Monday, October 31, 2011

Fish Food for Thought

philosofish 32 small Agree? More clip-art philosophy by me (and Edward Abbey). You can catch the BIG fish here. More Philosofish here.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Photo of the Week

skull sculpture

Happy Halloween! This is the scary porch decoration I made out of kitchen knives, crucifixes, scissors, a saw, wire coat-hangers, and various bits of scrap metal. Creepy, huh? Maybe it will scare away all those little candy moochers. Click it for a closer view, if you dare....

Actually, I just made that up. This is a hanging whatsit that I photographed outside the Operations Museum in London last summer. Believe me, the museum, which preserves the history of medical surgery before the advent of antibiotics and anesthesia, is much scarier than any skull sculpture.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Head Rattle


Snow in October here. Halloween and Christmas intertwined, just like at all the stores. I'm feeling some cognitive dissonace.


Someone enquired about my relationship with Bill again. I'm tired of being asked about it. I'm tired of denying it. So, I told him that Bill IS my cousin. And he didn't believe me. So... why did he ask?


I'm reading a friend's self-published book, a collection of short stories. It's pretty good, overall. A few people have suggested to me that I publish a book, and I certainly have enough material. The problem is I don't have enough people I could guilt trip or blackmail into buying it (not that that's the reason I bought the friend's book). Color me ambivalent.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Random Acts of Poetry


Dreamed the sea,
that inconceivable Peace,
the one to which all flippers,
effluent streams,
day-tripping dippers,
sunburning sex,
and catamarans are irrelevant,
the soft wound
from the moon's nativity
and mirror to her exile;
you could turn away or even leave
but it was there,
the magnetic tides
threading nets of remnants,
behind the eyes
and eardrums, arousing
waves of immanence
your most diaphanous
perceptions are yet too coarse
for sanding.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Brain Dump

Sometimes if you stare at the headlines long enough, they start to seem like surreal poetry.

[Actual Google News and New York Times headlines]
"With New Smartphones, High Hopes for Nokia and Microsoft Union": I'm amazed that employees of these companies are being allowed to form a joint union -- and with the organizing aid of smartphones no less.... "Kirstie Alley May Lead 'Hollywood Whores' to Broadway": I knew she was having career problems, but I didn't think she'd have to resort to the world's oldest profession. Does she really think she and her ring will be more successful on 42nd Street than on the Sunset Boulevard?.... "Bringing Out the Superhero Side of Mr. Mom": Change a few diapers, and a guy's a superhero.... "No ear popping, dry eyes for 787 passengers": That's a lot of passengers. They must be talking about a cruise ship full of keratoconjunctivitis sicca sufferers with ear impactions.... I could go on, but I'll spare you.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

Ambivalent. IQ84, Haruki Murakami's 1,000-page (or thereabouts) tome, is out. You'll see that enigmatic cover girl's face staring from every bookstore window. Now I have to decide whether to download it onto my brand-new e-reader or listen to the audiobook. It might be a bit overwhelming to make something that epic in scale the first thing I read on my... thing. On the other hand, I'm not sure if I want to commit 40+ hours to listening to it. That would take more than a month if I just listened while commuting. But I don't know how long it would take me to read 1,000 pages of surreal Japanese-translated-to-English prose, either.

I wish this book was being published in installments, as it was in Japan -- it was divided into three novels there. If I had an IQ of 84, it might make the decision easier.... By the way, the Japanese pronunciation of "Q" is similar to how we English-speakers say "nine". So the title is a play on Orwell's 1984, and in fact, the novel is set in that year. Clever, Haruki.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Word of the Day: opuscule

opuscule (n)

A small, minor work.

"Although doubts still linger about the origin and authorship of this opuscule, no one would think of minimizing its doctrinal importance in the history of medieval metaphysics."
--Dennis J. Brand, The Book of Causes

"Opuscule" -- it sounds like a fancy word for a pimple, doesn't it?

The small, minor work I'm working on at the moment (though mostly in my head so far) is a short fictional story about a woman with a squeaky shoe. There are certain sounds that I find intensely annoying, and that is one of them. Others are the classic nails on a chalkboard, feedback, balloon rubbing, nose blowing, and smoke-detector bleeping. Put me in a room with all of those sounds occurring at once and I think my head would explode. Or maybe implode.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Blame It on the Moon

Did you know that each full moon has its own name, derived from Native American tradition? This is where the phrase "once in a blue moon" comes from. We will soon be observing the annual Beaver Moon (November 10th), also known as the Frosty Moon. Yes, readers, it's time once again to set your beaver traps, before the swamps freeze over, so you'll have a supply of warm winter furs.

more here

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Photo of the Week

piece by Norm

I feel this way sometimes. Click it to get up close and personal.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Search Party

Here are a few recent search queries that brought seekers to this temple of scribomania.

imitation alabaster

I will accept nothing less than GENUINE alabaster.

alfred hitchcock doll

Really? Where can I get one? The suspense is killing me.

cheesy movie plot

My favorite is "Bikini Secrets":

"Mistaking aesthetics for ethics, a philosophy grad student (Harry Hamlin) convinces the neighborhood girls to wear nothing but bikinis after witnessing a hot-body contest. In the brief moments she wears clothes, Jennifer (Julie Strain) heats up the pool, the screen, and the sales figures. Richard Roundtree exceeds expectations as the Christ figure, Mitch."

Machines, Abstraction and Women

Sounds like a David Lynch art exhibit. Oh wait....


New Jersey should annex Pennsylvania and rename itself this. Our XXL governor likes to throw his weight around and could use some super-sized geography.

The Failure of American Typology in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf konkle

What? You actually landed on my page when you searched for THAT? This is not The Journal of the Humanities.

blonde rabbits

A blonde... rabbits... Inland Empire?

buick named maude

Do people still drive Buicks? If I had one, I would name it Mildred.

ostrobogulous hedgehog

You will recall, regular readers, that "ostrobogulous" means "something weird, bizarre, unusual or pornographic". Hedgehogs are already pretty weird without any abstruse adjectives. Or is that the h-hog's name, à la Sonic? "Ostrobogulous the Hedgehog"? I could get on board with that.

what fast food restaurants have grey poupon

None? I always bring my own.

Beatitude: Dictionary of Jive

Blessed are the facetious, for they shall reveal absurdity.

hello kitty glass ashtray

How could anyone grind their butt out on that adorable face?

I'm mad, you're mad, we're all mad here


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The T&T List

Icarus Interstellar
Nika Roza Danilova
Melissa Harris-Perry
the Numi
the Pantanal
Mayo Methot
Alkoholen delirium
Ida Random
Spasm bands

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Word of the Day: whigmaleerie

whigmaleerie (n)

A notion or whim; also something contrived, a gimmmick.

"A flivver in flubberized flight, made possible by an absent-minded professor's discovery of the Law of Repulsive Attraction, is the latest whigmaleerie from Walt Disney's workshop of whimsy, although there is no end to what the man is up to."
----"Bounce and Bonanzas", staff, Life magazine, April 7, 1961

Notions can be dangerous. My wyfe and I were discussing possible Halloween costumes for the party we're invited to, and off the top of my head, I jokingly suggested she create a character named Helena Handbasket. I didn't expect her to take it seriously, but now she's constructing a basket to wear out of old garden hose (?!). It seems pretty wiggy (whiggy?) to me. (For lack of a better idea, I'm thinking I'll simply dress up as a tourist -- you know, Hawaiian shirt, camera and lei around my neck, sunglasses, NYC brochure in my chest pocket, and some kind of asshole hat. Maybe socks with sandals, too. I'll go around asking people how to get to the Statue of Liberty. Trick or treat?)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Music of the Spheres

Perfect background noise for a Halloween party, or a low-budget flying-saucer movie: NASA's recordings of eerie radio emissions from the planet Saturn (via the Cassini space probe) can be downloaded as a WAV file here. I'm a big fan of "white noise," particularly as a sleep aid, but these unearthly tones would give me nightmares.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Much Ado about NOTHING

Secret Life

At this weekend's Golden Door International Film Festival, I attended a screening of a fascinating little documentary by a Jersey City filmaker entitled the secret life of my small urban backyard. (Intentional lowercase.) It's a visual tour of the exotic insect life one can find (with an extreme close-up lens) less than two miles from New York City. It featured lots of miniature sex and violence, leavened by a dulcifying musical drone and the filmmaker's calm New Zealand accent.

It got me thinking about what could be going on in my own backyard, on both the micro and macro level. I suppose I could make a sitcom about the family of possums living in the tool shed or a medical drama about the strangely cancerous-looking (and mostly inedible) McIntosh apples that are currently being shed by the tree that dominates my little patch of urban landscape. But nah. And I'm too squeamish to investigate what is going on with all the fruit flies, and who knows what other multi-legged monsters, that are buzzing around the compost bin. I'm better off just writing about such glamorous topics, I think. I know my lane.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Photo of the Week: Desktop


Yes, a desktop -- the old-fashioned kind. It's not my desk; this is a desk I observed and photographed when I visited the caretaker's house at a local cemetery. No, nobody died, nor was I paying my respects to the dearly departed. I was there to attend an art exhibit that my wyfe dragged me to, but I found this collection of objects on the caretaker's escritoire far more interesting than anything hanging on the walls. Peppers, papers, portraits, a pointer, a prince of peace... enough alliteration. Click the pic for a closer view. You know you want to, nosy.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"You have the vocabulary of an aspidistra in panic."

Everyone could use a compliment now and then, but it can be 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.

Anathema comes ever to mind when thinking of you.

Your face is like an imperfectly shaven tennis ball.

Your aquiline senescence implores me to generalize within the realms of a starfish's lifelong hallucinations of gelatin pools and of actuaries floating upon the Rhine.

Entranced by the bitter harmony of your lips, I gaze beyond reason to find the oasis of your ruptured soul.

You are truly a wristwatch in a world of lumps.

You have the vocabulary of an aspidistra in panic.

Wallets of fur would bombard a triassic keychain rather than dialyse in your equable fishtank.

You ever remind me of the enigma of postage not sent.

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

Your raw sensuality flusters me like a dog sneezing into a ventilation fan.

Tribes of primitve hunters, with rhinestone codpieces rampant, should build pyramids of Chevy engines covered in butterscotch syrup to exalt the diastolic, ineffable, scintillated and cacophonous salamander of truth which slimes and distracts from each and every orifice of your holy refrigerator, Sears be its brand.

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

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Head Rattle


I've finally invested in an e-reader, which arrived today. Cool, but I'm currently mid-way through a conventional print-'n'-paper tome -- perhaps my last? -- and perusal of electronic compositions will have to wait a little longer.


Someone sitting right behind me in a restaurant today was scat singing and performing various musical vocalizations in a soft but quite perceptible voice. I didn't want to turn around and stare, because it might have been perceived as rude and also because I got the impression from the disjointed quality of his medley that the fellow was most likely demented. No one else was paying him any mind, which I thought was a little odd and made me consider, for a moment, if maybe I was the crazy one.


Somebody showed me a picture of a sleeping puppy embracing a teddy bear -- an image of almost unbearable cuteness -- and I suggested to a guy I know who plays in a punk band that it could be his next album cover. "Fantastic idea!" he said, seemingly sincerely. I guess irony is not dead.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Word of the Day: contortuplicate

contortuplicate (adj)

Braided or twisted.

"Aware of such fabrications and embellishments, Stravinsky made it clear that he was uncomfortable. His copy of Conversations with Igor Stravinsky includes questions about Craft's garnishing of simple responses, for instance in a floridly descriptive phrase, 'kaleidoscopic montages for contortuplicate personalities.' Stravinsky underlined the passage and expressed his surprise with an exclamation mark in the margin."
--Charles M. Joseph, Stravinsky Inside Out

One of the artist's studios I visited during the recent Jersey City Studio Arts Tour (aka "the artists' studio tour") included some works that I found both fascinating and horrifying: constructions of found objects, cheap toys, plastic flowers, cast-off household objects, and all sorts of flotsam and jetsam, all twisted together with wire into 3D assemblages. There were many, many of these compilations, some small and some large, all over the studio. They were certainly artistically created, but I couldn't help being reminded of my wyfe's late aunt's house in California. She was a hoarder, and visiting her home was like walking around inside one of these agglomerations, which I, in the aunt's case, assumed were the physical manifestation of a troubled mind. It was hard to see at first, but there was a kind of mad order to her placement of all the clutter. Madness or genius? It's often hard to decide.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

Freaked. I was at a party last night where a couple of people that I don't remember ever meeting (doesn't necessarily mean I never did) greeted me by name. This happens every once in a while, and always makes me fantasize about having a computer chip in my head that would prompt me with the name of every person I lay eyes on. I'm sure it will be possible someday, along with the ability to surf the web in one's head -- another favorite fantasy.

Amused. The new issue of Weird, N.J. has arrived. (And I heard one of the editors interviewed on WFMU today.) There's something oddly comforting (not to mention entertaining) when reading about the experiences of people who visit haunted hotels, build 15-foot models of the Twin Towers in their backyards, see mysterious triangles in the sky, and encounter big, red-eyed monsters along lonely New Jersey roadsides at 3 A.M. They make me feel... normal (if a little boring) but also proud to be living in a state where such unusual things occur/seem to occur. Who knows?

Amused II. Why do people on the Internets keep saying they don't understand what David Lynch's Mulholland Drive is about, or what is going on in that film? To me it seems rather obvious -- much more so than in his Lost Highway or, God knows, Inland Empire. It's not just about objective reality, geniuses, it's about wishful dreams and what goes on in someone's head, and how different that can be from "reality". How appropriate that it is set in Tinsel Town. It's probably the best movie ever about Hollyweird, with the possible exception of Sunset Boulevard (notice the similarity in titles).

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Random Sequence

[random phrases worked into a story]

Irksome Twerp

Clive, a supreme introvert who somehow managed to be the office's inveterate irritant, made herculean attempts at sociability. Every Thursday, he held a "comfy conclave" for several of his "friends", who were actually his long-suffering employees. The theme this particular week, he announced with lascivious euphony,  was Apoplectic Erotica -- though to Clive, this just signified a group viewing of 9 1/2 Weeks. "Sanitized crud", said his administrative aid, under his breath, to the sales manager, who was not-so-secretly an aficionado of funicular bondage. "This is vexatious selectivity," commented the bookkeeper during the third "week". "I wanted to see The DaVinci Coed."

(Most of the phrases come from here.)

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Brain Dump / Much Ado about NOTHING


Nothing Special

"Quantum theory predicts that empty space should exert a repulsive force, like dark energy, but one that is stronger than what the astronomers have measured, leaving some physicists mumbling about multiple universes."
--"Three astronomers share Nobel Prize in physics", New York Times

Nothing is not a golden curtain rising. Nothing is not a jellyfish. Nothing is not a Starbucks coffee mug. Nothing is not a flatscreen. Nothing is not a grapefruit. Nothing is not a basketball. Nothing is not a hydroponic garden. Nothing is not a state of unrest. Nothing is not a hashtag. Nothing is not Webster's Third New International Dictionary. Nothing is not a Weed Wacker. Nothing is not a neat freak. Nothing is not a bulldog. Nothing is not a door knocker. Nothing is not a chandelier. Nothing is not a cookbook. Nothing is not "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill". Nothing is not a dishwasher. Nothing is not an anesthetic. Nothing is not a podcast. Nothing is not a skylight. Nothing is not a stop sign. Nothing is not a biplane. Nothing is not an iPhone. Nothing is not a cow. Nothing is not a corndog. Nothing is not a Douglas fir. Nothing is not a coyote. Nothing is not a watch fob. Nothing is not a creationist. Nothing is not a madhouse. Nothing is not Sacajawea or John Philip Sousa. Nothing is not a happy ending.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Word of the Day: rhathymia

rhathymia (n)

Light-hearted, carefree behavior.

"Corruption and collusion apart, the system discouraged initiative in making decisions. Better to avoid responsibility and stick to the rule book, the diagramma. From this sprang slackness, rhathymia, long delays in reaching decisions or paying out salaries, and downright collousness in ignoring positive distress."
--Iorwerth Eiddon Stephen Edwards, The Cambridge Ancient History

I need more rhathymia. Maybe we all do. The last time I engaged in any rhathymia was... hmm. I guess last Saturday, during the local Artist's Studio Tour, when I visited the studio of a sculptor who makes large Rube Goldberg-style contraptions out of metal pipes, wooden sticks, gears, bicycle chains, small electric motors, and dripping water. Many of them included hand cranks that visitors could turn to make various gadgets perform actions, like opening and closing a fish mouth (some of them were in the form of metallic fish) or make water tip cups over and ring bells. As I turned those cranks, I was five years old again... except... I kept thinking about the word rhathymia.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Head Rattle


Someone who frequently sits next to me has a talking shoe and likes to make little mouse noises with it in a semi-conscious way while engaged in some sort of absorbing business. It doesn't happen constantly, and it's such a little (yet torturous) squeak.... Should I break my wall of silence and tell her to oil her damn shoe? I guess I'll have to before my brain congeals.


At the 4th Street Music Festival last weekend, I took refuge in one of the vendor's tents when a monsoon-like downpour suddenly started. It was a fellow who sells blow-up images from smutty old paperbacks on framed canvases -- covers from the type of trash literature that isn't published anymore but that decades ago one might find in an "adult" bookstore. (Do those even exist anymore?) He also has images from wacky old sci-fi novels, and a few that combine elements of both. He gave me his business card, which on one side depicts the cover for a scholarly tome entitled The Oversexed Astronauts, by (ha ha) M. Coxe. The cover depicts two guys wearing only the bottom haves of their spacesuits and having their way with a couple of naked astronettes. Under the title it says "Three glowing specimens of male virility with plenty of staying power in a round-the-clock orgy that was outasite." There's an upright rocket in the background. Subtle.

Random Acts of Poetry


I see pale
in a looming evening
in a dark room.
I see me,

sitting on a cushion,
paying close attention
to spooling

stirring only to close
a window against
traffic racket
or relieve
cramped ankles,

eyes closed,
to a mysterious
like "chrysalis,"

silently chiming.
I'm beginning
not to care
so awfully much.