Ideas are notoriously difficult to erase.

From August Spies and the labour movement, but true of most any movement. Read in the About Haymarket Books section at the end of Rebecca Solnit’s truly excellent book Men Explain Things To Me:

“If you think that by hanging us you can stamp out the labour movement,” Spies told the judge, “then hang us. Here you will tread upon a spark, but here, and there, and behind you, and in front of you, and everywhere, the flames will blaze up. It is a subterranean fire. You cannot put it out. The ground is on fire upon which you stand.”

Marital Status

I keep opening this book and gems keep falling out.

marital status can be relevant, but no more so for women than for men; if you are doing a profile or takeout on someone, such things are part of the total picture along with her skill at snooker and his superb lemon pies, but avoid gratuitous references like the group is led by Hortense Hamhoks, a divorcee; the rule of thumb is that if you wouldn’t make the reference for a man, don’t make it for a woman; see: SEXISM

It was the best of times, it was ssssssssAJsssM

From the first pages of the late great David Rakoff’s Don’t Get Too Comfortable:

LONDON, May 9—Give an infinite number of monkeys an infinite number of typewriters, the theory goes, and they will produce the complete works of Shakespeare. Give six monkeys one computer for a month, and they will make a mess. Researchers at Plymouth University in England reported this week that monkeys left alone with a computer failed to produce a single word. “They pressed a lot of S’s,” said Mike Phillips, a researcher in the project which was paid for by the Arts Council. The researchers left a computer in the monkey enclosure at Paignton Zoo in southwest England, home to six Sulawesi crested macaques. Then they waited. Eventually, the monkeys produced only five pages of text, primarily filled with the letter S. At the end, a few A’s, J’s, L’s and M’s were struck. “Another thing they were interested in was defecating and urinating all over the keyboard,” Mr. Phillips added.

-Associated Press

The Happy Ending

“The happy ending is justly scorned as a misrepresentation; for the world, as we know it, as we have seen it, yields but one ending: death, disintegration, dismemberment, and the crucifixion of our heart with the passing of the forms that we have loved.

This death to the logic and the emotional commitments of our chance moment in the world of space and time, this recognition of, and shift of our emphasis to, the universal life that throbs and celebrates its victory in the very kiss of our own annihilation…

…the fairy tale of happiness ever after cannot be taken seriously; it belongs to the never-never land of childhood, which is protected from the realities that will become terribly known soon enough; just as the myth of heaven ever after is for the old, whose lives are behind them and whose hearts have to be readied for the last portal of the transit into night…

The happy ending of the fairy tale, the myth, and the divine comedy of the soul, is to be read, not as a contradiction, but as a transcendence of the universal tragedy of man. The objective world remains what it was, but, because of a shift of emphasis within the subject, is beheld as though transformed. Where formerly life and death contended, now enduring being is made manifest — as indifferent to the accidents of time as water boiling in a pot is to the destiny of a bubble, or as the cosmos to the appearance and disappearance of a galaxy of stars. Tragedy is the shattering of the forms and of our attachment to the forms; comedy, the wild and careless, inexhaustible joy of life invincible.”

~Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces

I am not bored.

“Boredom arises from the loss of meaning, which in turn comes in part from a failure of religio or connectedness with one another and with our past. This book is a modest plea for the realization that absolutely nothing is intrinsically boring, least of all the everyday, ordinary things. These, today, are after all what even we are prepared to admit we have in common. We have recently discovered in ourselves a determination to consider nothing to be beneath consideration, and a willingness to question passionately matters which used to be thought too basic for words. I think the reason for this is that we are fighting back with an altogether healthy urge to recapture ancient but pitifully neglected, thoroughly human responses such as participatory attention, receptivity and appreciation. We have learned well the lessons about the stupidities of superstition, of misplaced, because ignorant, wonder. It is time now to think about whether we have leaped from the trivial to the vacant. Boredom is an irritable condition, and an exceedingly dangerous one when it is accompanied by enormous destructive power.”

~ Margaret Visser, Much Depends on Dinner

p.s. Matt, I have your book… ; )

Some problems with LoTR: Elf Edition

(“It’s pronounced KEL-eh-born, not SEL-eh-born“. Oh Cats, that is never getting old.)

A couple of nights ago, I was having trouble sleeping. So I did what anyone would do, and popped in some of the DVDs from the Lord of the Rings: Elf Edition.

You may not be familiar with the “Elf Editions”. You may know them by their more formal name “The Special Extended Editions”.

But when my husband put them on his Christmas list back when they were released, he referred to them as the Elf Editions (on account of how almost all the extra footage is elfs walking around Being Tall). So that’s what I thought they were called. And that’s what I asked for. In store after store. Getting confused looks. Over and over. Never in stock. Where could it be. Why didn’t anyone have the Elf Edition? (“No, not the one that comes with the elf action figure. The Elf Edition, THE ELF EDITION!”)


So anyways, I was watching LoTR: Elf Edition. And a couple of things were bugging me. It turns out that yelling them at the screen wasn’t sufficiently cathartic, so here they are again. You’re welcome nerds.

1. Sam: Everything dampens his spirits.

“Nothing ever dampens your spirits, does it Sam?”

What? Seriously Frodo, what epic trip are you on? Because in the one I’m watching everything bothers Sam. Sam is scowling or moping throughout this entire movie. He’s never been so far away from The Shire, Merry and Pippin can’t take a coupla carrots from Farmer Maggot. He’s sick of lembas bread. He wants a potato. He thinks Gollum is trying to kill him. I could go on.

Even if Frodo hadn’t noticed before, how about five seconds after Frodo makes this comment, when Sam is a pussy about it raining. For frack’s sake hobbit. You’re like this -> <- close to Mordor. And you’re sad cuz it’s raining? Just thank your hobbit god for every second you’re not being gutted by an orc. More like Samwise the Mopey.

2. Everyone seems to know about the one ring, except for the ancient and powerful all-knowing wizard.

When Bilbo goes all uncut-cocaine over a ring, Gandalf has to look that shit up. The superduper powerful smart wizard has to get his ass to the library. He has to go all the way to Gondor’s sub-basement level 4, and leaf through moldy papers for daaaaays to find out what it is.

Everyone else? They just know. Boromir. He knows. Faramir. The foot soldiers. That kid who throws a rock at the Uruk-hai? I bet he knows too. They’re all “oh, you mean, he has The One Ring? Yeah. Y’know. The One Ring. The weapon of the enemy. Doy. Do you have any more Mithril? Because I’m about to get smote bitches.”

Even fucking Galadriel is all “and some things that should not have been forgotten were lost”. Were they? Were they Galadriel? Cuz for a secret lost forgotten thing, everyone is talking about it a lot. The One Ring is everybody’s virginity in the locker room of Middle Earth.

Y’know what. Forget that second one. Frodo has a big mouth. He probably just didn’t keep it secret or safe enough. He can’t stop telling people about his burden. It’s mine. I alone have to do it. No giant strapping men, I don’t want you — who know the way and are fucking burly — to defend me from countless baddies. Wah wah. It burns. It’s heavy. That guy’s looking at me. It’s all on me, even though Sam literally carries him to the finish line.

Hmmm. Okay. Forget the first one too. I forgive Sam for being Sammopey the Jowly. If you carry someone over hot lava, you get a pass. But fuck you Frodo. Fuck you.

p.s. Frodes, after all that, you didn’t even finish your mission. Did you cast the ring into the fire? Like you were supposed to? This whole time? NO. Gollum had to bite your finger off to finish the job. So really, Gollum got it done. All you did was have fingers. A monkey could have done that. A monkey. What you “did” didn’t even require opposable thumbs. Slow clap buddy, slow chewed off finger clap.

*LoTR Easter Egg: Look for the scene where Pippin is showing way too much chest hair for an innocent little hobbit. I have ruined this movie for more than one friend by pointing this out. You can’t unsee it people, you can’t unsee it.

(Possibly) Jack London’s credo

Attributed to him in Neil Peart’s Ghost Rider (which I’m reading), though the WikiGods say that perhaps only the first line can be accurately traced to Mr. London.

Regardless, it’s a thought worth thinking:

I would rather be ashes than dust!
I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze
Than it should be stifled by dryrot.
I would rather be a superb meteor,
Every atom of me in magnificent glow,
Than a sleepy and permanent planet.
The proper function of man is to live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time.

A new colour

“…it’s hard to remember exactly what I was waiting for. Although I do know that it was something wholly unfamiliar and thrilling. Like a new colour, one I’d never seen before. Not a mixture: no trace of blue or yellow or red. What would that look like? Even though our physical world makes the existence of such a thing basically impossible, I’d still really like to see that.”

~ David Rakoff, in TAL’s Promised Land episode and his book “Don’t Get Too Comfortable


I bought myself a desk this week. It’s a fancy shmancy stylin’ desk. Floats “free” on the wall. Which is very sleek, and very cool. Made possible by some fancy shmancy anchors.

However. Despite having had a quick walkthrough in the store about how the anchors work, and how to mount the desk, we opened it today to find out that none of this information is in the box. Neither how to use the anchors, or, say, what a recommended height off the ground would be for a floating desk.

:shakes the box (and it’s a bloody great big box)

Fortunately, I am a hypernerd, and this poses no challenge to me.

Why? Because my laptop (which was naturally within reach) could be used to google the brand name etched on the anchor, and find a how-to install on their website.

How high off the ground? Well, given that we have no standard desks in our house, we have no locally-available reference point. But never fear. Because /also within arms length/ was a book in my personal library. A book called “Human Dimension and Interior Space”.

Flip to “3.1 The Private Office”, reference item “G” which indicates floor height->table height. And you’ll find that the comfortable range is between 29-30″. Would you like to know how much to estimate for thigh clearance? Side arm reach? Buttock-popliteal length? (<-oh, you bet it’s a category)

Cuz, I can tell you.*

* 6.5-7″; at the low end 27″ (to 39″); at the low end 16.9″ (to 17.6″)

Buttock-popliteal length being “the horizontal distance from the rearmost surface of the buttock to the back of the lower leg.” (used to determine seat lengths)

This may just be the greatest book I own.  Cuz, NERD!  🙂

From “I know you’re out there”

“Love,” Estelle said, “real love, is when you realize that you’re in a race to see which of you is going to die first.  And the worst thing in the world is when you lose.”

p.199, “I Know You’re Out There: Private Longings, Public Humiliations and Other Tales from the Personals” by Michael Beaumier.