Trick or Treat? A Retrogasm Halloween
I am also Trick or Treating (begging I guess is the term) for my GoFundMe campaign.
I have selected about 25 photographs of mine to share this Halloween that seemingly fit the Halloween spirit. I hope you enjoy this very different Retrogasm. back to normal November 1st.
Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category
“One aspect of the party I hadn’t thought through very well: I knew almost no one there. A lot of the…”
Emily Gould explaining how a joke so prevalent on the internet might not translate to the street
Сказка сказок (Yuriy Norshteyn, 1979)
This title sounds fancy but mostly I needed to play catch-up and this seems like the best way to do that. Hi. In the past month I’ve done two public speaking type things that went well and some other stuff. I’ve been remiss in sharing them in a timely fashion. So now I’m sharing them in a list fashion.
- I went to Mississippi for the MLA Conference which was a great time. I led a facilitated discussion pre=conference which is the first real time I’ve done something like that. You can read the slides here: The Digital Divide and You which includes input from the discussion part of the afternoon. I stuck around for the conference and was very glad I did. I put some photos up here. Thank you MLA, the Mississippi Library Commission and especially MLA President Amanda Clay Powers for showing me a good time.
- VLA hosted a table at VT’s first annual ComicCon. This was a hugely fun event and terrific for library outreach. We had free stickers and reading lists, a display of banned graphic novels and people could get their photos taken in our “Vermont Comic Reader’s License” booth which netted a ton of delightful photographs (more on facebook). We also sponsored one of the special guests — Dave Newell, Mr. McFeely from Mister Roger’s Neighborhood) and he did storytime at the booth with puppets. I staffed the table one of the days. Such a good time. Huge shout-outs to other planners: Helen Linda, Sam Maskell and Hannah Tracy.
- Another MLA! This time the Massachusetts Small Libraries Conference (also the “first annual”) and I was the keynote speaker talking about how to Future-proof libraries. A combination of talking about what the challenges and unique positions small and rural libraries are in as well as some ways to nudge people towards getting interested in the online world. Notes and slides here. Big thanks to the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners & the Massachusetts Library System.
- I started writing for The Open Standard, Mozilla’s new online-writing thing. My first article, After Some Victories, the Time Has Come to Legally Define ‘Fair Use’, has been up for a while now. I’d love to know what you think.
- Also I’m not sure if I was explicit in my “I’m moving on” post about MetaFilter but I’m still at least somewhat looking for work. I love Open Library and my local teaching but I’ve got a few more hours in my schedule and would be happy to do some more speaking, some consulting or some writing. I have a one-pager website that summarizes my skillset. Feel free to pass it along to people.
I gave a really quick “How to do an elevator speech” talk after lunch at MLA (the one in MA, not the one in MS) and it was really fun. All librarians should practice their elevator speeches. Here’s my one slide from that talk. You can probably get the gist of it.
Rebekah Waites - Burning Man 2013
Religion in a nutshell…
October 30, 2014
“Nobody picks on a strong man.” So maybe I was just asking for it. I have always been ashamed of my body, even though I was skinny, I still had a tummy sticking out. Even as a child, I can’t stand seeing myself without a shirt. I notice that from my waist up, right to the chin area is my weakest part of the body - both aesthetically as well as in strength. Everyday when I was in both junior and in High School, I faced shame on a daily basis, when I had to take a shower with the other boys. The first thing I noticed is how physically strong my fellow male students were. They ran faster, picked up things heavier without a thought, as well as being able to do push and pull-up’s without even thinking about it. I, on the other hand, had to struggle doing even one push-up. I remember the gym teacher and the other kids in my class, laughing at me almost on a regular basis. My only escape was Saturday and Sunday, where I didn’t have to go to school.
One day I went to the beach in Venice, with a girl I really liked. It was in the afternoon and the sun was really hot. My skin is white, and usually I don’t spend any time in the outdoors, and of course my body shows the lack of natural sunlight as well as physical work. My daily exercise is picking up a book and making a frown if I don’t like what I was reading. On the other hand, my date that afternoon is or was a true beauty. What now comes to mind is 37-23-38, which pretty much describes my interest in her at the time. When we got to the beach, she was wearing a light plaid cotton dress. As I set the blanket down on the sand, I took my pants off, which exposed my baggy swimming trunks. She took off her dress, and she was wearing black bikini top and bottom. I instantly felt an erection and I made sure to be laying on my stomach as fast as possible. I fully don’t understand how one can avoid the inherent aspect of seeing women on the beach and not having, or controlling one’s erection. As I was talking with her, I noticed all of a sudden my side of the blanket became shaded. Obviously there was an object that made an appearance, and that object was blocking the direct sunlight. As I looked up, I noticed a young man, very well-built and wearing black speedos, looking directly at her. He then looked straight at me as he talked to my date. He told her that he had a blanket and shade as well as a cooler of beer, and would she like to join him. She said yes, and as I was trying to get up from my position, he took his foot and knocked me down. In fact, he kept his foot on my back. She laughed, and got up, took her dress and went towards him. He eventually removed his foot, but not before he kicked sand in my face. “See ya later young man, ” he laughed. In fact, both of them were laughing at me.
I made an effort to act cool, but I was so hurt. But I didn’t leave right away, I stayed on my blanket like nothing happened. When I got back later that afternoon, I became furious. I kicked a chair across the room, and I even got madder, knowing how brave I am with resect to wooden objects. It was at that moment that I noticed an ad in the back of a special DC comic book edition of “Bane, ” that ironically enough was on the chair that I just knocked over. I looked at it closely, and I was taken by the image of a man with muscles, in conjunction with an image of a male who was skinny and pathetic looking. The phrase “How Joe’s Body Brought Him Fame Instead of Shame” caused an emotional turn-around for me. I had a stamp and $30 and mailed it to the address that was located in the ad.
I received a booklet and it explained that I didn’t need weights, but just exercise on a daily basis, and only for fifteen minutes per day. “15 minutes a day! Give me just this and I’ll prove I can make you a new man.” The schedule appealed to me as well. The author, Charles Atlas, mentioned he got inspired when he was at the zoo, and he saw a lion in the cage stretching. He wrote: “Does this old gentleman (the lion) have any barbells, any exercisers? … And it came over me,… He’s been pitting one muscle against another! ”
Atlas’ “Dynamic Tension” program consists of twelve lessons and one final perpetual lesson. Each lesson is fully illustrated with Atlas doing the exercise. I did this for two weeks and already I saw some improvement. About two weeks after the improvement, I went back to the beach, and I saw my “ex” as well as the guy who kicked sand in my face. As I walked by his ‘area, ” I on purpose walked on his stomach. He got up quickly, and glared at me. I told him, “Oh I’m sorry, but you were laying down and I needed to go in that direction.” He said I could have easily went around him and his blanket. I said “yes, but I really didn’t want to do that, and I see no reason why I have to go “around” your blanket or your presence.” I then spitted in his eye, and told him to get a clearer view of me. I then flexed my muscles in front of him, and made sure he saw my ass as well. He backed down, and I felt great when he looked towards his feet, avoiding eye contact with me. And she just smiled at me, with approving eyes. I then walked on their blanket and kept going, towards the ocean. I felt so strong, at that time, I wanted to jump into the ocean and swim to Japan.
"Release the Kraken!" In H. P. Lovecraft’s short story "The Call of Cthulhu," Cthulhu (described as having a tentacled head) attacks a ship. The sailors try to kill the beast by ramming it repeatedly, but Cthulhu simply turns into green mist and reassembles. Follow #bhlMonstersRreal on Twitter and Facebook to learn more about the real animals that many legendary monsters are based on. See more historic monster illustrations from the Biodiversity Heritage Library.
Purple + Yellow
The other day I created a Google+ album of photos from our holiday in France. Google’s AutoAwesome algorithms applied some nice Instagram-like filters to some of them, and sent me emails to let me have a look at the results. But there was one AutoAwesome that I found peculiar. It was this one, labeled with the word “Smile!” in the corner, surrounded by little sparkle symbols.
It’s a nice picture, a sweet moment with my wife, taken by my father-in-law, in a Normandy bistro. There’s only one problem with it. This moment never happened. […]
Note the position of my hands, the fellow in the background, and my wife’s smile. Actually, these photos were a part of a “burst” or twelve that my iPhone created when my father-in-law accidentally held down the button too long. I only uploaded two photos from this burst to see which one my wife liked better.
So, Google’s algorithms took the two similar photos and created a moment in history that never existed, one where my wife and I smiled our best (or what the algorithm determined was our best) at the exact same microsecond, in a restaurant in Normandy.
via Dan W.
October 29, 2014
There were many films shown on my flight from Tokyo to Los Angeles. I have a hard time sleeping, so instead I treat myself to a film orgy of sorts. The flight has interesting film programming. For instance, they had a tribute to Eddie Constantine, which I think was kind of obscure but really great at the same time. I of course have seen “Alphaville,” but people forget his other films, such as “La môme vert-de-gris” and “Ça va harder.” It is a nine-hour flight, so I could watch those two films, but also they had the oddest programming ever on a plane: a Joseph Goebbels film retrospective. They screened “The Eternal Jew” and “Jud Süß” (“Süss the Jew”) both of course being highly controversial films - and especially showing them in-flight. The other odd film they showed was just footage of Akiko Kojima winning the Miss Universe crown in 1959. That event took place in Long Beach, California. A city that is not far off from my home in Los Angeles.
There was an uproar at the time, because many didn’t believe Kojima had measurements of 37-23-38 inches (94-58-96cm). Some were convinced Kojima had undergone breast surgery, but she strongly denied taking such actions to win the Miss Universe contest. She was also the first woman from Asia to win such a prize in the Miss Universe pageant. The combination of watching the films and not being able to sleep had a profound effect on me. Especially watching such a hateful film like “Süss the Jew.” Nevertheless I find myself back in Los Angeles, feeling woozy and not sure where my culture is heading.
La môme vert-de-gris” was the first Eddie Constantine film, that also featured a character that he was famous for, by the name of Lemmy Caution. It is said that his character always approached a beautiful woman with a glass of whisky in one hand and a cigarette in the other. I had thought of myself in that mold, while dreaming away in front of my small screen on someone’s backseat. In the end of the flight, I was for sure taken by Eddie’s approach to the detective life, but felt quite alienated by the Goebbels’ retrospective. Nevertheless I find myself back in Los Angeles, feeling woozy and not sure where my culture is heading towards. Perhaps it marks the end of one era, and the start of another.
La nuit américaine (François Truffaut, 1973)
R.I.P. Donatas Banionis (28 April, 1924 – 4 September, 2014)
Barry & Glodean White
just can’t get enough of your love…
@Matt_Macklin7: “The latest in live cross technology. Pic via Instagram.”
Baybayan is part of a massive labor force that handles “content moderation”—the removal of offensive material—for US social-networking sites. As social media connects more people more intimately than ever before, companies have been confronted with the Grandma Problem: Now that grandparents routinely use services like Facebook to connect with their kids and grandkids, they are potentially exposed to the Internet’s panoply of jerks, racists, creeps, criminals, and bullies. They won’t continue to log on if they find their family photos sandwiched between a gruesome Russian highway accident and a hardcore porn video. Social media’s growth into a multibillion-dollar industry, and its lasting mainstream appeal, has depended in large part on companies’ ability to police the borders of their user-generated content—to ensure that Grandma never has to see images like the one Baybayan just nuked.So companies like Facebook and Twitter rely on an army of workers employed to soak up the worst of humanity in order to protect the rest of us. And there are legions of them—a vast, invisible pool of human labor. Hemanshu Nigam, the former chief security officer of MySpace who now runs online safety consultancy SSP Blue, estimates that the number of content moderators scrubbing the world’s social media sites, mobile apps, and cloud storage services runs to “well over 100,000”—that is, about twice the total head count of Google and nearly 14 times that of Facebook.
Here's the critical reading assigned in addition to the novel for tonight's lecture (which I am still in the process of writing):
#Ann duCille, “Where in the World is William Wells Brown? Thomas Jefferson, Sally Hemings, and the DNA of African-American Literary History,” American Literary History 12:3 (2000): 443-462
#Jonathan Senchyne, “Bottles of Ink and Reams of Paper: Clotel, Racialization, and the Material Culture of Print,” in Early African American Print Culture, ed. Lara Langer Cohen and Jordan Alexander Stein (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012), 140-158
#Saidiya Hartman, “Venus in Two Acts,” Small Axe 26 (2008): 1-14
And here's the assignment students will write for seminar this week. It is the last of four short assignments that they write as they build up to working on a final essay that will include both close reading and critical argument; it is designed to let students practice skills as well as coming to a deeper understanding of the novel itself.
Please write answers to the following questions.
1. One of the critical essays you read for this week offers this overview of critical assessments and interpretations of Clotel:
The runaway slave’s mastery of neoclassical diction, which some see as little more than a flaunting of his educational attainments, is for other readers a subversive deployment of the King’s English to tell the slave’s story. What one critic views as structural chaos, another sees as a creative appropriation of multiple forms – from the oral tradition of the slave narrative to the sentimental emplotments of women’s fiction. Where one sees only the bourgeois pretensions of the black middle class, another finds an “informed use of folklore” that offers an insider’s view of the plantation system[.] (Ann duCille, “Where in the World Is William Wells Brown? Thomas Jefferson, Sally Hemings, and the DNA of African-American Literary History,” American Literary History 12:3 : 443-462; 456)
a. Make a list of three to five of the novel’s most conspicuous formal or stylistic traits (you can include the three that duCille isolates here, only I would like you to describe them in your own words and in as factual or descriptive a manner as possible).
b. Then offer at least two possible arguments concerning the way each particular trait works in the novel. Make sure that these arguments are formulated so as to satisfy the implicit expectations we have of interpretation: not just what the trait involves or how it works, but also what it’s for or why it matters.
2. Near the end of the essay, duCille writes: “When all is said, done, and disposed of—the borrowing, overplotting, preaching, and propagandizing—the real problem with Clotel lies in the particular slippery nature of Brown’s brand of realism, which both deploys and denies the documentary impulse that drives the reading, if not the writing, of African-American literature” (458).
a. Write a paragraph or two that first paraphrases and then amplifies or illuminates this critical assertion. What does duCille have in mind when she lists borrowing, overplotting, preaching, and propagandizing as crucial elements of Clotel? Give specific examples; you can refer back to your answer to question 1 if you feel you’ve already touched on some of the relevant details.
b. What does it mean to say that this novel’s “brand of realism . . . both deploys and denies the documentary impulse”? Pick that statement apart by explaining what duCille means by “the documentary impulse” and identifying where it can be seen in Brown’s novel – three or four examples will do. Then consider what it means to make a distinction between deployment and denial in this context.
3. One obvious oddity of Brown’s novel is that though it regularly invokes real historical incidents, the timeline/chronology is distorted: there are a number of internal contradictions as well as departures from real historical chronology. What are the effects of these contradictions and anomalies? What do they tell us about the novel’s mode of representation? Offer a thesis and support it with specific examples.
4. Jonathan Senchyne uses the phrase “strategically edits” to describe what one chapter in Clotel does to and with Lydia Maria Child’s story “The Quadroons” (“Bottles of Ink and Reams of Paper: Clotel, Racialization, and the Material Culture of Print,” in Early African American Print Culture, ed. Lara Langer Cohen and Jordan Alexander Stein [Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012, 140-158; 157). That phrase itself represents a kind of argument about Brown’s fictional practice. Use the phrase “strategically edits” as the jumping-off point for a fuller description of what it means and why it matters when Clotel borrows and adapts another literary text.
5. When I lecture on Clotel on Tuesday evening, I will consider some questions about the advantages and limitations of close reading as a method for getting a grasp on novels. In some ways, Clotel is very different from, say, Emma (it’s more like Paradise Lost in the sense that it would be perverse to read it without considering questions of history and politics). But it remains important, I would say, to attend closely to the novel’s narrative voice. Find a two- to four-sentence stretch that you think can fairly stand in for the novel’s narrative voice more generally. Then write a paragraph characterizing that narrative voice. What do we know about the narrator? What are the predominant traits of the narrative voice? Make sure to consider intellectual, affective (emotional) and political dimensions as well as more narrowly stylistic ones.
All attention is focused on Mary Burke and Scott Walker, so I didn’t even realize there’s a state ballot proposition in next week’s election. And it’s not a trivial one, either.
Question 1: “Creation of a Transportation Fund. Shall section 9 (2) of article IV and section 11 of article VIII of the constitution be created to require that revenues generated by use of the state transportation system be deposited into a transportation fund administered by a department of transportation for the exclusive purpose of funding Wisconsin’s transportation systems and to prohibit any transfers or lapses from this fund?”
Mary Burke supports this. So does Governor Walker. The bill to put the referendum on the ballot was passed by large majorities of both houses. “Yes on 1″ has an organized campaign and a snappy website; as far as I can tell, there is no such thing as “No on 1.”
But I’m voting no. I don’t expect every dime of people’s property taxes to support upkeep of residential infrastructure. I don’t think the sales tax should be restricted to promoting Wisconsin retail. I think money is money and it’s the job of the legislature, not the constitution, to decide how money can best be raised and where in the state it’s most needed.
The amendment prevents gas taxes and vehicle registration fees from being used to fund schools and hospitals and police, but it doesn’t prevent other revenue sources from being raided to fund our highways and bridges. And that’s what’s actually happening right now; the current administration takes $133 billion from the general fund to fund transportation in the current budget. I’m not sure why transportation, out of all state projects, ought to enjoy a special status: allowed to draw money from the general fund, but constitutionally prohibited from releasing any back.
The Yes on 1 FAQ points out that many states around the country have constitutional language enforcing segregation of the the transportation fund. I looked at a few of these, and it’s true! But those provisions are of a rather different nature. California’s constitutional provision requires that 25% of the money go to public transportation. In Minnesota, it’s 40%. Our referendum has no such restriction, requiring only that the money go to things funded by the DoT. The Yes on 1 FAQ points out, correctly, that “Wisconsin’s segregated transportation fund is the sole source of state funding for the entire transportation system – highways, air, rail, transit, harbors, bicycle and pedestrian facilities.” Pretty weak sauce — the fund will not be prohibited from funding other forms of transportation. Unless an enterprising governor splits off transit into a separate department, that is. (Ohio’s Constitution, by the way, already forbids gas taxes and license fees from aiding mass transit.)
The amendment establishes one class of spending and taxing as privileged above all the rest. It shouldn’t be part of our state constitution.
- GAB description of referendum
- Dane County LVW page on referendum
- Cap Times editorial opposing referendum
October 27, 2014
“Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.” The world I live in, can only be bearable if you are polite to others. Politeness should be the rule of every home and structure, where you show consideration and encouragement to others. One can express an opinion, but only if you state it with facts and present your idea in such a manner that won’t offend the other. One can argue for an atrocity, but be kind to those who may disagree with you. I may disagree with you, but I will with the last breath of my life, defend your right to say what you know. On the other hand, if you don’t “know, ” then I have the right to shove my fist down your diseased throat.
“A gentleman does not boast about his junk.” If you are going to praise yourself, be careful in how you proceed in doing so. One can’t take over a house with their work, because perhaps one’s work is not worth the space that is taken. As one knows, space is limited. We have to respect the limitations of actual footage and space in a room, as well as having a healthy respect for limits. If one goes beyond the limit, then that can be regarded as bad manners. In that case, I have the right to pour gasoline over your work, and throw in a match as one leaves that space.
“In popular houses where visitors like to go again and again, there is always a happy combination of some attention on the part of the hostess and the perfect freedom of the guests to occupy their time as they choose.” When I go to your home, as a guest, I expect politeness and kindness. In return, I won’t slash your couch with a blade, or throw paint on the walls. Nor will I tie up and torture your children. I won’t rape your wife, or take the dog for a walk in the park, and only return with a leash. I promise to be considerate when you show your pride in your work. I won’t demean you and your time that you spent on making that piece of shit.
“The letter we all love to receive is one that carries so much of the writer’s personality that she seems to be sitting beside us, looking at us directly and talking just as she really would, could she have come on a magic carpet, instead of sending her proxy in ink-made characters on mere paper.” This I promise you my dear talentless friend, I’ll write about your failures as if it's honey directly from a bee. This letter is unsigned, but you know who it is from. Even though you’ll never admit it, because you can’t understand how one can hate so much, yet get so much pleasure from it. I’m a happy man, and I’m happy because you’re a total idiot. Your failure is my whip cream on top of a chocolate milk shake.
“Whenever two people come together and their behavior affects one another, you have etiquette.” And that is why I choose to destroy you. Inch-by-inch, and then yard-by-yard. I’ll make sure that you started off with nothing, given something, and then taken away - which will leave you with nothing. I want to give you the taste of the greatest gratification, so I can remove that pleasure and watch you suffer. You’re such a child. Not the well-behaved intelligent sweet beautiful child, but totally the opposite. You smell of and breed shit. My version of porn is watching you approach failure again and again, and enjoying your frustration, fears and your need for therapy. But the cherry on the top is when you even fail your therapy session. The doctor gave up on you. Your dog gave up on you. Your worthlessness is my perfume. My pleasure is your depression. The angels on your shoulder are not what you think they are. When you walk, you walk alone.
Remember “we are making war for civilization, are we not? Very well, we are. Therefore, we eat in a civilized way.” and therefore you’ll never eat at our table. Bye-bye my little useless piece of dishonorable shit.
The saddest sight I ever saw was in a Montmartre boîte at about 5 o’clock of an autumn morning. At a table in the corner of a hall sat three young American girls, quite unattended, adventurously seeing life for themselves. In front of them, on the table, stood the regulation bottle of champagne;…
October 26, 2014
“A goal is a dream with a deadline.” I knew if I waited, I’ll lose the opportunity. The one thing I can’t afford right now is to lose that opportunity. I see there was a beautiful girl on the street, and she’s wearing a short skirt, where you can see the top of her stockings and the bare thigh before the dress trim. Some think that the most erotic woman is a naked one, but for me that one part of the leg being shown is truly the essence of eros. The sweet science is not a boxing match, but the sight of such desire as one roams the streets of Shinjuku looking for an inexpensive meal. And I can’t find the right restaurant, mostly due to my lack of Japanese, but clearly I can find my desire, because I will it to be done. I just have to keep in mind that “every adversity, every failure, every heartbreak, carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” So I went up to her to strike up a conversation.
When I approached her, she was reading her cell phone. I said “excuse me, I’m not from here, and I am looking for a place to have dinner.” I said this in English, because one, I wanted to let her know that I’m of course a foreigner and was desperately looking for a place to eat, and two, not knowing if she speaks English or not, I would know right away by my direct question. She answered me directly “what kind of food do you like.” I told her anything Japanese, but also it was the one type of food I know nothing about. I suffer extreme shyness, but when I approach someone from another part of the world, or culture, I feel brave. “Hold a picture of yourself long and steadily enough in your mind’s eye, and you will be drawn toward it.” With that helpful quote in mind, I continued: “If you have the time, can you lead me to a place and help me with the menu.” She said yes. That was a surprise, and even though I first saw her as an object of my sexual needs, she suddenly became someone else. A nice person. A nice smiling person. One of the things I like about Japanese people is that they don’t smile, unless they feel like smiling. In the United States, especially Los Angeles, people smile at you all the time, even if they hate you. But here in Japan, they don’t smile automatically, so once you do get the smile on their faces, you know it's genuine.
She started walking and I followed. The streets were so crowded, and the neon was so bright, that the combination could make me lose her in the crowd. Nevertheless, being behind her, I focused my eyes on her thighs so not to lose her. I think of the Jean Cocteau film “Orpheus” where the poet follows death through a maze. It seemed that everyone was moving in slow motion, but she and I were moving in a regular fashion almost against the slow moving crowd. For a moment, I was scared. I didn’t know her, and she doesn’t know me. Yet here I’m following her to a destination knowing nothing of. “We refuse to believe that which we don’t understand. ”
“When you are able to maintain your own highest standards of integrity - regardless of what others may do - you are destined for greatness.” I just had to trust her, and think of her as a nice person, who by chance, also has lovely thighs. But yes, when I walk through this sleepy city, I need to be open to new things, new possibilities, and in the night, everything looks so pretty. I’m so tired to walk alone, and Shinjuku looks so pretty when you’re with someone. She turns left to an alley, and I follow her up to a small staircase…
: : submission : :
Nice writeup of last week's Swift symposium. I had a very funny conversation afterwards with an elderly Irishman who was peculiarly vivid of conversation. He was excited to tell me that I was "a BORN LECTURER: BORN TO THE PODIUM" - also I used two words he was unfamiliar with, paratactic and hypotactic, which let him tell me a wonderfully complex multi-part anecdote about an alcoholic friend of his, now deceased, who was a great lover of language and once told this gentleman, when he used the word "creature" to describe a lady, "to refer himself to the discipline of the dictionary"! This is now a good new phrase in my repertoire. Said friend died in hospital of complications due to alcoholism, but on his deathbed sung this gentleman two songs which I promised I would go and hear online: one I think was "The Parting Glass," if I am remembering correctly, and the other was a Gaelic song whose title loosely translated into "Nobody knows her name" (various versions here). Some reciting of Yeats was also involved....
Fun to see this profile of an old friend in my Digg feed!
Jane Goodall's jungle.
The link B. sent me yesterday really did bring a smile to my face: the Shetland Pony Grand National!
October 25, 2014
I was wandering around Iidabashi in Tokyo when I came upon a small movie theater. They were showing “La Roue, ” which is a French silent film made in 1923. It appears that they only show silent films in this theater, and the auditorium fits only six or seven people. I was the sole customer there. You can hear the projector behind you, and as for sound, the projectionist actually hums various melodies through an ancient sound system in the theater. The film is very long. I lost count, but I think it lasted over nine hours, and I went there in the afternoon, and came out in the very late evening. Yet, I couldn’t remove myself from my seat. I was struck by how odd it was to see this film here in Iidabashi, off a popular street, Kagurazaka-dori, that seems to lead to a Shinto shrine.
As I sat there, and losing track of time (and space) I was amazed with myself in that I could make a narrative out of this picture. The titles were all in French, a language that I don’t speak or read, and even that was odd since I was in Tokyo. I was drawn here, due that it started to rain, and I wasn’t wearing proper clothing. So for about ¥1000, I thought it was worth it, just to avoid the weather. What appeared in front of my eyes changed my life forever.
It wasn’t the film itself, but more of my mental state, which to be honest, is not so good. I’m on a track that is losing ground quickly. In fact, I even considered suicide. But I haven’t the foggiest idea how one does that. That point when you want to do it, yet I lack the proper skills in completing such a drastic act. I even wrote a suicide note, and after finished writing it, I re-read it, and it made me laugh hysterically. So, even that, I don’t really have the talent for the ‘death’ angle. Iidabashi is a great neighborhood to wander, due to the shops and restaurants. So many happy people here, maybe due that it’s Halloween and some are dressed in their favorite manga character. My costume and role is someone in misery, but no one could tell my outfit whatsoever. So yes, going into a movie theater with only that in my thoughts, send me to a world not of my making, but almost like Buster Keaton in “Sherlock Junior” I’m finding myself in the oddest landscapes, here in Tokyo.
After exiting the movie theater, I needed some food. But no place was open. It was around 3 in the morning. The subways and the JR train was closed down, so I walked towards the camel that runs through the area. It is as at that point I thought I could throw myself into the water. I don’t swim, so I thought the combination of my lack of skills and nature itself will be perfectly compatible with each other. Of course, I walked among the camel by practically falling down the hill to get there. My initial thought, do I need stones to fill my pockets so I would be dragged down to the bottom of the canal? I took my shoes off, and dipped my big toe in the water. It was cold! Then I had the thought in my head of having my clothes wet, and how uncomfortable that would be as I’m drowning in the canal. So I took my clothes off, and since I was in Tokyo, I decided to fold the clothing up very neatly. There were no rocks around, just pavement. Nevertheless I walked up to the canal and dived in. When I did that, I hit my head on the bottom, and immediately got up on my feet. The water was just three feet. It was cold as … I was about say hell, but that doesn’t seem appropriate for this sentence. I got out, and put my clothes back on, and began to walk back to the movie theater.
The funny thing is I couldn’t find the theater. It was gone! Then I started wondering if I somehow made this up in my sick mind. More likely I couldn’t find it due to the combination of my despair and the winding streets of Iidabashi. The amusing thing, at that very moment, I felt my life as being complete, and it didn’t matter if I killed myself or not. What mattered to me is to find the film “La Roue” and somehow enter that world again. But one can never go back home or their dream state. We live only once, and the art of living is capturing that moment for one to come back to. I did that, and now I can go on.
WABC tries to make you feel old and irrelevant
General Motors’ quarterly earnings report on Thursday was noteworthy mostly for what it lacked: another big financial charge for safety recalls.
After running up special charges of nearly $3 billion in the first half of the year for safety problems, G.M., the nation’s biggest automaker, avoided additional charges for recalls in the third quarter.
While G.M. did incur $700 million in costs for fixing recalled vehicles during the quarter, the company had already booked those charges in previous periods….
By accounting for the bulk of its recall costs in the first half of the year, G.M. has turned a corner — at least financially — in its struggle to move beyond the worst safety crisis in its history.
So let me make sure I understand this: GM is still blowing trainloads of cash fixing its mistakes, but they decided to declare that the money they’re spending now was actually spent earlier in the year, so that their official profit in the first half is below the real figure, and their official profit for the third quarter is above the real figure, and then they get a sunny headline in the New York Times saying they “doubled their profit?”
My grandfather the CPA would not approve.
October 24, 2014
I often dream of having an identical twin brother. As a child I used to play in front of a full-length mirror and pretended that the image was my twin. It wasn’t out of loneliness, but more fascinated with my image being reproduced, and therefore a double image of me. And now as an adult, I still have the same fascination with my image - especially when I walk by a mirror or a reflection off a store window. I never told anyone this, because this type of behavior is usually not looked upon as something healthy. Nevertheless it is something important to me at the very core of my being. The only twins I have ever met were two beautiful women, who often appear in numerous stage shows in Los Angeles and beyond. I once showed up at a meet-and-greet, at a comic book store, where they were promoting a video they made. I approached one believing it was the one that I knew quite well, but I was wrong, it was her sister. She caught my mistake and told me that "you got the wrong girl here." She was sweet about it, but I was embarrassed about my mistake. For some reason, I wanted to be above of such a common error, but I failed miserably.
I was bullied a lot of times in school, both in elementary and high school, and I try to imagine my twin brother there, fighting off the goons and saving me from disgrace, and knowing that he looked like me, I could feel stronger. This of course was a fantasy, but as the punches and hair-pulling happened, I imagine this throughout my beating. It made me feel better, and the thought of that image, I never cried. No matter how hard they hit me, or yelled insults. With my imagination, I felt stronger than them. It is probably why I’m a writer. It is probably why I’m obsessed with the Kray twins.
Reginald and Ronald were from East London, and they started off as amateur boxers, and I have read that they often boxed against each other. One can wonder if when they threw a punch onto the other, were they thinking they are brothers, or was it a punch toward their self-image. I can imagine throwing a punch at the mirror image of me, but I would just end up with a cut-up bloody hand. But here, you are infecting pain on one another. It must have been an intense boxing moment or two. Later on, they became the twin kings of London’s crime world. It has been reported that they could communicate without speaking to each other. Whatever this is quite true or not, it seemed to cause fear among their henchmen as well as their enemies.
Around the same time, Paul and Barry Ryan were making an appearance in the music world. Paul wrote the songs and him and Barry performed them. To my ears they sound like a weaker version of The Walker Brothers, but nevertheless seeing Barry and Paul on the same stage or even in photographs, unnerved me. I think due to the fantasy I had to become a singer. I couldn’t carry a tune if my (or your) life depended on it. But if I was a singer, I of course would want to have an identical twin brother on the stage with me. To look at each other while singing appears to be heaven. Nevertheless, I’m torn between the two twin brothers. I imagine that the Krays met the Barry twins, but I just wonder what their reaction would be like? They could go out socially, with Ronnie ganging up with Barry, and Paul can be with Reg. That, I think, would cause a spontaneous disturbance whenever they enter a nightclub or restaurant. But the truth in the matter, is that if I had a choice, I would prefer the Krays.
When I’m alone, I feel powerless. Yet, with an identical image with me, floating around yours truly, can be enticing and I imagine one would feel more powerful. The Krays are all about power. It’s not money or even a life of riches, but more of a show, or a theater performance. The Krays, even though they’re criminals, they are more of a performer than say the Ryan boys. They had a good understanding of “theater, ” and what it means to the people outside and inside their social circle. The fact that both of them were reportedly brutal, adds a certain amount of shine to their image. So being alone, bullied, and often feeling stupid. The Krays are immensely important to me. Reg, Tosh, and Ron having a night out.