Saturday, May 31, 2008

Something About Crowns

I'm trying to use this random word generator to get my juices flowing this morning and so far it has given me:


"Nice closet," said the king as he chatted up the showgirl. "I've not seen many like it in the course of my reign." She batted eyelashes so huge and artificial it was a wonder she didn't fall over. Luckily her sturdy Ukrainian feet provided an unbeatable counterweight. She could have hung heavy rocks from her eyelids and still remained upright.

Speaking of her remaining upright, this was becoming an increasing problem for the king. As she lead him from her dressing room to the bar, he was beginning to wonder if droit de seigneur meant anything these days. Fair enough, he was just a king, not necessarily her king, and if you wanted to get technical, the right only applied to wedding nights, and was probably apocryphal anyway. But still, wasn't kingfucking like starfucking? Weren't showgirls into that kind of thing? Dammit, didn't a crown count for anything these days?

In fact, the crown may have been a bit of a problem, but it was a point of pride for him to wear it everywhere. Sure, it was a little old fashioned, and sometimes people looked at him like it was the wrong thing to do, the haberdashery equivalent of eating one's salad with the fish fork. But he didn't get this: kings wear crowns, right? He was a king, ergo he would wear a crown so people didn't forget it. He wasn't weird about it: he didn't carry an orb and scepter around as well, or insist on being draped in ermine at all times. And it was a nice crown, a demure crown, a crown with a lowercase "c". More of a lightly bejeweled gold circlet really. When he was feeling festive enough he was known to wear it at a jaunty angle, as if to say "I am a king, but I'm a fun king."

The crown was set at said angle tonight, but it wasn't having the desired effect. The showgirl made a point of being politely flirtatious, but in a way that clearly stated "I'm an entertainer", while giving no trace of the "prostitution is a kind of entertainment" subtext he was so desperately looking for. It was becoming increasingly obvious that he had set his cap —er, crown— at the wrong sort of showgirl, the moonlighting law student type who rarely offered "extras" (and even the ones that did were usually only in it for the blogging). Resigned, he gave a weary sigh, straightened his crown, ordered another rum and coke, and asked the young lady what she thought of the ICC's relevance in relation to the rights of sovereign nations, monarchies in particular. She replied that it mattered whether they were signatories or not, but indicated that international copyright law, particularly the expansion of the Berne convention, was more her line.

The king deflated just that much more.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Household Hints

We all know that white wine gets out red wine. But did you know:

Ouzo gets out Pernod?
Midori gets out Grand Marnier?
Drambuie gets out Fra Angelico?
Hot Damn! gets out Goldschläger?
Jägermeister gets out dignity?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Power of Dreams

Our nightly dreams have an amazing power to move and terrify us. They can inspire, confuse, infatuate or disgust (even all at the same time). The chemical palette of the brain and nervous system is used expertly by that master artist the sub-conscious: Dali or Francis Bacon never came as close to his nightmare canvases, Parrish was never as airy and delightful.

And ever since I had that dream about going to high school with Madonna, I've been well disposed to her. She was nice to me and she didn't have that stupid accent yet. So leave Madge alone.

That's me on the left. Or is it?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Country Living

How dare you! Damme, sir, how dare you! Why if my father, grandfather and great grandfather were here we'd merge together into one extremely large and inflamed country gentleman and demand satisfaction! Your disgusting ignorance and arrogance makes my gorge rise. It rises like a tiny lifeboat, cast adrift on a turbulent sea of bile, about to be fatally dashed against the rocky shore of my spleen. Did you grow up in the country? Are your bones made from the same weathered wood that is featured in our charming fences? Does cool country water flow through your veins instead of blood? Is there manure in your hair? No? Then forever be silent on matters pastoral!

Of course that's a broccoli tree. Where in blazes did you think broccoli came from?

Monday, May 26, 2008

And Let's Not Even Get Into the Woo-Woo Crap...

Back in 1982 Wim Wenders made an interesting little documentary called Room 666 . In it, he had various directors sit alone in a hotel room with a camera and answer a series of questions on the future of cinema. Godard gives a largely impenetrable but very Godardish speech. Werner Herzog decides it's very important to take his shoes off before answering the question. Fassbinder looks tired and defeated, and died not long after the film was made. Yılmaz Güney's segment was made on an audio cassette that had to be smuggled out to Wenders, as the Turkish government wasn't letting him speak to the press.

Steven Spielberg spends his entire segment bitching and moaning about how hard it is to get the money to fulfill his vision. He made this statement while working on fucking E.T., and after he'd earned more from Jaws and Close Encounters than the other directors in the film saw in their lifetimes all put together.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull sucked.

UPDATE: Took spoiler out of title. Some spoilery stuff in the comments still.

Feeling a Little Peaked

For some reason it's taking me forever to finish Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast trilogy. I'm a third of the way through the second volume, but it's taken the better part of two weeks to get there. Lately, every time I pick up a book I get sleepy. Either this lovely cool spring we're having is very conducive to snoozing, or I've got an undiagnosed medical condition that's killing me by inches. Whichever, I wish I could stop falling asleep while holding heavy books over my face (I like to read while lying on my back). I don't think my nose can take another involuntary smack.

Also falling asleep reading Peake means your dreams tend to be populated by creatures like Abiatha Swelter.

It's hardly restful.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Some of My Crimes

1980: Used a fake ID to vote in the presidential elections. I was only seven, but I was just that passionate about John Anderson.

1986: Violated Sizzler's "All You Can Eat" policy by eating more than I could.

1993: Charged with grand theft auto after making an unsuccessful claim that stealing a Volkswagen that was sitting in a puddle was kosher under maritime salvage laws.

1997: Sued for breach of contract after delivering a three hour lecture at the Learning Annex in Topeka on the importance of canine portraiture in the works of the Pre-Raphaelites, instead of the introductory "Joy of Juggling" course I had promised.

1999: Target of a seemingly endless stream of nuisance charges while working a part time construction job in Clearwater, Florida. A junior assistant DA finally let me know my problems would go away if I would take the "HUBBARD WASN'T ALL THAT" bumper sticker off my pickup. Opted to head back north instead.

2004: Charged with indecent exposure in Portland, Oregon. Acquitted after pointing out that Utilikilt's sizing charts did not take the wide-hipped yet long-legged gentleman into account.

2007: Nearly caused an international incident when my telegram to Doris Lessing —warning her that a restraining order was in the offing if she didn't stop showing up drunk on my lawn at 3 o'clock in the morning— was intercepted and printed in The Guardian. Libel charge was quietly dropped after I produced surveillance camera footage and a thick folder of fervid mash notes in Ms. Lessing's distinctive hand.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Order and Disorder, Context and Content

My personal files, both paper and digital, are in a state of disarray. I keep everything: old phone bills, pay slips from 1996, expired coupons for websites that no longer exist, shipment confirmation e-mails for things that have long since been received and broken, and so on. It would mitigate things a bit if I kept all this stuff in some semblance of order, but of course I don't. Most of the paper stuff is crammed into a single cheap filing cabinet. The bottom drawer bent itself out of shape the last time I opened it and doesn't close properly now. For that matter, it doesn't open properly anymore. If I want to file something, I cram it in the gap. This isn't much of a step down from my old filing method: that involved opening the drawer, looking for a folder that had room, stuffing the document in, and then shutting the drawer and walking away before I had time to question whether this was a particularly adult way of doing things.

The digital side is worse. Some files are on floppies. I haven't bought or built a computer with a floppy drive in about five years. For others, my back up solution was to e-mail the file to myself. This seems like a great idea, until you realize that I've had a half-dozen web based mail accounts, some of which I no longer have the password for, some of which simply don't exist anymore. I've settled down with gmail now, but my wild past still haunts me. The files in these accounts were just back ups, but the originals weren't treated well either. The hard drives containing them are either sitting in disused PCs that I haven't got around to stripping for parts, or were in PCs that I did strip for parts and the drives are now sitting in unlabeled anti-static bags...somewhere. A hard drive in an anti-static bag is about the size of a paperback book and slides easily —nay, pleasurably— into any available nook or cranny. In our house, once a nook or cranny gets filled other crap get piled in front of it. Then more crap gets piled on top of that. Then some of the piles fall into each other, generating new nooks and crannies. I think this is how planets get formed.

One especially galling example occurred in both the physical and digital worlds. Back in 2004 I wrote a few dozen pages as part of National Novel Writing Month. I'm sure the digital files are here somewhere, but I haven't found them yet. My efforts are being hampered by the fact that my external hard drive enclosure is on the fritz so I can't search the old unlabeled drives that way (even if I could find them all). If I got desperate enough I could install them directly into my PC, except that the IDE hard drive is going the way of the floppy drive, the ISA bus and the AGP slot, and I only have SATA ports left free, alas.

(If the preceding sentence was mostly gibberish to you, congratulations on being at least partially well-adjusted.)

Fortunately, I had the foresight to print out a copy of my fragment. All is not lost! If I wanted to, I could scan it in. Except...Vista doesn't have a driver for my scanner. Boo, hiss! Ancient flatbed scanners need love too. The five of us with still-working examples of this particular model are extremely disappointed and will tell all our friends. Luckily, I'm Captain Savvy of the good ship Plans Ahead and this PC also boots the Ubuntu flavor of Linux. Ubuntu does have a driver for my scanner and it works swimmingly, as this photo set attests. Hooray! Oh, but the Linux part of my system has been hosed since a recent update and I haven't gotten around to fixing it.

Well never mind, at least I've got a nice paper copy to read. Except there don't appear to be page numbers. And it appears to have been dropped. Several times. In fact, I've seen well shuffled decks of cards that were in better order than this manuscript. Also, the narrative is feverish to say the least, and it's been about three years since the last time I had a look at it, so I'm having a little trouble sorting it out using context clues. Does our hero getting tasered by the mayor come before or after he finds a pair of panties in the library's storage closet? Does the discussion with Baron Secretary come before or after the strange lunch with Hector (Who. Talks. Like. This. For. Some. Reason.)? Is the gangster Little Cliffy B menacing and then friendly, or friendly and then menacing? Was it strictly necessary to name check both Blake and Rockwell Kent in the scene where the hero is leading the bedazzled townspeople into the underground tunnel (and please tell me you weren't planning on serving up some of that "hero's journey" shit here)?

Whoops, that last one is less about context than it is about the embarrassing content flashing before my eyes. Anyway, all this is a roundabout way of saying that what I had hoped to post today was an extract from the archives, but the piece I wanted to work with is proving inaccessible at every turn. So sorry.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Jerry Colonna

No, that's not Gurdjieff in a wig, It's Jerry Colonna! I've become slightly obsessed with him in the last few days. One of my vaguely pointless long term projects is to rate everything on my iPod, using a playlist that serves up unrated tracks randomly. On Monday, the album Music? For Screaming!!! came up. This is one of many oddities I grabbed last year during WFMU's second 365 Days Project. I recognized the voice, but couldn't quite place it. A little searching showed me that I knew it not from the original source, but from Mel Blanc's countless imitations in old Warner Brother's cartoons (like the worm in this one).

Colonna's main claim to fame stems from his association with Bob Hope, on his radio show and from numerous appearances in the Hope/Crosby Road movies. I have a terrible confession: I've never seen any of the "Road" movies, but based on this clip from The Road to Singapore I really need to:

There's one particular track on Music? For Screaming!!! that's been getting stuck in my head, an exceedingly daffy version of On the Road to Mandalay that kicks the Kipling up a notch by adding bits of Gunga Din to the mix, besides the usual verses from Mandalay. I work in a dismal cube farm, and the temptation to stand up and start singing this at the top of my lungs in true Colonna fashion is becoming harder and harder to resist. I can think of worse ways to get fired. Or maybe promoted: who knows what's a winning strategy in this economy? Maybe Jerry Colonna imitations are just what we need. Maybe a good one contains the secret resonance that can reverse the condition that men call "a recession", by pushing the true and perfect economic vibrations up through the octave, producing the fifth perfect real being food of qwazimaxistantiko, which you may know better as "the wood pulp that satisfies" or "money"-

No, sorry, wait, I'm running Colonna and Gurdjieff together again.

I'll leave you with one last link, again to WFMU, this time to Kliph Nesteroff's loving page on Ol' Bug Eyes.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Ibsen plays Retitled as Joss Whedon Properties (or maybe it's the other way around)

Buffy the Master Builder
Alien: When We Dead Awaken
They Call Him Angel But His Real Name is Brand