Wikipedia (source of all wisdom), there were umpteen ancient Greeks and Romans with this name. Only one of them, I've just discovered, has a fan page on Facebook, however: Heliodorus of Emesa, whom 10 people in the Book of Faces "like". (Not me; I don't warm up to people quickly, especially if they've been dead for two millennia.)

Heliodorus reputedly wrote a novel called Aethiopica. Now, as an auspicious English major, I was taught that "the novel", as we know it anyway, was invented in the 18th century, not in ancient Greece, so this so-called novel was probably more like an epic poem, a la the Iliad or the Odyssey, except it's described as a "romance", the story of "Theagenes and Chariclea". I'm guessing they were like Romeo and Juliet in togas. Or something. I don't know. The only reason I know about Aethiopica at all is that it also has a fan page on Facebook, well-liked (more than four times more liked than the author himself) by a throng of 44 Facebookies. I'm tempted to "like" it even though I've never heard of it before, let alone read it. "Michael likes Aethiopica" would indubitably get my 161 friends guessing.

Monday, March 07, 2011

The T&T List

Pennsylvania Railroad Harsimus Stem Embankment
Gliese 581g
Changsha bowls
The Stanford Mobile Phone Orchestra
Bahia Bustamante
The Information
Markéta Irglová
ITC Eclat
Enron Corpus
Lupe Fiasco
Pu'u O'o crater
Liquid Galaxy

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Photo of the Week

all you need

It's not often you find a Beatles-quoting graffiti artist, so I couldn't resist snapping a photo of this enlightening message. Damn, why didn't I also photograph the other side of this comfort station, which was emblazoned with "A SOAP IMPRESSION OF HIS WIFE THAT HE ATE AND DONATED TO THE NATIONAL TRUST".

Actually, I just made that up. That's what *I* would have painted on the side of an outhouse.

Click the pic and learn how to be you in time.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Random Sequence

[random phrases worked into a story]

Ignominious Schwa

I'm no "foodie", and I always hated doing freelance photography for Chew magazine -- you know, the rag whose slogan is "What Are You Doing About Chewing?" The worst was having to photograph professional chefs, the planet's leading egotists, in the visual nightmares of their Byzantine kitchens. And the worst of all was the Brit chef and gourmand Caesarian Whitecap. I remember meeting him and being impressed by his prodigious girth and dismayed by his imperious attitude.

"Another intrusion by yet another importunate geek!" he said as I shook his oily hand. "Someone was here last week to photograph my comestibles. Now, my visage must be plastered across your pages. It's not about me. It's about the food!"

"Yes, well, I'll try to be brief," I said as I set up my tripod. "Um, what's cooking?"

He gave me a nasty look. "Is that a genuine inquiry?" he asked. "Or are you just trying to make conversation?"

I didn't know what to say, but he didn't wait for an answer. "Leggy potpie," he said. The French name for it wouldn't mean much to you, I assume."

Mais non, I thought. "What's in it?" I said, adjusting a light. He looked down at his mixing bowl. I noticed that he had three prodigious chins. Not cover material, I would have to inform the editor.

"Frog legs instead of the usual poulet," he said in a musing tone. I could tell he was proud of his concoction. "And inseminated gooseberry."

"Inseminated? With what?"

He sighed and pulled another sour face. How would I ever get him to smile?

"Giorgio Primo La Massa 2007," he said, superciliously.

"Wine?" I asked. He guffawed. Then he grumbled something under his breath. It sounded like "Ignominious schwa!"

"I'll take that as a multilingual honorific," I said. His attitude was starting to piss me off.

"The article this is going to appear in, this, this little postmortem operetta, this 'spread' as you say. Must you include photographs of me in addition to the cuisine?" he asked.

"Your grub isn't enough," I said. "The gluttons want to see who whipped it up. Are you ready, big guy?"

He looked at the lens, sucked in his gut, and struck a kingly pose. "Just don't make me look like some prepackaged torte," he hissed. "I am a souffle."

"Don't worry, Chef Boyardee," I said, instantly regretting it. I thought he might hit me with a rolling pin. Instead, for a moment, he grinned just as I clicked the shutter. The smile made him look less like the porcine owner of a meat market. And a month later his chubby, angelic face appeared on every newsstand in America. I celebrated by eating a bowl of SpaghettiOs.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Random Acts of Poetry

falling man

Haiku 6135

I need batteries
But all the millionaires say
You can fly, buddy

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Word of the Day: kthxbye

kthxbye (adjective, adverb, interjection, noun, verb)

Okay, thanks, good-bye.

"'Kayso, now I must fix my makeup and pick an ensem and then wander the lonely night, searching for the Countess and the vampyre Flood, and maybe drop by the love lair to totally overwhelm Foo with my haunting and eternal but still small-chested beauty. Kthxbye. Being immortal rocks! I can type like demon speed. Fear me! L8z."
--Christopher Moore, Bite Me: A Love Story

"Kthxbye" is a sort of mash-up of those auto-phrases we all tend to use so cavalierly. It's used a lot when leaving a voicemail, I've noticed. Why do humans think they need to cut off the message abruptly at the end with "kthxbye", enunciated at hyper speed before (metaphorically at least) slamming down the phone? It's not like the tape is going to run out on the answering machine anymore. Say good-bye to this...word(?)...okay? Thanks.

Seriously, you never know when it's going to be the last time.

All correct. Thank you. God be with you.


Tuesday, March 01, 2011

'If people could just read behind the hieroglyphic.'

"This is me not on drugs bro."
"I take great umbrage with that."
"There's my life. Deal with it. Oh, wait, can't process it? LOSERS."
"I don't sleep. I wait."
"Here's your cold coffee. Buh-bye."
"I'm done. It's on. Bring it."

Live the Sheen Dream

Semantically speaking, can you tell the difference between Charlie and Muammar?

Charlie Sheen v Muammar Gaddafi