Sunday, February 28, 2010

Blogging is for Hosers

What's that ghost doing, flashing a gang sign or V for Victory? Do ghosts have gangs? They have lists, everyone and their grandma knows that, but a posse, a tribe, a sewing club...? Is this the age of ghost diversification?

It may very well be, but...

Ghosts don't blog. They don't go for that, no can do.

This doesn't mean they aren't helpful, particularly of late when it comes to dropping on Entrecard sites.

I've been using Dropzone for a little over a week and have some thoughts. It is a good service that goes a long way toward alleviating sore wrists at the end of a long click session. It reduces time spent dropping too. My main gripe about EC has been that it takes so damn long to do and Dropzone oh so very helpful in that area.

It's a conduit to a great diversity of blogs. Admittedly, there are no small number of "empty" blogs out there which aren't posted to regularly or that exist just to hock some product or service. Leave them to heaven. No sooner do you discover a new blog with fine writing, photography or advice and they are forgotten.

The jury is still out whether droppers now have an excuse to visit blogs without reading them. But blogs are about sharing, engaging, conversation; any other reason is for hosers.

For more details, check out Dropzone, where the gent in charge is doing his best to provide a sound means of dropping with less clicks. No, his name isn't Caspar the Friendly Ghost.

On a less spiritual note, I've been thinking about this crazy thing called blog.

How did we ever get by without them? Only a few years ago, keeping a blog was an elite activity, practiced by select few. Now it's infiltrated every level of society and you can find blogs of all kinds.

For me it a carries over from keeping a diary. Unlike this blog, which exists as code, there is a giant, not very elegant pile of journals in my closet. Those times when I consider what I would grab first if my house caught fire, they are high on the list. Not very practical.

If I stuck to blogging, it would mean grabbing my laptop from the flames. No heroic notion of saving flammable materials that only increase the chances that I become a ghost. I'd not only be dead but I couldn't blog anymore. Everybody loses.

Still, my journals are more aesthetic. If I ever get my shit together enough to buy a scanner, you'll see what I mean. I'm a decent collage artist and my handwriting (so I've heard) is a marvel of microscopic proportions.

For the time being, I'll stick to not being a ghost. It's served me well this far into life, no reason to start now. Anyhow, I've got enough bad habits.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Beast

Say hello to The Hair That Walketh, The Wobbler, The Sweet Sniffer, she that answers to... Lacey!

Does she not have a canny gaze?

And though there is a town in our state by the same name, Lacey is not named after it.

She makes her premiere today. As the sun continues its encroachment on this our Emerald City, you can expect to see more pics of this hirsute honey in a variety of settings, though not in a variety of hats; Lacey devout gal that she is gave up haberdashery for Lent.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Book of the Week

Ten years ago a dear friend loaned me one of the best books I've ever read, Leonora Carrington's The Hearing Trumpet, and just this last weekend I stumbled upon a paperback copy of it after spending the intervening decade trying to track one down. Happy day!

Two old ladies at the end of the world. That's what the book is about, and Marian and Carmella are a pair, let me tell you. One is bald, but I won't tell you which. Marian provides narration and is the one in need of the eponymous lobe funnel. After reading a single page of dialogue between these nonagenarians, it is impossible to put this fantastic book down until the end.

Here is but a sample:
"There are times," said Carmella, "when I am clairvoyante. When I saw that trumpet in the flea market I said to myself 'that is just the right thing for Marian.' I had to buy it at once, I had a premonition. This is terrible news. (Marian is being put away in a home by her children.) I must try and think of some plan."

"What do you feel about the Well of Light Brotherhood?" I asked. "It frightens me."

"The Well of Light Brotherhood," said Carmella, "is obviously something extremely sinister. Not I suppose a company for grinding old ladies into breakfast but something morally sinister. It all sounds terrible. I must think of something to save you from the jaws of the Well of Light." This seemed to amuse her for no reason at all and she chuckled although I could see she was quite upset.

"They will not allow me to take the cats you think?"

"No cats," said Carmella. "Institutions, in fact, are not allowed to like anything. They don't have time."

"What shall I do?" I said. "It seems a pity to commit suicide when I have lived for ninety-two years and really haven't understood anything."

"You might escape to Lapland," said Carmella. "We could knit a tent here so you wouldn't have to buy one when you arrived."

"I have no money, I could never get to Lapland without money."

"Money is a great nuisance," said Carmella. "If I had any I would give you some and we would take a holiday on the Riviera on the way to Lapland. We could even gamble a little."

Even Carmella had no practical advice.

And so on, yet sadly not forever. This little book does what it came to do, no more no less, and leaves the reader with a feeling of deep satisfaction at its conclusion -along with the wish that, like all literature, it didn't have to end.

In the past I've noted a distaste for author photographs, they tend to spoil things for me. However, with Leonora Carrington an exception must be made. Look at her here, eyebrows and all, with surrealists Max Ernst and Paul Eluard -what a babe!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Writing at West 5

Can you write in public places? Maybe it matters if we're talking laptop or longhand. Blogging at work doesn't count. I'm thinking back to coffeehouse mornings, quad espresso singing in my head, camped out in a nook with the New York Times covering the table and my journal propped open, pen madly scratching some kooky notion or other into semblances of legible script.

Not that I've never blogged at work. That came later.

If you could only see what an ad hoc contraption my laptop is. The very idea of mobilizing it to a public place is insane. Since the screen is dead, I've got a thousand wires hooked to this large monitor; since I get cranky pointing with anything other than a mouse, it is jacked in wirelessly, with the port's green sensor winking at me from the base of the screen. It would require a wheelchair or grocery cart to lug this business anywhere. Would I even want to be seen at an establishment that lets people park their carts outside? No, I'm not ready to become a traveling circus.

It wasn't until last year that I got the idea to edit the novel anywhere but at home. I was already in the habit of coming to the office an hour early and using that time to get a bit of writing done. (It turns out that my brain only really functions until 8am, at which point it's only good for routine tasks and Facebook.)

That left me with a stack of writing I wanted to edit first thing after work. The novelty on public transit wore out fast and it wasn't until I became a regular at West 5 that I discovered two great tastes that taste great together.

I average twenty pages a visit. Not bad. I've had a couple Dewar's with a Manny's chaser by then and shift to my notebook for composing in the abstract, thoughts, gripes, blog subjects, etc.

It's been several months now of this habit. The staff know me by now. One approached me the other day and mentioned that this was an interesting place to correct papers.


"Yeah," she said, "aren't you correcting papers?"

Ha! I didn't know I was traveling incognito! Of course, being mistaken for a teacher is flattering and far more respectable than what I really am.

Writing is by its nature private. Any scribe worth their salt has a sanctum. I read in an interview somewhere that Iggy Pop is very specific where he plants himself to write: a cold attic. He says (and I'm paraphrasing) that words are only accessible in an unfamiliar setting, one that unsettles you a bit.

West 5 is not a cold attic, far from it, but I can get behind the idea.

There's an urgency that comes with writing outside the comfort zone. Not being an itinerant, it's not always that simple to find somewhere that fits the bill but I think using a public place makes me just restless enough to get the focus I need for good editing.

Before you kill me, I recognize that writing and editing are different; one is pouring in, the other cutting out. The source material has to come when I'm sitting at my desk, speakers blaring Vivaldi, Orbital, or something in between, door shut tight against the world. I'm in a bathosphere at the bottom of the sea. It's me and Major Tom in a tin can. I've parked my sand buggy on Olympus Mons with only Martian ghosts to bother me, which is hardly ever... you get the idea: writing is the Phantom Zone of the soul.

West 5 is not the Phantom Zone.

Far from it.

Which makes it perfect for editing.

Excuse me, I mean "correcting papers."

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Let's Celebrate Finding The Tingler

Ever wonder what causes that tingling up the spine when you're scared? Did you think it was a monstrous microbe wrapped around your vertebrae ready to splinter them to bits? Look no further, friends, Vincent Price has done the world a service and exposed the vile culprit.

Contrary to what you might think, experimentation with LSD has achieved incredible breakthroughs. In 1959, syringe in hand, our intrepid scientist gives himself a heroic dose. In the name of science, you understand. Wracked with terrifying visions, he discovers... The Tingler!

Vincent Price's wife is a wicked piece of business. Purring with evil, she loves it when he extracts the beasty from a corpse's neck. "Let's celebrate finding the tingler," she says, then slips him a mickey. Next thing you know, he's out cold with a slimy and quite obviously rubber worm pinching his neck with its pincers.

He doesn't hide his feelings for her either.

Isabel: The only way Dave Morris will marry my sister is over my dead body.

Warren: Unconventional but not impossible.

Magical moments in matrimony! Add a pinch of tingler and you've got the perfect recipe for a match made in hell. Add a dash of feline affirmative action and bring to a boil:

Warren: I was going to use this cat for my experiment, but you made a much better subject. Have you two met, in the same alley perhaps?

And let's not forget the acid, still legal when the movie came out. Though innocent by today's standards, at about the halfway mark you'll feel like somebody spiked your drink too. Unforgettable, trippy images are on full display, including an axe-wielding ape and the piece de resistance a hand rising from a bloody bathtub. Spliced in against black&white film, it's wonderfully creepy.

Did I mention the rubber worm? You'd be amazed at the tingler's effectiveness when it grabs hold of a victim's neck while looking like a reject toy for demented children. Remember the earwhigs from Star Trek 2? Like that, but on steroids.

Next time you're in the mood for a fifties B-movie, look no further than The Tingler. If you've ever reveled in an Ed Wood disaster, this is a step up -a baby step.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Winter Cold, Summer Sky

"Winter cold, Summer sky"

"Feel Someone Watching? It's Me"

"A Goal Too Far"

"Smells Like Old Man Jed"

"Leonardo Slept Here"

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Whackadoodle Wednesday

Okay, I kiped "whackadoodle" from last night's marathon viewing of Big Bang Theory, as a catchall for my doings of late; besides hammering away at the seventh draft of the novel, I've had no small amount of diversions to while away the hours, not least among them the always enjoyable and geeky antics of the Big Bang gang. If you've never watched this show and have room in your schedule for a consistently funny sitcom, this is the one for you.

Speaking of marathons, I crammed in a welter of hours on Bioshock 2 last week. For the uninitiated, this sequel to one of the most ingenious games in recent memory takes place in Rapture, a city at the bottom of the sea. Intended as an Ayn Rand-ian Objectivist utopia, both games take us on a tour of this vision gone sour: empowered individuals, as it turns out, will do anything they can to kill and maim their way to the top of all those other individuals. Shocking. Still, the level design is top shelf, replete with Art Deco architecture, the writing is as rich as any novel, and unlike the first game, Bioshock 2 has satisfying finale. And honestly, I was no less satisfied because this would be my last gaming jag for awhile.

Now that I can no longer use my birthday as an excuse, my focus is back on selling the novel to publishers. I should get back to it even now. However, there's one more diversion to mention...

With so much discussion of Entrecard going on lately and blogs dropping out left and right, for what it's worth I want to throw in my two cents. There was a controversy surrounding ghost lists that really got under folks' skin last week. It sparked an exodus of some great blogs. Unanswered complaints of fraud and viruses is a solid reason to go. Boredom with the whole process of dropping on Entresites is another contributing factor.

Admittedly, dropping is not exciting, but it is stimulating. I don't see it as a chore. Entrecard enables me to visit, read, and appreciate quality blogs from around the world. It takes time that could be spent doing other things (like cleaning the bathroom), yet images and thoughts that otherwise might never be entertained by my feeble brain are one click away during the wee hours of morning when I do the Entrecard thing.

I'm not ready to drop out. Not yet, anyhow, and not because of scammers, you find them anywhere you go. It might be that a month from now I'll cut out because it eats time better spent on selling the book. Who knows. Entrecard connects great bloggers with its network of drops (drips?) and gives me something to do (and comment on) whilst sipping coffee and watching the sun come up.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Speechless Tuesday

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday Sympathy

Saw this Polish street art at Wooster Collective and it made me think of folks out east. Here's hoping you get a reprieve soon!

Friday, February 12, 2010


Google has gifted us with Buzz, bringing all web surfers one wave closer to sharing the same beach, when your space, book and twit shall all ning as one: social aggregates of the world, unite and take over. Should I embrace the future or do an old school exclusive with Friendster? (No yawning, please.) It's tempting to simplify not streamline, especially when there are so many streams. Pull a salmon and go against the flow? What would Ruby Rhod do?

Ruby Rhod, in The Fifth Element played by comedian Chris Tucker who went on to fight for justice or something in a Jackie Chan franchise. Before that, he dazzled as intergalactic gadabout, yes, say it after me... Ruby Rhod. If you met him, he'd get all "bzzz!" in your grill. Even to Bruce Willis, bottle-blonde in a Gaultier tanktop, he just said "bzzz!"

All well and good, you say, but what does this have to do with jack squat?

Buzz has a word balloon format, Tweet-ish but suggestive of a voice emanating from your browser. I hear it saying "bzzz!" The Sixth Element in the offing, "I see web people." It's the sound of a sequel of a sequel of a remake, but, like, totally brand new, dude.

How many of these services can a person deal with? We approach the "bzzz!" threshold, when that sound will be a short in your iFad.

Now I've got a weird desire to wear leopard skin.

Friday Foto

Other than an endless bout with hiccups, it was a fine birthday this year, made all the finer by an afternoon spent at West 5 Lounge and Restaurant. If you're ever in the neighborhood of West Seattle's Alaska Junction, check out the fabulous 50's era decor and excellent selection of drinkies and eats. Tell them James sent you!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Speechless Tuesday

Read here about the Dazzle Camouflage Movement of World War I!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Obligatory Pin-Up Girl

Because what makes a lady jump if not a wind-up crocodile? Here it is the end of a grueling day and all you want is to get out of that polyester contraption of a dress. What comes along but an aluminum reptile to send a girl scampering to the nearest (but most petite) perch for safety. Oh, but it feels kind of silly on second thought, doesn't it? At least that infernal, perpetually chafing dress is nowhere to be seen.

Black Scottish Cyclops

While our nation unites to watch the Super Bowl (oh, when the Saints go marching in...), little mister contrarian over here is amusing himself with machinima (game cinema):

Home and Elsewheres

This morning I have travel on the brain. It's been awhile since my passport got stamped, an oversight that needs to be corrected and soon. I love getting out of the US and seeing what the rest of the world is like. Considering the ease with which a US citizen can cross most any border, it's criminal not to take advantage.

There are places to which I'd love to return, and there are cities and locations I'm dying to see for the first time. The Great Pyramid at Giza has been on the list for many years, and I've kicked myself many a time for not simply packing my valise and going. After all, that's how it happened with most places I've gone to.

Right out of college I got it into my head to uproot and leave the US behind in a fit of pique. My burgeoning political consciousness, such as it was, fed into adolescent dreams of running away from home and I got the heck out. First stop was Amsterdam, fun town, followed by a train ride to the Czech Republic and Prague, city of Beethoven and Kafka. I loved it so much I found a job teaching ESL and lived for a time there in a land to which I've returned again and where dwells a part of myself forever. It wasn't the first foreign country I lived in...

As a wee Air Force laddie, my family was stationed in Kyoto for a couple years. Some of my earliest memories are of Japan and the incredible storms. In our high rise apartment I can remember seeing lightning split over the skyline and thunder trembling the glass. Mom sent me to the bathroom to hide until it was over, but the image is burned indelibly into my memory.

My initial solo foray to foreign lands was not free of mishap. One in particular comes to mind, when I missed a connection and ended up spending the night at the Dresden train station. As a US citizen uncertain of the German capacity for grudges, I was quite nervous to be there. In my addled, jet-lagged state, I feared torch-bearing mobs that would use me as a scapegoat for the firebombing of their city at the end of World War 2. Though eyed by roaming teenagers, my fears proved to be unfounded and in the morning I was allowed to depart the city unmolested.

The months I spent with a friend in Budapest were wonderful, a city of the arts where you can catch a Saturday matinee of The Marriage of Figaro and join the locals, large boisterous families with lots of kids, to clap five minutes for every aria and fifteen at the curtain. Hungarians really know how to appreciate opera, I've got the callouses to prove it!

Nowhere have I experienced a sensation of homecoming quite as profoundly as going to Scotland. The MacAdam blood sang in me when I deplaned at Glasgow...

...and upon reaching Edinburgh became raucous, like having a heavy metal concert inside my body. If you've ever experienced this, you know what I mean: it's like nothing else to arrive somewhere that is instantly familiar though you've never been before.

I love travelling and look forward to seeing new places. Top of the list, as mentioned above, is going to Egypt; I'd also like to see the Alhambra Palace...

...and Jerusalem.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Green Thumb

Thanks to My So-Called Life for the image and inspiration.

While I may not agree with everything Mr Al Gore says, the idea of him as a superhero policing thumbs world 'round is a new twist on an old superhero. Forget lanterns and outer space: we need thumb cops!

I should be careful about this. One of the first to fall would be me and my decidedly not-green thumb. If he ever shows up, I'll just have to give him the green finger.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Speechless Tuesday