Sunday, March 31, 2013

Head Rattle

New trend: stores calling customers "guests". Rite Aid, I'm only your "guest" if you serve me free coffee and donuts.

Today is Easter! Somebody wished me a "happy zombie Jesus day" today. We celebrated by biting off chocolate bunny ears.

Watched the movie Hitchcock today, about the making of Psycho. Best line: "Call me 'Hitch' and hold the 'cock'." He was like that.

What is the difference between "all natural" and "organic"? Pesticide?

North Korea announces it is in a "state of war" with South Korea. This is news? Haven't they been at war since the early 1950s?

I'm reminded today that teenage boys take really long showers. My nephew seems to be aiming for the Guinness Book of World Records.

A 90-year-old man that I only see every few months never seems to remember me. But a relative's dog that I only see every few months always seems to remember me. He wants me to rub the side of his head in exactly the same way every time. Maybe I should try rubbing the old man's head.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The T&T List


Inagua Airport
Perry Mason
Plum jerkum
On High in Blue Tomorrows
Gretsch Duo Jet
The New York Jedi
Djimon Hounsou
Benedict Cumberbatch
edamame bean
Hakalau Forest
Utricularia tricolor

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Much Ado about NOTHING

The Scab

I had an itch, and I scratched it. It bled. And there's a small scab on my forehead.

A couple of people have asked me "what happened? Did you walk into a door?" I said I was in a fight. I was jesting, but someone actually believed me. So I said "not really!" Somebody else said, "The'fight' story is so much better."

So, maybe I'll keep telling people I was in a brawl. If they ask for the details, I'll say, "I don't want to talk about it" in a pained voice. If they ask me if I won, I'll say "Of course! But I really don't want to talk about it" in an even more pained voice. And if they insist on knowing what the blowup was about, I'll just say, "Let me put it this way. I had an itch, and I scratched it" -- and let them assume what they will.

But I'll probably chicken out and say "not really!" I'd be terrible in a fight.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Word of the Day: shemozzle

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's....

shemozzle (noun)

A state of confusion and chaos; an uproar

"'What a shemozzle, isn't it?' he said dazedly. 'I think we'd better get out of this don't you?'"
--Roland Pertwee, Men of Affairs (1922)

A few years ago, when I lived in a slightly more urban area, one of my Saturday-night entertainments was simply to look out of my living-room window at a different sort of shemozzle. A crowd of drunken young men would often spill out of a divey bar across the street that called itself The Oasis (but I called The Fight Club). Inevitably, noisy spats would break out, including knife-wielding contretemps. The fracas would eventually draw a wailing squad car to the scene, at which point all the dipsomaniacs and belligerents would scatter, roach-like, in all directions. It was better than reality TV.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Nothingness: Quote of the Day

no sign

I've got nothing to say, but it's okay. Here's a quotation:

"Dan Alilpaz asks: Before the inception of the universe, there apparently existed only a singularity, outside of which existed 'nothing'. My question is simple: what is the 'nothing' that you speak of that exists outside the singularity? Can it be explained?

Bill Bryson (author of A Short History of Nearly Everything) replies: No. There may be astrophysicists or really brainy people who can somehow grasp the idea of total nothingness, but as hard as I try, the closest I can come to it is just an idea of a big, dark, empty space. But of course there was no space, no time, no existence of any kind - not even a dot, nothing at all you can focus on. And I personally don't think the human mind can really get to grips with that. I don't think anybody can really meaningfully imagine 'nothing'. Certainly not me."

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Much Ado about NOTHING

Zero Dark Oz

The only movies I've seen lately are Oz the Great and Powerful (in 3D) and Zero Dark Thirty. Quite a combination! One is Disney's overproduced, cash-in prequel to a classic film, and the other is a gritty, often horrific docudrama about the hunt for a terrorist, complete with grisly torture scenes. Simply as a mental exercise, I've been trying to think if these movies, which seem so utterly different on the surface, have anything in common. And guess what, they do!

1. Female characters (witches, a CIA agent) obsessed with an elusive and confounding male figure (a "wizard", Osama bin Laden).
2. Unusual settings: Islamabad and Oz, both of which seem like bad dreams -- for very different reasons.
3. People flying -- in bubbles and helicopters.
4. Explosions; they figure prominently in both stories.
5. Scenes with monkeys!

Yes, these films are actually quite similar when you think about it. It's as if the directors got together and compared notes. Even the titles mirror each other, if you use a cracked mirror: Oz, ZerO.

I'll wager I'm the only genius on the entire Internet to point out these curious similarities.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Photo of the Week


The local library has this big, baroque flowerpot outside. It's usually empty, which seems a shame, so last December I asked them if they wanted my Xmas tree, the potted one I had bought for a change. (I hate throwing away a dead, desiccated Xmas tree.) To my surprise, the library accepted. So now A Tree Grows in...Jersey City.

Actually, I just made that up. This is a planter I photographed outside a famous residence on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. (I think the building is called The Wyoming, The Montana, or something like that.) Lately, I've been visiting a relative in that neighborhood every Saturday and meanwhile re-familiarizing myself with the area's many stunning architectural details.

Click the pic for a closer view. It gets better.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Word of the Day

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's....

minatory (adjective)

Menacing or threatening

"He was often observed peeping through the bars of a gate and making minatory gestures with his small forefinger while he scolded the sheep with an inarticulate burr, intended to strike terror into their astonished minds."
--George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss (1860)

I observed a sheep being sheered once, at a state fair. The animal was scared and made a weird, keening sound that was undoubtedly the sheep equivalent of a scream. Those huge, noisy electric clippers were minatory, to the sheep -- something I occasionally think about when I wear wool.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Hey Clack Dish!

Whenever I'm in a cranky mood, like today, I like to read through my collection of genuine Shakespearean insults. Here are a few:

Thou gleeking milk-livered fustilarian!
Thou artless elf-skinned clack-dish!
Thine horrid image doth unfix my hair.
May the worm of conscience still begnaw thy soul.
Thou lumpish ill-nurtured vassal!
Thy bones are hollow; impiety has made a feast of thee.
Thou warped rump-fed maggot-pie!
Your face is as a book, where men may read strange matters.

Now I feel better.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

Nostalgic. The last few weekends, I've been trekking to the Upper West Side of Manhattan to visit a relative who's in rehab at Phoenix House on 74th Street. I haven't been up there in ages, and it reminds me of a past life when I used to spend a lot of time in that neighborhood. They're mostly bad memories, but those can be the most poignant.

Elitist. I went to a birthday party for a three-legged cat last night. How many people in the world can say that?

Frustrated. It's taking forever to get this damn book of mine finished. I keep finding little things I want to tweak, especially in the way the pages are laid out. Even in this futuristic era of DIY, print on demand, and e-publishing -- it's still a bitch to pump a book out, even a short (170-page) one.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Word of the Day x3

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today there are three....

deipnosophist (noun)

Someone who is skilled in dinner-table talk

"Garvin's reputation as a deipnosophist almost made up for his notoriety as a cook."

volitant (adjective)

1. Flying, or capable of flying. 2. Moving about rapidly.

"When Mother gets violent, frying pans get volitant."

gossoon (noun)

A boy; lad.

"'I never send a gossoon to do a man's work,' declared the prodigiously erudite Mr. Webster. 'Or a baboon, either,' he whispered as Elmer stumbled into the room."

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Search Party

Here's another collection of search queries that brought seekers to this temple of scribomania, featuring the usual mix of obscure enthusiasms, weird obsessions, and trivial pursuits.

haikus about taking a bath


Remove your clothing
Then fill the tub with water
Immerse and use soap

Anton chekhov, Lady and the Laptop

I've never heard of that Chekhov story. Are you sure you don't mean Pavel Chekov?

tragic elements in shakespearian comedies

It's much easier to find comic elements in Shakespearean tragedies. That might make a better topic for your paper.

spalding gray nude

Just let him rest in peace. Sheesh.

hilarious paper automata

Hmm. Try searching for "robotic origami giggle-fest."

church of the poisoned mind harmonica

What a great name for a blog!

outsourcing "spider hole" phrase

Yes, they're outsourcing everything these days.

how to do twist

You mean THE twist? Swivel your shoulders while you grind your foot.

stories by prostitutes

You won't find any here. I don't get paid for my stories. :(

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Random Sequence

Commercial Scenario No. 5

It was one of those hot, humid nights that seem to cling to the trees and conjure the vague, ominous feeling that one is being watched. People with tired faces walked slowly along the boulevard. Among them, to his surprise, Daniel saw Veronica, lovely as always, but pale as a vampire. He approached, touched her shoulder, and said, "Just one more thing..."

She turned slowly. Her face was stone. "I told you never to speak to me again," she whispered, and drifted away.

He didn't follow. He had completely lost her, and knew he had to drown his intolerable thoughts -- not in whiskey this time, but in philosophy. Sooner or later, he and everyone he knew would perish, leaving no fingerprints upon the world. But for now, he had his memories and the scarf she had left behind, redolent of her perfume: Chanel No. 5.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Brain Dump

It's like this. The rain falls under the bridge the gap between the two by two steps forward march madness. Pass the salt water fish fry the egg cup of coffee pot calling the kettle black tie event horizon. 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. Angels can dance on the head of a pin cushion the blow your horn of plenty of time after time to go for it takes a village idiot proof of purchase power to the people right on the good ship lollypop. My monkey shines my shoes tied up right now or never say never enough is enough said. Agree?

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Word of the Day: lamprophony

What's "the word I'm thinking of"? Today, it's...

lamprophony (n)

Vocal loudness and clarity.

"Robert decided to order a fruit crepe for dessert. 'A creep? A crap?' his five-year-old son demanded to know, with embarrassing lamprophony. Robert imagined all the Euro-yuppies in the restaurant staring and snickering. 'It's sort of like a big Pop Tart,' he hissed. 'Now keep your voice down.'"

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.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Link Mania: Condensed Classics

Always wanted to read the classics, but never had the time to download Dostoevsky, peruse Pynchon, or study Steinbeck? Try these ultra-condensed Book-A-Minute Classics. The site also offers bite-sized bedtime stories and super-shortened sci-fi. There's even a series of miniaturized movie plots. Reductio ad absurdum -- but quite amusing.


And there's this...

The Films of David Lynch

Monday, March 04, 2013

Head Rattle

It's interesting that when I'm reading my own book (a proof copy) on the PATH train, the ride seems to go much faster than when I'm reading someone else's.

While hiking around in Central Park the other day, I passed a woman wearing a gold-sequined evening gown on one of the trails. This was at about 4 o'clock in the afternoon. There's a story there somewhere.

Today is National Grammar Day. I care not. That's because every day is grammar day, given what I do for a living. National Grammar Day is for those who don't know an appositive from a gerund. Right?

That news item about the sink hole that opened up under a house and swallowed a man while he was asleep in bed is the stuff of nightmares. The state of Florida, which is largely composed on porous limestone, is apparently like an unstable hunk of Swiss cheese. Think about that the next time you're wandering around the Magic Kingdom.

Somebody gave me some gourmet Lamill coffee beans, brand name Black Velvet, today. They came all the way from Los Angeles, not a city especially known for caffeine consumption, although legendary coffee imbiber David Lynch lives there. Let's see what happens when I grind them up. If they taste as damn fine as they smell, I may need to track down more of this West Coast roast.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

The T&T List


Marney Dunman Perry Jr.
First Church of Elvis, Scientist
Blanket Jackson
Google Flu Trends
Blakiston's fish owl
Pc Anthony Wallyn
National Day of Unplugging
People, Hell and Angels