Friday, October 29, 2010

Spirit Photography

Check out William Hope. What a shyster! But still, pretty cool photos.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess

I started listening to a recorded version of A Clockwork Orange. Normally, I prefer to read a classic the first time through, and then listen to it later if I feel like it, but I saw it while browsing at the library and just nabbed it. There is an introduction by the author and I'm sorry to report it's Burgess having one long tantrum.
Burgess starts by saying that Orange is his most popular book, due in large part to the film, but he feels it is not as good as many of his other works and he finds its popularity disappointing. He amassed a fortune off of it, but still resented it. I guess the America version left off the final chapter and Burgess was still spiting mad over it. He was even more offended that the Kubrick movie, although filmed in Britain, was based on the American version that ends with Alex not being reformed, despite the government's best attempts.
In the final chapter (the controversial missing in America chapter) Alex grows up, get married, has kids and regrets his violent youth. He wishes to create rather than destroy. The American publisher felt it was a stronger ending not to have Alex reform, or at least have his future uncertain.
I guess it never occurred to Burgess that he was allowed to be a rich old coot and keep working as a writer due to the success of the novel. (with or without the final chapter) It makes me think of Warren Zevon who, for years, complained that he was best know for Werewolves of London when he had written much better songs. Then, he finally realized that he was able to live a comfortable life and put his kids through college off of that song and he should be a little more grateful.
It cracks me up that Burgess is complaining that America forwent the happy ending. I can't begin to list how many times I've been randomly attack by European travelers because our films usually have happy endings. An America makes a film and leaves off the happy ending... Still criticized. Be that as it may, I am going to skip the end of Burgess' introduction and give the book a try. You'd think the guy could be a little more gracious about a book that supported him in a comfortable lifestyle for thirty years, but apparently not. I wonder if he would have been happier being unsuccessful.
Probably not.

Pigeons vs. Puffins

Pigeons don't appear to enjoy flying. They would rather try to outrun you on their stubby little bird legs rather than take to the skies. They seem to use flying only as a last resort.

Puffins, on the other hand, are barely clinging to their ability to fly. When you see them in the air, madly flapping at the sky, they look more like wind-up mechanical toys than creatures that are intended to have the ability of flight. But still, the puffins are intent on doing it, even if they are one evolutionary step away from being land bound forever. I think that's why they cling to flight so desperately. They actually appreciate it, while city dwelling pigeons have grown complacent and lazy from eating too many french fries.

Fratercula corniculataUSFWSSL0002774.jpg

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Powder Room

"All these years and she had never had the wicked thrill of powdering her nose."

~ Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson

I love that back in 1938 it was still considered slightly scandalous to powder your nose. I'm afraid I suffer from a chronically shinny nose, so I would have been forced to be one of those brazen girls who depended on the vice.

Post college, but when I was still in my twenties, my sister pointed out that it was crass to get up from a table of friends at a bar or nightclub and announce, "I've got to pee." I mean, really. Do people need to know the exact nature of why you are leaving the table? So, we decided to stop saying that and just change over to, "Excuse me for a moment," or "I'll be right back." Surprisingly, a lot of guys do not like the idea of you leaving the group without announcing your agenda. At first, I was frequently asked, "Where are you going?" When I would respond, "Guess," I was usually taken literally. So, I relied on an old etiquette book that I read once that stated, gentlemen say, "I have to wash my hands," and ladies say, "I have to powder my nose." Obviously, this book was written when nose powdering ceased to be a scandal.

Now I switch things up. If I'm among friends or people who get my personality, I say, "powder my nose," but among acquaintances or strangers, I say "wash my hands." I sometimes still get questioned.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I Heart Harry Dean Stanton

How in love are you with Harry Dean Stanton?

No, seriously, think about it. He's done EVERYTHING.

The Godfather Part II
Pretty in Pink
Red Dawn
Repo Man - One of the best movies of all time.
Kelly's Heroes
Private Benjamin
Escape From New York

Nothing makes me happier than to be watching a movie and there's a HDS sighting.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Looking for Alaska - John Green

Looking for Alaska is a very good book that I didn't finish. I do not enjoy heart wrenching books (or movies for that matter - I've never seen Beaches) and this book definitely slaps your emotions around a little. So, I started reading it and was greatly enjoying the story, then I became suspicious that it was heading towards an emotional cliff, so I skipped ahead, had my suspicions confirmed and then did kind of a book dissection where I jumped around to glean the plot points without getting sniffy over the narrative. (Okay, I did get a little sniffy, but did I mention that it's really well written?) So, would I recommend Looking for Alaska? Yes. Have I read the whole thing myself? Uhm...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Flora Segunda by Ysabeau S. Wilce

Ysabeau S. Wilce created a really amazing, original world with Flora Segunda. The book was recommended to me by Mr. T. Forbes, so I figured it was good, but even with that knowledge moving forward, I was impressed. Just to be clear, the full title is:

Flora Segunda: Being the Magickal Mishaps of a Girl of Spirit, Her Glass-Gazing Sidekick, Two Ominous Butlers (One Blue), a House with Eleven Thousand Rooms, and a Red Dog

That alone is a tantalizing hint of the complex world Ms. Wilce has created. (And she is a military historian - Cool - which really adds an authentic flavor to the created world. - Any author who managed to include the use of a swagger stick in a fantasy novel is fine by me)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Getting Wilde

As a friend just pointed out, I share a birthday with the ultimate score when playing Dead, Gay, or English... Oscar Wilde.


Check out this fantastic gettup that Wilde wore at Oxford. The hat seems too small, but I love the checkered suit.

Oscar Wilde posing for a photograph, looking at the camera. He is wearing a check suit and a bowler hat. His right foot is resting on a knee high bench, and his right hand, holding gloves, is on it. The left hand is in the pocket. Oscar Wilde at Oxford.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Meter Dog

I was putting money in a meter yesterday when a woman walked her dog over to let it relieve itself on the exact meter I was using. I glared at her and snarled, "You've got to be kidding." So, she pulled her dog away and let it pee on a bed of flowers.

What is the thought process behind allowing this behavior in a dog? I was really stunned. Not only that she would bring her pet over to virtually pee on my leg, but then she thought it was okay to let the dog douse some plants with ammonia. Poor San Francisco is already bereft of any type of plant or tree life, there's no point in letting your dog kill the few growing things we have in the city.

Good dog etiquette would seem self evident, but apparently it's not. Fortunately, the SPCA has kindly listed some basic rules to make living in a city overrun with dogs at least a tolerable place.

Take a look here. Please! And remember, just because you love your dog, doesn't mean someone else wants it peeing on her leg.

Monday, October 11, 2010


I'm not sure how this movie wasn't on my radar earlier, but I'm glad I finally stumbled across it. Not your average high school movie by any means. It's about a guy trying to solve the mystery of his missing ex-girlfriend. Great cast, very intense and well put together. Be aware - It's not the kind of movie you can watch while surfing the internet or while also trying to read, or whatever you catch yourself doing while also viewing. There's a lot of dialog, a lot of original slang, a lot of plot twists and most the dialog is spoken quickly and quietly so you have to pay attention. But, very well worth it.

Brick Poster

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Going Lefty

Try brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand. It's remarkably difficult to do. When I first tried, a few months ago I flat out couldn't do it and I'm reasonably ambidextrous with a lot of things. So, I observed what I did with my dominant hand and then tried to mimic it with the other. There was some improvement, but it was still awkward.

Now, I start out brushing my teeth with my non-dominant, then switch to dominant. I'm still not as fluid, but I can get the job done. I've also switched with how I wash the dishes, style my hair, and a whole bunch of other stuff. It's interesting trying to get the brain rewired.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Scarlet Pimpernel

This has to be one of my favorite books of all time. If you enjoy adventure stories with a dusting of romance, then this is the book for you. Warning, there is a very tiresome spot after the first chapter. The book starts off with a bang, then there is a dead spot, then it picks up again and becomes very enjoyable. Struggle past the dead spot. It's worth it.

The Scarlet Pimpernel is the story of a daring English nobelman and his followers who save French aristocrats from the guillotine during the French revolution. The French aristocrats are portrayed to be very sympathetic and let's face it, the French did run a little off their rails with chopping people's head off. I mean, just because you're the lace maker for Marie Antoinette doesn't mean you deserve to die. But, anyway, I was thinking of what could be the modern retelling of the story. We Americans finally get off our complacent butts and start dealing with corruption in the government and white collar crime. The Pimpernel pulls off some daring daylight raids to save the CEOs of Haliburton and Enron...

Compelling stuff. Let's start the revolution and see how it goes.

Cover of the 1908 edition
1908 edition