Archive for January, 2014

New Guru

January 30, 2014

I knew it would happen.  Maybe that’s why I put it off so long?  Because I wasn’t quite emotionally ready for such utter devotion, and I was sure this particular pundit would immediately win me over and I would want to make myself in her image?  (Well, intellectually, more than aesthetically.)  And sure enough, the moment arrived: I started to read Fran Lebowitz, and I’m utterly smitten.  Here’s just a nibble from an essay entitled “Manners”:

“All God’s children are not beautiful.  Most of God’s children are, in fact, barely presentable.  The most common error made in matters of appearance is the belief that one should disdain the superficial and let the true beauty of one’s soul shine through.  If there are places on your body where this is a possibility, you are not attractive––you are leaking.”

Frozen Charlotte

January 26, 2014

At a nice store near my house that sells “eclectic curiosities and essential goods,” they have on display a small platter of tiny china dolls, most missing at least one limb.  A small card on the table explains that these are “Frozen Charlottes.”  Wikipedia (ugh) explains that Frozen Charlottes were between one and eighteen inch-standing, naked figures molded in one piece.  They were made between 1850 and 1920, and their name was inspired by the American folk ballad “Fair Charlotte,” about a superficial twat who froze to death because she wouldn’t cover up her pretty, pretty dress with a freaking coat during a polar vortex.



And now, the supremely creepy lumberjack ballad.  Take it away, boys!



Young Charlotte dwelt by the mountain side

In a rude and lonely spot;

There was no house for three miles round

Except her father’s cot.


And yet on many a wintry eve

Young swain would gather there;

For her father kept a social abode,

And she was very fair.


He liked to see his daughter dressed

Just like a city belle;

For she was the only child he had,

And he loved his daughter well,


Her hair was black as raven’s wing,

And her skin like lilies fair,

And her teeth were like the pearls so white:

Few with her could compare.


At the village inn fifteen miles off

There’s a merry ball tonight.

Although the air is freezing cold, Our hearts are warm and light.


How eager was her restless gaze

Till a well known voice she did hear

And driving up to the cottage door

Charles Leslie did appear.


“O daughter dear,” the mother said,

“This blanket around you fold,

For it is a dreadful night abroad,

You’ll catch your death of cold.”


“Oh nay! Oh nay!” young Charlotte said,

And she laughed like a gypsy queen:

“To ride in blankets muffled up

I never would be seen.


“My silken cloak is quite enough,

You know ’tis lined throughout;

Besides I have a silken shawl

My face to tie about,”


Her gloves and bonnet being on,

She jumped into the sleigh,

And away they rode to the mountain-side

And over the hills away.


There is music in the sound of merry bells,

As over the hills they go.

What a reeking wake those runners make,

As they bite the frosty snow!


Then away they rode so silent

Till five cold long miles were past,

When Charles with these few frozen words

The silence broke at last:


“Such a night as this I never knew;

My reins I scarce can hold.”

Young Charlotte exclaimed with a feeble voice,

“I am exceeding cold.”


He cracked his whip and he urged his steed

Much faster than before,

Until at length five more cold miles

In silence was passed o’er.


“Oh! how fast the freezing ice.

Dost gather on my brow.”

Young Charlotte exclaimed with a feeble voice,

“I am growing warmer now.”


Then away they rode through the frosty air

And by the cold starlight,

Until at length the village inn

And ballroom hove in sight.


They reached the inn, and Charles sprang out

And gave his hand to her.

“Why sit you there like a monument

That hath no power to stir?”


He asked her once, he asked her twice;

But she said not a word;

He asked her for her hand again,

But still she never stirred.


He tore the muffler from her face,

And the cold stars on her shone,

And quickly in the lighted hall

Her lifeless form was borne.


They tried every means they could

Her life for to restore;

But Charlotte was a frozen corpse

And never could speak more.


He sat himself down by her side,

And the bitter tears did flow;

He said, “My dear intended bride

I never more shall know.”


He threw his arms around her neck

And kissed her marble brow,

And his thoughts went back to the place

Where she said, “I’m growing warmer now.”


He bore her back into the sleigh

And with her he rode home,

And when he reached her father’s house,

Oh! how her parents mourned!


They mourned the loss of their daughter dear,

And Charles mourned o’er his doom,

Until at length his heart had broke:

Now they slumber in one tomb.

You’re a Good Man, Harold Ramis

January 21, 2014

The director discusses his pretty damn cool background:

From what I’ve read, you had an interesting job after you graduated from Washington University, in St. Louis, in 1966.

I worked in a mental institution in St. Louis, which prepared me well for when I went out to Hollywood to work with actors. People laugh when I say that, but it was actually very good training. And not just with actors; it was good training for just living in the world. It’s knowing how to deal with people who might be reacting in a way that’s connected to anxiety or grief or fear or rage. As a director, you’re dealing with that constantly with actors. But if I were a businessman, I’d probably be applying those same principles to that line of work.

How long did you work at the mental institution?

I worked in the psych ward for about seven months, and then I moved back to Chicago and I began to substitute-teach at a public elementary school—kindergarten through sixth grade. While I was teaching, I did some freelance writing for the Chicago Daily News, and I took a few of these pieces to show to Playboy. They happened to be looking to fill an entry-level editorial staff job, which was joke editor, and they hired me.

The Mirror Stage

January 20, 2014

For the eight-millionth time, I had to look up Lacan’s “Mirror Stage” today to ensure I had the correct definition of it for a piece I’m working on.  It’s one of a couple of things I never trust myself to remember correctly.  (This list includes the meaning of the world “tautology,” and the theology of apostolic Christianity.)  For the record, the mirror stage it seems was actually conceived of by a French psychologist named Henri Wallon, who wrote that “children started to react to their mirror image at the age of four months. By the end of the tenth month he claimed that children actually located a part of their self in their mirror image and that they then imagined that their own body was split into fragments. The child now fell under an inner compulsion, so the argument ran, to unify its ego in space and in order to do this is was forced gradually to subordinate the data of immediate experience to pure representation. The ordeal of the mirror eventually led, according to Wallon, to the child’s entry into the symbolic stage of development.”  (Explanation courtesy the dead cultural historian Richard Webster.)  Simpler version: baby sees image, baby realizes image is HIM, baby starts to control limbs and understand space and physicality.

That isn’t the point of this little post, though.  The real point is to draw attention to how hilarious the graphic Wikipedia chose to accompany its article on the mirror stage is.

Highbrow, lowbrow, folks.

If you don’t get why this is funny, we can’t be friends.

Baby Gift!

January 15, 2014

I got my one friend with a baby––whose seven honorary aunts are likely to spoil the shit out of her––the most adorable little thing.  IT’S A UNICORN HORN!

Made by BrooklynOwl

Made by BrooklynOwl

The version I got is a little clip, so the baby’s going to have to grow some hair first, but still…

A Tweet

January 14, 2014

I like to watch reality shows about cults and then judge the cults for being so “media-friendly.”

While I Search for What I Really Want to Post…

January 13, 2014

… coincidentally, there’s a segment on the very phenomenon described in The Mind of a Mnemonist: A Little Book About a Vast Memory, on CNN right this second!

This is how S., the mnemonist of the title, sees a “zhuk” [Russian for cockroach.]

“… A zhuk––that’s a dented piece in the potty… It’s a piece of rye bread… And in the evening when you turn on the light, that’s also a zhuk, for the entire room isn’t lit up, just a small area, while everything else remains dark––a zhuk.  Warts are also a zhuk… Now I see them sitting before a mirror.  There’s noise, laughter.  There are my eyes staring at me from the mirror––dark––they’re also a zhuk… Now I’m lying in my crib… I hear a shout, noise, threats.  Then someone’s boiling something in the enamel teakettle.  It’s my grandmother making coffee.  First she drops something red into the kettle, then takes it out––a zhuk.  A piece of coal––that’s also a zhuk… I see them lighting candles on the Sabbath.  A candle is burning in the holder, but some of the tallow hasn’t melted yet.  The wick flickers and goes out.  Then everything turns black.  I’m scared, I cry––this is also a zhuk… And when people are sloppy pouring tea, and the drops miss the pot and land on the plates, that’s also a zhuk.”

My Out Of Office

January 7, 2014

Hi!  I regret to inform you that I am unable to respond to a vast majority of emails during the year 2014 as I am developing a secular version of consecrated ermeticism and then immediately inducting myself into the order.  Thanks!  xx ID

Whaddya think, too much?