Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year’s Eve At Impossible Kisses


This is a drawing of Beethoven I made a long time ago. It’s 2009 now so in the tradition of the modern world this picture has been photoshopped just a little bit to make Beethoven happy.


This is the Tascam Girl from the GT-R1 ad. That little red thing on her leg is one of the coolest products I’ve ever bought. I use it almost every day and I still love everything about it. It does everything great. It’s one of those rare products about which I can’t find even a single bad thing to say. Great stuff. It’s a cool product. But it’s not as cool as the Tascam Girl playing the Fender. She stole Beethoven’s heart and got him to be all modern and photoshop away his past.


This is Jennifer Connelly as Emma, the lounge singer and the obscure object of desire in the great film “Dark City.”


This is New Year’s Eve at Impossible Kisses.


Beethoven is taking the Tascam Girl to the lounge where Emma is singing beautifully without dancing around and the musicians are playing beautiful jazz slowly. Beethoven and the Tascam Girl are going to have a nice evening and a nice New Year.


Meanwhile in the “real” world the marketplace is saying Lady Gaga’s show in Miami is getting the highest ticket prices for people going out. The “real” world is totally fucked up and is going to have a totally fucked up New Year.

















Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Lunar Halo/Eye Shadow Girl Sketch


New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are coming up but right this second I don’t have anything special planned for the blog.

I feel I should have something special but I don’t. New Year’s Eve this year will be a full moon, and it will be a blue moon—the second full moon of the month. (And as I type this it is very early Wednesday morning, late Tuesday night, and I just took out the garbage and looked up and saw a lunar halo. Lunar halos aren’t rare, but they’re still cool to see. If you extend your arm and spread your fingers your whole hand fits inside the circle which is I think 22 degrees wide. Sometimes you can see colors because it’s really a rainbow but I just saw a white glowing circle this time.) So with all this moon stuff going on I feel I should have something special but I’ve been a slacker and I just don’t have anything special ready.

I might have a guitar video ready to end the year or start the year but I might not.

Mostly I’ve been thinking about graphics lately. I’ve been experimenting with quick sketches. I want to be able to sketch people quickly when I’m in public and I want to be able to sketch a lot of images quickly at home to do simple animation projects.

Next year at the very least I want to do a lot of stories illustrated with colorful, quick sketches.

Here’s one I made today. I did this in about five minutes. It’s a scribble sketch in pencil, scribbled over in black ink ball point pen, scribbled over in inexpensive highlighter makers.

This kind of stuff is fun to do and—if you’re able to get reasonably good at it—can be expressive. I don’t know if I’m the kind of person who can get good at it, but I’m going to try and get better.

Sometimes “better” is good enough.

So I’m sorry I’m not going to have anything special. But I will have something.




















Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Talking Back To Galileo


If she were a telescope—
and she is a telescope
but I’m pretending she’s not—
if she were a telescope
far away things would look close
when I look at them through her.

Some telescopes use lenses.
Some telescopes use mirrors.
Far away things do look close
when I look at them through her
but she doesn’t use lenses
and she doesn’t use mirrors.

I don’t see the Moon through her.
Or the phases of Venus.
Or comets. Or double stars.
I see things like volcanoes,
animals like dinosaurs,
UFOs shaped like donuts.

Without lenses or mirrors
she shows me far away things
up close when I look through her.
I am pretending she’s not
a telescope. I won’t look.
Galileo go to hell.

















Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Witches: A Present Of The Past


The red witch said, “The grail stories
are vagina metaphors. Please.

The grail’s round. It receives liquid.
The idea is that avid

worthy knights seeking it will come
to possess a magic kingdom,

either in this world or their heart’s.
It’s a quest that drives all the arts.”

The green witch, silent, just watched me.
I said, “By that thinking we’d see

Bermuda triangle reports
as failed vagina tales of sorts.

It’s a triangle. And it’s wet.
People get very passionate

when things disappear into it.
But the metaphor doesn’t fit

into the vagina pattern
since no great good comes in return.”

The green witch shrugged, tilted her head.
“I’m not sure no good comes,” she said.

“Sometimes,” she said, “myths are cryptic.”
“Something hidden?” I asked. “A trick?”

“Something hidden,” she said, “but seen.
What crafty call the naked queen.”

“Things disappear,” I said, nodding.
“Disappearing, to the plodding,

is a bad thing. But to the wise,
to the crafty ones who despise

this world as a base, corrupt realm,
to vanish means taking the helm

and going to a better place,
with an open heart, a pure face,

the magic kingdom the knights seek.”
The red witch nodded, didn’t speak.

I said, “I never thought this through.
This Bermuda triangle view.

As a vagina metaphor
it could be a grail myth, but for

us modern types, crushed, bored, lost, glum,
looking for a magic kingdom.

I never thought this through before.
This is like opening a door.”

The green witch said, “Cryptic riches
come from intercourse with witches.”











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Christmas Witches I Mean Wishes












Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Witches I Mean Wishes


I reached into the witch’s hood
and removed a glass that I stood

on a table. A second witch
poured white wine. Each witch had a niche.

“I reached into her hood,” I said,
pointing at the first witch in red.

“You, in green, filled the glass with wine.
I’m thinking the colors are fine.

Christmas witches. I get the look.
And it’s a pun too though that took

me a moment longer to get.
I don’t want to make you upset

but I’m stuck on this metaphor
of reaching in a hood-thing for

a cup-thing. These are grail echoes
and I’m guessing everyone knows

what both the grail and the wine mean.”
The witch in green played out a scene,

using both hands to hold her glass,
raise it, take a sip and then pass

her glass to me. I took a sip.
I said, “If we make the whole trip

around this metaphor, this schtick,
it’s ‘the body and the blood’ trick.

The ‘body’ part means things get wild.”
“We’re witches,” she said. And she smiled.

“Metaphors,” she said, “free the id.”
“I get it,” I said. And I did.












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Christmas Witches: A Present Of The Past












Wednesday, December 23, 2009

All The Little Drops


All the little drops of water
wash against her when she showers.

All the little drops of rain
wash against the city in a storm.

But even after a storm
with a rainbow glittering
the city is still the city.

All the little drops of water
wash against her when she showers.

All the little drops of tears
wash against his face when he cries.

The colors of the rainbow glittering
are like children outside playing
playing among themselves laughing.


















Tuesday, December 22, 2009

In Kimberly’s Game Vampires Don’t Count











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Why this cartoon appears on a Tuesday:

Lost (For Brittany Murphy)



















Monday, December 21, 2009

Lost (For Brittany Murphy)


Brittany Murphy
November 10, 1977 – December 20, 2009

Rest In Peace




Brittany Murphy appeared in this blog a few times. She had what I think of as an “idiosyncratic” kind of beauty. To me it’s the most striking kind of beauty, something almost hypnotic, something magical. When I look at her I have a hard time taking my eyes away.

Back on my birthday in 2007, I wrote about an extraordinary movie Brittany starred in, “Cherry Falls,” in my post The Rate of God.

Also back in 2007 Communication Arts magazine singled out a GAP ad that featured Brittany and I talked about it in Communicating The Arts Of Brittany Murphy.

Although I didn’t mention her by name, I just talked about one of her movies last week. She recently was in an awful earthquake movie called “Megafault,” where she played a scientist. Unfortunately the production people on that film did nothing to acknowledge the idiosyncratic nature of her beauty and she looked terrible throughout.

Beyond her beauty, Brittany was an amazing actress. The movie “Cherry Falls” presents itself as simply a teen slasher film, a “Scream” rip-off, but Brittany’s incredible performance of being confused and torn between her stumbling boyfriend and her troubled English teacher turns the film almost into something like an art-house project. And Brittany’s haunting performance as the disturbed young woman in “Don’t Say A Word” is the very heart of that movie.

I never followed gossip stories about Brittany but apparently she lived a turbulent life, getting involved with odd, manipulative men.


Brittany Murphy is beyond the turbulent grief of this world now. She is with God and now she knows what we don’t, now she knows what’s really going on. I’m glad she is free from the wretched sadness this world inflicts on so many people and I’m glad she is in the place where all questions are answered. But I wish she was still with us, still here, still trying to figure out everything the hard way with us, and still sharing what she could with us through art and entertainment.



Lost


I was drawing a cartoon
about a woman who played
with monsters, monster games made
to play out under the moon,

not described in word or rune,
where blood is black, colors grayed
by full moon light, blood is trade
by new moon dark, death a boon.

Real monsters took a woman away.
I didn’t know her. I knew her art.
She tried. Played what no one wins. She lost.

I wish more than anything today
we could help each other win our part.
We can’t. We’re alone with monsters. Lost.









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Normally on Monday I put up a cartoon or some kind of artwork
that’s an attempt at something amusing or silly. On Sunday
I was almost done with a cartoon for today when I saw the news
about Brittany Murphy. I’m glad I was almost done
because I completely lost the desire to try to be funny or silly.
Tomorrow I’ll put up what I had prepared for today.



Tuesday’s cartoon:

In Kimberly’s Game Vampires Don’t Count
















Friday, December 18, 2009

Polka Dot Goodbye





I did this to try out the inexpensive water-soluble wax crayons I talked about Monday.

I like this, but I don’t think I’ll be working with these crayons again. For the trouble and all the paper crinkle I might just as well use watercolor.

And I think I’ve gotten used to the intensity of ink. I may try some drawing inks with a brush at some point, but I don’t think I’ll be going back to “stick” color.

I mentioned Juli once before in a cartoon, back in The Renaissance In Public And In Private

It was fun seeing a Renaissance girl in polka dots. Maybe she and I will talk again.



















Thursday, December 17, 2009

One Memory, Two Lessons, Three Bad Movies


I’ve watched some bad movies lately. Not good-bad. Just plain bad.

I watched a bad science fiction movie about earthquakes destroying much of North America. I watched a bad monster movie about a giant octopus destroying Tokyo. I watched a bad murder mystery about a school principal killing young girls in Mexico.

These movies were so bad I don’t even want to type their titles.

The only good memory I have from these last three movies is from the giant-octopus-destroying-Tokyo movie: The two American women who ran around acting stupid the whole movie were wearing low-cut sexy tee shirts for the whole film so at least it was fun to watch.


I take away two lessons from this one good memory from the three bad movies.


First, most movie-making books stress the importance of always starting the movie-making process with a good script. Fuck that. Hire a good costume designer. Work out a dynamic plan to make your actors and actresses fun to look at.

If I ever make a film, animated or live action, I’m going to spend as much effort, or more, on costume design as I do on plot and character development.

I had started to suspect this back when I watched “Anaconda 3” and “Anaconda 4”

Monster Snakes And Sexy Tee Shirts

The Sexy Herpetologist Returns! (Sans Sexy)

(And The Girl In The Canadian Negligee)

These last three movies confirm my suspicions.


Second—and this is a real-life lesson for me not a film lesson—I’m going to start up-grading my wardrobe.

Even if I’m a worthless guy to spend time with, maybe if I’m interesting to look at I can go out to dinner more often.

I’ve got to start moving this project forward. Spiffing up my clothes isn’t much, but at least it’s something.



















Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Walking The Circle


Walking the circle is a phrase
from the world of Spanish fencing,
that is, the historical world.

There are people alive today
who know exactly what it means
but they don’t post it in their blogs.

It’s knowledge that doesn’t get lost
although it’s never in a book.

If you want to walk the circle
in the classic sense of the phrase
you must be perceptive enough
to recognize someone who knows
and you must be skillful enough
and sufficiently civilized
to persuade the person who knows
you’re worthy to know what they know.

It’s said that there are just two ways
to see someone walk the circle.
One is to attack somebody
who knows how to walk the circle.
Then it is the last thing you see.
The second is to find someone
who’ll teach you to walk the circle.

You will not see demonstrations.
You won’t see it on video.
And you’ll never see it in books.

There is civilization and
there is real civilization.

It’s good to keep your eyes open
and to think carefully about
to whom you speak and what you say.

Evasion is raised to an art
among those walking the circle.
















Tuesday, December 15, 2009

“Watching T.V.”


Nine billion years ago, i.e., around 1975-ish, there was an obscure British pop group named Charlie.

They had some really good musicians play with the group and they wrote one or two really cool songs but they never made the transition from obscurity to not-obscurity and eventually they just disappeared.

But like a lot of obscure British guys these obscure British guys somehow remained alive. The main guy and one or two others from Charlie are still alive and have put out a new album.

They have a website: Charlie Music

Their old songs are on iTunes.

And some of their stuff is on YouTube.

Among most people who knew about Charlie they’re mainly famous for their album covers, which tried to be sexy and interesting and almost all of which looked like these two:


Just a little before it became popular to be post-modern and “deconstructionist” about modern media, Charlie put out my favorite song about modern media. It is post-modern in a very relaxed way and I’ve liked it very much these last nine billion years, even before it became available in digital form.

It’s called “Watching T.V.” and it’s available on iTunes and YouTube.

Here is the YouTube version and the lyrics:




Watching T.V. - the American shows
Watching T.V. - with those superheroes
Watching T.V. - and I'm gonna be someone just like them someday

Well, I like T.V., 'cause it shows me what the world's all about
And I watch endlessly, every car chase, every fatal shoot-out

I wanna be like Starsky & Hutch, and those
Sweet Charlie's Angels say 'Look, but don't touch'
I wanna be in Hawaii-Five-O, I say
'No way, McGarret, let's go!'

Watching T.V. - the American shows
Watching T.V. - with those superheroes
Watching T.V. - and I'm gonna be someone just like them someday

And I like cop shows, all that action and the life on the street
And I dig Harry-O and Steve Austin, well, he's never been beat

I wanna be like the Bionic Man
And break down iron doors with one blow of my hand
Run like a cheetah - fight with such flair -
Jump thirty feet in the air

Watching T.V. - the American shows
Watching T.V. - with those superheroes
Watching T.V. - and I'm gonna be someone just like them someday

I live each day just waiting for the time
My heroes come to me ... on my T.V.

Watching T.V. - the American shows
Watching T.V. - with those superheroes
Watching T.V. - and I'm gonna be someone just like them someday

Oh, I love Star Trek, Captain James Kirk, he's the Master of Space
And there's Scott's flight deck, beams the crew down to another strange place

I wanna travel the aeons of time
Speed through the cosmos at warp factor nine
Beat off the Klingons with phasers on stun
Killing strange people is fun

Watching T.V. - the American shows
Watching T.V. - with those superheroes
Watching T.V. - and I'm gonna be someone just like them someday

Watching T.V. - the American shows
Watching T.V. - with those superheroes
Watching T.V. - and I'm gonna be someone just like them someday

Watching T.V.
















Monday, December 14, 2009

Red Bull, Hershey’s And A Woman Yawning





Cartoon-wise this weekend was a fail. Sadly, it wasn’t even an epic fail, just a plain old run-of-the-mill fail. But I do have a little story to tell about it.

*

The weekend started out with promise. Friday I bought a small set of water-soluble wax crayons and I was going to use them to render the color for whatever cartoon I drew this weekend. I like using crayons. The first color images I put up in this blog used Crayola crayons for color.

I also like Prismacolor markers. The last few cartoons I’ve put up have been all Prismacolor. So Friday and early Saturday I was kind of conflicted, wanting to try out the crayons and wanting to stick with Prismacolor.

So I went out into the real world and just wandered around a bit trying to think of an idea for a cartoon and trying to see if I could think of a way to decide what to use to draw the cartoon.

Then came a moment around which my whole weekend pivoted.

I saw a remarkable-looking woman. She was just kind of standing around. She wasn’t hanging with anyone or doing anything special, she seemed to be just standing around killing time. I don’t believe she saw me looking at her because she glanced at her watch and then looked off into the distance and yawned.

She didn’t cover her mouth and she didn’t make any effort to keep her face presentable. She just in a lazy way yawned and then looked again at her watch.

I thought, “Wow. I want to draw that.”

J. D. Salinger wrote about a moment something like what I experienced in one of the short stories included in his “Nine Stories,” the story “The Laughing Man.” It includes this paragraph I’ve always remembered:


Offhand, I can remember seeing just three girls in my life who struck me as having unclassifiably great beauty at first sight. One was a thin girl in a black bathing suit who was having a lot of trouble putting up an orange umbrella at Jones Beach, circa 1936. The second was a girl aboard a Caribbean cruise ship in 1939, who threw her cigarette lighter at a porpoise. And the third was the Chief's girl, Mary Hudson.


Watching that woman yawn was like that for me. I was hooked.

It’s been a while since I’ve wanted to draw anyone and I instantly wanted to draw that woman yawning.

I’m a pretty talkative guy but I didn’t get a chance Saturday to talk to the woman. Sunday we didn’t bump into each other. So I was pissed off. I could try to draw her from memory or I could find a photograph that kind of looked like her or I could put off drawing her. My memory drawing skills are almost non-existent so I couldn’t do that. I don’t like working from photographs, I just didn’t want to do that. So I had to postpone my drawing idea.

But it was really the only thing I could think of. I had two or three caption ideas for the yawn and, once I decided to postpone the yawn drawing, I couldn’t get myself to think of anything else to draw or write about.

So I had nothing.

At some point Sunday I was sitting around trying to come up with an idea and I looked over and saw a Hershey’s bar next to a can of Red Bull and in the light the combinations of blue and silver and brown looked pretty cool. So I thought I’ll just draw that, a kind of commercial still life about sugar. I couldn’t think of anything funny to say but I liked to combination of blue and brown and I thought with pens I could approximate the two colors.

Before I draw a cartoon I use a little 4" by 6" sketch book to test out my idea. So I sketched a small version of the Red Bull and Hershey’s idea, then used two or three different brands of colored pens to do the red, blue and brown.

The trouble is, then, when I looked at the little sketch I didn’t really think a larger version would look much better.

It was exactly like what happened with my little sketch of Mathilda And Nicole. The little sketch wasn’t finished in any way but I didn’t think my limited skill set drawing-wise would make that much difference when I enlarged everything. I still liked the colors but I didn’t really feel any energy to create a larger, full-page version.

So I just scanned the little sketch.

And I had this little story to go with it.

This is like a down payment. Someday in the future I’m going to chat up that yawning woman and I’ll see if I can get her to pose. Either I’ll get her to pose for me or I’ll see if I can talk someone else into re-creating the scene.

Until then, right now, this sketch is all I got. It’s not much but it’s a step up from nothing.

At least the Salinger quote is cool.















Friday, December 11, 2009

Becoming Forever


When the movie “Scream 2” opened
many horror film fans got mad
that the writer and director
made Sidney a college student
rather than the high school student
she was when the series started.

Everybody likes high school girls—
so the consensus thinking goes—
but everyone knows college girls
are girls-gone-wild nobody likes.
“Halloween 2” picked up right where
the original film ended.

I think there’s philosophy here.
High school is law. College is choice.
High school is about becoming—
Children are becoming adults.
College is about partying
and angling for a better job.

When high school kids confront horror
it’s tragedy, it’s bloody life.
Horror to a college student
is a bummer career set-back.
When we watch, suspend disbelief,
we can feel the metaphysics.

“Halloween 2” picked up right where
the original film ended
and even though most horror fans
don’t feel the sequel was as good
as the original most fans
think Carpenter tried the right thing.

Rumors are Craven in “Scream 4”
will deal with Sid as an adult.
Craven missed Carpenter’s genius.
Art is not life. Art does not age.
Sidney Prescott is in high school,
fans too, becoming forever.







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Thursday, December 10, 2009

White And Blue Spirals Over Norway


What were the white and blue spiral lights over Norway?


I strongly suspect the light show was exactly that, a laser show of some kind projected from the ground up onto clouds.

I’ve witnessed lasers projected onto clouds and remarkable effects are possible. The demonstrations I saw were many years ago and I believe modern computer-controlled lasers nowadays can reproduce—literally—anything a person could imagine.

That having been said, I want to report the wildest explanation I’ve seen.

The very fringe people at ZetaTalk point out that there have been similar displays recently over Russia and China. The Zetas explanation—to the extent I understand it—is that an astronomical body from the outer solar system they call Planet X is moving through the inner system. As this Planet X passes near the Earth, the Earth’s atmosphere becomes contaminated by debris from Planet X and some of this debris sometimes reacts chemically and electrically with Earth’s atmosphere.

This is pretty crazy stuff, but it is not inconsistent with the odd spiral effects. Components in plasma reactions spiral around lines-of-force and if some odd plasma reaction were taking place in the atmosphere and “grounding” to the Earth it is not too weird to suspect spiral motions would be involved.

But, of course, all that is beyond speculation and in the realm of science fantasy. I’ve been interested in astronomy my whole life and I’ve never seen natural effects like what occurred over Norway in any context.

I strongly suspect it was a laser light show. It looked very much like what lighting designers conjure up at high-end rock concerts.

But of the various oddball explanations I’ve read—LHC effects, wormholes, alien contact—I think the Zetas description is the most interesting.

The best introduction to plasma physics I’ve ever seen is the book, “The Big Bang Never Happened,” by Eric Lerner.

Eric Lerner has his own website: The Big Bang Never Happened Home Page and Summary


Here is the ZetaTalk statement on the Norway event. The statement at the website, linked below, contains embedded links which I’ve removed here:


A dramatic cloud swirl, with a blue neon cloud in the center, was sighted and videotaped over the skies of Norway on December 8, 2009. This was sighted over a range of 250 miles, so was not a local affair. Struggling for an explanation, the Norwegian media proffered that perhaps a Russian test rocket had caused the display. The center of the cloud swirl had a neon cloud, also swirling. This neon cloud was similar in appearance to one captured on videotape in China on June 6, 2009. Both were sighted and filmed at night. Russia likewise had a swirling halo cloud overhead above Moscow recently, much discussed in their media.

The display over the skies of Norway are not noctilucient clouds, which are ice crystals in the clouds catching the light, nor are they earthquake lights. They are also not the smoking and curling light towers caused by methane gas released during Earth movements, suddenly catching fire while aloft in the sky. The Norway display is akin to the neon clouds seen on occasion since Planet X arrived in the inner solar system in 2003 and the grease in the tail of Planet X has polluted the Earth's atmosphere. The neon appearance is caused by a chemical reaction, akin to man's familiar light sticks. Up until recently, such neon displays required a light source in order to be seen, lit in the dawn or dust by sunlight or the lights from a city. What has occurred over Norway, and recently in China, is a neon cloud, a grease cloud, lit by the electrical charge from the tail of Planet X. Why the great swirl in the clouds around the swirling neon display? An electrical charge in the sky is not a static matter, as the path of lightning shows. Lightning is an accumulation between moving air masses that suddenly builds to the point where a torrent of electrons is on the move. But what if the charge does not accumulate in one place, but is constantly present over a broad area? As with all swirls that develop in nature, they start with a small movement in one place that creates a vacuum pulling matter behind it, and thus builds. Galaxies swirl. Water going down a drain swirls. And these large charged atmospheric swirls are chasing after some part of the tail waft that is more or less charged than the surrounding atmosphere. What occurs at the center of such a charged swirl is more electrical charge than the surrounding swirl, thus the center becomes a neon cloud that can be seen even at night, and wants to discharge, ground, in the Earth.



ZetaTalk: Neon Swirls

ZetaTalk: New Comments

ZetaTalk: Main Website





12:30am Addendum: I do not discount the semi-official explanation that this was a missile test gone haywire. There would be a number of effects interacting. As a missile spiraled up and out of control, fuel might spray out in a spiral pattern. Also missiles are sometimes launched with chemicals which are designed to glow like high-level clouds. Either fuel spray or chemical leaks would explain the blue spirals. The large white/gray spirals could have resulted from the contrail of the missile above low clouds as the sun, which is below the horizon to observers, casts the shadow of the twisting contrail down onto the low clouds. None of these effects, in themselves, are too unusual at rocket launches. I have seen video of all of these effects coming one or two at a time. I’ve never seen a sequence like the display over Norway result from a missile launch gone bad, but it would not be very hard to believe a bad launch could—under a particular set of cloud-and-sun conditions, result in exactly what everyone witnessed.


4:15pm Update: Mystery solved? Norway's spiral light display 'was down to a failed Russian Bulava missile test'


















Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Foothills Of Olympus


“There’s a rip in your stocking,” I said.

She said, “Yes, the gods will strike me dead
if I’m perfect. The gods get jealous.”

“I thought,” I said, “Zeus just gets zealous,
turns into a swan and then rapes you.”

“Hera finds out,” she said, “right on cue
and turns me into a flower or fish
or constellation as if my wish
was to get fucked, get raped, by a bird.”

For a bit we didn’t say a word.

I said, “Can I, umm, buy you dinner?”

“Are you Zeus looking for a sinner?”

“I can honestly say I’m no god.”

“Mortal’s good,” she said. “You get my nod.”

















Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Unhappy Jazz Dog


The dog wanted to run away

so badly he would have stolen

a row boat and rowed night and day

but the dog-in-a-boat escape

reminded him of a screenplay

Pixar had in development

and he’d rather suffer and stay

than embrace the Disney ethos.

















Monday, December 07, 2009

“Because I Couldn’t Trust You”






This is a cartoon of a scene from a television show about an actress pretending to be a cartoon character.

Back when I first became interested in Karen Kilimnik I put up a post about the odd trend in contemporary art to copy one medium in another. To “use” or “re-interpret” an existing image. At the time I was very conflicted about the practice. I liked—very much—some of the images but I couldn’t see any point to the practice and I couldn’t come up with much of an esthetic justification either for the practice or for why I liked the images so much.

I called my post, “The Abandonment Of Meaning.”

I stayed interested in the issue and a short time later I tried it myself, doing a colored pencil sketch of a scene from Mythbusters in a post I called, “Kari Loses An Underwire From Her Bra...”

I’ve done a few other cartoons based on still images off DVDs but I can’t say I’ve made any progress at all with the philosophy of this issue. I still like such images. But I still haven’t worked out any esthetic theory that makes sense to me.

So I’m going to keep doing it and keep thinking about it.

Today’s image comes from 23:07 into the season three episode of Smallville called, “Truth.” I’ve talked about this scene in another post where I used a cartoon image from Smallville, “What Is It About You, Lana?” Here is a chunk of my earlier post:


* * *

In this little scene, Lana is talking to her best friend Chloe. Lana’s parents died in the meteor shower and when Lana’s aunt left Smallville, Lana was able to remain in town by moving in with Chloe. They are good friends, but as we see, Lana has secrets even from Chloe. In “Truth,” Chloe is exposed to a failed LuthorCorp experiment [do they ever work?] and discovers that everyone feels compelled to tell her the truth. At first Chloe is thrilled. She’s a proto-reporter and getting the truth from people is her dream. But she starts to experience the downside of the truth during this talk with Lana:


CHLOE: Is it just me or did I completely clear out the lunch crowd?

LANA: No, it was you. Ever since you turned the Torch into your own gossip column no one can stand being around you.

CHLOE: Well, at least you’re still talking to me, right?

LANA: For now.

CHLOE: Okay. What’s that about?

LANA: I applied to the Paris School of the Arts. They have a full-time high school program and if I get accepted I start in the summer.

CHLOE: Wow. I guess I’m out of the loop. When did you decide this?

LANA: I’ve been thinking about it for a while now. Everyone has their families, you know, and I’m not sure where I fit in.

CHLOE: But I always thought we were your family.

LANA: Oh, come on, Chloe. I know what you and everyone else thinks of me. That I’m driven and self-involved. I just can’t wait to get out of here and go somewhere where people don’t judge me.

CHLOE: I never said anything like that.

LANA: You never had to.

CHLOE: Why have you never talked to me about this?

LANA: Because I couldn’t trust you.



Chloe, in tears, turns and runs out of the room.

That’s a pretty cool scene.

* * *


I still think that’s a pretty cool scene. In my earlier post I spoke about this scene in the context of how the writers treated Lana’s interesting character. Today I wanted to draw this cartoon because I was thinking about the interaction of these two characters, Chloe and Lana.

They are both smart, cool characters. But they both have issues. Lana has trust issues. Chloe is a writer, a reporter, and she always puts reporting first to such an extent that she doesn’t see how her work shapes her personality, shapes her interactions with her friends and shapes how they think of her. When Lana, pushed by Chloe’s exposure to the truth gas, tells Chloe the truth, that she didn’t share a big part of her life with her because she couldn’t trust her, it comes as a huge shock to Chloe—it was something she never would have imagined because she is so wrapped up in her own concerns—that a friend of hers wouldn’t trust her. Chloe runs away in tears.

Chloe, seeing herself as a writer, thought her exposure to the truth gas was wonderful. What reporter wouldn’t dream of people being compelled to tell them the truth? But then Chloe experiences that same truth compulsion causing her friend to break her heart.

I like this scene because of the complex interactions between these two friends. But also for personal reasons.

Like Lana I have trust issues. It doesn’t happen all that often, but once I become convinced I fundamentally can’t trust someone I shut out that person from my life. I find it hard to even talk to such a person.

Like Chloe I often find myself surprised to discover that something I’d regarded as wonderful, something I’d regarded as purely positive, ends up breaking my heart in some way that—in hindsight—would have been obvious to me if I hadn’t been interpreting my own life in some one dimensional way.

I know not much of this background thinking gets captured in a cartoon image. I still don’t see any existential point to creating images like this. But subjectively anything that drives this kind of introspection can’t be bad.

This is one of those topics I’ll be coming back to if I ever make any progress thinking it through. Or the next time I do a fun image.



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A PRODUCTION NOTE:

Typically when someone in the fine arts “uses” an existing image they copy the image in a photorealistic technique. They copy the image using computer software or a digitizing tablet or, more traditionally, they project the image onto a support and then work directly on the projected image.

Although I don’t know that Karen Kilimnik works that way. Her work is typically what critics call “painterly” which means less slick.

But I don’t do tracing at all not even of any kind.

When I do a DVD image I simply pause the image on my TV and then draw the image, freehand, on a sheet of paper. So this isn’t photorealism. There is the endless lack of realism from the limitations of my drawing ability and, more to the point, I specifically don’t use a drawing rectangle with the same aspect ratio of a TV screen. I approximate the aspect ratio but I don’t copy it.

I still don’t have an esthetic theory to support this stuff, but I do have some practical thoughts that I keep in mind when I work.











Friday, December 04, 2009

Elevator Gothic #3


I think some people are afraid

to ride up in elevators

because they’ve heard the expression

“Hey, I can see my house from here!”

and the last thing some people want

is a bird’s eye view of their house

especially if we’re talking

not about real elevators

but metaphors inside our head

and the heads of people we love

that let us look down at our self

and see our self in perspective.


“Hey, I can see my house from here

and look, dinosaurs, volcanoes

and UFOs shaped like donuts.”



Elevators can be monsters.







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Elevator Gothic

Elevator Gothic #2





















Thursday, December 03, 2009

Elevator Gothic #2


Words take an elevator from up in our head

down to our mouth and become things we’ve said.


Sometimes words get off at the wrong floor

and we’re left speechless wishing we’ve said more.


A girl can’t be afraid of getting on elevators with me

because upstairs words don’t get lost. And there’s music and tea.






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Elevator Gothic





















Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Elevator Gothic



This is all just so damn sad. I feel bad for the wife.
Look at those nasty ass ho's he was banging on the side,
she's way better looking than them. Those girls
are so skanky looking I'd be making an appointment
for an AIDS test right about now if I was Elin.


Comment about
Tiger Woods
on a gossip site






One time a girl told me she’d never
get in an elevator with me.

At the time I thought it was simply
a weird thing for a woman to say.

I’ve never known if she meant the phrase
“get in an elevator” with me

as a trust thing, or a metaphor.
And she wasn’t Elin Nordegren.

But in an Elin Nordegren way
I’m fucking glad not to know some things.






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Devo And Kim Kardashian


















Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Ugly And Beauty



What’s the ugliest part of your body?

What’s the ugliest part of your body?

Some say your nose

Some say your toes

But I think it’s your mind . . .

I think your mind is the ugliest part of your body . . .





Frank Zappa

















Friday, November 27, 2009

The Crypto-Politics Of Flowers And Kites


All the flowers of the future worked together
to send one marigold back in time to tell
me not to give a bunch of flowers to this girl
because of what she is going to do.

All the kites of the future worked together
to send one vinyl bat-wing kite back in time
to tell me not to take this girl kite flying
by the Pacific ocean because of what
she is going to do.

But I didn’t listen. I gave her flowers and
I took her kite flying by the Pacific
ocean.

And now I’m wondering about the future.
I’m wondering what this girl will do someday.

All the flowers of the future didn’t send a
robot marigold back in time to kill me.

All the kites of the future didn’t send a
robot vinyl bat-wing kite back in time to
kill me.

They just asked me politely not to do it.
They told me in the future there would be no
flowers, there would be no kites, if I gave this girl
flowers and if I took this girl kite flying by
the Pacific ocean.

But they didn’t kill me. And they didn’t tell
me details of what she is going to do.

And to be honest I really hadn’t been
planning on giving this girl flowers or taking
her kite flying by the Pacific ocean
until the marigold from the future and
the vinyl bat-wing kite from the future told
me not to do those things.

I wondered if I could trust the time traveling
marigold and vinyl bat-wing kite.

Maybe they were both mischievous pranksters from
the future trying to make me wreck things by
not doing those things.

Maybe they were both future psychologists
using reverse psychology trickery
to make me do things by telling me not to.

They told me not to give her flowers, not to take
her kite flying by the Pacific ocean.

But I didn’t listen. I gave her flowers and
I took her kite flying by the Pacific
ocean.

And now I’m wondering about the future.
I’m wondering what this girl will do someday.

This is how the modern world makes you crazy.

It makes you second-guess every little thing.






















Thursday, November 26, 2009

Lana Lang And “The Supervillain’s Nightclub”


This is a scene from season four of “Smallville:”


This is Lana Lang in Paris. That’s a picture of her friend proto-supervillain Lex Luthor as the cover story in Forbes magazine being advertised next to her.

At the end of season three Lana left Smallville and flew to Paris to study art. Lex helped her finance her trip by buying her share of the coffee shop they owned together. This is one of the rare moments in the series where Lana is happy.

This is all pretend of course. It’s actress Kristin Kreuk pretending to be Lana Lang and actor Michael Rosenbaum pretending to be Lex Luthor. And “Lana Lang” and “Lex Luthor” are cartoon characters anyway. It’s pretend pretend.

But these early years of Smallville are my favorite TV show of all time.

This is good stuff.

Cool characters.

I’ve known some real cool characters in my life.

The cool characters make the other stuff endurable.

Even the pretend cool characters help.





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“Good Little Naked Mole Rat”

The World And The Supervillain’s Nightclub



















Wednesday, November 25, 2009

“Good Little Naked Mole Rat”


This is a scene from the old Disney show, “Kim Possible:”


Kim is petting Rufus and saying, “Good little naked mole rat.”

This scene is from the season one episode, “Bueno Nacho.” Kim took a job at a fast food restaurant because she needed to make money to buy a new jacket, the green one in the picture above the cheese machine.

I didn’t watch the first few episodes when the show was in its first run. But when I saw this scene in a commercial there was something about a beautiful girl petting a rat and saying the words, “Good little naked mole rat” that grabbed my attention. I tuned in and fell in love with the show.

The first season was great. Most of season two was good. Things started getting less good in season three and I find season four to be unwatchable. But that happens a lot with TV shows. Production teams change. Shows change.

But iTunes carries all four seasons of Kim Possible. You can buy just the episodes that are good. I recommend all of season one. Then check out the episode guide at Wikipedia for seasons two and three and get episodes that sound good. There’s nothing from season four I’d buy.

This is good stuff. I’m trying to forget some bad stuff. So I’m watching a lot of good stuff. Even if it’s not real, pretend good stuff is better than real bad stuff.

Kim Possible is good stuff.






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Politics, Philosophy And Hilary Duff

















Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Quick Badfinger Note


I can’t live
If living is without you
I can’t live
I can’t give anymore
I can’t live
If living is without you
I can’t live
I can’t give anymore



Almost anytime somebody from my generation—I was born in 1960—or from around my generation gets all sad the topic of Badfinger usually comes up. But it occurred to me that the youngs probably never heard of Badfinger so I am going to do a quick summary.

Badfinger was a music group from the Sixties.

In the early Sixties some young British musicians including guitar player Pete Ham formed a group called “The Iveys.”

The Iveys played around Britain and did okay. Soon another guitar player, Tom Evans, joined the group. Ham and Evans became friends and the group continued to tour around Britain and continued to do well.

In fact Ham and Evans did remarkably well. The group was almost always considered the “next big thing” and even already famous musicians enjoyed their music. Ray Davies of The Kinks briefly took them under his wing and produced some of their songs.

Then the Beatles took Ham and Evans under their wing.

Paul McCartney gave them his song “Come And Get It.” He produced it for them and guided their arrangements of their own songs.

While working with the Beatles Ham and Evans became Badfinger. Their hits “Baby Blue” and “Without You” were recorded as Badfinger.

Like almost every other band of that era Ham and Evans experienced all sorts of trials and tribulations with their managers and bankers. But Badfinger was loved by fans, respected by other musicians and their songs were covered by performers in almost every genre.

They were at the top of the global music scene and the future seemed to be theirs.

But for Ham and Evans, apparently, the sad lyrics to their songs were written from the heart.

In 1975 Pete Ham hanged himself in his garage.

Tom Evans continued with music, continued with money troubles.

In 1983 Tom Evans hanged himself in his garden.

That’s the Badfinger saga. They started with nothing. They conquered the music world and inspired the very best. They wrote and performed some great songs. They had it all. And they killed themselves.

Badfinger.


So when someone from my generation gets all sad and someone asks how they’re doing and the sad person says, “It’s awful, but, you know, don’t worry, I’m not going to go all Badfinger” people smile because it means things are sad but nobody is going to commit suicide.


Badfinger. They wrote some great songs. They were sad songs. And the sad songs were, apparently, truly from the heart.


I can’t forget this evening
Your face when you were leaving
But I guess that’s just the way the story goes
You always smile but in your eyes your sorrow shows
Yes it shows

Well I can’t forget tomorrow
When I think of all my sorrow
I had you there but then I let you go
And now it’s only fair that I should let you know
What you should know

I can’t live, if living is without you
I can’t live, I can’t give anymore
I can’t live, if living is without you
I can’t live, I can’t give anymore

Well I can’t forget this evening
And your face when you were leaving
But I guess that’s just the way the story goes
You always smile but in your eyes your sorrow shows
Yes it shows

I can’t live, if living is without you
I can’t live, I can’t give anymore
I can’t live, if living is without you
I can’t live, I can’t give anymore
























Monday, November 23, 2009

The Angle Of Repose Of Corpses











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Angle of Repose at Wikipedia













Friday, November 20, 2009

Cat Stevens In The Real World



Now that I’ve lost everything to you
You say you want to start something new
And it’s breaking my heart you’re leaving
Baby, I’m grieving

But if you want to leave, take good care
Hope you have a lot of nice things to wear
But then a lot of nice things turn bad out there

Oh, baby, baby, it’s a wild world
It’s hard to get by just upon a smile
Oh, baby, baby, it’s a wild world
And I’ll always remember you like a child, girl

You know I’ve seen a lot of what the world can do
And it’s breaking my heart in two
Because I never want to see you sad, girl
Don’t be a bad girl

But if you want leave, take good care
Hope you make a lot of nice friends out there
But just remember there’s a lot of bad and beware

Oh, baby, baby, it’s a wild world
It’s hard to get by just upon a smile
Oh, baby, baby, it’s a wild world
And I’ll always remember you like a child, girl




“One time I broke up with a guy,” Joanne said. “When I told him I didn’t want to see him any more, he took out his guitar and played and sang that Cat Stevens song, ‘Wild World.’

“That’s a cool song,” I said.

“Yeah,” Joanne said.

“That was a sweet thing for the guy to do,” I said.

“Yeah,” Joanne said.

We looked at each other for a moment.

“I bet you just laughed at him,” I said. “He’s being sweet and singing you a cool song and I bet you laughed right in his face.”

“No, I didn’t laugh in his face,” Joanne said, looking hurt. “You think you know me so well. You don't know me that well.” She pouted.

I just stared at her.

Joanne giggled. She said, “I waited till I got outside then I laughed.”

I nodded.

Joanne laughed, remembering. “It was so fucking funny,” she said, and fell against me, laughing. “I broke his heart and he sang me that sappy Cat Stevens song. I laughed so hard I had to sit down against the curb by my car.”





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The Difference Between Flowers And People






















Thursday, November 19, 2009

“Where Do The Children Play?”


Last week when I wrote The Empty Lot Entanglement I very much wanted to embed this video.

I talked myself out of it, however, because I wanted that post to be a personal statement and I knew some people clicking over and seeing “Yusuf Islam” would think I intended some political statement.

For people who don’t know, there used to be an amazing songwriter and performer named Cat Stevens. At the peak of his fame Stevens gave away his guitars and converted to Islam and devoted his life to charity under the name Yusuf Islam. That was his personal statement.

But he wrote many incredible songs before he abandoned the music business and now and then he comes out of retirement and sings some of his old songs and sometimes new songs.

This is one of his old songs.

This song was a good question almost forty years ago when it appeared on one of the greatest albums every released, “Tea for the TIllerman.”

If there were children any more this would still be a good question.

I first heard this song when I was a child. I heard it again when I met Cathy.

Even though there are no more children, it’s still a good question.





















Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Alaska Cauldron


The politics of breaking things apart,
what is sometimes called social alchemy,
would not heat what is broken already.
Fragmenting one-to-many is its art.

And the opposite. Many cells, one heart.
Toil and trouble bubble for all to see.
Fire some things imprisons, some things sets free.
The start is the end. The end is the start.

Assassinating a hated actor,
the father of an estranged family,
only breaks what is already broken.

But the beloved Queen, the mother factor,
the heat from her breasts and her fierce mercy
gunned down, and the word “Chaos” is spoken.









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There is a lot of talk on the internet about
President Obama being in danger. Everybody
from Gore Vidal to Lyndon LaRouche seems to have
warned that the President’s life is in jeopardy
from extremists.

But modern American politics seems
to be about destabilization. The Left
just tolerates the President and the Right
hates him. Assassinating the President
doesn’t seem to destabilize anything.

But the Right loves Sarah Palin.
And the Right is well-armed and
already perceives itself as oppressed.
The Right was bringing weapons to
townhall meetings. The Right
is ready, even eager, to take its
fight to the streets. If some political
force wants to destabilize America,
it appears to me Sarah Palin is in much
greater danger than the President.

*

Sunday is the anniversary of
the Kennedy assassination,
the Killing-of-the-King.






















Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Post-Christian Party Talk


Recently I read an essay (in Newsweek, this one: “The End of Christian America,” by Jon Meacham) which purports to address the question: “Is America becoming a post-Christian nation?”

“Post-Christian” is a hot-button phrase lately among people interested in religion and culture and I have thoughts on the topic myself. I’m not going to post about “post-Christian America” today because I’m trying to work my thoughts into some kind of entertaining arrangement. But I want to make a couple of points about what passes for pop culture discussion.

It can be tricky. It’s a good idea to pay attention and not take anything too seriously.

A few years ago a famous film director and a famous writer did a commentary track for a famous movie they made together. During their discussion, they agreed their movie was a “post-modern horror film” but when they tried to explain what “post-modern” meant they puttered around and ended up laughing and admitting they had no particular idea what the phrase meant but used it because it’s a phrase that sounds smart and everyone more or less knows it means something about breaking with traditions.

Good enough for Hollywood use. (It was Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson talking about “Scream.”)

A lot of writing I’ve read about “post-Christian” is pretty similar. It’s like party talk, people just trying to be current without even attempting buttoned-down thinking.

But there is also tricky writing in a kind of devious way, too. I suspect a lot of tricky writing these days isn’t the writer consciously being devious. I suspect a lot of tricky writing these days is just adult writers acting like teenagers trying to finagle their parents into buying them expensive jeans or a new muffler for their car. It’s a sort of “say anything” approach to talking where the issue isn’t communication but something like expression, because basically that’s all kids have to do, just express themselves and then it’s the parents’ job to be all loving and giving and caring. That’s kind of what adults do now. They just express themselves and expect their friends or bosses or—in the case of writers—their readers to appreciate their feat of expression and love and respect them for it.

It’s the twenty-first century. There are no children any more and there are no adults any more. There are just people with power and people without power and the people without power are forever calculating how to acquire power and how to appease and amuse the people with power.

People have become post-human in a post-modern sort of way.

In a post-Christian sort of way, too.

The Newsweek essay is an example of a silly bit of writing. It starts with discussing post-Christian America and morphs quietly into a discussion of post-religion America as if the concept of religion were the same as one particular religion, and as if nobody would notice that it is easier to explain away the re-defining of a generality than it is to dismiss the re-defining of a particular concrete.

The Newsweek essay starts by discussing the possibility of post-Christian America and toward the end comes up with this:


America, then, is not a post-religious society—and cannot be as long as there are people in it, for faith is an intrinsic human impulse. The belief in an order or a reality beyond time and space is ancient and enduring. "All men," said Homer, "need the gods." The essential political and cultural question is to what extent those gods—or, more accurately, a particular generation's understanding of those gods—should determine the nature of life in a given time and place.


The issue, then, isn’t about sin, salvation and Jesus. The issue is just the “impulse” to believe in something “beyond time and space.”

There you go. Newsweek says America isn’t becoming post-Christian at all. The issue isn’t whether Man is fallen or whether God wants Man to be saved. The issue is whether or not people believe in, say, Zeus and his sister-wife Hera, or Cthulhu and the Great Old Ones, or, I suppose, Scientology.

At some point I’m going to do something with the topic of post-Christian America. But I’m taking my time because I want to say something that is better than saying nothing at all.















Monday, November 16, 2009

Jenny Paid Her Respects At Sara’s Grave














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The Zombie Issue Destroyed Their Friendship


Sara’s Zombie Quest Disgusted Jenny


Zombie Sara Terrorized Jenny From The Start


Zombie Sara Made Jenny Question Their Past


Zombie Sara’s Zombie Urges Destroyed Her World


*


This is the end of the cartoon version of the story of Jenny and Zombie Sara.

Jenny lives. Sara dies. Sara actually dies twice but that’s how zombie stories work.

I’ve got a lot—I mean, a lot—of background to this stuff with Jenny and Sara. Lots of other people die too and a few other people also live. But for the cartoons I just looked at six scenes of Jenny and Sara confronting each other.

Maybe some day I’ll get a chance to come back to this story and explain why Sara wanted to die and come back to life, and why Sara had such a contentious relationship with Jenny.

This for me was one of the most fun projects I’ve ever worked on here at Impossible Kisses. It was fun doing these six scenes which involved so much backstory (at least in my mind) and drawing everything using just a few pencils, some Pigma markers, a set of Bic Mark-It markers and one Prismacolor marker (I used a Prismacolor Deco Peach for flesh tone midtones).

I may have more to say about Prismacolor markers in another post. In a weird way Prismacolor markers have played a role in my life almost for as long as I can remember. Right now out in the real world Prismacolor seems to be fighting a marketplace battle with Copic. I actually used a Copic Skin White for the flesh tones in the first cartoon, “The Zombie Issue Destroyed Their Friendship,” but when I realized I wanted to do a whole series I switched to Prismacolor. I think Copic markers are better in almost every way than Prismacolor markers but for me Prismacolor markers are something like magic. I’ll talk about that someday in another post.



















Friday, November 13, 2009

The Empty Lot Entanglement


I feel entangled
with all the empty lots I’ve walked through
places where children played
crickets and grasshoppers and spiders and butterflies
mice and rabbits and sparrows and blackbirds and hawks
weeds and wild flowers
discarded telephone poles
stones and boulders
puddles of rain water

I feel crushed flat myself
like all the empty lots that have been plowed up
filled in and leveled and paved over
turned into concrete and asphalt parking lots
wood and brick and steel and glass buildings
homes and businesses

I feel lonely
terrified
like the few empty lots that remain
open surrounded by closed
places where people throw garbage
metal things turning to rust

I feel entangled
and it’s only the presence of the past
places where children played
something like memory
permeating everything
out beyond the stars
deep through the center of the Earth
that allows me to continue walking
over and through what used to be empty lots






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Empty Lots


Impossible Kisses: The Empty Lot Behind My House





















Thursday, November 12, 2009

“Out Of This Door Might Come Something”




The Large Hadron Collider is ready to start smashing particles together again, equipment, the laws of nature, and the Almighty permitting. The $9 billion particle accelerator has been fully repaired after a short circuit put it out of action for more than a year, and should be ready to roll come Christmastime. Scientists have begun firing protons around one section, once again eagerly awaiting proof of the existence of the Higgs boson or "God particle," although a few argue that the short circuit may foreshadow further problems, including sabotage—from the future.

The creation of the Higgs boson may be so“abhorrent to nature” that it would ripple back in time to destroy itself like a time traveler killing his own grandfather, a pair of physicists argued recently. They suggested the failure of the collider and earlier projects might even be proof of the existence of God. Some others suggest that the project could spawn planet-destroying black holes. Just as scarily, the Los Angeles Times notes, a physicist working on the project was arrested for allegedly having al-Qaeda links last month.


Large Hadron Collider is ready to roll
after a year of repairs






A top boffin at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) says that the titanic machine may possibly create or discover previously unimagined scientific phenomena, or "unknown unknowns" - for instance "an extra dimension".

"Out of this door might come something, or we might send something through it," said Sergio Bertolucci, who is Director for Research and Scientific Computing at CERN, briefing reporters including the Reg at CERN HQ earlier this week.

The LHC, built inside a 27-km circular subterranean tunnel deep beneath the Franco-Swiss border outside Geneva, functions like a sort of orbital motorway for extremely high-speed hadrons - typically either protons or lead ions.

The differences are, firstly, that the streams of particles are moving at velocities within a whisker of light speed - such that each stream has as much energy in it as a normal car going at 1000mph. Secondly, the beams are arranged in such fashion that the two streams swerve through one another occasionally, which naturally results in huge numbers of incredibly violent head-on collisions.

These collisions are sufficiently violent that they are expected to briefly create conditions similar to those obtaining countless aeons ago, not long after the Big Bang, when the entire universe was still inconceivably small - it was smaller than a proton for quite some time, seemingly, still with all the stuff that nowadays makes up all the supra-enormity of space and galaxies and so forth packed in somehow.

Naturally, some extremely strange phenomena are to be expected when one mangles the very fabric of space-time itself in this fashion. Various eccentric nutballs have claimed that this would doom humanity in one fashion or another; perhaps converting the entire Earth, everything on it and possibly the rest of the universe too into "strangelet soup", monopole mulligatawny or some other sort of frightful sub-particulate blancmange or custard.

It has also been suggested that cack-handed boffins at the LHC might inadvertently call into being a miniature black hole and carelessly drop this into the centre of the Earth, rather irritatingly causing the planet to implode. It's certainly to be hoped that the button marked "Call Black Hole Into Being" on the control board has some kind of flip-down cover over it.

Obviously all that's utter rubbish. But some boffins have speculated that black holes might alternatively act as spacewarp wormhole portals into alternate universes, or something. This would seem to chime with Bertolucci's remarks this week on hyperdimensional "doors" out of which might come unspecified "somethings".

Anyone who has watched a TV, read any sci-fi or seen any movies will be well aware that hyperdimensional spacewarp wormhole portals don't normally lead to anything boring like empty space, parallel civilisations where humanity lives in peace and harmony or anything like that.

Rather, it seems a racing cert that we're looking here at an imminent visit from a race of carnivorous dinosaur-men, the superhuman clone hive-legions of some evil genetic queen-empress, infinite polypantheons of dark nega-deities imprisoned for aeons and hungering to feast upon human souls, a parallel-history victorious Nazi globo-Reich or something of that type.

We took the matter up with Dr Mike Lamont, a control-room boffin at the LHC.

"We're hoping to see supersymmetry and extra dimensions," he confirmed.

Pressed on the matter of doors through which something might come, as hinted at by Bertolucci, Lamont rather elliptically said "well, he's a theorist", before recommending the book Warped Passages by physicist Lisa Randall. This explores ways in which extra-dimensional space and entities might interact with our own. It uses among others the example of how a sphere moving in 3D space would appear to someone living on a single 2D plane-space - that is as a mysterious circle suddenly blossoming into existence, growing, perhaps moving about and then shrinking down and vanishing again.

"There's no maths in it," added Lamont encouragingly, having assessed the intellectual level of the Reg news team with disconcerting percipience.

Summarising, then, it appears that we might be in for some kind of invasion by spontaneously swelling and shrinking spherical or wheel-shaped creatures - something on the order of the huge rumbling stone ball from Indiana Jones - able to move in and out of our plane at will. Soon the cities of humanity will lie in smoking ruins, shattered by the Attack of the Teleporting Juggernaut-tyrants from the Nth Dimension.

Dr Bertolucci later got in touch to confirm that yes indeed, there would be an "open door", but that even with the power of the LHC at his disposal he would only be able to hold it open "a very tiny lapse of time, 10-26 seconds, [but] during that infinitesimal amount of time we would be able to peer into this open door, either by getting something out of it or sending something into it.

"Of course," adds Bertolucci, "after this tiny moment the door would again shut, bringing us back to our 'normal' four dimensional world ... It would be a major leap in our vision of Nature, although of no practcal use (for the time being, at least). And of course [there would be] no risk to the stability of our world."


'Something may come through'
dimensional 'doors: CERN







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The Windmills Of PHYSICS TODAY


This Is Lisa Randall. Not Lisa Randall















Wednesday, November 11, 2009

“She’s A Pussy Cat”



UK starts study on using human DNA in animals


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Right this second I don’t have anything new prepared to say about chimeras, but I wanted to post this story because it’s kind of a follow-up to a story I posted last year in When We Meet Monsters.


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People who follow conspiracy theories often take it as a kind of truism that any cutting-edge science we read about in the mainstream press has been available in black ops laboratories for ten years or more.

According to the mainstream press, now, scientists are so familiar with intermingling human and animal genes that we should try to set some culturally acceptable boundaries to the practice.

It is reasonable to wonder how long scientists in black ops laboratories have been mixing human and animal genes and it’s reasonable to wonder what those scientists have accomplished unbound by culturally accepted norms.


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In the 1996 John Frankenheimer film of H. G. Well’s 1896 [!] classic story, “The Island of Dr. Moreau,” Fairuza Balk plays the character Aissa. When Edward watches Aissa dance, then talks to her, he is almost hypnotized. Aissa is beautiful, smart, curious yet oddly out-of-touch with the modern world. Later Edward speaks with Moreau’s assistant and tells him Aissa is beautiful. Moreau’s assistant smiles and replies, “She’s a pussy cat.”

Later in the movie, of course, when Moreau’s control of the island breaks down we discover Aissa in fact is a pussy cat, a chimera, partly human, partly jungle cat. Unable to live as a human, unable to revert fully to animal, Aissa dies tragically—in the classic sense of that word—fighting other chimera that have reverted almost completely to their animal nature.


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Scientists are mixing human and animal genes so frequently that they want to establish culturally acceptable boundaries for the practice.

When we meet people who seem attractive, smart, curious yet oddly out-of-touch with the modern world, should we wonder if there is more going on than meets the eye?


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The simple phrase “She’s a pussy cat” makes me shiver.
















Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Circular Stacks



Another feature of Chuck's new Forth virtual machine model is his circular stacks. They greatly simplify the construction of his hardware and make the stacks in his architecture faster than general purpose registers in other architectures. They also greatly simply Forth. Chuck has said that stack overflow and underflow errors have always been a problem not just for Forth but for everyone. The problem is that they are destructive. Unanticipated errors happen but then the return stack gets corrupted errors can compound and systems can crash. Overflowing stacks can corrupt code and other data structures causing systems to crash. Hardware and software designers have put a lot of attention into managing these errors with elaborate hardware and software. That elaborate hardware and software adds complexity in other places like compilers and applications and that leads to more bugs. Chuck wanted to find a simple solution that wouldn't introduce complexity. Having the bottom N elements of the stack as a circular data structure meant that there was no arbitrary starting point. When you were done it was empty. You never had to empty it out before using it again, it was always at the start if you wanted it to be. If you program had bugs the worst thing that could happen on the stack is that stack data would be corrupted. That kind if error is a lot easier to deal with than corrupted code or memory structures. It also means that a Forth system does not have to deal with complex hardware mechanisms or complex software mechanisms the problem is either avoided or minimized as well as any approach can make it almost for free.




Jeff Fox
Thoughtful Programming in FORTH - Chapter 3



Thoughtful Programming in FORTH - Chapter 1

Thoughtful Programming in FORTH - Chapter 2






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A Fourth Generation Computer Language

Charles Moore Goes To Saturn!


Design Of A [Computer] Language

Do you need an operating system?

Two Schools Of Thought About Computer Science



T. J. Pughe: Chip-Making Fool

Know