Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday Brautigan

Your Catfish Friend
by Richard Brautigan

If I were to live my life
in catfish forms
in scaffolds of skin and whiskers
at the bottom of a pond
and you were to come by
one evening
when the moon was shining
down into my dark home
and stand there at the edge
of my affection
and think, "It's beautiful
here by this pond. I wish
somebody loved me,"
I'd love you and be your catfish
friend and drive such lonely
thoughts from your mind
and suddenly you would be
at peace,
and ask yourself, "I wonder
if there are any catfish
in this pond? It seems like
a perfect place for them."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sea Love

Give me a budget and I'll give you this pilot episode for the next groundbreaking drama:

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Thanks, Subconscious!

Over the weekend, I woke up from a dream that has either proved that my brain is a vacant wasteland of pop cultural references or was a forewarning that I am the One (Luke Skywalker, John Conner, Neo, Jesus, Mohammed, Abraham, Frodo Baggins, Atreyu, that fat kid that got Peter Pan's sword at the end of Hook, Max from Where the Wild Things Are: whatever your narrative understanding of the One is, I mean that).

The dream began by making it very clear that Sarah Conner was my mother and protector. Linda Hamilton Sarah Conner, none of this Lena Headey bullshit. Sarah Conner was my mother and we were in some sort of version of Jurassic Park. Naturally, though, the dinosaurs were super-intelligent and could talk. THAT DON'T MEAN THOSE BITCHES WEREN'T AFTER US, THOUGH! If there's one thing my frequent dinosaur dreams have taught me, it's that imbuing dinosaurs with the ability to reason and communicate with humans doesn't mean they aren't still just going to attack you out of nowhere. In fact, the suspense is even thicker when you can reason with them. How much more freaky is it when the dinosaurs can articulate, from several hundred yards away, their desire to eat you? It's significantly freakier, trust me on this one. I've conversed with my fair share of sentient dinosaurs in my sleep!

So here we are on this island with super-intelligent dinosaurs. Some of the smaller ones are helping us. Anything over ten feet is trying to stop us from escaping the park, the preferred preventative method being ingestion. There is an Albertosaurus on our tail, and that thing from Jurassic Park III (I've heard it called both a Spinosaurus and an Egyptosaurus) is apparently behind every large-ish tree.

Let me tell you, I've been eaten before in these dreams, and it is a real bummer. Thankfully we got out of this park alive, both Mumma Sarah and me. The dinosaurs were held back by a transparent fence. They grimaced at us and made it clear this wasn't over, etc. For the time being - this dream - it was over. For my life, however, I'm sure the battle is still in its infancy.

The next part of the dream was just a haze of running through the jungle. If my dream was a movie and I was its editor, I'd probably cut this scene. Seemed extraneous and generally didn't fit with the tone of the rest of the dream. But I feel like I'd be a liar if I didn't note that there was a little bit of jungle-running. There was, and there you have it.

At some point, Sarah Mums showed me a secret passageway on the forest floor. It was at this point that I realized that the jungle had mellowed and started to look distinctly Endorian. Or rather, it looked forest-moon-of-Endorian. It looked pretty Ewoky, is my point. We opened the passageway and found ourselves in the middle of a big, huge, crazy Sith-meeting. Just a bunch of Sith in there, discussing their nefarious plans. We were hiding behind a pole or a door, so they didn't even seem to notice, and I guess didn't have that much security in their meeting. My mother and I knew what was what. We started taking some serious notes on their plot to kill good things, knowing we could help out rebel friends (rebels against Skynet or the Empire, who knows and who cares?) I'm pretty sure we were discovered and that's what prompted me to wake up, but I did not wake up panicked or in fear. I woke up feeling like I was the bees fucking knees. It should have been a nightmare - I was in danger the entire dream. But some neuronal firing had conspired to make it fun, not petrifying. Thanks, brain!

This dream combined three of my all-time favourite high-stakes trilogies and made me absolutely, unequivocally the focus of each one. Terminator was the running thread that helped me escape Jurassic Park and venture into Star Wars territory. How wonderful of my brain to synthesize these things and give me a chance to simultaneously star in all three. Or how depressing, depending on whether or not you think dreams should be about being in your house except it's kinda sorta not your house and there's a fish jumping out of the floor and your best friend is there except it's not really him, or it's him, but five years younger. YOU BORE ME.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dear Sweet Jefferson Market Librarian

You don't have to apologize to me every time my fines have accrued to the point where I have to pay them if I want my next book. You don't.

I'm very irresponsible. I'm the kind of irresponsible that is not forgetful, just negligent. I know when they're due. I just don't return them. Don't implicate yourself in my failures. You want to know something? I don't even implicate myself in them.


PS. The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch is unlikely to be back in your hands by November 2.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Domestic Tip

Listening to early Cure albums while washing dishes makes for vigourously scrubbed dishes!


Regardless of whether it was politically astute to award Obama the Nobel Peace Prize, I am dead set against this argument that's flourished that he didn't deserve it. And even Obama admitted he didn't think he did. HE IS WRONG.

I'm sorry, he devoted years and years of his life to revitalizing one of the most downtrodden and neglected urban areas in America, and building it into a politically and socially active community. He did it by LISTENING to people, a tool almost nobody in politics employs, but which he has continued to use since, in his time in the famously corrupt world of Illinois politics, and then the broader world of national politics. He has written two bestselling books, one of which is deeply moving on a personal level and groundbreaking in its ideas about racial identity, while the other is one of the most extensive modern tomes of diplomacy out there. With these books alone, he has inspired millions of people, and not only Americans. Not enough?

Okay, he is one of the best orators in American history. He has reached out specifically to Europe, Asia and the Middle East and improved America's image worldwide within mere months. He is the first president ever to not only empathize with non-American cultures, but to have lived in them, to have had them deeply shape his identity and philosophies. He is the first black president in a country divided bitterly over race.

He is at the beginning of his years of true international achievement and anything could happen in those years, I agree. But this fact does not invalidate his past achievements.

Yes, this is a wrench thrown into his spokes, yes, he does not technically fit the description of the Peace Prize, but then how did Al Gore fit it?, yes, it's a wry political move on the part of the Nobel committee who really are just slapping Bush in the face, yes, it would have been better to award this to him post-presidency, yes, he is making war in Afghanistan rather than preventing it, yes, the Peace Prize was awarded to Arafat but not Gandhi, rendering it pretty illegitimate but holy fucking shit guys, do not tell me Barack Obama doesn't deserve it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Norwegian Westerns & Fictional New Yorkers

A few months back, I interviewed the amazing graphic novelist Jason. He is the best thing in comics since Bill Watterson. Genuinely. Read the interview in which I nerd out a little too evidently here. I am such a sycophant, but at least I'm a sycophant with taste.

I also wrote of a review of a neat book called Knickerbocker which you can read here.


Monday, October 5, 2009


I only just noticed that lists Statistically Improbable Phrases (SIPs) below the summaries of each book page. Seriously, how awesome is that?! I have listed some of the SIPs of my favourite books below:

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

"Kid spat" is the only one listed. Sparse as Cormac himself.

The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene

vibrational string patterns, sliding clock, stationary light clock, familiar extended dimensions, quantum undulations, three extended spatial dimensions, superpartner particles, circular girth, resonant vibrational patterns, quantum jitters, five string theories, given string theory, second superstring revolution, circular dimension, energy denomination, perturbative tools, spatial fabric, string theory offers, nine space dimensions, observational vantage points, winding energies, string coupling, string theorists, perturbative framework, elegant universe

The Philosopher and the Wolf by Mark Rowlands

irish ferries, happiness junkies, simian intelligence, epistemic duty

Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem

garbage cop, ambulance ramp, phone downstairs, homicide cop

The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon

cloud factory, giant women

Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan

great demotions, deflection technology, pale blue dot, scaling heaven, spacefaring nations, cometary fragments, gravitational tides, human missions, first spacecraft, other planetary systems, planetary society

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

queer lodgings, fourteenth share, unexpected party, old thrush, wood elves, other dwarves, lake men, gob lins

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace.

These ones take the cake. I mean, seriously, DFW was a master of employing statistically improbable words, let alone phrases:

medical attaché, annular fusion, entertainment cartridge, improbably deformed, howling fantods, feral hamsters, dawn drills, tough nun, professional conversationalist, new bong, ceiling bulged, metro boston, tennis academy, red leather coat, soupe aux pois, red beanie, addicted man, magnetic video, littler kids, little rotter, technical interview, police lock, oral narcotics, sober time, veiled girl.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Turns out...

...I'm a real sucker for statues, erected posthumously, of artists conversing with their creations. One thing death does, which can be both good and bad, is release the deceased into Legend Land. Kermit and the Cat in the Hat, being fictional, are long-time residents of this legend-realm. To me, these statues approximate what it looks like for them to welcome their creators into this place, both showing them the ropes and celebrating that they are finally able to interact with each other on the same plane of existence. I love how Jim Henson and Kermit look like old friends catching up, and Seuss and the Cat in the Hat look like they are taking a break for a quick, silly photo op, and will return to reminiscing directly after.

Jim Henson and Dr. Seuss died in 1990 and 1991 respectively, and I remember hearing about both of their deaths as a 6 and 7 year old (especially Henson's). Not only were they mourned out of respect for their work, they were mourned for consistently being stand-up dudes; they were loyal, empathetic, honest, it seems like they didn't let talent and fame rob them of very much. Because I was a kid, I know I conflated them with their work, and I wasn't always clear which side of reality/fantasy Miss Piggy and the Lorax were on as opposed to Henson and Seuss. These statues are a little bit of validation for the haziness of the kid me's conception of creator/creation.

My Heart Will Melt...

This is in the mail to me and it should be in the mail to you too.