Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Complete Index

December 2012

Monday, December 31, 2012 -- 2013 Complete Index

Monday, December 31, 2012 -- New Calendar And Pioneering Birds

Friday, December 28, 2012 -- Synthetic Monsters, Liminal Entities And Scripts

Thursday, December 27, 2012 -- Fictional Characters Can Keep Trying

Wednesday, December 26, 2012 -- Rocks Like Rocks Themselves

Tuesday, December 25, 2012 -- Christmas And Trees #2: Cézanne Trees

Monday, December 24, 2012 -- Christmas And Trees #1: Empty Lot Trees

Friday, December 21, 2012 -- Like Snow Around Dark Letters Like Grass

Thursday, December 20, 2012 -- One Full Moon Night In Montpelier Vermont

Wednesday, December 19, 2012 -- Song For A Dawn Chorus (And Breakfast)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 -- The Angle Of Repose Of Department Store

Monday, December 17, 2012 -- The Secret Laboratory Of Immutable Laughter

Friday, December 14, 2012 -- Random Thoughts On This Bonfire Around Us

Thursday, December 13, 2012 -- Beethoven In The Camellia Rain

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 -- “Sudden Glimpses Of A Radiant World”

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 -- Pictures As A Place Where Distance Goes

Monday, December 10, 2012 -- The Metronome As A Place To Switch Off

Friday, December 7, 2012 -- The Root Landscape Of Impressionism

Thursday, December 6, 2012 -- Random Thoughts On Not Being Eaten

Wednesday, December 5, 2012 -- Lines Of Force Surrounding Joan Cusack

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 -- New Socks In The Overall Scheme Of Things

Monday, December 3, 2012 -- The Sugary Metaphysics Of Lost And Escape

November 2012

Friday, November 30, 2012 -- New Socks In Darkness And Light

Thursday, November 29, 2012 -- The New Soap Dish Post (And TV Painting)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 -- Lights Above The Garden Shop

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 -- The Pigeons Inside My Head (Return To)

Monday, November 26, 2012 -- Five Parking Lots And I Wonder

Friday, November 23, 2012 -- Somewhere Between Chicago And Paris

Thursday, November 22, 2012 -- Professional Folk Singer As A Phobia

Wednesday, November 21, 2012 -- A Name, A Face, An Interesting Construction

Tuesday, November 20, 2012 -- Somewhere Between Atlantis And Los Angeles

Monday, November 19, 2012 -- Trivial Things As Doubleplusungood

Friday, November 16, 2012 -- The Thin Crescent Moon—A Postscript

Thursday, November 15, 2012 -- Old Ghosts Haunting A Garden Shop Moon

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 -- Gadget Temptation

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 -- The Other Uses Of Enchantment

Monday, November 12, 2012 -- On Having A Little Fever (And Stuff)

Friday, November 9, 2012 -- Business At The Garden’s Edge

Thursday, November 8, 2012 -- Beyond The Horizon From Here

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 -- The Call Of The Goblins

Tuesday, November 6, 2012 -- Mother And Daughter At The Writing Desk

Monday, November 5, 2012 -- What The Dinosaurs See

Friday, November 2, 2012 -- The Prettiest Ophelia Is An Asteroid

Thursday, November 1, 2012 -- Ode To A Louisiana Sinkhole

October 2012

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 -- A Story About Monsters For Halloween

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 -- Strange Energies Of The Twentieth Century

Monday, October 29, 2012 -- Real Things, Not Real Things And Other Things

Friday, October 26, 2012 -- But That’s How A Melville Metaphor Ends

Thursday, October 25, 2012 -- Plastic Snow? (A Saturn Update)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012 -- Birds Know About Wires

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 -- “Midnight Flowers”

Monday, October 22, 2012 -- On Stepping Into The Surround

Friday, October 19, 2012 -- Ophelia’s Songs

Thursday, October 18, 2012 -- Ophelia’s Flowers

Wednesday, October 17, 2012 -- Real And ‘Real’ Liminal Entities

Tuesday, October 16, 2012 -- The Dark Sidewalk In Daylight (Still Dark)

Monday, October 15, 2012 -- That Girl – In Which I Quote The Khmer Rouge

Friday, October 12, 2012 -- Lost In The Astrophysics

Thursday, October 11, 2012 -- Distance: Istanbul to Aleppo

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 -- Motion Beyond The Witch Point

Tuesday, October 9, 2012 -- Across South America Forever

Monday, October 8, 2012 -- Mindstorms And Music And One Smart Brick

Friday, October 5, 2012 -- A Consequence Of Puppets Revisited

Thursday, October 4, 2012 -- Romanticized Portraits

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 -- Tools For A Bridge Over A Canal On Mars

Tuesday, October 2, 2012 -- A Dream Woman’s Dream House On Long Island

Monday, October 1, 2012 -- The Louisiana Sinkhole: An Apocalypse Opera

September 2012

Sunday, September 30, 2012 - 2012 3rd Quarter Index

Friday, September 28, 2012 - Pumpkin Are Free (Reprise)

Thursday, September 27, 2012 - On-Set Injury Report: Lizard Down!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - Refuge, Sanctuary And Asylum As Synonyms

Tuesday, September 25, 2012 - The Real Lesson Of The Gargoyle Arrow

Monday, September 24, 2012 - Pumpkin Are Free

Friday, September 21, 2012 - Puddle Monsters: Terror In The Distance

Thursday, September 20, 2012 - The Sinkhole, The Supervillain, And The Plan

Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - Synthetic Arcadia And The Hole

Tuesday, September 18, 2012 - Orchestra By Piano Light

Monday, September 17, 2012 - In Louisiana The Bottom Fell Out Of A Swamp

Friday, September 14, 2012 - Jupiter Impact: A Postscript

Thursday, September 13, 2012 - Synthetic Hyperborea, Liminal Entities And Scripts...

Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - Steampunk: A Postscript

Tuesday, September 11, 2012 - Astrophysics Versus Steam-Punk Musicians

Monday, September 10, 2012 - A Piece Of Paper Above An Asteroid

Friday, September 7, 2012 - When The Light Is All Reflections

Thursday, September 6, 2012 - Two Donut Shops

Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - Weather (At The Fox Point)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012 - Weather (Or Not)

Monday, September 3, 2012 - Dinosaur Girls And The Night Behind Me

August 2012

Friday, August 31, 2012 - Solving A Mystery In The Dark (W/Photos)

Thursday, August 30, 2012 - Impossible Places: Guitars And Flutes

Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - A Quick Enceladus Note, And Other Stuff

Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - All The Issues Of Perspective

Monday, August 27, 2012 - Candy At The End Of The World

Friday, August 24, 2012 - The Occult Technology Of Guitars And Keyboards

Thursday, August 23, 2012 - Clouds Want To Be A Secret Book

Wednesday, August 22, 2012 - Memories Are White And Yellow Against Green

Tuesday, August 21, 2012 - Animals That Can Rip Apart Eternity

Monday, August 20, 2012 - Changing Something That Can’t Be Changed

Friday, August 17, 2012 - Indigo And Sepia: Sparrows In The Sun

Thursday, August 16, 2012 - A Universe Of Colors And Adding What We Can

Wednesday, August 15, 2012 - A Personal Tower Of Babel?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - Death, Dancing, Death-Wise For Real

Monday, August 13, 2012 - Sixteen Seductive Ounces

Friday, August 10, 2012 - Pretty Flowers With The Loch Ness Monster

Thursday, August 9, 2012 - This Makes Me Think Of “The Swan” Too

Wednesday, August 8, 2012 - A Telescope For Tartarus

Tuesday, August 7, 2012 - A Secret Book Of Dark Writings

Monday, August 6, 2012 - Magic, And Amy As Only A Memory

Friday, August 3, 2012 - The Loch Ness Monster Versus Pretty Flowers

Thursday, August 2, 2012 - The Fons Et Origo Of Lost Worlds

Wednesday, August 1, 2012 - Dead From Golgotha

July 2012

Tuesday, July 31, 2012 - Playing The Dawn (Or To The Dawn)

Monday, July 30, 2012 - The Many Faces Of Mary (Elizabeth Winstead)

Friday, July 27, 2012 - A Failed Post (And A Little Something Extra)

Thursday, July 26, 2012 - Tours Of Intimate Confusion

Wednesday, July 25, 2012 - “Did Lightning Hit This Tree?”

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 - Eccentricity: A Note On Yesterday’s Photo

Monday, July 23, 2012 - Almost Like The Mast Of A Sailboat

Friday, July 20, 2012 - Associative Editing Techniques

Thursday, July 19, 2012 - A Cool Kaossilator 2 Tip

Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - Pluto’s Fifth Moon Has No Name (Yet)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - They Throw Away Desks, Don’t They?

Monday, July 16, 2012 - Mystery Four Thousand Miles From France

Friday, July 13, 2012 - Praying Mantis In A Parking Lot

Thursday, July 12, 2012 - Watermelon Rain?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012 - Change: Sudden, Incomprehensible And Deadly

Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - Machines Of Rapacious Hate

Monday, July 9, 2012 - Iterations And Interruptions To World Domination

Friday, July 6, 2012 - Models Of Mind, And Grammar

Thursday, July 5, 2012 - Seven-Segment Displays

Wednesday, July 4, 2012 - A Spider-Man Note

Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - Lucy Thought It Was Just Odd Dreams

Monday, July 2, 2012 - “Underwear Distance Of Love” (Reprise)

Sunday, July 1, 2012 - 2012 2nd Quarter Index

June 2012

Friday, June 29, 2012 -- Two Women And Lightning Cat

Thursday, June 28, 2012 -- The Real Atlantis And French (Movie) Terror

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 -- Monsters—From Microsecond To Microsecond

Tuesday, June 26, 2012 -- The North Pole Or Someone’s Garden

Monday, June 25, 2012 -- “Indestructible And Ungraspable”

Friday, June 22, 2012 -- Looking Closely At An Old Tradition

Thursday, June 21, 2012 -- “People Born Illuminated”

Wednesday, June 20, 2012 -- A Consequence Of Puppets

Tuesday, June 19, 2012 -- Two Telescopes

Monday, June 18, 2012 -- Cracks In The Ruin As A Rune

Friday, June 15, 2012 -- A Squirrel And A Donut For Ever And Ever

Thursday, June 14, 2012 -- Day For Night: Nouveaux Oreillers

Wednesday, June 13, 2012 -- “If The World Should Stop Revolving”

Tuesday, June 12, 2012 -- Monsters Got My Pillows

Monday, June 11, 2012 -- If A Telescope Could See A Song

Friday, June 8, 2012 -- Soft Gadgets In Marigold Space

Thursday, June 7, 2012 -- I’ll Remember: The Flagon With The Dragon

Wednesday, June 6, 2012 -- Unstable Designs That Burn Up

Tuesday, June 5, 2012 -- On Songs For Watermelon Snows

Monday, June 4, 2012 -- “Naturally, In Interviews Of The Time”

Friday, June 1, 2012 -- Gadget-Nature: French Musicians As Landscape

May 2012

Thursday, May 31, 2012 -- Untold Stories About Stories Untold

Wednesday, May 30, 2012 -- The Transit Of Venus

Tuesday, May 29, 2012 -- Preliminary Notes For A Space Opera

Monday, May 28, 2012 -- On Picking Out A Piece Of The Sky

Friday, May 25, 2012 -- Friday In Paris Before It All Starts

Thursday, May 24, 2012 -- “I’m Against It”

Wednesday, May 23, 2012 -- Clouds Want To Be Close To Us

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 -- The Moon And Venus Beyond The Fox Point

Monday, May 21, 2012 -- Drawings Stay Flat Falling Into Reality

Friday, May 18, 2012 -- A Sail Away Thing

Thursday, May 17, 2012 -- Mandy Moore In Traffic

Wednesday, May 16, 2012 -- Machines Of Loving Grace

Tuesday, May 15, 2012 -- Forbidden Planet: An Introduction

Monday, May 14, 2012 -- Celebrity-Talk, And The Epistemology Of Hippie

Friday, May 11, 2012 -- On The Edges Of A Dawn Chorus

Thursday, May 10, 2012 -- Some People Believe Monsters Don’t Exist

Wednesday, May 9, 2012 -- Lost Images Of Lost Landscapes

Tuesday, May 8, 2012 -- It Shall Be So Madness Must Unwatched Go

Monday, May 7, 2012 -- Sophocles’ ‘Antigone’ Ends In Disaster

Friday, May 4, 2012 -- It’s A Photograph And This

Thursday, May 3, 2012 -- The Sign From Arby’s At Night In The Rain

Wednesday, May 2, 2012 -- Ephemera And Antiphony

Tuesday, May 1, 2012 -- If I Walk Through I Think

April 2012

Monday, April 30, 2012 -- Distorted By The Classical Mess

Friday, April 27, 2012 -- The Librarian Not In The Drawing

Thursday, April 26, 2012 -- The Moon Miranda (A Note)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012 -- A Process Of Passages

Tuesday, April 24, 2012 -- Prospero I Know At The End

Monday, April 23, 2012 -- Sweet Talking Rocks

Friday, April 20, 2012 -- Songs A Husband Heard

Thursday, April 19, 2012 -- To Make A Song To Sing About Walls

Wednesday, April 18, 2012 -- Miranda And Miranda And Miranda

Tuesday, April 17, 2012 -- Atlantis Blue: Afterward

Monday, April 16, 2012 -- “Sweet Judy Blue Dress” — Atlantis Blue

Friday, April 13, 2012 -- The Mad Scientist And The Dawn Chorus

Thursday, April 12, 2012 -- Everything Is Out Of Order

Wednesday, April 11, 2012 -- Remembering A Loch Ness Photo

Tuesday, April 10, 2012 -- Psychrophiles In Watermelon Snow

Monday, April 9, 2012 -- A Shattered Chessboard

Friday, April 6, 2012 -- Memory Studies As A Flourishing Field

Thursday, April 5, 2012 -- Waiting For Clouds

Wednesday, April 4, 2012 -- The Most Famous Bedroom In Art?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012 -- Waking Up (Not) Lost In Space

Monday, April 2, 2012 -- “S” Is For “Sparrow”

Sunday, April 1, 2012 -- 2012 1st Quarter Index

March 2012

Friday, March 30, 2012 -- Limits Of A Gadget: A Love Story

Thursday, March 29, 2012 -- This Space, Here

Wednesday, March 28, 2012 -- “Indiana Wants Me” (I Can’t Go Back There)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012 -- The Heroine’s Question (Or: Plot Epistemology)

Monday, March 26, 2012 -- The Torn Picture Of A Guitar

Saturday, March 24, 2012 -- Some Musicians Disappear (A Post Script)

Friday, March 23, 2012 -- Some Musicians Disappear

Thursday, March 22, 2012 -- Noises In The Darkness Like A Melody

Wednesday, March 21, 2012 -- The Orchestra As A Mythical Creature

Tuesday, March 20, 2012 -- Beautiful Shadows Of History

Monday, March 19, 2012 -- Beautiful Queen Of All The World’s Gadgets

Sunday, March 18, 2012 -- Bird Calls (A Sunday Post)

Friday, March 16, 2012 -- Pop Music: Woman As Reporter

Thursday, March 15, 2012 -- Big Clouds And Doing Electric Stuff

Wednesday, March 14, 2012 -- Is There A Shadow On My Bedroom Wall?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012 -- Ghosts Aren’t What They Used To Be

Monday, March 12, 2012 -- Merica Uns On Unkin

Friday, March 9, 2012 -- The Iceberg Addendum: Atlantis Iceberg

Friday, March 9, 2012 -- The Orchestra As Torture

Thursday, March 8, 2012 -- “Ah, That Renaissance Sunshine”

Wednesday, March 7, 2012 -- “The Hysterical Light Of Electricity”

Tuesday, March 6, 2012 -- Watercolors, Liminal Entities And Scripts

Monday, March 5, 2012 -- Memories Lost In The Canals Of Mars

Friday, March 2, 2012 -- The Scarf Would Be Like Dancing

Friday, March 2, 2012 -- British Women (Et Cetera)

Thursday, March 1, 2012 -- Scribbles, In G Major

February 2012

Wednesday, February 29, 2012 -- Some Keyboard Notes

Tuesday, February 28, 2012 -- Vanity Fair Magazine In A Book Store Café

Monday, February 27, 2012 -- Talk Outside The Donut Shop

Friday, February 24, 2012 -- Naming Things: Hippie Girls And Monsters

Thursday, February 23, 2012 -- She Asked, “Why Are You Looking...”

Wednesday, February 22, 2012 -- Notes From My Vampirella Expedition

Tuesday, February 21, 2012 -- “Britney To Razor Blades”

Monday, February 20, 2012 -- I Don’t Know If People Dancing Care

Friday, February 17, 2012 -- Serious Thoughts With The Lights Off And On

Thursday, February 16, 2012 -- More Night Than Just The Stars

Wednesday, February 15, 2012 -- The Question For Frankenstein’s Friend

Tuesday, February 14, 2012 -- Before And After ‘Nuts Do Hop’—A Valentine

Monday, February 13, 2012 -- Vicki Over Her Shoulder: A Sketch

Friday, February 10, 2012 -- Orson Welles And Miley Cyrus K-i-s-s-i-n-g

Thursday, February 9, 2012 -- Kimberly When Empires Crumble

Wednesday, February 8, 2012 -- Curious About A Curious Woman

Tuesday, February 7, 2012 -- A Playground In Which To Grow Strong

Monday, February 6, 2012 -- An Orchestra That Goes In And Out

Friday, February 3, 2012 -- Flutes In Space! Or: Landscape With Giant Moth

Thursday, February 2, 2012 -- Landscape With Tiny Dirigibles. Or Not.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012 -- The Night Outside My Window

January 2012

Tuesday, January 31, 2012 -- The Question Clarisse Asks Montag

Monday, January 30, 2012 -- A Mystery: Paintings Never Painted

Friday, January 27, 2012 -- Songs For Hippies Don’t Scare The Pigeons

Thursday, January 26, 2012 -- The Pigeon That Laughed At Hemingway

Wednesday, January 25, 2012 -- The Pigeon In Science And Romance

Tuesday, January 24, 2012 -- Synthetic Pigeons, Liminal Entities And Scripts

Monday, January 23, 2012 -- ‘A Pigeon On A Rock’ And Other Stories

Friday, January 20, 2012 -- Thinking About Arranging “Layla”

Thursday, January 19, 2012 -- Distracted By Suspicions Of A Harmony

Wednesday, January 18, 2012 -- The Name “Gillian”

Tuesday, January 17, 2012 -- A Note From The Synthetic Wilderness

Monday, January 16, 2012 -- Hen Politics, And Passages Between Worlds

Friday, January 13, 2012 -- Not A Premise Beyond Belief

Thursday, January 12, 2012 -- Candle Questions

Wednesday, January 11, 2012 -- “It Wasn’t A Temple But A School”

Tuesday, January 10, 2012 -- An Up-To-Date Vicki Inventory

Monday, January 9, 2012 -- Sun (And Moon) Over Scarborough Fair

Friday, January 6, 2012 -- Exotic Snows And An Ink Drawing Of Plants

Thursday, January 5, 2012 -- A Small Magnifying Glass On A Mirror

Wednesday, January 4, 2012 -- Song Birds And Bird Songs And Songs

Tuesday, January 3, 2012 -- The Dragon With The Girl Tattoo

Monday, January 2, 2012 -- Two Dragons

Sunday, January 1, 2012 -- 2011 Complete Index

New Calendar And Pioneering Birds

I got a new calendar over the weekend. Last week I posted about last year’s calendar.

This year instead of shopping around here and picking from the local selection I went to Amazon and searched for “bird calendars.” I found this one from the Audubon Society. It only cost a couple dollars more than the low-quality things I find locally but it is very well made with heavy paper stock.

And instead of one bird per month, there is one feature bird per month along with interesting facts on why that bird is featured and then almost every day of every month gets its own bird photograph.

Very cool stuff.

The featured bird for January 2013 is the Northern Cardinal.

The interesting fact about Cardinals is—I didn’t know this at all—prior to the 20th century the Cardinal was primarily a southern bird. As winters have gradually moderated, and more people have put out bird feeders and winter-fruiting bushes and shrubs, the National Audubon Society has found that the majority of species in their Bird Counts have been shifting the center of their ranges farther north.

And Cardinals were one of the first birds to begin the adjustment to the northern states.

Cardinals—pioneer birds.


This was a strange weekend and I didn’t do much of anything I planned on doing, but I did get a lot done. I’m hoping over the start of the new year to get to post here about some of the things I did over the weekend but only time will tell.

One of the things I did—sort of on the topic of pioneers prior to the 20th century—was to write three jokes. There’s a connection here in a convoluted way to these old posts.

When The Night Shapes Itself

Clouds Drift As If They’re Listening

You And Me, I Mean, Mare Carminum

There will be more about this kind of stuff later, but I’m really moving very slowly on a bunch of projects that I had hoped to move quickly on. Still, slow is better than no movement at all.

Three Jokes
A Nineteenth Century Comedian
Might Tell

We took the train out here from California. All the way through the western territories a kid behind me was kicking the back of my seat. Finally I turned around and said to the mother, “Lady, can we hold the tap dancing until we get to the Catskills?”

How about those railroad peanuts? I said to the conductor, “Are these peanuts, or are these the bullets the Indians were shooting at us all through Navajo country?”

Have your kids gone crazy over this new technology thing they’ve got? Now they’ve got telegraph offices everywhere. Let me tell you, my daughter is going crazy, every day she’s sending telegrams to her friends all over the country. I said, “Sweetheart, have you seen the Western Union bill? They charge by the word!” She said, “Dad, you get paid by the joke. Just tell more jokes!”

Friday, December 28, 2012

Synthetic Monsters, Liminal Entities And Scripts

Modern pianos have eighty-eight keys.

Many modern synthesizers do too.

Musicians almost always use two hands
on an instrument with eighty-eight keys.

But a musician can use only one.

Nothing stops a musician from using
only one finger to play a keyboard.

Nothing stops a musician from using
only one finger to play a keyboard
but nonetheless most musicians use more.

Maybe something does stop a musician
from playing a keyboard with one finger.

Last night I wanted to record a song
but I was in a hurry so I played
only the melody with my right hand
and I didn’t play chords with my left hand.

I used all five fingers of my right hand
but I’m not as practiced yet with two hands
as somebody who’s played keyboards for years
so I concentrated on just one hand
and recorded sixteen bars my first take
with every pitch and time value correct.

My synthesizer synthesized flute sounds
with both attack and breath variations
so the melody without a chord part
still sounded something like magic to me
even though I made up the melody
and even though I played it with one hand.

Listening to the recording I thought:

If I was listening to a real flute
I wouldn’t miss a chordal foundation
but my memory of playing the song
for some reason is about my left hand
and all those other keys I didn’t play.

Nothing stops a musician from using
only one finger to play a keyboard
but something does. Nothing can be something.

If nothing can be something I wonder
if nothing can be something like monsters
and defeating monsters is something like
making something like magic when we think
there’s something between us and the magic
when really there is nothing there at all.

I have that song I recorded last night
and I remind myself that’s a real thing.

But what if I hadn’t played it because
of something about all those other keys?

It’s hard sometimes just reaching out one hand.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Fictional Characters Can Keep Trying

As the days tick away toward the new year
the days are never like a metronome
each day the same length rather as the Sun
sinks down to the Tropic of Capricorn
days get short and then as the Sun rises
to the Tropic of Cancer days get long
and I think it’s unfortunate music
these days is made to a computer beat
a refinement even to the clockwork
gears of a mechanical metronome
which would look on in wonder at crystals
vibrating millions of times per second
which must look on in wonder too themselves
at musicians trained and who’ve trained themselves
to keep time with those vibrating crystals.

I hate them. Metronomes, not musicians.

Suzanne Ciani switched to piano
after a lifetime of synthesizer.

Synthesizer fans seem to ignore that.

As the days tick away toward the new year
this is a picture of Miranda Tate
a fictional character looking on
as rabble stage a fist-fight in the street
but the fight will engulf and consume her.

I hate them. Metronomes, not musicians.

Soon there will be a new year. All those days.

Fictional characters can keep trying.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Rocks Like Rocks Themselves

The last time I checked
Vicki was working some club
in California

shopping around songs
looking for a record deal.
The last time I checked

the dinosaurs still
were in rocks like rocks themselves.
I miss her so much.

Vicki I mean not
this or that cool dinosaur.
I’m not stuck in rocks

I’m not rock myself
but I can’t go—I won’t go—
to California.

I miss her so much.
I know how dinosaurs feel.
Rocks. Like rocks themselves.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas And Trees #2: Cézanne Trees

Paul Cézanne
“Chestnut Trees at the
Jas de Bouffan in Winter”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

When Cézanne painted the intersection
of tree branches crossing against the sky—
now we can only look and wonder why,
did he know the simple craft direction

of back-to-front, or did his affection
for shapes and colors lead him to defy
common painterly sense—Cézanne would try
to paint each little shape and connection,

like a child in love with the squiggly lines
like a child in love with the shapes they make
like a child in love with treating things right

but an artist, too, who knows real designs
are mysteries workshop painters can’t fake
but real viewers feel, like love at first sight.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Christmas And Trees #1: Empty Lot Trees

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas And Trees #1: Empty Lot Trees

This year I didn’t buy a Christmas tree
because when I put up Christmas tree lights
the bright colors make for such pretty sights
I leave them up for months. It beats TV.

By a simple kind of metonymy
regular trees reaching much higher heights
than home trees stand-in for store-bought delights
and become Christmas trees for all to see.

The six Christmas trees by the empty lot
that recently was a department store
are ornaments, too, a kind of display,

grass, bushes, trees, adding life to that spot,
saying to the rubble: This far, no more.
The lesson for wreckage of Christmas day.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Christmas And Trees #2: Cézanne Trees


I didn’t buy myself any extravagant presents this year. No new guitar or synthesizer or camera or gadget of any kind.

I did a couple of pointless, indulgent things, though.

For instance, I’ve gone over to YouTube a lot and I’ve just wasted time watching a little video from 1988 of some old hippies doing a song from the late 60s.

If that isn’t indulgence I don’t know what is!

The video doesn’t embed, but if you click on the picture it links right to the YouTube page. That’s Paul Kantner and Grace Slick performing a short version of one of my favorite songs, “Wooden Ships.” Kantner wrote the song along with Dave Crosby and Stephen Stills. CSN&Y released a version back at the very end of the 60s, and Jefferson Airplane released a version. The Airplane version was the one I always loved, because it was such an amazing arrangement—a song with dialogue, with one of the voices being Grace Slick, the most incredible woman rock singer ever.

It’s a lost world now.

Kantner and Slick, together and individually, have written many of my favorite songs of all time. I’ve linked to Kantner before, when I did a post of myself playing “Have You Seen The Stars Tonight.” And I mentioned Grace Slick in the title of my post Egyptian Queen, Grace Slick, Beyond Apollo.

When I was a kid, nine or ten years old, these two were sort of my ideal people: The hippie guy, the hippie girl, great musicians, very cool, very passionate. (And, of course, it’s like Clapton and Boyd—even though nothing was what it looked like, it looked so cool that maybe the looks were more important than the reality. I don’t know. Those images are still ideals for me.)

These two have led eventful lives. At one point they were as famous as rock stars could be, and were sometimes described as the American ‘John & Yoko.’ They never were married to each other, but for a few years they were a couple and had a child together.

But then Grace Slick left Paul Kantner so she could marry one of the band’s roadies.

Of all the break-ups I know about, I can’t imagine how Kantner got through that one. Losing Grace Slick? To a roadie? I can’t believe Paul Kantner is still alive. I don’t believe I would have made it.

When Kantner brings Slick on stage for this little reunion clip, he introduces her by saying, “We’d like to have a guest singer join us here for just a brief moment. My ex-wife. The mother of my child. The devil incarnate.

And everybody laughs.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Like Snow Around Dark Letters Like Grass

“From the contents of the knapsack it was evident that this man had been an artist and poet in search of effects. There were scraps of verse. I do not profess to be a judge of such things, but they appeared to me to be singularly wanting in merit. There were also some rather commonplace pictures of river scenery, a paintbox, a box of coloured chalks, some brushes, that curved bone which lies upon my inkstand, a volume of Baxter’s Moths And Butterflies, a cheap revolver, and a few cartridges. Of personal equipment he either had none or he had lost it in his journey. Such were the total effects of this strange American Bohemian.”

from The Lost World
by Arthur Conan Doyle

quoted in The Endless Death Of Maple White

Earlier this week I visited a library—the one where I fell down running up the stairs.

Princess From Atlantis Without A Band-Aid

Earlier this week, as I was leaving I walked past their shelves of books for sale. My eyes picked out and noticed, somehow all by themselves, that one shelf held a copy of Michael Crichton’s “The Lost World” and, just a few books over, a copy of Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Lost World.” So I put the two books together, hoping that maybe somebody would notice them and buy them as a set. I would have bought them myself but I already have a copy of the Crichton book and I only like parts of the Conan Doyle book.

But it occurred to me, too, that the Conan Doyle book is hard to find. That very library, for instance, didn’t own a copy for people to check out. So I considered pointing that out to the head librarian. I mean that maybe they might want to keep the Conan Doyle book themselves and put it into circulation. But I kept my mouth shut. These days nobody needs and nobody wants ideas from the hoi polloi.


But seeing the Conan Doyle book reminded me, again, of my favorite part—I love the business with Professor Challenger finding a lost notebook that had belonged to an artist and figuring out that the artist had witnessed and drawn surviving dinosaurs.

If Maple White had used, for instance, a portable computer or a high-tech tablet, chances are when the device was lost in a swampy environment, even if someone found it, the humidity would have wrecked the device. And, even if the device worked, these days most electronic equipment needs to be “unlocked” in one way or another—a password of some kind.

Simple analog materials—pencil and paper, pen and paper, paints and supports—are much more, so to speak, “future-proof” than high technology.

I just ordered a copy of “Selections from Anna Magdalena's Notebook” from Amazon. Music that Bach wrote or collected for his wife. It can still, of course, be played today.

If Bach had given his wife a laptop or a tablet, chances are the devices wouldn’t be working a few centuries down the timeline. And, of course, even if they were still working, someone would have to know Anna Magdalena’s password.

Again, the simple analog material—music notation on paper—managed to standup to the centuries and remain useful.


Last night we had the season’s first snow fall
that was thick enough to accumulate.

People have been seeing flakes now and then
but this is the first time the grass went white.

Probably when the Sun’s up tomorrow
this will melt and we’ll see the grass again.

It’s not like the grass is gone forever.

Although tomorrow the snow might be gone.

Moments before I took that photograph
I’d been on the internet looking at
pochade boxes from artist supply stores.

Those are travel kits so artists can paint
outside and keep their supplies organized.

If I ever went to Los Angeles
to paint that bridge Tony Scott jumped off of
a pochade box would help me make the trip.

Indoors here my supplies are organized
but when I noticed the snow on the grass
I grabbed my camera not a notebook.

I took a photograph of last night’s snow.

I didn’t make a drawing. Or paint it.

The ghost of Maple White just shakes his head.

If I saw a dinosaur I’m prepared
to get high definition video
and stereo sound of the encounter.

But technology changes. Formats change.

And adventures knock equipment around.

Paper notebooks and illustration boards
can survive. But photographs are easy,
and drawing or painting is a process
that makes you look away for a moment
from the object or scene in front of you
and you have to devote your attention
to the other thing, the thing you’re making.

That’s the whole point, of course, but photographs
are easy. You don’t have to look away.

It snowed last night and I took a picture.

The ghost of Maple White just shakes his head.

I’m thinking maybe I should paint the ghost
but Maple White just laughs and disappears.

If I had looked away I’d have missed it.

Last night it snowed and I made a ghost laugh.

And I wrote all this stuff. But what are words?

The paper is white
like snow around dark letters
like grass made of ink.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Pochade Boxes
at Lines and Colors Blog


Tools For A Bridge Over A Canal On Mars

All The Issues Of Perspective

Trivial Things As Doubleplusungood

Somewhere Between Chicago And Paris

Thursday, December 20, 2012

One Full Moon Night In Montpelier Vermont

One night under a bright full Moon in Montpelier, Vermont, Ken Kitchell and his friend Paul Sutton were leaning against a lamp post and sipping coffee from the donut shop. Just when they waved and said “Good evening” to Steve Vespers walking past in the street, a werewolf leaped from a roof somewhere above them and pounced on Steve. The werewolf clawed at Steve’s chest and chewed at Steve’s throat and threw his body down onto the pavement. The werewolf crouched down to eat Steve right there, but looked up and saw Ken and Paul watching. The werewolf snarled at Ken and Paul, howled, then dragged Steve away, leaving a trail of blood in the street and disappearing around the corner.

Ken said, “Now there’s something you don’t see every day around these parts.”

Paul said, “No. No, you don’t see that a lot around here. Of course, it was right about that spot last week that old Ben Taylor beat up on his brother Charlie, wasn’t it?”

Ken nodded. “Yeah. Yeah, it was right about there. Of course, old Ben Taylor’s a man who gets drunk on vodka, isn’t he? That thing we saw just now wasn’t so much a man, was it? What we saw just now was more some kind of furry thing.”

Paul nodded. “Yeah. Yeah, that’s about it. Some kind of furry thing alright. Of course, these days with so many out-of-towners coming through, you never know what you’re going to see around here.”

Ken said, “You’ve got that right. Yeah. All these out-of-towners coming through. Of course, you can’t always blame the out-of-towners. Remember Saturday, week before last, Matilda Hapworth put on that miniskirt of hers and walked right past us there on her way to the library?”

Paul said, “Oh yeah. Yeah, I remember Matilda in her miniskirt alright. I almost spilled my coffee, didn’t I?”

Ken nodded. “You did. That’s right. You almost spilled your coffee. Oh yeah. Yeah. Talk about furry things.”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Serious Thoughts With The Lights Off And On

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Song For A Dawn Chorus (And Breakfast)

A man
Standing at a window
Looking at the birds
Listening to them sing


The man turned away from the window and looked at the woman.

He said, “Suppose you knew how the dinosaurs were going to come back. Would you tell anyone?”

She didn’t smile, but he saw her, for a moment, press her lips together to stop from smiling.

She asked, “Are the dinosaurs coming back?”

He did smile. Then he looked back at the birds for a second and then back at the woman.

“I thought they would come back, somehow, through the birds,” he said. “Remember that scientist doing genetic experiments with chickens?”

“Jack Horner?” the woman asked.

The man nodded. “I felt sure the dinosaurs would somehow come back through the birds.”

“But they won’t?” the woman asked, letting herself smile a little, too.

The man said, “Suppose you knew how the dinosaurs were going to come back. Would you tell anyone?”

The woman giggled.

She said, “Probably not. I think I might keep it to myself.”

The man laughed, too. He took the woman’s hand.

He said, “Come on. Let’s go get breakfast.”

A Loose End Addendum:

Back in January I did a post about my new calendar for this year.

Song Birds And Bird Songs And Songs

It was all birds. And I talked about how I was going to use birdsong related themes to start listening to more classical music. That idea both worked out and didn’t at the same time.

The first person I became interested in was Olivier Messiaen and—holy cow!—it was hard to read about anyone else once I started reading about him.

Songs A Husband Heard

A Process Of Passages

Just learning about Messiaen pretty much fulfilled my whole year of classical music listening.

So, anyway, I’m going to look around for another bird calendar for 2013 and keep that general idea alive, using birdsong themes for classical music. If I ever move on from Messiaen.

And just to wrap up this calendar topic, here is the December page of my current calendar. It’s a robin. Now around here robins are big and look nothing like this. But I’ve looked around the internet and there are robins that look like this. I didn’t look around for details, but I think I saw that European robins—at least, and maybe others—look exactly like this. Very, very pretty, but then I really like the color orange.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Angle Of Repose Of Department Store

“The angle of repose or, more precisely, the critical angle of repose, of a granular material is the steepest angle of descent or dip of the slope relative to the horizontal plane when material on the slope face is on the verge of sliding. This angle is in the range 0°–90°.”

That pile of rubble back behind the tree
used to be a department store and now
what’s left is a pile of department store
and a pile has an angle of repose.

My beautiful impossible math thing
can calculate the angle with three clicks.

I can do it right here. First I’ll zoom in
closer on the pile of department store.

My beautiful impossible math thing
takes that picture and makes a triangle.

Click on the image. It will get bigger.

Then it can measure the corner’s angle.

The department store angle of repose
comes to 38.7 degrees.

Back when that pile was a department store
I went inside—it had doors in it then—
and bought a movie about killer snakes.

In the movie a grumpy teenage girl
wasn’t worried when an old guy noticed
something in the water was killing fish.

Maggie didn’t care about the fish head.

But her transformational story arc
carried her through the killer snake movie
to a happy ending. The old guy died,
and her mom and dad and her dad’s mistress
and the sheriff her mom was in love with,
but Maggie realized everybody
was having a hard time not only her
so in the end she became less grumpy.

Now the transformational story arc
of the department store is wrapping up.

At least until someone makes a sequel.

Maybe something about an empty lot.

Maggie became a less grumpy Maggie.

The department store turned into a pile
with a 38.7 degree
angle of repose. These days I suppose
that’s a happy ending—piled up neatly
and somebody using a computer
to work out careful numbers about you.

Now the real fun’s the anticipation
guessing what will happen in the sequel.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Secret Laboratory Of Immutable Laughter

A troubled, tormented, and unstable Cézanne laboriously found his way and decided on his destiny between the ages of forty-five and fifty-five, ultimately settling in Provence in order to pursue his “studies” and accomplish his purpose. In a family situation that he saw as an obstacle to his art, choices were painful. His marriage to Hortense Fiquet, which also took place in 1886 (following a mysterious and short-lived affair with another woman), seems to have been a belated attempt to legitimize his relationship. His profound sense of self-doubt was exacerbated by failures he took deeply to heart. His solution to his problems—isolation—cut him off from the art world (which he often regretted) but also provided the secret laboratory in which his work would develop.

During this period, while Cézanne’s personal life was more chaotic than ever, his painting was moving inexorably toward permanence, immutability, and monumentality of form.

Bruno Ely
from the chapter “Gardanne,
Montbriand, and Bellevue”

Whenever I see a landscape image—
I mean one that’s not a Cézanne painting—
I think, “This would be more interesting
if it were a Cézanne landscape painting.”

When I see an image of a figure—
a figure not painted by Morisot—
I think, “I miss the implicit drama
Morisot would have found a way to paint.”

A mad scientist in a secret lab
working to depict Morisot’s drama
using Cézanne’s monumentality
laughs, I bet, more than most mad scientists.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Random Thoughts On This Bonfire Around Us

Normally here at the blog I try to avoid focusing on breaking news, unless it is related to science or art in some way. Politics and pop culture are so disconnected from reality that, to my eyes, it is always hard to know what is really happening and how to reasonably react.

But this morning there was a horrible school shooting out east. Dozens of people—most of them children—were killed and the shooter, apparently, was a twenty year old young man, hardly more than a child himself.

This violence and chaos touches on many topics that I’ve followed for many years. I can’t really think of working today, of writing anything today.

So instead of creating anything, I’m going to just review part of what I regard as “background” to the terrible killings out east. Because I feel a couple of things that I’ve mentioned in passing here at the blog are elements of this kind of madness and chaos.


I’m going to talk about two people. I’m going to mention one just quickly, and then dwell a little longer on the second person.

Both people I’m going to talk about today could be described as critics of pop culture.

Now most people we see in pop culture criticizing pop culture are clearly participants. People like, for instance, just to name one, Camille Paglia. She criticizes pop culture, but she’s not really criticizing culture itself, just various aspects of it that she doesn’t like.

And other people we see in pop culture criticizing pop culture are simply lunatic fringe types. Pop culture doesn’t mind showing critics who proclaim themselves, for instance, just to name two, Marxists or survivalists, or other such things because everyone knows these people in the modern West will never persuade large numbers of people to take them seriously. These people are, in a way, participants too, because they are like village idiots who make their viewpoints look ridiculous and they more or less accept that role and play along.

But every now and then a very qualified, knowledgeable and experienced person will make a very carefully reasoned outright attack on some very core element of pop culture.

And then what is pop culture to do?

The various people and power blocs which are decision-makers in the pop culture world cannot engage such people—after all, experienced and smart people who put forward carefully reasoned attacks usually think through what they say. Their attacks are usually substantiated and substantial. The only reasonable way to engage such attacks is by saying something like, “Yes, you are right, but—” And then offer some kind of context or elaboration which provides some acceptable justification for the substance behind the attack.

But when life-or-death issues are in play, and when central beliefs of pop culture are called into question, it is impossible to “justify” death and misery for the sake of some academic dogma or corporate practice.

So if pop culture cannot engage qualified, knowledgeable and experienced critics, how can it respond to them?

In my life I believe I’ve seen this situation occur twice. What happens is the “qualified, knowledgeable and experienced” person will be 1) Wildly misrepresented; and then 2) trivialized, marginalized and even demonized.

For instance, I will quickly mention Jerry Mander.

Jerry Mander was a very experienced and successful advertising executive who began to question modern media and pop culture which is so immersed in and dependent on modern media. Jerry Mander wrote an extraordinary book called, “Four Arguments For The Elimination Of Television.” Pop culture responded by focusing on one or two aspects of part of Mander’s technical issues with television as if they represented the whole of his critique, and by misrepresenting his arguments that way—as not fully documented and so-called “new age” thinking—his entire, very lengthy book could be dismissed. And now, apparently, Mander seems to have accepted something like social exile and simply writes about anti-capitalism. And who cares? Nobody.

Meanwhile all his arguments about television are not only still valid, but since computers have become little more than desktop television sets and telephones have become little more than portable television sets with near-microwave transmitters built-in, Mander’s arguments have become all the more terrifying.

That’s all I want to say at this point about Jerry Mander.

But I want to dwell a little longer on Frederic Wertham. I’m not going to dwell on many specifics here—this is a blog post, not an essay for a journal—so this is just going to be a conversational kind of personal summary. But I certainly recommend reading Wertham’s book “Seduction of the Innocent” directly.

Frederick Wertham was a psychiatrist, from the pioneering generation directly after Freud. In fact, young Wertham corresponded with Freud before coming to America. He spent time at Johns Hopkins, conducted independent research, and eventually became director of the psychiatric clinic at Bellevue. And much of his private and public work was spent helping children, especially the kids in the 40s and 50s who were typically labeled ‘delinquents’ and tossed away in reform schools or, later, penitentiaries.

He was as qualified, knowledgeable and experienced as a person could get.

In the course of his work, Wertham began to see trends in the way children were being treated—in culture in general by the entertainment media, in schools, by the police and by the courts.

Wertham eventually wrote a book called, “Seduction of the Innocent.”

This book, now, like Wertham himself, has been marginalized, trivialized and demonized.

The book and Wertham have been wildly misrepresented. Primarily the misrepresentation is along the lines of, “He said comic books make kids criminals.” Of course, Wertham never said anything of the kind. And, in fact, he explicitly said something quite different. His contention was that many aspects of pop culture attack a young person’s understanding of right and wrong, a young person’s understanding of good behavior and bad, and the grotesque images and stories in graphic magazines were first and foremost a symptom—not a cause!—of the troubled world being presented to young people, and, then, also, a contributing factor to the troubles.

Wertham’s beliefs grew out of his direct experience with young people. He didn’t form his beliefs academically around some dogma and then look for substantiation. Rather he talked to kids, persuaded them to show him their world, and then tried to understand their understanding of culture and real life based on the world adults put around them.

The attacks on Wertham were—and continue to be!—simply unbelievable. I wonder, now, if a person who hasn’t lived through this stuff and with this stuff can possibly get any kind of trustworthy emotional feel for the actual reality of Frederick Wertham because the hyperbole and attacks have been so continuous and so pervasive in the media.

My copy of “Seduction of the Innocent” was published in 1954.

The attacks continue to this day!

It leaves a person speechless. Books such as “Supergods” and “Marvel Comics: The Untold Story” to my eyes are little more than corporate communication department propaganda pamphlets and, meanwhile, everyone can look around the real world and see that the issues that troubled Wertham fifty years ago have continued and in fact have grown like, so to speak, monsters.

Obviously this is something I feel strongly about, I get emotional about and I’ve touched on these issues in many posts. For instance, Let’s Go To The Library And Scare Ourselves.

I don’t want to go on and on here because it is just sad. But I want to make one last point about how comprehensive the attacks on Wertham were and continue to be.

After Wertham wrote “Seduction of the Innocent” and the issues of graphic media violence became a national political issue, Wertham became, briefly, what we would now call something like an infamous media figure or something. And Wertham wrote a follow-up book to “Seduction of the Innocent.” So there he was, a national figure, bright in the media spotlight with a sequel to the book which had caused the media spotlight.

And no publisher would publish the book.

Wertham was as qualified as a professional could be. His writing was calm, well-reasoned, compassionate, and profoundly influential with the public at large.

And no publisher would publish his follow-up to “Seduction of the Innocent.”

I just want to end by pointing out that if we—anyone—looks at what has gone on in the world over the last few decades, isn’t it amazing that no publisher would publish a manuscript from a profoundly qualified psychiatrist concerned with violence and chaos that was engulfing young people in the modern world?

The title of Wertham’s manuscript, which still exists but is still unpublished, was to be, “The War On Children.”

I’m sorry to end the week with such a downbeat post. But to my eyes it seems like monsters are very, very real. And they are eating all of us, including our children.