Coming up soon is a friend’s second annual made-up superheroes pub crawl.  I’m not sure what I’m going to be yet, so naturally I couldn’t stop thinking up ideas as I was trying to fall asleep last night.  Here are a few of the ones I’m sure I’m not going to use:

Rainbow Bite – Vampiric version of the traditional RB

Rainbow Fright – Very Halloweenish RB version, with open wounds, blood, torn clothing, etc.  Possibly a zombie.

Rainbow Might/Fight – the muscle-bound male version of RB

The Lone Maimer (Heigh Ho, Silver Epee) – Definitely a villan.  A villan with a sword.

The Lone Flamer – Either with the power of fire or the power of gay.  Or both.

The Lone Gamer – Something to do with cards or gambling – it’s a little fuzzy in my head

Why I should be in a comic strip.

There are times when life (my life, in particular) really is stranger than fiction.  Tonight was one of those times.

Stacey:  I wish I had a magic jelly bean that would take me anywhere I wanted to go.

Nick:  Wouldn’t you want more than one?  I mean, after you ate the first one, you wouldn’t be able to go anyplace anymore.

Stacey:  Why would I eat a magic bean?  That would just waste it.

Nick:  Oh wait, you mean you don’t activate them by eating?  Oh NO!  Where’s my stomach gone…[internal hemorrhaging].

Cool, unless you’re British. And then maybe warm.

I have not been blogging actively for some time due to strenuous work on my novel.  And I do mean strenuous.  It’s takeing all of the brain power I possess.  But hopefully that will leave me with a worthy book and you something to spend your hard-earned cash on.

In the meantime, you should spend your time checking out this website and your dollars checking out one of the festivals it lists.  Basically it’s a compendium of beer festivals.  And when I say compendium, I mean multiple countries.  You get not one, not two, but THREE country’s listings (GB, Canadia, and the US) for the price of free.  And nothing’s better than free.

Anybody need a ferry?

Since the advent of eBay, there have been a number of news items about the wacky and ridiculous ‘goods’ being sold there.  There was the selling of a person’s soul.  There was that whole paper clip barter system up to a new house or car or whatever extravaganza that happened.  Now, there’s a New York ferry company on the move with one of their boats.

The whole thing is basically a sign of the times.  A ferry was purchased as-is from a Martha’s Vineyard ferry company, with the thought that it could be scrapped if repairs cost too much.  Of course, now that the economy has its guts in a roil, the actual scrap metal just isn’t worth that much.  So the ‘solution’ is evidently to sell the huge hulk on eBay – the minimum bid was $10, but personally you couldn’t make me take the thing.  The point is, of course, value.  how do we judge the worth of goods and services?  Is there a scale, or should we compare items to each other?  With this ‘downturn’, do we go back to the barter system and pray? Because if so, I vote that two cookies equals a ham sandwich.

More and less.

I bring to your attention, once again, the Transition, as currently featured in the Oven Glove news.  While I have my doubts as to just how roadworthy this plane would be in ‘bad weather’, particularly in icy or stormy conditions, it’s still awesome.

Also awesome is an article that recently came to my attention about the Pirahã.  Of course you say it like pee-da-HAN, but who really looks at the letters in a word, anyway?  Certainly not THESE Amazonians.  Considering that they don’t have letters.  Or art.  Or MATH (that one’s for you, Alex).  From my brief days of teaching language, I know how important it is to be able to work from shared concepts – concrete nouns, pantomimed action verbs, visible adjectives.  But what if these concepts are not shared, or cannot be communicated?  What then?  What happens when  a culture with words for ‘one’, ‘two’, and ‘many’ cannot conceive of or count to three, even in a language different from the native one? How do you communicate?

There is some debate as to whether the term for our number one is really a number at all – it could simply mean ‘a small amount’ or ‘few’, as opposed to the words for ‘some’ (two) or ‘many’.  The only thing that is real is the concrete, the immediate, the observable.  There is no recursion in sentences, no abstraction in terms, no hypothesizing or future planning.  What decoration or art there might be is solely for immediate purposes – the model of a plane just seen carelessly tossed away once the actual plane has left, or some other instant expression of an event or action.  Nothing is meant to last.  What is emotion, in this context?  Is it too abstract, or something transitory that is very real in the moment?  In a language where stress and tone matters more than syllable, vowel, or consonant, where singing possibly says more than saying, what does music mean?

Finally, in this article on linguistics and other wonders of the world, I was laughing at a Boston reference – Noam Chomsky as interviewed by Spare Change news.  Next time you see one of those guys asking for a dollar, just think about it.  You never know what gems might be on the inside.

Watch "Harold and Maude" next time you're home sick. or any other time you're home…

It's perfect for the sickies – you'll laugh, you'll hack, you'll cry. Plus the music is fun. Plus who doesn't like Bud Cort?

The Best of

There have been a number of awesome occurrences in my recent life.  I’ve wanted to spread the word about it.  Today I’ve chosen to do so through a ‘best-of’ list.  I’m not sure what these things are the best of.  I thought about doing a best of 2009, but the year has barely started, so that’s hardly fair to wonderful things I have yet to discover in the coming months.  Then I thought possibly a best of February would be in order, but I think the commercial technically came out prior to this month.  So we’ll just call them the best, and the world will have to deal with it.

#3 The best of edible people.

Soylent Green it is not, but still almost disgustingly delicious, no?  Anyone who can get away with breaking their nose off, dumping the crumblings into some poor girl’s ice cream, and having them actually eat it afterwards is my kind of man.

#2 The best of local Chinese food (a.k.a., I love Wangs).


You’d think a thriving and intercultural city like Boston (which has its own Chinatown district) would have authentic Chinese food.  And by authentic, I mean non-sweet, non-Cantonese, non-Peking Duck food.  When I first moved here, I tried and tried to find something that would sate my craving for slightly spicy food.  Alas, everything tasted faintly of teriyaki.

I did not have high hopes for the place just a block down the street from my new apartment, which was supposed to have awesome dumplings.  Dumplings are typically a northern food, and though delicious, are not in the same category as a good, hot eggplant with meat.  Still, I went.  The black vinegar on the table was a sure sign that here, at last, was a true dumpling space.  I looked over the specials, hoping against hope.  And there it was, my beloved “fish-tasting meat”, the special shredded pork with Yu Shang sauce.  Could it really be true?  Would these dumpling masters know how to truly cook my favorite dish?  I requested it nice and hot.  When I heard the boss man reading out my order in Mandarin, I knew I was home free.  I can honestly say there’s at least one place in the Boston area that will put on enough peppers to make your tummy rumble.  Yum.

#1 Bamboo.  On the feets.

For a recent birthday/dancing event, I purchased knee-high socks to wear with my long, brown boots and prepared to expose my legs (Gasp).  I even, for said event, bought a short dress (DOUBLE GASP).  Since I knew I was going to be cold, I got the warmest, most comfortable socks I could find at Macy’s, which were the Charter Club brown knee high socks made completely out of bamboo.  Warm, soft, and durable only as a weed can be, these things were like wearing clouds on my feet.  I slipped into them, and just said ‘ahhh’.  Even after a full night of dancing, I felt great.  I need about 6 more pairs.

Who studies the studiers?

I am interested in the increase and growth of knowledge.  The more bizarre facts of life, the odd little quirks of behavior and situation, fascinate me.  Finding out the root meaning of a word like awful or rediscovering that Rainbow Brite had an enemy named Murky AND one named Lurky are true joys for my oddly-cornered mind.  Mindless details about dinoflagellates interest me simply for sheer randomness.

And then of course, there’s the extrapolation.  How does language and TV culture and science form a social trend, a cultural belief, or a political understanding?  How do we think about what we do?  How do we understand who and why we are?  How do the big questions get answered through the tiny little details?

Stefan Helmriech is finding out.  His current area of study – microbial oceanographers, formerly known as marine microbiologists – is targeted towards understanding the people who do the science, why they do it, and how they see their role in the wider world.  I’ll leave you with the last excerpts from MIT’s article:

‘Helmreich says. “The question I wanted to answer was this: How is it that people working in the field of microbial ocean biology come to see their work as meaningful both to them and to the rest of us?”

He learned, for example, that Chisholm saw ocean phytoplankton as a kind of forest that could, in time-lapse photography, be seen to breathe. “I believe the earth is a living entity,” she told him. He saw DeLong as claiming that, “the entwined orders of nature and society cannot exist without microbes” and that “microbes are mostly allies to be understood rather than enemies to be defeated.”

DeLong said his post-doc students, whom Helmreich pressed to explain their work, benefited by being questioned about their underlying beliefs about science. “Sometimes we’re so swept up in the details, that we don’t see the forest for the trees,” DeLong says. “Often times we take a lot for granted. We consider many points of view and facts as being given, but they aren’t — they’re built on presumptions.”

Science, Helmreich concludes, cannot be divorced from culture. Medieval Christians saw the ocean as frightening chaos; 19th Century Romantics saw it as a symbol of the sublime, both beautiful and terrifying. In the 20th Century, filmmakers like Jacques-Yves Cousteau made the underwater world seem downright friendly. Today, we speak of saving the ocean from overfishing, pollution, and global warming. And, he says, we do not know whether the future sea will be friend or foe; much depends on what we humans do.’

Titanoboa Cerrejonensis: 2,500-Pound Snake Could Eat A Cow

A whole truckle of Wensleydale

I love cheese.   I love it so much that to this day, I can overeat enough of it to make me almost sick.  I love it so much that I kept a stock of the locally produced compressed milk pellets on hand to sate my cravings, even though they barely tasted cheesy.  Even cheese food is a wonderfully delicious product to my taste buds.

As a cheese lover, I’m always ready to try new shapes and flavors.  Most recently this took the form of a something-or-other round with cranberries in it.  What could be more delicious than cheese?  Cheese with fruit, of course!  Yum.  After sharing more than half a round with Corina, I was able to convince myself to stop consuming, but it was difficult.  It was, after all, a sweet, crumbly cheese – what could be better for dessert, for a perfect cap to any meal?  And after the cap, how about a recap?  I still get shivers just thinking about it.

If there’s one thing both thinking and deliciousness lead to, it’s research.  So, after a cursory interweb browse, I feel pretty confident that the cheese we consumed so rambunctiously was a Wensleydale.  Wensleydale comes from Yorkshire, specifically the town of Hawes.  I feel like I should now be talking with a Secret Garden accent. It has a supple, crumbly, moist texture (check) and a flavor that suggests wild honey (double check) balanced with a fresh acidity (quoi?).  What is ‘fresh acidity’, anyway?  And how does it relate to this totally delicious, totally sweet cheese?  Those cheese tasters and their weird ideas of flavor.  it’s almost as bad as wine connoisseurs.

The cheese comes in a range of sizes, the smallest of which is a a wax-covered round called a ‘truckle’, which evidently comes from the phrase ‘truck a wheel’ and can refer to the pulleys in a block or the wheels of a truckle or trundle bed, or any small wheels or casters.  The word ‘truckle’ can also mean ‘to submit’.  Ah, my little obsequious cheese!  Finally, this cheese is ‘suited to combination with sweeter produce’, commonly cranberries.  In England, they also eat it typically with fruitcake or Christmas Cake, which I can barely think about.  Those crazy little islanders…

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