Monthly Archives: January 2008

NEW TO NEWTON

      Like Einstein before me, (?)  I’ve just realized something novel about time and space:

I’ve been spaced for a long time.
Two and a half years, to be precise.

But  finally, a few minutes ago, I  understood for the first time why Xanga is sometimes such a disappointment. And I may have just found a way to overcome that feeling.
It’s simple. Repeat after me: “Xanga is not a gig”
I should  know gigs. Acording to my careful prosthesis, I’ve done about 4000 of them. Clubs, theaters, outdoor parks, stadiums (stadia?), beer joints… they melt into each other in the foggy distance.

 But one distinguishing feature does stand out:  Live audiences. Interaction. You prepare material, rehearse if need be, gauge the mood, schmooze between songs, knock ’em dead (or die yourself) on-stage, but at least it’s face-to-face, corporeal. carnal, whatever.
Here in the Xanga-Dome, in contrast, I might as well be playing in a windowless sound-proof booth out in a remote corner of the parking lot. Once or twice a day, a note slips under the door. A ‘comment?’. Or a ‘footprints‘ report-card. “You have three(3) unidentifiable people in the audience, sucka!” From inside my black-box, my ‘inertial frame of reference’, I have know way of knowing if or whether anyone is reading, enjoying, cursing, or applauding my latest ‘hit tune’. And really, all-of-the-above are fine by me. A nod’s as good as a wink, as is a spit on the floor. I just miss knowing, seeing, feeling, showing-off, that sort of thing.
   See, a guy with a hammer, as has been famously reported, unavoidably sees everything as a nail. Probably if I were a logger, and  invited to pay you a visit, I’d chain-saw my way through your front door, just out of habit. (“Sorry about that, I’ll get Johnny with his hammer to nail a piece of plywood over it.”)
But anyway, this is big news.I’ve been dumbly and unconsciously relating to posting as if it were the modern worry-free replacement for live performance, expecting electricity, and instead watching the needle on the old VOM freeze on the zero-peg.
Now of course I have done gigs where I caught myself thinking “On the whole, I’d rather be hanging drywall.” And more than once, especially in the old days, playing In a Gada Da Vida for a half-dozen wanna-be cowboys passed out at their tables like Dali watches, I ‘d say “This is way too much like bovine artificial insemination for my poor sick head.” Yeah, not always real orgasmic, but at least it was always real.
However, there is no fix, even in principle, for the net’s ‘virtuality’. More ‘Mini’s? Super-size e-props? No, I just need to remember “There will be no ‘roar of the grease-paint’, nor  ‘smell of the crowd’ here at the Xanga-Du Drop-Inn tonight.”

“all work and no word-play make jack unnatural”

My shink is probably in Indiana by now… if she didn’t step in a ground-hog hole and break a leg. We were just calmly working on a tentative diagnosis: WTF-S (Words- Terminal Fascination Syndrome) and she’d even suggested a treatment. I told her I wasn’t interested in a lobotomy,
“Look what happened to Mike Nicholson’s hair after Cuckoo’s Nest“. I said.. Hey, facts are facts, y’know. 

…so she decided to try ANALYSIS.
“Anal?”, I looked at her, “Y, Sis?”
I’m not your sistershe informed me.
“Great”, I relaxed, “So we’re all set?”
No, I gotta be your sister, otherwise the joke don’t work she argued, trying to back out of it.
“We’ll just say I was calling you ‘Sis’ as a term of endearment, then”. I countered, a little dizzy already.
Um she swallowed hard, We may need to get drunk for this…”
“That’s my line” I said, as she made herself comfortable on the couch.
“On your tummy, now, Sis, and repeat after me: ‘Words have consequences’. It’s like a tantra or something…”
Mantra
she corrected me, then started to chant, slowly at first, then breathlessly… Words have consequences.



Other than that, I spent a dumb rainy day ‘saving‘ posts. Jeez, my stuff is dense! No wonder they don’t read it, who’s got that kind of free time nowadays? A guy serving three life terms, maybe, but internet access can be spotty in penal institutions. So I decided to make my posts shorter, much shorter, and to get to the good part faster. Hope you appreciate it.

except that… except that Xanga wants to know “What food I’d miss if I were in jail.” Well, if it were anywhere but good old Erie County Pennitentiary I’m sure I’d get a healthy hankering for those super-thin sandwiches they used to make me. Specially hand-crafted to slide through the crack between the cell-door and thefloor, they featured two micro-slices of white bread and in between, a luscious .02 milimeter slice of tasty Polish bologna straight from the Buffalo, NY ‘Old World Charm’ market. I’ talking  thin: thinner than the thinnest blade on your feeler-gauge. You had to grab ’em fast, otherwise the roaches would get them. But sometimes, if I happened to have a prime number of dead roaches in my phantom ‘army’ (ugh!) I’d let the bugs at least try to steal my food, in order to get to a number I could line up in equal rows. Wait… maybe I misunderstood the question?

What are some things about your city you wish you can change?

A: Oh, the educational system, probably. See, there are way too many kids roaming the streets who can’t manage to ask a simple question grammatically, and their parents (i.e. the Elders of Xanga) are seemingly similarly “challenged“, to the point where I really can’t remember the last time I read a properly-stated Featured Question.
Let me speak subjunctively for a second:
“If I AM a hammer”,
(the simple present tense conditioned by “if”,)  is usually followed by “..then yo mama’s a nail!” Such is rough justice.
Now, alternatively, “If I WAS a hammer last night, please forgive me, baby. I’m suffering enough with this pounding headache!”
But in the case most probably intended by the Question-eer, I would ask (myself) “If I WERE a hammer, like, who would I bop on the head first, him or his Momma?”And so the Question should obviously be phrased : “What are some things about your city you wish you COULD change?”  Saying “I wish I can change..” makes no sense whatsoever, in any situation, no matter how desperate or interesting the times.

Oh yeah, ‘n I’d also change the city’s name and location, and then replace all its people with Koala bears,.. if I am the Mayor… I mean “if I was… no, make that “if I WERE the Mayor.

Speaking subjunctively, of course.

Apocalypse, nu!

Background:
We were promised here in the promised land a ‘Day of Horror’; high winds, torrential rain, indiscriminate evils, etc. So I didn’t venture out onto the highway to scenic Tel Aviv. So far the only hint is a roaring sound overhead of idiot winds on the horizon. A further warning was posted on doorways, announcing a planned; day-long power-outage, as the keystone-age kopfps  from the national electric company apparently planned to replace the scotch-tape on their connections or something. This is to happen  at 8:30 AM exactly. I recall that this is, after all, the Middle East; perhaps a last-minute drunken brawl may disrupt the scheduling, although I am ready for powerlessness, should it occur.


But more importantly, I wanted to talk about the apocalypse.I am lucky to have four words, no less, for the mini-declaration of End-times, in four languages, whose subtle differences reveal their character, or lack of it, to the amateur linguist. I’ll just state them in  bullet form:

Genug‘, in german, is the ‘Urwort’, the sound which fires the most neural connections in my main processor, if I still have one. Let’s use the scene where we are pouring a fifty-pound bag of cat-food into smaller containers as the lab-rat for our categorization here. ‘Genug’ is simply an objective statement that the Tupperware container is nicely full, and we can quit pouring.

Hallas!”, from arabic, comes with its own implied exclammation mark, (as does the hebrew, as you shall see). The translation to english would be “Ok, that’s good enough, nobody’s paying us to cram the very last possible morsel into the container. Finish, and lets get out of here.

“Die, nu!” (‘enough already’) in hebrew implies an ill-tempered criticism of the pourer-guy, as if left alone he’d just keep emptying the bag on the floor. “You never do anything right” is another subtext, of course.Which leaves English. Ah, the nuances available.. “Good, that’s enough” sounds about right, but “perfect!” or “ain’t we smart?” will also more than suffice to spread good cheer.Note: saying something like that in a culture like the one we’ve inherited/constructed here in Israel only invites one’s helper to run away and leave you responsible for the rest of the job)



     Now of course I’m not talking about cat-food here; I refer to the surfeit of clever posts I’ve poured into Xanga for the last almost two years. And the Tupperware might just be full .I will always think of xanga as a bazzar which opened up ‘just down the road’, a place which enthralled me with the hope that I could easily exhibit my arts-and-crafts , receive critiques from passers-by, and maybe even make a metaphorical sale or two. My booth is certainly overflowing, but not even the most optimistic appraisal would rank my experience here as a ‘commercial success. However, meanwhile I’ve discovered the maybe greater joy of walking (running?) through the aisles checking out others’ wares, paying attention , and learning all sorts of hard-to-catalogue facts and rumors. Still, sadness is always there, as friends cease to post, i.e. ‘get dead’, and there is no funeral, no announcement;  they just ‘fade away’, like heroes often do. (And the accountant at the World Bank of References and Puns No-one ever got just called me(!) to ask whether to list all of my neologisms as ‘assets’ or ‘liabilities’ I told him “Gehe vays!” (‘go figure, I have no idea’)

But the meteorological apocalypse seems not to have happened (What’s so logical about meteors?) and so my ”genug/hallas/die,nu/enough, already” exit might as well wait also, I suppose.

Xanga: you hang up your doilies, sell a few for smileys, but you go home with the trunk full of trinkets from other smarties’ booths.

And just in time: …There went the electricity.!

Would I eat meat from cloned animals?

I’m inclined to say yes, as long as the meat is well-cleaned and presented in a comfortable setting. Tip: Ask a sample of your local fauna where they usually dine, and go there, they probably have good taste. “Dolly’s Diner” is a safe bet, if you’re in the Edinburgh area. Just remember, it may be difficult to keep track of your waitress; sometimes a number is stamped on her rump, but don’t count on it. Leave a generous tip if the service was good; clones have a tough life, and depend on our support. ‘Be’te’a’von!’ (“bone appetite!”)

oops, I may have just retard-and-feathered Today’s Featured Question 

cleanest bloke on the block, really

“Wow! Was anyone injured?” The old Solberg XJ-1 model from 2007 poked his head through the open door.
“Yeah..’ the horror’..” I said, in jest.
“..the awful emptiness, devoid of ornament..” XJ continued.
“devoid of what ornament?” I needed clarification.
“Exactly. Orna never meant for you to go like, ‘postal‘ in this new religion, Solberg..”
“Clean-i-ness is next to god-i-ness, XJ,…and do call me ‘Mahatma‘, please.”
I insisted.
“Perfect, now you’re just an empty ‘hat‘  between two moms, and looks like both of ’em must’ve screamed ‘Clean up your room… now!‘”
“I like it.”
I decided to come out of the closet.
“But it’s just so.. so.. ‘minimal’, so bleak” XJ and his adjectives.
“No, it’s Blake, actually, you know, ‘See the world in a grain of sand’?
“Hell, I don’t even see the grain of sand, Solly, what’d you go ‘n do, vacuum?”

“No, I pushed all the stuff together, real tight, the computer junk, the paint cans, angle-irons, worn-out clothes, Polish dictionaries, expired vitamins…. and it imploded, under its own gravity. Stopped short of becoming a neutron star by only a gram or two, plus the Pauli Exclusion principle, thank god.”
“A ‘blake hole’ then. Ha, have you tried escaping?”
XJ at least grasped the physics.
“No, why should I? But you’re free to.” I joked. I knew he was secretly jealous of my accomplishment. Fifteen  trips to the dump, both hands pink and wrinkled by dish-water, conscience tormented by the spectre of a ‘perfectly good 56k modem card’ just tossed uncaringly into a dumpster.
“So… now what’re you gonna do?” XJ asked the forbidden question. I hadn’t wanted to think about that.
“Oh, I guess.. just sit here.. and clap one hand… listen to the echoes off the bare walls.”
“And the other hand?”
XJ laughed at his little insinuation.
“I need it free to hold a beer… or whatever. You know what? It’s just like the little doggie, now that you reminded me.”
“What little doggie?”
I bent down and ran my hand over a section of newly clean and spotless floor, looked up and bragged:
“I licked the floor just ‘because I can’. There’s some contorsions involved, but it was worth it.”maHATma

Currently Reading:
“I, MAHATMA”, autobiography of the inventor of non-violet resistance wire.
and:
“I’M A HAT, MA!” by Olivia Sacks:  a daughter’s revealing and bizarre account of growing up with the famed neurologist and his wife

Tail feathers from the Vienna woods

‘Ve put ze ‘E’ in ‘Ostrich’… Is good?”
I looked at Bruno, closed mein eyes for a second, and then:
“Why, Bruno?! Grund da Welt, what in the world’s that supposed to mean?” We both laughed out loud; me about the bottomless absurdity of of marketing templates (and to soften the blow, I guess) and Bruno.. well I’m speculating that he’d realized that without (my) outside help, he’d be stuck here in the Vienna woods forever. Osterreich Soups gmbH was in trouble, the kind of crisis I’ve become familiar with in my role as a sort of Red Adair, putting out the well-fires in the corporate-image fields.
Bruno von Braun, a colorful figure despite the name, had been ‘drilling’ on two continents for three decades, my research showed,the common theme being his love of “birds with long legs and a healthy appetite” as he called them. He’d been the brains behind Brisbane Birds in Brine, Ltd, a tourist landmark famous for its salt-water ostrich petting zoo, and later the Flame’n’go Char-Broiled Flamingo-Burger take-out joints one still sees in northern Australia.
“Bruno, we put an ‘E’ in a name ’cause it needs it, you know.. it’s subtle.. kinda hard to explain,” I tried hard to explain. “Anyway, we gotta get the ‘OU’ off that soup-can, it’s as simple as that.”
Bruno put his hand on his heart, closed his eyes a second and looked upward, and I found myself searching my data-base for the meaning of this unfamiliar folk tradition.
“Oskar, forgive me.” He said after a pensive pause. I paused a respectful second for whoever, then continued:
“See, it’s taken as a kashrut symbol in the American market. You knew that, right?”
“And what’s not kosher about ‘Osterich’s Oyster-rich Ostrich Stew’?”
Bruno acted suprised. Maybe he thought the boycott was just for spite, you know, ’cause of Waldheim and all that.
“No, oyster’s are traif, too, unless they have cloven hooves and chew their cud.” I explained.
“So we’ll just put a little star there beside it, and a note at the bottom saying it’s not kosher?”
” Duh. No good, Brunie, blind people might still buy it by mistake. And frankly, I think you’d be an ass to risk your ass on an asterisk. A lot riding on this, remember. Say, how about just taking the oysters out?”

“That’d kill the flavor… and half the word-play too”. Aha! So Bruno did know what he was cooking.
“Then we’d have to go with the “Ve put the ‘E’…” Bruno re-suggested. Oy. He’d known all along, the weasel.
“I got it!” I suddenly shouted. “We leave the soup the same, change the name to ‘Osterich Oyster-rich Soup’, and put a big skull-cap-and-crossbones on the label. Have the guy be screaming, like, ‘Gewalt!’. You’ll get plenty of press.”
“Ausgezeichnet! Just as long as they spell my name right.”
Bruno semed to be pleased with the idea, and we shook hands. Another satisfied customer.

Gone or Anti-gone

Greta G’s gone. Well, not ‘gone’, I just don’t know where she is. Hadn’t thought about her for.. oh.. 44 years, ’till yesterday; while checking out a ‘sidewalk CD player’, I hit the open button and out popped Donald Fagen’s Nightfly CD, with the sublime ‘Maxine’ on it. I dare not listen to it for now; all my towels are still wet from mopping the floor after allowing myself to hear the last movement of Tschaikovsky’s 6th last night.
Anyway, Greta ‘jumped gondola’ somwhere in that subterreanean grotto of Proustian things past. But I distinctly remember that contrary to Fred Roger’s famous contention, she was’ fancy’ on both inside and outside. We discovered this fact together, and at most another half hour of mutual self-persuasion would have been required for us to ‘become one’. “Become three” is more realistic: of course she would have become instantly pregnant, my hyperactive homonuclei having a track record at finding their mark, regardless of ovulation cycles.. whatever.
    Greta was a blue-blood; her obstetrician grandfather himself had pulled me feet first out of the last place I remember feeling truly comfortable, maybe that explains why I thought it poetic justice at the time to ask his grand-daughter’s help in returning to Heaven. And with the shadow of the Cuban missle crisis hanging over both of us, well, sometimes Heaven can’t wait.
     But now forty-four years is both a blink of an eye and a mythical period of time, (I’ll have to check how long Homer’s Odesseus spent swimming homeward), and Greta may possibly be, as we speak, knitting me a sweater, which would explain why she don’t answer her perse-phone. Oh, well, life is dramatic enough as it is, and the Chorus are off-stage waiting their next cue, regretably.

Greetings, kid, wherever you are.

Krapp’s Last Tape

First let me answer the featured question, my moral obligation as a free xangan:
Q: What’s the one thing in life you’ll never do?
A: Answer this Question.
Jeez. they make some of these questions so easy… Wonder if anyone else got it right?
Seriously, I’ll be back shortly with food for thought, take-out if anyone’s hungry,