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it warn't always like this

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6th March 2012

11:20am: I wish I could make people smile and lift their spirits just by engaging them in a round of peekaboo, as the girl does. I wish we didn't lose the ability to play that game as we got older. I mean, there's flirting, I guess, but flirting is terribly complicated. Watching strangers crack up as she peeks through her fingers -- I will miss that someday, when I realize that it's gone.

22nd November 2011

8:57pm: Love doesn't have a heart, and so it rips out your own.
-Joan D. Vinge, Psion

So, this year, Nicky Carter and Anne McCaffrey died. A lot of people knew Annie, the writer. She let me live with her for a summer a long time ago, so I knew her a bit as Annie, the person. And she was awesomely brave and loud and bold and kind. And not nearly so many people knew Nick. Nick was the director of a program called LEAP, and he wrote and directed full length musicals with all-child (or nearly all-child) casts. And I became a drama nerd because of him. And he was awesomely wild and loud and brash and sweet.

I haven't seen either of them in many years, and I only just found out they died. And I miss them terribly already. 

11th July 2011

10:05am: sentence
The equipment predominated and the actors were to be rushed in, milked of their functions, and then rushed out.

Han Ong, "Fiesta of the Damned," in Charlie Chan is Dead 2: At Home in the World, ed. Jessica Hagedorn. Penguin: 2004. p. 383

A cynic's romantic (think Fritz Lang's "Metropolis") view of moviemaking. Romantic in the sense that anyone who would build a machine where a man has to move the arms of a gigantic clock would bother to provide such a nice-looking clock to change the arms of. The commentary on moviemaking in this story is entertaining for its love of machinery. I love descriptions of machinery, and attempts to stuff humans into machine metaphors (mostly because they often fail elegantly).

Which reminds me, though, that I wish people would read up more on A Clockwork Orange. Or, perhaps, that I'd read up on it less, so I wouldn't spend so much time talking to, and getting lightly frustrated by, the people who don't know what Burgess thought of, and intended about, the whole mess.

17th May 2011

12:24pm: Penn Jillette's Sock (0312328052)
The interesting thing about this novel is that it's overtly a spin around Jillette's brain. He writes the way he talks on TV. Or his ghostwriter is also his scriptwriter, or does a fine imitation. And he's clever, and it's a good summer read.

But there's these little bits where you see, lurking in that tall, mouthy showman, a smidge of melancholy. (Or whoever it is that he's fronting -- he might well approve of my suspicion.) He's the sort of cynical that is cynical, it seems, precisely because he loves humanity so much, and we never quite live up to what he imagines our potential is. Who said it? -- Scratch a pessimist and you'll find a disappointed optimist underneath.

Of course, the last time I said that about a writer, he was something of an ass, in person. Can't go about handing out too too much credit.

9th May 2011

9:31am: sentence
That's the good part of unconditional love. There are no decisions to make.
-Dickie, in Penn Jilette's Sock (0312328052) p. 18

I'm cheating my own rules with two sentences, rather than one. But the second sentence is the punchline of the first. I could have gone with "You want closure, get a door," but I have nothing to say about that except it's funny. No decisions to make with unconditional love, though -- that's just an excellently entertaining lie. Unconditional love is chock-full of decisions.

16th March 2011

4:34pm: sentence

I throw puppy love right at her in loopy yo-yos, puppy drool, joy, and big-pawed puppy clabber, ear perks, eye contact, most of all the potent weapon of all puppies, the head cock and puppy grin.

-Almost Soup, cheating death in "Almost Soup" by Louise Erdrich, Reckonings, p.236

I've been reading baby development stuff, and they talk about babies starting to smile "socially" to encourage people to take care of them ("bonding"). Pretty lousy evolutionary strategy, but what we have, as human infants.

I think of this, when she gives me a delighted grin at 4 a.m. when we awake to change her diaper and then nurse. It's you again. I need you. Love me, the smile says.

8th October 2010

12:52pm: sentences
The death of anything is when it begins to be about itself.

Bruce Davidson, quoted in "At 77, a photographer with staying power." Boston Globe. Oct 3, 2010. N7.

The thing about knowing is once you've salted its tail it never lets go.

Allen, Paula Gunn. "Burned alive in the blues." Reckonings: contemporary short fiction by Native American Women. ed Hertha Sweet Wong, Lauren Stuart Miller, Jana Sequoya Magdaleno. Oxford UP: NY. 6.

knowledge as corruptionCollapse )

9th September 2010

5:13pm: sentence
What did it matter in the end, whether love was earned or inherited?

Waters, Mary Yukari. "Caste system." Mixed: an anthology of short fiction on the multiracial experience. ed Chandra Prasad. Norton: New York, 2006. 184.

I give a lot of credit to Waters for making the point that it rather does matter, actually. Although, what is the "in the end" omega point? End of all human existence? Death? At the end of giving some thought to the matter?

20th July 2010

1:24pm: sentence
"Yet somehow, every day of my life is still a campaign for popularity, or better yet, a crowded funeral."

-John Waters, Role Models, New York: Farrar. 24.

I went to see Waters be interviewed by Scott Heim on his tour for this book. Waters was great - he kept using lines from the book, so it was like a trailer for the book. And I can hear his voice now when I read the book.

But this sentence made me feel a bit sad for him. He was comparing himself to, of all people, Johnny Mathis. And that sentence is mixed in with lots of him talking about finding his own community when the communities he was supposed to belong to both rejected him and weren't appealing to join, anyway.

So the book is about John Waters' role models. But also, it's about the nature and textures of love and making connections. Which sounds absurdly grandiose if you read almost any other sentence out of this book. But he is talking about the intricacies of the human heart in with all the rest of it. He's sly, that way.

8th July 2010

8:53am: sentence
History erased via the substitution of an identical object.

Gibson, William. Pattern Recognition. Putnam: NY. 2003. 194. (In a chapter titled "Dickheads")

Gibson seems to be at his most terrifying when trying to be off-handedly terrifying. Because the stylishness detracts from the whole consideration. And, this book, I'm strangely sad for his characters, who live in exile in self-imposed bubbles, while denying the fact that the bubble itself is not self-contained.

I never much think, y'know, the coffee that character is drinking was made from something that grew out of the dirt, was picked, was put on a truck and a plane and delivered to that coffeeshop at 4 am, and so on - but with Gibson, it's where my brain now heads. A reaction to all the remove, I guess.

All that said, enjoying the book.

9th June 2010

9:23am: sentence
Now that my degree is complete, and I haven't started back in on RFB&D, my readings are assigned by me. I finally finished Le Guin's Unlocking the Air. I actually understood one of her stories better because of my degree. I'd managed to remain ignorant of the key business in the Velvet Revolution until I read Joseph Hurka's Fields of Light for my memoir class. But since I read that before I read the eponymous (titular?) story in Le Guin's collection, I understood her reference. Unlocking the air, indeed.

At any rate, I'm currently on Percival Everett's Damned If I Do. I quite liked Glyph, which I read years ago when I found it on a new books shelf. I didn't understand half of it, but still I enjoyed it. So, from his "The Fix:"

"'I am the empty sea.'"

It's one of those answers that isn't an answer, exactly, but is the exact answer.

At the moment, what I'm especially enjoying, more than Everett's intellectual and philosophical musings and puzzles, is his ability to create a memorable character and not tell you a damn thing about what the character looks like. What was that line that I learned in Kafka class, even though it wasn't Kafka? I am the one without a head. Something like that. Everett's characters are what they think -- they're all head and no body, even though what they are doing matters enormously in the story.

On the other hand, that's exactly what The Oatmeal complained about with Twilight - the main character was just an empty shell for the reader to slide into. Which is why he just calls her "Pants," which cracks me up every time I read it.

22nd February 2010

12:47pm: sentence
If I was God, I would spit at Kuhn's prayer.

-Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz (If This Is a Man) p.130

Primo Levi, let us just say, apparently did not turn to religion to survive Auschwitz. He's referring to Kuhn, a man thanking God aloud because he was not selected for the gas chamber that day. A man surrounded by men who were selected.

4th February 2010

9:05am: sentence
"After slapping Alexei Tolstoi in the face, M. immediately returned to Moscow."

Nadezhda Mandelstam, decribing her husband's smackdown of Tolstoi in her memoir Hope Against Hope. I would point out that this is the opening line - the lady knows how to start a scene. What she fails to explain is that the reason her husband Osip was that mad at Tolstoi was because Tolstoi didn't think it was such a big deal that Borodin had "assaulted" her (whatever that means - the word wasn't expanded on or in a context I could read) and somehow came to the conclusion that it was all her and Osip's fault.

The parallels between Russian poets and high schoolers starts to become clear. I can't make too much fun of Russian poets, though, because they tended to have high ideals, horrible lives, and pretty terrible deaths.  Plus, most of them could have probably kicked my ass in a fight - they were scrappy. Still, I hold a grudge for the time a pack of them made me cry. Stupid poets and their stupid sad poetry about their stupid dead friends and their stupid lyrical ability to convey stupid unbearable loneliness. See - they even turn me back into a high schooler. They drag everyone down to their level.

21st January 2010

8:45am: sentence - All We Need Is More Vodka
The subject line is actually taken from some spam I received this morning. Not apropos, just lightly entertaining. On to our sentence.

"But academic writing is based on the idea that we read texts differently."

-Joseph Harris Rewriting: How to do things with texts. Utah State UP. 2006. p. 20.
This is not the venerable Joseph "I seem to have forgotten my duck" HarrisCollapse ) This is not the venerable Joseph "I seem to have forgotten my duck" HarrisCollapse )

18th December 2009

1:38pm: "surfing the web" is a strange visual
I was at Trendsmap, which maps Twitter topics geographically. It found me Fake AP Stylebook, which is funny if you've taken a copyediting class. My favorite was "Only use the word 'proactive' if it will dynamically impact your synergistic throughput paradigm." However, I still prefer the non-fake Chicago manual of style FAQ, because the snark and the sincere are excellently married. Sample:

Q. Hello, I've tried to grasp the rule on hyphenating a couple of words I'm confronted with; could you please confirm I'm right in my reasoning: nontoxic (“non-toxic” would look better); nonsmokers (“non-smokers” would look better); noneicosanoid functions (“non-eicosanoid” would look better; nonphosphorylated form (“non-phosphorylated” would look better).

A. Clearly, you like the looks of the hyphen, so I'd say go for it, although Chicago style is to close up the prefix in all those cases.

7th December 2009

9:24am: sentence
Now God knows there are too many open-mike readings in the world; but better drivel at the open mike than silence from a closed mouth.

Ursula K Le Guin, "Off the page: loud cows." The wave in the mind. Shambhala: Boston, 2004.

Exhort while you smack down - way to go, UKLG. And, bonus -- mooing.

17th November 2009

8:26am: sentence
You philosophers ask questions without answers, questions that have to remain unanswered to deserve being called philosophical.

Jean-Francois Lyotard, from The Inhuman (1991) in A Critical and Cultural Theory Reader 2nd ed p.221

And then the sun explodes. I kinda fell in love with it.

Much better than the previous selection, in which Baudrillard flogs the canard about Disney being frozen. (He was fried, not frozen, for the record. Or, to put it more politely, he was cremated in accordance with his wishes.) And referring to the Disneyworld parking lot as "a veritable concentration camp"? Let us just say that I was eager to turn the page and be done with that.

12th November 2009

12:48pm: apropos my last entry
Working-class culture, in the stage through which it has been passing, is primarily social (in that it has created institutions) rather than individual (in particular intellectual or imaginative work).

-Raymond Williams, from Culture and Society 1780-1950 in A Critical and Cultural Theory Reader. 229.

Glee as "working-class culture." Hmm...

8:27am: Glee is an iron, to paraphrase Spider Robinson.
I'm not sure what this episode is actually called, but I think I'm going to refer to it as "One False Note after Another." The Gay Kid squashes himself for the sake of his father's fragility after singing "Defying Gravity." The Wheelchair Kid gets thrown under the bus on two issues so that he can generously do one thing that he should have sued for. And Queen Cheerio (who doesn't use their names - why bother?) being used to make the most nuanced argument about attitudes toward people with disabilities, such as it was. And let's not forget faking-a-disability-as-a-gag thrown in for funzies -- more than once.

Lit crit, thou art a brain eater.

10th November 2009

12:53pm: sentence
Best known is the rule that the chorus consists of thirty-two bars and that the range is limited to one octave and one note.
-Theodore Adorno snarking "On Popular Music" (1941) in A Critical and Cultural Theory Reader p. 212

Hmm...not familiar with that one.

9th September 2009

2:52pm: paraphrase
Do you know what they do to those juniper berries?!

No, but it's delicious.

8th July 2009

8:40am: sentence

One grim sentiment, coming right up:

The man who suddenly sees himself with a little power in his hands tries immediately to assemble a guillotine, a gallows, and a coffin.
-Jeronimo Monteiro. "O copo de cristal." 1964

Found this in Cosmos Latinos: an anthology of science fiction from Latin America and Spain

19th June 2009

12:33pm: A really weird tribute to my dad
Math nerds and Paul Erdos always make me think of my father, who was a math hobbyist. (He called himself a numberhead -- sort of like being a Deadhead.) My father died on the day before Father's Day in 2006, and Father's Day is this weekend, and...I saw this on xkcd today and it made me smile.

Yeah, it's weird. Some people keep their memories of their fathers wrapped in old jackets or the smell of a particular brand of tobacco. For me, it's references to Erdos numbers.

17th April 2009

10:19am: Judith Krug
I just found out Judith Krug died last weekend. Why does that matter and why does it bum me out? She was the longtime director of American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom and executive director of the Freedom To Read Foundation. She really, really defended the right of people to read whatever the hell they wanted. Including stuff she personally hated, including stuff she thought was just lame. She went to bat for absolute crap, absolute mediocrity, and absolute brilliance.

I don't know that she was aware of the recent Amazon kerfuffle, but I think she would have been pleased so many people got outraged and involved. I'd say rest in peace, but I hope she's still raising a ruckus wherever she goes.

13th April 2009

5:50pm: Oh, and...
Be free, little info tidbits, be free.

National Library Week free databases.
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