Saturday, 28 February 2004

Lesson

I really like this redesign. Although for whatever reason, IE doesn’t like parsing it like a normal browser should. That is why there is an uncoded break between the flame banner and the div containing all the text. for whatever reason as well, though the images are the same width as the div, the layer appears to be one or two pixels longer. Only in IE that i have seen however. The site looks perfect in Firefox.

Something happened last night that scared the tar out of me and pissed me off at myself to no end. I uploaded the redesigned pages and when I ran the rebuild in MT, some miscoding on my part started to eat my archives. I thought I had lost a full year of entries. I checked 5 or so random individual archive files and they all looked the same. the master archive index also linked to all dead files. thankfully i was saved by my daily entry archives, which i have never linked to but exist nonetheless. once i calmed down and realized this, all was well and i got some sleep. i’m always going to backup my archives before this. MT has recommended it, but i never really listened. this call was too close for me not to respect the instructions in the future.

Friday, 27 February 2004

Penguin

I once spent an entire day driving a penguin around New York City. I didn’t exactly ask to do this but I’ve been paid to do stranger things. My boss was a six foot four inch Samoan with a chipped incisor and permanently affixed antique aviator glasses. I was only allowed to call him Mr. McFitz. I knew that wasn’t his real name but he didn’t pay me to ask questions. What he paid me for was precise and accurate delivery of whatever was in the boxes that I loaded onto my rental truck.

One day after I had the truck pretty much full, McFitz [as I called him to myself] brought me my delivery route. He had this penguin behind him too. It was a strange penguin, didn’t really look like it was in a tuxedo, didn’t look particularly interested in anything either. It shat on the floor as I watched. McFitz said to me:

Take my penguin with you today. Give it whatever it wants.

Sure thing, Mr. McFitz.

I replied. I picked up the penguin, which smelled like fish for some reason, and buckled him in the passenger seat.

My first stop was the City Cricketstocker. The penguin didn’t do much on the way there, just looked at me out of its little eyes and shat again, this time on the seat. I thought it might be a little warm for the critter, even though it was winter, so I turned rolled down the windows and turned on the air conditioning. I got some paper towel from the guys at the Knick to clean up the penguin shit in my truck. When I came back out, the penguin has somehow managed to unbuckle itself and was waddling around on the floor near the gearshift. It had also shat again, this time on my delivery notebook. I could tell this wasn’t going to be the best of days.

I hopped back into the truck, picked up the penguin and was promptly bitten. I figured it must be time for the penguin to eat so I got back out of the truck and went into a bodega for a tin of sardines or some anchovies or even lox if the place was kosher. I ended up getting all three, but by now I was way behind schedule. I was going to have to pick up my pace. Damn penguin. I opened the can of sardines and chucked it over to where the penguin was supposed to be. I said ‘supposed to be’ because the penguin wasn’t there. Shit. No, really, there was just a larger pile of penguin shit in the passenger seat. The penguin was sitting on the dashboard right behind the steering wheel and was staring at me.

I picked it up again, got pecked again, plopped it unceremoniously in its own penguin poo and took off for a place that specialized in jerked chicken and black market golf equipment. The penguin ate its sardines, quite sullenly I might add, and behaved itself.

When I came out of Ludwig’s Hole-In-One Jamaican Food, a short and fat and old Hispanic lady was peering intently at my penguin. For the record, I’d like to say that the penguin was peering just as intently at the old woman.

How much for el pollo?

Apparently she thought the penguin was for sale and thought it was some sort of chicken. The truck gave a lurch and rolled over the woman. I looked in the driver’s side window and saw that the penguin had released the hand brake. It was now firmly positioned behind the steering wheel and it gave me a look that said ‘Get in the passenger side or get lost.’ I clambered in on the passenger side, got penguin shit on my hand and was forced to sit in the poo that I had put my captor in not long before. I noticed that it had the imprints of two webbed feet right before I squished down on it.

The penguin took off, going the wrong way down The Avenue of the Americas, barreling toward Chinatown. We knocked over everything in our way. I still don’t know how many people we ran down, how many street vendors will vend no more. It was terrible. When we got to Canal Street I lost consciousness.

Two minutes later my alarm went off.

Thursday, 26 February 2004

Grouch

Within the last week I have been in conversation with three different people, at different times, on the same topic. I say things that hurt the feelings of my friends and family and, apparently, I do it pretty often. There was no hesitation on the part of two of these people in saying so, once I brought it up. I have known that I put my foot in my mouth and say the wrong thing on a regular basis for years, but I didn’t realize I hurt so many people that I care about. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, so I don’t know why I get so mouthy. Maybe I do want to hurt people and just hide it from myself. It seems like I come at life from a negative point of view, always dissatisfied. I need to understand why I am like this. Does my dissatisfaction arise as the result of being taught to accept only the highest quality of work and behavior from myself? Did I pick up my ease at verbal abuse from being yelled at by my father? How can I exist in both of these paradigms simultaneously and without apparent complication? More importantly, how is it that I have friends who put up with my shit? They are some damn good people. I was looking through my first posts from two years ago and it doesn’t look like I have changed very much. I thought I had gone through some personal growth, but fundamentally I remain a grouchy, hurtful person. Even this post is indicative of my problem. I need to figure out how to change, how to make my happy, gentle and easygoing side my basis instead of what I struggle for. First off I am going to have to stop teasing people and only be frank when people ask me my opinion. I need to learn to keep my mouth shut. I’ll add that to my list of things to work on.

Wednesday, 25 February 2004

Ash Wednesday 2004

Mardi Gras is over and now that Lent begins it is time to repent for all the crass, vulgar, indulgent and legion other sinful things that I have done since last Lent. I wonder if forty days is long enough. More than the long stretch of Ordinary Time during the summer, more even than Advent and, masochistic as it sounds, I like Lent. It is a time for sackcloth and ashes, recognizing mortality and attempts to whittle away at imperfection. Since I tend to spend most of the year in a state similar to this, Lent is a natural favorite. So, I am supposed to sacrifice something for the forty days and I am supposed to strive to improve something. This is supposed to make me a better person, and what it boils down to is discipline. If I have the grit to hold on to what I am working on and the gumption to deny myself some sort of pleasure then I should end up stronger. [possibly more annoying to people, but that is there problem].

This Lent I am giving up sweetmeats, candies, pastries [not muffins though] and most importantly, chocolate. If I want something sweet, fruit will do. I am going to improve my patience [especially while driving], which has been in relative short supply since my time in NYC] and to admit when I am wrong, or ignorant on some topic. [this will be hard because I never know what I am talking about].

So I’m walking around today with a smudge mark on my head. Someone told me I look like I’ve been punched. I’m also fasting. No meat. I had a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast and will have macaroni and cheese for dinner. I might put some tuna and some veggies into the macaroni as well. Even though Fish on Fridays [and Ash Wednesday] was initially started to feed poor fishermen, I feel that it is useful still. Now it is another sacrifice that is a reminder of the sacrifice that Lent culminates in.

Many of the people bitching about The Passion of the Christ, which opens today, complain that it is violent or anti-Semitic or historically inaccurate or blah blah blah. Well, it is supposed to be violent, it is about the arrest, torture and crucifixion of a person. As for anti-Semitism, there might be subtleties that I am unaware of [not having seen the film] but people who complain that it makes the Jews seem responsible for killing Jesus are fools. Jews and Romans or Romans and Jews if you don’t like the order of the billing, were there. The type of people that killed Jesus isn’t the point, that people killed Jesus is the point. The fact that it opens on Ash Wednesday, when the Church enters a time of repentence and recognition of mortality [Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return] is no coincidence. Humans suffer and die. Jesus, a human, suffered and died. Other humans did this to him. I was taught that Jesus went through the torture and indignity and crucifixion willingly, for humanity. I really have no desire to see The Passion of the Christ, I have not seen any Mel Gibson interviews [since I don’t have cable] but I think the point of his film is to make us aware just how much was sacrificed. I don’t talk about religion often because it makes me sounds like a fanatic instead of just a lunatic. If you are still with me I am surprised.

Tuesday, 24 February 2004

Rent Fest

Hollywood Video has this great coupon gizmo going on where you can rent up to three new releases for the full five days at 99 cents each. last night i rented In the Cut, Lost in Translation, and Solaris for 5 days and a measly $3.21. without this wonderful coupon [a pile of which i have at my apartment] renting one of these films would have cost me $3.79 plus tax. adding to this coolness is the fact that if i get In the Cut back to Hollywood Video before midnight tonight [actually i returned it this morning] i gain $1 dollar of credit on my next purchase. this might not sound like hot shit to some of you, but when you are poor and like to watch as many movies as i do then it is ver’ ver’ nice.

In the Cut is only the second Jane Campion film I have seen [the first one being The Piano]. I liked the feminism of The Piano, but not of In the Cut. Every man seemed a rapist, every look directed toward Meg Ryan was a violation. It is hard to tell if any man is a good man until the very end. I’d have to watch The Piano and In the Cut again, and next to each other to tell for sure, but I think Campion might just be rehashing the same old thing again and again. [I think she had it right in The Piano except for the very end of the film.]

It seems like only men care about looking in In the Cut. Meg Ryan and Jennifer Jason Leigh only seem to care about ‘getting a dick inside [them].’ The camera makes both male and female bodies into beautiful things. In fact, the camera makes everything it sees into a beautiful thing. I’ve got no complaints in that respect. Campion knows how to pick her people. There is a lot of hand held, long lens, shallow depth of field, blurred focus stuff going on that I think is supposed to reflect the uncertainty of the thriller genre. But for me it also seems to say, ‘I don’t know how to answer the questions I’m asking.’ Of course, Campion’s point could be that the questions can’t be answered.

As a thriller [they don’t do much for me] it reminded me of any Scooby Doo episode. The villain could be any of several characters and ends up being one you never really expected. It was well done in the sense that I never knew who it could be until I found out who it was. Its worth a watch, if just for how pretty it is to look at. I’d like to talk it over with my film theory professor. I might send her an email asking if she has seen it. Kevin Bacon is in the film too.

Tonight I watch Solaris.

Monday, 23 February 2004

Codes, Communication, Art

I love language because it is a code; because it is so malleable. I love watching young people pick it up and turn it into their own code. My Classical Greek professor once said that babes and children create and change language more than adults. I suppose this is because children are still being indoctrinated, don’t know all the rules, make their own. His example was caca, a baby word for shit. Once children becomes expert enough working within the language, I suppose they start working within the code, changing its periphery instead of its nexus.

Where I am now, as a relative adult, I can love language because within this code others can be created, codified, destroyed, reinvented. Simile and metaphor are perhaps the most basic of codes within The Code. Puns, riddles, double entendres – these are, perhaps, the second level of speciation? If I am in a conversation with two people, I can speak one sentence that has vastly different meanings to each person. Or, at least, I can do it if I am sufficiently skilled in creating these codes.

This breaks down when a code is misinterpreted [always a threat] or when a code is only understood by the person creating it. Skill level comes in when a code is created and disseminated. The skill is teaching others how to read the code. Communication is an art, and Art is communication. blah blah blah.

Poetry, painting, sculpture, these are art forms that to a great extent have become estranged from general society because their code is no longer accessible. Or, perhaps, it was not accessible for so long that most people lost interest in it. or maybe its just TV. yeah that sounds fine.