Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Name “Trillian”

“Who was the lady?”

“Oh, just somebody. Well all right, I wasn’t doing very well with her. I’d been trying all evening. Hell, she was something though. Beautiful, charming, devastatingly intelligent, at last I’d got her to myself for a bit and was plying her with a bit of talk when this friend of yours barges up and says ‘Hey, doll, is this guy boring you? Why don’t you talk to me instead? I’m from a different planet.’ I never saw her again.”

“Zaphod?” exclaimed Ford.

“Yes,” said Arthur, glaring at him and trying not to feel foolish. “He only had the two arms and the one head and he called himself Phil, but . . .”

“But you must admit he did turn out to be from another planet,” said Trillian, wandering into sight at the other end of the bridge. She gave Arthur a pleasant smile which settled on him like a ton of bricks and then turned her attention to the ship’s controls again.

There was silence for a few seconds, and then out of the scrambled mess of Arthur’s brain crawled some words.

“Tricia McMillan?” he said. “What are you doing here?”

“Same as you,” she said, “I hitched a lift.”

Once at a science fiction convention
a girl named ‘Angel’ and I decided
to take a break from the hotel and drive
to a donut shop for food and fresh air.

Angel thought her sister would want to come
so we tracked her down at some room party.

She was being plyed with a bit of talk.

When she heard our donut plan she broke off
politely from the guy talking to her
and when we got to the hallway outside
she laughed and thanked us for rescuing her.

I don’t remember much about our trip
for donuts and fresh air because my mind
kept looping back to the poor guy talking
to Angel’s sister desperate talking
desperate to say words to make her smile
and me interrupting his search for words
and Angel’s sister outside just laughing
and most of my life that would have been me
and I’d have been left standing desperate
and I hated being the other guy
and the donuts didn’t really taste good
and the fresh air didn’t really smell good
and 1980 to 2013
is thirty-three years of interrupting
that guy desperate to see a girl smile
and I hated being the other guy
and I never let it happen again
but I can’t stop it from having happened.

I like the name ‘Gillian’ from a book
or rather an entire series of books
about polite people in outer space
doing science and having adventures.

I like the name ‘Trillian’ from a book
or rather an entire series of books
about more real people in outer space
doing not much of anything at all.

Doing science and having adventures
for me is about the name ‘Gillian’
and the desperation I feel trying
to find her and the words to make her smile.

But the name ‘Trillian’ is something else
and although ‘Trillian’ is a nice name
for me it’s about donuts and fresh air
and after thirty-three years of thinking
about one night of donuts and fresh air
I’m more happy thinking about spaceships
and scientifically recycled air
and scientifically designed dinners
and scientists calculating a plan
and then doing the science step-by-step.

But the name ‘Trillian’ is something else.

For me it’s about donuts and fresh air—
things that go stale after thirty-three years.

Doing science and having adventures
for me is about the name ‘Gillian.’

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

The Name “Gillian”

A Note From The Synthetic Wilderness

Everything Is Out Of Order

Towels To Be Reckoned With

The Donut Shop Parking Lot Is Not Enough

The Sugary Metaphysics Of Lost And Escape

“I do not want to hear anything more
about Dunkin’ Donuts. We don’t
even eat there. Why the hell
are you always talking about them?”

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Towels To Be Reckoned With

“...any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.”

from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
quoted at “Towel Day”
at Wikipedia

I have three towels and I know where they’re at.

Although yesterday was not laundry day
(and today’s not officially Towel Day)
I got caught in the rain and got so wet
I did a wash so I could dry my clothes
and that means my towels got washed and dried too.

I have three towels and they’re always in use.

One will cover my keyboard workstation.

One will cover my portable keyboard.

One will be the towel I use after showers.

After every laundry day I fold them
and then rotate them deciding which towel
will get used for what this laundry cycle
so they don’t get bored covering keyboards
or drying me off after morning showers
always the same towel stuck with the same job.

Each week the towels get a new assignment.

But I always know where my towels are at.

Yesterday after laundry and folding
but before I gave them new assignments
I took a nap and used them as pillows.

They were very comfortable pillows
and my “nap” turned into a full night’s sleep.

Last night everybody took the night off
but today everybody’s back at work.

The towel with the seahorse is spread on top
of my keyboard workstation and the towel
with trees is on my portable keyboard
and the towel with the sailboat dried me off
after I got up for this morning’s shower.

The galaxy continues to rough it
slum it struggle against terrible odds
but my towels always know where I am at.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Fictional Characters Are Still Trying

“I could try explaining that a save-the-world project, vain or not, is worth investing in, Mr. Daggett. But you understand only money and the power you think it buys. So, why waste my time, indeed?”

Miranda Tate, fictional character
in The Dark Knight Rises

also Fictional Characters Can Keep Trying

I love that fictional character. I don’t much like the movie, but I love that character even though it is not clear—in hindsight—exactly which “save-the-world” project she is talking about: The Bruce Wayne project to create a safe fusion reactor; or her own League of Shadows project to destroy Gotham City and restore harmony to Western civilization. She’s a person who wears a mask so things aren’t always what they seem to be.

I agree with her, though.


It’s hard for me to describe how much I enjoy doing little stop-motion videos like yesterday’s “Creatures of Doctor Tina.”

In general, I like shorter, simpler things, like “Robot by Television Light.” Short ostensibly simple things can be created in one day, even if they take a longer time to think about and plan. But something more complicated is fun, too, because it involves thinking about everything—writing, images, sound, and all the relationships between everything. I talked about this a bit already in Atlantis Blue: Afterward and I don’t want to just repeat myself.

All that being said, however, I have strong reservations about this kind of thing as a form, Media Angst. It’s not a physical thing. It’s just magnetic patterns. I don’t know if it is real in any sense of the word, or just a kind of modern technological seduction.

I don’t know.

But I’ve got a couple of little things to say, just personal things, before I move on completely from “Creatures of Doctor Tina.”

This was my first stop-motion film, I think, that was conceived of and executed almost entirely along with blog posts. What I mean is, back when I did the post Three Daisies I was thinking about doing a certain stop-motion movie involving the song “Daisy Bell.” So that post is a kind of upper boundary time-wise for my thinking. I was looking through various stores for props to that potential video when I saw the collection of plastic bugs and I thought I’d buy them for some future project.

Then I did the post Library Reality Slips And Giant Bugs about the bugs and I found myself thinking more about the bugs than about the “Daisy Bell” project.

Once it occurred to me to use the setting from A Ladybug Looking Out At Winter I completely put the thoughts about the “Daisy Bell” project out of my mind and started working on the ladybug project.

The So Low Solo

Media Angst

Dailies For “Creatures Of Doctor Tina”

Since the early stages of the project had posts, it seemed fitting, too, for me to do the post with the raw footage.

So this whole project was a little different for me, happening almost completely on the blog from start to finish.

For the sake of completeness, then, I want to mention two other aspects of this project before moving on.

I consciously didn’t film any scenes of the ladybug flying. Obviously it would have been pretty simple to suspend the model by a monofilament line or support it from underneath by something equally transparent. But in real life when beetles and other large insects fly, they have a striking visual look to the flight. I talked about this a little, not about beetles but about katydids, in Petting Katydids. Beetles often have a carapace that is open but unmoving and then the wings blur above the large body shape. And the flight itself is usually very straight under that distinctive blur. This might sound crazy, but when I do a stop-motion thing, I make an attempt to be aware of differences between depictions and metaphors and metonymy. Even if the distinctions are only in my own thinking, I make it a point to put thought into such things. Since I couldn’t think of any way to indicate that particularly striking visual aspect of a beetle flying in any way whatsoever, I decided to skip any scenes of the beetle flying. It might sound nuts, but one of the fun things about doing these little films for me is thinking about even bizarre things like that.

The other note I want to make about this video is a kind of confession. I’ve been making a conscious effort to move as much of my music making as possible away from the guitar and onto my keyboard. I just feel that keyboards and synthesizers have infinitely more potential than a six-string analog instrument like a guitar—even though I love guitars and can play guitar much better than I can play a keyboard. When I decided to use a guitar part for the song “Ladybug in Winter” I very much wanted to record the part on my workstation. Here’s some background to my confession: My workstation has three general types of synthesized guitar voices. One is a ‘normal’ synthesizer guitar which sounds okay, but could hardly be mistaken for a real instrument. The second kind of voice includes articulations and some instrument sounds and if used correctly can sound very, very real. The third kind of voice uses many different samples and requires extensive processing to choose individual samples note-by-note and include appropriate articulation sounds note-by-note as well. This third kind of voice sounds phenomenally real and, in the context of computer audio, it may be impossible to differentiate from the real thing if a person chooses chord voicings carefully.

But here’s the confession part: Even though I’m pretty good with technology and even though I’ve had my keyboard workstation for a couple of years, I’ve never actually buckled down and learned how to use that third kind of voice.


The deal is, that third kind of super-realism synthesized voice requires so much processing that the workstation can’t generate the sounds in real-time. Rather, you play a part using a different guitar setting, then, after the MIDI file is created, you go in and re-set the voice for the guitar part to one of the super-real voices. Then the system goes in and chooses the appropriate sounds for each note while scanning the larger context of the whole performance.

Since I never had the need for that before, I’ve always put off learning the details of the implementation. And then when I tried to learn it quickly, I couldn’t figure it out.


So that guitar part on “Creatures of Doctor Tina” is actually me sitting with my guitar listening to a 3/4 click track on my keyboard workstation and recording my guitar on my Tascam GT-R1.

It all worked out okay and I’m happy with the result but I would have been happier if the guitar had been synthesized.

After I finished the video and posted it yesterday I buckled down and read through all my workstation documentation and figured out the process to swap-in the super-realistic voice.

Now I know how to do it. And it does sound like magic.

Okay. That pretty much wraps up “Creatures of Doctor Tina.”


I’m probably going to take some time off from doing stop-motion videos. I want to think through how such things fit in with other ways of spending my time—writing fiction, drawing or painting, making music.

I don’t know.

In one way videos strike me as being completely unreal. They’re just magnetic patterns. In other ways—since they involve writing and images and sound—stop-motion videos strike me as the most real, most powerful way to create something, anything.

I don’t know.

It doesn’t bother me that an activity might be in vain. A save-the-world project, vain or not, is worth investing in. But I still want to invest thoughtfully.

Monday, January 28, 2013

“Creatures Of Doctor Tina” – A Puppet Show

A roll of toilet tissue
and an old wired telephone.
The ladybug trapped alone
flies where it already flew

through the winter house. One shoe
with no laces. The dust blown
at each insect landing zone,
bug marks, the only shapes new.

No aphids to eat inside.
A piano. Brittle books.
No plants outside in the snow.

Eight chairs. All directions tried.
One green scarf, one grey, on hooks.
Naming things. The chance to know.

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Freedom From The Wild

Freedom From The Wild/Lost In Metonymy

Real Estate Gothic

The Question For Frankenstein’s Friend
“And do you dream?”


I had planned on putting this up
at the end of this week on Friday,
but since I finished over the weekend
instead of working into the week,
I decided to start the week with it.
It was a very fun weekend, completing this.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll do an afterward
describing some of the process.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Dailies For “Creatures Of Doctor Tina”

Sometimes I begin a post by saying I have almost nothing. Not today!

Today I have something special, something I’ve never done before.

A couple of days ago in “A Certain Loss Of Magic” I talked very briefly about the phrase “dailies” in the film business. Today is an example of dailies. Today I’ve got the first few scenes captured—unedited raw footage!—for “Creatures of Doctor Tina” which is in-production.

I described this project yesterday in Media Angst. When I finish filming and assemble the audio tracks and edit everything together, this little stop-motion film will be a kind of concluding chapter to these two earlier posts:

A Ladybug Looking Out At Winter

Naming Things

First, some notes.

1) I am shooting out-of-continuity. These scenes are in no special order. The scenes here will get edited and rearranged to fit the final stop-motion film. And there are still scenes left to shoot.

2) I haven’t put in the any of the actual audio tracks yet. No dialogue yet. The sound for these clips is just a temp track.

3) The music here for this temp track on the raw footage is called “Overture to Ladybug Alone In Winter” and it is a pretend orchestra piece. It’s not good pretend orchestra, but it is my first attempt at such stuff.

When the stop-motion video gets put into final form I believe I will be removing all this pretend orchestra stuff and replacing it with more contemporary sounds. I especially want to use classic science fiction sounds. But this was fun to experiment with. And—I don’t know—I may keep a variation of this as something like an actual overture above the credits or something. Time will tell.

Okay. So here’s a short video with some scenes of dailies, raw footage with a temp audio track, from “Creatures of Doctor Tina.” The video has six little unedited clips:

1) ladybug at a dark window

2) ladybug at a keyboard (not playing)

3) ladybug at a light window

4) ladybug at a wall phone

5) Doctor Tina’s Lab (dark take 1)

6) ladybug at a gray scarf and a green scarf

I’ve got a couple more scenes to film, and then I have to arrange the dialogue, the sound effects and the music and edit everything together.

But the project is moving along.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Media Angst

In general here at the blog I don’t like to talk about up-coming posts very much because I change my mind a lot, so very often what I think will be coming soon turns out to be different from what actually gets posted. However, today I’m going to talk a little about an up-coming post because it leads me to a completely different topic.

Yesterday I mentioned that I had a song for a stop-motion video, but I didn’t have an overall context to put around the song. Today when I was having lunch, when I was thinking of random middle-of-the-day things, a complete monster movie context occurred to me that fit very well around the song I had ready. It just popped into my mind all by itself, ready-made somehow.

So now I have a pretty good idea of what my next stop-motion video will be, and all that’s left to do is figure out the actual scenes to be filmed and make choices about what kind of action I want to include and practical matters like that. And, of course, then I have to buckle down and film the scenes and edit them together and record the audio tracks and put all the different elements together.

So there is still a bit left to do.

But the hard part is pretty much worked out—I have the guiding idea for the film.

I am hoping to get everything finished for next Friday. Not tomorrow, but next Friday.

The film will be called Creatures of Doctor Tinaand it will be sort of the concluding chapter in a trilogy with two posts from a couple of years ago.

I had no idea it would be a “trilogy” when I started. I didn’t even plan on doing a second post. But this stuff somehow sort of takes on a life of its own.

It will be more about the story of the ladybug looking out at winter that started in A Ladybug Looking Out At Winter and then continued with the ladybug in the empty house in Naming Things.

In the stop-motion film, we’ll see a little bit about where the ladybug came from and what the ladybug does in the empty house.

Look, just like real studios promoting real movies, here’s a behind-the-scenes photo of a rehearsal for the up-coming stop-motion film:

In a personal way, this all has a very bizarre feeling to it. I mean, I still remember how happy I was just to draw that cartoon a couple of years ago. Then it was fun writing a little more about the ladybug.

And now I’m going back and doing a little movie about it. Back when I did that cartoon, I never could have imagined this, that this idea would be happening in so many different forms, or that I’d have the resources to bring the story to life in so many different ways.

And I suppose I should mention the title Creatures of Doctor Tinais a bit of a passing reference itself to the passing reference I made to “Creatures of Prometheus” in How To Shop With Beethoven.

But the music for the stop-motion film will have no connection to the Beethoven music.

I just like the Prometheus stuff, in all its different forms.


But that brings up this other issue that’s been on my mind a lot.

I love doing these little stop-motion movies, and I probably enjoy putting together music and story and images like this as much as anything else I do here at the blog.

But I wonder if this is a good way to spend my time.

What I mean is, when I write stuff I can take that writing to other contexts. And that goes for music, too. If I do a song, I can play the song in other contexts.

But visual things like cartoons and especially videos are pretty much their own context. They exist here at the blog and they’re available to anyone who has a computer, but they are not creations I can take with me except as what they are—computer files of various kinds. And even that depends on the file formats remaining popular. It all makes me think of my post The Persistence Of Rocks.

I feel myself becoming part of that generation that will leave behind nothing.

A song I can play on guitar or keyboard or I can give the music to a flute player and I can sing along as they play. Whatever. But a little film is what it is and that’s it.

To put this in the most extreme form—maybe even to reduce this line of thinking to something like absurdity, but nonetheless this is how I think—I mean suppose there is an afterlife. Things that I write I will still remember and take with me into the afterlife. Even songs. If there is sound in the afterlife, I will be able to sing any song I may remember. But movies and cartoons are not going to make the transition into the afterlife with me. (Presumably, that is, I guess, based on common assumptions about what an “afterlife” might be like.)

So, anyway, I’m always wondering now if making little stop-motion videos is a good use of my time. I’m wondering now if I should concentrate more completely, even more than I do now, on real writing—stories and songs.

I don’t know.

Maybe after Creatures of Doctor TinaI will take some time off from even thinking about film and video.

I don’t know.

At any rate, that’s the stuff that’s been on my mind lately. (But, too, I haven’t been getting a lot of sleep lately with the tennis going on in Australia, and my thinking may level out a little after this weekend when the Australian Open finishes up.)

There will be more to come on all this stuff.

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

Gadget Angst

I Can’t Sleep In My Kitchen

Memory Studies As A Flourishing Field

The Prettiest Ophelia Is An Asteroid

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The So Low Solo

“You are so low sewer rats could run over you without even jumping! You are so low a dog with no legs would have to bend down to pee on you! You are so low bodies in caskets would have to roll over and look down to see you!”

First I said something
then she said something
but she got it wrong.

I knew she was wrong
but she is pretty
and thought she was right.

I kept my mouth shut
and worked on a song
and let her be smug.

Then she discovered
she was wrong and too
I knew all along.

I worked on a song
while she called me low
in graphic detail.

I jotted down chords
but her voice was like
a guitar solo.

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

The song I’m working on is for a stop-motion video using one (or some) of those big bugs I posted about in Library Reality Slips And Giant Bugs. I may not have everything ready for this week, but I hope to have everything ready at least by next Friday. Right now I have a song about one of the bugs, but I don’t have a larger monster movie context to put around the song. As much as I like the song by itself, I’m not sure the world needs a standalone song about a bug. So I’m hoping to think up a monster movie context to put around the song.

These things take time, and kind of develop step by step. I’ve got the first step more or less done. I’ve got a song for one of the bugs.

There are some other things going on too [laughs] but the only important thing going on is that the new stop-motion video is moving along nicely through pre-production.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

“A Certain Loss Of Magic”

I have almost nothing for today, but I have a couple of little things. I can’t say exactly why I feel so strongly about them, but these are little things I’ve been giving a lot of thought to recently and this morning—it is Tuesday morning as I type this—I got yelled at [!] (in an internet sort of way) about one of these and that just underscored in my mind that there is something important to me in some way I can’t define about this almost trivial content. So I’m going to do this post even though it is a little unfocused.


Over the years, I think I have singled out four women tennis players as being particularly interesting to me. I’m not going to link to all their posts, but here are examples of each of the four:

Anna Kournikova I have always thought was the prettiest tennis player I’ve ever seen and there is something so interesting about her face that I’ve never been able to look away.

Anna Kournikova’s Face

Elena Dementieva was the most resilient sports figure I’ve ever known. She would get beaten, sometimes very badly, even embarrassingly, but she would keep herself together mentally, and stay in competition and come back and accomplish great victories. I think I admire that resilience more than anything else I’ve ever seen in a sports person.

On Being A (Very) Sad Tennis Fan

Maria Sharapova is very pretty, too, and she is also someone I can’t look away from, but I think of her as someone quite different from Kournikova. I’ve never read an interview that I can remember where Anna Kournikova said anything mean about anyone, but I don’t think I’ve ever read even one Sharapova interview where she didn’t say something abusive to one or more of the press people there just trying to do their job. I admire people who are self-contained, even if their “self” is unpleasant in one way or another. I don’t know what I think about Sharapova. She is pretty and seems self-contained. It makes for an interesting combination to me, even if it is sometimes a frightening combination.

Candy At The End Of The World

Caroline Wozniacki is the most unpleasant woman tennis player I’ve ever been aware of. John McEnroe and others have been very embarrassing on the men’s side, but Wozniacki has created a whole new level on the women’s side. She has accomplished almost nothing in tennis—won no major titles—but by flukes of the rating points system she managed to get to number one in the world. And almost every day she embarrassed herself, her country and the sport with some new stupid comment or action. Just recently she did an idiotic impersonation of Serena Williams during an exhibition match.

Feral Kangaroos And Women

There is one other woman tennis player I want to mention because in many ways she is similar to and at the same time very different from all four of those other players.

This is a picture of Ana Ivanovic. She lost last weekend at the Australian Open.

I think Ana Ivanovic is the most beautiful tennis player I’ve ever seen.

Even though she was once the number one woman in the world, recently her career has wildly fallen off. But even as a young woman she has accomplished a lot. In 2008 she won the French Open, possibly the most difficult tennis tournament in the world.

So Ana Ivanovic has achieved one of the highest honors of the tennis world, becoming a grand slam champion.

When Ana was the number one player in the world, I sometimes heard and read tennis fans wonder if she had a forceful enough game to maintain at number one. But since she had won a grand slam, criticism was always muted. I also heard and read tennis fans wonder if, maybe, Ana was “cashing in” too much by appearing all over the media.

What I admire so much about Ana Ivanovic is that she accomplished so much, winning the French and still she remains focused on tennis even though her beauty is so remarkable she could have gotten all side-tracked the way apparently Kournikova did and, possibly, the way Sharapova still does.

Ana appears “self-contained” in a way quite different from Sharapova. I’ve never read or heard Ana say anything mean about anyone, not even the media types.

She has extraordinary beauty and extraordinary skill on the court and she seems to be comfortable letting it be.

Letting it be enough, I mean. Letting her beauty as a woman and her skill as a tennis player be the focus of her as a public figure.

I haven’t looked closely at her website but there is a feature there that links to all of her magazine covers over the years. During all that publicity, I don’t remember Ana ever becoming, or trying to become, an obnoxious celebrity. Or a business woman. Or a kind of free-floating diva.

It’s so cool. Being what you are. Or trying to be what you are. To try to figure it all out and to try to accept it. It’s so cool.

It’s seems like magic to me.


Dailies, in filmmaking, are the raw, unedited footage shot during the making of a motion picture. They are so called because usually at the end of each day, that day's footage is developed, synced to sound, and printed on film in a batch (and/or telecined onto video tape or disk) for viewing the next day by the director and some members of the film crew. However, the term can be used to refer to any raw footage, regardless of when it is developed or printed.

Another way to describe film dailies is "the first positive prints made by the laboratory from the negative photographed on the previous day". In addition, during filming, the director and some actors may view these dailies as an indication of how the filming and the actors' performances are progressing.

at Wikipedia

Here at the blog, every now and then—I mean once or twice a year—I will type up a post but then, before I actually go into Blogger and post it, I will change my mind for one reason or another and not use the post.

A couple of months ago I was going to do a post about a British film director talking about changes in the filmmaking process as digital technology replaces film. But it occurred to me that it was a pretty obscure point and the context around the director’s quote was a James Bond movie and I don’t really like James Bond so I never put up the quote or the post.

But I’ve always remembered the quote.

In so many ways so many things about the modern world are vastly, almost infinitely, better than they ever have been in the past. But at the same time so much seems to be getting lost. And the stuff that’s getting lost often seems to be the magical kind of stuff.

Ana Ivanovic lost at the Australian Open last weekend.

Reduction Of The Muse

Jeanne Hébuterne — Art As A Grail

Here is the quote I almost used before. It is an excerpt from American Cinematographer magazine talking about how being able to instantly see exactly what you filmed is different from having to wait until the next day to see what you created and captured:

Other aspects of digital acquisition, however, pleased Mendes far less. “With a lot of big monitors on set, there’s a slight sense of a spread of focus, which is not what I’m used to,” he observes. “There is also a certain loss of magic in the process of transformation that happens between shooting an image on film and first seeing it on the big screen. It gives you a huge lift to see what you shot the previous day projected large, if it has been properly timed. On Skyfall, it was the other way around, because we could look at the image on a very good monitor on set and see it exactly as Roger intended, and when we saw dailies the next day, they were lower-resolution images and wouldn’t look quite as good. So there wasn’t that wonderful sense of surprise.”

“MI6 Under Siege”
at American Cinematographer, 12/12

Monday, January 21, 2013

Nothing Behind The Photographer

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

I had fun doing today’s post, but it was almost all accidental.

It’s been a long time since I did a cartoon, so it was fun to get back to little sketches and captions. And it’s been a long time, too, since I did any kind of drawing.

I had thought of this caption a long time ago, back when I first saw that photograph of Marion Cotillard from some fashion magazine.

But I never really set out to do either a drawing or a cartoon this weekend.

What happened was, I got to thinking about the differences between drawings that start with careful guidelines and drawings that start just directly with the features of whatever the final image will be. These days images are usually so highly structured that you don’t often see an image that wasn’t built on careful guidelines. Even ‘naive’ art these days is often a professional artist tracing over a photograph onto a new layer in Photoshop using a high-res tablet.

So I did a sketch freehand based very, very roughly on that Marion Cotillard photograph. I liked the sketch, but when I was thinking about putting it on the blog, I noticed that I had skewed the features of the face away from the centerline. Even though that had been kind of the point of the sketch to begin with, to just take it as it comes, I’ve become so used to seeing “solid” images that almost without thinking I crumpled up the drawing.

But then I felt stupid. I mean, the point of my sketch was just to do a quick, fun sketch and then, when I actually had a quick, fun drawing, I tossed it away.

So I was mad at myself and I made myself sit down, again, and do another sketch, also freehand and without guidelines, just on a regular sheet of plain copier paper.

This new sketch, too, was less than perfect, but I kept at it because I reminded myself it’s just an exercise, just for fun.

But then because I was using a plain mechanical pencil rather than a graphite drawing pencil, as I fussed with the image a little the graphite began to smear and erasers weren’t working too well at picking up the cheap graphite.

It occurred to me that if I did one or two quick watercolor washes over the image that would ‘fix’ the graphite to the paper fibers. So I did that. Then I could even erase one or two little places.

So then I had a graphite and watercolor drawing and it wasn’t great but I didn’t want to just toss it away. So I figured I could put on a caption—again working freehand for the letters without careful guides just baselines—and make it a kind of rough cartoon.

And that’s the story of today’s post.

This was fun. I haven’t come to any conclusion about careful drawings versus quick sketches. I prefer to look at careful drawings. But I have more fun doing quick things like today’s rough sketch. I suppose the real goal is to develop enough skill so that better, really well-crafted images can be created quickly and off-the-cuff.

But I don’t know if that can ever happen for me. I like cameras, too, so when it comes to buckling down and acquiring skill, I remind myself I can just take a picture if I want “skill.”

So I don’t know. But I enjoyed doing this.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Writing This I Am Scattered Like A Song

She laughs. But it is a low, throaty laugh.

I look over. She is reading my blog.

“In this post,” she says, “a woman knocks down
a pile of fruits and vegetables you stacked.”
Then she selects another browser tab.
“In this post,” she says, “a woman knocks down
a pile of rocks in someone’s parking lot.”

She laughs again, still that low, throaty laugh.
She looks at me. “What do you think that means?
You writing about women knocking down
piles of fruits and vegetables? Piles of rocks?”

I don’t say anything, but pointedly
return my attention to my notebook.

She stands up and walks over to my desk.
She says, “Are you planning to do laundry?”

I look over at my desk. She’s pointing
at my five-dollars-high stack of quarters.
In fact I am planning to do laundry
but there’s really no need for me to talk.

Grinning, she puts a finger on the change,
then tips the stack and removes her finger.

It’s like a song then: Her low, throaty laugh
as a bass part under the treble part
of the quarters ringing against the desk.

Some quarters roll like a little coda.

I stay silent. She turns to leave the room.

Without meaning to, I sigh. She hears me.
Her laughter changes to, well, a guffaw.

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

Ayn Rand, The Tower Of Babel, Breakfast

Kimberly When Empires Crumble

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Library Reality Slips And Giant Bugs

Late this afternoon—it is early Thursday evening as I type this—three strange things happened to me.

First of all, I want to set up these little things by saying that this time of year I often try to get by on very little sleep. The Australian Open tennis tournament is going on in Australia and that is half-way around the world. There is a seventeen hour time difference between here and there. When it is six o’clock in the evening here, it is eleven o’clock tomorrow morning over there. The Australian Open evening matches begin at seven o’clock in the evening over there when it is two a.m. in the morning over here.

So this time of year I’m often up at very strange hours watching tennis over the internet and then I’m often very tired during the day, here. And after a few days (and nights) of this kind of schedule I get to feel a little out-of-sync with reality.

And the tournament goes on for two weeks. So I get spaced.

I find myself thinking things like: What day is it? Is it today Australia time, or yesterday Chicago time?

And little unexpected events can seem bizarre because they sort of grab me and pull me back to the present when my consciousness—such as it is—is sort of half way around the world either getting ready to concentrate on something over in Australia or trying to recover from concentrating on something over in Australia.

Today/yesterday was a kind of case study of this kind of mental mish-mash of awareness and fatigued walking dream-state.

Last night or early this morning—I mean last night Chicago time but it was screwed up Australian time, too, because it was their second evening matching going almost into pre-dawn hours over there—the evening match in Australia was very exciting. A young British player, Laura Robson, pushed a very accomplished European player, Petra Kvitova, former Wimbledon champion, into a third set and then into extended play after everything became tied up at six-all. At the Australian Open they play tie-breakers in the early sets but not in the final deciding set. Laura Robson, the young player, hung tough, played aggressively, and won an incredible victory at eleven-nine in the third set. It finished up at something like, our time, I think, around five or six a.m. in the morning.

Then I had to get my head together, here, and go about my normal day. I didn’t even have time for a nap.


So after my normal day here, late Thursday afternoon I was pretty tired but I stopped at a library. I had to ask a librarian to help me find a particular book which was new and in a special section, and over-sized and in a special section for that, too. When the librarian found the book for me, I went over to the check-out desk. That librarian scanned my library card, scanned the book, and then looked at her computer screen and frowned. She immediately picked up her telephone.

In my fatigued—up all night with no nap—mind, my first thought was: Oh my God, is she reporting me to someone for taking out this book? I wonder if it’s too late for me to just put it back on the shelf and go home?

But in fact the check-out librarian was just phoning the other librarian twenty or thirty feet away who had helped me find the book. That first librarian had kept the computer record for the book displayed on her screen and the check-out program wouldn’t work until that first librarian cleared her screen.

So I wasn’t getting reported to anyone! I’m still a free citizen!

Then, as I was leaving the library I held open the door for a senior citizen woman. She thanked me and walked out ahead of me. We walked into the parking lot together. Then the senior citizen woman took out a set of car keys, stepped in front of me, and walked over to my car and inserted a key into the driver’s side door of my car.

In my fatigued—up all night with no nap—mind, my first thought was: Oh my God, am I living out one of those freaky science fiction stories where now my car isn’t my car any more and my apartment won’t be my apartment any more and nobody I know in my life will recognize me any more?

But I just said, “Umm, that’s my car.” And the senior citizen woman looked startled, and then looked at the car parked next to mine which was also a little silver car. She just laughed and pointed and said she had gotten the wrong car. She went over and let herself into the car parked next to mine and my own keys worked fine on my own car.

So I went home and laid down and took a nap. I figured my mind is tripping out a little and I better get some sleep while I can because at two a.m. tonight Maria Sharapova takes on Venus Williams in the first big-name confrontation of the tournament so I probably won’t get much sleep again this evening.

I laid down, napped, and a couple of hours later I opened my eyes—boom—and I felt rested and refreshed but I felt—boom—instantly awake with absolutely no sensation of having slept, no sensation of having been out of touch for a few hours, and even though I hadn’t bothered to cover myself with a blanket, I didn’t feel chilled or stiff-jointed or anything. No waking up lost feeling, either.

Waking up from a nap like that—I mean with an instant-on kind of awareness, no chills, no ‘What time is it?/Where am I?’ sensations—felt as weird as the other two things.


And, oh yeah, look, I bought some big bugs today:

Little Plastic Doll and Rubber Lizard have always wanted to do a monster movie with giant insects. Now I’ve got a whole selection of the critters. Giant grasshoppers, praying mantis, and also spiders, scorpions and a bunch of other things, too.

I’m working on a script now. I think it’s going to be one of those things where Little Plastic Doll and Tina are scientists—that’s one of my favorite kinds to write—like Dinosaur by Moonlight and Creatures of Darkness and Light. But it is still very early in pre-production. Lots of stuff can change between now and filming.

The little hand-held synthesizer, the Korg Kaossilator 2, is very, very good at making science fiction sounds. I’ve never used it in a stop-motion video yet, but my plans are to use it for this new one. And it does really great random synthesized sounds, too, like I talked about way back in February Ketchup.


So that’s what my Thursday was like so far: Science fiction reality slips at the library and science fiction giant bugs doing screen tests with beautiful actresses here at the studio.

And I’m probably going to be up for another twelve hours still, between here and Australia!

The bugs may be writing my post by the time tomorrow rolls around.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Phone Calls From Far Away

“One must be of one’s own time, and paint
what one sees, without worrying about fashion.”

Edouard Manet
quoted in “Manet”
by Francoise Cachin

“Beginning of the End” is a 1957 American science fiction film directed by Bert I. Gordon and starring Peter Graves and Peggie Castle. The film is about an agricultural scientist (Graves) who has successfully grown gigantic vegetables using radiation. Unfortunately, the vegetables are then eaten by locusts (the swarming phase of short-horned grasshoppers), which grow to gigantic size and attack the nearby city of Chicago. The film is generally recognized for its "atrocious" special effects and considered to be one of the most poorly written and acted science fiction motion pictures of the 1950s.

“Beginning of the End”
at Wikipedia
(The image is actress Peggie Castle
pretending to be a reporter talking
on the phone in her car.)

“The Giant Gila Monster” is a 1959 hot rod monster science fiction film directed by Ray Kellogg, and produced by Ken Curtis. It stars Don Sullivan, a veteran of several low budget monster and zombie films, Lisa Simone, the French contestant for Miss Universe of 1957, as well as Fred Graham, comedy relief Shug Fisher, KLIF disc jockey Ken Knox and Bob Thompson. This low-budget B-Movie featured a cast of unknown actors, and the effects included a live gila monster filmed on a scaled-down model landscape. The movie has been released on DVD and is considered a cult classic.

“The Giant Gila Monster”
at Wikipedia
(The image is actor Don Sullivan
pretending to be an auto mechanic talking
on the phone on the garage wall where he works.)

All my life I’ve seen people talk on phones.

Often they were talking about monsters.

Before astronauts landed on the Moon
phones mounted on walls and under dashboards
had wires connecting their various parts.

Often wires connected phones to phones, too.

Now we’re all like astronauts with no wires
and those phones are extinct like dinosaurs.

Now we’re all like paleontologists
when we look at old pictures or old films
as if they’re rocks and we’re chipping away
at random accumulations of stone
to reveal ancient things that once were here
but now are hung up on. Disconnected.

All my life I’ve seen people talk on phones
and when they finished talking they hung up.

The dinosaurs are disconnected now
just talked about as if they were monsters.

Is extinction like getting hung up on?

Did the dinosaurs finish and hang up?

The dinosaurs are disconnected now
but nowadays most phones do not use wires.

Now maybe the dinosaurs can call back.

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

Parsimony And Aberrant Forms

Ancient Cities Of The Moon

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Berthe Morisot, Revolutions, Ice, Candy

Yesterday was Berthe Morisot’s birthday.

If I did the math right, she would have been 172 yesterday.

I’ve seen some sources put her birthday as January 15, 1841, but Wikipedia uses January 14, 1841 so that must be a consensus choice. Even though I included her birthday in a post a few years ago, I didn’t remember it so I missed saying anything about it yesterday. Oops. Yesterday I wanted to get in that stuff about the Australian Open starting and mostly I wanted to get in that little sequence of music and verse, about “Worlds in collision/Carry us along.”

I did say I have way too much Paris on my mind, so it is almost as if I was writing about Berthe Morisot even though consciously I wasn’t.

And, you know, talk about: Worlds in collision!

When I used that phrase I meant it metaphorically—and I was thinking of Velikovsky’s absurd astronomy theories, with Mars and Venus and the Earth literally in collision with each other.

I was thinking that real life is strange—there is so much distance between everything, literal distance of space, literal distance of time, along with figurative distances of different ways of thinking and different social traditions—but even with all these very real distances keeping us apart, just like Velkovsky’s bizarre theories of planets flying back and forth across the solar system, we as individuals are always flying back and forth around the distances that separate us and somehow colliding with each other or struggling through almost colliding with each other and carrying around the after-effects the way Velikovsky imagined that history itself was deformed by the trauma of the human race witnessing the wild astrophysics.

Berthe Morisot is all that. She is all those distances.

She’s far from us, but somehow so close. In her own time there were scientific and social upheavals of distances so comparable to ours. And she lived through it all, dealt with it all, and reflected it all—one way or the other!—in her art. I mean even the choice of not creating images based directly on all the craziness around her is a conscious decision driven by the madness. It is a reflection, but a reflection shaped by her own thinking, the mirror—so to speak—of her personality, character and deepest self. And I’ve written many times about how her work almost always contains an intense dichotomy, a sense of here and there, a sense of age and youth, people and places somehow together but still tragically separate.

And I’ve always wondered if her very subtle and very personal body of work might be the most real and powerful way of approaching issues like this. I mean as opposed to what might be called a more documentarian or social realism kind of approach.

I’m guessing many people today who see the film “The Dark Knight Rises” watch the business about the “Gotham Commune” and don’t even realize that stuff really happened!

Parisians of that era certainly thought of their city as the world’s greatest city. Then radicals formed the Paris Commune. And Berthe Morisot lived through that. For us that stuff is wild, almost unthinkable plot twists and amazing images in a (very dubious) superhero adventure movie, but for Berthe Morisot it was real life. And she lived through all that. Incredibly, the Impressionists as a group left very few images documenting that bit of social upheaval. Manet left one or two drawings and paintings of the desolation in the streets and among the people, but almost everybody else among that community of artists just ignored it in their work, although biographers refer to both Morisot and Manet experiencing what are described usually as “nervous breakdowns” after the political turmoil first of the radicals and then of the nationalist forces “suppressing” the anarchists and communists.

So yesterday was Berthe Morisot’s birthday.

Happy birthday, Miss Morisot. I feel as if you are right here next to me. I feel as if you are infinitely far away from me.


This isn’t much of a photograph, not much of a composition, but it has a sense of here and there—I mean the reflection in the glass—but more importantly it shows that the back window of my car is relatively ice free.

This is a very big deal for me.

A few weeks ago my rear defroster stopped working. My rear window has wires embedded in the glass. I assumed that either a trivial problem like a blown fuse was at fault and I could crawl under my dash and change the fuse myself, or some complicated electrical issue in the wiring was at fault and would require a technician to isolate and repair the problem.

So I should have checked the fuses. Or taken my car to the shop. But I did nothing.

So I’ve been doing the least I could do—nothing!—and just driving with a rear window that fogged up now and then.

But toward the end of last week and over the weekend we’ve had some typically Chicago insane weather around here.

One day the temperature would be in the fifties and the next day the weather would be in the twenties, or colder. At some point over the weekend, we had a hot spell, with rain, and then the next day the temperature dropped down into the teens. For some strange weather physics kind of reasons the streets and sidewalks did not freeze over, but many cars became totally iced-over. Windshields and rear windows were solid flat thin blocks of ice.

And it was ice from hell. For some strange ice physics kind of reasons the ice was almost impossibly hard to scrap or chip away.

On Sunday morning I walked to a nearby grocery store. When I was walking into the grocery store, outside an apartment complex across from the store some old senior citizen was standing in the street with a big scrapper, scrapping away at the ice on his car’s windshield. I did all my shopping and when I came out of the grocery store, the poor old guy was still there scrapping away!

It was ice from hell.

And my rear defroster was broken.

So Monday I was driving around and the only view behind me I had was from my side mirrors. I was thinking, well, that’s life, I’m probably going to get a ticket for driving in an unsafe vehicle, or die or get mutilated in a crash.

But I just couldn’t get up the energy to crawl around under my dash and check the fuses.

At some point Monday morning I asked myself, again, “Now what is the least I can do to deal with this?” And it occurred to me that the number one rule for dealing with computer glitches is first and always to start by checking the wires. Check the cables. Unplug everything and plug it back in. That very often solves whatever problem you’re dealing with.

So I pulled over and popped open my car’s hatchback to check the little wires that connect the embedded heating elements to the car’s electrical system. I almost never use the hatchback so I couldn’t imagine any way the wires might have become damaged, but checking them was the least I could do.

So I pulled over, opened the hatchback and checked the wires. There are three very thin wires connecting the rear defroster to the car’s general wire harness. Two wires were connected just fine. The third wire—somehow!—had worked itself loose and was just hanging there with the plastic connector just resting against its connection point.

Damn it!

So I reconnected it. Then I double-checked and snugged-up the other two wires. I got back in my car, switched on the rear defroster and ten minutes later my rear window was clear of ice.

I felt: 1) like Einstein for solving the issue; 2) like a brain-dead complete idiot for driving around for two weeks with a simple disconnected wire.

But it’s all right now. In fact it’s a gas. It’s alright. I’m Jumping Jack Flash and it’s a gas, gas, gas.

My rear defroster works again!


Looking back, dwelling in the past, now that I can see clearly through my rear window, I feel I may have been too harsh when I’ve posted about Maria Sharapova selling candy.

Candy At The End Of The World

Distance: Chicago To Melbourne

I mean, yesterday I wrote: What the hell do people like this think?

I mean, what was I thinking?

I mean candy is fun.

I mean, everybody loves gummy candy.

When you look at all the craziness celebrities do these days—both the insane and horrible things that are widely reported in the mainstream media, and the even more extreme insanely horrible things that are covered in show business journals and business journals and various websites that follow celebrities—selling candy is a pretty cool thing to do.

If, for instance, Maria Sharapova wanted to make the case, she could—in a fantasy world lost in the clouds of my brain—she could make the case that Berthe Morisot made the choice not to do documentary images of the Paris Commune and instead the wonderful images that Morisot did create have been as lasting an art, even a more powerful art, that has resonated in a vastly wider way at many more metaphorical levels than literalist depictions ever could have.

So Maria Sharapova is selling candy.

She’s not making sex tapes. She’s not having children with lunatics. She not singing love songs to politicians working for drug cartels (or worse).

Candy is fun.

I’m very sorry, Maria Sharapova, for saying What the hell do people like this think?

Candy is fun.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Distance: Chicago To Melbourne

Even thousands of miles
Is nothing to a picture
Is nothing to a song
Forever between worlds
Is never in our dreaming
Worlds in collision
Carry us along


It is 9,671 miles—as some really energetic crow flies—between Chicago and Melbourne and right now it is freezing cold in Chicago but in Melbourne it is summer and hot and lots of people are having fun as the 2013 professional tennis season really gets started at the 2013 Australian Open tennis tournament.

I’m not as excited by tennis these days as I used to be. Modern athletes are very different from people like Chris Evert and Jimmy Connors. To my eyes, nobody these days is even like Stefan Edberg, that is, an athlete defined by a particular style of play and working within a sports-business framework. Tennis players now are bizarre combinations of celebrities and business people and brand managers and, oh yeah, sometimes they get on court and knock around a tennis ball for a while. For many, it hardly seems to matter if they win or lose.

I don’t think I ever even looked in on the tour championships at the end of last year. The men were boring, and the women were playing sports in a war zone.

But I’ve already looked in a few times at the Australian Open.

This year so far I find myself only interested in a couple of things.

It’s always fun in a mean sort of way trying to guess how far Caroline Wozniacki will get before she loses and whether she’ll say or do anything unthinkably stupid and embarrassing—Feral Kangaroos And Women.

And I still can’t look away from Maria Sharapova.

I wish her luck even if she is one of the classically modern players—she’s all about being her brand. She’s even still selling candy, like she started doing last year—Candy At The End Of The World.

What the hell do people like this think?

I don’t know what people like this think, and I don’t really want to know. But Maria Sharapova is very pretty and I’ve followed her career for many years. I still think of her like Thinking Of Mountains and like Friday In Paris Before It All Starts. Maybe it’s just that I have way too much Paris on my mind.

It’s still fun thinking that being such a gifted athlete could be enough. Or that being so beautiful could be something like magic.

Even though it so obviously can’t and it so obviously isn’t.

Anyway I had fun making up that little bit of music and verse.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Consequences Of ‘Dackie Do Doe Yalk!’

“What kind of stupid song is this?” Becky asked.

We were in a north side restaurant at a big table, five people having lunch. Someone else in the restaurant had played an old Cat Stevens song on the jukebox. For some reason, Becky had been listening to the lyrics rather than just enjoying the music.

“It’s Cat Stevens,” I said.

“Isn’t he a Muslim?” Nathan asked.

“I think he is,” I said. “But I don’t think this song has anything to do with religion.”

“It’s an insane song,” Becky said. “Losing his mouth? Losing his hands? Losing his legs? Who the hell writes songs about having your body hacked apart? And the music is like happy-happy-joy-joy music! What the fuck?”

I started to say something, but I was laughing too hard.

Sam said, “Remember when Cat Stevens was going out with Patti D’Arbinville? Then he wrote that song about seeing her dead and how beautiful she was in her casket, and she left him because she thought he was creepy and insane? Becky would be like Patti D’Arbinville. He’d be singing a love song to her and she’d be running out the door.”

“The name of this song,” I said, catching my breath, “is ‘Moonshadow.’ And I think Cat Stevens thinks this song is up-beat and cheerful.”

Nathan asked, “Was this on the album ‘Zenyatta Mondatta’?”

I was in danger of laughing too hard again, but I controlled myself.

“That’s a Police album,” I said.

Sam was laughing, too.

“The Cat Stevens album with the funny title was ‘Mona Bone Jakon,’” Sam said. “I don’t remember if this song came off that album, but that title was his nickname for his, you know, his penis.”

Becky shook her head. “This guy is a real singer? I mean, not a comedian?”

Becky’s expression of disgust was so extreme that for while we all tried to convince her that Cat Stevens was just a kind of relaxed, new age sort of folk singer and not a comic.

I don’t think she believed us.

But then the conversation turned to the topic of dumb album titles.

Becky said if she ever put out an album with a dumb title she’d call the album “Kitten Phone” because then she could put a photograph of herself on the cover holding a cute kitten to her ear like a phone and the title would be about a cold technical thing like a phone but the image itself would be all organic and warm so people would buy her album, she thought, for the cute cover and the neat cognitive dissonance.

I said I would use a literary quote for an album with a dumb title.

“If I ever put out an album with a dumb title,” I said, “I’d call it, ‘Dackie Do Doe Yalk!’”

Becky just looked at me. Ian, Nathan and Sam all shook their heads.

“That’s not a literary quote,” Sam said.

“It is,” I said.

“Go straight to hell,” Ian said. “I minored in literature. That’s not a quote.”

“It is,” I said, again. “You want to bet?”

Becky was already grabbing her phone from her purse.

So we made a bet. A can of Redbull if I was right, versus me paying for everybody’s lunch if I was wrong.

So I spelled the words for Becky and she did a search.

“Oh my God,” Becky said, scrolling through the search results. “Gore Vidal said that?”

I laughed, and shook my head.

“No, look at the title of the link,” I said. “And look at the other results.”

“Oh my God,” Becky said, again.

Ian, Nathan and Sam made her pass around her phone so they could see the search results.

Tarzan shrugged. "If you and mother had your way my nerves and muscles would have atrophied long since. They were given me to use and I intend using them—with discretion. Doubtless I shall be old and useless soon enough, and long enough, as it is."

A child burst suddenly from the bungalow, pursued by a perspiring governess, and raced to Meriem's side.

"Muwer," he cried, "Dackie doe? Dackie doe?"

"Let him come along," urged Tarzan.

"Dare!" exclaimed the boy, turning triumphantly upon the governess; "Dackie do doe yalk!"

Tarzan and the Ant Men
at Wikipedia

“Tarzan and the Ant Men,”
by Edgar Rice Burroughs
at Project Gutenberg

“Tarzan Revisited,”
by Gore Vidal
at Esquire

Becky laughed.

“Did you know that from the Tarzan book?” she asked. “Or did you know it from the Gore Vidal essay about Edgar Rice Burroughs?”

But Ian, Nathan and Sam weren’t listening. They were watching me call the waitress over to get a can of Redbull.

“I was sure we were going to get free food,” Nathan said. He looked at Ian. “You minored in lit! Dumb ass.”

Sam laughed.

“An unpublished real writer beats a painter who reads a lot,” Sam said.

Becky was still smiling. “No, really,” she asked. “Be honest. Did you actually read those Tarzan books, or did you just read everything Gore Vidal wrote?”

I asked, “Doesn’t matter for the bet, right?”

Becky shook her head. “No, they’ll still pay.”

I said, “I did read all the Tarzan books. But I don’t remember much of anything from them. I remembered the quote from the Gore Vidal essay. But that’s literature, too!”

Nathan was still looking at Ian. “You minored in lit! Dumb ass.”

The waitress brought me an open can of Redbull and a glass. I was looking at the glass as I poured, but I was paying attention to Becky’s face. She was looking at me with an expression that was, somehow, something like the opposite of the expression she had when she was listening to the Cat Stevens song.

I got more energy from that expression on Becky’s face than I did from the sugar and caffeine in the Redbull.

These days there’s a phrase I don’t get to say very often—in fact I probably say it less often than I say ‘Dackie do doe yalk!’—but when I get the chance to say the phrase, the words are the most wonderful words in the world to me: It’s good to be a writer.

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

“Zenyatta Mondatta”
at Wikipedia

“Mona Bone Jakon”
at Wikipedia

at Wikipedia

“Lady D’Arbinville”
at Wikipedia

(Patti D’Arbinville has told other more
interesting accounts of her reaction
to the song than what is recounted
at Wikipedia.)


Writers Versus Painters By The Perfume River

Reduction Of The Muse

“A Most Excellent Philosophy”

Thursday, January 10, 2013

On Workers Leaving The Lumière Factory

I said that quote like a butterfly goes
drifting along at the edge of a storm
or maybe I said it like a whale goes
drifting along under a madman’s boat
or maybe I said it like a spacecraft
drifting along above a storm in space
or maybe I said it like a pigeon
drifting along above electric lines
and I wonder now how...

The Flip Video cameras are a series of tapeless camcorders for digital video created by Pure Digital Technologies, a company bought by Cisco Systems in March 2009; variants included the UltraHD, the MinoHD, and the SlideHD. Production of the line of Flip video cameras ran between 2006 until it retired in April 2011.

... It was announced on March 19, 2009, that Cisco Systems had acquired Pure Digital Technologies, the maker of Flip Video for $590 million USD in stock. The acquisition was completed on May 21, 2009.

On April 12, 2011, Cisco announced that it "will exit aspects of its consumer business" which includes shutting down the Flip.

Some observers suggested that the Flip was facing growing competition from camera phones, particularly smartphones (which have disrupted point-and-shoot cameras, wristwatches, alarm clocks, portable music players, and GPS devices) that have recently added HD movie capability; the smartphones' cellular networks have enabled better ease of sharing content. Contrary to popular perception, however, smartphones as of 2011 are still a small fraction of overall worldwide sales of cell phones (most which do not have high-definition video), and the Flip was still selling strongly when its discontinuation was announced. Another suggested reason was because consumer hardware was not part of Cisco's core businesses of services and software, furthermore the profit margins on consumer electronics were narrow.

As Cisco shut down the Flip business instead of divesting of it, it has been suggested that the patents and other intellectual property from the acquisition could have proved valuable to Cisco's videoconferencing businesses in the future.

Flip Video
at Wikipedia

Of all the various mistakes I’ve made here at the blog—and by mistakes I mean things I wish I hadn’t done—there are two that stand out to me.

The first is that I wish I hadn’t ever posted about celebrities. Celebrities, possibly especially in the modern world, are almost always deeply troubled people. Just by paying attention to them, their troubles in some small way become part of our world. There’s just no reason for that. There are more important things worth doing.

The second is that I wish I hadn’t ever posted about one or two real people I know who are part of that celebrity world. Celebrities are sad enough. But the very smart and very talented people who create celebrities and create our pop culture built around celebrities are almost incomprehensible to me.

I said “almost incomprehensible” because I think and feel I do understand it a little—very, very little, but a little—I mean about the people who create and service celebrities and pop culture built around them.

But like celebrities themselves, that behind-the-scenes stuff is so horrible that there is just no reason for paying attention to it. There are more important things worth doing.

I’m trying to get better at lots of things. I’m making a special effort to not repeat these two mistakes. Ever.


Of all the gadgets that I never bought
I think I miss the Flip camera most.

My e-mail database has some letters
from someone who worked at Pure Digital.

It was a cool company. Cool people.

They designed and marketed cool gadgets.

I bought a better camera instead.

But what really does the word ‘better’ mean?

I wish I had paid more attention to
all the issues of that question sooner.

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

The Monster Thought Of The Waldensians

The Optimum Expressive Moment Of Time And Place

That Third Evil Clown

The Dark Sidewalk In Daylight (Still Dark)

When You Press Down A Piano Key

Damsels And Werewolves

Fictional Characters Can Keep Trying

The woman came in
To switch off the monster’s film
But stayed
To watch
With him

“The cinématographe itself was patented
on 13 February 1895 and the first footage
ever to be recorded using it was recorded
on March 19, 1895. This first film shows
workers leaving the Lumière factory.”