Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Person of the books

I'm about halfway through reading A Life Discarded: 148 Diaries Found in the Trash by Alexander Masters. Following Masters' discovery of a group of abandoned journals, it's an odd and fascinating kind of detective story: Masters is actively trying not to discover who his subject is, because he wants to keep her universal. It's looking like he might not be able to avoid finding out, though.

Also I've learned a new bit of British English: "skip" for "dumpster." Not sure where it came from, but it sounds expressive.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Odd dogs

In order to comprehend the meaning of this event, you must understand that the town was already full of surgically altered dogs and other kinds of animals, in various states of completion, most of them running wild in the streets, scavenging from garbage heaps. The tradition of turning them loose had been started shortly after Rank's day, as a way of celebrating individual successes and displaying them to the town. Most of the monsters, at that time, were too horrible to be kept as pets.
This article got me curious about Lives of the Monster Dogs by Kirsten Bakis. Published in 1997, it's her only novel to date. I'll pay attention if she has a follow-up.

The account of a group of surgically modified dogs who move to New York after overthrowing the humans of the German colony in Canada where they were created, it's narrated in the main by two characters. One, Ludwig von Sacher - a name reminiscent of Leopold von Sacher Masoch - is a Monster Dog himself, and the designated historian of his people. The other, Cleo Pira, is an aimless human writer who gets a career boost when she profiles the Monster Dogs for Vanity Fair. It's a little unsettling to realize how much more central print was to culture when the book was written not too long ago.

The book feels like a spiritual heir to both The Island of Dr. Moreau and the Caliban portions of Shakespeare's The Tempest. The Monster Dogs are surgically altered dogs, yes. They're also humans, albeit uncomfortable in their skins as humans. And they're a commentary on German romanticism as well.

It's an unusual book, and arresting. I'll be talking about another book I'm reading soon.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Baby mine

While David Lynch is in vogue now due to the Showtime revival of Twin Peaks, I figured I'd go back a little further. About as far as you can go, in fact.

The baby in Eraserhead has all the vulnerabilities of a regular baby, but not the cuteness. It is cute, but in a reptilian or amphibian way. And no one raises their pet salamander with the expectation that it will live on after you and carry on your legacy. You know you'll eventually flush it. Then there's the fact that Henry is a prime screwup overall, not that I'm throwing stones. It's not too hard to figure that Lynch made this while experiencing some angst about parenthood.

The black and white is canny. It bleeds the seventies out of the movie. Makes used but newish furniture look like antiques. But Eraserhead doesn't look or feel like a movie from the thirties. It looks and feels like a nightmare experienced by someone who's watched a lot of old movies and gazed at a lot of Diane Arbus photos.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Kee-razy collage

Tuesday in Tartu from Mari Kivi on Vimeo.

Some French words appear in this but I think the animator is actually Finnish. Anyway, there's something about this I really like. Maybe the horse-sized telephone.

Monday, May 22, 2017


There are times when nighttime jazz radio is truly a joy. Much of this has to do with the jazz deejays. Their voices are preternaturally calm, their delivery rhythmic but a little off. This is the way you talk when you've survived some overwhelming catastrophe and haven't seen another living human since. You practice speaking to others, try to reassure yourself that you'll get a chance to do so. Soon, you hope.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

He's in the bestselling show

Just watched the first episode of the first season series of Life on Mars tonight. Richly entertaining. One thing I noticed was the particular flavor of nostalgia, going beyond the wide collars and classic rock. You hear a lot about nostalgia for New York in the 1970s, when the city was grimier and more dangerous but before gentrification had made it dull and expensive. Life on Mars isn't a New York show, but there's a similar principle. The 1973 Manchester he wakes up in looks like the Nazis had bombed it just the day before, but it feels exciting and full of possibility as well.

Sam Tyler seems like the sort of young professional who, regardless of what happened to him, would be well advised to find some kind of guide figure. Someone who could help him be less of an uptight technocrat. Gene Hunt fills the bill, even if some of his old school copper ways are old school for a reason. Of course for someone who comes from the politically correct 2000s, Sam is awfully quick to put his hand on Annie's tit. In a non-sexual context (uh-huh) but still bears an eerie resemblance to harassment.

Speaking of eerie, the scene of him waking up in the middle of the night to see and hear one of his surgeons talking about him on the TV is a classic bit of Twilight Zone-y nightmarishness.

Thursday, May 18, 2017


Kneip 2015 - Objects of Curiosity from stiankorntvedruud on Vimeo.

These little motorized sculptures seem strangely haunted. In truth, while I couldn't tell you exactly how all this was done, they seem to be powered by magnets and very simple electric generators. So on some level the tech may have been accessible to people of the nineteenth century. The ideas are contemporary, though.

The thing that seemed to be taking flight like a bat was very interesting.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Calvin and Moe show

In truth you could say that Calvin has a point in the fourth panel AND in the first. Life is multifaceted.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

One crazy night

I had never heard this story until tonight, when one of my card-playing companions related it. One detail.
As things continued to escalate, club security attempted to remove the drunken and enraged Lennon, who lashed out, losing his trademark specs in the scuffle. He then, according to Tommy Smothers, kicked the valet. “My wife ended up with Lennon’s glasses because of the punches that were thrown,” Smothers said.
Challenging John Lennon to heckle an act on-stage just seems like a monumentally bad idea. Any of the Beatles, really, even Paul, but especially John.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Bottles and cans just clap your hands

Is the city going green?

The other day I was walking through the train station and I saw a couple of transparent recycling containers. One was for bottles and cans, and another for paper/cardboard I guess. It was handy, because I did have a couple of plastic bottles on me, that I'd picked off the street and had been planning to bring home.

Downtown, where the bus stops are, I saw that three arrow recycling sign on the sidewalk a couple of times, apparently indicating the location for a couple of other containers.

So yeah, it's convenient if you're already inclined to pay attention to that stuff. I'm skeptical about how many people will use it, though. You see a lot of trash on the streets, some recyclable and some not. In some cases there are trash cans within a few feet of where it got tossed. Littering is the product of indifference bordering on hostility.

Side note: wonder if anyone will try to recycle dead witnesses and blood sacrifice victims.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


After calculating a few mathematical results in both base 8 and base 12, I've concluded that base 10 is the best at combining practicality and fun. (For one thing, there's more variety in the final digits of square numbers.) Now does this mean we live in the best of all possible worlds? Obviously not. But we have one of the better possible maths.

Yeah, my mind works like that when it has time to. And I can always find time.

Monday, May 8, 2017

The chow line

You're not supposed to eat on buses around here. They put up signs inside the bus. Nonetheless, some people do. Not furtively, either. I've seen people just openly grab a slice of pizza out of the box or munch away on a pizza.

When this happens it has to be with the tacit consent of the driver. Some folks must have an understanding with the driver, or just have worn him down. I don't have that kind of luck. I'm not the kind of person that minor authority figures are going to give a break to. Then again I'd much rather have lunch at a table, so no big loss.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

What's surreal today?

Monsieur Magritte (2017) from Georgia Giang Do on Vimeo.

This little stop motion film brings the whimsy. I don't know that it looks like the work of Rene Magritte, but I like to think he'd approve of it. Spiritual kinship, you know.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Songs new

There's always good music being made, but charting popular music now seems to be as bad as any time in my life. I blame EDM to a large extent. There seem to be, like, ten EDM tracks, and they just keep tossing different vocals in.

There are exceptions, though. I'm starting to warm to Haim. They remind me of the Shaggs if their dad had been able to put them through finishing school. One run by Stevie Nicks, I'm guessing.

Songs old

Even among people who like the band and the album, this song seems to have generated its share of  offense. Should it, though? It's never seemed to me like Knopfler is mocking anyone but himself, by highlighting what weirdly unlikely subject matter this is for him. Maybe that's just my reaction.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

O the pain, the pain

This morning I woke up with a headache, and no ibuprofen or acetaminophen or anything to take for it, so I just tried to ignore it until it went away. Didn't work so well. Wound up getting nauseous, which is all I'll say about that for now. Anyway, I restocked, which should last me for a while.

Better that it happen today than tomorrow, at least. Have to be on the move tomorrow morning.