Saturday, January 19, 2019

Running on two tracks

Currently reading Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. Rereading actually, after a few years in between. Reading it again brings back images of Rumford, Rhode Island, although I don't think I was still living there when I read it. Maybe I toted a copy with me on a couple of shopping trips?

In any case, it was fascinating then and it's fascinating now. Perhaps in different ways. The thing to understand is that the title indicates the modes the book is working in. Half of it is hard-boiled, but in a strange way. The narrator winds up in tough situations, but is mostly just prickly. The other half takes place at the end of the world, but more in a sense of "the edge of the map" than in any kind of conventional eschatology.

The reason these two narratives are veering away from each other is disturbing in one sense. In another, each of us contain contrasting multitudes. Isn't that a good thing?

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Press return

Typewriters are not much used for typing anymore. I mean, this is an understatement. But they can still serve in another function. As a musical instrument the manual typewriter is filled with sprightly energy.

It doesn't just work in classical music either. Brian Eno, thinking outside the box, worked a typewriter solo into his Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy track "China My China." It adds to what was already a treacherous, unstable rhythm, reflective of the global politics the song explores.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019


Ever see a mouse run? It's quite a sight. Not only are they small, but their legs aren't even very long in proportion. Yet they can really book it. Seems to have something to do with their flexible spines.

Their coloring isn't exciting. If  mouse isn't specially bred it's likely to be an undistinguished greyish brownish. But this is a great all-purpose camouflage.

Really their only weakness is that they seem compelled to live around humans. Not counting pet mice, this never ends happily.

Sunday, January 13, 2019


I picked up a wine glass today. Just a single one. And yes, "picked up" is the right word.

I stopped at a bus stop early in the afternoon. I'm not a bus, but I was waiting for one. And on the metal bench it's too cold to sit on, there was a little wine glass. Remnants of wine were in the bottom, largely frozen.

This definitely seemed like a case of "waste not, want not." Especially since if you leave glassware out on the street like that, it's only a matter of time before some young hooligan will break it. Now I previously had one glass, the last of a set of four where the other three weren't so lucky. The old glass and the new-to-me one don't match, but you can't have everything.

Now how did it get to be there in the first place? I'm curious. Could have, I guess, been a wedding party where the reception was nearby and one of the guests went wandering off with the stemware.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Step into my orifice

Just watched David Cronenberg's eXistenZ. For various reasons I was sort of doing research on Cronenberg, and also this movie had always looked like it would be interesting. Which it is.

There's no point in describing the plot in much detail, since it winds up eating itself. But basic premise: Jennifer Jason Leigh is Allegra Miller, a world-famous video game designer in a future (?) where games are played on organic devices that plug into "bioports" in your spine. Jude Law is Ted Pikul, a junior publicity flak pressed into service as her bodyguard when an anti-game sect of "realists" marks her for death. He's never had a bioport because of a "phobia about being penetrated", and that's less a double entendre than just an entendre. Nonetheless they both escape into eXistenZ, her new game.

There's certainly a strange blurring of real and artificial here. While you expect to see video games and new tech in general introduced in spotless retreats, this one seems to be getting introduced in a church basement. Also the panoply of bad movie accents on display—British actor Law isn't playing a Canadian so much as he is a goober—get worked into a pretty good joke.

This seems to be the end of the line for a certain kind of Cronenberg movie, the kind he was making for micro-budgets back in the seventies. More recent films of his have been pitched more at the mainstream, or at least look it. A History of Violence was indeed violent, but in a blunt way. eXistenZ lets him bring out his grotesque sci-fi body horror toys one more time.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Hava Nagila

As of today I am a certified Microsoft Word user. Which I guess is the closest I can expect to giving a bar mitzvah speech.

Taking certification exams for software is kind of nerve wracking. There's a lot of factors that go into it. Certainly the fact that the questions on the final diverge greatly from those on the practice tests is part of it. And you can't look anything up.

The first sight of that passing grade, though, brings a profound relief.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Per anmum

Not as funny right now because I've bottled herself in oblivion.

Okay, wow. The above passage was written probably like 45 minutes after I took NyQuil to make sure I had a restful night. What was I trying to say? Not that, but as a longtime fan of the poetry of Sylvia Plath it's nice to know that I have a little bit of her bubbling under the skin.