Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Automobile Jacks

Here's a picture I took to-day of what appears to be a kidney or some other internal human organ growing in a tree;

That was at Grossmont Community College, where I went to-day to make an appointment to see a counsellor. It's the same college I've been going to off and on for the past thirteen or so years, the last time was two and a half years ago for a British Literature class. They've added a bunch of buildings since then, and the place felt a little different. The students felt different somehow, too, though there was nothing unusual for Southern California about most of the people bundled up in sweaters and scarves for a 70°, cloudless day. I overheard three clear conversations as I was walking through campus; a couple women by the drama building discussing the relevance of Tragedy in modern life, two girls by the science building deciding whether to get an abortion or give a kid up for adoption, and a couple guys smoking in the parking lot, one of whom was complaining about how he didn't want to go to rehab because he didn't want his parents to find out.

Doesn't anyone talk about video games and pogs anymore? I guess I felt a little old. Though I did see one student older than me, a stocky white woman in a Pepto-Bismol pink turtleneck cable knit sweater and pyjama pants with a big curly grey Tom Baker afro. So I guess there's no reason I should feel out of place.

Here's to-day's daddy-long-legs in my bathroom;

I ate at Pokez downtown yesterday and someone got the juke box to play The Smiths' "What Difference Does It Make?" followed by David Bowie's "Jon, I'm Only Dancing" and Morrissey's "The More You Ignore Me the Closer I Get." I looked around to see if I had a stalker there, but if I did, they remained cloaked.

On the way home I saw another car accident where someone pulling out of a parking lot had slammed into the side of another car. Looked like that latter car was hit right in the driver's seat, too. People just seem less and less able to cope with intersections--I think we're just a couple years away from being like India.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Dead and the Wolves

And there's some evil mothers
Well they're gonna tell you that everything is just dirt
You know, that women never really faint
And that villains always blink their eyes
And that, you know, children are the only ones who blush
And that life is just to die
But anyone who ever had a heart
Oh, they wouldn't turn around and break it
And anyone who's ever played a part
Oh, they wouldn't turn around and hate it

I was dreaming about walking around my elementary school with Arnold Schwarzenegger when we ran across Amanda Palmer sitting in the grass.

"I like the darkness around your eyes," Schwarzenegger said to her. "It's very authentic."

I never thought Amanda Palmer's eyes were particularly dark, but she thanked him before standing up and walking away, leaving her bag behind. Schwarzenegger reached into her bag and pulled out a black handgun.

"You have a permit for this?" he called after her.

She smiled back at us, frowning slightly in mock consternation, pretending she couldn't hear. She kept walking away.

"So if you're carrying a gun around," I asked Schwarzenegger, "do you just figure people won't bother you because they'll recognise you as the governor?"

He said, "If it comes to whether I'm the governor--"

And he was interrupted by my computer alarm clock playing "Sweet Jane" by The Velvet Underground. I have my alarm clock set to select a random mp3 from a playlist I put together and I really had to commend it on its choice to-day.

I spent far too much time playing World of Warcraft yesterday, levelling up my new blood elf hunter, Sichilde. I named her after a Frankish Queen, and I'm rather pleased to have finally come up with a name that, at least according to the WoW Armoury, no one else has on any other server. Or no one else has a Sichilde higher than level ten, as that's all the Armoury tracks. I'm not even sure how to pronounce "Sichilde"--I figure it's either "Sikealed","Sitch-eeled","Sikeald-A","Sick child", or some other variation of those. I don't really mind as I like all those pronunciations.

I started a new Horde character because on Saturday night Tim and I rode around the new, Worgen starter region of Gilneas, which is currently empty except for a few flocks of sheep. Mostly World of Warcraft looks like a minigolf course designed by Hulk Hogan, but the new Gilneas region is rather nice looking--grey, Hammer horror looking eighteenth century houses and stone canals under gloomy sky with countryside generally split between dark soil with some kind of red leafed, white flowering plant and rocky moor land. Tim pointed out how the bare stone mountains actually look like sculpted rock instead of the smooth, seismograph look of most of the vanilla WoW mountains, even after the cataclysm.

You can't use a Worgen yet, of course, but it looked like the plot for the Worgen players corresponds now with the Forsaken, the undead race. So I made my blood elf and immediately went to Tirisfall to do the Forsaken phased quest chain. The undead stuff in WoW is another one of the few visual aspects of the game I actually like, as it's always had a nice Disney goth quality. It's even better now with wicked, dark purplish walls erected everywhere and sexy blood elf women guards surrounding Sylvanas' encampment in Silverpine. The first character I made for WoW was a Forsaken warrior, so I was especially excited by all the changes to the quest chain, which quickly shapes up into an all out war with the Worgen taking place after the events of Wrath of the Lich King. I wasn't even listening to The Howard Stern Show for once, actually putting together a playlist of Danny Elfman, Brian Eno, Gyorgy Ligeti, among others. It's like a completely different game.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dreaming Wide Eyes

I finally had a chance to watch My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done? last night, the Werner Herzog film from last year produced by David Lynch. That's two of the best, most fascinating film directors working to-day, and the idea of them teaming up was enough to make me want to see the movie. The fact that it was shot and set in San Diego, the city where I live, made me want to see it even more--I'm not sure why, exactly. Maybe it's just a simple idea of the story already taking on an automatic relevance to me. Good stories communicate with people regardless of setting, but there's something about the, "This happened right over there," aspect that already gives the movie an immediate impact.

In fact, the primary shooting location was easy to find on Google maps thanks to street signs visible in the blu-ray edition. Street view shows a woman, presumably a resident of the house, visible walking her dog.

I'd be a little concerned if I were her. The movie's based on the true story of Mark Yavorsky, who killed his mother with a sword, only a few blocks from where the movie was shot. Yavorsky now lives in Riverside, which is only a few miles away--he didn't get hard prison time as a court found him to be insane.

Herzog has said the details in the film are about 70% made up--such as the fact that the man's name is changed from Mark Yavorsky to Brad McCullum. Herzog apparently said that he preferred to concentrate on the character of Yavorsky's madness, and he succeeds in creating an amazing portrait of a man fundamentally possessed by a narcissistic and delusional perception of reality. In one of the most signifying moments, during a flashback to his trip to Peru, where his correct prediction that his friends would die in a rafting excursion would serve to buttress his delusional personality, he responds to a friend's question by explaining he's, "looking at the river." Though he's plainly seen facing away from it.

One of the things the San Diego setting caused me to do was listen carefully to the characters and ask myself, "Do I know people who talk like this?" Generally, the answer was, "No." Willem Defoe as the police detective in charge of the dragnet surrounding Brad's house after the murder, seems like he would have been at home in the Twin Peaks universe. There's just something slightly odd about the earnest but stiff courtesy with which he offers coffee to Udo Kier and Cloe Sevigny. There's even a slightly Lynchian quality to Defoe's partner, who continually has ideas like poisoning the pizza Brad orders that Defoe patiently vetoes, explaining that the young detective watches too much television. I had the impression this younger cop character may have been created to convey how Brad's madness may not have been totally alien.

Brad seems in fact a victim of his own personality--as in one scene he plaintively asks, "Why is the whole world staring at me?" He seems to be running on his own programme and often seems angry when people around him don't seem to be going along. During a rehearsal for The Eumenides, for which Brad is cast in the lead, we see his director, Udo Kier, having to exasperatingly chastise him again for making up his own lines. Brad then indulgently explains how he learned the importance of improvising when he played basketball--again and again in the film we see Brad can only be persuaded by his own logic. And Brad's logic is always based on the idea that he's at the centre of the universe.

More than once I found myself thinking, "This guy's just an asshole." Perhaps it's a mark of Herzog's genius that I'm not completely put off by the story. Ernst Reijseger's score was a big help--its mildly sad, strange strings and vocals continue through action and jump cuts almost oblivious to what's happening on screen, but seems tied to the relentless dream state of Brad's consciousness. And at times Brad's madness is simply very funny, as when he randomly gives away his duffel bag at the park out of some kind of inspiration of Christ-like benevolence. Meanwhile the man receiving the duffel bag doesn't actually want a big sack of Brad's stuff.

It's a good film. A lot of great performances--I particularly liked Grace Zabriskie as Brad's mother, who's the right amount of annoying to make Brad's devotion to her seem like real disconnect. Cloe Sevigny is good as Brad's girlfriend, though I was very curious why she was with Brad as she seemed continually frightened or irritated by everything Brad did.

Brad Dourif has a small role as Brad McCullum's uncle, an ostrich farmer, and one of his scenes with McCullum ends as a couple others do, with the actors standing still and staring at the camera, emphasising the artificial nature of reality for Brad.

Twitter Sonnet #207

Unused boom mics fail to catch laundered noise.
Earnest voices just off camera thin out.
Doctors' rubber mallets make useful toys.
Tiny tin fingers were smothered by gout.
One hundred ten tired peasants compete.
Steep hills daunt the numerous bland uncooked.
Legs are cradled by cold slushy grey peat.
Skeleton Phone rattles on its dry hook.
Death knights dismantle Auswitch mini-golf.
Thorny vines squeeze the plush sleeping castle.
Dark sounds come from the piano of Rowlf.
The ghosts of true burlesque steal Cher's tassel.
God eyes confusedly cast big pink dice.
Picaresque punishments suit a posed vice.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Continued Bird Community Inquisitions

Someone just called me looking for "Cowboy." Not a cowboy, just Cowboy. I assumed it was a wrong number.

I saw all the regular birds on my walk to lunch to-day--the egret, the hawk, and the duck gang. I didn't manage to get a good photo of the hawk this time, unfortunately, though I was very close to it as I accidentally flushed it out of some dead shrubs while I was blundering through one of the skinny horse trails.

Duck fight! These ducks really seem to like all the shallow, muddy water around lately.

The egret showed up while I was feeding the ducks. I threw some bread bits at the egret, but it only seemed offended by the idea.

Some bird met a nasty fate here. I didn't see a scrap of meat or bone anywhere, though.

I came out of one of the little paths to see the egret flying rather majestically across my field of vision.

I wasn't able to go any further when I came across a chain link fence and a bunch of these signs everywhere. Apparently it's a nesting ground for the endangered Least Bell's Vireo. I've actually seen about a thousand of them, kind of infesting a couple dry shrubs closer to where I live. I've never gotten a good picture of them because they're tiny and hyperactive, but they make quite a racket.

I watched the new Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt with breakfast to-day, a really good one for Stocking. I wasn't too surprised to see she knew just how to handle a giant octopus ghost.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Birds in Peril

In my dream last night, I was breaking eggs to prove a point to someone, but I don't remember what that point was. I was startled when one of the eggs broke open and a live chick, surrounded by gooey human looking blood rather than yolk, spilled out.

This lolcat kind of reminded me of the dream.

I thought it might have been brought on by all the turkeys I was killing in World of Warcraft last night--I love how they become roast ready, plucked and headless when you kill them. I noticed I started getting little titles when was killing them fast enough; "Turkey Hunter" for ten within a certain amount of time and "Turkey Dominance" for twenty. I never managed to get to thirty within the set time--the woods were thick with turkeys but I couldn't quite kill fast enough for the timer. But I was mainly doing it because the Roast Turkey was the only recipe I had I could still level up my cooking skill with, and I figured the turkeys would be gone after Thanksgiving. I suppose there are more recipes in Outlands to get above 300, but my paladin's overall level is still just 44.

I loved how the turkeys are called "Wild Turkey." I brought a bottle of Wild Turkey over to my parents' house for Thanksgiving. I went with my family to see Morning Glory, which wasn't a great, but not an altogether bad, film. It was produced by J.J. Abrams, and had the same kind of feel I recognised from his Star Trek movie and his television series Felicity. It's hard to describe, but it's a certain plainness of style, casual indulgence of convention, and focused, sometimes broad, sometimes effective character interplay. Morning Glory was definitely too broad, especially when it came to Harrison Ford's anchor character. I kept thinking about how weird it is that Harrison Ford doesn't just look old now, he looks really old, in a way movie stars don't usually look old. There's something really wiped out about him. He didn't seem so bad in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, though even then he sometimes had that disturbing blank look stroke victims seem to get sometimes. Harrison Ford ending up this way seems incredible unjust somehow.

Rachel McAdams, meanwhile, almost single-handedly saved the movie for me. When it looked like she was going to be the breakout star from Mean Girls, I remember thinking, "Why not that intensely beautiful, elvish looking girl?" Meaning Amanda Seyfried. Now I might have to admit that, in terms of acting talent, McAdams definitely deserves the bigger career. The creative ideas she had with scenes in Morning Glory made whole blocks of intensely banal dialogue and commonplace character arcs a lot more bearable. The stock character obsessed with her job at the cost of her personal life is actually brought to life as a person who's been driven by her ideals while under the gun of a world perpetually letting her down. This is done entirely by McAdams' feverish performance.

The night before, I'd watched Lost Highway again. I didn't realise what a comfort movie that one is for me, probably because I watched it a million times in high school and only maybe four times in the past decade. But in those eerie, quiet scenes in the beginning, I feel tension drain out of my stomach and shoulders and a peculiar sense of "rightness." The weird feeling that Lynch has a greater understanding of reality than anyone, for me. I'll also never get tired of how intensely hot Patricia Arquette is in that movie. She'd never looked as good before and hasn't looked as good since.

By the way, speaking of David Lynch, avoid his web site right now. A hacker has apparently decided to go to war with the guy and there's some kind of virus coming through davidlynch.com which would probably really fuck up your computer if you don't have Avast or another good antivirus running. The site's been down for months, and it's really too bad. Too many assholes on the internet.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy This!

Twitter Sonnet #206

Dramatic bread is never too chewy.
Boiling cauldrons stage some tuna's last swim.
Two ducks were the brothers of one Louie.
Mallard omniscience cleanses all sin.
Abraham Lincoln warred with blue sheep.
Slumber beats the brains of dishonest mice.
Smaller potatoes are easy to keep.
Single Mentos must spawn in heaven twice.
Breath rots while a mint kitty cleans itself.
Layers of cutlery bury dinner.
Turkey mist makes the air a meaty wealth.
I think each year the birds get just slimmer.
Bloody intestines case a lace trimmed trough.
Grisly wattles drag through rancid brown broth.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Getting Up and Going In Circles

When I heard about the the FDA's ban on caffeinated alcoholic drinks yesterday, I happened at the time to have been drinking a mixture of coffee, soy creamer, and Irish whiskey. My body's been disapproving of milk products lately, and I was kind of saddened by the idea of never having Baileys again. When I read that Irish cream was mainly just cream and Irish whiskey, I decided to try the soy creamer with Bushmills and found it worked extremely well. I can't say it led to binge drinking, though.

So I guess statistically people drinking caffeinated alcohol are more likely to binge drink, but I really can't wrap my head around it. Does fatigue really stop people abusing alcohol? I suppose if you black out, but I think you're already in binge territory at that point.

Last night was the first alcohol I'd had since Thursday. I thought it was wise to avoid it after getting the wisdom teeth taken out, though I was only told to avoid carbonated beverages, that alcohol was really only bad if I was still bleeding, as it thins the blood. But I'm getting pretty tired of the accommodations for these tooth sockets. I'm tired of apple sauce and soup. I guess it's still a few days until I can have tortilla chips or anything, but I figured I was well enough in the clear for alcohol.

While drinking, I played World of Warcraft, checking out the changes after the previous night's Cataclysm. I took my Paladin, Dormouse (who appears to have taken off her new boots without my knowledge), to some kind of gnome and goblin controlled barge in the flooded Thousand Needles and started a bar fight.

There seem to be a lot of bugs still. Tim told me he ran into a giant shark stuck in Darnassus' harbour. And I had an old quest called "Missing header." But it was a good time. And since Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King finally went down in price, I bought Burning Crusade for just five dollars and created a Draenei mage called Nastassya (not yet on the WoW Armoury). I figured since the Draenei all have Russian accents a good Russian name would be appropriate, and I was pleased to nab the female lead from The Idiot.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Glasses on Holograms

Yesterday I watched Friday's episode of Sym-Bionic Titan and Sunday's episode of Boardwalk Empire--each was an exceptionally good episode for both series, particularly Sym-Bionic Titan. With this episode, the show finally made good, for me, on the John Hughes influence that Genndy Tartakovsky said went into the series.

The popular girl falling for the nerd who helps her study for the test is hardly a new idea, but it works so well here, partly because Octus, the robot, has for me definitely been the most interesting character. I love that instead of the standard idea of a robot without emotions, he's more like a robot whose programming generally limits him to being benevolently laconic. The performance by Brian Posehn, of The Sarah Silverman Programme, is in no small part responsible for how well this works.

I was happy to see Kimmy, the popular cheerleader girl, return too--she's much better looking than Ilana, the series female lead, though maybe she does look a little like Kim Possible. Except she also looks like Greek pottery, or one of Jean Cocteau's line drawings.

In any case, I've rarely seen television this effectively sweet.

The new Boardwalk Empire was probably the show's best job at crafting an episode with a unifying, interesting theme--in this case one of distorted self-image. It was great seeing Richard Harrow, the scarred and masked sniper, return and obviously he was well used here. Another highlight for me was Margaret's confrontation with Van Alden, who challenges her with an old photograph of her as part of his weird, religious zeal. Though I was kind of disappointed we see Van Alden getting whiskey and a loose woman at the end of the episode--that hypocrisy was a little too broad for me, though I won't say it was unbelievable.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Abundance of Damp

Twitter Sonnet #205

Cheap sets smother good effects and action.
Normal body builders can dream of space.
There are some clots can't form around suction.
A wrong man won't help by changing his face.
The soul's scalp ever grows frizzy black hair.
Winning empty bottles evades lost men.
A good staircase copies a single stair.
Neutrality becomes the roaming hen.
High proof promises are made by soy cream.
Soft asteroids are gummed by an old god.
Zeus's bronzer's not safe as it might seem.
The new Nestle mud makes swamplands smell odd.
Leafy deities bring harvests by can.
Under their brown feathers ducks need no tan.

It rained most of the weekend, causing the river to overflow, so I went out and got pictures yesterday;

The ducks were exploring their newly expanded territory.

The hawk again.

There were dozens of slugs making their way across the concrete path. I used a leaf to rescue this one;