Monday, October 31, 2011

Who Controls Trick or Treat?

I always just assumed that Trick or Treating was something that just happened, not something that was organized by someone. Well, according to the Boston Globe, many communities around Boston are cancelling or postponing Trick or Treating due to the damage wrought by this weekend's snowstorm (at least 500,000 houses were without power as of 9:00 this morning).

Something tells me the older kiddos will be outside regardless of what their local governments say. Regardless, i'm happy my town's festivities are not on the list - i'll be putting on my vampire makeup shortly after 5:00 PM!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Mystic Withdraws into Danger

"By withdrawing from the world, the mystic, far from escaping from temptation, opens himself to the encounter with evil in its purest form: as it arises from within."

- MacGregor, writing about Henry Darger

Saturday, October 29, 2011

First Lines of 1Q84

"The taxi's radio was tuned to a classical FM broadcast. Janáček's Sinconietta--probably not the ideal music to hear in a taxi caught in traffic. The middle-aged driver didn't seem to be listening very closely either. With his mouth clamped shut, he stared straight ahead at the endless line of cars stretching out on the elevated expressway, like a veteran fisherman standing in the bow of his boat, reading the ominous confluence of two currents. Aomame settled into the broad back seat, closed her eyes, and listened to the music."

- Haruki Murakami, 1Q84

Loving what I've read so far!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

First Lines of Negotiating with the Dead

Writing, Writers, The Writing Life--if this last is not an oxymoron. Is this subject like the many-headed Hydra, which grows two other subtexts as soon as you demolish one? Or is it more like Jacob's nameless angel, which whom you must wrestle until he blesses you? Or is it like Proteus, who must be firmly grasped through all of his changes? Hard to get hold of, certainly. Where to start? At the end called Writing? Or the end called The Writer? With the gerund or the noun, the activity or the one performing it? And where exactly does one stop and the other begin?

- Margaret Atwood, Negotiating with the Dead

For more on this fascinating woman, you have to see her take on the hockey goalie.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Only the Best SciFi a site that compiles the most critically acclaimed SciFi out there.

Of the top ten, i'd love to read China Miéville's Kraken, although i've heard its humor is a bit obscure, and William Gibson's zero history, because there's always something interesting going on in a Gibson novel.

I haven't heard of any of the rest - i'm not as up on my SciFi as I used to be! - but judging buy the covers and titles, Tricia Sullivan's Lightborn, Nnedi Okorafor's Who Fears Death? and Charles Yu's How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe all look good, although the latter has the possibility of being too postmodern for it's own good.

Writing Fiction in Four Easy Steps!

Teresa at Making Light has a a simple four-item formula for turning story into fiction:

  1. Move and keep moving.
  2. Make it consequential.
  3. Recycle your characters.
  4. See if you already have one.
Details here. Like anything complicated, this simplifies the matter entirely, but could serve as a good jumping off point. Plus, as a commenter notes, it's usually a good idea to know what the rules are - or to at least think about them! - before deciding to break them.

Tough Phantoms

"It is far harder to kill a phantom than reality."

- Virginia Wolff. Perspective and full quote here.

Related post: "I have done that"

Monday, October 24, 2011

Capitalism vs. Too Big to Fail

I love Tim Carney's argument:
These banks' credit is rated higher than they would be in a free market, meaning they profit from the expectation of a bailout, if necessary. So banks profit largely through activities that do not create value or efficiencies. They profit through financial games that rest on government favors. Many Occupy Wall Street protestors demonize all profit. Conservatives defend profit-seeking as the engine that creates prosperity for all of society. But the big banks have rigged the game so that they profit without creating value. In fact, they profit from activities that weaken the economy by creating instability.
Hat Tip the Daily Dish.

The Language of Visual Symbols

I've always been interested by good design, both in the real world (The Design of Everyday Things is an incredible book) and in the use of symbols to depict data, and so I read a NYTimes review of newly published design books called "The Design of Symbols" with great interest. Without this, I never would have known that  one man laid the foundation for an innumerable amount of instantly recognizable graphic icons: Otto Neurath, who developed a “system of sign symbols, which became known as the International System of Typographic Picture Education (Isotype)". Money Quote:
Neurath may not be a household name, but he is a major figure in the world of visual statistics. [Each of his] primary concerns: community, democracy and globalism... contributed to a narrative that Neurath believed could be made more transparent by the application of his pictures. Man “receives his education in the most comfortable of means, partly during his periods of rest, through optical impressions,” he wrote. According to Vossoughian, he believed that “the dissemination of images or pictures could foster Bildung, that is, education and self-actualization.”
One of the best examples of how Isotype symbols were used to raise popular awareness is to be found in “Modern Man in the Making,” Neurath’s opus, published by Knopf in 1939; it beautifully demonstrates his means of presenting otherwise impenetrable data in bite-size, though not dumbed-down, nuggets, with layouts that are clean, crisp and easy on the eye. In his own book, Vossoughian makes clear that Neurath was the father of the current trend in information graphics, in print and on the Web, and that the prototypes he created are still as timely as ever.
This sounds incredible, and could be really useful to me in my everyday work as an Instructional Designer. Also, as I get older, I'm fascinated about the back stories of everyday items that people all take for granted. There's a huge amount of hidden history in just about everything. Here, the review notes that iconic symbols like the CBS "eye" and the IBM corporate logo achieve their power partly due to the foundation that Neurath laid. I'll have to read up more on this, and regret that I don't have the time to learn about all of these backstories!

First Lines of Idoru

“After Slitscan, Laney heard about another job from Rydell, the night security man at the Chateau.  Rydell was a big quiet Tennessean with a sad, shy grin, cheap sunglasses, and a walkie-talkie screwed permanently into one ear.
‘Paragon-Asia Dataflow,’ Rydell said, around four in the morning, the two of them seated in a pair of huge old armchairs. Concrete beams overhead had been hand-painted to vaguely resemble blond oak. The chairs, like the rest of the furniture in the Chateau lobby, were oversized to the extent that whoever sat in them seemed built to a smaller scale.”

- William Gibson, from Idoru

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Baby has No Subvert Life

"A baby has no subvert life, and by comparison everyone else you know seems cloaked, muffled, and full of sad little tricks."

- Michael Cunningham, from A Home at the End of the World

Generation X is Sick of Your BS

A wonderful rant from Mat Honan.

Owl Attack!

I've always been very impressed with the visual appearance of owls ever since I was a 12 year old walking alone in the woods and witnessing - and being scared witless by! - an owl silently snatching a mouse 20 yards away from me. All I heard was the snapping of the mouse's neck. And this is what the poor mouse must have seen in the last minutes of its life.

Complementary Tastes

For you cooks out there, a ginormous graphic depicting all of the complementary cooking flavors. I think i'm going to use this as wallpaper for my kitchen.

Who are We?

“Who are we, who is each one of us, if not a combination of experiences, information, books we have read, things imagined? Each life is an encyclopedia, a library, an inventory of objects, a series of styles, and everything can be constantly shuffled and reordered in every way conceivable.”

- Italo Calvino, espousing the idea that we're all a mash-up of our experiences, a viewpoint that I do not disagree with.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


“Memory's images, once they are fixed in words, are erased."

- Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Murakami's Boundaries

I’ve often read that a good deal of Haruki Murakami’s writing is powerful because it evokes many unconscious trends of Japanese society. Without knowing much about Japan, it’s hard for me to speak to that, although it might explain away the strange underpinnings of his more abstract books. Personally, I find the subtle dark undertones of his writing to be mesmerizingly suggestive, but find that it's powerful because of this lack of specificity, not in spite of it. It's with this in mind that I ponder his obsession with boundaries. Boundaries between the real and the imaginary, boundaries between good and evil, boundaries between the certain and the uncertain.

His most famous boundary is the doorway that exists between the bottom of a dried up well and the mysterious hotel room in The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, but it doesn’t take a lot of deep reading to find equivalencies in his other books. The most obvious one is spelled out in the title of Hard-Boiled Wonderland and The End of the World in that most of the novel is about the journey between those two realities. I won’t bore you with more examples but pick up any one of his books and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

His 2007 novel After Dark is no exception. In fact, this short novel almost explicitly deals with the barriers between two states of being. These include:
  • The city before and after trains: “Between the time the last train leaves and the first train arrives, the place changes: it’s not the same as in daytime.” (p. 55)
  • Eri’s journey out of the “sleep coma” that she’s been in for the last few months
  • Takihashi’s speech about criminals vs. non-criminals: “[The criminals] live in a different world, they think different thoughts, and their actions are nothing like mine. Between the world they live in and the world I live in there’s this thick, high wall.” (p. 91)
  • One side of the mirror vs. another: Both Mari (p.63) and Shirakawa (p.127) occasionally have reflections that stay in the mirror after they have left the room – and Shirakawa’s reflection even does things that he does not!
  • Takahashi’s music: “You send the music deep enough into your heart so that it makes your body undergo a kind of a physical shift, and simultaneously the listener’s body also undergoes the same kind of physical shift. It's giving birth to that shared state.” (p. 88)
  • Night vs. Day “The new day is almost here, but the old one is still dragging its heavy skirts. Just as ocean water and river water struggle against each other at a river mouth, the old time and the new time clash and blend. Takahashi is unable to tell for sure which side – which world – contains his center of gravity.” (p. 173P
I could go on and on. The entire book is almost a meditation on complimentary opposites, ying and yang swimming both with and against each other. He even writes very evocatively of what it might take to truly be transported from one side to the other (a description of Eri’s journey through the TV screen that starts on page 102). All of these musings come to a head during this remarkable passage:
“What we see now is a gigantic metropolis waking up. Commuter trains of many colors move in all directions, transporting people from place to place. Each of those under transport is a human being with a different face and mind, and at the same time each is a nameless part of the collective entity. Each is simultaneously a self-contained whole and a mere part. Handling this dualism of theirs skillfully and advantageously, they perform their morning rituals with deftness and precision: brushing teeth, shaving, tying neckties, applying lipstick. They check the morning news on TV, exchange words with their families, eat, and defecate.

With daylight, the crows flock in, scavenging for food. Their oily black wings shine in the morning sun. Dualism is not as important an issue for the crows as for the human beings."
So what is it about Japanese society that fuels this obsession with boundaries? Again, I don’t feel qualified to speak: I’m on the far side of yet another boundary in that Murakami’s message is coming to me not only across cultures but also through the filter of a translator. It's a fascinating obsession, and I'm in awe not only that so much of his message gets through, but at how powerful it remains after repeated readings.

Cross-posted on Reading, Running and Red Sox.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Rock n' Roll Marriage

Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon have split. Well, crap. A somewhat pretentious take in Grantland here.

I've always been amazed with musicians that could work so closely with people that they are close to. Bands like the Kinks, The Black Crowes and the Cowboy Junkies always seemed to feed of the intense connection between the siblings and the tension that arises from all of their history together. I certainly could never imagine embarking on any creative endeavor with anyone from my immediate family. But this pales in comparison to a marriage, where you don't have that bond of blood between you - just what you have in common (or not!) and this crazy little thing called love. In the few instances that I can think of, married musicians or lovers have flamed out quickly (while often leaving impressive results, like Richard and Linda Thompson's Shoot out the Lights). Thurston and Kim always seemed like they would survive that, having been married for 24 (!) years while working together in a relevant band, raising a child, and (from what I understand) serving as unofficial music patrons for Northampton. I'm sad to see that their relationship didn't survive.

Presented without Comment

Decades Old Calvin and Hobbes Strip Succinctly Explains Occupy Wall Street Movement

Monday, October 17, 2011

Self-Publishing through Amazon

Check out this fascinating article in the NYTimes about how Amazon is partnering with authors to publish their books directly to readers - without publishers. To wit:
Amazon will publish 122 books this fall in an array of genres, in both physical and e-book form. ... Publishers say Amazon is aggressively wooing some of their top authors. And the company is gnawing away at the services that publishers, critics and agents used to provide.

Amazon has started giving all authors, whether it publishes them or not, direct access to highly coveted Nielsen BookScan sales data, which records how many physical books they are selling in individual markets like Milwaukee or New Orleans. It is introducing the sort of one-on-one communication between authors and their fans that used to happen only on book tours. It made an obscure German historical novel a runaway best seller without a single professional reviewer weighing in.
In short, not content with killing off bookstores, Amazon is going after the publishers as well.

Quote of the Day

Nurture the darkness of your soul
Until you become whole.
Can you do this and not fail?

- Tao Te Ching, verse 10

Friday, October 14, 2011

Quote of the Day

"Well, I think there has to be something like reincarnation. Or maybe I should say I’m scared to think there isn’t. I can’t understand nothingness. I can’t understand it and I can’t imagine it."

"Nothingness means there’s absolutely nothing, so maybe there’s no need to understand or imagine it."

"Yea, but what if nothingness is not like that? What if it’s not the kind of thing that demands that you understand it or imagine it? I mean, you don’t know what it’s like to die, Mari. Maybe a person really has to die to understand what it's like."

- Haruki Murakami, After Dark, p. 157

Our Shit's Fucked Up

Business Insider has a great primer on why the Occupy Wall Street movement really has something to complain about. The economic disparity in our country at the moment is truly disheartening.

Fun fact: Title a reference to both this instantly classic sign and the great Warren Zevon song.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Steve Kilbey's "Narcosis"

I’ve never understood the allure of Heroin. I don’t get what it is about a drug that has killed so many people that makes other people say “Hey, I’ve got to try that!” It’s a tragedy that some deep need inside certain people drive them towards such a destructive thing – from what I understand, it’s such a powerful opiate that it just takes over your life to the point where nothing else matters. But without disregarding the drug’s power, it does seem to spark an incredible creativity in some artists. I can think of many musicians just off the top of my head that have made fantastic music despite – or because of? – their Heroin additions, including Alice in Chains’ Layne Staley, The Black Crowes’ Chris Robinson, Eric Clapton, and Kurt Cobain. In all of these instances, the drug seemed to exasperate their best and worst tendencies, but since their best was often close to genius, the results were often stunning.

For Steve Kilbey, heroin was a mixed bag. On one hand, he and the church used the drug to inspire the incredible sounds and atmosphere on the 1992 Priest = Aura album. Unfortunately, this creative spark didn’t entirely translate into other albums; as his drug addiction took over, it also resulted in a number of sub-par albums, the first of which is his solo album Narcosis. This isn’t to say that it's all bad – despite what I’ll say below, it’s really not! – but a lot of the music here is opaque and missing the moments of pop clarity and catharsis that so effortlessly popup elsewhere in his work.

(Note that most of the Narcosis tracks were released under that name in 1991 ("Somna" through "Space"), and then Kilbey introduced four more tracks in 1992 (along with a truly horrific album cover) as Narcosis+ More. This review will cover the whole group of songs as presented in the monsters n’ mirages box set.

Musically, I find this album to be rather static. Most of the songs find a mood or riff and ride it for the entire song. For example, "Somna" kicks off the album (starting a trend of excellent openers on his next three albums) with a with a wonderfully uplifting guitar lick. But as great as it is, the song never takes off to the next level, making it in the end nothing more than an interesting mood piece. In fact, for the first time in SK’s output, some songs just do nothing for me, including “Space”, a plodding instrumental notable only for the excellently evil bass, the groupie song “Linda Wong”, and “Sleep with Me”, an aimless song with a metronome guitar lick among other awkward rhythms. Other songs are merely average, like “Midnite in America” with its perfectly nice chorus and piano, or the trancey groove of “Over”. Other than “Somna”, the musical highlights are “The Egyptian”, a gorgeous ballad, and “English Kiss”, one of the first examples of the space-lounge music that SK would do much better in his work with Martin Kennedy (listen to the background touches: a simple piano lick, keyboard flourishes, something that sounds like a flute; all contributing to the feeling of smoking hashish in some muhamaadeen’s tent outside the bazaar).

No, what really makes this album stand out are the lyrics, which are mainly focused on the death of inspiration as a result of his Heroin. SK was well aware of his predicament: his biographer Robert Dean Lurie writes that “Narcosis captured Steve at the tail end of his smack honeymoon: still reeling from the creating possibilities that his new drug of choice offered but also well aware of the darkness ahead.” (p. 221) And Kilbey himself noted that “I realized that this was the same path a lot of other low-life people… had taken. I was becoming that—and at the same time I could still stand back and see that I was. Yea, and seeing how it was going to end up.” So he was creatively inspired by and aware of his situation, and this is perfectly captured in “Somna” which lyrically and musically describes the allure of the drug. Next comes "Limbo" which powerfully describes the plight of those corrupt souls that are not evil enough to be truly punished (being a Pynchon-nerd, I read these as the preiterate in Gravity’s Rainbow – those foax who are neither beneath or below but merely cannon fodder in life’s game):
Jesus does not love you
Lucifer does not want your soul
Made a mistake—
No one will forgive you
The servants you love to dismiss
All will outlive you
The most fascinating words here are from “Fall in Love,” which is an  extremely repetitious song (perhaps to underscore the story?) but tell the story of a man slowly losing all of his passion:
I knew this man, he had some kind of fatal affliction.
Each day, a tiny particle, a small drop of his soul, leaked or escaped into the air,
out beyond the insipid gray sky and into dead space. ...
Who can describe the agony of this gradual soul depletion?...
Eventually he could derive pleasure from nothing,
the most lurid pornography or the most holy scriptures
failed to arouse him from his stupor, his boredom.
Unfortunately, in truly perverse SK fashion, he drowned out these lyrics in double-tracked talk-speak, making them extremely hard to understand. Yet another “what if” moment in the man’s career!

The album closes with SK reading, Rimbaud’s  "Night In Hell" (part of the larger A Season In Hell) over some freaky ambient sounds.  And with this, SK’s uneven Narcosis draws to a close. It would be another ten years until SK was able to kick the smack and find the inspiration into the studio by himself to record Dabble.

(This post is one of a series of reviews of all of SK’s solo albums included in the monsters n mirages box set. Previous post: Remindlessness. Next up: 2001’s Dabble.)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pendulum Waves

This is mesmerizing.

Poem for the Season

Day in Autumn

After the summer's yield, Lord, it is time
to let your shadow lengthen on the sundials
and in the pastures let the rough winds fly.

As for the final fruits, coax them to roundness.
Direct on them two days of warmer light
to hale them golden toward their term, and harry
the last few drops of sweetness through the wine.

Whoever's homeless now, will build no shelter;
who lives alone will live indefinitely so,
waking up to read a little, draft long letters,
and, along the city's avenues,
fitfully wander, when the wild leaves loosen.

- By Ranier Maria Rilke

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Do You Know What I'm Saying?

The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami’s 1997 novel, is a novel of stories. It’s not only the tale of Toru Okada’s quest to find his missing cat and wife, but it’s also about the stories that the rest of the characters tell each other about their lives, and how they create meaning in their lives by spinning their stories. Whole chapters of the book pass in this way: May Kasahara (Toru’s teenage neighbor), Malta and Creta Kano (mediums helping Toru find his cat), Lieutenant Mamiya (long story), and Cinnamon (at one point, Toru’s assistant) all share their tales with Toru, an everyman who’s a great listener. In one sense, The Wind-up Bird Chronicle is simply a compilation of these stories intertwined with Toru’s ongoing narrative. One could even argue that the main plot – concluding with the bizarre magical realistic events in a mysterious hotel room – is only a story that Toru tells himself in order to heal himself after his wife’s departure. It’s Murakami’s genius that he leaves this question (and many others) unanswered.

Murakami’s writing is what makes this collage of stories work together. His prose uses precise language to describe mundane and ambiguous things, while underpinning it all with a subtle sense of menace like a David Lynch film. He’s precise where he needs to be, as when he explains how his wife’s brother was successful in politics: "consistency and an established worldview were excess baggage in the intellectual mobile warfare that flared up in the mass media's tiny time segments." But along with this clear prose comes many fantastical and bizarre elements, such as a scar that appears on Toru’s cheek one day – the same mark that appears on the faces of the protagonists of several other stories. What does it mean? Murakami never directly explains, and while some might be annoyed by that, others like myself can simply go along for the ride, for The Wind-up Bird Chronicle never fails to entertain.

In fact, the first two-thirds of the book are so good I literally couldn't put it down – and this was my second time reading it! However, the book as a whole loses steam in the final third of the book, mainly because the stories that were so cohesive earlier on start to become less connected. I’d argue that by that point you’ve built up such a head of steam that the coast to the end is still great reading. And parts of the ending are absolutely riveting, like when Toru finally gets into the mysterious hotel room, but other stories read like Murakami was just trying to tie up loose threads. At one point, Toru even says: "I think you are [my wife]. Because then all kinds of story lines work out," as if he's admitting that he doesn't know how to complete the complex pattern he’s been weaving. But while the ending might be a bit anticlimactic, at the end of the day The Wind-up Bird Chronicle is easily one of the best books I’ve ever read.

Quote of the Day

"For the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie--deliberate, contrived and dishonest--but the myth--persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the cliches of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought."

- from JFK's 1962 Yale Commencement Address

Monday, October 10, 2011

Quote of the Day

“Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up.”

- Oliver Wendell Holmes

Thursday, October 6, 2011


My new favorite blog is Monster Brains. Lots of awesome artwork featuring monsters and aliens!

I love it if only for the fact that it reminded me of the awesome book and cover for John Christopher's The White Mountains., which I first experienced as a comic serial in Boys Life.

Quote of the Day

"Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.  Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.  Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice.  And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.  They somehow already know what you truly want to become.  Everything else is secondary."

- Steve Jobs. RIP.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Watching Dreamscape

Watched Dreamscape tonight, a movie that scared the crap out of me back in the day (in 1984 - 27 years ago!). The plot is essentially Inception for the 80s: a group of scientists have discovered how to insert psychics into people’s dreams. The main psychic, played by an excellent Dennis Quaid, starts off as that typical Hollywood rogue, a cynic who doesn't want to play by the rules or use his powers for anyone else (when we first meet him, he's raking in the cash at the track). However, he quickly gets entangled with a governmental research project about dreams that initially utilizes the technology for good, but once we discover that the POUSA is having nightmares about a nuclear holocaust and thus wants to start leading nuclear disarmament talks (this, of course, can’t happen), it's just a matter of time before things turn ugly. A very satisfying thriller results from the resulting complications, mainly due to an intelligent script and great acting (Christopher Plummer and Max von Sydow are in it as well, although the less said about Kate Capshaw, the better).

Overall, the flick stood up really well to how I remembered it, which is not always the case with older movies. In my opinion, it’s aged pretty well, with the exception of the fashions (pink sweaters are just never acceptable), the ginormous computers, and some really wretched electronic music.  You have to take the special effects with a grain of salt, obviously – FX have come a long way in 27 years! – but some of them are surpisingly effective. One scene in particular, a child’s dream about the boogyman, is well done – they present the kids house with all of the house’s angles askew and crooked staircases leading down into pitch-black cellars. Overall, the scene feels like early Tim Burton, but without the ironic humor. Another positive were the fallout scenes with the rivers of nuclear waste and rabid fallout dogs. Not so effective, was the scary snake-man, although it still freaked me out a bit (probably because it scared me so much when I was a kid!) Overall, I'd say that this movie would be ripe for a remake if Inception hadn't basically just told an extremely similar story.

On a personal note, I enjoyed the fact that not one but two Twin Peaks characters were in the flick: David Patrick Kelly (Jerry Horne) and Chris Mulkey (Hank Jennings). I also got a kick out of the fact that the POUSA in the flick looks a little bit like Boris Yeltsin. Little things like this are what keep me going!

Mental Health Day

One of the nice things my employer does is give everyone their work anniversary as a bonus vacation day. As of today, i've been there for two years, so I was able to enjoy a nice brisk fall day in the woods. Bella and I wandered up and around Mt. Wachusett Mountain State Reservation, doing a loop of about four miles. The temperature was perfect for a walk in the woods and the sound of the strong breezes through the trees were just what the doctor ordered to get away from the daily grind for a while.

 I'm logging off now to cook up a nice dinner, so until next time, enjoy some Dog Blogging:
Bella striking a pose on Mt. Wachusett

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Quote of the Day

I stretched out on the sofa and closed my eyes for a long time, thinking of nothing. It was not hard for me to think of nothing, the way I felt at the moment. In order not to think of any one thing, all I had go do was think of many things, a little at a time: just think about something for a moment and fling it into space.
- Haruki Murakami, The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, p. 206

The Wall Street Protests

Ezra's thoughts on the Wall Street protests:
" debt represents a special sort of betrayal. We told you that the way to get ahead in America was to get educated. You did it. And now you find yourself in the same place, but buried under debt. You were lied to.
But you look around and the reality is not everyone is suffering. Wall Street caused this mess, and the government paid off their debts and helped them rake in record profits in recent years. The top 1 percent account for 24 percent of the nation’s income and 40 percent of its wealth. There are a lot of people who don’t seem to be doing everything they’re supposed to do, and it seems to be working out just fine for them.

Perhaps that’s part of the reason that the movement doesn't have clear demands. It’s easy to explain how to punish the rich. You can tax them, or regulate their activities. It’s a bit hard to say how to make the economy work better for average people. There’s an intuition out there that part of the reason it’s not working better is that the rich hold too much political power, and so there’s a clear desire to reduce that political power, but it’s not clear how far that actually gets you in terms of bringing wages up."

To me, the most suprising thing about these protests is that they didn't happen sooner, given the current inequality between the haves and the have-nots, esp. when you consider that most of the have-nots appear to have played by the rules.. And if you contrast this perspective with that of the CEOs of the larger businesses out there, it seems to me like there's a class war going on whether we want one or not.

Poem of the Day - from "Two Tramps in Mud Time"

But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future's sakes.

- Robert Frost, last stanza of "Two Tramps in Mud Time"

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Mask of Evil

On my wall hangs a Japanese carving,
The mask of an evil demon, decorated with gold lacquer.
Sympathetically I observe
The swollen veins of the forehead, indicating
What a strain it is to be evil.

- Bertolt Brecht, The Mask of Evil

Deep Thought

While younger kids have a lot of charms, I'm loving watching Hunter get older. He just turned five and we have a lot of fun doing different things today. First of all, he learned his first form at Taekwondo class and earned his first yellow stripe for his white belt. Then after dinner, He was making "music" on our piano and his new drum pads and we were laughing as we came up with silly names for them all. My favorite was when I asked if he was playing "chopsticks" and he replied "well, that would be true, if I liked to use chopsticks!" Then we played a game of Parcheesi before bed. He's turning into quite the little guy!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

First Lines of "Rosshalde"

"Ten years ago when Johann Veraguth bought Rosshalde and moved in, it was an abandoned old manor with overgrown garden paths, moss-covered benches, cracked stone steps, and a tangled, neglected park. The only buildings on the property, which measured about eight acres, were the fine, slightly run-down manor house with its stable, and in the park a small temple-like summer house, its door hanging askew on bent hinges and its walls, formerly hung with blue silk, covered with moss and mold."
- Herman Hesse, t. by Ralph Manheim

Bonus Quotes!
"'...if you've done something that isn't right, you know it and you're ashamed. If somebody scolds me, i'm much less ashamed. And sometimes they scold you when you havent' done anything at all, just because you weren't there when they called, or because Mama is in a bad humor.'
Robert laughed. 'You've just got to average it up. Think of all of the wicked things you must do that nobody sees and nobody scolds you for.'
Pierre gave no reply. It was always the same. Whenever he let himself be drawn into a discussion with a grownup about something that was really important to him, it ended in disappointment or even humiliation." p. 22

"The painter closed his tired eyes for a moment, let his hands fall, and with almost painful delight breathed in the deep sunny silence of the hour, his friend's presence, his own appeased weariness after successful work, and the letdown of his overstrained nerves. Along with the frenzy of unstinting activity, he had long found his deepest, most comforting pleasure in these gentle moments of weary relaxation, comparable to the restful vegetative twilight states between sleep and waking." p. 42-3

Pretty good stuff so far!

Now Playing

Mum's Slow Bicycle.

I love how this song builds up, nice and slowly.