Saturday, November 26th, 2005
Last night I was watching a Beatles movie -- I remember at the end of the movie/dream, when John was rushing about trying to produce a film, saying to Belle Waring, "What is this movie? It's better than Let It Be [by which I meant Magical Mystery Tour] but not as good as Help!" -- she agreed but did not know either. I felt aggravated at there being a whole nother Beatles movie about, which I knew nothing of.
For part of the film I was onscreen, trying to inveigle my way into hanging out with the lads; my plan was to convince George that I was a friend of John's, and John that I was a friend of George's -- surely I lifted this from the plot of some old sitcom or buddy movie. George and Ringo were rather short, and John and Paul were taller. Everybody was at Coney Island or some similar place, where John was trying to put together a large conceptual art project. I do not remember its precise nature but it involved a lot of props -- scenery, costume jewelry, etc. I was in the process of bullshitting George about my acquaintance with John, when Jim Cross called me on my cell phone -- I pretended it was John and told him to "come on over here, I'm with your friends" (I had suddenly forgotten George and Ringo's names) -- come to think of it this particular sequence had a strong feeling of "I Love Lucy" to it.
There was a short sub-dream after this one ended, in which I woke up and feverishly scribbled down the bit about John's conceptual art project on a tablet I kept on my bedside table for the purpose of recording dreams. Ellen woke up too and was reading over my shoulder -- my script was uncharacteristically sloppy and I was misspelling a lot of words. Lots of self-reference in this dream about movies and writing. Ellen said this morning, she thought we should rent "A Hard Day's Night".
Update: We are watching "A Hard Day's Night" this evening, and I am surprised at how close the appearances of the Beatles in my dream were to this movie (except for Ringo, who looked more like the Ringo on the cover of Sergeant Pepper's, sans uniform). But: the dream Beatle whom I identified as George, was John; and vice versa, mutatis mutandis. Don't have much clue what this means. Sylvia, in response to the lyric "I know this love of mine, will never die, and I love her": "Sometime you'll die!"
Friday, November 25th, 2005
Tonight we were driving home from Ellen's parents' place, and Sylvia wanted me to tell her a story. A Just-So story. Getting progressively more specific, she asked me to tell her "The Elephant's Child". Well I didn't really feel into that; but I started off, "In the high and far-off times... the Lion, o best beloved, had no mane." Sylvia immediately reacted -- that's not how it goes, it's an elephant -- but almost as immediately, she saw the possibilities, and she let me make up a story. It was a pretty lame one frankly, and not particularly long; no Kipling I. But as soon as the lion had gotten his mane, Sylvia asked to hear one about how the tiger got his stripes.
I saw my opening and asked her to tell that story to me. And she did. It was mostly sound effects -- "In the high and flying times there was a tiger with no stripes. And he crashed into the lion and bang and whoosh and boom and he crashed and..." until he eventually crashed into the Mookoo, who had stripes, and they traded. For the rest of the drive home we were regaled with similar stories.
This morning I started reading Leslie Savan's Slam Dunks and No-Brainers: Language in Your Life, the Media, Business, Politics, and, Like, Whatever. Ms. Savan is in Ellen's writers' group, and she was signing books at Marshall School's (where Sylvia attends) Library Day. I was interested in the book because of a strongly negative review in the NY Times, by P.J. O'Rourke, who is not the first person I would have thought of to review a book on pop culture. (O'Rourke offers a quintessential lack of self-consciousness with such lines as: "I didn't learn any fresh ripostes, topical quashers or new verbal conveniences from 'Slam Dunks and No-Brainers' except 'What is the dilio?' I take this to mean 'What is transpiring here?' I tried it on my children. They looked at me blankly.")
Thursday, November 24th, 2005
Hm. Well the bread could have come out better -- I should not try and do it on a schedule, like the plan this morning was to get it done before lunch. I did not let it proof long enough, and it is too dense. Toothsome though -- it is very good dipped in soup, which is what I had for lunch.
Update: The loaf of bread which we gave to Michele was actually a lot better -- must have been something to do with variable heat in the oven. Still, they would have been better with a longer proof time.
Happy Thanksgiving everybody! Sylvia and I are baking bread -- I'll let you know how it comes out.
(I don't bake bread often enough but when I do, it tends to come out surprisingly well for someone who does not keep in practice. When I was 22 or so, I worked for 1 or 2 years at Amy's Bread -- she whose cookbook I am now using -- as a shaper and occasional mixer of dough, and I seem to have kept some skills from that time.)
Wednesday, November 23rd, 2005
I started jury duty last Tuesday. Before I went in to serve, a bunch of people made comments to me along the lines of, "Of course you just tell them you think the guy is guilty, then they won't pick you" or conversely, "Well just tell them you're opposed to capital punishment, then they won't pick you." And I sort of nodded along. Well when I was called up for voir dire, I didn't say either of those two things, just answered the questions I was asked in what I think was a fairly thoughtful manner; and I was selected. (Court is in recess this week, I will be going back in next week to hear the case.) And I'd just like to go on record saying, I don't think jury duty is for suckers.
Tuesday, November 15th, 2005
Last night I was reading a post by Sebastian Holsclaw at Obsidian Wings -- it was a long post about a visit he had made to meet the new baby of his friend Caithie in Iowa. The first part of the post was how he had felt out of place in the Midwest, like his clothing identified him as an outsider. He spoke of reading a newspaper editorial opposed to gay marriage and gay adoption. (Here I picked up that Caithie was gay.) The next part of the post was about a restaurant where he had dined, one nationally famous for its mouse. (I think that's what it was; this part of the post seemed to have been composed and edited in a hurry with a lot of typos.) He said he thought the dish was actually some different small rodent; it was very good, "but the end kept running out from under my fork." This seemed like an excellent image -- there was still the main body of the post to read, but I skipped down to the end wanting to leave a comment about how I was picturing a little mouse tail and legs scampering away from his fork; but at this point (in the dream, still) Sylvia came in and started climbing on me, which took my attention away from the post and woke me up. (Odd that I could be woken up by something happening in the dream.)
Saturday, November 12th, 2005
Last night for bed-time story, Sylvia requested a Just-So story. (An "old favorite" -- about 9 months ago we were reading from that book just about every night; but it's been on the shelf untouched for a little while now.) After a consideration of the contents she settled on "How the Leopard Got his Spots", saying even though "The Elephant's Child" is her favorite story, she wanted to see about this one. (When we were reading it regularly, she would ask for "The Elephant's Child" about one night out of three; I got so used to it that I was able to recite it from memory one night when we were driving a long distance and she really wanted to hear a story.)
Well "How the Leopard Got his Spots" is one of the more objectionable stories in the book but with a bit of editing you can get most of the racism out and just have it be about colors. So that's what we read. Now our edition of "Just-So Stories" has two sets of illustrations, line drawings that I think are from the original edition -- they have captions that read as if Kipling wrote them -- and more recent color prints.* When we were reading about Baviaan, the "dog-headed, barking baboon" who is the wisest animal in South Africa, there was a line drawing of him, a drawing which looks nothing like a baboon. Sylvia objected -- "that's not a baboon with a dog's head, that's a person with a lion's head -- like a backwards sphinx!" (She learned about the Sphinx recently and is pretty into the idea.)
*I wish, I wish that I could find the edition of "Just-So Stories" that my dad read to us from when we were young. It was oversize and the illustrations were just beautiful. It's possible I am misremembering and they were the same as the color illustrations in this book, just bigger; but I'm pretty sure they were more abstract and symbolic.
Monday, November 7th, 2005
As long as I'm recommending stuff to listen to: Sylvia and I were eating breakfast yesterday morning and listening to Airborn Event with Dan Bodah on FMU, when "Joy Pt. 1" by Shakti came on. Well we both started sort of unconsciously bopping in our seats -- I made eye contact and asked her if she felt like dancing. She grinned and looked away. Then a minute later she said, "Dad... do you feel like dancing?" So we got up and rocked out in the kitchen. Happily it is quite a long song. Here is the playlist for the show with links to audio if you care to check it out -- some of the nicest dancing music I've heard in a while.
This morning I started reading Data Crunching, by Greg Wilson, which Bill Delavega recommended on his site, Dispatches From the Prairie. The subject of the book is an activity that occupies a fair (and growing) piece of my attention, namely converting data between different file formats.
Wilson writes in an engaging and accessible style, and his examples are useful. So far (I'm reading Chapter 2) there is an unresolved ambiguity about writing reusable code vs. being "reasonably sure" your code will never be reused. (I think this ambiguity will not be resolved because it's pretty universal; I've encountered it a lot in my own work and never been able to resolve it beyond making what seem like reasonable compromises.)
A bonus: A lot of the examples are in Python, which is a language I've been wanting to start using for a while now.
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