Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Search Party

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

funny woodchuck faces

Not sure how someone lands here when searching on this phrase. I guess I mentioned once that my late father used to shoot woodchucks. And I'm sure that did wipe the funny right off their faces.

two cigarettes in the dark

After they do the nasty, I suppose. The mid 20th century album cover below, which I found in my mother's junk room, implied a more innocently romantic scenario -- and clearly introduced a new definition of the word "dark".

2 cigarettes

the lost dr seuss poems

Are there some? Probably lost for good reason. No way they could top The Cat in the Hat or Green Eggs and Ham, which should both be in the Norton Anthology of American Literature. Anyway, write your own. "Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try."

how long do it take water vapor to freeze

How long do it take? Much longer than it takes to type the letters "e" and "s".

twisting eyelids


mermaid jumping out of water

I often feel like a fish out of water. Maybe I should put a glam spin on it and say I feel like a mermaid jumping out of water. Feels better!

vintage pics of creepy people with dunce caps

How does one appear in a vintage photo wearing a dunce cap and not look creepy?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Head Rattle


I saw the film Carrie for the first time (!) at the Landmark Loews Jersey Theatre on Saturday. Like many horror movies, it seemed to me to be as much a satire as a scarefest. Piper Laurie (of Twin Peaks fame), who played the fanatically religious mother in the film, was there for the showing (she's also promoting a book), and mentioned that the first time she read the script, she thought it was a comedy. I can see that, actually -- it could have been directed that way. Luckily it wasn't.


I rarely have long phone conversations, but I participated in an hour-long yack session on my iPhone today. I like the iPhone, but I don't think it was ever intended for such marathon telephony. Keeping it pressed to my ear for that long was somewhat painful. Maybe I should get one of those retro handsets that you can plug into it. Hmm.


What is it about bubble paper that so fascinates? Some people around me today were popping it -- today is national Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day -- and it was like having miniature firecrackers going off for hours on end. Somewhat annoying while I was trying to concentrate, although I admit I've enjoyed the tiny frisson of popping it myself at times. But there's an app for that....

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Word of the Day: perspicacious

perspicacious (adj)

Having keen understanding, mental perception or discernment.

"This world where she had lived for eleven years was magical, too, in so many ways, if a person was perspicacious enough to notice the numerous wonders of it. Perspicacious was her new favorite word. It meant 'having keen insight,' an almost uncanny ability to see through -- and to comprehend -- what is dark and obscure. Unfortunately, there was a terrible shortage of perspicacity these days but veritable oceans of dark and obscure."
--Dean Koontz, What the Night Knows

Sometimes I think I'm really good at seeing through people -- at discernment -- but then I find out they have as many layers as an onion, and I've only penetrated the top layer. You find out the quiet guy is writing horror scripts in his spare time. The corporate executive is teaching guitar lessons on the side. And the checkout lady of a certain age at the supermarket wows everybody with a jaw-dropping dance routine on American Idol. (All true.) It's a good thing I like people who are full of surprises. Otherwise, I would spend a lot of time being... disconcerted.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Much Ado about NOTHING


When I used to work at home (as a a freelance text engineer) I had a little office set up on the top floor of chez MG here. It's still there, actually, but I almost never use it, not since accepting full-time employment as a cubicle jockey (and text engineer) about five years ago. I had a desk, some bookshelves, a computer and printer, a plug-in coffee pot, and not enough clients. All that, and my aquarium, right next to the computer, so I could watch my tropical fishes swim around and around, getting nowhere, not unlike myself. Since I don't hang out in this office space anymore, the aquarium has become rather neglected of late.

The other day, while chasing the floating corpse of a neon tetra-fish abound the tank with a tiny net, it occurred to me that I should move the whole shebang downstairs, to an underutilized table near the kitchen, where the fishes could be admired and better cared for, and where I'd be shamed into cleaning the tank more often, it being harder to ignore by myself and others. So that's the plan for this weekend. I'm going to have to drain most of the water out, so I can comfortably carry the thing down the stairs. And I may or may not need to temporarily transfer my finny friends to a fish bowl.

I'm going to try to avoid doing that if I can. I don't want to traumatize them. Do fish get PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)? I always think they have no real memory, at least not in the human sense, since their brains are so tiny. But they seem to recognize me whenever I'm close to the tank and about to feed them. They swim close the the glass, as if in agitated anticipation, like pigs when the farmer comes around with the slop. (How's that for an elegant simile?) No doubt the move is going to rock their little world. But five minutes after it's done, they'll have forgotten it ever happened... I think.

There are a few recollections I'd like to erase so easily, but I'm more like an elephant than a fish when it comes to memory.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Former English Major Blows Off Steam

Sometimes, I just feel like hurling Shakespearean insults:

Thine face is not worth sunburning!
Thou qualling fat-kidneyed apple-john!
How now my sweet creature of bombast?
Thou warped common-kissing wagtail!
Truly thou art damned, like an ill-roasted egg, all on one side!
Your bedded hairs, like life in excrements, start up and stand on end!
Would thou wert clean enough to spit upon!
Sell your face for five pence and 'tis dear!
How now, wool-sack, what mutter you?
Thou hath not so much brain as ear wax!
Thou stale old mouse eaten dry cheese!
Thou wimpled tardy-gaited pigeon-egg!

You could go around muttering these all day long, like some addled curmudgeon, and assuming you didn't raise your voice too much, no one would even know they were being castigated. You'd just hear a lot of "What?" -- to which you could reply "Oh, nothing. Just quoting the Bard. 'To be or not to be'...how does the rest of that go?"

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The T&T List


Perry White
On High in Blue Tomorrows
Child Mind Institute
"Tubular Bells"
The Universal Zulu Nation
Digital humanists



There are 17 holidays devoted to coffee.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Word of the Day: pasticcio

pasticcio (n)

A work or style consisting of borrowed fragments, ingredients,
or motifs assembled from various sources; a potpourri.

"What did it matter if the work were a spurious thing, a pasticcio, a poor victim which had been pulled this way and that, changed, cut, added to?"
--Robert Smythe Hichens, The Way of Ambition

"On one occasion an old man sang quite glibly a tune which was in reality a pasticcio of three separate shanties all known to me."
--Sir Richard Runciman Terry, The Shanty Book, Part I, Sailor Shanties

Hey, all you wordcatchers, I know this sounds like something you might order in an Italian restaurant, but it appears in the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, so I think it's worth featuring as my WotD. (I try to stick to English lexemes here.)

I've just started reading a book (or, perhaps you might call it a monograph) entitled Old World Politics, New World Prophecy, which is billed as an explanation of Inland Empire, the very confusing but weirdly fascinating (to me anyway) film/puzzle by David Lynch, which is sort of a cinematic pasticcio. The author delves into Eastern European mythology and other arcana to develop a theory of what the hell that was all about, and even apparently argues that the talking-rabbit sitcom scenes were not non sequiturs. (If something is not a non, is it a plain old sequitur?) It's received excellent reviews from the Lynch mob, so I'm looking forward to being enlightened.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Brain Dump

I'm not much of a joiner, due to a semi-disastrous experience with an organization during one of my earlier incarnations. Still, these all sound like fun groups (or maybe like 1950s-era pulp sci-fi book titles):

Water Magi of the Galaxy
Adventurers of the Unspeakable
Brigade of Prodestroyers
Challengers of the Infinity
Mob of Omnicommandos
Order of Cerebrovillains
Hive of Metamutants
Reserve of Turboassasins
Unspeakable Quasininjas
Mysterious Hyposentinels
Mechasentinels of Evil
Order of Psionic Ultraheroes and Mysterious Quasininjas

I think if I had to join one, it would be the Order of Cerebrovillains.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Random Acts of Poetry


I may have been this pebble
long before the earth
tore the moon from its heart,
or the blue boulders clashed
and tumbled off their edges.

Later, a Paleozoic moment
in a flooded cave:
I held a latent universe
rolled like a scroll
in trilobite synapses.

I knew nothing
but a salt solution then,
and crinkled sand,
and waves heaving epochs
against a vanished shore.

In me I keep the stone I was,
the lizard I became.
He is not dead, only sleeping
on some sun-warmed table rock,
digesting the dream of time.



This is where I spend my days.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Head Rattle


I found an old book in a box in the basement. And when I say old, I mean ancient: it was published in 1871, and as far as I can tell, it's a first edition. It's also signed by the author, W. W. Hall, M.D. The title is Everybody's Life Preserver, which is really the best thing about this book. It's a 333-page collection of banal "maxims" like "A healthy fool is happier than a sick Solomon." True enough, I suppose, but... meh. I could make up better ones myself. ("It doesn't take a tidal wave to turn a waterwheel." --M.G.) The book is not in bad shape at all for being 141 years old, though. Maybe it's worth something. When is Antiques Road Show coming back to town?


Somehow my alarm clock got reset from 6:30 AM to 6:40 AM. Those 10 minutes of extra sleep mean I've had to hustle more in the morning to leave on time, but they've also helped me to remember vivid dreams that I apparently have just before I wake up. Some of the characters in these dreams are people I know in real life, but some minor players are not people I recognize. It's as if I've hired a casting company to populate my head with extras.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Word of the Day: chaogenous

chaogenous (adj)

Arising out of chaos.

"Then soon chaogenous dreams of revenge were fuming in his serpent brain, the last of his sanity burned out, and he called her to him."
--John Gardner, Jason and Medeia

I'm a believer in contained chaos. I stuff all my snail mail, junk and otherwise, into an antique roll-top desk in the living room, always with the intention of going through it and throwing all the flotsam away on the weekend. But I rarely get to it. Still, I know where to find it. When I open the desk, it all looks chaotic, but it's contained.

It's the same with my closet, which is really too cramped to accommodate my entire wardrobe of dotcom-casual classics, not to mention some more formal attire. So I usually just throw the apparel that doesn't ever need to look as if it has met with a hanger or a drawer -- like the sweats I sleep in -- on the closet floor. It's a chaotic heap of garments, but it's out of site... contained. This is how I finesse my mess.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Photo of the Week

texture 2

As the weather around here has turned increasingly frigid, the skin on my hands has become extremely dry -- so dry that it cracks and bleeds around the joints sometimes. I keep forgetting to slather on moisturizer before I go out into the arctic chill, I rarely wear mittens, and the result is what you see above. Out of sheer perversity, I asked my lab technician friend to look at my hand under his microscope and photograph the damage. Ouch! Yes, that's my own personal Kalahari or Mars-scape above, magnified 250 times.

Actually, I just made that up. This is my photo of the rather odd exterior wall treatment on a building up the street from where I live. I can't decide if it's a very sloppy job of tiling or an intentional, and artistic, crackle effect. Why don't you click on it for a close up? Maybe you can tell.



"I don't necessarily love rotting bodies, but there's a texture to a rotting body that is unbelievable. Have you ever seen a little rotted animal? I love looking at those things, just as much as I like to look at a close-up of some tree bark, or a small bug, or a cup of coffee, or a small pie. You get in close and the textures are wonderful."
--David Lynch

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Random Sequence: Anesthetized Dairymaid

[random phrases worked into a story]

Sara, who was beginning to feel that dipsomaniac gloaming again, downed another glass of white wine as if it was water. She was too depressed -- about her 30th birthday, the breakup with Chad, and other unavoidable disasters -- even to bother changing the battery in her ceiling smoke detector, which issued a hallucinatory bleep every minute or so.

She staggered from the kitchen to the living room with woebegone ungainliness, then switched on the radio. It was a free-form station, and some adenoidal windbag was announcing that he was about to play a bit of dissonance entitled "Anesthetized Dairymaid", or something that sounded very much like that. She hated the song, but it had a beat that created a weirdly compelling syncopation when combined with the smoke detector's bleeping. Sara kicked off her flip-flops and began to dance around her faux Persian carpet. "Cut a rug, cut a rug," she whispered, then began to giggle.

She bumped into a chair and fell flat on her back. The radio was within reach, and she switched it off without getting up. She closed her eyes and soon drifted off into a deep slumber, in which she dreamed about a garbage truck backing up over Chad's supine body.

[not to be continued]

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Much Ado about NOTHING

There's something sad about a January Xmas tree. We haven't taken ours down yet, but we've stopped bothering to turn its lights on. It stands in the corner, looking forlorn and pointless and accusatory: "Why am I still here?" The little angels and Santas and sparkly festoonings seem slightly stale. It's like the morning-after mess after a big party: evidence of a good time, but the decorations and crockery that seemed glamorous in the starry dark now appear soiled and sordid in the harsh light of the sun. Trimming the tree is a celebration; untrimming it is just work: baubles back in their boxes; the fake evergreen taken apart, limb by limb. But when it's done, the room feels renewed, exorcised, as if we've finally let go of the old year and found the courage to face the new. Time we got on that, O tannenbaum.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Search Party

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

agent cooper

My favorite quote of his: ""It's not so bad as long as you can keep the fear from your mind." Amen. Runner up: "You know, this is - excuse me - a damn fine cup of coffee."

hand photos erotic fingers

I'm sorry, but this is a PG blog. Try searching for this phrase: ""Shellac the shillelagh".

cadillacs y los beatles

Not a good combo, mi amigo. Try el psychedelic Rolls Royce y el Mini y los Beatles.

humour and twist in much ado about nothing

Yep. That about sizes this place up.

man in flying contraption

falling man

what is a blateroon

Someone who babbles senselessly. Is that a Jeopardy! question? What are you trying to tell me?

coffee/god sighted

That is almost how I feel after my first cup in the morning. (Also see first entry above.)

the feeling of rattling in the head

I'm tempted -- that just might be the new name for this site.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Word of the Day: enantiodromia

enantiodromia (n)

The tendency of things to change into their opposites.

"The spiritual hairpin turns in the life of the satirist Tony Hendra are enantiodromia in action. As a teenager, for reasons involving guilt over an affair with another man’s wife, Hendra concluded that he should become a monk. But instead…he went to Oxford to read English literature."
--Bruce Grierson, U Turn

I have this ugly little plant, a type of orchid, that sits on the kitchen windowsill. It has dark, blade-like leaves and a lot of gnarled and twisted stems, but no flowers. I keep watering it, though, because I'm hopeful. I'm essentially hopeful that situations can change, if you can find the patience to wait long enough. Sure enough, it bloomed for a while last year. It became beautiful, but after a week or so, turned ugly again. I'm still watering it, though. I can wait.

Monday, January 09, 2012

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

(Or felt)

Uncomfortable. Another ride from Hell on the PATH train.

It was about 6:15, and a large crowd was waiting to board the train. I thought I would have to stand, but when it pulled in, I managed to get a seat in the preferred position -- next to door, with an empty seat on only one side of me. Just as I was congratulating myself for ensconcing my posterior so swiftly and advantageously, a group of giggly teenage girls entered the car and sat down opposite me -- or at least some of them did. There were six of them, and only three open seats left, so, rather than grabbing a pole and standing like ordinary commuters, the three unseated schoolgirls sat on their friends' laps, which they found hilarious. You might think this wasn't such a bad thing, even mildly entertaining, perhaps, but I was trying to concentrate on my e-book, and their high-pitched giggling was making that nearly impossible.

Still, I could have mentally tuned them out after a while, if it were not for the someone who sat down next to me -- not a schoolgirl, but a tough-looking character holding a newspaper, who managed to take up a bit more than his allotted seat. I noticed that he nodded to another shady guy, who shambled further down the car, before unfolding his newspaper and proceeding to lay out three stacks of playing cards on top of it. "Oh no," I thought, "three-card Monty is sitting next to me."

There were no more empty seats left, and the train was starting to move, so I stayed put and tried to ignore him. He began shuffling his cards around, which seemed to fascinate the schoolgirls. As he did so, he kept elbowing me in the ribs. He began to ask the girls to guess which deck the red card was under as he shuffled like an practiced Vegas dealer on Dexedrine. A few times the girls guessed right and a few times they guessed wrong. Because the hustler was trying to use his flimsy newspaper as a table, the cards often fell onto the floor, which the teens found hysterical. Then he started asking them to bet money on where the red card was, and to my amazement, some of them actually did -- five dollars, ten dollars. A guy sitting next to the girls also put some money down. They all lost. And every couple of minutes, the card sharp glanced over at me, to see if maybe I too might want to place a bet. I did not.

The 20-minute ride seemed to last for 40 as all this was going on. I pretended to read my book to signal that I wasn't interested in his little con. His elbows and the squealing from the girls made reading impractical anyway.

By the time I reached my destination and exited the train, I was considering whether I should drive to and from work. But with gasoline headed for four bucks a gallon, I think I'll continue to gamble on the PATH train for the time being.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

The T&T List

iron curls

Blue Ivy Carter
The Miracle Consortium
Plum jerkum
Perry Ellis
Stéphane Rousseau
Air Chrysalis
First Watchung Mountain
Mikael Blomkvist
Metaline Falls



David Lynch's Pabst Advert

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Much Ado about NOTHING


I don't know why I don't draw anymore. (That's one of my masterpieces above.) I'm not really a visual artist, but I do find the act of drawing to be quite meditative. My philosophy about it is that one can and should draw anything: a shoe, a shirt, a coffee cup, a pineapple, a housefly, even last night's Chinese food carton. But I haven't done it in a while. I've sort of let shutterbugging take its place. But snapping pictures is anything but meditative. It's both a lot more analytical and a lot more dependent on luck. So I think I'll draw something this weekend -- and then maybe take a picture of it.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Head Rattle


Surreal moment of the day: Looking out of a 15th-floor window at work, I thought I saw huge billows of smoke coming from the Empire State Building -- an eerie 9/11 moment. But it turned out, on closer examination, to be an optical illusion. It was steam from a smokestack that was in perfect alignment between the building I work in and the ESB. Creepy.


A gift I had ordered online for someone way before Xmas arrived today. I had completely forgotten about it. Odd that it took so long. Oh well. Looks like the Easter bunny is going to delivering more than just candy this year.


Overheard: Someone said today that they would give fifty bucks to anyone who could make me laugh. Apparently, I'm not yuking it up enough these days. It brought up an odd old memory: as a kid I had one of those little toy gadgets that would play a recording of someone laughing hysterically whenever you pressed its button. I think it was called the Laugh Box or the Laugh Bag. My brother and I used to use it to make crank calls. Such fun. I should try to find one again and carry it with me always.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Word of the Day: ackamarackus

ackamarackus (n)

Nonsense, especially if pretentious; something deceptive; humbug.

"Along and across this extravagant architectural ackamarackus, a zoom-lens streaks and glides in those sleek tangents and arcs appropriate to our era of tailfins and tight-trousered girls, that is, of aerodynamic baroque."
--Raymond Durgnat, Eros in the Cinema

Of course, I would never engage in such balderdash... except when I have to conduct personal business that involves writing to some bureaucratic entity -- then I really turn on the ackamarackus faucet. I usually start my email with with a salutation like "Dear [blank] Officer" (no matter how lowly the recipient) and then compose my request or inquiry using the diction and sentence structure of a honey-toungued aristocrat: "may I inquire", "would it be acceptable", "could I be so bold as to", "naturally you may wonder", "perhaps you would consider", etc. They seem to lap it up.

Monday, January 02, 2012

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel


Strange. These unstructured holiday and vacation days of the last week have left me feeling relaxed but slightly unreal.

"Before I was shot, I always thought that I was more half-there than all-there - I always suspected that I was watching TV instead of living life. Right when I was being shot and ever since, I knew that I was watching television."
--Andy Warhol

I feel like Warhol at the moment, like I'm watching the world on TV. Tomorrow: back to work, back to the reality show. Changing the channel. And probably feeling very differently.



Hangover Haiku

A silver season
lingers in trinket-strewn rooms.
All questions unwrapped.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Brain Dump: Priory Parkway

abbey road crossing 2

Here is the track listing for my album (if I had an album).

1. Aggregate Together
2. Idiosyncrasy
3. Maxwell's Argentate Gavel
4. Oh! Honeybunch
5. Cephalopod's Cultivation
6. I Want You (She's So Recondite)
7. Here Comes the Luminous Sphere of Plasma
8. Whereas
9. You Never Give Me Your Remuneration
10. G-type Main Sequence Star Sovereign
11. Mean Mr. Dijon
12. Thermoplastic Polymer Pam
13. She Came in Through the Lavatory Fenestration
14. Aureate Suspension of Consciousness
15. Convey That Albatross
16. The Terminus
17. Her Illustriousness