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Hang Gliding

I was fully prepared to be scared out of my wits, but it was surprisingly easy to run down the steep hill and straight into the air.  After that, it was a half-hour of non-stop giddiness.  Being along for the ride was great, especially when the pilot started doing stalls, dives, and wing drops, but the moment when I was truly hooked was when I took the controls for a few minutes.  Texas needs to sprout some fresh mountains, quick, or else I'm going to have to move somewhere else.

Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic

It took me 24 hours of trains and busses to make my way here from Switzerland.  Then an hour of wandering twisted medieval streets in the wrong direction because the guidebook map was inaccurate.  Being here was entirely worth the whole ordeal, though.  CK is listed second to Venice on UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites, and with good reason.  To continue the Hayao Miyazaki comparison's, Krumlov is like the mountain towns seen in the beginning of Castle In The Sky, only here the castle isn't in the sky, it's atop a hill right in the middle of town.  It's a beautiful agglomeration of ancient buildings surrounding a massive chateau complex of 40-plus buildings, all tightly embraced in a winding S-curve of the Vltava (Moldau) River.

Let no one tell you that the Czech Republic is not cheap anymore....it may be more expensive than it once was, but when I can have 2.5 liters of beer, an appetizer, an entree, and an absinthe for a grand one-night total of $19, it is plenty cheap here.

The hostel I had in Krumlov is - if such a thing is possible - even more awesome than the one in Antwerp was.   This one - called Krunlov House - was lovingly renovated with handbuilt furniture and staircases by a bunch of Australian backpackers, and it's quite possibly the most perfect place to stay in this town.  Yes, there are stunningly beautiful posh hotels here, but if you want to live, eat and socialize like a local this is the place to be.  The party people stay at Hostel 99, but the travellers with a capital T will be far happier at Krumlov House.

A few highlights: 

River-rafting on the Vltava.  

Walking through the stunning multi-period castle by day.  

The local Eggenberg beer, from a brewery that "modernized" in the 19th century by installing steam machinery.  

Horor Bar, a warren of arched cellars that may be the most perfect goth bar ever - the bartenders were both cute girls in a casual, everyday sort of goth dress, however the music was not "goth" but a variety of alternative music ranging from Iggy Pop to The Fall, and the patrons were just there for the atmosphere, not to be "blacker and lacier than thou".  

Rambling conversation with a couple of local Czech guys at the self-same Horor bar.  

Sneaking into the castle with one of them after dark.  

The small but beautiful collection of Egon Schiele paintings at the Centrum Egon Schiele, especially his townscapes of Cesky Krumlov.  

The Keith Haring exhibition at the Centrum which featured most pominently his illustration work for texts by William S. Burroughs, as opposed to the usual Haring stuff you always see everywhere,  (Unfortunately, no photos were allowed or I would have photographed some of the best ones for Karin). 

And now a stuffy three-hour bus ride has brought me to Prague...

I loved CK so much it's hard to imagine I'll like it here nearly as much.  The hostel is very new and very modern in its design, but it doesn't have any real character.  It's all style, and no "Hey, a big group from the hostel are going to see the live band at Gypsy Bar tonight".   I'm sure Prague will be of massive interest anyway, but if not for this place requiring an unusual 48 hours notice for cancellations I might well have stayed in CK until the last night of my trip.

More to come.

Love and Bohemian Bonhomie,

Jonathan

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 Why Brussels Sucked:

It was unseasonably hot.  It was nearly impossible to navigate, and I have breezed through every other city on this trip with ease (even the supposedly notoriously difficult Amsterdam).  The directions to the hostel were so terrible I spent an hour wandering up and down hills before finding the street I needed at a 90-degree angle to where they said it would be.  After that much time wasted, I had precious little to find the Musee des Beaux-Arts...and when at last I did, it was the Palais des B-A.  Arrrgggh.   So, more walking, and finally arriving at the museum, which by then was closed.  So I never saw The Fall Of Icarus or any of the other masterpieces, and Brussels was pretty much a complete wash.

It was punctuated by a failed attempt to meet up with some people from the hostel that night, and ending up alone in a cafe, getting service that even by European cafe standards was terrible.

Also, the Bruxellois apparently have no sense of humor.  Despite valiantly trying to put a comic spin on my predicaments, I never saw one of them so much as crack a half-smile.  Most regarded me as if I were from another planet.

And finally, Brussels is ugly.  I can say this because everyone who lives there freely admits it.  It's not even the edgy, exciting sort of ugly you get from parts of New York, though.  It's not a lively arts and industry and street performers and subcultures, so-much-goes-on-here-we-have-no-time-to-make-it-pretty ugly, it's just plain ugly.

Next time I come to Belgium, I'm staying in Antwerp and just taking the train to Brussels for museum visits.

Amsterdam and MINI United:

MINI United was cool.  Not at all a "singles mixer for MINI owners" as Bruce had jokingly called it, though.  In fact, my number one complaint is that most people there came with an established MINI club from their hometown somewhere in Europe, and the way the festival was designed, people mostly just stayed in their established cliques.  There weren't any events that would really encourage you to meet anyone else.

So the whole thing ended up feeling like going to an amusement park by yourself, but what an amusement park!  Over the course of 3 days, I:

    - learned to do a cool James Bond style reverse 180-degree turn
    - took 6 speedy laps around the Zandvoort Formula 1 circuit in my loaner MINI from MINI USA
    - took 2 far speedier laps as a passenger to one of the MINI Challenge drivers, in his souped-up track racing MINI
    - took one of the new diesel MINIs for a high-speed rally-style group test drive around the public roads of the small beachfront community of Zandvoort.  I think we flouted about 15 different European laws, but we did so very safely.  :)
    - drove go-karts at speeds no American company would ever allow
    - saw two half-hour races in the MINI Challenge series...and discovered I have a much higher level of patience for motorsports when they don't last 4 hours (I'm talking to you, NASCAR)
    - saw several live bands, and some DJs from Hed Kandi (a pretty good house label, only slightly cheesy)

Meanwhile, the MINI USA crew gave us free drinks every night, an Amsterdam canal cruise the first night, and dinner at Jamie Oliver's Fifteen on the last night.

After MINI United, I spent most of my last day checking out the Van Gogh Museum, which was entirely worth the hype.  Those paintings have to be seen in person to be truly appreciated.

On the whole, I liked Amsterdam.  The ethnic food is amazing, and the quality you can get from cheap street food is unparalelled.  The city is very pedestrian-friendly, and the red-light district not nearly as dramatic as people made it out to be.  The people are some of the nicest, most hospitable people I've ever encountered in a city this size.

Night Train

Cue Oscar Peterson....  After Amsterdam, I took the CityNightLine to Switzerland.  Provided you're not a light sleeper, it's a great way to travel and save yourself a night in a hotel.

Now I am in Interlaken.   If Brugge was Kiki's Delivery Service, then Interlaken and the surrounding villages (especially the hike down the valley from Murren to Gimmelwald) are Nausicaa's home valley in Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind.   I spent the whole day yesterday riding trains and cable cars up mountains so I could walk down the other side of them.  It's so picturesque here you can't quite believe it.  I exhausted the camera battery by mid-afternoon, so the stunning views of the Eiger as I walked through Murren will have to remain unphotographed.

Now I'm off to pack up the gear before an afternoon of Alpine hang-gliding, then a night train to the Czech Republic.

Apologies for the mundanity of the posts so far...foreign keyboards and 30 minute time limits don't lend themselves to rumination, but there will be deeper, juicier stuff once I return.

Love to all of you,

Jonathan
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Oper Koln

I am pretty sure the original Handel version of Giulio Cesare was not so sexy.  This production featured harem dancers stripping to their undergarments, a male soprano in high heels, leather pants, and pompadour, and Cleopatra as a dominatrix in the third act.  Still, the audience predominated by sexagenarians gave them enthusiastic applause and 4 curtain calls.  Easily the finest young operatic cast I have ever seen.  The hall was uninspiring and the production values more weird than wonderful, but the singing was divine:

More on Brugge

Had a lovely night walking around the place with a couple of people from the hostel: Ellie from Australia and Anne-Marie, a Quebecois studying in Vienna:  Unfortunately, they weren't keen to actually go in anywhere, so we ended up back at the hostel by 10.   I was so wired up with digging on the town that I wanted to head back out; but no one was left in the hostel, so I wandered alone, and ended up having one lonely beer at 't Brugse Beertje before calling it a night.  The place was full of obnoxiously loud English metalheads...not my cup of tea.

I did, however, earlier have an excellent dinner.  I wouldn't have expected it fro, a place called the Hoobit, but the kitsch was non-existent, the all-you-can eat grilled meats were excellent, and the Hoegaarden was ice cold.  Yum!

As a side note, the cute waitress with the geeky glasses and desultory haircut was not my waitress, but she served to prove an interesting point: thong hanging out of your low-cut jeans...tacky.  Sparkling white huge briefs doing same...inexplicably sexy.

Brussels

A nightmare.  More on that later.  Luckily, I am now in the coolest, most convivial-without-being-frattish-and-boorish hostel ever in Antwerp, and down the street is a cafe serving 200 kinds of jenever.  Life is good again.  Let's just pretend Brussels never happened.

Love and euro-kisses

J
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I have found some real corkers already.  Thank you, Tintin store.  If you want one, e-mail me your address at my gmail account, unless you are Joy - yours I have from your condo postcard.   If you don't have my e=mail, post a comment here and we'll sort it out.
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...that's Brugge in a nutshell.  This place is so like that town it's eerie.  I want to stay for months.  [profile] phylomath should visit post-haste.  More later because this keyboard is tiresome, but all I can say is WOW.  I should have planned for more than one night here.
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Today I landed in Cologne after some 21 hours of combined travel.  Groggy, hungry, and very excited, I made my way through customs to the S-Bahn station.  Despite having learned at least 90 percent of my German from Beethoven librettos, I made my way effortlessly (but not uneventfully) through a series of trains and trams to my tiny no-frills hotel in Neumarkt.

The eventful part came when I emerged from the Hauptbahnhof (central train station) directly in the shadow of Koln's massive Dom (cathedral).  The many steps all around it were littered with tourists, yes, but also with three times as many locals enjoying the summer sun.  Apparently sitting on the cathedral stoop is the Kolnischer (is that the word?) version of what Southerners in the U.S. call "porch sittin'".  It's an impressive sight to see teenagers with Technicolor hair and loud boom boxes next to Asian businessmen eating pizza and elderly locals with canes, all enjoying an afternoon sprawl in the sun.

It was at about this time that I started thinking about today's poem.  It's actually two days early - on Tuesday I will be in Brussels, and will indeed be visiting the Musee des Beaux-Arts, but there in a welter of language I mostly don't understand, I noticed how much I was paying attention - actively taking things in, automatically thinking about context.

Today's poem is in a way an anti-travel poem.  One of many ways to read it is as a comment on our human failure to see the wonderful and unusual and terrible taking place around us.  We're so busy with our own everyday lives that we don't realize that the foreign, the strange, the spectacular is right under our noses.

But I think that gets at the heart of why we travel.  It is less about the destination than it is about a way of thinking about place, a way of responding to everyday life.  Travel awakens our "pay attention" circuits and sets them on high alert.  We travel so that when we go home, we'll notice things there that we never saw before, because we come home thinking about context, treating every situation as an exercise in orienting ourselves and thereby possibly discovering a new angle from which we never saw our own little lives.

So, that brings us to the poem.  I love this poem because it's the first time a work of art made me love another work of art I had never even seen.  Later, when I found an image of the painting "The Fall Of Icarus", it was precisely as I had imagined it, and then I loved it twice as much.

Musee des Beaux-Arts

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully
along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the plowman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

- W. H. Auden

Speaking of suffering (forgive the segue), the fare at the venerable Brauerie Päffgen is the exact opposite of it.  The local breweries here all brew Kölsch, a light but complex and slighly bitter brew served in elegant little glass cylinders.  Combine that with a plate full of Wienerschnitzel, delicious potatoes bathed in a tartar-like sauce, and a cornucopia of other things I was unable to identify, and it makes for a very fine lunchtime feast.

That pretty handily crossed hunger off my list of ailments.  Let's hope the grogginess fades in time for tonight's entertainment: if I can find my way to Offenbachplatz, I am going to see the Oper Koln perform Handel's Giulio Cesare.  After that, if I have any energy left, I' going to a local club where DJ's from the excellent minimal techno label Kompakt man the decks every night of the week.

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So I'm going to Europe in two weeks.  I deliberately haven't much of a plan...it's all very napkin-sketch.  My very limited itinerary includes:

1) Drink a fresh Kolsch in Koln/Cologne
2) See Brueghel's "The Fall Of Icarus" at the Musee des Beaux-Arts in Brussels
3) Attend the international MINI festival/party MINI United in Amsterdam
4) Visit Meteren, a tiny town in Geldermalsen, Netherlands that is the origin of my surname
5) Send home postcards and Belgian chocolates (more on that later)
6) Time permitting, hang- or para-glide in the Alps
7) Spend some time futzing around in Prague
8) TIme permitting, visit honorary family member Fenar in Copenhagen
9) As much as possible, take only pinhole and zone plate photographs. *

* I don't want to take the same Europe photos thousands of others have taken, and this seems like a good restriction to encourage creativity.  I'll have only one other lens with me, for portraits of friends made along the way and other things that don't lend themselves to long exposures.

So, in honor of my impending journey, I'll be expanding the Tuesday poem into a series of posts over the next two weeks.  This first one is perhaps the greatest travel poem ever written, most of all because it is not necessarily about travel.

Ithaka


As you set out for Ithaka
hope the journey is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon - don't be afraid of them:
you'll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon - you won't encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope the voyage is a long one.
may there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbours seen for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind -
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvellous journey.
without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won't have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

Constantine Cavafy
Tr. Edmund Keeley & Philip Sherrard
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The Moz is coming to Austin, tomorrow at the Backyard. I have two tickets, but there is only one of me. Who wants the other ticket?

Fair warning: it's an outdoor show, and supposed to be rain or shine, BUT the Mozzer might cancel, or it might get very soggy and miserable out there.

His new album is superb, though, so it should be entertaining enough to be worth a few minor trials.

Post a comment or e-mail me, and the ticket is yours. Free, but a small donation is welcome if it makes you feel better.
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On The Roof

The trouble with me is that whether I get love or not
I suffer from it. My heart always seems to be prowling
a mile ahead of me, and, by the time I get there to surround it,
it's chewing fences in the next county, clawing
the bank-vault wall down or smashing in the window
I had just started etching my name on with my diamond.

And that's how come I end up on the roof. Because even if I talk
into my fist everyone still hears my voice like the ocean
in theirs, and so they solace me and I have to keep
breaking toes with my gun-boots and coming up here
to live—by myself, like an aerial, with a hand on the ledge,
one eye glued to the tin door and one to the skylight.

- C.K. Williams
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Links for wordies:

Wordie.org is a site for people who like words. Make lists of your favorite words, hated words, favorite palindromes, etc. Lots of fun. My lists are here, but I haven't entered many words yet.

The Unsuggester is a project by LibraryThing designed to invert the "if you liked this, you will like that" concept so prevalent on e-commerce and social networking sites nowadays. The idea is to present you with the books you are least likely to have read, or want to read, based on a favorite book which you have read already.

I tried it out with Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities, and the result suggests that fans of Calvino's poetic exploration of urbanity are highly unlikely to like John Grisham novels. Entirely accurate - I've never read a Grisham novel, and he's not on my reading list.

On the other hand, when I entered Something Fresh by P.G. Wodehouse, I was informed that I'm very unlikely to also like Chuck Palahniuk novels, or Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami. Not so accurate there, especially considering I recently read the latter and loved it. I guess I'm within the wee standard deviation on that one.

Links for gamers:

My Nintendo Wii was due to arrive Friday, but was delayed by the nationwide arctic cold snap, so meanwhile I'm amusing myself with links from the internets.

Grow Your Own 1-Up Mushroom - That's right. Now you can have "do overs" power in real life, with your very own Super Mario-style 1-up mushroom.

Dolce & Gabbana's Nintendo T-shirt - Well, it does seem like gaming is becoming more and more chic, but that doesn't make this $175 Dolce & Gabbana t-shirt any less ridiculous. The worst part is, I think they just took an old Nintendo ad from the Nintendo 64 era and put it on the shirt verbatim. Lame.

ps - Yes, there is actually a site called gaygamer.net, and yes, their slogan really is "For boys who like boys who like joysticks!"

I give the slogan a C-minus, but the site itself is a welcome change from all the mainstream gaming blogs that get 90% of their content from the other mainstream gaming blogs. (Funny how that sounds exactly like music blogs, innit?) This is just the sort of niche gamer market that Nintendo is poised to conquer, if they can just figure out how. Allow me to suggest a Project Runway game. You can cut and sew your clothing with the Wiimote, and Tim Gunn can pop up every now and then to say "Make it work!" or the dreaded "Well, I'll leave you to it." :)

The Joy Of Wii - If you've been on the fence about buying a Wii, this should give you some indication of just how exciting it is to play one. :)
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Still don’t know what I was waiting for
And my time was running wild
A million dead-end streets and
Every time I thought I’d got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet
So I turned myself to face me
But I’ve never caught a glimpse
Of how the others must see the faker
I’m much too fast to take that test


It all started when I was watching Sports Night again. This time around, what lingers with me is how the act of making something, over and over, making and remaking, night after night, how that shapes a person's life. How thoroughly it makes you who you are.

And it occurs to me how much I miss that. How I miss the way time compresses as the moment approaches when the curtain goes up, until it is as hard and clear and immutable as diamond. I miss it from college theater in particular, but it occurs to me that it's a more fundamental part of who I am than that.

It's why I prefer writing poetry to writing anything else, and it's why I've never been anywhere close to finishing a novel. It's why I loved doing high school homework in the class period just before it was due. It's why I liked swing dancing when I was thinking only about the dance at hand, and why it started to bug me when I began being too concerned about long-term improvements in my dancing.

It's why, as much as I like my current job, I don't like the part of it that is big long projects with very few notable milestones, because most days feel like I've done nothing, and I really like the feeling of making something every day.

Until now, I'd never entirely decided what I wanted to do with my life. What I know now is that I was framing the question in the wrong way. I used to think the problem was that I was good at too many things, and couldn't bring myself to pursue just one to the exclusion of the others - am I a photographer, a writer, a programmer, a musician, a composer, a mathematician, a lighting designer, or something else entirely?

What I'm at bloody last realizing is that my "bliss" is none of these things - it's a way of living that involves making something every day, that compresses hours the way the weight of the atmosphere squeezes wet and loamy life up through the roots of plants and trees.

It doesn't really matter what I do, as long as every day (or as close an approximation as I can manage) has that feeling in it.

I don't know where I'm going yet, but I know at last what the destination looks like. As Mr. Bowie sang in the song, it's time to "turn and face the strain".

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes...
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Regardless of whether you're celebrating Diwali, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Xmas, Hanukkah, or the winter solstice, commerce is the least important aspect of the season.

Still, there's an undeniable joy in giving things to people, and some of you have asked for lists of what I want, so here are a few online shopping lists to assist you in your holiday buying. But first, a few disclaimers:

- I will be perfectly happy if you buy me something that isn't on the lists. Creative giving rocks!
- I will be perfectly happy if you don't buy me anything at all. Making things is a badge of uber-coolness.
- I will be perfectly happy if all you have to give me is a cheerful and heartfelt embrace to express your friendship.

That being said, here are the lists:

My Yoox DreamBox
Let me warn you, I have stuff ranging from the affordable to the ridiculous in here. Much of it is just cool fashion I like to look at wistfully while pretending there's an extra zero on the end of my salary. I don't actually expect anyone to buy me the $1500 Helmut Lang cashmere suit.

For actual buying practicality, I recommend the "sort by ascending price" option...that should push something more affordable to the top of the list. Note: Yoox does sell gift certificates, if you're feeling indecisive.

My Amazon.com Wish List
Everything from video games to German Romantic poetry to Kurosawa films. A few things are replacements for lost favorites, but most of it is new to me, so you have the added thrill of shaping my identity by guiding my cultural consumption. :)

My StyleHive
Currently empty, but I'll be adding stuff to it as I find neat things elsewhere on the web.
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Happy Birthday, [livejournal.com profile] hangingfire!!

* * *

The new Badly Drawn Boy, Born In The U.K., is disappointing me. I should mention for context that I haven't bought anything since Have You Fed The Fish?. It's not bad, but it seems like Mr. Gough's lost track of his own weirdness. This album just doesn't have the awesome quirks that peppered his first two outings.

* * *

Requiescat In Pacem, Robert Altman. One of my favorite directors, and one of the most independent men in Hollywood. Don't blame him for Popeye...his career has so many gems in it that it's OK for a few sockets in the setting to be gemless. Short Cuts, The Player, M*A*S*H, Nashville, and Gosford Park are essential viewing, and that's more than a lot of directors will ever achieve.

* * *

No family plans for Thanksgiving this year. Granddad is still adjusting slowly to his new home, so it didn't seem wise to move him around right now. Instead I'll be sharing the festival of thankful dining with [livejournal.com profile] phylomath and McKee and whoever else shows up to their gathering of holiday remainders.

* * *

Those of you into graphic design, weird folk art, Japan, Scandinavia, and/or fashion might be interested in Klaus Haapaniemi [2] [3], who makes some delightfully twisted illustration work that blends Japanese and Scandinavian folk art with modern design and creative weirdness. Here's hoping he does get his wished-for collaboration with Comme des Garcons...that would be decidedly interesting.

* * *

Check it out...it's an electromechanical version of Pong! If you're not hip to the principles of engineering, let me just say that this is a ridiculously difficult achievement. Yes, it is yet another case of someone with a lot of time on their hands, but the execution is so extremely elegant, it's practically a work of art.

* * *

According to that BBC Brain Sex I.D. quiz battery, my brain is right smack in the middle of male and female. Not a big surprise for a math whiz who writes poetry. What *is* surprising is that I got a perfect score on the section for identifying emotions from the eyes alone. Feel free to post suggestions on how I can use this arcane skill to make millions.

* * *

Happy dining and safe travels to all of you during the holiday!
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It's Election Day! If you haven't voted yet, I implore you stop reading and go do so. I care not what you're voting for, I wish only to see you participating. It's the only weapon we have against the (mostly) guys in charge.

For Election Day 2006, I've chosen a selection of poems about American democracy. I urge you to read them all, because they're all bloody brilliant, and all but one of them is short.

"Election Day" by William Carlos Williams provides a subtle reminder of the condition of our democracy. Don't let this discourage you...vote anyway, and resolve to fix it up in future elections.

"Election Day, November, 1884" by Walt Whitman was written in response to one of the most rancorous, negative, and bitterly contested elections in American history. Yes, even then they had perfected mudslinging to a cruel science. Despite the nature of that election, Whitman celebrates something larger than a single election, larger than the man who won: the power of the choosing itself. "While the heart pants, life glows" - a hopeful truth.

And finally, Chilean poet Pablo Neruda celebrates, during a visit to America, the democracy of rail-splitter Abraham Lincoln, and wishes for an awakening in our modern world. What's printed here is merely an excerpt from "Let The Rail Splitter Awake", but it's one of my all-time favorite pieces of poetry and well worth your time.

On Election Day 2006, "Let us think of the entire earth / and pound the table with love."

Election Day, by William Carlos Williams )

Election Day, November, 1884, by Walt Whitman )

An excerpt from Let The Rail Splitter Awake, by Pablo Neruda )


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I am informed by [livejournal.com profile] minimalrobot that actress Adrienne Shelly has died.

She starred in two of my favorite indie movies of all time, Hal Hartley's one-two punch of debut films, The Unbelievable Truth and Trust. More than a few people might have assumed that she was only funny because of the dry wit of Hartley's dialogue, but subsequent acting appearances and her writing/directing work on indie films like Sudden Manhattan and I'll Take You There established her as a true comic talent. Unfortunately, her genius managed to consistently fly just under the radar.

Whatever the reason for her death, it belongs in the "too soon" category. So have a drink and watch Trust again, for the memory of Adrienne Shelly, quite possibly the funniest girl that Hollywood never noticed.

Maria: Did you mean it? Would you marry me?
Matthew: Yes.
Maria: Why?
Matthew: Because I want to.
Maria: Not because you love me or anything like that, huh?
Matthew: I respect and admire you.
Maria: Isn't that love?
Matthew: No, that's respect and admiration. I think that's better than love.
Maria: How?
Matthew: When people are in love they do all sorts of crazy things. They get jealous, they lie, they cheat. They kill themselves. They kill each other.
Maria: It doesn't have to be that way.
Matthew: Maybe.
Maria: You'd be the father of a child you know isn't yours.
Matthew: Kids are kids, what does it matter?
Maria: Do you trust me?
Matthew: Do you trust me first?
Maria: I trust you.
Matthew: You sure?
Maria: Yes.
Matthew: Then marry me.
Maria: I'll marry you if you admit that respect, admiration, and trust equals love.
Matthew: OK. They equal love.
abbandono: (Default)
I'm bored, so I made this one myself. 

This list compiles 280 films from 4 different lists of the top 100 greatest films.  How many have you seen? Copy this list and mark the films you have seen in bold. If you liked it, add a star (*) in front of the title, if you didn't, give it a minus (-). Use a zero if you're indifferent or can't recalll your opinion.  Then, put the total number of films you've seen somewhere in the subject line and pass it on!

Bonus: Think all four of these publications missed a film that belongs on the list? Add it at the bottom under Viewer's Choice.

abbandono: (Default)
I'm jumping on [livejournal.com profile] wanderlust_atx's bandwagon for this literary meme.

Behind the cut... )




Update: More Reader's Choice

I can't believe I forgot these....

Dhalgren - Samuel R. Delany
The USA Trilogy - John Dos Passos (much like Lord Of The Rings, it is for all intents and purposes a single book that just happens to be published in 3 volumes)

And just to stir things up a bit, not only should Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale be on this list, but also some Kathy Acker - probably Don Quixote: Which Was A Dream for its exuberant tower-toppling feminism and structural avant-garde insanity.
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I msised last week's Tuesday poem, but we're back on schedule this week.  I wanted to do something apropos of our coming election, and after considering a number of more well-known protest poems, I stumbled across this lesser-known gem by e.e. cummings.  Enjoy the poem,.and don't be afraid to answer "no" on election day.

[why must itself up every of a park]

by e.e. cummings

why must itself up every of a park
anus stick some quote statue unquote to
prove that a hero equals any jerk
who was afraid to dare to answer "no"?
quote citizens unquote might otherwise
forget(to err is human;to forgive
divine)that if the quote state unquote says
"kill" killing is an act of christian love.
"Nothing" in 1944 AD
"can stand against the argument of mil
itary necessity"(generalissimo e)
and echo answers "there is no appeal
from reason"(freud)--you pays your money and
you doesn't take your choice.Ain't freedom grand
abbandono: (music)
For this installment of Bandwagonesque, here are Siouxsie Sioux and Budgie (of The Creatures) performing live in the Netherlands with John Cale (of the Velvet Underground) and the Het Metropolis Orchestra.  The first video features "I Was Me" by The Creatures, and the second is John Cale's "Gun".  Siouxsie's a little off-key at times in the latter, but it's still an interesting performance.

"I Was Me"



"Gun"
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Quoth the lovely [info]phylomath: "I wish I knew more great poems about food." 

Herewith, one of my favorite food poems:

Blackberrying
by Sylvia Plath

Nobody in the lane, and nothing, nothing but blackberries,
Blackberries on either side, though on the right mainly,
A blackberry alley, going down in hooks, and a sea
Somewhere at the end of it, heaving. Blackberries
Big as the ball of my thumb, and dumb as eyes
Ebon in the hedges, fat
With blue-red juices. These they squander on my fingers.
I had not asked for such a blood sisterhood; they must love me.
They accommodate themselves to my milkbottle, flattening their sides.

Overhead go the choughs in black, cacophonous flocks —
Bits of burnt paper wheeling in a blown sky.
Theirs is the only voice, protesting, protesting.
I do not think the sea will appear at all.
The high, green meadows are glowing, as if lit from within.
I come to one bush of berries so ripe it is a bush of flies,
Hanging their bluegreen bellies and their wing panes in a Chinese screen.
The honey-feast of the berries has stunned them; they believe in heaven.
One more hook, and the berries and bushes end.

The only thing to come now is the sea.
From between two hills a sudden wind funnels at me,
Slapping its phantom laundry in my face.
These hills are too green and sweet to have tasted salt.
I follow the sheep path between them. A last hook brings me
To the hills' northern face, and the face is orange rock
That looks out on nothing, nothing but a great space
Of white and pewter lights, and a din like silversmiths
Beating and beating at an intractable metal.

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