Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Serious Cat Is Serious

These are two separate images of a feral cat sitting by a stream. The cat in the context of said stream is pictured at left. I came upon this cat by accident whilst parking my auto-motive conveyance device unit. As one can see from the photo, he, and I am assuming his gender as he never did back down and turn away, which would have allowed me to view his privates, is not a cat who is likely to take crap from anyone or anything. No, this is not a conniving Top Cat or OCD-ridden Tom (of Tom and Jerry fame) or some fuzzy internet meme. This is one serious-assed cat, ready to scratch out his name in your forehead or chew off your lips, should he find your lifeless body discarded, post-homicide, in the tall grass.

Don't get me wrong - I love cats. They are crazy cool. They don't need you or me for anything. Sure. they'll hang out at your house as long as you have something worthwhile to offer - food, that pile of comfy sweaters you've been meaning to put away in the attic all spring that make the perfect spot to deposit a matt of fur after too many curled-up naps to count, a shaft of sunlight, food. Did I mention food? Most won't be bothered to come when called nor will they want to do tricks or make cutie-pie faces to please Master or Mistress. Oh, they can do tricks: they just don't want to denigrate themselves. So, "house" cats may be domestic, but I am pretty sure that they're not entirely domesticated - they just want you to think that they are.

When a cat pees on a wall, say, it's not because he's being bad or that he's forgotten how to use the litterbox. He does it because he can. Cats have an acute sense of smell, so that spraying cat knows full well that you're going to smell Eau de Felis the minute you walk in the door. And there he will be perched - on your navy blue peacoat or velour couch, depositing impossible-to-entirely-remove cat fibers on your favourite fabrics, staring you down as if to say, "yeah, what?" On the other hand, a dog will let loose because he has no other damn choice since you decided to stop off at Target to pick up a Raspberry Entemann's on that super hot day during which he managed to gulp down, one tongue-coating at a time, a two-quart-sized bowl of water and he just couldn't hold on any longer. And then, he experiences the duality of being a dog: exquisite relief as the yellow puddle on your kitchen floor spreads out like pancake batter on a too-cold griddle with the momentary knowledge that you will be none too pleased as you slide across that same-said yellow lake on your way to depositing your baked treat on the formica of that table you should really have thrown away already, so old as to be pre-retro.

Dog: sad face, knows he did something to displease, ready to be contrite. Cat: f*ck you, gimme food. Smaller brain, yet, somehow, smarter, n'est ce pas? Methinks I prefer the attitude of Serious Cat. No pity, no question, just action when it's called for, otherwise, maintain the status quo and preserve energy. Sound like an excellent strategy for survival to me.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Clever Chap, What?

Some you have heard, some you shall wish to have been of the hearing once in the again:

A Freudian slip is when you say one thing but mean your mother.

What is a committee? A group of the unwilling, picked from the unfit, to do the unnecessary. -- Richard Harkness, The New York Times, 1960

Slogan of 105.9, the classic rock radio station in Chicago: "Of all the radio stations in Chicago ... we're one of them."

With every passing hour our solar system comes forty-three thousand miles closer to globular cluster 13 in the constellation Hercules, and still there are some misfits who continue to insist that there is no such thing as progress. -- Ransom K. Ferm

Madness takes its toll. Please have exact change.

The graduate with a Science degree asks, "Why does it work?" The graduate with an Engineering degree asks, "How does it work?" The graduate with an Accounting degree asks, "How much will it cost?" The graduate with a Liberal Arts degree asks, "Do you want fries with that?"

Karate is a form of martial arts in which people who have had years and years of training can, using only their hands and feet, make some of the worst movies in the history of the world. -- Dave Barry

I am not a vegetarian because I love animals; I am a vegetarian because I hate plants. -- A. Whitney Brown

A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices. -- William James

We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it - and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again, and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore. -- Mark Twain

If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving an infant's life, she will choose to save the infant's life without even considering if there are men on base. -- Dave Barry

When cryptography is outlawed, bayl bhgynjf jvyy unir cevinpl.

668: The Neighbor of the Beast

Some mornings, it's just not worth chewing through the leather straps. -- Emo Phillips

Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.

Experience is that marvelous thing that enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again. -- F. P. Jones

Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so. -- Douglas Adams, Last Chance to See

When I told the people of Northern Ireland that I was an atheist, a woman in the audience stood up and said, "Yes, but is it the God of the Catholics or the God of the Protestants in whom you don't believe?" -- Quentin Crisp

Boundary, n. In political geography, an imaginary line between two nations, separating the imaginary rights of one from the imaginary rights of another. -- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

I think that all right-thinking people in this country are sick and tired of being told that ordinary, decent people are fed up in this country with being sick and tired. I'm certainly not! But I'm sick and tired of being told that I am! -- Monty Python

May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house. -- George Carlin

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable. -- John F. Kennedy

Life may have no meaning. Or even worse, it may have a meaning of which I disapprove. -- Ashleigh Brilliant

My opinions may have changed, but not the fact that I am right. -- Ashleigh Brilliant

Drawing on my fine command of language, I said nothing.

Always try to do things in chronological order; it's less confusing that way. (which, I believe, is a Steven Wright-ism.)

Once at a social gathering, Gladstone said to Disraeli, "I predict, Sir, that you will die either by hanging or of some vile disease". Disraeli replied, "That all depends, sir, upon whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

For three days after death, hair and fingernails continue to grow but phone calls taper off. -- Johnny Carson

A slipping gear could let your M203 grenade launcher fire when you least expect it. That would make you quite unpopular in what's left of your unit. -- In the August 1993 issue, page 9, of PS magazine, the Army's magazine of preventive maintenance

On one occasion a student burst into his office. "Professor Jones , I don't believe I deserve this F you've given me." To which Jones replied, "I agree, but unfortunately it is the lowest grade the University will allow me to award."

Don't worry about temptation--as you grow older, it starts avoiding you. -- Old Farmer's Almanac

G: "If we do happen to step on a mine, Sir, what do we do?" EB: "Normal procedure, Lieutenant, is to jump 200 feet in the air and scatter oneself over a wide area." -- Somewhere in No Man's Land, BA4

The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled. -- Plutarch

The only difference between me and a madman is that I am not mad. -- Salvador Dali

I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me. -- Hunter S. Thompson

Sacred cows make the best hamburger. -- Mark Twain

"Time's fun when you're having flies." -- Kermit the Frog

Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, "Where have I gone wrong?" Then a voice says to me, "This is going to take more than one night." -- Charlie Brown, _Peanuts_ [Charles Schulz]

Calvin: People think it must be fun to be a super genius, but they don't realize how hard it is to put up with all the idiots in the world. Hobbes: Isn't the zipper on your pants supposed to be in the front?

LOL. Right?

Monday, June 13, 2011


Muse, aged about 4386, died recently of unnatural causes. Which one? Hard to say: perhaps all of them in a tragic bus plunge on the way to Atlantic City or one of those Indian Casinos. All I know is that they're not speaking to me.

Part of the problem is early dementia, or something very much like it, that has taken over my brain as I obsess over cases and motions as I dredge out the dusty training I got so many years ago that I was forced to set aside in the quest to live vicariously through a sociopath. Oops: my mistake - what was I thinking?

Thinking - aye, there's the rub. The creative force that is the source of the myth of the muse comes, for me, anyway, from some foggy, emotional place. Just like depressed folks can't "snap out of it, " creative people can't snap into it. It's either there or it ain't. When it's there, it's powerful. It's love, sex, hysteria and goosebumps, gluttony, vibration and ice water all at once. It's The Force in Star Wars. But it's not something to mulled over. One wouldn't spend the afternoon considering whether to have mad goat sex, would one? It just happens, rising from that place without words, to manifest as something that someone, somewhere, will receive like a shot to the soul as perfect communication.

When I was in High School, I had a film teacher who was, I know now, a sorry has-been-that-never-was, a failed film critic that hadn't even managed to rise to the level of college instruction. Still, he knew a lot about movies and for a year and a half, he was mentor to a smallish group of artsy-fartsy students at a hippiesque school where one could either pass or fail. No judgements, man. But this "experiment" in education meant that the standards were much higher than other schools with traditional grading systems. We had a ton of work to do each semester in every class and the "passing" grade was equal to an 85. Two fails in while attending and you were out, slung back into the school system that was otherwise host to race riots and guido fascism. No place for hippy-dippy creative types.

So, as wonky as the guy was personally, he knew how to love film, and he knew that one way to understand how to make movies was to make movies. So, each semester, one film was due from each student plus a group effort, all shorts of eight to ten minutes or under. This was in the days before portable video and anything other than real celluloid wouldn't have gone over very well for this guy anyway. As he put it, "This is a film class. Not a TV class. We will watch films, make films and understand films." And that's what we did.

Now, making a film as a group is not so easy, but he was totally hands off, except to advise now and then, mostly when we were about to beat each other to death. We had to script the picture, storyboard it, choose a director, cast the parts, scout locations, light it, edit and dub it, all in about twelve weeks PLUS shoot our individual projects. Mind you, most of the kids were sixteen to eighteen and the school paid no part of the cost for film stock and processing. There were two editing set-ups with winders, edit bins and an 1950's-era Moviola for 16mm and a Rollei viewer for 8mm/Super 8. The "house" rig was a Bolex R16 with a 400-foot magazine and no synchronous sound. For audio, there was a Uher Reporter and a Sennheiser boom mic with a fuzzy rabbit-fur covering to kill wind noise. There was some studio-type lighting that basically amounted to a bunch of "beauty dishes" with 150-watt color-balanced incandescent bulbs gaffer-taped to the top of very dicey-looking and very rickety stands. But we learned how to actually take what we had and turn it into a few student-y, but finished, productions, complete with titles.

In retrospect, it was a ridiculous amount of work to foist on students with a full load of other courses to pass. So, I guess this was the seventies' version of School of Rock, only, it was School of Film and the teacher was nowhere near as charming as Jack Black. No: not at all.

For my own projects, I started out okay. I had a Bolex P1 8mm that was through-the-lens with a massive zoom and took very nice footage. My first project was a documentary on a pro-Israel rally near the United Nations, done in newsreel style owing to the lack of any way to either record or sync sound, though there was a music track and crowd sounds added. Shot with a single camera, this project was where I began to appreciate the importance of loads of B-roll and tons of choices to be shot and maybe tossed for cutaways and such, but without which, a very boring project would be the only possibility. And I read Dymytyk's On Film Editing from cover to cover, precocious lad that I was, and learned stuff that I would use a-plenty when I edited video commercially, many years later.

On the next project, I went with a dramatic mystery/crime script. This time, I had graduated to 16mm with my own Bolex R16, which could shoot 100 foot rolls of film. The story was about a guy who was casually minding his business, reading the paper and eating his lunch when he gets the sense that there's someone watching him. His anxiety level increases through the film as he senses, but can't put down to an actual entity, that he's being stalked. The camera goes POV from time to time to show that there doesn't appear to be anyone around, let alone a malevolent attacker. I had just spent a summer watching a bunch of Hitchcock movies and reading about his style of filmaking and I storyboarded the hell out of that thing - each shot planned and marked so that anybody could have shot it and it would have come out the same way. The star? My best friend, who was very photogenic and could actually take direction. We had good weather, good light, everything worked, the concept was compact, the dailies looked good, and then I started editing it.

Maybe I succumbed to my teacher's own delusions of grandeur in his role as either Golwyn or as Mayer. I don't know. But I started editing that thing and no matter what, I could not seem to get it where I wanted it. I had all the shots as scripted. I even went back out and reshot a little. But the deadline was up and I was screwed. I offered to show the rough cut to the teacher. He refused. I either had to submit a finished piece or he would fail me, for my own good, he said.

Bitch. I knew I couldn't finish it in time for that coming Tuesday, because even if I made a work print, I would still have to cut the negative, run into the city and have an answer print made that could be project, for peer review, of course. Again, in retrospect, WTF?

So, I punted. I went to the beach (it was absolutely freezing, as I recall) and in one reel, no edits, in about three hours, shot a very abstract bunch of images that would become the now-classic, "Brighton Impressions." Heard of it? Yeah, no, didn't think so, although it did play on Channel 13 once . . .

Teach was disappointed. He said, and I will never forget it, "You know, Mr. B, you will never be anything other than a conceptual artist. Sure, what we watched here today slides in under the wire - right length, titled, on time. But what does it say? Huh? What? Nothing! Nothing, because you have nothing to say." In front of everyone, he did this. To a high school student. If that happened today, he'd be flipping burgers on the following Wednesday. Loser.

But I learned some valuable lessons, besides how to take a concept, a thought, a mere idea, and make it into something real that could be communicated to someone else. First, authority-types are not gods. Just because they wield or project power, doesn't mean they're qualified to do so, and even if they are, they can be wrong and more importantly at the moment, they can be bitches. Nevertheless, it's their tree house and one must play by their rules, even if they make absolutely no sense. Next, respect the form of communication your audience expects. If you want to go to a strange place, go, but give them a point of reference, otherwise, it won't be fun for them anymore and they won't come along. I give you David Lynch's Blue Velvet as a guide to this, versus the much earlier Eraserhead. Go watch those and you'll see what I mean.

I'll wait. Tap, tap, tap. Done? Okay: let's continue.

Most importantly, I understand that if a creative work is meant to be, it will be. The work has to come from within. That doesn't mean that one sits around sipping absinthe hoping to be inspired. The "work" part is producing even if what's produced varies from sub-par to utter crap. Keep shooting at the target, since their is a concept you're aiming at.  Don't get me wrong - if all you seem to produce is crap, better leave this job to the pros and take up something more suited to your Muse, like needlepoint, say. But once you start creating stuff, keeping trying things, cleaning, honing, polishing BUT remember that it will NEVER be perfect. Never. It will be finished, though, and that's when you have to stop and say, "Hello, World! Look at what I've wrought."

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Let's Not Lose Our Heads

Is this explicable in any way? Maybe the concept behind this is lost, but I'm thinking I might have done well in 1928. Still, seems not much has changed with how women think about men, or rather, how men think women think about men. Yeah, that's it.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

What? No Valet?

Hello, Mr. Chairman and Greetings:

I am writing to you from the Office of the First Consular Envoy From Gleepmorp. I believe we have had the brief pleasure of meeting at the recent Counsel Mixer, which seemed to end almost as soon as I arrived. I regret not having come earlier as spending cycles with colleagues in a non-work modality would likely have been more than pleasant. I understand that this time, the bean dip was to die for. I'm personally sorry to have missed it.

A matter of some concern has crossed my desk and I would like it very much if you could put some thought to it prior to our meeting next month in Justinia.

This may seem a small matter, what with the recent discovery that the entirety of the known universe will implode in 6.3 billion IUs, but it is nevertheless a concern of my colleagues and I, while we wait. Let me get to it. It seems that the parking of personal transportation devices, or rather, the location of the area assigned to our delegation here at the Empirical Counsel of the Universe has become, shall we say, a reflection of one's collective standing, politically speaking, within the Counsel. Though not so much a concern to me personally, I can say that the High-Praised Ambassador is more than somewhat, let us say, disappointed at the distance he and his entourage are forced to walk each day from the deposit location of his Ford Floater in order to attend official business here at the Administrative Centre. This planet's gravity, as you know, is more than 1.62 times the force we experience on Gleepmorp. The location of assigned parking is nearly two IKMs away, which, even when it is possible to take the shuttle that only seems to come by once every three cycles, causes great pressure, in the literal sense, to be brought upon His Most Magisterial Ambassador and his "clique," as you have been given to call his staff and security, I have heard it said.

I must emphasize that I personally, as the Furiously Splendid Ambassdor's Adjunct, am only concerned with my service to the interests of the Good People of Gleepmorp, the Righteously Ignominious Ambassador and to the Counsel and that I have no true concern regarding where I am permitted to park or whether, even, I am permitted to continue in a state of ready reproduction. However, I do believe the Flatulently Adept Ambassador is right in saying that having been assigned what is possibly the most distant and remote area for our delegation in the assigned parking level bespeaks something about the diminutive regard in which he and the Delegation and, indeed, the people of Gleepmorp, are held.

I have also heard it murmured, in the esteemed halls of the Counsel, behind hands-to-face, I might add, a grave insult in our culture, that perhaps the Gleepmorp Delegation should be relegated to attendance only by means of Interspacetime Conferencing rather than by personal appearance. I understood IC to be reserved for those cultures so distant from the Counsel's premises so as to be able to attend only in this manner. I also understand that there are cultures for whom the environment on this planet is so inhospitable that making the necessary accommodations for in-entity attendance would be impractical and burdensome to the Counsel as a whole, such as for ammonia-dwellers or The Dense Ones of Pendente, who would surely move the whole of this planet into a neighboring sun simply by appearing, thus incinerating us all. Having casually shared my concerns with another similarly-stationed entity, his, her or its response was simply, "Yeah, you might say the whole situation stinks" before giggling, then gagging, then abruptly running away, out of shame, I should say.

We have attempted to assimilate ourselves while retaining recognition of GleepMorp's contributions to, and position in, the Universe. We breathe what you breathe, eat what you eat. Again, that bean dip . . .  but, I digress: apologies. We have also, most importantly, endeavoured to be vital and fair members of the Universal Community, attending each Discussion Session, Counsel Panel and Committee Hearing and through careful deliberation, subsequently voting on matters brought before the entire Counsel so as to benefit the greatest good. In short, we have been Good Universal Citizens and yet, we feel shunned.

Of course, this situation is unlikely to be an expression of any intent on the part of you, Mr. Chairman, or of the Counsel. As the Distinguished and Powerful Earthian, John Wayne, once said, "the squawking wheel is likely to be lubricated first, pilgrim." Therefore, by bringing this matter to your attention, it is the sincerest hope of the Illuminatingly Elevated Ambassador that this matter could be discussed and subsequently rectified to everyone's satisfaction. Of course, should you see fit to recommend appropriate changes in the interval prior to our meeting, I can assure you that every Gleepmorpian would be ecstatic with delight.

On the other hand, and perhaps I should not approach this angle prematurely, if Gleepmorp is not to be afforded due consideration, then we shall request a Hearing to adjudicate the matter in front of the Rules Committee, of which you are the head. For my part, I should not like to see the impression of all your good work tainted by what might be viewed by some as blatant discrimination by the Counsel against the meek and good-natured Gleepmorps who seek only to bring the best of our sulfur-based breed to the Counsel and by doing so, benefit all entities, everywhere, for all time. That time which is left, that is.

With most sincere appreciation,

Bungee Gleep Vanderplass, XXXCII, HMS, TNT, OMG, PhD
Most Succinct Adjunct to the Volumetrically Obsequious Ambassador From Gleepmorp

Is This What You Had In Mind?

An able account across addiction.
Adjustment against agreement.
Air all almost among amusement and angry animal answers.
Any approval?
Argument as attack, attempt attention. Attraction? Authority!

Back bad, balance beautiful because before behaviour, BELIEF!
Berry, between bird births, bit bitter black blade.
Blood: blue.
Boiling bone-box boy, broken brother.
Brown brush, building-burst business.
But, butter button by cake.