Friday, April 30, 2010

Ocean Ducks

Last night's tweets;

Five fresh water fish paint a plaid mural.
There's Play-Doh stuck in the coffee filter.
To-day, each footstep must become plural.
Twenty steps knock octo-men off kilter.

I only managed to get up one hour early to-day, at 1pm, but it seemed to make a big difference. By 5:30, I'd already taken a bunch of pictures at the beach;

This seagull had situated himself where the water came exactly to the tips of his toes.

A couple mountains of seaweed, swarming with flies.

This little alley is by an expensive restaurant called The Marine Room--to-day the tide was coming right up to it.

I think this could almost be a Nine Inch Nails album cover.

I spent a lot of time photographing trees--there are so many strange, twisty trees around here.

A couple of ducks eating Cheerios at the mall, where I went for lunch. The male alternated between eating and staring me down while the female alternated between eating and waddling over to a little puddle to drink.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Dancing Anaesthetised Zombies

Last night's tweets;

A lobby phone swallowed a girl's hour.
Sydney Greenstreet peeled chocolate birds above.
Black pennies congeal into a tower.
There's a parking space reserved for a dove.

Somehow, I can't help finding the recent oil spill due to the explosion of a rig terribly funny. To me, it's close to Lex Luthor moving California, Superman not being there to stop him, and most people ultimately not caring except people in the immediate vicinity. Such is the state of apathy and short sighted self interest I perceive as fast and universal. Just look at Arizona's new immigration law, crafted by a small group of repressed racists. It takes the special sort of candy coated insensitivity of our bulbous modern humanity to push a bunch of people out of a desert because they might, in some ambiguous way, be draining tax dollars. Even if it were truly a significant drain on the economy, and the Hummer I saw by the grocery store the other day suggests to me it's not, who's being saved with this money? It just seems like the whole human race gets sadder every day.

I might try getting up early to-morrow. I've been making decent time with my comic this week, and I think I might try to enjoy daylight on Friday. On Monday's Howard Stern Show I was kind of annoyed by Courtney Love showing up hours late because she had been up all night and, then, when she got to the building where Stern's show is broadcast, she spent another half hour in the lobby listening to her own voice mails she'd recorded for a guy who evidently was being a dick to her. But the interview itself was fascinating. One of the great and unique things about Howard Stern--what other interviewers actively avoid, fearing to let guests embarrass themselves, he actively pursues. So listeners were treated to a picture of Love's life to-day, wherein apparently "people" prevent her from spending more than three hundred dollars at a time and, although she's sure her daughter, Francis, wants to talk to her, "lawyers" stand in the way. It seems like a lot of rock stars, when they talk to Stern, have a long shit list of people that have fucked their lives up in sometimes dubiously complicated ways. I'd actually been listening to Hole's Live Through This earlier in the day, which is an album I still like, though, whoever Courtney Love was, she seems buried now under piles of dizzy self-absorption. She talked about how she didn't want to be a feminist anymore, and wanted to think like a man. Though, I have to admit, the most disappointing thing to hear was that she was currently reading Ayn Rand.

She did say something I agreed with, though--or, at least, she vaguely seemed to allude to something in the middle of incoherent rambling I think I agree with, which is that it's really depressing to see what's happened to Billy Corgan. I mean, just from the fact that he's calling his new band The Smashing Pumpkins when he hasn't got any other members of the original band, and the fact that he dated Jessica Simpson. The guy seems to have epitomised "sell out" at this point. I guess you could say that Courtney Love at least didn't go that route, but Stern was pleading with her not to sell any more Nirvana songs. I really hope he got through to her, I could do without any more unintentionally ironic uses of "In Bloom" or "Breed" in video game commercials.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Study in Nebulae

Twitter Sonnet #136

A coffee cup sticks inside a black car.
There's an extra half hour across town.
Scientists send porn to a distant star.
Alien mollusc frowns turn upside down.
There's a stellar extension cord at home.
Day's red suitcase holds the dawn's noodle hand.
Half of all water's under Epcot's dome.
Hats wear plastic trumpets in backwards land.
Cranberry bullets are clear as copper.
Atomic candies bide their digestion.
Dizzy new stories from Hedda Hopper.
Living readers are weak to suggestion.
Invisible webs tickle a cat nose.
To a sushi place the sombre fish goes.

The sheriff stopped by my parents' house yesterday looking for me. It turns out the guy from last week had indeed gotten stabbed--it wasn't self inflicted or an accident, though apparently the cops still know little else. The guy is alive. So while I was blogging about War and Peace last week, someone was nearly murdered a few yards away from me. I guess there's more going on out there at night than rabbits, snails, and cross-eyed cats.

I'd told the cop I wouldn't likely be at my parents' house, though I am registered at that address. My mother gave the sheriff my cell phone number, despite the fact that I'd already given it to them, and I haven't heard from them. I'm getting an impression of a lack of any feeling of urgency on the part of the police. But my mother said the sheriff seemed like a nice lady, and I think she's probably the little old woman I saw talking to some little kids at the grocery store a few weeks ago.

I guess there's no real need for any serious investigation. I guess the worst that could happen is someone else gets stabbed . . . hmm. But I could be getting the wrong impression. Maybe it's just that they sense I really know nothing helpful, and they'd rather not waste their time pursing this line.

I grew up in this town, and I'm not really used to thinking of it as dangerous. It seems pretty low key to me, but then I think about things like the body found in the dumpster near where my sister works or the shooting at my high school that drew national attention. It almost seems odd that I've never personally witnessed any serious violence here that I can remember. Though there are incidents of serious violence I've witnessed in my life that seem to slip my mind.

Here are some pictures of a spider I found in the garage last night;

Poor Snow walked right into his web three times. Here's a blurry, luminous Snow;

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Blue Ladies

Last night's tweets;

There's a stellar extension cord at home.
Day's red suitcase holds the dawn's noodle hand.
Half of all water's under Epcot's dome.
Hats wear plastic trumpets in backwards land.

I'm so tired. I hope there's no errands I need to run to-morrow. I feel like I've been running around for weeks.

I watched the fourth episode of the Daleks serial of Doctor Who last night. I'm wondering how many kids dressed up in cardboard tubes with toilet plungers sticking out the front. I love that we never see what the Daleks actually look like, that they're some poor mysterious mutants in the metal shells. I suspect some later episode shows a Dalek body quite clearly, though. The show's been around for decades, it has to have happened, and I bet everyone regretted it.

I'm so turned on by this Thal dame;

I should be ashamed of myself--the show's gone from casual sexism to outright sexist fantasy. She acts and is treated like a pet.

But I can't help it. The first thing she does when she sees the Tardis is press her body against it as though wondering if it's something she can have sex with. And she looks sort of like Aimee Mann.

I guess these old Doctor Whos aren't really much more sexist than the old Star Trek, though even the first Harry Mudd episode seemed more progressive than this--at least then it was indicated that subjugating women is a bad thing, even if it was only because women ought to be free to run the kitchen and perform maid services.

But this is really early into Doctor Who, I probably shouldn't pass any hasty judgements. And how can I really complain about a sexy girl wearing little more than a big foam Y?

I watched half of the Rifftrax of Avatar last night. So, so wonderful. If there were any justice in this world, theatres showing Avatar would've been outfitted for this Rifftrax rather than 3D. My favourite bit so far; a military guy says to Jake Sully, about the Avatar job; "And the pay is good." Kevin Murphy says, "In Linden dollars, of course." Works on so many levels.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Guns and Metal Boxes

Last night's tweets;

A coffee cup sticks inside a black car.
There's an extra half hour across town.
Scientists send porn to a distant star.
Alien mollusc frowns turn upside down.

Apparently Hewlett Packard likes to play a little game with consumers in which USB cables may or may not be included with their printer/scanners. From the manual; "Purchase a USB cable and photo paper separately if it is not included". Apparently I didn't get one of the lucky boxes, so I'm going to have to go back out again to-night after a long day of running errands.

All I wanted was a scanner, but apparently you just can't get those from a store shelf anymore unless there's a printer fused to it. I suppose I could've ordered one online--I thought about just drawing and inking two pages a day and then scanning them at Tim's house on Friday or Saturday. But the fact is, I really prefer to concentrate on one page a day. While I can eat dinner while colouring, I can't very well ink.

Anyway, I do need a printer, and I guess this'll save me money in the long run. I actually need to print something about three times a year, but that's still some printing. This new little black number takes up about a third of the space my old Hewlett Packard printer/scanner took up--as Tim remarked when he was here the other day, you can always spot old computer hardware when it's pale grey, as my keyboard still is. It was my grandfather's keyboard, and though a few keys have totally lost their paint, I have no intention of replacing it any time soon. As my grandfather said at one time, IBM used to make keyboards like tanks, and sure enough this more than decade old keyboard's still in perfect working order.

I watched The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly last night, which I liked a lot more than the first time I watched it. As years go by, I find myself more satisfied by a movie's visuals alone, and I found myself just soaking in things like shadowed foreground broken walls with sun bleached hills in the background, and glistening, lined faces in extreme foreground with action occurring in the background. But I also found myself digging the story a lot more--I'm enjoying coolness a lot more than I used to, and these three guys almost casually going on about their own violent adventures in the middle of the American Civil War was both funny and exciting. The bridge destruction scene, which I found tedious and pointless the first time through, was a lot of fun this time. The fantasy seeming to be that these guys, who aren't bound by war as a social mechanism, are in a position to bestow a boon. They're almost godlike, which is I guess a lot of the romance of westerns--outsiders who are extraordinarily free, with the added pathos of being lonely for being so cut off, which is what the scene with Tuco's brother bears out. It's why it makes sense Blondie and Tuco are still friends after they've tortured each other. I still wish the movie had a female character.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ways of Capturing Sound and Vision

Twitter Sonnet #135

Metal stars scrape inside the space stomach.
The table by the fast kitchen's burning.
Atlas as bee sags through a wax hammock.
For hares at night there's no learning.
Tall cat ghosts smell like rotten, peeled onion.
Lasers replaced floss security beams.
Phantom toenails make purses malfunction.
No hula hoop's exactly what it seems.
Juice you smell is the fallen orange soldier.
Springsteen pleads with cosmic John Huston ghost.
Money's caffeine for the cash register.
Squeeze out your citrus or insult the host.
Leaf shadows are caterpillar evil.
Green mice are far deadlier than Fievel.

I've known exactly what's going to happen in the next Venia's Travels script for almost a month but I'm still having trouble getting started. It's apparently an inevitability.

I need to get a new scanner as my old one uses some kind of cable computers don't take seriously anymore. Looks like I can get a decent one for fifty bucks, but I also need to get an oil change for my car and it's the end of the month, when I'm automatically charged for a lot of things. I went to get an oil change yesterday but when I walked up to the place, a guy working there said something to me like, "Ethigolly outside a minute inside. Boggy ental just a minute, only tack wish." I have no idea what he said, and he didn't even have an accent. I'm wondering if I'm losing my hearing. I'm constantly asking people to repeat themselves nowadays. Actually, it's not so much that I can't hear them as that I'm having more trouble resolving voices into words. Accents don't seem to make any difference.

I was watching BBC America a couple days ago and saw a promo for Star Trek: The Next Generation that featured a tagline that was something like, "All beings are created equal!" BBC seems to take a really strange tact in pursuing American viewers, apparently feeling that Americans can only be interested in American programming. And with the reference to the Declaration of Independence, it's almost a step away from the BBC saying, "We like you blokes, really, we don't want to go to war again!"

I saw Christina Ricci on Graham Norton a couple days ago. Holy shit, she's impossibly hot now. It's as though she's gotten more attractive in exact, inverse proportion to her dwindling fame. I hear she's naked in a large percentage of a new, otherwise crappy movie, but it's not playing anywhere near here. But the new movie absent from San Diego cinemas I'd really like to see is My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done a Werner Herzog movie produced by David Lynch. The movie even takes place and was shot in San Diego--how is it not playing here? It's fucking killing me., when I put in the San Diego zip code, gives the closest location as being a theatre in Chicago. Very funny, Dr. Jones.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

It's Foolish to Wear Pants

Last night's tweets;

Tall cat ghosts smell like rotten, peeled onion.
Lasers replaced floss security beams.
Phantom toenails make purses malfunction.
No hula hoop's exactly what it seems.

I'm wearing my new green pants to-day. It was only when I stepped out into the sunlight that I realised they look like park ranger pants. I couldn't stop giggling at myself as I drove to the store in them, imagining this douchebag stepping out of his car in his faux ranger gear. If only they were skin tight.

And, yes, I'll continue to wear them. Now I love them. It's weird how much glee I can get at my own expense. I'm often reminded of a bit from Stephen King's Eyes of the Dragon, which I read around fifteen years ago, where the villain, Flagg, took some sort of mischievous action not because it actually served any of his schemes but because, and I forget King's exact words, he just had an instinct for mischief that told him to do certain things.

Maybe it's just that I'm afraid of taking myself seriously. Looking at Jim Carrey's twitter has been rather painful as it's obvious he thinks a lot of the things he says are interesting just because he's Jim Carrey. I'd hate to end up like that but, then again, which of us is the multi-millionaire? Though I'd point out it wasn't this vain bullshit that got Carrey where he is now.

I installed Oblivion on my new computer last night and was so pleased just being able to play Oblivion at home that four hours instantly shot by. It's amazing a game I've beaten so many times in so many different ways can have that effect on me, but I found myself just idling in grassy fields or reading little notes left by NPCs in dungeons, just generally drinking in the atmosphere. That's why I can't get into World of Warcraft--at every moment in WoW, verisimilitude is frustrated by some noisy, cartoonish reminder that this is all just fiction. That's why there's no real RPG in WoW. Oblivion, meanwhile, is just breathtaking in its attention to consistency in all conceivable forms of detail, and really its only flaw is Bethesda's typically bad ear for how people talk and think. And it needs plots that more directly involve your character and are influenced by your character's stats, which is something BioWare games have going for them, despite the fact that they also have generally bad dialogue. Really, only Fallout 2 has come close to satisfying me in that regard, though even then I couldn't help feeling someone could do better.

So I didn't watch much last night, only the first, twenty four minute episode in Doctor Who's second story, apparently about the Daleks, though they hadn't been mentioned yet in the episode I watched. It was just the party exploring a petrified forest and deserted alien city, both of which I found fascinating, even with the dated effects.

The Doctor's still travelling with his granddaughter, Susan, and Susan's teachers from England, Ian and Barbara, the two of whom seem to have some kind of starchy, vague sexual tension. I was rather amused by this bit of dialogue when they were alone together in the woods;

Barbara: "Ian, where are we?"

Ian: "I don't know."

Barbara: "Why doesn't he take us back?"

Ian: "I'm not sure that he can."

Barbara's earnestly asking questions of Ian she's as well equipped to answer as he is, yet neither of them seems to feel self-conscious in this dialogue, and I realised it was just Barbara's Weak Woman's Mind automatically subordinating to Ian's Manly Position of Authority. The two characters are so steeped in the dynamic that when Barbara says anything Ian agrees with he laughs this richly smug laugh that seems to marvel at the fact that sometimes a woman can say something clever. I'm glad at least the Doctor generally seems to be outside this behaviour.

All the characters fail to notice a dial indicating that the planet is irradiated, and the radiation sickness seems to manifest itself as just a general weariness. I had some fun imagining Barbara and Ian with real radiation sickness.

Barbara: "Ian, why is our hair falling out? Why am I puking and shitting blood?"

Ian: "I don't know."

In War and Peace, Tolstoy seemed to have a definite opinion about the roles of the sexes, particularly in bits like this, where Pierre is telling Natasha about his adventures;

Now that he was telling it all to Natasha he experienced that rare pleasure men know when women are listening to them--not clever women who when they listen either try to remember what they hear for the sake of enriching their minds and, when the opportunity offers, repeat it, or adapt it to some idea of their own, or who promptly contribute their own clever comments elaborated in their own little mental workshops; but the pleasure real women give who are gifted with the faculty of selecting and absorbing all that is best in what a man shows of himself. Natasha, without knowing it, was all attention; she missed not a single word, not an inflection of his voice, a glance, the twitch of a facial muscle, or a gesture. She caught the unfinished word on a wing and took it straight into her open heart, divining the secret import of all Pierre's spiritual travail.

I was taken a little aback by this which, especially in contrast to the evident disdain with which Tolstoy described the cleverness of Pierre's first wife, seems to indicate a feeling that intellectual discourse is not a place for women. But then I realised the above description was very reminiscent of this one, from early in the French invasion of Russia, of Kutuzov, commander in chief of the Russian army;

Prince Andrei could not have explained how or why it was, but after this interview with Kutuzov he went back to his regiment reassured as to the general course of affairs, and as to the man to whom they had been entrusted. The more clearly he saw the absence of any personal motive in that old man--in whom there appeared to remain only the habit of passions, and in place of intellect (grouping events and drawing conclusions) only the capacity calmly to contemplate the course of events--the more assured he was that all would be as it should be. "He will put forward nothing of his own, he will devise nothing, undertake nothing," thought Prince Andrei, "but he will listen to everything, remember everything, put everything in its proper place, and will neither stand in the way of anything beneficial nor accede to anything detrimental. He understands that there is something stronger and more important than his own will--the inevitable course of events; he can see them and grasp their significance, and perceiving that significance, can refrain from taking a hand in them or from pursuing a personal wish directed to something else . . ."

And it's clear that it's cleverness Tolstoy has sort of a low view of. Which got me thinking, "Would sexism be in the idea that women can't be valuably clever, or in the idea that men can be?" In the Doctor Who episode, Barbara's feigned feebleness and Ian's sense of superiority are both, if oddly endearingly, obnoxious, but I will say Ian's slightly more obnoxious.

Of course, War and Peace is an exceptionally clever book, and I'm hardly about to say intellectualism is without merit. But I really do dig what Tolstoy's saying about the rare pleasure in finding people who can truly listen to what you're saying, and who can truly absorb experiences without a need for personal gain. And when such people happen to be beautiful women or leaders of countries, so much the better.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Venia and System Status

Okay--now the new Venia's Travels is online. I finally finished about half an hour ago. I still had one page to colour at 5am when I finally went to bed, and figured I ought to do it when I was fully awake. I also wanted to be as awake as possible when I did my final pass over the chapter. I hope no-one minds the delay too much.

It's amazing how long just one day without a computer can seem. Which is not to say it was a lazy sort of day--I was constantly running around on Wednesday trying to get things done. I pencilled and inked a bit while Tim was here, but I didn't really have enough time at my desk to get much done. I ended up finishing with inking the last two pages yesterday. My iPod has acted as a sort of surrogate computer for me--I hooked it to my computer speakers and Tim and I were able to listen to some old Howard Stern Show recordings I had on there, including a particularly great one where Artie Lange wore one of Robin Quivers' old double D bras while guys tried to see how many potatoes they could fit in the cups. Unfortunately, hearing the Stern Show with Artie made the new shows pale in comparison, so last night I ended up just listening to an audiobook of Wuthering Heights while I coloured. Listening to Mr. Lockwood telling Heathcliff about Catherine's ghost in a storm outside at 3am while I was colouring at 3am during a storm had a nice effect.

It's been raining yet again for the past couple days, and without a computer running and my ceiling fan on low, I was actually able to hear the rain outside at night, which helped considerably to get me to sleep. It's not as great as hearing the ocean outside at night, though, as I did when I lived on the beach. Even in the exceptionally gloomy state of mind I was in those days, I still appreciated it. I lived without regular Internet access, too. I just had a computer with a 486 processor on which I'd play Warcraft II from time to time. Mostly in those days, when I wasn't at work, I was watching movies I got from video stores, which are disappearing now, too.

Now, of course, I have a computer with four 2.5 GHz processors. And two hard drives--I was really happy it was the old motherboard that had died. It really is an amazing coincidence that mine would die just as I happened to have a brand new one in a box that's several generations better.

I'm also using Windows 7 now. This is the first time since, I think, Windows 98 that I feel like Microsoft has substantially improved the interface. Having file manager/Windows explorer permanently locked to the task bar instead of various phantom organisation systems of quicklinks is by itself excellent. If nothing else, it'll be easier to explain to people where their files actually are when they download them.

Last night's tweets;

Metal stars scrape inside the space stomach.
The table by the fast kitchen's burning.
Atlas as bee sags through a wax hammock.
For hares at night there's no learning.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Party is Back (I'm the Party)

Twitter Sonnet #134

Glowing red and blue dust spear the wood.
Cold reigns as police forget a blanket.
Howling men by dogs are misunderstood.
A park at night is sound's concrete pocket.
Three tiny quail egg shots are a small meal.
Cheddar battlements encase able bread.
With fermentation cold grapes cannot deal.
Science regrows your hair inside your head.
Round happy grey babies suckle red string.
Orthanc holds dizzy velociraptors.
All dead fish need is a blue song to sing.
Sake and mead for fluid adaptors.
Many forms are taken by potato.
Same ruffly shirt in different bolero.

It's looking like I probably won't have the new Venia's Travels online until late to-morrow, but at least I've got a computer again. And I won't have to re-colour the first four pages of the new chapter because it turns out it wasn't the hard drive that died on me but the motherboard.

All day to-day and yesterday Tim was over here putting together this new computer for me. I'm really lucky I know someone who knows how to do this stuff. I had little time to work on my comic, though, and I still have a lot of software to setup/restore. So, obviously I have a lot to do . . .

I got lunch at a nearby Japanese place two days in a row and got quail eggs both times. Boy, those are good, and I love how the place serves them on little mountains of wasabi with the tops of the shells broken open, so you can drink the yolk like a shot. They look like miniature versions of the eggs from the Alien films, and the round yolk inside can easily be imagined to be a tiny face-hugger.

I think I just got great product idea for Cadbury . . .

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Breaking of the Computer

My hard drive died last night. This wouldn't be such a big deal, what with me putting together a new computer right now, except the hard drive was one of the parts I was planning on reusing. It's also bad because I lost all the pages I'd already coloured for the next Venia's Travels, which means, if I can even somehow acquire a new hard drived to-night, to-morrow's going to be at least twelve hours spent on colouring. I still need to pencil and ink the last two pages, too. So I think everyone should expect the new chapter to be at least a day late.

I'm using my sister's computer right now and I don't know how much computer access I'll have to-day, so don't expect any quick replies to anything. Anyone wishing to see the new Venia's Travels soon, cast whatever spells or prayers you think best.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Before a Spring Rain

Last night's tweets;

Glowing red and blue dust spear the wood.
Cold reigns as police forget a blanket.
Howling men by dogs are misunderstood.
A park at night is sound's concrete pocket.

What I at first thought was a dog or coyote howling outside at around midnight turned out to be a man crying for help. I called 911 and was told by the sheriff, "We're already there."

I went outside to see if I could see anything and sure enough, behind the house there were two police cars. The man was still calling for help, but I became aware of the female voice of the sheriff talking to him like a mother, "Okay, we're going to help you, honey . . ." and so on. But he almost seemed unaware of her, the way he continued calling for help in the same way, but then he started crying, "Cold! I'm cold!"

"We're gonna get you a blanket," the sheriff said. "Get a blanket!" she called to the deputy back at their cars. "I don't have a blanket!" he said and I remembered the old blanket I keep in my car, which was a few feet away. I've had it in there for eleven years, have never used it, and I don't remember where it came from. I got it, and went back to the scene, which was in a small park behind the house, totally dark except for the red, blue, and white lights of the now three police cars. "Excuse me," I said to another woman, a deputy. "Do you need a blanket?"

I had glanced over and had seen someone draping something over a flesh coloured shape isolated in flashlight illumination in the darkness, and I thought maybe my blanket was now unnecessary, but the deputy said, "Yes, thank you," taking it.

I was told by one of the new cops who'd shown up to wait around and I eventually gave him my information, but before that I spent around fifteen minutes waiting by a tree as more and more police cars accumulated around me. I heard one of the men who'd just shown up ask another what was going on and the reply he received was, "I just got here and I got an uncooperative victim in a pile of blood." After a few minutes, I stepped out of the way for paramedics bringing a totally covered body past me on a stretcher.

When one of the cops had taken my information he told me, "Thanks for calling, you may have saved a life." He didn't appear to know there had already been someone there when I called. I asked him if he could tell me anything and he replied that they knew very little themselves. The man who hadn't wanted to tell them anything had a bad chest wound. The cop told me to stay on the trail as this was now a crime scene, and several of them were walking slowly about the area, passing their flashlights over the ground. However, when I went back to-day to have a look, I found no police, police tape, or any of the pylons I'd seen one of them setting up. I'm guessing they learned that the wound was either self-inflicted or the man had fallen and accidentally injured himself. The area is a somewhat treacherous little riverbank with a runoff ditch, and I often hear more than see the young guys getting drunk or high down there at night. I took some pictures of the spot to-day;

It was such a pretty day to-day, always just about to rain, but not quite getting to it. I wound up taking a few more pictures of flowers;

After I came back inside last night, I made myself some dinner and watched the first two episodes of Doctor Who while eating. I'd never seen any Doctor Who before and figured the best place to start was with the 1963 premiere episode. It was good, the Doctor's an intriguing character with a great theme song. The actress playing his granddaughter had a fascinating way of delivering every line as though it were a plea--she somehow begged her teachers to understand how she came up with the Tardis acronym. William Hartnell as the Doctor was an interesting, callous and focused character.

So I think I'll stick with this show. It certainly seems to have enough episodes to keep me from having to decide on another show for a good long time.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Power of Big Boys

Twitter Sonnet #133

Old plastic holds gelatinous water.
Endurance is built by light illusion.
Gargoyle tape worms are joined by solder.
Castle parasite electrocution.
Only three brown potatoes in plastic.
Bad green tubers burden a black store bin.
Hot garlic sauce gnomes are nicely caustic.
The alchemist's grape is now an orphan.
A room's hidden ring opens a bottle.
The dormouse watches this without comment.
The vessel's long glass neck one can't throttle.
Which the orang-outang does not lament.
Monster boy's at the mercy of children.
Kids tear at the chessboard black queen's apron.

That's from the new Bob's Big Boy restaurant at Parkway Plaza mall. It's not hard to see why Bob's Big Boy was David Lynch's favourite burger joint--when I was a kid, I remember one location with a Big Boy out front that had to be at least twenty feet tall, with the same creepy large pupils, sunken smile, and cherubic build.

I was at the mall buying some tea, a shirt, and slacks. Someone I know complimented the red shirt I was wearing to-day, which always bugs me because I feel like people are subtly trying to encourage me not to wear as much black. But to-day I bought an olive green, button down shirt and slightly darker, olive green slacks--not to be worn together, but I think either one paired with black slacks or black shirt might convey a vague sense of dangerous guerrilla communist.

Also new at Parkway Plaza was an enormous chess set in one of the big intersections, with a sign inviting shoppers to play. I would've started asking people around to play me, except I really didn't have time and there were already some kids fucking with it.

Chess is brought up a few times in War and Peace. Tolstoy actually made a similar statement to the one I made in chapter 42 of Venia's Travels, about how coordinating armies is like working with a chess set of greater size and complexity than the human mind is really equipped to control--I'd written that chapter before I got to Tolstoy's statement, though I'm not exactly going to say I came up with the idea independent of Tolstoy, since I was already getting the basic ideas from War and Peace that led to Tolstoy making the statement and I just happened to have been thinking about chess lately.

Later in the book, Tolstoy even goes a step further, talking about how when a chess player loses he erroneously blames himself for missing certain moves, which is going a bit far for me. If chess were really so totally up to chance, then people wouldn't consistently win tournaments. But I think there's something to Tolstoy's point about chess being less about one side being smarter than the other than most people think. As Howard Stern, a chess player, pointed out a couple weeks ago, Bobby Fischer was an anti-Semitic Jew.

Napoleon evidently referred to battles as chess now and then, and although Tolstoy generally portrays him as a somewhat ridiculous character, at times I almost felt like Tolstoy pitied him for falsely bearing the weight of so much murder, which, according to Tolstoy's philosophy, couldn't be more Napoleon's fault than of any random infantryman.

Though Napoleon at that time, in 1812, was more convinced than ever that it depended on him to shed or not to shed the blood of his people--as Aleksandr expressed it in the last letter he wrote to him--he had never been so subject to the inevitable laws, which compelled him (while thinking that he was acting of his own volition) to do for the world in general, for history, what had to be done.

The people of the west moved east to slay their fellow man. And by the law of coincidence, thousands of minute causes fitted together and combined to produce that movement and the war: reproaches for the nonobservance of the Continental system, the Duke of Oldenburg's wrongs, the movement of troops into Prussia--undertaken (as it seemed to Napoleon) for the sole purpose of obtaining an armed peace--the French Emperor's love of war and habit of waging it coinciding with the inclinations of his people, the passion for grandiose presentations, the expenditures on those preparations and the necessity of attaining advantages to compensate for them, the intoxicating effect of the honours he received in Dresden, the diplomatic negotiations which in the opinion of contemporaries were carried on with sincere desire to attain peace but which only wounded the self-esteem of both sides, and millions upon millions of other causes that adapted themselves to the fated event that coincided with it.

I loved how Tolstoy showed people acting directly contrary to their true desires meeting with disastrous consequences. In one of the book's two love triangles, one character sends a letter to the man she loves telling him exactly the opposite of what she feels as part of a somewhat complicated plan to win him without appearing to be an obstacle, but only has the effect of helping him feel justified in pursuing someone new he'd developed feelings for. It's clear the course of people's lives and the movement of history are, in Tolstoy's opinion, solely due to the will of God, which is in part why I think he spends so much time on Pierre's misadventures with the Freemasons--as though Tolstoy wishes to establish that he's not a proponent of that ridiculous cult--his idea of God's influence on events is more refined.

I mainly consider myself an agnostic, so the phenomenon Tolstoy so ably displays could to me be described as manifestations through human culture of some bizarre migratory instincts. One of my favourite bits was Tolstoy's description of the inhabitants of a group of isolated villages;

There were very few resident landowners in the neighbourhood, consequently few domestic or literate serfs, and the lives of the peasantry in that region were more powerfully and perceptibly affected than elsewhere by the mysterious undercurrents in the life of the Russian people, the causes and significance of which are so baffling to our contemporaries. One such phenomenon, which had occurred twenty years before, was a movement among the peasants to immigrate to some unknown "warm rivers." Hundreds of peasants, among them those of Bogucharovo, suddenly began selling their cattle and moving with their families toward the southeast. Like birds flying somewhere beyond the sea, so these men and their wives and their children streamed to the southeast, to parts where none of them had ever been. They set off in caravans, bought their freedom one by one, or ran away, walking or driving toward the "warm rivers." Many were punished, some being sent to Siberia; many died of cold and hunger on the road; many returned of their own accord; and the movement declined as it had sprung up, without apparent cause.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

She's Just Hanging Around, Being Quirky and Beautiful

Last night's tweets;

Only three brown potatoes in plastic.
Bad green tubers burden a black store bin.
Hot garlic sauce gnomes are nicely caustic.
The alchemist's grape is now an orphan.

I watched the second episode of Arakawa Under the Bridge with breakfast to-day. Supposedly it's a seinen (for older men) series, though it feels josei (for older women) to me, not only because there's very little fan-service and the female lead wears a shapeless jacket over small breasts, but also because the whole show seems to revolve around flattering the vanity of the female lead. She's a social misfit, but obviously better adjusted than the hapless male lead and is surrounded by quirky, attractive, platonic male friends. But on the other hand, it all feels a bit like elaborate role playing therapy for the high strung male lead. Like so many male leads in anime nowadays, he kind of annoys the fuck out of me--he's another quivering jelly, completely inhibited guy in a fantasy world where a beautiful girl he likes casually throws herself at him. I don't know how people don't lose their patience with these guys.

And I finally got around to watching the second episode of Caprica last night. Which wasn't bad--the girl trapped in the cylon body is a really cool storyline in itself, and I'm enjoying the generally low key quality of the show, though I'm still unimpressed by the doggedly un-alien, downright extraordinarily homogenous, quality of the alien world and culture. But I love all the fedoras and the women wear really cool shoes.

I still have more to say about War and Peace, but I don't have time to go into it to-day. And I'm feeling a bit dopey to-day for no apparent reason. I started reading The Odyssey last night and was amazed when my Kindle told me I was 2% through the book after just twenty minutes. I downloaded three copies of The Odyssey before I hit on one that didn't translate the Greek gods' names into their Roman versions or turn Zeus into "Jove". Which was a little mind-blowing--I'd think ascribing the actions of Zeus to Jehovah would be more sacrilegious than to print narrative exaltations of a pagan god. It's amazing how religious manners can still surprise me.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Getting the Magic Eight Balls Rolling

Last night's tweets;

Old plastic holds gelatinous water.
Endurance is built by light illusion.
Gargoyle tape worms are joined by solder.
Castle parasite electrocution.

I finally found out why the first edition of War and Peace I'd started reading was abridged--in the latter portion of the book, it begins to alternate between the fictional story and sections of straight philosophical essay. Princess Alexandra Kropotkin, the translator of the first version I read, had chosen to omit the essay sections, and I must admit I see the sense in the omission. The essays feel fundamentally disconnected from the story, and are even distracting--the epilogue is evenly divided between a story section in the first half and an essay section in the latter, and I had to go back and reread the end of the story portion because I wanted to get the note on which the story ends.

Which isn't to say that the essays are uninteresting or even irrelevant to what's going on. I was reminded of the standard, creative writing wisdom that says, "Show, don't tell," which is something I don't universally agree with. Especially when telling is showing, whether it's through the words the speaker of the apparent exposition dump chooses to use, the sequence of the facts, or the general tenor of the way in which the information is given. This is at the heart of the effectiveness of a lot of Lovecraft's stories. I also love stories where the apparent exposition dumps turn out to be packs of lies that reveal something psychologically or thematically, as seen in Vertigo or in the "Suruga Monkey" story arc in Bakemonogatari I talked about the other day.

But the logic behind the "show don't tell" idea is easily perceivable, as information is going to have greater impact when it is conveyed through something visceral. At the same time, in a philosophy text, due to its nature as a pure vessel of ideas, it's more important to tell than it is to waste time showing. One uses different mental muscles for the two media, and I found it somewhat awkward to switch gears in War and Peace. Nonetheless, the philosophy Tolstoy expresses in his essays gives insight into how he crafted the characters so brilliantly. A veteran of the Crimean War, Tolstoy was intent on setting straight the various historians whose texts he read in regards to what he saw as a fundamental flaw in the way they threaded history together by the intellectual ideas and commands of men. Tolstoy felt that taking history as a science was problematic due to what I felt was his imperfect perspective on scientific laws.

The recognition of man's free will as a force capable of influencing historical events, that is, not subject to laws, is the same for history as the recognition of a free force moving heavenly bodies would be for astronomy.

Such an assumption would destroy the possibility of the existence of laws, that is, of any science whatever. If even one freely moving body exists, then the laws of Kepler and Newton no longer exist, and no concept of the movement of heavenly bodies any longer exists. If there is a single action due to free will, then not a single historical law, nor any concept of historical events, exists.

Tolstoy seems to subscribe to the not uncommon conception of scientific laws as being something somehow externally prescribed when in fact they are merely handy labels for a set of observably consistent phenomena. If one observed a body moving, as Tolstoy suggests, in apparent defiance of a scientific law, it does not by any means destroy the possibility of scientific law or science, but would, at most, merely call for the creation of a new law.

However, Tolstoy's essential argument that the complexity and chaos of social movements and events defies any attempt to nail such phenomena to the command of a specific person or published thought, is incredibly important.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Best Painted Pictures of Birds and Men

Twitter Sonnet #132

I bought a big box of broken metal.
Steel tabs flutter within like a snow globe.
There's nowhere for a hard drive to settle.
Now I want to drill through my frontal lobe.
Dinner dully screams hours from midnight.
Beans rapidly fill Tortilla Ravine.
Styrofoam oozes from a big bronze bite.
Fake lizard meat from metal bones licked clean.
Cranes eat manmade thunder like silly string.
Chicken yeti hybrids leave an egg husk.
Indiscreet feathered valkyries can't sing.
Police question beer drinking birds at dusk.
Reason retreats from the organism.
Rag dolls form a sewage embolism.

I just read a cool Onion opinion article--"Most Men are Too Intimidated to Date a Successful, Educated Gorgon". Kakeshya ought to read it.

As you can imagine, I find dating to be a real drag. Here we are in 2010, and their precious little male egos are still so fragile that they can't stand to sit across a dinner table from an independent, unspeakably horrifying gorgon who makes more money than they do.

I've long felt relationship issues with gorgons is a magnificent, untapped vein of drama.

Last night I finished reading War and Peace. The back of my paperback copy has a quote from Virginia Woolf, "The greatest of all novelists . . . what else can we call the author of War and Peace?" It's a fair assertion, even though I think I still like Dostoevsky better. As a personal preference, I like the psychological depths Dostoevsky reveals, but in terms of the actual construction of a novel, War and Peace, for the most part, is breathtaking in its marriage of large scale descriptions of social environments, plot, and insight into individual characters.

I've rarely experienced a novel that made me feel so happy when something good happens to the characters and so hurt when something bad happens to them. The length of the book is in part responsible for an intimidating reputation for English speakers, but I have the impression from a Russian and a Ukrainian I've spoken to that the book's like a big, wonderful Easter basket to those who grew up speaking Russian. Both people I spoke to immediately lit up at the mention of the book. The Russian, a woman named Yelena, was my manager at a store I worked at several years ago. It was one of the few times I saw her truly enthusiastic about discussing any topic.

The book was originally published in a serialised form, and it often has the feeling of great, insightful gossip about people in Russian society of the early nineteenth century. But what makes the characters really come alive, and what lends to the battle sequences a feeling a fundamental credibility, is Tolstoy's keen perception of human nature as being a mysterious contradiction of belief in free will and necessity driven motives. From Napoleon Bonaparte to the daughter of a count heavily in debt and on the verge of losing all his estates, people at all positions in society and possessed of every quality of means are depicted as ultimately helpless in determining their fates. I was frequently reminded of the close relationship between tragedy and comedy, as the complete foolishness of one man is quite funny at one point, and then strikes one as keenly terrible when he impatiently leads a group of men to their deaths on the battlefield. Everyone seems like a helpless child in the nurseries of Petersburg and Moscow and the pervasive presence of death's stark finality in war seems like a grotesque absurdity.

Anyway, I have a lot more to say about the book, but I don't have very much time to-day, so I'll continue in subsequent posts. I'm trying to decide what to read next--I still have a big pile of books people recommended to me, and I know whichever one I pick is going to cause me to imagine all the other people who recommended books to me inwardly sighing and just slightly thinking I have no respect for their tastes. I'm also thinking I'll read Dostoevsky's The Idiot next since I have Kurosawa's adaptation of it DVD and I've been avoiding watching it until I've read the book. I'm kind of interested in seeing the King Vidor adaptation of War and Peace--I'd had the impression for a while that it wasn't worth watching, but I have to say Audrey Hepburn as Natasha Rostova sounds ideal--I actually, almost without intending to, imagined Natasha looking like Hepburn as I read, since she is described very much like the actress. Henry Fonda as Pierre isn't quite as appropriate--Pierre's supposed to be very big and "stout"--but Fonda does seem suitable for the intellectual questing quality of the character, though I suspect the movie doesn't spend a great deal of time on Pierre's spiritual and ethical adventures. The fact that Jack Cardiff was cinematographer also compels me to watch the movie.

Again, I found myself contemplating the contrast between the nineteenth and twentieth century perspectives on war. Watching Wagner's Der Ring Des Nibelungen, filled with tragic mistakes of authority figures and the sad, sometimes grotesque mistakes of the lower social levels, and comparing it to The Lord of the Rings, a work influenced heavily by many of the same stories Der Ring Des Nibelungen is based on, I see that the newer work's great moments are more concerned with the triumphs of good people. I love Lord of the Rings, but it's one of a number of works of the twentieth and twenty first century reflective of this new honouring of accomplishments of individual men and women. In War and Peace, I feel good when good things happen to characters, or they suddenly, against all odds, alight upon an opportunity to pursue what they want, while in Lord of the Rings, or Alien, or Superman, or any number of other works, the great thing is what the hero accomplishes. Trying to trace this perspective on human worth, I remembered how Sherlock Holmes is sometimes considered to be the first real superhero. Holmes is a remarkable guy, though it's the Basil Rathbone movies that really created him as a superhero--there were cases the great Sherlock Holmes couldn't solve in the original stories. But it is true, the heart of those stories is really in what Holmes accomplishes.

Holmes' resemblance to Dupin in Edgar Allan Poe's earlier work, "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" shows one earlier, nineteenth century example of a story focused on a man's victory over obstacles in a story, though the focus seems to be more on the remarkable process of reasoning rather than on saving the day.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Stimuli Storm Turns to White Noise

Last night's tweets;

Dinner dully screams hours from midnight.
Beans rapidly fill Tortilla Ravine.
Styrofoam oozes from a big bronze bite.
Fake lizard meat from metal bones licked clean.

I think I sort of got enough sleep last night. I'm not sure I'm equipped to judge anymore.

I spent a lot of time backing up files yesterday, mainly my more than 60 gigabyte music folder. I'm starting to think I oughta just get a new hard drive along with everything else.

I couldn't find perfect replacements for the drawer handles yesterday--I found some that were the same shape but a different colour, and some that were the same colour but a different shape. The employees at Home Depot are a little eerie. Getting within 15 feet of any of them seemed to cause them to slowly turn to face me, smile weakly, and ask me in a vague, pleasant tone if I needed anything.

Fortunately, returning the tower case went without a hitch, though I almost laughed at the woman when she asked if I wanted to exchange it.

I worked on my comic until 3am, and I almost finished one page. I think my lack of sleep slowed me down more than yesterday's many distractions. When I'm massively sleep deprived, it takes me a long time just to string together thoughts. I find myself just staring at things a lot, trying to remember what I intended to do just a half second ago.

There was a new Ranma 1/2 OVA produced in 2008 that finally got fansubbed a little while ago. The previous new Ranma came out in 1997, so it was very interesting to see the show produced with modern computer colouring techniques. It featured some nice action, but very different action than what had been Ranma's--this new OVA has the somewhat gummier, more angular style of modern very animated anime action. Which was interesting, though I missed what made the early episodes of the television series an actual engaging martial arts series at times, rather than cartoonish fun.

All the living voice actors returned, which was nice. Unfortunately, the OVA's story suffered even worse from what a couple of the previous OVAs had suffered from--the apparent desire to shove every member of Ranma's vast cast of characters into the one hour show. The plot itself involved what had gotten to be Ranma's monotonously dull, continually recycled setup of someone getting some kind of wacky spell cast on them and the various hijinks that ensue as everyone tries to fix it, with the very tired undercurrent of Ranma's and Akane's never ending Do They Like Eachother or Don't They tension. Which was one of the great things about reading the Maison Ikkoku manga series--the characters' relationships actually evolved over time and the obstacles the characters dealt with actually had meaning, which was the case with early Ranma.

Anyway, perhaps the best part of the new OVA was an introduction that included characters from three different Rumiko Takahashi series interacting--Urusei Yatsura, Ranma 1/2, and Inu-Yasha. I was rather surprised by the absence of Maison Ikkoku characters, since it was my understanding that that show had been rather popular.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Black Metal Tower

Last night's tweets;

I bought a big box of broken metal.
Steel tabs flutter within like a snow globe.
There's nowhere for a hard drive to settle.
Now I want to drill through my frontal lobe.

I received a package yesterday containing the new motherboard, processor, and video card for my new computer. I get most of my packages delivered to my parents house, so I brought it back here in the afternoon, and just as I was getting it out of my car I heard, "Mew, mew, mew, mew . . ." steadily increasing in volume and turned to see Snow the Cat running towards me across the driveway. I'd never seen him so passionately solicit my attention, and later I wondered if he was in fact warning me to stay inside the rest of the day.

I called Tim to ask him if he could help put together the new computer. He came over with Windows 7 and some RAM and just as we were going through all the components, we discovered that the tower case I'd bought at Fry's last week has several missing screws and broken off pieces of it scattered about the inside. The case was a return and, like many things returned to Fry's, the employees hadn't inspected it. Several years ago, the first time I bought Elvis Costello's Armed Forces was from Fry's. It was one of the Rhino editions with the bonus disk. When I opened the case upon returning to my car I found that it only contained a bonus disk.

So yesterday was the last day I had free time scheduled for putting together a computer, though obviously to-day I'm going to have to return the case as I figure returns should always be made ASAP. When I got home last night from the grocery store last night, I decided to have another bottle of Strongbow. I always used a drawer handle in the kitchen to open beer-like bottle caps and last night the drawer handle snapped. Then, like I was in a Three Stooges short, I tried opening the bottle on another drawer handle which also snapped. Genius. When I finally did get the bottle open, I couldn't even enjoy it.

At midnight I did the rough drawings of the next Venia's Travels, something I suspected I ought to've done instead of doing anything else yesterday. At 3:30am I decided to play some chess, and I eventually lost a complicated game that took an hour and a half. It was particularly joyless as the guy I was playing against was using a computer programme to generate his moves for him--well, I don't technically know that he does, but while I generally lose to everyone I play lately I always get a sense of a personality on the other end. People have favourite pieces, opening techniques, and there's just an indefinable sense of a person. Even the best players make mistakes now and then, but only a computer is invariably flawless, as this guy is. But I play against him anyway, since playing against a computer is playing, anyhow.

I had trouble getting to sleep and when I did I had a dream about an enormous, pink and lavender mountain at Disneyland which I climbed with Patton Oswalt. We found a cave which led to a dark and fiery, Mordor-like interior. We looked from a precipice at an enormous black tower in the centre of the apparently hollow mountain. It had glowing orange windows and was sort of burnished with orange glow, giving the impression of a photo negative. The precipice was a walkway that led to other rooms, and a woman in exercise spandex jogged by. I asked her if she lived there and she said she did.

"I suppose you get food from Disneyland's restaurants and shops," I said.

"No," she said, "we have all the food we need in here!"

"What food could you have in this place?"

"Tuna! Lots and lots of tuna!"

Oswalt and I continued exploring the place. Eventually we ended up in a gleaming white laboratory and Oswalt was singing to distract the doctors in the room while I searched through the file cabinets.

I was woken thirty minutes before the time I'd set my alarm to go off by my phone ringing. It turned out to be a travel agent looking for "Cretin Marshall". He irritably informed me that I'd filled out forms of some kind and didn't seem to believe me when I told him several times that I'm not Cretin Marshall. This is the fifth wrong number I've gotten for Cretin Marshall.

Of course, I couldn't get back to sleep. Now, let's see, I need to return a computer case, see if I can replace the drawer handles in the kitchen, and draw, ink, and colour a page of comic. And I feel like shit. Tally-ho!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Flowers for Knights-Errant

Twitter Sonnet #132

The road's rabbit has no questions for you.
Closed shop ghosts moan their muzak in the air.
Joel Schumacher paints closed Blockbusters blue.
The return boxes are holes to nowhere.
Acoustics keep songs echoing past ten.
Distorted detectives drag the funnel.
Dreams are rust on the heads of metal men.
Closed restroom's at the end of the tunnel.
Elephant bladder's wrapped in sanguine love.
The apple has fallen near to the scotch.
Sparrow fighters launch from carrier dove.
Early worm confusedly shakes his watch.
Leaves and flowers frustrate searches for gold.
For radiation the morning's been sold.

The music in this video is by Ennio Morricone from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly soundtrack. I took the footage last Thursday, but it was only just yesterday I decided to unplug my modem to plug in my camera, and I transferred the video and pictures onto my computer from that day along with the pictures from my birthday. It's kind of funny my computer's starting to crap out just as I'm getting a new one--last night the modem went out suddenly, right near the end of a chess game I was playing, just as I was starting to realise I might win, which would have been the first win for me in, I think, a month. It was pretty close--the guy I was playing was down to a bishop and six pawns, while I had a knight and four pawns pretty spread out. His king was behind three of his pawns still and mine was in the middle of the board, next to one of his pawns, threatening it lest it move out of the protection of the bishop. Although bishops and knights are generally considered to be of about equal value, it's extremely difficult to get a checkmate with bishop and king since a bishop is forever bound to squares of one colour and cannot make barriers like rooks can. And this bishop had to protect a pawn, which was the furthest pawn across the board. I was just starting to pick off his other pawns with my knight when I lost internet connexion. When I finally got back online, I had to start a new game with the same guy and I of course lost, though it was due to the timer, which I hadn't even known was active.

I was drinking Strongbow, hard cider, (or just cider, to UK readers), which Avarwaen had recommended to me a couple years ago--I only just found some at BevMo last night. I liked it, in spite of the fact that it tasted more like beer than I'd expected. It still didn't taste like urine to me the way beer does, though I don't think I've had a beverage that made me need to pee as much as Strongbow did. I'm wondering if it's good hot.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Roses, Chipmunks, and Legends on the Wall

Before the Elvis Costello concert yesterday, I went with my family to Buca di Beppo's, just like last year, only this time we went to the downtown location;

I was surprised how long it took to find a La Dolce Vita picture, but when I did, it was this enormous photo of Anita Ekberg. Wow, look at her;

Food vortex!

This might be the greatest story ever;

My first instinct was that this was a completely made up story, but a google search for Gina Bouza yields a few posts where people talk about her as though she's real. So now I'm not quite sure. It's great, in any case.

There's a helpful young man.

Elvis Costello performed at the San Diego Civic Theatre under Horton Plaza mall. It was an unbelievably fantastic venue to my mind--being in one of my favourite malls, next to a Starbucks, and being so small that there were simply no bad seats. Costello himself, before deciding to perform a fourth encore song, remarked what a pleasure it was performing there as the acoustics were such that he could play very, very quietly and be heard and then switch to extremely loud. I had the impression he was extremely reluctant to leave the stage when he finally did, after five encore songs. He seemed to be going well off the planned set, performing covers of "All or Nothing at All" and a folk song I didn't know about a dog. His performance of "All or Nothing at All" was so unbelievably lovely I'm bitterly disappointed it's not on YouTube.

It was just Elvis Costello himself--he had no band with him, just five or six guitars he switched between throughout the night. He performed two songs from Spike--"Veronica", "God's Comic"--and three songs from My Aim is True, "Allison", "The Angels Wanna Wear My Red Shoes", and "Watching the Detectives", which was my favourite performance out of those three. Its last portion he preceded with a strange, atonal, highly distorted guitar solo that made the last verses exceptionally ominous;

You think you're alone until you realize you're in it
Now fear is here to stay, love is here for a visit
They call it instant justice when it's past the legal limit
Someone's scratching at the window, I wonder who is it?
The detectives come to check if you belong to the parents
Who are ready to hear the worst about their daughter's disappearance
Though it nearly took a miracle to get you to stay
It only took my little fingers to blow you away

He also did great performances of "Motel Matches", "Good Year for the Roses", and "Every Day I Write the Book", which he introduced by saying, "Now here's a song I hate. Well . . . used to hate. Until my friend Ron Sexsmith taught me how to sing it again."

I was amazed at how thin Costello's gotten. I'd gotten used to him being the somewhat round man who appeared in the Austin Powers movie but last night he looked almost like Elvis Costello circa 1981. I hope he's just gotten a better diet--it certainly didn't sound like there was anything wrong with his voice.

Last night's tweets;

Acoustics keep songs echoing past ten.
Distorted detectives drag the funnel.
Dreams are rust on the heads of metal men.
Closed restroom's at the end of the tunnel.