“fedderschei: the condition of being reluctant to write letters.” A term specific to Pennsylvania German, an isolated dialect in the United States evolved from High German-speaking Amish. Often mistakenly referred to as “Pennsylvania Dutch.” --from Bill Bryson, Made in America (Minerva, 1995)
Monday, January 03, 2011
Sunday, November 02, 2008
To Immortality... And Beyond!
Slightly emotional today after hearing "My Heart Will Go On" on the radio while driving to work...
Walter Sobchak: "GOD DAMN IT! Look, just because we're bereaved, that doesn't make us saps!"
Opus is resting in peace. Berekeley Breathed retired his beloved icon after 28 years of entertaining us. Kudos to Salon.com for printing the comic strip run in its entirety. For full impact of the final storyline, I recommend starting with the August 31, 2008 strip and reading to the end. The last strip posted will direct you to a link to see the touching last cartoon. Also see this interview for Breathed's thoughts. Breathed says that Opus will be in every story he writes... I wonder if he means metaphorically or if we can find drawings of Opus if we look really closely at Breathed's new books (getting great reviews!).
In other news, Bowler Dies After Rolling Perfect Game. We can't help but emphasize how life imitates art; art of the highest order, The Big Lebowski-style. The bowler's name is even Don (like Donny)! Some comments that have already appeared online with the story:
"OVER THE LINE!"
"Don't fuck with the Jesus."
I would like to add:
Walter Sobchak: "Donny was a good bowler, and a good man. He was one of us. He was a man who loved the outdoors... and bowling, and as a surfer he explored the beaches of Southern California, from La Jolla to Leo Carrillo and... up to... Pismo. He died, like so many young men of his generation, he died before his time. In your wisdom, Lord, you took him, as you took so many bright flowering young men at Khe Sanh, at Langdok, at Hill 364. These young men gave their lives. And so would Donny. Donny, who loved bowling. And so, Theodore Donald Karabotsos, in accordance with what we think your dying wishes might well have been, we commit your final mortal remains to the bosom of the Pacific Ocean, which you loved so well. Good night, sweet prince."
Amen, and keep abiding along the path of Dudeness.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
what's going on in jerusalem?
Finally made time to write on this thing. Today I thought about the Twitter service, and if micro-blogging or whatever would help me update more or if it would just be another thing I download and don't use.
Wrote a book review for greenprophet.com. Here's a link to the review. The whole site is worth checking out for positive things about the environment in Israel. I wish I could have mentioned more connections to Israel in the book review, but here's a footnote that I found interesting: John Strutt (the 3rd Lord Rayleigh), a mathematics genius, was discovering new properties of ozone in the laboratory and in an outdoor experiment in 1918. He got special permission to use a Zeppelin airship during "a blackout rule" through his uncle, Arthur Balfour (1848-1930; Prime Minister, 1902-1905), who was then Foreign Secretary in the administration of Lloyd George (1863-1945; Prime Minister, 1916-1922). Anyway, Rayleigh's photographs that he made while on holiday show that there was not much ozone in the lower atmosphere, but must be at higher altitudes. [p. 65, emphasis mine.]
So there are some names we recognize as streets around Jerusalem. Airships would seem to indicate that we have entered a parallel world, according to some conspiracy theorists and screenplay writers. Here's hoping the Watchmen movie delivers on the goods.
On the literary scene, I'm almost finished (some would say almost literate) with my year's subscription to the New Yorker magazine. I mean I'm almost done reading all of the magazines in the series, starting from April last year to April this year, thanks to a fine birthday gift. So do the math, I still have a stack of ten issues to read and it's already the end of June. It was a good run, a good time to be thinking about New York and my favorite writers and critics. I read every issue cover to cover except all the weekly listings, and get so much enjoyment out of reading it and sharing it. When I'm done with that, I can delve into the bonus stack of random New Yorker issues from the nineties, acquired by a great tip from a friend. Yet another topic I could dedicate a whole blog to, if only I could do it as well as emdashes.com.
I also want to gather knowledge from my friends in interesting local professions, and their relationship to the environment and technology. Sometimes just putting these words out in the public and making an effort to edit is nervewracking... right now I will see if there are any reactions to the book review.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Time to Wake the Donuts
I had a nightmare this morning. I had woken up early, still dark out, and fell back asleep. In my dream that followed, I saw a man in a white uniform entering my home through a window and slowly walking towards me. I never saw his face but felt a menace trying to reach me. I tried to yell, but couldn’t, which is common in some of my scarier dreams. I soon found that I could let out a stifled yell, but nothing intelligible or that would alert someone to help me. This was good practice for taking control of the nightmare rather than fighting or fleeing; after a few muffled cries, I woke up. As I returned to consciousness, I realized that I was yelling in reality, in bed. My wife was on a trip so nobody had woken me up. I don’t often have nightmares that manifest themselves physically.
My yelling probably disturbed the neighbors. I could hear the woman upstairs thumping around at 6:20 AM (a usual practice for an unusual time, for her). The shutters from the next-door apartment were noisily opened. Well, it serves them right: the scary man in my dream may have been a metaphor for all the noise my neighbors made two nights ago at around 10:30 PM when I was trying to get to sleep. Drilling, moving furniture, a weird repetitive warble that sounded like a bird squawking on TV… I needed earplugs. So maybe my brain this morning was subconsciously taking revenge on their noise pollution via “Mr. White Noise” invading my space in my nightmare, forcing me to yell enough to wake them up. Maybe the neighbors didn’t hear me at all, I don’t know for sure, but it was a strange way to wake up today.
The title of this post was inspired by the classic 1980's Dunkin’ Donuts commercials featuring a worker obsessed with the round-the-clock cycle of “time to make the doughnuts”. I was reminded of these television ads by a conversation over BBQ dinner at a friend’s house yesterday. It’s almost time for sufganiot! One person had planned her trip abroad around eating different doughnut varieties and returning to Israel in time for Chanukah’s tasty treats.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Apartments on hills versus flat areas
Thinking about Edward Tufte's information design and looking at the hills of Jerusalem from Yad Vashem... seeing the croppings of towns and neighborhoods in the area... a mathematical/geographical/architectural exercise:
Do cities get more living space for people's homes by building on hills rather than a flat open space? A hill offers more land surface area (physical x-y space) by going vertical (like a triangle, into the z-axis) than a flat area, but that doesn't necessarily translate into more living space. I'm considering apartments in this exercise, and they can be built as high as possible on a flat area, but can also be built as high on a hill, which has the advantage of allowing more residents to have a view outside their home (consider stacked apartments on a terraced landscape). I think a hill offers more space on which to build apartments, but I'm not sure if that always means more people can live in apartments there rather than a flat land area. More research needs to be done...
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Murder in Three Periods
I've just finished filling my head with three fictions (or semi-fictions?) over the course of this week. All centered around murder most foul, and all were satisfying narratives in their own way.
The first was a novel called "The Interpretation of Murder," by Jed Rubenfeld, who also happens to be a law professor at Yale. The story is based around Sigmund Freud's visit to Manhattan in 1909, his first trip to the U.S. and the beginning of the psychiatric watershed in the States. His understudy takes on the case of a girl who was attacked after another young girl was killed. The story is very clever, a real page-turner, basically historically accurate, and full of surprises. Involves turn of the century New York, architecture, conspiracy, Shakespeare's Hamlet, social strata, guilt, sexual psychology, science vs. nature themes, and of course, evil deeds.
While reading this book, I rented two DVDs I had my eye on. One was "Brick," a detective story set in a U.S. high school today. An ode to Dashiell Hammett and film noir, the movie doesn't wink as it lays out a complex plot complete with hard-boiled dialogue, tough but nosy protagonist, sleazy tramps and dealers, the femme fatale, the trusted accomplice, the law and order figure, and the underside of high school life: lockers, drama class, social strata (again), losers and jocks, etc. Fascinating, intriguing, and fresh, but I needed the subtitles to keep up. Looks and feels like a masterful independent work. Made Entertainment Weekly's list of Top 50 High School Movies, though it surpasses most of the dreck in that genre. All due respect to "Back to the Future" and "Dazed and Confused".
Finally, I was able to snag my video store's only copy of "Zodiac," directed by David Fincher. I was very excited about this: I love the director, it has an incredibly talented cast, it is a period piece set mostly in the seventies, and it is based on the case files of a notorious murderer. So it was a very good film, but perhaps my expectations were too high. I wanted to be dazzled by Fincher, like with "Fight Club" and "Se7en", but this was a straightforward cop/journalism story with moments of tension at the crime scene. I think Fincher was going for a more mature film without getting pigeonholed with a genre ("Alien 3") nor playing off today's headlines/fears ("Panic Room"). That being said, the film is very good, requiring the first hour to introduce everything, and the next 1.5 hours to care about the characters and the situations in which they find themselves. Great production design and soundtrack. Robert Downey Jr. is once again remarkably watchable and frenetically funny.
Time to get back to reality. If I hear the neighbor's stereo one more time, I'm going to kill him!
P.S. Why doesn't the alternate U.S. ending of "Pride and Prejudice" (Keira Knightley, 2005) feature giant transforming robots destroying England's stately homes? The filmmakers really missed an opportunity there.
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Back to the Future ride... outatime
Sad to see an artifact of one of my favorite franchises depart... but the inescapable force of history marches on. ThrillNetwork.com has the story about shutting down "Back to the Future: The Ride" at Universal Studios Hollywood (California). No word yet on the ride's status at Universal Florida (though I think it will also be closed). BttF:The Ride was an awesome attraction introduced in 1993, featuring a ride-simulator DeLorean in a full-on sensory experience, with a continuation of the film trilogy's storyline. Even waiting on line was fun, as visitors could pass through Doc Brown's lab and see new videos created especially for the ride, with some of the film's actors. The closing of the ride will make way for a new Simpsons-based ride, which may serve as some solace. The Back to the Future series still has massive amounts of fans, including this writer, and there is a related contest now for people to submit BttF fan videos to win prizes, including a 1981 DeLorean (flux capacitor may not be operational)!