Friday, January 29, 2010

Celebrities all over my dreams (as usual): a performance art piece by a Kirstie Alley/Candye Kane hybrid, and a convention hosted by an enthusiastic but ill-informed Bradley Cooper. Last night in my dream there was an Onion headline that read: "Philip Seymour Hoffman Declared America's 38th White Meat." Is that funny?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

State of the Cat Union (nsfw)

  • Large human. That is me.
  • Cat No. 1 -
    Ursula Holepunch Entropinatrix Tamny
  • Cat No. 2 -
    Hermione Polly-Dactyl Perfidia Tamny

Remarks (mine):

Thanks for coming.

I have several talking points this evening, and this speech could take two, two-and-a-half minutes. So sit the fuck down.

First of all, cut out that shit with the pushpins. There are 500 cat toys lodged under my furniture; go dig those out and play with them instead. You do this one more time--you stand on your hind paws and pull pushpins off my bulletin board with your teeth, then chase them around and leave them on the floor for me to step on one more time--and I'm handing you back to the shelter. Yeah, I said it, I might cry two tears in a bucket. Fuck it.

About those cat toys: it takes two to play fetch, and I am tired of the all taking and no giving. Go get the toys, or they stay under the furniture until we move.

Secondly, stop thinking of your anus as a way to express any of your feelings. If you have something to say, learn English and speak up, but don't use your butt to say it.

Thirdly, I have wanker's elbow from spending two hours Allen-wrenching together your new fugly Cat Condo. This means that not only is my arm sore, but my living space now voluntarily contains a piece of "furniture" covered in carpet and sisal. You better use this thing, because if you don't it's not like I can let houseguests sleep on the little platforms instead. Enjoy it. Get up there and watch the seagulls. Watch the neighbors fight and grill.

To each of you individually:
Hermione: stop shedding so much.
Ursula: stop bolting your food.

To both of you:
I hope you find it as alarming as I do that Whisker Lickin's Tender Moments Chicken Flavor Soft & Delicious cat treats smell just like Bac-Os. But I also hope they continue to influence your behavior, because they are the only tool I have. Oh--and--stay out of the bathroom when I'm in it. Nothing to do with you.

Lastly, I am really enjoying that thing you do, Ursula, when you land on top of Hermione. Way cute, keep doing that.

It's 2010--let's make this a great year, ladies. You cute lil fuckheads.


Monday, January 25, 2010

recent successes in improvised oatmeal cookie cookery

<-cocoa / oatmeal / mini
chocolate chip / peanut

(variation: 1/3 c. cocoa, 3/4 bag mini chocolate chips, 2 c.+ oatmeal; 1/2 c. salted roasted peanuts, smashed up)
oatmeal / dark chocolate
mini chunk / pine nut->
(variation: 1 c.+ oatmeal; 3/4 bag dark chocolate mini chunks; 2/3 c. pine nuts, toasted, half ground and half added whole)


not a huge fan of:

1. This book. It was an impulse purchase at Quimby's, and I regret it (entertainment budget not currently large!). I'm not entirely sure how to talk about what I found so disagreeable about this book without sounding all insulted and beleaguered, but I found the blizzard of cultural references and overwriting almost intolerable. Especially in a tale in which the resolution is our 33 year-old author's salvation in...a blizzard of cultural references (The Onion). Who the guy is in the middle of everything, I really don't know, and I really didn't want to know. I kept tossing the book aside with a Meh, and eventually I did for good. I would have been perfectly happy to read the short story buried in this thing once all the capitalized nouns had been excised and the author unclenched and aged a bit, but such was not to be.

2. This show. My beef with it lies not (exactly) in the realm of gah! gross! first-world-excess!, as we watch the cute long-lashed host slog his way through lots of food, although I don't really get off on that part, but in how fundamentally boring the premise is. Will he get through it? Oh man oh man! Wipe of the brow, a shake of the head, an intake of breath as he regroups, incites the crowd, and eats again. Oh the mugging for the's so feeb. I am sometimes amazed that Anthony Bourdain gets away with dissing the Food Network so much (even if it's merited), when the Travel Channel has such an aggressively dopey guyfieri-y editorial POV, evidenced in this show and others.

As you were!
That Touch of Mink on tonight. Oh I want to like that movie, and do in some ways, but in lots of others it's the movie everyone thought Doris Day made but did only once (in this one): agonized and coy and virginal and she is kind of superannuated for the part, frankly. The best part--still--for me may be the automat. Damn that was cool.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

it lives!

From the it's-my-blog-and-I'll-blog-if-I-blog-bloggity-want-to file: my DVD remote has healed itself! Which isn't a big deal, but now I can use subtitles and set the clock and fast-forward without getting up every time (yay). So, really, it is a big deal (yay). The remote was dead for about a year, but suddenly now is healed.

My grandfather, whom I never met, but many of whose expressions live on in various ways, apparently once coined the term "paramechanosis," meaning the diagnosed disease of inanimate objects that later get better by themselves. Clear case of paramechanosis here.

the news eclipse

I don't think I'm alone in this, but I sometimes get my news by squinting at it. I tilt my head, look slightly off-center, unfocus my eyes...and gather news from the bits of glare and noise/light pollution that filters in. Headlines and Tweets rolling by and FB links and news promos and random bits of overheard conversations and news radio reaching my ears in the back of a cab... Later I'll eventually read an actual article or watch TV, and look right at the spot whence all the fuss originated. I have never had the discipline to read the paper every day, so if I choose not to look directly at a news story, it's all squint and spill-off.

There have been a few times recently, however, when I've been aware of the fact that the dynamic is (even stupider and) farther-removed from the Squint. Now there is the News Eclipse. (I can't seem to talk about this without using a shorthand neologism--please excuse). The News Eclipse is when you don't read the actual news and you don't even squint. You look right at the sun but don't see a thing.

Such as when Michael Jackson died. I was in a cab when I got a text about this news. Just as I did the cab driver confirmed it (those dudes know everything), and that was all it took: I stopped paying attention. I could feel the heat from the oncoming news blast and I started tuning out right then and there. I didn't look away, but neither did I watch CNN in shock, scan news sites, or shamefully devour TMZ online. I didn't even eventually read anything measured in a print source or newsweekly. I demonstrated no active curiosity about the event. I just let the heat from it lick at me, after spending 30 solid seconds with the news.

That frightened me, rather. It didn't surprise me that I could ultimately know a lot about a news event without actually reading/watching the news (as Robin Harris says in House Party, "Cut the television off, comes in through the damn walls"), nor are one's feelings about Michael Jackson a litmus test about your feelings about all current events. It did rather appall me, however, that I just never bothered to find out anything for myself. No article, no definitive anything. It's hard to find a definitive anything these days, but I wasn't even trying.

I had always an image of myself staring right into an eclipse, looking right at where the sun would be if my indifference or resistance weren't blocking the way. I can see the corona all around it, but I'm not even bothering to see where it's coming from; whether from self-protection or exhaustion or apathy, I just couldn't say.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

panda obviousness

Boy, is Yun Zi cute--the panda cam from the San Diego Zoo is great fun. Somebody is operating the cameras there, following the pandas around, so you don't spend much time staring at the empty concrete floor of a zoo cage, hoping for an animal to show up (lucky humans). Yun Zi spends a lot of time wombling around fat-rumped, chewing his feet, and falling asleep. Bai Yun (his mother) seems to spend a lot of her on-camera time Chewing in that phlegmatic panda way. She looks a little like Cartman from certain angles. The time-lapse videos are particularly fun; because pandas tend to move sort of slowly it adds to the videos' stop-action panda animation quality, as if somebody were arranging the pandas then taking photos of them. When pandas move, though, they really move. And the interaction between the two is fascinating. Note: San Diego is SUNNY. What the hell am I doing living here.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

What the what?

The other day I decided to search for a copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover. Which one might do. That's not so weird, yes? But I was caught completely up short when in Amazon's list of editions this (below) was their first offering. The live sex line chat photo was fabulous enough, but it was the font abuse and terrible design that really piqued my interest.

[note: click on book covers for larger images]
It turns out that this book and several dozen others are published by a company called IAP, an LLC based in Las Vegas, and the firm holding the ISBNs appears to be Instituto Benewell of Brazil, in particular a guy named Fabio R. de Araujo (de Araujo filed the LLC in May 2009).

Araujo is obsessed with prophecies and end of days (he's really worked up about Putin and 666) and has written books about Nostradamus, Mother Shipton and the giant flood that will end the earth. This is one of his bios:
Fabio R. de Araujo is a Historian. He researched prophecies in Europe and in the Americas for about 20 years. He is author of "Selected Prophecies and Prophets" and wrote a few books. He also collaborated in books and wrote articles published about prophecies in Europe and the Americas.
(Wrote a few books! Yay!) The dude seems fairly bonkers. I would link a little more, but the idea of search paths being carved to my door about a lot of that stuff is gnarly.

The books IAP publishes--other than those about prophecy and conspiracy and such--appear to be copyright-free classics such as Paradise Lost, The Ambassadors and Cousin Bette. As in: they were downloaded from Project Gutenberg, typeset, and printed. ? Or...? It's hard to tell what's going on, or why.

Their covers are pure joy, they are so awful. They generally pack in as many different fonts as possible, along with bevel and/or glow and/or flare and/or shadow, and a really cheap stock photo (most of them are from

I am not sure if you need to be a design nerd to enjoy their awfulness, but I have spent the last few days being very amused by covers like IAP's Ulysses. It's kind of Leon Uris with a little Watchtower or something thrown in. (IAP loves lens flare, as on the J in "James"; look for it again below on the Thomas Paine cover.)

I am fascinated that this funky publisher (and Institute of Learning and Research--more weirdness there) putting out these cheapass editions gets such high billing on Amazon; that edition of Ulysses comes up second for me when I search, for example. I'm also curious about legal issues (wouldn't a 1928 book by Lovecraft still be subject to copyright restrictions?). There is nothing much out there about the guy seemingly behind it, and the only thing linking him to the company via the ISBN is an old Yahoo email address.

If you are interested in seeing more IAP covers, you can do a search (note: there are at least a couple other publishers with that name, including one in North Carolina), but in the meantime, here are some more of my favorites from their catalog to enjoy!

Reason is skewed and twisted!

I understand everything but that arrow.

I'm pretty sure this is the exact street Lewis meant.


THEoriginaldevilsdictionary. And what is that 1/8th of a guy on the lower left?

Is that Chicago? Is that wheat?

Freud's EAP pamphlet on smoking cessation.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I've caved, confusedly caved, and am now a-Twittering. Tweeting. Getweeting. Tweetling. Sort of. Can be found here. Still sorting it out (and how), but there you go.

bacchus frustratus

The Travel Channel has been airing an abridged--in some fashion--version of this American Express commercial, which uses the prelude to the Bach Cello Suite No. 1 as its soundtrack. That commercial itself edits down the prelude to fit in its one minute running-time, reshaping it to simplify the arc/momentum the piece describes and use its power, especially the power in the ending. The abridged version (can't find a link for that one--kinda glad about that), however, cuts down the music farther--cuts down the ending, is the point of this. Shortens it up, gets rid of the resolution. Chops out the ride up to the last notes, cuts it out, sews it up. It's excruciating! Gah! Interruptus! Frustratus! What an awful thing to do to that particularly sexy bit! Every time I've heard it I've had to go play the real version to get the taste out of my head.

The only thing more annoying than listening to that commercial is waiting for it to be on, by the way. I had the Travel Channel on in the background yesterday and never quite caught the visuals or beginning, but began to be consumed by knowing which one commercial was. Which meant I had to listen to way too much of that station's macho schmaltz. And how silly and masochistic and snooty am I. But still. Oooongh! Gives me musical blue balls, it does.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Agree wholeheartedly with Doug McGrath's argument in the New York Times that Doris Day deserves a special Oscar: "Look at her performance as the singer Ruth Etting in Love Me or Leave Me (1955), a dark, backstage story with James Cagney, and then watch the inane yet radiant Pillow Talk (1959). She works in both of them and she makes both of them work." (Yup.)


I'm very fond of the little built-in weather widget on my Mac dashboard. The graphics are really clear and surprisingly expressive, the way they bleed over two days at once and spill out of the frame. This particular view from a couple weeks ago was completely new to me, though. Look how my Mac Does Hail! Blurred, bouncing balls, with foreshortening and ice residue on the ground. Very cool. Pops off the screen. Almost wish it would hail again.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

I'm not sure I love anything as much as I love canned air. For one thing, it's "canned air," which makes you sound nicely stupid asking store clerks for it. For another, it scares the living shit out of my cats, which is entertaining. And then there is its mighty mighty power. What else can move the absolute moraine of crumbs, paper fibers, dust, cat hair, cutaneous matter and other evidence of your existence from where it gets so tenaciously lodged in your keyboard? It drives me nuts, that stuff. There is an element of futility in canned air, of course, rather in the manner of a leaf blower; you are not removing things, exactly, but moving them somewhere else, herding them like sheep. (Any cleaning, really, is just relocation: I shall take this piece of grit, transfer it from my carpet to a vacuum cleaner, then move it from my vacuum cleaner to the trash and transport it to a dumpster.) So you do spend a certain amount of time chasing bits around your keyboard to no avail with canned air, but at least it gets things moving. And out, eventually. The whole thing is so terribly metaphorical.

The Ebert Effect

Heh. Now that's a spike. What can I say, I found it amusing (the spike--thank you, Roger--and the--HI MOM--surrounding real estate, I mean).

Thursday, January 07, 2010

"What if the phrase 'fat admirer' didn't have to exist as a separate part of desire because it was already a part of our collective unconscious of desirability?"
I love the word tschüß so much. It's got every German squerk in it: four consonants piled at the front, an umlaut over the U, and the esszet at the end. No "normal" linguistic real estate--no part of it confusingly like the English, no part of it negotiable. All weird, all the time (like if there were the word çâéÿè in French or something). I used to love writing tschüß in German class--apparently still do!

"letting fatties roam the site is a direct threat to our business model"

Not that surprising, but entertaining-awful nonetheless! Heh. Roam. January is a very interesting month in which to live in the Western world these days, I am convinced. The holiday blowback about food and bodies is so big and weird, and so thick with all sorts of reactiveness to perceived and real pressures...

Monday, January 04, 2010


I did something obvious and delicious last night and (co-)made boeuf bourguignon. A friend suggested we try it, and, strangely, fortuitously, my mother had asked me last week if I wanted her copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking (the answer to that being, of course, oh yes). So I had the recipe. Here is my new (old) copy, laid reverently on a mangy broiler pan:

The thing that really strikes me, holding it in my paws, are the FLEURS-DE-LIS! They loomed so large in my mind as a kid (I remember drawing them over and over). Also the beautiful creamy paper and elegant, airy type. I spent a lot of time paging through that book when I was young.

The bourguignon turned out really well. Here I am poking an inquisitive fork at the meat (we used chuck) to test for doneness:

Here is the dish in situ: served over noodles, with homemade bread on the side:

And here is fat cat Ursums completely ignoring leftover bif, as well as a pile of nearby catnip:

Saturday, January 02, 2010

through the windshield

I recently cleaned out almost all my folders full of screen grabs. I take screen grabs often, reflexively. Gotta save that--CMND-SHIFT-3--*click*. I used to do it every time I made an internet transaction as a backup record, but I finally decided to trust web-based commerce and stopped doing that. I still take them to (for instance) get images of maps, to get just the right still image from a video, to snag any image I want to manipulate and can't grab easily off a browser. Ca-click.

The thing I didn't expect when I started sorting out all these screen grabs, though, is to get a funny little record of my life through what was going on in the background at the time--snapshots of my whole 'desktop' workspace. The things I was trying to record seem much less interesting than the context around them: the layered windows showing chats, dialog boxes, error messages, lists of things to do, old threads on web boards, saved projects on my desktop, open Wikipedia pages, chatroom lists, Youtube videos, files saved out on my desktop as reminders, TV schedules, open email messages, iSight images....

I can see evidence of my impatience, vague internet wanderings, stalkings, pet obsessions, procrastination, friendships come and gone, interests, haircuts, writing, hamster-like pressings of the internet lever, over and over and over. I can see how I use my computer (there are lots of images that show the volume being turned up on screen, which I am usually doing during a screen grab to make sure that it "took" by the ca-click sound). I can see change and meaning even in the really pedestrian stuff--old versions of software, replaced graphics on web pages. Basically you can see time passing.

It's kind of like watching an old videotape on which you recorded a program and finding yourself more fascinated by the commercials than the show. Or watching ESPN Classic and being more interested in all the hairdos and clothing in the stands than the sporting event itself. All that stuff ends up being way more engaging.

Engaging, and documenting our view of the world that is more and more of the world of media, not just through it. As media becomes a more interwoven part of our lives (what an old-fart phrase that is), not a somewhat discreet occurrence--sampling our existence on a second-by-second basis (Facebook updates, iPhone pix, security cameras)--our view of things is more multi-layered and managed and dates itself faster and bigger. It's weird to see the view out my eyes from one year ago, or two or three. Stuff changes fast.

Maybe all these screen grabs are really more like those experiments in which they attach a camera to a cat's head and over the course of a day get images of blurred sofa cushions and water dishes and squirrels outside the window. Our funny little ankle-high mammalian view of technology.