Freitag, 30. Oktober 2009

Lets just sit around and sob about beauty together.

Ode on Melancholy
by John Keats

No, no, go not to Lethe, neither twist
Wolf's-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine;
Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kiss'd
By nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine;
Make not your rosary of yew-berries,
Nor let the beetle, nor the death-moth be
Your mournful Psyche, nor the downy owl
A partner in your sorrow's mysteries;
For shade to shade will come too drowsily,
And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul.

But when the melancholy fit shall fall
Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud,
That fosters the droop-headed flowers all,
And hides the green hill in an April shroud;
Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose,
Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,
Or on the wealth of globed peonies;
Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows,
Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave,
And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.

She dwells with Beauty - Beauty that must die;
And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips
Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh,
Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips:
Ay, in the very temple of Delight
Veil'd Melancholy has her sovran shrine,
Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine;
His soul shall taste the sadness of her might,
And be among her cloudy trophies hung.

Samstag, 17. Oktober 2009

When did summer get so damn short?

I haven't written anything in, like, two weeks which just goes to show how much discipline I have. I was out of town for work but mostly just kind of lost in space, too.

Does that ever happen to you? It just turned cold and windy here, and dark too, and I think some of that fog seeps into everyone, and then you get the vapors. That's what they used to call depression -- having the vapors. I think it rings more true than "depression," although it must mean something that both those words have something to do with bad weather.

According to the Free Dictionary, the archaic meaning of "vapors" is "something insubstantial, worthless, or fleeting," or "a fantastic or foolish idea" --and I think that that's fucking beautiful and exactly how I feel about summer when it's disappearing. The whole rush of sap to the leaves and the whole glutting your sorrow on the "rainbow of the salt sand-wave" thing feels like it had just started again, and now its over. It's especially noticeable in this town, where as soon as its October everyone stops grinning and slows way down and hunches into themselves and lets their summer dreaming evaporate.

The other day I was leaving work and as I crossed onto the central square next to the cathedral there were these two mimes standing on wine crates up ahead. A tiny man and a tiny woman. It was a faded out day, gray and pale. He was dressed as a silver sailor and she was a silver 19th century whore, and they had painted their hair and hats and faces silver too. And facing them, there were these two old Tibetan monks in wheelchairs, their golden robes fluttering at the edges in the wind. The monks sat slumped in their silver framed chairs, smiling beatifically into the middle distance just past mimes' faces. I made sure I left before anyone moved.

I was in Lebanon last week. I'd never been.

From above, the city of Beirut looks like a hot stone bowl that has melted into the sea on one side. The traffic is chaos, and fast. The honking comes in triplets on the small streets, one car after another, and on the highways it's constant. Not rude, but a matter of courtesy: I am coming quickly from behind, and we all just want to get where we're going, so make way.

At one point I was in a taxi, tearing down a one lane curved canyon road, no barriers, going 130 km per hour. We flew past a speed limit sign that read 30. I looked at the cab driver with a raised eyebrow and he actually took his hands off the wheel to shrug -- that crazy motherfucker -- and tell me that in Lebanon, the street signs and the painted lanes are "just a picture."

He told me I could never drive in Lebanon, because I would die. "If you follow the rules -- blink left, turn, blink right, turn, slow down for red lights, pass on the right [sic] then you will be die in five minutes. No shit," he said. "I am only safe if I am the fastest."

Now we were on the main road that runs from the northern suburbs into the city, weaving like a missile between old Mercedes and naked-looking old minivans, racing fast BMWs and at one point, briefly, a bright yellow Ferrari. Marwan rarely took his hand off the horn.

"You are still late?" he asked, as we came level with the sea. "What is the time?" He pointed across the bay. "Voom! I drive this way." He swerved hard towards the water, into the lane on our right, and then jerked the wheel back. Hahaha! A chorus of honks erupted all around. Hahaha.

But I wasn't afraid and I hoped we wouldn't get there soon.

Anyway, so this year I've decided to fuck assuming the winter position and growing slowly slow and sad and instead I'm just going to stay happy for ever and ever until I blow up in a supernova of joy next spring. Which pretty much makes me an A1 goober, but one the other hand, you're a total asshole for pointing that out.

P.S. The picture of the balloon man is from here.
P.P.S. The Go Speed picture is from here, although not originally, I don't think.

Freitag, 9. Oktober 2009

Oh. No. He. Didn't.

So today, United States President Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize. Um. I want this blog to be more sort of pygmy raccoons with irritable bowel syndrome and less sort of my useless political ravings, so I won't go on about this, but frankly I haven't noticed any Guantanamo-shutting or Kyoto signing or Afghanistan-resolving going on that would warrant such recognition.

Oh but wait. The press release says he won because he gave the world "hope for a better future," and for striving for nuclear disarmament. Ohhh. I see. I don't think sitting politicians should be able to get the Nobel Peace Prize anyway. That's like giving The New York Times a Most Indie New Blog Award or something.

Anyway, I voted for Obama and was pretty fucking excited about it, and compared to the last guy, Obama isn't so much a breath of fresh air as a mighty wind. Oh oops, that came out wrong. Now it sounds like I don't totally love him.

To prove my affection, I have posted pics of these quality paintings you see here by some painter named Dan Lacey that came from this website. Dan Lacey has a blog here. Dan must be kind of awesome, unless he isn't employing enough layers of meta-irony, in which case I don't really understand these paintings any more. Actually, I don't really understand them anyway.

Mittwoch, 7. Oktober 2009


Oh sweet my Lord why was I not informed. The artist's name is Randall Munroe and he was a NASA scientist, although when I first went through the cartoons I thought it was some geeky bespectacled blond girl in a flannel shirts, doodling in her notebook in class and dreaming about kissing her org chem lab partner and maybe playing drunk Trivial Pursuit with him on the living room floor.

Guess not.

So, anyway, the website is here, and he's selling all manner branded nonsense in the store shop, so obviously everyone and their piano tuner has heard of him. I'm always the last to know.

UPDATE: Not a single fucking person understands this cartoon or thinks it is funny. But everyone has been very nice and tried very hard and asked for an explanation. So thanks, my three friends.

I'll just go stab myself in the ear with a spork until I'm dead.

platitudes are pointless. so fucking sue me.

Ask the hard questions.

Face your fears.

James Thurber, who drew these cartoons (and a bunch of others for the New Yorker and other publications and who also wrote), apparently once said:

All men should strive to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why.

Which would be great, but it doesn't really cover the days where you feel more like you want to scrape out the inside of your head with an egg spoon and burn the contents before anything or anyone else gets infected. You have those days?

Montag, 5. Oktober 2009

Rats, Otters, and Double Rats

A lot of interesting things happened in the news this week, which I would summarize and link to, but I'm pretty tired so actually I'd rather slow fuck a dalmatian. There is this, though:

It turns out over the last couple of years, crops in Bangladesh have been systematically ravaged by a plague of ravenous rodents, forcing some families to smoke and eat the rats. As a result, the authorities are offering an annual prize of a color TV to whomever catches the most rats and produces their severed tails as evidence. Which is AWESOME.

This week, Bangladesh has crowned a new champion rat catcher. According to the BBC, a certain Mr. Mokhairul Islam was awarded a brand new color television in Dakar, Bangladesh this week as a reward for reportedly killing some 83,450 rats. Which is just a Holy Mackerel number of dead rats, I think.

(When I read the headline I did think of the Pied Piper, but actually it doesn't seem like the rat catcher did any piping, nor did he steal any village children. Although someone else did, apparently.)

I was pretty stoked about the story. But then, as per fucking usual, my illusions were dashed on the rocks like a baby otter that got confused after its mommy was eaten by an enormous white shark.

"Mr Islam - a wealthy farmer who owns about 300 acres of land and six poultry farms near the capital - said it was a great honour to receive the award."

This isn't the hardworking serf I imagined, attacking and killing 83,450 rats one after the other on a personal mission to pull his family out of the shit. No! This guy didn't lay away hardening rat tails in terracotta pots by his door-hole, painstakingly amassing a vast wealth of them, dreaming of the color television. And the glory, of course. If he had, it would have been pretty inspiring. Kind of like in The Pursuit of Happiness, with all the hard work and determination, but without any of the ridiculously good fortune.

No, the king of rats is not one of the deserving needy. This rat catcher is basically some wealthy chicken mogul who probably forced all of his minions to go out and catch vermin for him, probably as some kind of fanciful team-building exercise, and you know they can't say no because they're not allowed to unionize, and then at the end this asshole gets a color TV.

Which he probably doesn't even appreciate because, and I quote, he owns "about 300 acres of land and six poultry farms near the capital." I know one guy with one poultry farm, and he has at least three color TVs. His are flat, too. So while six might not seem like the hugest number of poultry farms out there, it's kind of a big deal.

And then I became even more skeptical (crushed, disillusioned) of this Mr. Islam and his alleged successes. Mr. Islam says that he and his team killed some 83,450 rats; however, a local official even went ahead and TOLD the BBC that "We couldn't count all the tails because of the stench."

Also worth noting is that our friend Mokhairul says that all the tail-gathering was done in February, but "other reports" say it took him eight months. Excuse me. That's a big difference. I don't know how resilient severed rat tails are where YOU live, but in my experience six months more or less would make a pretty huge difference to how rotten the things are.

Do Mr. Islam and his team (of SLAVES) expect us to believe that they harvested some 85,000 tails, which are made out of dead rat, in February and then they just held on to them for the next seven months? I don't even know why the person who wrote this (there's no byline) didn't just spell it out and write, "so the obvious revelation here is that Mr. Islam is a dishonest, lying cheat and someone should immediately go count the alleged tails or at least check whether some are actually dirty string." Oh please, Mokhairul and team. Enough already.

Anyway, even if that hideous lie about getting the tails in February WAS true, Mokhairul, you shouldn't get the prize. Because you just bought yourself a team to go kill rats FOR you. In fact, if you didn't kill at least 10,000 of those rats with your own hoe, or I say you should give the prize back.

Oh, and one more thing. I was googling for different stories on this rat killer king and I saw that the Dallas Morning News had posted the AP article on their website. Which made me pretty suspicious. The BBC is allowed to print dreck like this because they also print all the real news, all the time. But a summary search of Dallas Morning News website for "Bangladesh" shows that, since this summer, they've run an additional ONE story on Bangladesh, which doesn't even count because it was about how the tropical storm caused floods in India...and Bangladesh.

The Dallas Morning News carried the rat tail story, but has never covered the destruction that the rat infestation was wreaking on farms across the country.

Shame on you, Dallas Morning News. I know that you, like most newspapers, are in a falling sales/falling advertising downward spiral of doom that has forced you to make brutal cuts at the expense of common sense, knowledge, and our children's children, but STILL. More baby otters beaten into pulp by the driving waves.

P.S. The picture of the otter is from here. The picture of the rat is from here.