Thursday, February 27, 2014

The white stuff

We got more snow today.  I'd say when I first went out to lunch I felt little droplets, and when I came back bif fluffy flakes were falling. When someone at work asked about it, I said it was fluffy (as I mentioned before.)  Not really something to worry about.  We weren't going to get snowed in.  In point of fact when I left work at fiveish the snow had long since stopped with I'd estimate 1.5 inches on the ground. 

During the big storms, yeah, that was annoying.  But something like this people go "ugh, more snow" and I just shrug.  It's a perfect opportunity for stoicism.  I like not being bothered by stuff.  Which shouldn't be taken as an assertion that I never am, but you know.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

An ice picture

Stop Motion Kedada Mix Navidad from zentrumclip on Vimeo.

This short stop-motion film about a penguin just chillin' (ha!) and doing penguin stuff is as low budget as you can get without being Ed Wood, I guess, but it's a feast for the senses all the same. I'm in awe of how well-chosen the music is, like Zappa in his seventies jazz phase.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The deal with Rastafarianism

A friend of mine asked tonight what Rastafarianism is.  We had just heard some semi-reggaeish music on a PA system.  I had to tell him I didn't know much about it.  Without looking it up on Wikipedia or a more specialized source I can tell you that the central Deity is basically the Judeao-Christian-Muslim God, that Africa is treated as the Holy Land, and that while a lot of worshippers are based in Jamaica, it's not the majority religion in that country.

Also, if I were to greatly increase my marijuana intake and buy a red-green-yellow knit hat, that would not make me a Rastafarian.  It's a little stricter than that.

Friday, February 21, 2014

A puddle of Friday Random Tens

So yes, today, rain. And relatively warm weather. Meaning that the rather towering levels of snow that had accumulated are going down. Which could possibly obscure the fact that the city neglected the basics of snow removal and road maintenance, especially the last time.  I do wonder how many people will remember.  The gaping potholes might help them on this account.

Thanks to the fellow who gave me a ride home.  The rain wasn't heavy for the most part, but there were a couple of moments I wouldn't have wanted to get caught out in.

1. Arcade Fire - Joan of Arc
2. Imperial Teen - It's You
3. Taj Mahal - She Caught the Katy (and Left Me a Mule to Ride)
4. R.E.M. - Feeling Gravity's Pull
5. Mose Allison - Molecular Structure
6. Pink Martini - Ich Dich Liebe
7. Scissor Sisters - Better Luck Next Time
8. Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band - Jazz, Delicious Hot, Disgusting Cold
9. Ladytron - Beauty 2
10. Jimmy Smith - I Didn't Know What Time It Was

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Where'd you get those eyes?

Some of the earliest artwork by humans is of animals. Bulls, mountain goats, sometimes birds of the marshes. The artmaking was tied up in huntng, yes. In fact the hunters were often depicted as well. There was an element of prophecy, though. The depictions weren't simply of animals the tribe had killed, or planned to kill. The images made a reality unto themselves.

The above picture is by Cassie Marie Edwards, and more like it can be seen here and here. It's a painting of a figurine, obviously. Meaning that it's two steps away from life: the panther wasn't real to begin with. And yet the eyes convey a feeling. Is this nostalgia for a lost way of making things? Or something else?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Language is a Virus (from Outer Space) - Laurie Anderson from Mondo Kane on Vimeo.

Great song. Possibly dated visuals, but only because of the hyperactive editing.

"There was a beautiful view that nobody could see/Because everybody on the island was shouting 'Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!'"

I've thought about that lyric recently because I'm writing a story where, when I first conceived of it, the three main characters were all freaks and grifters. And I realized that was the problem. They were all shouting and pouting for attention, and it was keeping me from getting anywhere. At least someone in the story has to be kind of colorless and timid. The upside for them is that they've got an author who understands that.

Of course the "Look at me! Look at me!" syndrome exists in a lot of places.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

White-out Saturday Random Ten

Wow.  Another big one.  Enough snow, at any rate, to close everything down.  Which is a lower threshold on the weekend, I think, and if this were a Tuesday, say, you might still see a lot of traffic out there.  As it is, once I got home at 3PM there wasn't much reason to go back out.

Did stop off at the library before they closed early.  I picked up Charles Stross' Rule 34.  The story sounded interesting, and I'd never really read him.  I'm only a couple of chapters in, but can't complain.  His writing is meme-heavy, which isn't a way I'd try to write but he has some infectious fun with it.  Plus cyberpunk dialog sounds a lot funnier in Glaswegian.

1. Scissor Sisters - Take Your Mama
2. Fiery Furnaces - I'm Going Away
3. Reading Rainbow - Cut in Two
4. They Might Be Giants - When Will You Die
5. Dinah Washington - Invitation
6. New Pornographers - Up in the Dark
7.  Lambert, Hendricks and Ross - Farmer's Market
8. Marvin Gaye - What's Going On
9. Mose Allison - Tell Me Something
10. Ladytron - Last One Standing

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A miscellany of miscellanies

This week my stove stopped working.  I noticed it was ominously cold and when I turned the knobs for the range top, no flames came out.  For a number of minutes I tried to relight the pilot before I realized it was impossible because there was nothing to light.  Now as it happens, my rent covers heat and hot water.  For whatever reason it doesn't cover cooking.  That's part of the electric bill.  Only you have to open a separate account, for some reason, I guess because nothing can be simple.  I did that the next day but had to be home for the gas men today, and could only get a very loose timeframe: between 8AM and 8PM. Not really the way I'd choose to take a day off.

When that was done - and they made good quick work of it, I have to say - I went out to Stop & Shop for something I'll need for Friday's dinner. I figured it would be quickest to hit the one on West River St here in Providence. Wow. Talk about an area that's not for pedestrians. There'd been no shoveling most of the way I had to walk, and today we had snow on top of snow, followed by heavy rain. So you had deep snowbanks, huge slush puddles... and a seriously flooded stretch of road somewhere between 60 and 80 feet long. West River Street indeed.

Just so this isn't just a litany of bummers, I recently updated the blogroll to include Nathanael Booth's new site. It used to have his old blog, When he stopped updating that I was afraid he'd quit. Booth is a canny thinker on mystery fiction and other stuff, so it's good to have him around.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Hello hello.  Just wnated to assure everyone that I hadn't gone anywhere.  Of if I went somewhere I didn't stay there.  And I certainly didn't try to smuggle two priceless Manets out in my pants.

Anyway, I'll be back in higher gear soon.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Card night

Card night - rummy 500 - was on again tonight.  Last week it was off because of the Superbowl.  The three of us got together again tonight, though, played cards, talked about this and that.  Including Philip Seymour Hoffman, whom I haven't done a blog post about yet but you never know.

One of my friends suggested a new place for us to meet.  It's a little Moroccan cafe on a street that doesn't really have a lot of businesses on it.  It's a nice place.  The guy working the counter was very friendly, very hospitable, and he seems to be co-ownder as well.  And they serve a tasty hot chocolate.

Like the guys who write into Penthouse Forum say, I had to tell someone.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Cutting a rug with the Friday Random Ten

They've been installing carpet where I work.  Last week and this week they got just about all of the first floor.  Next week they'll be installing it on the second floor, where I work.  It's an interesting smell, not exactly an unpleasant one.  I know from personal experience in college though that it's not one I'd want to experience overnight.

1. Arcade Fire - Empty Room
2. New Order - We All Stand
3. Scissor Sisters - Tits on the Radio
4. Imperial Teen - No Matter What You Say
5. They Might Be Giants - Let Your Hair Hang Down
6. Morphine - Sheila
7. R.E.M. - Life and How to Live It
8. Mose Allison - Foolkiller
9. Pink Martini - Quizas, Quizas, Quizas*
10. Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band - Rhinoccratic Oaths

* There are accent marks in this title as well, but I'd have to import the characters into Blogger and that messes up the layout.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

So, today. What to say about today? Apparently the polar vortex is still doing its thing, or something. It started snowing sometime in the early morning hours. Had to be after 2AM. I got to work at 8 and found that the day had been cancelled. Oh well. This winter just about every day with more than a flurry of snow has had catastrophic snow, or at least it's been treated as such.

But of course there are good things about having the day off. For one thing if I were at work today I probably wouldn't have found the greatest Tumblr site ever.

Also I finally found out how to use the flash drive I bought quite some time ago. I've had heartbreak in the past with floppies and even CDRs, either of which can just go dead and leave you unable to get your stuff. On the other hand it's good to have someplace to put your documents other than on the hard drive. Yet I don't know. I guess up till tonight I was afraid the flash drive would go crazy and eat everything.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Written by the winners and the close runner-ups

Recently I've been reading Marc J. Seifer's Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla. Tesla, of course, has become a posthumous cult icon, and his appearances in various types of fiction... well, see for yourself. And i'm not immune. There's a fascinating story there.

Reading about him I see that he was indeed a brilliant man and inventor and a seemingly tireless worker. A mixture of unlikely odd jobs and skillful gambling - especially pool - paid his way through engineering school. From then on he had more ideas than really anyone knew what to do with.

He was also a great self-promoter who knew how to use the exoticism of his Serbian/Croatian background to his advantage. If television had become a mass medium during his lifetime he would have been on one talk show or another every day of the week.

Tesla is the perfect subject for romanticization through books and movies. Thomas Edison, though he suffered some reversals, is too much of an establishment figure. Someone like William E. Sawyer, a prolific inventor who died young well before the twentieth century started, is too obscure, his story too depressing. Nikola Tesla is Goldilocks' just right. Even those who root for the underdog, as a rule, don't choose the lowest ones.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Yappin' Saturday Random Ten

My downstairs neighbor has a little dog. A little territorial dog. If it hears me come in it will start barking its head off for the grave offense, I guess, of walking past the door in order to get to my own place. Of course the problem with territoriality in dogs - and not just dogs - is that they can judge their territory so broadly that there's never not a reason to fight. In this case it's mostly amusing, though.

1. They Might Be Giants - Judy Is Your Vietnam

2. R.E.M. - Auctioneer (Another Engine)

3. Joni Mitchell - Blue Motel Room

4. Scissor Sisters - Mary

5. Beck - Black Tambourine

6. Lambert, Hendricks and Ross - Bijou

7. Ladytron - Weekend

8. The Bird and the Bee - You're a Cad

9. Arcade Fire - Ready to Start

10. Nat King Cole - Tenderly