Tuesday, 28 July 2009

76 trombones

Over the weekend, H and I went to a neighbouring town to attend an annual Stadtfest. The event lasted through the weekend and culminated with a grand, horse-drawn parade through the streets. The parade was a cavalcade of historic personages, mostly from the area, like Bavarian kings and queens, famous artisans and sculptors, dashing dukes and pre-imminient physicians. There were also throngs of people in traditional costume and historic outfits and energetic marching-bands. While watching, I had a minor revelation that hosting a parade could also be a real boon for our little street: we could charge a nominal entry fee, like they did, or take a percentage of concessions, and make a small fortune. Aside from the money, I got very excited about working out the logistics for, what the theme might be or what we could name it--the musically inclined down stairs neighbour could provide the entertainment, a jam session with African drums and piano--the Russian (Little Odessa) contingency across the street could represent with a small cultural demonstration. There's the old man with a rambunctious pony and the other old man with riding lawn-mowers, and I think I have already established that the old woman who tossed the scarecrow over her cabbages has a flair for design.

Friday, 24 July 2009

manufactured crisis

The German people are not as a whole insurance-junkies, as H was trying to convince me--or rather that he was not a fanatic himself. The Germans are not a particularly legitious people, either, though I think that their almost complete lack of sleazy lawyer advertisements and claim-jumping television offers, make them seem to take the matter more seriously. There is a plethora of insurance to be had to safeguard every aspect of one's health, property and legacy, all narrowly and precisely defined. Sometimes I feel that this multiplicity of underwriters must have very hyper-active imaginations, turning every benign instance into a chain-reaction of events that lead to freak-accidents, the overturning of empires. I am sure that agents thought up the butterfly-effect or the creationists' argument about the jalopy spontaneously formed when a tornado sweeps over a junk-yard. Still, there's much sense to having the extra protection that hopefully one will never need. H took the matter seriously as we were talking about options and the extra coverage, and he got a bit annoyed with me for missing the point, which I often do. Insurance beyond the ilk of the proletariat does not give one license to be a jerk: I can't put our trash in the neighbour's dustbin and feel immune from any repercussions because we're insured. I can't incite a turf war at the flea market, because we're insured--although the policy specifies it can cover loses or damages sustained in a side-business operation. The policy also explicitly covers damages done to hotel rooms or other rental property. I was really hung up with the idea that H and I could trash a hotel room like rock-stars and get away with it.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

give me a bouncy C


Though I read "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues" in junior high, I still remember the fanfare and celebration that was made out of the 100th chapter. Most novels do not embrace that many chapters--even though most were qualified as little more than a couple of pages (a big deal was also made out of passages that were longer than the norm) and many just two paragraphs--sort of log a blog entry. This is my 100th posting. That's a milestone, of sorts. Many bloggers though have the bloody-mindedness, I think, to make it to one hundred chapters and far beyond, whether or not being prolific garners notice.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

keening

Lately, H and I have been regularly patronizing the latest affiliate of a multi-national, multi-verse chain of home furnishing store that opened in a town close to home. We swept down on this local outlet for some quick and dirty shopping sprees. I just get a kick out of the whole store culture hanging off of it—the nomenclature and the mobbing and the hugeness of it all that makes one feel on a separate astral plane. I have heard that the founder of the company started with the cute names because of struggles with dyslexia and an inability to cope with numbers. When H and I next visit Sweden, I think we should speak a pidgin that’s entirely composed of the names home décor. Holmbo bestå vika kivsta ekarp Stockholm? Is it jibberish, sweded? I knew a waitress from there once who thought the Swedish Chef from the Muppetts was the funniest thing in creation. I wonder if it is at all intelligible. I wonder if my houseshoes, named Njuta, are in any way suggestive of houseshoes.

Friday, 10 July 2009

spice like us

It strikes me as strange that the drug Rapamycin was first isolated in the soil of Easter Island. This substance, touted annually as a potential fountain of youth that could extend life into extreme old age, was uncovered in a barren and remote place and not found in the leaves or bark of some exotic tree on the verge of being lost forever to deforestation or human encroachment. Instead, it is found on far-flung spot of tree-less land, long since depleted and with a collapsed ecosystem. It reminds me of the spice melange, which can only be found on the planet Arrakis called Dune. Apparently, the drug (also known be several different trademarked names) can extend life, however curtailing the immune system, by mimicking the benefits of what physicians call "caloric restriction"--that is, eatting just enough and not more, without actually eatting less. Maybe life just seems longer then, when one is always hungry. Maybe that's what brought about the destruction of the island's indigenous population--over-fed super-centarians.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

bread and circuses

With the latest spate of celebrity culling, there is one outstanding example of the ways in which reality becomes perverted. The Michael Jackson circus far outshines in terms of discussion and descent into madness the losses of Ed McMahon, Karl Mauldin ("Don't leave home without it") or Farra Fawcett-Majors--the fact that she died from anal cancer, which is surely a sad and tragic thing, and the condition has not had news reports dedicated to it, is pretty significant. I thought it was some biographical-vandalism when I first saw it, but I guess now no one will be comfortable taking about anal cancer is mixed company. There is talk now that Michael Jackson is to be buried without his brain, freezing it so he can be reincarnated in a robot body as Captain Eo. I've unfortuneately bought into that whole speculation and wild rumour trap. Like with Elvis, the King of Rock, one wonders if the King of Pop (he was married to his daughter, by the way) is really dead. It was certainly a brillant career move, erasing all the debt he accumulated. Michael Jackson spread those very rumours about him buying the skeleton of the Elephant Man and sleeping in a hyberbolic chamber, but that wasn't the half of it. Seeing Jackson interviewed makes me think that he might have tried a stunt like that--faking his own death and disappearing with Elizabeth Taylor to the Island of Doctor Moreau. Remember those "Paul is dead" rumours in the early eighties about Paul McCartney? I think McCartney's friend and business partner Michael Jackson started them, too. What is it about eccentricity (maybe that's too general or mild of a term) that drives disbelief that they're gone, anti-fame?

Thursday, 2 July 2009

off-colour elephant



Everyone has occasion for fancy napkins, and one ought to always have a stock like this handy--I really adore the characters--Inconstant Sparrow, Magical Mushroom, Blinky Pengiun, Off-Colour Elephant and Psychadelic Frog who licked himself. I might like to be a graphic artist for the conglomeration that produces stuff like this. Graphic designers, however, no longer sit at a drafting table or are plucked from the ranks of those talented enough to raw Petey Pirate or Tommy Turtle any longer. I only use mundane general-issue sorts of graphics programs to make tepid slideshow presentations--it is like watching someone else's tedious holiday snapshoots, though I think H and I are on the crest of a resurrgence it that activity. We rather like showing off and seeing the pictures of others on vacation. Still I don't imagine that I could hack it as a graphic designer, when the graphic desigher says that he does not know how to do something, maybe it is not a matter of drawing skill or manual dexterity but rather lack of familiarity or patience with certain software.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

ersatz

Quite possibly it is acceptable, from time to time, to fool Mother Nature. Either manifested as these great fly-swatters in the desert or as a non-descript kiosk about the size of a bank of public toliets, environmental researchers are developing a pretend tree of sorts--one that can snatch and sequestir stray carbon in the atmosphere. It doesn't seem like a great improvement from the original design, at first, since trees rather just happen and one only has to take care not to cut them down. These synthetic trees, however, grab carbon dioxide from any source (though it's not as if real trees are discriminatory and insistent on taking carbon dioxide only exhaled from the lungs they gave oxygen to) year round (trees only breath-in for half a year) and inside of producing wood pulp or fruit, the carbon collected can be compressed and liquified for other uses.

In other ugly plant news: the EU has lifted a regulation governing the aesthetics of produce on grocery shelves. The headlines read praise all-around for lifting the almost 20 year ban on wonky fruit and veg. Apparently, there was a law stipulating that 26 varieties of fruits and vegetables ought to be show-bread material, defining roundness and uniformity standards, while perfectly edible knobby carrots and lumpy tomatoes were wasted. This is a good thing, to not associate nutrition with the ideal apple or pear. Maybe shoppers were just averse to finding suggestive plant bits in their shopping carts--a great phallic cucumber or hinder-shaped apricots like H and saw at the super market, yesterday, just hours after the ban was rescinded.