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Triangulation at Its Best…

 

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In an outtake from the recent Salinger biodoc.

******

And, in unrelated news yet to happen, there’s this…

JOB [To Interviewer]: “So, you better talk to Jonathan Potter about this, but it’s a great story. The way he tells it,  or at least how he told it to me, Matthew Lickona was just beginning to get his life back in order, right? He was recently out of debt and was returning from some bigwig marketing meeting at the prosthetics company he was working for. Anyway, he decides he’s going to take a cross country trip by train – not bad, right? See a little bit of America’s ass side, spend some time knocking back a few in the dining car, snooze to the clickity-clackity rhythm of it all… Well, anyway, so he’s sitting there, America’s backyards and back alleys racing past his window in a cartoon blur. Meanwhile, unknown to Matthew, Angelico is seated two seats behind him. And so at some point during the trip, the train is about to take one of these God-sized mountain tunnels – it’s out in the middle of Utah or Colorado or something – and it just so happens that who? Right! Dorian Speed is walking up the aisle to the smoking car – she smoked in those days, Camel filterless if I recall – I remember because she started a three-pack-a-day habit soon after the giraffonet replaced the internet and she was having such a hard time transitioning – at any rate, Angelico thrusts his foot into the aisle because he’s got this cramp in his calf, see? He just made this big sell to Icon Productions for his client – but wait, I’m getting ahead of myself – anyway, so he puts his leg out like he’s going to kick a door in and Dorian, tripping on his leg, stumbles forward – but just then Jonathan Webb is walking down the aisle in the other direction, having just finished in the smoking car a Romeo y Julieta – a Churchill I think it was – you know, he could afford them in those days, what with the movie deals he was getting for the Death Fables and all – and he lunges to catch Dorian, but she meanwhile is putting her hand out to save herself from falling flat on her face, and in the process grabs Brian Jobe, who is also on the train – a seat behind and diagonal from Matthew – unbelievable, right? I thought so too! – so she grabs Brian Jobe by his black mock turtleneck – this was during his black period, the whole Propertius affair was still a fresh wound at that point – and she yanks him into the aisle as she’s falling and Webb accidentally grabs for the emergency brake – except, you know, it wasn’t accidental? Because just then Webb sees Matthew at the same time that Matthew spots Webb. Their eyes lock and for one furious moment – well, think crossing streams and Ghostbusters and marshmallow bits everywhere! Well, at the very least, fireworks, hello! So Matthew stands up and is about to punch Webb in his gob – because, you know, poor Matthew is still sore about Webb’s refusal to testify in the Gibson suit – but then Angelico, still rubbing his calf, sees Matthew and unaware of Matthew’s ire tries to get his attention by throwing a copy of Groundwork at him – which someone told me he’d found in the WalMart remainder pile – that’s where I find them, anyway – but anyway, the story – so instead, right? Angelico hits Webb with the book – his own client and he hits him with the book -and right between the eyes – and so, well, anyway, everything sort of went black for a moment as the train passes into the tunnel and…. well, look, I don’t know. This is just what I heard. The only one who was there was Potter. Ask him. He knows the whole story.”

The English Major Rambles

Oh, the rapturous higher plane of existence on which the ideal English major…what’s the word, something something, oh, let me just find a reality show to watch because I’m just a grubby economics major, rolling around on my piles of money:

Real reading is reincarnation. There is no other way to put it. It is being born again into a higher form of consciousness than we ourselves possess. When we walk the streets of Manhattan with Walt Whitman or contemplate our hopes for eternity with Emily Dickinson, we are reborn into more ample and generous minds. “Life piled on life / Were all too little,” says Tennyson’s “Ulysses,” and he is right. Given the ragged magnificence of the world, who would wish to live only once? The English major lives many times through the astounding transportive magic of words and the welcoming power of his receptive imagination. The economics major? In all probability he lives but once. If the English major has enough energy and openness of heart, he lives not once but hundreds of times. Not all books are worth being reincarnated into, to be sure—but those that are win Keats’s sweet phrase: “a joy forever.”

I’m guilty of saying I loved economics because it meant using math to explain people, but that was hyperbole. We get to use that, don’t we? The great unwashed?

I hereby summon one Bernardo Aparicio to rebut the claim above, that of one Mark Edmunson. And I don’t wanna hear no sass from any of you TAC types, you with your humanities degrees, and your writing implements, and your Kindles-used-for-books-not-sudoku-or-smut.

Hat tip to Cedar’s Digest, who asks Why Is the “Ideal English Major” uncurious and anti-intellectual?

If we are in the business of sharing the wonder of knowledge, then we need to drop the vague mysticism of “there are readers and there are readers.” Take a small drop of that celebrated imagination supposedly thought to dwell deep in the heart of every English major, and think about why economists might think their field is important.  Economics majors do not “live in facts and graphs and diagrams” any more than an English major lives in the alphabet. Economics is the study of human decisions. Someone who studies health economics or the effects of poverty or labor markets doesn’t do it because they enjoy the pretty colors that excel offers. They like finding patterns in human behavior. Sometimes they apply that knowledge so that more English majors can eat.  They are not doing this because they are soulless automatons.

Dorian is coming….

dorian_jul24
She’s coming fast and hard with vengeful spite:
You’d better ready yourself now
As she prepares to sweep
The beaches bare,
Her eye
Will spy
Most anywhere
The rapey, killy creep
Who dares to scare her brood – and blow,
This mother will, with ever-loving might!

Hate the Playa

Via Deadspin, a 2007 contract specifies the terms of J.J. Redick’s Ex-Girlfriend’s agreement to get an abortion.

REDICK has agreed that once LOPEZ has terminated said pregnancy and has provided medical proof of said termination satisfactory to REDDICK, including, but not limited to, direct access to LOPEZ’s medical files and records of the clinic, practice or hospital conducting the termination procedure and has submitted to a post-pregnancy examination by a doctor of REDICK’s choice to confirm both the prior pregnancy and its termination, REDICK and LOPEZ shall attempt to establish and maintain a social and/or dating relationshiip between themselves for a period of one year from the date of this Agreement (herinafter the “Relationship”).

Here we see an appropriate use of scare quotes, re: “Relationship.”

It Was a Good Party

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This is actually from Easter but I just stepped in cat barf while trying to apprehend a four-year-old bedtime parole violator and I wanted to remember the good times I once had.

Georgia Mojito, is what this may be called:

  • Some lime juice
  • Some mint-infused simple syrup (I’ll bring you some if you come to New Orleans)
  • Some gin, and then maybe some more because who’s counting?
  • Lots of ice

Combine those things in a cocktail shaker and shake. Strain, and pour over some fresh ice and club soda.

Watson Has No Sense of Humor

Teaching IBM’s Watson the meaning of ‘OMG’

The scientific test to gauge if a computer can “think” is surprisingly simple: Can it engage in small talk? The so-called Turing test says a computer capable of carrying on a natural conversation without giving itself away can be considered intelligent. So far, no machine has made the cut.

Eric Brown, a research scientist with IBM (IBM), is charged with changing that. The 45-year-old is the brains behindWatson, the supercomputer that pummeled human opponents on Jeopardy! in 2011. The biggest difficulty for Brown, as tutor to a machine, hasn’t been making Watson know more but making it understand subtlety, especially slang.

It seems like an even better version of the Turing Test would be based on whether the computer could make the humans LOL. I did a bit of light Googling to see if there had been a test conducted along those lines and found this article from 2008, in which one computer told the following joke:

Roberts said Elbot worked by catching some of the judges off-guard with provocative answers or impishly hinting that it was, in fact, a machine.

“Hi. How’s it going?” one judge began.

“I feel terrible today,” Elbot replied. “This morning I made a mistake and poured milk over my breakfast instead of oil, and it rusted before I could eat it.”

Roberts also said Elbot tried to dominate the conversation to keep it from wandering into areas it was not properly programmed to handle.

Sounds to me like Elbot has better social skills than I do. (zing!)

Then I hopped over to Cleverbot to see if it could recognize random allusions to high-minded fare, and incorporate them into jokey banter. Transcript:

User: Schenectady. (I always like to lead with a word that is inherently funny.)

Cleverbot: Ist das dein name? (Is Cleverbot being snarky or does it think I’m speaking German?)

User: Yes.

Cleverbot: Hi, Kara. Then you must me a girl. Nice to meet you. I’m a girl too.

User: What? That makes no sense.

Cleverbot: But we’re married. (Admittedly, this is not a terrible response to the comment ‘That makes no sense.’ Also: is Cleverbot making a reference to current events?)

Then I tried again.

Cleverbot: Who is going to speak first?

User: I speak for the trees.

Cleverbot: Yes but out of context. (Good comeback, Cleverbot!)

User: Have you not read the Lorax?

Cleverbot: No.

User: Then you wouldn’t recognize my allusion, which is too bad. I hope this makes for a good blog post. We need more traffic. Then again, there’s always money in the banana stand. (The ultimate test: has Cleverbot memorized transcripts from Arrested Development?)

Cleverbot: That would be you.

User: BURN! Well played, Cleverbot.

Cleverbot: Too true, too true.

And Now for Something Completely Pointless

Listening to Pandora on a rainy afternoon and I noticed this description of Van Morrison:

Equal parts blue-eyed soul shouter and wild-eyed poet-sorcerer

I am an unapologetic fan of blue-eyed soul and all-other-eye-colors-soul, but what I really want is for this description to be applied to me someday. Maybe in a eulogy or an awards show tribute? Bookmark this, is what I’m saying.

So, the rules of the ice-breaker are as follows: look up your favorite artist and post a one-sentence description of said person. Explain whether this could theoretically be applied to you. Only one person gets to pick Bob Dylan.

Oh, or maybe we could guess? Like, guess who you picked?

This is probably why I don’t get invited to many parties…

Kentucky for Kentucky

I dunno, I just thought this was cool.

Our mission is to engage and inform the world by promoting Kentucky people, places, and products. And to Kick Ass for the Commonwealth!

Kentuckians have been influencing and creating American and world culture for a long time. We were the first to sing Happy Birthday, fry chicken, and slap high-fives. We invented bourbon, bluegrass music, and the mother-freaking Kentucky Derby. We made cool cooler by birthing Clooney, Depp, and Hunter S. Thompson. We pushed the What-Are-Ladies-For-And-Good-At envelope with Loretta Lynn, all the Judds, and Diane Sawyer. We redefined sport with Ali, Sea Biscuit, and Rondo. We invented the gas mask, people.

We are the real deal. We are Kentucky.

Not a big fan of assorted Judds, but otherwise – Kentucky for Kentucky.

Additional Supplementation

Supplement Situation
The situation seems to be looking up for the holidays.

What Came in the Mail

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Of course, I’ll be reading it on the Kindle, though.

For the Discerning Gentleman Reader

SPOTTED: Korrektiv Press titles in exclusive holiday gift guide for men.

Also: the aforementioned horseys.

The Supplement Situation

Where do we stand on this?

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In the Future, Everyone Will Be Non-Phony for 15 Minutes

The problem is that Catcher in the Rye is no longer a book for cool high school students.Catcher in the Rye is a book for cool high school teachers. Holden’s painful, alienating realization—that in life, phonies abound and beauty is a fragile, horrible thing we will forever chase and lose—is a fundamental teenage anguish. Adults who remember this feeling share the book to say: I understand that this world hurts. Here is someone else who understands. Assigning Catcher in the Rye has long been an acknowledgement that the moody sensitivity of teenagers is actually— despite its insufferability to older people—the correct reaction to the world.

Read more at Schools Should Replace Catcher in the Rye

Falstaffian Hauteur in the Warm, Heavy Air

Liebling had a Falstaffian presence, was fat and jowly, brilliant and egoistic. He wanted in this context to be seen as a crusader for justice. Knopf, he told the audience at Columbia, had failed in its promotion of The Moviegoer. Without A.J. Liebling, one was left to presume, a masterpiece may have been forever lost to posterity. But there was more to the story: A decade before, Knopf had published Liebling’s book Chicago: The Second City, and Liebling had never forgiven Knopf for not pushing the book vigorously enough. Now, given the opportunity to embarrass his old publisher for failing to champion Percy’s text, he did not hesitate to put the boot in.

and

Herbert Gold, a novelist who was also a member of the fiction jury that year, confirms Stafford’s description. Talese’s report, he says, “is complete bullshit. The fact was I loved The Moviegoer. I went to New York with that book under my arm hoping to convince the other two judges. But I can’t claim credit because Jean also loved the book.” The third judge, Lewis Gannett, a columnist for the New York Herald Tribune, was reportedly happy to comply. In fact, according to Gold, Gannett was not on intimate terms with the books on the short list. “My wife liked that one” was about all he could muster in response to some, and The Moviegoer won unanimously on the first ballot.

But Talese’s story was the version on record, and it was cited for years after. Stafford had to answer to the controversy until her death in 1979, and to this day Talese stands by his report. “If I wrote it,” he told me last month, “then it’s true. I am not a fiction writer like Walker Percy.”

Read more about Percy’s aplomb, etc. at Slate

Dispatch from Paris Bureau

Have done some nosing around and happened upon this:

This morning over breakfast S. asked me why I looked so glum.

“Because,” I said, “everything that exists is born for no reason, carries on living through weakness, and dies by accident.”

“Jesus,” S. said. “Aren’t you ever off the clock?”

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/shouts/2012/10/le-blog-de-jean-paul-sartre.html#ixzz29mrxS9iA

 

A Successful Repetition

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The Electric Ego or, Penelope on Facebook

For S.E.P. and ἡ θυγάτηρ

The knit that stitches life is death’s
Iconic myth of passing time –
The knelling chime, the easing breaths….

But God bequeaths a weft to rhyme
Each woof his loom can measure out.
Excising doubt, He takes the same

From holy dream to indicate
Each tittled jot. Anonymous
In ignorance, though, men would quote

A public vote for muted loss:
When others miss the moment blessed,
The self, indexed, cannot confess

Its ends are loose – and so, perplexed
And piqued, it plucks a threadbare text.

Call for Tercets

The topic: “I took my birthday off my Facebook profile so today I realize nobody actually knows about my birthday, or cares, but I also never bother to tell anyone else Happy Birthday on Facebook, so I am at the heart of the problem from which I look away the other 364 days of the year.”