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. . . 2001-05-22

Errata

An anonymous reader queries, regarding yesterday's entry:

Shouldn't that be 'Différance Strokes'?
Yes, it should. We regret any inconvenience.
 
"Derrida works many other things in his essay, things which it would be more important to study in a philosophy class than in an English class...."

+ + +

The Blasted Stumps of Academe, cont.

More on academic publication, via E. B. White's horrifyingly weblog-like "One Man's Meat", Harper's, July 1941:

And here is a sheep question from Katherine Turrell, secretary of the American Cheviot Sheep Society, Oneonta, N. Y.:
"Wouldn't you like to send me an article for use in my Cheviot notes to the various sheep papers?"
Nothing would delight me more than to write exclusively about sheep, exclusively for shepherds. But I feel that I'd better relax till I know more about the subject.

One thing I learned this week was that I let my buck in with my yearling ewes too soon this winter. Such a pretty little miscalculation, though, with soft, trustful eyes and dainty black hooves! Beloved of all.

. . . 2001-05-26

When life gives you scraps, make collage

I gained new insight into the miracle of heterosexuality yesterday when I first read "A fixing on rotation" (via Bovine Inversus) while first hearing The Vernon Girls' "You Know What I Mean" (via alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.1960s). Insofar as I can, given my limited web space, I'd like to share the experience with you....

"You Know What I Mean" by
THE VERNONS GIRLS

(Sha la la la la la. Sha la, la la la.)
(Sha la la la la la. Sha la, la la la.)

Messt1 this boy he started to tuh-wist me.
All night long we were doing the twist.
Then about half past ten he kissed me.
Boy, did I know that I'd been kissed.

Ooooh! -- uauchghh! (phlegm-hawking sound)2

Well, you know what I mean.
Well, you can't get over a thing like that.
Boys are natural twisters.
You know wot I mean.

I became his fi-nance fixer,
Paid for everything while he
Twisted like a cement-tuh mixer
With every ohther girl but me.

Ooooh! - uauchghh! (phlegm-hawking sound)

Well, you know what I mean.
Well, you can't get overrh a thing-uh like that.
Boys are natural twisters.
You know wot I mean.

Spends my dough but more to resist him3
He was awful cute you see.
When my loost's run out, that twister's
Dawn4 away and run out on me.

Ooooh - wackgh! (disgusted sound)

Well, you know what I mean.
Well, you can't get over a thing-uh like that.
Boys are natural tuh-wisters.
You know wot I mean.

When you're tempted, don't-uh you linger.
Just remember he can twist
Some gehls round his little finger
And you might be next on his list.

Wagh-khchh. (ladylike phlegm-hawking sound)

Well, you know what I mean.
(Dumb dummy, dummy dummy dumb dumb)
Well, you can't get over a thing like that.
(Dumb dummy, dummy dummy dumb dumb)
Boys are natural twisters.
You know wot I mean.

So I said to him, Mary, like, I said, lissen 'ere y'flirt, I said what d'you think you're doin'? But 'e went awn! Twistin'! In fact he twisted the legs off me, I couldn't....

Bachelor stripped by his brides, even
1. A peculiarity of this Liverpudlian variant is its transformation of a terminal "t" to "ss." Thus, "met" to "mess," "loot" to "loos."

2. The only pre-1977 use of spitting as a hook in pop music?

3. Obviously wrong, but it took me so long to realize that what sounded like "five months" was actually "finance" that I despair of solving this problem.

4. Dialect, mannerism, or mistake? Topic for further research.

. . . 2001-05-27

Movie Comments Comment: Q & A with Moufida Tlatli after the PFA showing of her second film, The Season of Men

Any narrative artist from an underrepresented community will labor under two special pressures which conspire against the telling of any particular story that might be told:

  1. To be representative, in the same sense that a legislative body or Berkeley arts council might be. This pressure is antagonistic toward narrative structure per se, preferring a checklist approach.

  2. To tell a well-established story. Of course, this is a pressure felt by every narrative artist who needs outside funding or a living wage, but minority and Third World artists get it special: it's harder to get funding, "I don't get it" is likely to be mistaken for "You sold out," and there's the feeling that the artist's personal success will somehow reflect success on the community.
Resistance to one pressure lands the storyteller direct in the path of the other.

A singularly popular solution is to convince oneself that the story to be told is a representative collection of well-established stories, but this makes for one-hit wonders: to be representative is to be exhaustive.

. . . 2001-05-29

  Teacher's dirty looks   Learning the Alphalpha

" A is for Cat,
A is for Kit,
A is for Dog,
A is for Man,
A is for Lad,
A is for Cow... "

. . . 2001-06-01

My Life of Crime (linked with the proviso that "State & Local" governments are clearly more villainous than "Big" government)

Virginia
  • No trick-or-treating on Halloween.
  • No tickling of women.
  • No spitting on sea gulls in Norfolk.
Missouri
  • No oral sex.
  • No worrying squirrels in Excelsior Springs.
Pennsylvania
  • No more than 16 women can live together (accessory after the fact).
  • No singing in bathtub.
  • No public arousement in Allentown.
New Jersey
  • No frowning at police officers.
New York
  • No flirting.
  • No hanging clothes on clotheslines without a license.
  • No jumping off buildings.
  • No talking in elevators.
  • No slippers after 10 pm.
  • No greeting by putting one's thumb to one's nose and wiggling one's fingers.
  • No body-hugging clothing on women (accessory).
Massachusetts
  • Mourners may eat no more than three sandwiches at a wake.
  • No snoring unless all bedroom windows are locked.
  • No going to bed without a full bath.
  • No sex with woman on top.
  • No reproaching of Jesus Christ or the Holy Ghost.
  • No Quakers or witches (accessory after the fact).
  • No kissing in front of a Boston church.
  • No crossing of Boston Commons without a rifle.
New Hampshire
  • No tapping of feet or nodding of head to music in a tavern.
  • Machinery cannot be run on Sunday.
  • No excretion while looking up on Sunday.
California
  • No oral sex in San Francisco.
  • Ugly people cannot walk in San Francisco.

. . . 2001-06-03

Moral Analytical Dialectical Confront! (or, "I always say everybody's right")

  1. From Jeremy Rugulose Rogers McTolkien, via Caterina:

    "The white page can be overwritten; and the white light can be broken."

    "In which case it is no longer white," said I. "And he who breaks a thing to find out what it is, has left the path of wisdom."

  2. From an email:

    Technology (being put together) has to be taken apart to understand it. Art (similarly) has to be undertaken to understand it. Biology -- yeah, it's a sticky subject, but would you be satisfied with a medicine based on first principles and pulse-taking?

    As for that which we love -- there is taking apart, and there is delving, and there is close observation of experience, and there is celebration. The sound clip you quote confounds the four, but I think the distinctions are in the motives and the outcome, not the methodology. Ground can be broken without destroying it.

  3. From "Letter to Those Who May Care to Reflect on Me Should There Travel to Them a Report That I Have Died" by Laura (Riding) Jackson in Chelsea 69 (issue érotique)

    I recommend that you cast your thought on me in the forms 'What thought on her is Truth?' and 'What thought on her is Kind Thought?' I propose 'kind thought' not because of wanting to be thought on kindly. (I have not sought in my life to be treated kindly.) Kind thought would be best because when your thought on me fails to be Truth (and I know that thought of me has such failing in it among you -- how could it be otherwise, Truth still in human time of the appearance of a necessity competing with other necessities?), kind thought will put a blank in place of untrue thinking (kind thought resting in itself, thinking to no conclusion).

. . . 2001-06-07

Natural born veterinarian Juliet Clark showed us a New York Times article that will soon no longer be available even though it addresses the important issue of donkeys, and specifically the donkeys of Brazil:
The donkey has more than 100 affectionate nicknames in Brazilian Portuguese, including "drought endurer," "reservoir maker" and "earth smoother." [Not "donk-donk," though, because that's English.]

[But] "Nowadays people think they have to be modern and only want to hear about tractors," said Fernando Viana Nobre, president of the Donkey Breeders' Association of the Northeast. "A tractor gets the job done, but it's not a substitute for a donkey, because a donkey doesn't require gasoline at $2.50 a gallon, need spare parts or throw you into debt with the banks."

As recently as decade ago, when a national census put the number of animals at 1.3 million, a donkey fetched up to $100 at bustling livestock markets like the one here in Currais Novos, whose name means New Corrals. Now, in contrast, sturdy young males can be obtained for less than $1 a head, compared with $3 for chickens. "A cow gives milk and a chicken lays eggs," explained Josť Mata, a subsistence farmer here. "But what does a donkey do nowadays except eat and reproduce?"

Out in the countryside the Federal Highway Police have set up a special donkey patrol.... Since the beginning of 1999 the unit based here has captured more than 1,600 of the animals, ranging from single strays to entire herds wandering on roads. So many of the animals are now roaming unattended that collisions on highways are routine and the number of motorists killed or injured is growing. Truck drivers in particular complain that donkeys have become a pest and a menace now that people have no use for them.

During the 1970's and 80's, Brazil's donkey population was stabilized by exports of meat, primarily to Japan and France, where the lean meat was especially relished. But African nations have pushed Brazil aside in those markets, with help from Brazilian animal rights groups that objected to the meat trade and forced the closing of more than a dozen slaughterhouses.

Note the avoidance of sterilization as a solution..... I mean, I love donkeys. But not that way.
Annie is a good kittie. (via Caterina once removed, Calmondin twice)
Good ol' Simcoe.... During the recent fluff & flurry about Walter-Paisley-wannabe Gunther Von Hagens, I also couldn't help making unflattering comparisons to the wax anatomies of La Specola, meticulously crafted sculptures of classically posed beautiful people flayed and with their guts hanging out -- because after all, they're sculptures and therefore should be classically posed beautiful people. A glimpse at art and science still incestuously entwined in the Enlightenment womb before they decided to switch to Cain & Abel games. And also one of the only Florentine museums you can comfortably visit during high tourist season (March through October)!
Dan's Data:
... plenty of times, when I've been discussing some goofy, badly flawed Web site business model with its merry exponents (at various different dot-coms, not just News), they've said to me 'So what do you want us to do? Just give up?!'

Well, yeah.


On May 16, 2001, Ruthie's Double pointed out that online serial publishing is subject to the same sort of fallacious interpretation as online advertising. Rather than deal with the shock of the uniquely accurate evidence of viewer engagement that web monitoring allows, advertisers and blockbustin' authors prefer to retreat to their established fantasy worlds -- after all, they couldn't be so rich if they weren't so right....
It's conceivable that way less than 75% of the people who read his traditional print books actually pay for the experience. They borrow the book from friends, check it out from public libraries, etc....

There's no statistics as to how many people purchase, but stop reading Stephen King's books after the first chapter (I know I probably would). Perhaps the people who paid for the first chapter had stopped feeling like it was worthwhile to pay until the story got better....

It's as if the first Nielsen ratings resulted in all the television networks shutting down in a fit of pique.

And for those habitués who wonder at our new banner -- well, it's Caterina at work again, with a wake-up call to Kokonino Kounty: Now that the Hotsy Totsy Club of San Pablo Ave. has all its neon repaired and is being frequented by the glowingly buff and bare-chested, it can't be long before "www.hotsytotsyclub.com" will be suing all and sundry....

. . . 2001-06-08

RIOT ON ZINFANDEL LANE!

Scenes of Violence

While the Napa Valley Sheriff performs regular tasting duty at Clos Pegase Winery, a giant headless metal protester attacks his vehicle. Offisa B. Pupp pledges, "We'll soon have the miscreants behind bars and ourselves back in front of them."

+ + +

In other tabloid news, on learning that an evil viewer has used the copyright-infringing technology of videotape to shorten their copy of Star Wars Episode 1, the MPAA's Jack Valenti rabied: "It's like drawing a mustache on the Mona Lisa!"

. . . 2001-06-09

Our Motto:

"I am not a concrete box. I am a sexy nightclub."
-- Dean, speaking for the sign of San Pablo Avenue's own Hotsy Totsy Club

. . . 2001-06-10

Bonkus of the Conkus
Guy Pearce stars in Memento
Movie Comment: Memento

Memento is easy to write about. That's what it's made for.

What it's made from is cleverness, or at least the desire to seem clever. And when it works, it works as its own summary -- all pitch, no pictures. Vacuum-insulated from mundane specificity of time, place, experience, motive (vengeance for wife's rape-and-murder is the long-established Hollywood equivalent of "They have insulted our school!"), or even vice (one character is straight-facedly described as "a drug dealer" who carries a suitcase full of "drugs"), it's more Gantt chart than movie.

Given its abstraction and its reliance on the hero's slogging voiceover, it might seem like the filmmakers could've gone shorter and cheaper using the Detour approach. But that wouldn't have played to the movie's strengths: its gags and made-ya-jump! roller coaster moments. Because it actually is clever for a while. It's never anything more than that, never achieving even the level of observation reached by Reservoir Dogs (if nothing else, Tarantino understood the dynamics of the American workplace), but at least it manages that much. If Christopher Nolan had stuck to ninety minutes and three major plot interpretations, the movie would've been coldly schematic but successful on those terms. Like Blood Simple, say, with a little more flab.

So it's a shame the ride was overextended by a final half-hour of twist, all contact with the extremely narrow rail of the story was lost, the previously one-dimensional characters collapsed into zero-dimensional plot points, and the audience was sent spinning away with a choice of the following reactions:

  1. What happened? (The pick of the intelligent good-hearted observer who wants to give the movie the benefit of the doubt. Eventually likely to mellow into: It was supposed to be ambiguous.)

  2. What a rip-off.

  3. I got it! I got it! We're both clever!

    But definitely not:

  4. That was satisfyingly well done.
The film's not a demonstration of the "human capacity for evil" so much as a demonstration that it's impossible to sustain consistent characterization over two hours when you have a twist every fifteen minutes. On the other hand, this is the first noir formula I've seen that can easily extend into a series.... (Timelessness or no timelessness, Memento II had better include a PDA.)

Summary: It might've been great if it'd starred Bill Murray.

... an' anotha thing ...... then again ...

Copyright to contributed work and quoted correspondence remains with the original authors.
All other material: Copyright 2001 Ray Davis.