ttfn, 2014

Hello, readers.

This, most likely, will be my last post of the year. Tomorrow, EG and I will board a train for somewhere Kentwards, as has been noted, and very likely on this trip, I will refrain from very much in the way of blogging, though not from writing, in general. And maybe sketching. I may not refrain from that. I plan to bring a notebook and sketchbook in which to note and sketch.

Over the course of this year, a great many changes have occurred, as so often happens every year because of time.

Later, perhaps, I will write some of them.

Now.

I must wrap things.

ttfn, readers.

see you soon.

there are only 24 hours in a day. well. except.

Hello, readers.

It’s Monday. A blanket of grey clouds has been tossed over London. I’ve just realized yesterday, the 21st, was the winter solstice. We’re half way out of the dark.*

Later in the week, I’ll be traveling to Kent with EG. There will be 7 children under the age of thirteen. And several children over 30. I don’t know if it will snow. On Boxing Day, we (EG and I) will be in charge of brunch, which I believe is the traditional Boxing Day feast, as no one, most likely, will be quite ready to wake up for breakfast. There will, most like, be eggs and muffins and pancakes and granola and fruit. And that should be good, then.

The year, being almost over, and December being Christmas, and Christmas being ghosts, I find myself thinking about the dead and the past and the living in a way all a bit shimmery, like, perhaps, I’ve lost myself in the blanket of clouds. Or that I’m experiencing weather-related emotions. One of the things I remember is Sarah Lee Butter Pecan Coffee cake. Which we would, most always, have on Christmas morning when I was a kid. One year, much later, I made a coffee cake of my own for Christmas and for to share with mom and sister. For some reason, this memory makes me sad, but not sad, more a sense of sharp joy, felt and gone. A bit like being stabbed. Memories are like that, sometimes. As are yearnings, which are memories of a future that haven’t happened yet.

The tricky thing about yearning is that the joy is imagined and so, the knife, more a probability blade, one that could cut in any one of an infinite ways.

but. well.

Memory and imagination. Ghosts. Joy. Sorrow.

The gift of the season, if you’re lucky, is having someone to unwrap all those feelings with. Maybe on a sofa. Maybe with a cup of cocoa, or hot tea, your feet rubbing together. Something of your past on the television. A Christmas Story. A Grinch. And then, in the morning, all the many children, and the beautiful noise.

Happy Monday, readers.

ttfn.

*I read this just now. Only 4 days in a year last 24 hours. The rest, do not. We live in a model world, readers.

folks, if this is you’re first time tuning in

Hello, readers.

This one time, in French, I had to write a poem. The poem I wrote was about the ant and the grasshopper. Do you know the story of the ant and the grasshopper? In the story, the ant stores up food for winter. Grasshopper does not. Grasshopper, in the story, dies. In my poem, this did not happen. In my poem, ant collected the food. And told Grasshopper he would be sorry. And then, though, a storm came, and washed away the ant hill, and killed all the ants, and the Grasshopper collected the food from the wreckage. Possibly, I said something like, “Sometimes things happen. They usually do.”

I don’t remember. What I remember is working really hard to think and write in French and enjoying writing something absurdist in French. When my professor handed the poem back to me, he wrote, in red pen, something along these lines:

Ceci comme le Colbert.

Which blew my mind. My French professor watched the Colbert Report! And he thought of it while reading a poem in French!

Which is all to say, Colbert said goodbye last night, and I thought of this poem, and that class, and the people around me at the time, that aren’t around me anymore. This is what always happens at the end of things. You start thinking about the beginning. And the middle. And everything in between. And you begin missing everything. It’s very Catcher in the Rye. Except with less pretending you got shot, or ducks. Really, very much, far fewer ducks.

Here’s a link because links.

Also. Well.

NIne years. That’s what we got. Where does the time go? Nowhere. Time stays still. We move through space. It’s science. Somewhere out there, this boy with a blog is, was, will be, twenty-five; in love; writing poems in French; and sitting on a living room futon, watching a very silly man be very silly. It was a blast.

On se reverra, je ne sais pas où, je ne sais pas quand,
Mais je sais qu’on se reverra, un jour ensoleillé.

See you in the future, readers.

goodnight.

all of our wars are belong to us

Hello, readers.

Thursday. Camera Obscura. Memories of being too excited to sleep before Christmas day. I had this radio beside my bed. Same model my dad had. Lot’s of soft, grey, squishy buttons. A few well-tuned sliders. On Christmas eve, when 8 hours felt like forever, and clearly the fastest way to get there was to fall asleep, but the terrifying prospect of joy ahead wired my eyes wide open, I would pop in a cassette tape into that clock radio. On the tape, there were stories of some kind. Seems like they were Christmas stories. Rudolph. Frosty. Christmas villages here and there, touched by magic, by hope, by men that might melt, and reindeer that might fly.

On Colbert’s last show before his last show, Phil Klay talked about his national book award winning book. Redeployment. In his interview, he said that the war in Iraq, that all of our wars, are belong to us. He maybe didn’t say it that way. But that’s what he meant. Even if you don’t pay attention. Especially if you pay attention.

Here is a website listing books discussed on Colbert.

What I remember about waking up on Christmas morning is silence. That moment when you open your eyes and outside your window there’s a maple tree and grass covered in frost. Soon, you’ll be up. You’ll be checking on your parents to see how sound they’re sleeping. You’ll be checking on the manner and shape of boxes arranged on the christmas skirt. But, really, the first thing you’ll do. The very first thing you’ll do is stay in bed, after all of that excitement and wonder if you’ll ever sleep, and you’ll enjoy the moment you woke up.

And then you’ll go wake up your sister.

That was my plan.

Happy Thursday, readers.

ttfn.

well-intentioned poorly informed high status idiot

Hello, readers.

In the UK, they start there weeks on Monday, as opposed to the more traditional, equally made-up, tradition in the U.S. of beginning our weeks on Sunday. At least in the calendrical sense. In any case, today is neither Sunday, nor Monday, but Wednesday. Which more or less comes in the middle whatever way you count your days.

Here are some things to see you through the middle. All of them about Stephen Colbert. Because I am sad he is going away, and so happy that he is only just arriving. He once described the character of Stephen Colbert as a ’well-intentioned, poorly informed, high-status idiot.” Over the years, the reason I kept watching the show, though, while in part for his absurdist proof-by-contradiction style, was as much for Colbert the role-playing geek, the star wars geek, and the lotr geek.

Thing one:

“It has been an amazing high-wire act, every night, watching one of the greatest live performers of our time create an intricate meta-upon-meta joke we can all feel in on.”

Will Leitch, writing for Bloomberg, on Colbert as one of the best improv performers of all time. Includes Colbert’s great interview with Maurice Sendak

Thing two:
Here’s Colbert’s last musical guest, Kendrick Lamar.

Thing three:

“At first, it was unsettling to see him without his invisible mask, but he was such a sweet guy that, ultimately, the brief pre-show chat stayed with me longer than anything he did on the show. I’ll miss ‘Colbert.’ But I’m really excited about Colbert.”

Hadley Freeman writing in the Guardian on Colbert’s persona and interview skills

Thing four:

’‘“Yeah,” said Colbert, “but no one’s going to pay me to watch him anymore, so fuck that noise.”’

Colbert on never having to watch Bill O’Reilly again.

Thing five:

“I’m no fan of dictionaries or reference books,” Colbert boasted during his very first show in October 2005. “They are elitist, constantly telling us what is or isn’t true, or what did or didn’t happen…I don’t trust books. They’re all fact, no heart.”

EW has a list of wonderful things Colbert has done for us.

Happy truthiness, readers.

ttfn.

things you know but don’t know how to live with

Hello, readers.

It’s Tuesday.

Sometimes you read a book to remind yourself of something you already know but don’t know how to live with.

Several years ago, possibly on several Tuesdays, you could find me curled up in a comfy chair located near the back of a Barnes & Noble’s. I didn’t have very much money. The chair was very soft and very near a great many books. I used to sit in that chair and read books the library didn’t have. And also write.

One of the books I read in that chair was EATING ANIMALS by Jonathan Safran Foer.

The thing I knew but didn’t know how to live with was two things.

1) Animals for to be eaten were, and are, generally treated in a way that I didn’t support.
2) The system of factory farming pollutes and that didn’t seem too good either.

After reading Foer’s book, I decided to commit to being vegetarian. I could have committed to meatless mondays, or meatless weekends, or any number of things that might cut back on my consumption of meat. But, well, I didn’t choose those other things. I chose the first.

Two days ago, I bought CLIMATE CHANGED by Philippe Squarzoni. It’s a brilliant walk through the science of climate change framed through Squarzoni’s own life and his own love of stories, particularly films.

After I finish this book, I don’t know what I’ll do.

Sometimes I wonder how much of the money we raise to fight malaria and other such things is money that only exists because of the present state of things.

Sometimes I wonder if climate change is a movie we came in half-way through and the ending’s already set.

No one wants to deprive themselves of things.

The thing I know but don’t know how to live with is two things.

1) The present state of things can’t last.
2) Something has to change.

Vague. True.

That is my mood at the moment.

Vague and true.

In less than a month, I’m flying back to the U.S. to visit love and sort out bureaucracy. Maybe buy a new phone with a more awesome camera. These things will bring joy to my life.

No one wants to deprive themselves of things is a thing that Squarzoni says in CLIMATE CHANGED, and it’s true.

I grew up inside of the evolution of global warming discussion from possible to definite to denied to omgisittoolate? It’s always seemed real and just another thing for humanity to handle. Which we definitely would. Because clearly we’ve lasted this long. But. Well.

I wonder how much energy it takes to post a blog?

Happy Tuesday, readers.

ttfn.

star wars day

Hello, readers.

This past Saturday, Star Wars Day happened at the BFI at London’s southbank. Here’s a picture of that.

IMG_0417

From 11 in the morning until 8:20 in the evening, me and a shiny, fairly new friend watched the original trilogy flicker past. There was that fantastic opening shot that framed the scale of the struggle; that tiny rebel ship pursued by a rumbling, neverending star destroyer. There was Luke being all dramatic, looking off into the horizon at the twin suns setting, longing for adventure, for anywhere but here. That shot stays with me as much, or more, than most others. Simple. Beautiful. And that score by John Williams welling up in the background.

When Greedo shot first, people in the audience booed. I wasn’t sure what to make of that. There were a few boo’s to go along with the cheers. These were the special editions being screened. I don’t remember now if I was one of those, a long time ago, who felt so cheated by Lucas for tinkering with our childhood. Older, now, different, I don’t care. The movies I watched as a child only exist in my mind anyway, and it’s in my mind that I watch them now, seeing not just the films themselves, understanding again how beautiful they are, how superbly edited, how perfectly orchestrated (such a soundscape!), but seeing more–seeing how they sit in culture, in terms of feminism, in terms of people of color, in terms of the dawning age of computers and automation, the eternal struggle between human and machine, and not just machine in terms of electronics, but machines in terms of our own emotions, our bodies sometimes acting like mechanisms of hate and lust and love and fear. The lessons of Star Wars, of Yoda, as simple as they are, as mythic and profound they seemed to me as a child, still matter. I still watch Yoda lift that X-wing out of the swamp and hear Luke say, “I don’t believe it,” and Yoda say, “That is why you fail,” and I know that those are words worth remembering.

There was, before Empire Strikes Back, an introduction from Billy Dee Williams, clearly speaking about the presence of race in Star Wars, of how for some, the first Star Wars existed as a white-washed future in which the only person of color was Darth Vader, and he, just a fashion and a voice, at that. Also, evil. Williams spoke about Lucas wanting to answer those critics, to include a different perspective. And, what was wild and sad and confusing, was how Williams seemed to be avoiding words like race or black in his introduction. I don’t know why. He said he was a person of the world. Which he is. I was sad when some parts of reality were upset that the first face in the The Force Awakens trailer belonged to John Boyega, a person of color.

I hope that in forty years, we remember his face, and these new stories, as fondly as we remembered those first three. I hope, and this is a lot of hope, is that somehow these new films touch on the old new myth of Star Wars, mixing together fairy tales and science fiction in a way that open up a new chapter in the neverending struggle between humans and the mechanisms they design: philosophies, religions, governments, beliefs. I want a new myth from an old story. It’s what I always want, really. I want a new way to see.

When the evening ended, and there was Luke fighting Vader, and Vader as a ghost (and more boo’s) and there was my friend experiencing ridiculous amounts of joy at the Ewoks, I was left feeling as much like myself as I could feel. Which is a strange thing to say, because, how do people ever not feel like themselves, but they do, and there’s not much you can do about it. It happens with time and space. And, if you’re lucky, there are people and stories that remind you who you were at the same time they let you grow. Every time I see Star Wars, I am older than I was, and different, and the same boy who stared at the setting suns and wanted more. Much as the films themselves.

They’re just stories, of course. But so is everything.

Happy Monday, readers.

ttfn.

winning television

Hello, readers.

It’s Friday. I’m in the kitchen. James Corden’s on Stephen Colbert and preparing to sing a duet of ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.’ Now, that’s done. It was amazing.

Yesterday, a wise friend pointed out that all the glorification of McCain pointing out that maybe torture is bad was kind of funny because of all the McCain pointing out support for our army of shadowy KILLER ROBOTS and also not saying a lot of other things that people should be saying. This was all very true and important to remember so that our bar for cheering doesn’t completely fall on our heads and knock us unconscious and lead to the sort of amnesia where we forget what people do when they’re not making speeches.

also.

It being Friday, tomorrow is Saturday, and tomorrow is STAR WARS DAY. If you can’t go, don’t worry, I will. And then I will write about it and you can pretend. That’s the way this blog works. I write. You pretend.

also. also.

It being Friday, December 12th, THE PROJECT FOR AWESOME begins today at noon. Noon being the eastern one. In London, it will begin at not noon.

also x3.

Here are 5 things you can read and/or watch over the weekend.

1) Stephen Colbert’s final ‘BETTER KNOW A DISTRICT.’ Watch until the end. It’s, well, awesome.
2) Possibly there’s another universe where time runs backwards.
3) Regarding Susan Sontag.
4) J.J. Abrams on the Magic of Mystery. An oldie, but, well, you know.
5) Awesome art by Kevin Dart (oh, a rhyme!). He’s worked on Powerpuff Girls and Big Hero 6 and his things are pretty and cool.

Happy awesome sauce, readers.

ttfn.

john mccain is not a puppet

Hello, readers.

In the flat at the moment, with drying clothes hung over radiators and a very warm delicious cup of tea in an orange mug resting on a coffee table which is, in fact, actually, a very large foot stool. It’s pretty awesome. Another thing that’s awesome is outside. By which I mean, all of outside. It looks, well, I don’t know. I left my words behind yesterday. Let’s say it looks like the inside of a nickel, which makes it sound less awesome, but, well.

Yesterday, I left a comment on the internet.

Today, happily, it appears that a day or so ago John McCain left a comment on things as well and it, very much like the sky, is more awesome than you might expect. I’m going to embed it here because I watched it and cried. Before 9/11, my concept of the United States of America was just beginning to complicate itself, and after that, it became wonderfully complicated. I very much cared about when and how and if and in what manner we went to war and I was upset and then we clearly tortured people and it was wrong and now we drone people and that seems wrong and also we kill unarmed people, in part, because whether or not they have guns doesn’t matter, since the social construct of race and poverty continues to demonstrate that however much we may think make believe is something we stopped playing as children, we actually still play make believe all the time and the stuff we make our beliefs has profound, tangible consequence.

Anyway.

Here’s McCain.

If tl;dw, here’s how The Daily Show reported it.

And also, because, happiness. Here’s some list of books you might want to read.

1) Tor’s Reviewer Choice Best Books of 2014
2) The avclub’s best graphic novels and comics of 2014
3) Buzzfeed’s list of best science fiction and fantasy novels by women of color

Make believe being as powerful as it is, it’s useful to get some exercise making believe outside of your experience as much, and as often, as possible. Stories are empathy machines. They’re like treadmills for your conscience. Or something.

Happy Thursday, readers.

As the nerdfighters say, don’t forget to be awesome.*

ttfn.

*http://www.projectforawesome.com/

p.s. The above link is for the project for awesome which is this thing that happens once a year where

reporting anything unusual won’t hurt you

Hello, readers.

Yesterday, I fell into the you-hole, which is a word I just made up and would like to unmake now. Can I do that? Okay. Well. Anyway. I watched a bunch of videos from marinashutup. They’re cool. calm. collected. And she says fuck sometimes in a way that conceals a wonderful amount of rage. I seem to be talking a lot about rage lately. Perhaps, I’m just paying attention.

also.

I read some YouTube comments. OMG. I KNOW. But, I did. And I learned that what some people call sexism other people call biological evolutionary competitive peacocking, which I believe also is the cause of erectile dysfunction.

also. also.

I watched another YouTube video, recommended in the sidebar underneath marina’s videos, in which a videographer of occasional reality purported to undermine a particular idea of Anita Sarkeesian’s concerning the influence of media (and video games as a whole) by demonstrating that some 10 billion people had been killed in video games, or possibly this one game, and, WELL OBVIOUSLY THIS HASN’T LED TO 10 BILLION PEOPLE BEING KILLED IRL SO SHUT UP ALREADY ABOUT HOW VIDEO GAMES INFLUENCE REALITY.

also. also. also.

Yesterday, the Senate Intelligence Committee released their report on the ENHANCED INTERROGATION TECHNIQUES (or, ETI’s for short, or TORTURE, for slightly less occasional reality) that the United States sometimes maybe definitely engaged in, and then lied about, in terms of its existence and its efficacy.

What’s good to know is that in our culture, where some believe there’s this ridiculous idea that narratives of violence have an effect on the culture at large, we continue to see that IRL THERE’S NO EVIDENCE ANY SUCH UBIQUITY OR ACCEPTANCE OF VIOLENCE AGAINST OTHER HUMAN BEINGS EXISTS AT ALL WHATSOEVER GOOD ON US EVERYONE CAN GO HOME NOW.

After all, violence is in our nature. Why not in our video games, movies, books, and Senate Intelligence reports. Why would we ever want to act different from our nature anyway? Our nature is AWESOME. It is totally EXCEPTIONAL and also just like all the other animals and animals, also, AWESOME BECAUSE PANDAS ARE SO CUTE.

Yes. Well. Not entirely sure where this is going except that there’s some value in, on occasion, occasionally questioning your own nature, and your preferred narratives, and whether or not you really want to watch or act in yet another demonstration of violence being the way for to win.

Happy Wednesday, readers.

Don’t read the comments.

except. well.

ttfn.