Thursday, January 28, 2010

"The fact is always obvious much too late, but the most singular difference between happiness and joy is that
happiness is a solid and joy a liquid."
-De Daumier-Smith's Blue Period (1952)

The big winter move.

My reign of terror has ended in Lakeview and I will be moving away to fair Albany Park.

I'm so glad Nature finally remembered that it's January just in time for me to head out. Thanks, Gaia...(effing, whatever man.)

So while my world is in tumult over the next few days, I'll be out of commission. But, please have a look at some of my fellow bloggers here (I've added a couple of new ones).

Or you can watch this over and over:

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Song for a Crappy Tuesday (Connective Tissue Edition)

(Editor's Note: This post was done sort of on the fly, so I've reduced the main sentiments to outline form. If you need further instruction, I'll send the study guide out later.)

1. Beethoven's Fifth
a. Most famous
b. Fate Knocks at the Door

2. A Fifth of Beethoven by Walter Murphy and the Big Apple Band
a. Disco
b. Released in 1976, featured on the 1977 Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack
c. Name a pun on hard liquor bottles
d. Inklings of future music in which Sampling is a large part. Also, kind of a "Suck it, Grampa!" to stodgy adults who hate youth culture**.

3. When I Get You Alone by Thicke
a. Alan Thicke's (Of Growing Pains) Kid
b. Samples not the original Beethoven's Fifth, but A Fifth of Beethoven
c. Not a Guilty Pleasure, just Guilty
d. Probably does not realize that Beethoven wrote the original (or who "Beeth-Oven" is)
e. Dumb video about a douche-y bike messenger
f. Confirms Grampa's hatred of youth culture.

**Which, incidentally, will kill your dog.

Monday, January 25, 2010

ESP(N): Extrasensory Perception (Nugatory)

Maybe it's just the time of year. My apophenia has been acting up again.

It would help if the patterns were useful (or if I even paid attention to them except in hindsight), but these mundane premonitions act as sort of a psychic appendix. They exist...and that's about it.

Let's just hope they don't fill up with poison and explode all over my cerebral cortex.

I wonder if the season has something to do with it. Last year, the number of hair-brained connections I made decreased during the Spring and Summer. My theory (and this is purely my own, based on nothing but a cursory knowledge of the paranormal. A Google search yielded almost nothing on the subject.) is that Winter is more conducive to psychic activity. (I can't believe I'm typing this) Our brains go into hibernation during the months of December, January, and February. The subconscious takes advantage of this Dream Time to make connections the conscious brain ordinarily wouldn't.

I wish I could blame this on the Reefer. I have no such scapegoat.

Is it noteworthy that, out of the blue, the night before the earthquake devastated Haiti, I got some weird sudden interest (where none had existed before) in looking up Haitian Culture online?

Or that, after I made a mental note to start using the word Dispassionate more often, it appeared on my Mac's screensaver the next day?

Or while getting a massage, I began mulling over the lilting Yanni tunes they had running in the background. I thought You know, I wish they'd play Faure's Sicilienne...but I can see why they don't. Oh, well. Five minutes later, it played (and it was my favorite recording).

And yesterday: Notnits and I were listening to a Podcast for "A Way With Words" (which, by the way, is great if you're into wordplay, language evolution, and weird word/phrase origins) and they put out their usual announcement for any listeners to call with peculiar phrases or words, that they might discuss them.

In recent weeks, Notnits has called to attention my use of the phrase "might could" - as in "We might could go to the store," or "I might could meet you downtown." This is a pretty common Southernism as an expression of possibility. "I might be able to meet you downtown" seems cumbersome to me.

So, when the hosts made their announcement, I said:

"We should ask them about 'Might Could'."

He laughed in agreement.

The very next call they answered was from a woman in Virginia asking about this phrase that she has never heard outside of the South: Might Could.

You could have knocked me over with a feather. At least I had someone there to witness the whole thing.

In general, I tend to be an Open Skeptic. I'm not adverse to the idea that psychic ability exists, but the burden of proof is pretty heavy.

Still, I can't just eschew these instances as mere coincidence, can I? If only I could recognize them with some foresight - maybe I could hire myself out as a detective and get a television series made out of my real life!

(Shaking Magic Eight Ball)

My sources say no.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Dictionary Fetish.

I've discovered that I enjoy reading the Dictionary. People make jokes about this kind of thing, in order to highlight how boring a person's taste in reading might be.

(In the break room)

A: (Sipping a sugar free energy drink) So. How'd that blind date go on Friday?

B: (Heating up a low fat frozen entree) Ugh. You know you're in for a yawner when they say "I like to read the Dictionary for fun."

A: Seriously? Yee.

B: Yeah. Sucked.

(They sip and eat in silence.)

Sope, I guess that's me.

You know something, though? It's beautiful. Looking at dictionary entry and seeing where the word came from and obscure meanings is incredibly interesting.

I think I'm gonna pick me up a Dictionary and incorporate it here somehow.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Random thoughts

1. I am experiencing Pop Culture Fatigue.

This past weekend, the Golden Globes aired, and I only knew about it because of all the Facebook status updates. Oh? The Golden Globes are on? Huh. Maybe I'll...nah...

The Globes went unviewed, my life remained unruined.

I might as well have watched them, though. On Tuesday, every news item or status update (including my own) was bombarded with a tid or a bit about the Globes - from fashion to speeches to strained relationship histories. The internet universe does not have breathable air - its atmosphere is the vapor billowing out of the Pop Culture Machine. If you are on Planet Google, you best take in a good lungful if you want to communicate with the other inhabitants.

It's not that I dislike Pop Culture. I happily swim in the snark infested waters. But after days, weeks, or months of involuntary interest, I'm exhausted. I find myself grousing about celebrities and internet memes, even when I have little to no experience with them. For example:

I haven't seen Avatar. I'm sure I'm missing out on all the lush beauty and predictable plot lines, but I just can't work up the steam for an afternoon of Na'vi. The very thought makes me want to take a nap.

I've seen two episodes of Glee. It was charming as Bacon Flavored Cotton Candy. But I never want to see another episode of people I don't care about singing and dancing. I can't take it.

Zach Galifianakis: You are funny and talented. You will be in everything for awhile. Then you will host the VMAs and become a comedic persona non grata until you a) Film a documentary about going back on the stand up circuit, B) Star in a movie loosely based on your rise/fall/ball cancer or C) Play a teacher at a boys school in a 1950's coming of age story. I have seen your future. I am weary of it already.

Jay Leno sucks, btw.

I know I have the choice to ignore these things. None of us are so thralled. But the bug light of pop culture is strange, fake, and beautiful. Its hum beckons us to ignore the porch light and flap our dusty wings right into the zapper.

2. Artists should have jobs and not in the "Get a job, Hippie" kind of way. I think it's necessary.

I've been observing from afar some arguments regarding an artist's expectation of a living wage from what they produce. If there are funds available, then the artist should be paid a reasonable fair-trade amount for the time, energy, and/or materials he or she put in. (This includes any future compensation for further use. i.e, royalties from a play.)

If the funds aren't available, the artist should weigh the importance of the job and whether or not the intangible benefits (fulfillment, resume credit, networking) are worth the time.

In any case, whether or not the artist is receiving ample monetary compensation, they should still have a job.

In recent weeks, I've learned more about wine. Part of what makes a particular wine good is struggle. The roots have to force themselves into silty earth, the skin has to withstand inclement weather. The result is (usually, but not always) good, complex, surprising wine. You can really taste the native terrain in a good wine - the minerals in the rocks nearby, the dank moss on the hillside.

The same is true for art - any kind. Art arises from its native culture. Some of my worst, most flaccid output has come from periods when I didn't need a job to support myself. I was left to wander the woods of my own artistic fancy without input or context of from the outside world. If all you do is art, where is your input coming from? What are you reacting to? Sure, you can read the news, but in order to comment or challenge the world, an artist needs to be of the world. A job provides connection and perspective.

Otherwise, you become Sting.

3. Favorite word this week:

Pronunciation: \ˈvelt-ˌshmerts\
Function: noun
Usage: often capitalized
Etymology: German, from Welt world + Schmerz pain
Date: 1864

1 : mental depression or apathy caused by comparison of the actual state of the world with an ideal state
2 : a mood of sentimental sadness

4. Least favorite word:


Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Song for a Crabby Tuesday

"Do you ever have one of those days where nothing goes wrong in particular, but nothing goes right either? You find yourself unsatisfied by music or movies (and you are aggravated by the very idea of television - although you haven't seen any yet today, you are already perturbed by the level of stultifying boredom it will no doubt bring), and even when something fun or exciting comes around, you just want to shut it down right away.

Ice Cream? Nettlesome.
Baby's Laugher? That'll end soon enough.
Champagne at Sunset? What did you do NOW?

A day when you are so peeved at your own ennui that you feel like saying something rotten just to get the juices flowing again?"

And Tuesday says:

You, loaded with malaise, can't even muster the energy to shove her.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Shutting Down for System Maintenance.

The next few days are going to be hectic, so I will not be posting again until next Monday.

In the meantime, if you you have a suggestion or thought you'd like to have addressed, email me or comment here. I'm always up for a challenge...and you never know how it will manifest itself once I get a hold of it.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Song for a Crappy Tuesday

"Second Tuesday in January" is gregarious and charismatic. You know this because he says that's how his friends describe him. This is also how you know that he is hilarious.

STiJ said this great thing one time, which he recounted, step by step: the set up, the dropped bomb of greatness, the immediate fallout, and his friends reactions for days. STiJ was getting phone calls even a couple of weeks later from friends so they could retell and relive the story together.

And then there was that other great thing that STiJ said. And then that other great thing.

STiJ has an unsettling habit of looking only at your mouth when you speak.

STiJ is impatient while you talk, but miffed when you don't invite him to look at your vacation pictures. STiJ constantly has his iPhone out (on which he has shown you every. single. app.), and gazes into its glowing, chimerical universe during conversations. Every so often he barks out an "Uh-huh."

STiJ has been temping in your office since New Year's...and now it looks like they are going to offer him a full time position. The cubicle next to you is vacant, and you fear that in a few days, it will become more so.

I used to like the Offspring, kind of. I never purchased one of their albums (though I think I wound up with one a few years ago - not sure how). They were invisibly woven into musical wallpaper of the early '90s - a band I didn't hate, but was never so moved to financially support.

I didn't even know the band's name until my roommate, Tina, was talking about the song she thought was funny, "Self Esteem".

"It's hilarious. This guy is talking about how his shitty girlfriend sleeps around on him, but he just can't break up with her." We talked about how the tone of the song would change drastically if a woman was singing it. How we'd judge her. How pathetic she'd be.

And the guy is pathetic, too. The turn-about is what makes this song even palatable. That, and the fact that, male or female, most of us have been in a relationship that demolished our ability to stand up for ourselves.

Still, I would not call myself an Offspring fan, but the thing I have to credit them for, is their sense of humor. They use a hard rock/punk sound as a vehicle for irony - a dude thrashing around about his relationship woes is pretty clever.

Monday, January 11, 2010

5 Images from my dreams

1. I was in a classroom where the students researched creatures once thought mythical. Hanging from the ceiling was a Narwhal - only it looked like a Jackalope. I said to the teacher: "These don't exist. They're from Utah."

2. The Ana Ng dance performed by They Might Be Giants from the Video.

3. My impersonation of L'il John for my students. I don't recall if they were impressed.

4. Elective open heart surgery. (Either done by me, or performed on me, or both.)

5. A repeated performance of the closing tap number in Kerpatty.

Analysis: I want to be a scientist, or a professional dancer. Also, Mormons don't exist.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Random Thoughts

1. Recently, I came across a term that I am unfamiliar with: Ableist.

Ableism is defined as discrimination against persons with disabilities. Ableist language is comprised of terms, phrases and words that support this discrimination. These words/phrases include (but are not exclusive to):

Blind (to one's surroundings)
Deaf (to one's surroundings)

These are often thrown out as insults or as part of a larger negative assessment. This economy is making me crazy! That outfit is lame. The Catholic Church scandal crippled the faith of millions.

I'd like to state at the outset that I am against the use of language that oppresses anyone. As much as we'd like to denounce the power of words to hurt (Sticks and stones and so on with the bones...) they do. Language is a powerful tool in the creation of civilizations. It is a representation of how we as a culture view our own people, how we separate ourselves into tribes, and how we identify our individuality. Sure, actions speak louder than words, but words are facilitators of action.

Which is why I come to be troubled by the appropriation of terms as Ableist.

The human body is something we all have. Whether you love yours, hate yours, find yourself trapped by it, freed by it, have had it fail on you, have experienced a recovery - you own one. we all have a mind, too, one that perceives it's own space in the world and can conceive of a future and a past. A mind we use to express frustrations, expectations, or satisfaction with our bodies.

The body is the first thing we perceive.

Because of this, expression about our bodies can come in the form of the idiomatic or the metaphorical. We also convey our thoughts on our surroundings or feelings via bodily metaphor, for instance, in the song Amazing Grace: "I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see."

In this instance, the quality of blindness is used in the negative, and those of us who are physically blind are, in essence, excluded from a definition of normal (or, in the example of Amazing Grace, blessed).

This is where my problem with Ableist Language resides. Our language is full of idioms to describe our various mental, physical, and emotional conditions. These phrases draw attention to a particular state of being and evoke a wide range of response from fellow humans. If we remove the metaphor in favor of the literal, how do we encompass the vast possibility of a language's meaning? And, eventually, isn't everything, when coupled with negative intention, able to offend?

Say we replace, "Was blind, but now I see" with "was unseeing, but now I see." The quality of "unseeing" is still unfavorable...and there are plenty of the unseeing among us who might still find that offensive. Where does it end?

I believe in the potential for language to evolve. It should (and will, whether we like it or not. Otherwise we'd still be speaking Latin or Middle English. Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote...LOL) The idea that we'd use once accepted terms to reference people of color is absurd. And I'm very much in favor of the equal use of gender specific pronouns rather than He or Him as universal.

A human being is a human being regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or physical/mental ability or disability. Use of language can take us leaps and bounds towards inclusion for all. I certainly do not advocate slinging the arrows of "Hey Retard!" in resistance to this inclusion. There is nothing post-modern or wry or ironic about that.

But my question is this: In the realm of metaphor, should my use of such language be removed entirely? And if it's replaced with something less charged or more literal, won't that rise to the same level of offense after a while?


Muzorama from Muzorama Team on Vimeo.

3. Favorite word this week:

[bel-weth-er] Show IPA
1. a wether or other male sheep that leads the flock, usually bearing a bell.
2. a person or thing that assumes the leadership or forefront, as of a profession or industry: Paris is a bellwether of the fashion industry.
3. a person or thing that shows the existence or direction of a trend; index.
4. a person who leads a mob, mutiny, conspiracy, or the like; ringleader.

1400–50; late ME; see bell 1 , wether

2. leader, pacesetter, frontrunner, trailblazer.

4. Least Favorite Word.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Song for a Crappy Tuesday

Tuesday looks across the table at you.

"You know what?" He says, "This meatloaf is really dry."

Your fork drops with a clang onto the plate and you stare at the crumbling ground beef.

"You just COULDN'T let it go, could you? We were doing really well and then- bam- you had to complain about SOMETHING. Jesus."

You knock your chair back from the dinner table, swipe up your plate and head to the kitchen. The house is silent, except the slow, labored chewing of Tuesday in the other room.

Neither of you is the good guy here. And that's worse than the dry meatloaf.

I was grocery shopping the other day when this song came over the speakers. It's pretty rare, anymore, to rediscover a song you love. Everything is so at-our-fingertips, that the happy accidents come fewer and farther between.

"You're the One" by the Vogues is one of those pre-Woodstock gems of doo-whop that gets lost in the shuffle. What a happy, unapologetic song. It starts out with this sweet lullaby verse and then breaks into an exuberant belt - like she just walked into the room and there's no containing himself.

The video is pretty funny, too. You have the Vogues, with no media savvy, paired with all the go-go dancers in back. I sort of long for the days when none of us were so aware of the cameras.

Monday, January 4, 2010


New Year's resolutions are a curse.

I know why we do it to ourselves. The sense of rebirth into a new year gives us a clean start. The sins of the previous year are washed away by the snowy river of January. We make lists of our change and talk them over at Holiday parties:

Next year, I'm making it to the gym four times a week.
Starting in 2010, I am cutting out caffeine, enTIREly.
I gunna get organized.
Debt free by 2011!

These are all worthy resolutions. The goal to change anything for the better is worthy.

The thing I discovered in 2009, is that any self improvement takes time. I used to make sweeping declarations about my New Year's Resolutions - I will study French for one hour a day! I will read 165 books! But then by February, these resolutions would be tucked away. I'd start out strong, but fumble around week 3. It's that fumble that would stop me from continuing.

I wasn't taking into account the Whole. Sure, I might succeed in transforming one area of my life, but the other areas (habits, schedule, need for time out) will fall by the way side if not supported, and those things will get in the way of larger change I want to make.

A while back I made a colossal alteration in the course of my life. It was terrifying, but necessary. Now that I finally feel more at home in my new skin, there are some other areas left untouched that are in dire need of attention.

Last year, I made this resolution:

1. See more of the world (near and far) and do the best I can to enjoy myself while I'm here.

I did just that. I traveled more for pleasure. Took a class or two, ran a 5k, ate rabbit, tried wines, danced at a swing club, saw the Duchamp Bicycle wheel, rode my bike around Chicago in the middle of the night, saw the sun come up over the lake...and that doesn't even cover a 10th of it.

It was a good year.

I want to keep that going so this year I have two resolutions:

1. See more of the world (near and far), do the best I can to enjoy myself while I'm here, and work on building a future that allows me the freedom to continue.

2. Not to give up if I fail at the change right away. I have to try again.

There are a few things (organizing time, money, fear) that trip me up. I'd rather spend my time planning, organizing, and acting on new habits than fretting in a frantic sea of lost money, time, friendships. I want to pay attention.

I'll probably fumble by the end of January...

If I do, so be it. I'll remake my resolutions at the beginning of February and keep going.
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