hello cthulhu

(no subject)

An update.
Just to prove that I'm still in...

Oui, Monsieur l'Abbé Fromage d'Ennui is paying a long delayed visit to his ethereal confrères.

God, the walls are closing in.
God, the air is getting thin.
Are you there God? It's me, Margaret.

Question: Is "I was channeling Judy Blume" a sufficient excuse to get out of work?
Even when I'm my own boss?
In a manner of speaking?

You know it's getting bad when I'm actually looking forward to Christmas.

The bells, all I hear are the bells!
  • Current Music
    my tummy hurts
confused bunny


Raining buckets o' buckets right now. Can't see more than four blocks from my 10th floor window.
Doesn't help work get done. Thesis work I mean, but there is this, for what little it's worth:

Fog: A reply to Sandburg

The fog scrapes inward to tell me
of dry hills it caressed to dew
of lakes grown morbid and calm
with cold legs clenched tight at dawn.
The fog sloughs by and tells
of new skin it grows on snails
of a blanket made of welcome dull
cocooned on cocoons and wings.
The fog it passes on and on
me it asks me, where I am, and am
I there, and are there stars
in her thighs, son, are there suns?
But I cannot see for the fog.
  • Current Music
    air conditioning, unnecessary

bliss in 5 minute chunks

One of my "best things ever" has not changed in quite a few years, so I thought I'd share. It's a piece of music, but it's not confined to "best music ever", but it must be included among "things", since listening to it engenders the same reaction as some paintings, foods, people, poems, rock formations, and ranks of angels also produce:
It is a Vivaldi violin concerto, and I know some out there, upon reading this, will groan/snicker/cough and quietly walk away at the sight of his name, but he is so much more than the Four Seasons. Or maybe I'm just a sucker for the Barock. Specifically, it is the Concerto in Bflat Major for Violin scordatura. Scordatura is an intentional mistuning of a string instrument, usually a half pitch higher, which, if nothing else, makes it louder, but also allows the soloist to play harmonies impossible if he were tuned to the rest of the orchestra. In this case, the G string is cranked up to a Bflat. What it creates is a haunting shadow of discordancy which, in the case of Vivaldi, you can't really put your finger on, because around 1700, he was hardly "allowed" to write truly discordant pieces.
Specifically, the "best thing ever" is the second movement, the Andante, 5 minutes of pummeling me senseless and sensitive in my soul's gut of beauty. The scordatura violin floats on a lusciously quiet bed of two full string orchestras, sometimes repeating the same three notes over and over until it sounds as if the instrument will snap in half, a technique that I've heard in no other Vivaldi and really is akin only to contemporary Philip Glass; but unlike in Glass, Vivaldi's wandering violin can always find the centre again, and settle back into the rich protective arms of the cellos.
I often listen to classical while doing work primarily, I admit, because it has no words to distract me and tempt me to sing along. But in the case of this piece, I drop my pen, the computer screen in front of me blurs, I have to set down my coffee lest I spill, and I sit still, unable even to lean, because every ounce of energy has been transferred, sometimes unwillingly, to my ears.
  • Current Mood
    calm prodigal

Lit review

Read some interesting books lately. Feeling almost "with it" as far as contemporary literature goes. Took only two days to read Douglas Coupland jPod when I got my hands on an advanced reader's copy. Not a hard read when a good quarter of the book is in 48-point font, or covered with strings of random numbers or the digits of pi. It was all so painfully...clever. Still, I enjoyed it a lot, especially the Vancouver-bashing. I've never visited Vancouver, nor does it necessarily deserve bashing, but he was so terribly good at it. I was, frankly, envious of the characters in the book, even though he was ridiculing them to some extent. Some days I just want a job, a cubicle, a set time schedule and a paycheck. But then I realize their probably is something to the painful emptiness in these people's lives that so many contemporary authors want to depict.

Nearly finished reading Neal Stephenson's Diamond Age as well. It's actually from 1995, but feels new. Not really as good as Cryptonomicon. It has an utterly different feel from his other books. I'm trying to imagine what sort of audience he intended it for. He doesn't indulge in the extensive footnoting-in-the-text that becomes so tiresome and fascinating in the System of the World trilogy (which I gave up on halfway through the second book).

Also plowing through all the major stories of H.P. Lovecraft. I read them to my ladylove while she does dishes. It makes chores go faster when hearing about unspeakable tentacled things imposing horrificly wrong geometry on our perceptions of the universe. (And yes, I offer to do the dishes, but she likes to hear me read.)

Presently trapped in my carrel, trying to care about the 93rd distinction of Gratian's Decretum. Why, gods, why couldn't I have picked an intesting topic for my thesis?!
  • Current Music
    Elton John - Empty Sky
hello cthulhu

Efficaciter procrastino

I'm trying to find an easy way to explain dactylic hexameters in my K'zoo paper. I'm talking about ways of translating medieval didactic poetry, and I want to address the (near) impossibility of converting Latin verse into English verse.
However, there were some attempts to "dignify" English with quantitative verse even though we don't really have a quantitative language. No less than Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote the following:

William, my teacher, my friend ! dear William and dear Dorothea !
Smooth out the folds of my letter, and place it on desk or on table ;
Place it on table or desk ; and your right hands loosely half-closing,
Gently sustain them in air, and extending the digit didactic,
Rest it a moment on each of the forks of the five-forkéd left hand,
Twice on the breadth of the thumb, and once on the tip of each finger ;
Read with a nod of the head in a humouring recitativo ;
And, as I live, you will see my hexameters hopping before you.
This is a galloping measure ; a hop, and a trot, and a gallop!

I am equal parts delighted and horrified. That last line will haunt me forever.
  • Current Music
    Soul Coughin - El Oso

And I join the queue...Mmm...queueueyey

*How does the world see me?
Rob Zombie - Superbeast (Seriously. This came up first. Fuckin rad.)

*Will I have a happy life?
Sugarcubes - Dream TV (Kinda works...)

*What do my friends really think of me?
Tom Waits - Paris Mood (Un de Fromage) (Cheesy. Fromagey)

*Do people secretly lust after me?
Maria Callas - "Je Veux Vivre Dans Ce Reve" from Gounod's "Romeo et Juliette" (apt, I suppose)

*How can I make myself happy?
Kate Bush - An Architect's Dream (when I was junior high I wanted to be an architect...creepy)

*What should I do with my life?
Badly Drawn Boy - Something to Talk About (nothing in particular, just anything momentous)

*Will I ever have children?
Bob Dylan - The Man in Me (This is just plain, outright disturbing)

*What is some good advice for me?
Dead Can Dance - How Fortunate the Man with None (Woohoo! Spend all my money--now!)

*How will I be remembered?
Johnny Cash - Don't Take Your Guns to Town (a fitting end for a pacifist)

*What is my signature dancing song?
Cyndi Lauper - Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (Again, I'm serious. This came up with one click.)

*What do I think my current theme song is?
ABBA - Money, Money, Money (Now my so-called musical "taste" is just getting too obvious. I hate you, Meme.)

*What does everyone else think my current theme song is?
They Might Be Giants - Sensurround (don't know what to make of this)

*What song will play at my funeral?
The Doors - Riders on the Storm (after chasing too many tornadoes)

*What type of men/women do I like?
Madonna - Sky Fits Heaven (um, eunuch angels?)

*What is my day going to be like?
Billie Holiday - Keeps on Rainin' (well, maybe this is tomorrow's forecast)
  • Current Music
    Blondie - Atomic Remix
hello cthulhu

More flogging and golfing

I know my question the other day about destroying sports equipment (and I'm using "sport" in the broadest sense of the word) may have seemed a timewasting, one-off, but it actually is something that I do think about and has stayed with me for a long time.
When I was young I lived in an ugly puke-green house in-between a golf course and Yerkes Observatory, home of the largest telescope in the world. Large, but it can't see very far, since it's a century old, and in Wisconsin. Go figure.
The small patches of woods around my house and the golf course were inevitable treasure troves of lost golfballs. Old duffers don't have the energy to trapise into the woods to find their Titleist (pronounced Tit-Lee-Ist, according to the Venerable Beavis). My sister and I would collect them by the hundreds, sort them by quality and sell them by the dozen in old egg cartons to golfers showing up at the course. Often, I'm sure, we were selling back to them their own lost balls. Emasculating, no?
Some of the balls, though, were too damaged to ever see the face of 3-iron again, most probably caught by the golf courses iron legions of lawn-mowing doom. I would go deep down the hill of our long back yard, into the weeds my dad didn't feel like cutting, and dissect these already injured golfballs. Really, it was for the best. They don't feel pain any more. It took all my 7-year-old strength, and sometimes a carving knife stolen from the kitchen (hence my hiding in the shrubbery) to finish ripping off the rest of the outer skin of the golf ball not yet excoriated by the so-called "gardeners". Most golfballs have a heavy plastic outer skin about 1/8 inch thick, textured with an average of 336 dimples. This number has, to me, a far more evil significance than any 666. (On a side note, I stood in the middle of the entry court of the Louvre trying to count all the triangular panes of glass in I.M. Pei's infamous pyramid. I'm pretty sure there are nearly 700, and not 666 as its enemies claim.)
Beneath that layer is a good half-inch thickness of a rubber-band like material which is coiled in one long strand around the core. If the ball is quite mutilated, once you remove the skin, these intestines will automatically unfurl at a blinding (possibly literally) speed and attempt to leap from your hand. This is the source of the expression "Shuffle off the mortal coil." It originally was "shuffel offe the golfe-bal coyl" in the early days of professional golf in the 16th century. The golf ball can actually survive months without its skin, but once the coil is severed, it rapidly releases its admittedly tenuous life spirit.
I also believe this is the source of Yeats' "widening gyre." His editor demanded that he write about a falcon, as more readers would appreciate its obviously poetic symbolism, but surely the great bard had experience the aweful twisting and untwining of an expiring golf ball as it spins farther and farther in a widening arc around your head as you hold one end of the encircling band. But I will leave that question to the mini-Harold Blooms.
What truly matters is the vital heart of the creature, found no longer pulsing beneath the twisted viscera: a small, hollow ball with a course, striated surface etched with the tightened pattern of the rubber band. If you shake this ball, you will hear a sloshing, a slurping, a slithering of dark ichor at the core of the sport, unknown even to most of its cultists. This is where my dissection grew especially horrific. Despite my attempts at secrecy, my father knew all about my vile experimentation. He tried to warn me off this path to madness by telling me that the juices of the stilled heart were poison. Not that he expected me to drink them (or did he?), but he warned that they were poison merely to smell, to touch, dare I say, to see. This paternal verboten ist only served to goad me closer to unlocking the liquid archana of an ancient Scottish game. Surely it is no coincidence that golf found its nascence in the broad expanses south of Edinburgh, encircling the Templar chapel at Rosslyn, beneath which beats still some nameless heart of either eternal good or bottomless evil?

The knife slips only with great difficulty into the thick skin of the core--often I pricked my own flesh first, feeling no pain as I also saw myself as a mere coiled toy of the gods, beaten about, only to be mowed down and uncoiled at last by an uncaring lawncare deity--and a viscous jelly slides over my fingers, cold, foetid, yet not so much as I expected. There is a freshness, a sharp tang and sting, at the still centre of the real, lying disembowled in my small, quivering palm.
  • Current Music
    Spiritualized-Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space

The Rock Lobster still wins, claws down

Just when the world has gotten you totally down, something like this happens.
I've got two words: Kiwa Hirsuta.

And in other geek news, I'm pumping mental ferrum for this afternoon's Latin Scrabble tournament. It's a damn shame that I drew a bye and won't play till next week. Bastard random selection. Ah well, I will still work hard at looming malevolently and latinately over the other players.

And in the eminent philosopher's words: "Watch out for that piranha/There goes a narwhale/Here comes a Bikini Whale."

Truth. Beauty. Dork Rock.
  • Current Music
confused bunny

(no subject)

I usually correct typos in my posts, but I like "next doot" in the last one.
It reminds of a bunch of backup singers, like Lou Reed's, going "doot doot-doot doot-doot" and so on, while one is always thinking too hard about the "next doot" and thus misses it.