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may 30, 2003

Things To Do Today

1. Ride through the city streets and through the Arch of Now in a mahogany gondolier balanced atop an elephant clad in silver armor wearing nothing but an ostrich feather headress and carrying the sword of decisiveness.

2. Sit upon the azure silken cushions of comfort and be wafted along by gentle breezes and fragrant zephyrs towards the close of day.

3. Slay the Nagging Beast and prepare the eighteen-course wine-infused Feast of Jesuphat in honor of putting things off until tomorrow.
stephenb 13:36 - [Link] - Comments ()
may 29, 2003

I strolled besides the Charles River beneath a canopy of trees. It poured with rain and I could claim the path for myself. The choppy current licked at grassy, stone-strewn banks with its many watery tongues. I ambled over a humpty-backed ironwork footbridge and past decorative, ornamental masonry, once part of some Grand Design for Edwardian promenading with colorful parasols and swagger sticks.
Unfortunately, such is the neglect of this area that I could have been walking through the ruins of an ancient civilization. And in a sense I am, for very little civilization is left today. There is more flotsam than fish in the river now, and more garbage than grass on the esplanade. Drug addicts form their degenerative parliaments under the bridges. Speeding rollerbladers and racing cyclists rush and weave around flinching pensioners. The echoing crash and clatter of skateboards obliterates the singing birds. Graffiti defaces everything.
Here are the specters of solemn nineteenth century marine engineers and their pocket watch chains. The hunched apparitions of bearded grimy laborers with clay pipes and battered stovepipe hats sinking everlasting foundations into the riverbed. And they are very unhappy.

stephenb 10:35 - [Link] - Comments ()
may 28, 2003
Old World Charm

My grandfather - an amateur keeper of pheasants - always kept a wooden barrel of rainwater at the bottom of his garden. I have no idea why he preserved such an apparently useless object. Perhaps some vague, distant folk memory cobwebbed in the back of his mind suggested that he should. The water itself always seemed a fathomless, inky black to me. Even the sky could find no reflection in it and Autumnal breezes failed to ruffle the surface. And so the barrel of rainwater remained a placid lake with oaken banks replenished by fresh storms and showers only. An arena for brittle leaves to enact their last rites on frosty mornings before sinking into impenetrable depths as the light faded. Even the pheasants were afraid of it.
The garden was encased by high walls of thick, russet colored stone draped with moss and ivy as all such gardens are. Punctuating the East wall, a heavy, iron-studded timber door led to an acorn littered country lane winding through patchwork fields and the copse beyond. Each corner of the garden seemed to exist in a separate season. Summer surrounded the door. Autumn clung to the rainwater barrel. Spring swept through the pheasant run. Winter froze the greenhouse and the potting shed. I can remember trying to push the heavy door open one day, but the little boy I recall is so far removed from me, almost a figure from another Age entirely.

stephenb 13:02 - [Link] - Comments ()
Some Interesting Facts About Me To Be Going On With

1. I was born in the shadow of an active volcano.
2. A local witchdoctor blessed my crib - my father paid him the equivalent of about $3.00 to do so.
3. My mother found a scorpion in my nursery shortly afterwards.
4. It has all been rather an anticlimax since then.
stephenb 12:07 - [Link] - Comments ()
may 27, 2003
pastoral theme

Ah, the simple, humble Cornflake! Brother to the robust Shredded Wheat. Cousin to the splendid Coco Puff. Golden harvest of the sun-kissed fields where the happy Farmer ploughs accompanied by his trusty Ox. The shepherd plays a merry tune upon his sparkling tin whistle. A busty Milkmaid dances amid the long, green pasture. Her heaving bosom charms even the gently swaying barley. And the Evil Squire - that's me - pounces as the day draws towards his burnt orange and magenta conclusion.
stephenb 15:27 - [Link] - Comments ()
Over Dramatic

I have spent the preceding three days propped up at the cat flap of Death's door with a rather bad cold. I lay there on the Couch of Mortality as the legions of the dead trudged by on their final journey: destination nowhere; the Netherworld welcomes the vanquished of the Earth; Terminus Grave; the end of the line.
From time to time I wearily blew my nose with my last hankerchief, imagining what I would have engraved on my tombstone as the vast army of departed souls stepped over me and drifted through Death's door, away from the light, to the other side of ultimate darkness.
And then the Reaper himself appeared before me, shook his scythe in my direction, and proclaimed, "You are not ready. Just take an aspirin for heaven's sake. Stop feeling sorry for yourself."
And then I got better.
Actually, I got hold of a copy of the early 60's epic Cleopatra last night. Four hours long, cut down from six. An evening in with Liz and Dick and Rex too. I'm a big fan of Rex Harrison. Even playing Caesar you can tell he is a light comedian of genius.
Despite spending so much money on the film, the interior sets - especially those in Egypt - reminded me of the Palm Court in London's Ritz Hotel. The exteriors, however, are quite breathtaking.
Unfortunately Liz gets dwarved by them. I suppose this is because she is not a particularly great actress - but then I suppose it is also an impossible role to play. But Claudet Colbert did alright in the black and white version.
stephenb 08:40 - [Link] - Comments ()
may 23, 2003
Yes darling, but is it Art?

Walking around an "art" gallery last night, I came across a framed picture of the crucified Christ straddled by a naked woman. An extremely banal, childish image. Utterly artless. It was supposed to be "transgressive" - or funny, even? Actually - if you think about it - it is an image of male rape: Jesus nailed to a cross and sexually molested by a lady of zero virtue.
Very rood, as it were.
Jesus is such an easy target. Only moral cowards and idiots without ideas attack Jesus: nobody complains anymore - I think people have become sick and tired of being offended. Or they are afraid to complain for fear of being branded a "right-wing bigot" or something similar.
Take the moron who created the infamous Piss Christ so-called sculpture or installation or whatever it was.
Smugly he drops an image of Jesus into a vat of urine and then stands back to take the applause. Genius!
Would he have the courage to make a Piss Bhudda or a Piss Mohammed?
I doubt it. That would not be "multiculturally correct" - we don't want to offend the ethnic minorities, do we. That would not be cool.
But it's perfectly okay to make little old Christian ladies upset - nobody cares about that. Asshole.
And so we have the Light Of The World submerged in waste products.

stephenb 09:18 - [Link] - Comments ()
may 22, 2003
I would have made an excellent Roman Emperor because I look good in laurel leaf crowns. The first thing I would do as Emperor would be to have my image sculpted in marble, and make sure my face was on all the coins. Then I would build a big wall to keep the hooligans out. The next step would be choosing my concubine and employing someone to make sure all the seeds had been removed from my grapes. Of course, I would have to have several concubines because one by one they would eventually get tired after holding the grapes over my mouth for hours on end.
Things I would not do as Roman Emperor:
1. Go outside in March.
2. Trust the Senate.
3. Return Cleopatra's phone calls
4. Return Hannibal's phone calls.
5. Invade Gaul.
6. Purchase a fiddle.
7. Wear sandals.
8. Wear a toga.
9. Miss the local Gladiatorial Combat show.

stephenb 13:26 - [Link] - Comments ()
Ava Gardner's Screen Test - 16mm. b/w

There is a clap slate with Ava's name written in chalk. She is only seventeen and wearing a floral pattern dress. She walks across the set in wide shot - painted backdrop with summer home props - and arranges flowers in a vase. Splice and there is a medium shot of her looking into camera. Splice and a close-up of her face.
The film is silent. Apparently Ava had such a distinct "poor" Southern accent that nobody could understand a word she said. However, Louis B. Mayer is reported to have said, "She can't talk; she's perfect!"
The film lasted about eighteen seconds, but these are eighteen seconds that persuaded LBM to create a legend; the woman who made Frank Sinatra cry.
stephenb 12:08 - [Link] - Comments ()
It is a sun-kissed halcyon morning when you awake from pleasant, untroubled slumbers to realize your days work consists entirely of watching and re-watching Ava Gardner's first Hollywood screen test.
Such is my day on Thursday, May 22nd 2003.
God is indeed in His heaven, and all is demonstrably right with the world.

stephenb 09:58 - [Link] - Comments ()
may 21, 2003
How enjoyable it can be at times, walking along the streets on a May morning, encountering that vast, shabby tapestry, the great variety of human oddness. You are reminded that it was of mornings such as these that Stravinsky wrote The Rite Of Spring
Other mornings I simply consider becoming a recluse.
stephenb 08:44 - [Link] - Comments ()
may 20, 2003
St. Gingivitus Dance

The Halitosian concept of Dental poetics - with reference to Dante and the Tooth Fairy - remains both Molarized and Fangesque - especially where meaning is Plaqued and Flossiomatic: a Fretwork paradigm that is implicit - even Gummed - within the so-called Spitosphere. Obviously a "brush regularly sans whitening" metaphor for our time.
Compare: "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth," and it's colloquial equivalent, "Bite Me."
The subtext here, of course, is "Filling" - Gold? Perhaps.

stephenb 13:44 - [Link] - Comments ()
The Art World
Last night, I took several postcards of J. M. Whistler's society portrait paintings, and inserted them at random into my copy of Proust's In Search of Lost Time - they served pretty well as illustrations to the text. Of course, this is rather a philistine thing to do, but I enjoyed it.
Nobody ever moves in Edward Hopper's paintings. They either sit and contemplate the deepening shadows, or hesitate on the threshold, afraid of the silent street. Sometimes the people disappear altogether, and those are my favorite of Hopper pictures. But what book could I paste them into?
Anthony Powell's Afternoon Men might fit the bill - if we can transplant the characters from late 1920's London and coastal England to Hopper's New York City and beaches of Cape Cod - which I think we can without too much fuss.

stephenb 10:37 - [Link] - Comments ()
You will notice that my new brain has arrived - it took me several days to unwrap - why do they make the package so hard to open?
On the steps outside my house, the Federal Express delivery man said: "This is bloody heavy. What have you got in here? The kitchen sink?"
I told him, "No. It is my new brain and it comes with many optional extras - such as remote control, power steering, sun roof, and a fancy leather carrying case, and the communications module has a thousand ring tones and call waiting. That is why it weighs so much"
"Are batteries included?" he asked.
So I slammed the door in his face.
stephenb 09:36 - [Link] - Comments ()
may 19, 2003
Do Not Feed The Animals
It seems as though it is going to be an over-excited kangaroo with St Vitus Dance who gets hit in the face by a boomerang kind of week for me. I hate these kind of weeks, and there are always one or two every year - you know the ones I mean - these mad elephant with a club foot stampeding up the wrong way in the fast lane of the world's busiest highway kind of weeks - very similar to the enraged wasp who stings himself while taking part in a bee lookalike competition kind of weeks - or as some people refer to them, the Swiss Family Robinson all wearing Last of Mohican wigs while trying to build a hut on Robinson Crusoe's island with nothing but the clippings of Bernice's bobbed hair kind of weeks.
There are a few people who are kind enough to have links to this nonsense on their own weblogs. Sometimes people click on these links and are transported here - what the Hell must they think?
One moment they are reading something highly interesting and thought provoking, and hope to find something similar and equally interesting at The Stephenhead. Wrong!
stephenb 18:11 - [Link] - Comments ()

I visited the Goddess exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art while I was in New York. An exhibition of sleeveless gowns for an armless Venus. It detailed how modern day dress design takes it's inspiration from Classical form - just like everything else does. Haute Couture - or whatever you call it - isn't really my thing. But I have to say I was impressed by the wares (wears) on display. There was one particular gown, designed by Christian Lacroix, that was especially breathtaking. It literally could have been made from butterfly wings. I only know of Christian Lacroix as a stock joke figure mentioned in Absolutely Fabulous. But I have to say this gown of his was something else: Monsieur Lacroix, I take my ostrich feather plumed hat off to you.
Speaking of fashion -
Walk into the Prada store in New York and you may think you have entered an indoor skateboarding rink, for such is the way much of the floor space has been designed. Mannequins pose in rows wearing underpants with thousand dollar price-tags like figures from Matthew Barney's Cremaster Cycle. The shop assistants might be secret service agents keeping an eye on a Presidential shopping spree. Very nice. Very unaffordable.
Outside the streets are lined with trestle-table vendors selling Prada knock-offs - little black handbags with the Prada logo stitched on - and people scoop them up by the dozen. Odd, because these bags do not resemble anything for sale inside the actual Prada store, so who would think they are real? But people still buy them. It seems the Prada knock-off has become it's own style, a fashion statement of it's very own.
One other thing - excellent hazelnut mouse I ate at a place called Indochine, the actual dinner wan't bad either.

stephenb 11:07 - [Link] - Comments ()
may 15, 2003
This Is More Than You Need To Know

There is an old saying: "It may be February, but it is always August under your armpits." How very true that is.
Obviously it is May at the moment, but there is damp, cool breeze blowing outside, and yet you could film Bridge Over The River Kwai under my arms right now - and be criticized for overdoing the tropical atmosphere.
Personally, I spend a small fortune each year on deoderant and anti-perspirant. Somewhere in the region of $700 per annum, since I have it specially imported from Finland. It's called Ald Spaace Klossik Rall Ann Fer Minn, and it comes in a red container with a picture of a Finnish Whaling ship on it, one of the ald ones with sails.
Apparently, in bygone days, Ald Spaace Fer Minn was made out of whale blubber and came in scrimshaw jars. You would have to scoop the blubber out with your hands, rub it under your arm pits,
and then let it dry for six weeks. Men would often sever their own fingers just trying to get the jar open. Blood would then spurt all over the side of the jar, staining the scrimshaw - and that is why Ald Spaace Klossik now comes in a red container.
Of course, they make an American version called Old Spice, but it's just not the same somehow.

stephenb 16:48 - [Link] - Comments ()
What do you say? What do you say when one of your untalented friends makes an artistic statement that is not only utterly uninspired, but also vacuous, moronic, insipid, worthless and banal, not to mention cretinous, dismal, derivative, and oafish? What do you say when they really think it's good? That is the question that preoccupies me and the friends of the people who made The Matrix 2 at the moment.

Watching a lot of High-Definition television lately: it looks hyper-real; almost plastic; such a great degree of clarity that it seems absurd, animated and fake; and that in that sense it looks more like "video' than standard definition video does. Also, the cinematic aspect ratio seems absurd when it's just a bunch of talking heads or a cooking show. Works for sports, however.
stephenb 12:41 - [Link] - Comments ()
may 14, 2003
All The World's A Stage

Today I am wearing the Mask of Comedy.
But I also found time to slip into:
1.The Headband of Tragedy.
2.The Boxer Shorts of Pornography.
3. The Socks of Science Fiction
4. The Shoes of the Spaghetti Western.
5. The Shirt of Low Budget Independent Film.
6. The Trousers of Bedroom Farce.
7. And a really nice Grand Guignol jacket with fancy stitching and a blood stain on the collar.

So if all the world's a stage, why wait in the wings? Let's roll the smoke machine, and get down to some real method acting.
After all, who is sexier: Yul Brynner or me?
It's me. I win that one.

stephenb 17:26 - [Link] - Comments ()
Six Ways I Live My Life

1. A swaggering promenade along the crowded boulevard of life in spats, top hat and tails while swinging a silver-tipped cane.

2. An ambling stroll down the leafy lane of life in expensive tweeds, pausing every now and again to enjoy a drop of brandy from my leather hip flask.

3. A mad, naked streak across the baseball diamond of life during the World Series.

4. Duelling to the death on the eight-masted schooner of life with the Pirate King, while simultaneously singing all the male parts from South Pacific

5. Cavorting in the hayloft of life with the busty milkmaid from Smutty's Farm, and somehow managing to rewrite all the novels of D.H Lawrence.

But unfortunately, more commonly I am:
6. Unable to hail a taxicab on the rainy, fogbound, congested high street of life when I really need to be someplace else, wearing spats, and top hat and tails that have all seen better days.

stephenb 12:17 - [Link] - Comments ()
may 13, 2003
The Theater. The mask of comedy. The mask of tragedy. The smell of grease paint hangs over Broadway and a stick-on red nose rolls in the gutter. A smiley face, a sad face, and an empty wallet. The cost of theater tickets these days is really quite shocking. Strike up the band!
It's only a paper moon
Hanging over a cardboard sky
But it wouldn't be make believe
If I believed that I could afford to go.

Actually, I am going to New York for the weekend. Staying at the four-star Hotel Fiona. But what to see on Broadway? What to see?
Frankly it's a choice between The Play What I Wrote about the ancient British comedy duo called Morecambe and Wise, and A Day In The Death Of Joe Egg starring Eddie Izzard.
There is also an exhibition at the Borden Gallery of promotional photographs taken at Butlins Holiday Camps in 60s and 70s England. I'm quite interested in seeing that. No idea why.
Then the Powell and Pressburger film Black Narcissus with Deborah Kerr and Jean Simmons is playing at the Museum of the Moving Image: I wouldn't mind seeing that on the big screen again. Unfortunately I cannot do all of these things, since there must be time for having drinks also.

stephenb 15:59 - [Link] - Comments ()
A brief 1950s travel and tourism film word about Boston

Here on the banks of the mighty River Charles, free men built the city of Boston with honest toil. Boston. Land of myth and fable. Birthplace of a nation. Boston, primary citadel of America, built by honest, simple men as the first golden rays of the dawn of civilization brightened the world and freed it's people from the dark ages of classical Europe. Boston, home to simple, honest folk. Puritan stock. Pride of the founding fathers and the brood-mare mothers. Farmers, fishermen, shipbuilders and tax emigres. It was here in Boston's famous North End that Paul Revere delivered the first horse-drawn pizza. It was only made of burnt crust. But ask those simple, honest Puritan folk and they will tell you it tasted good. History was made here in Boston. Made by simple, honest men. Men like Ambrose Belcher and Jesuphat O'Doone. Honest, simple men not afraid of a hard days work in uncomfortable breeches and buckled shoes with their socks pulled up over their breeches. And women like Old Mother Pym. Simple, honest women. Women who knew their place was in the home accusing others of witchcraft while their menfolk toiled. Honest, simple homes, built here on the banks of the mighty River Charles in Boston. Land of myth and fable. Birthplace of a nation. And the mighty River Charles flows in to the famous Boston Harbor. Cradle of the Atlantic. Gateway to the Ocean.
Boston Harbor. A welcome sight to the simple, honest fisherman who has spent long days picking the fruits of the sea....

You know, it is quite often my job to watch such films and evaluate them. They are always the same.

stephenb 10:43 - [Link] - Comments ()
may 12, 2003
You Know It Makes Sense
They have banned smoking in the bars and restaurants of New York and Boston. An easy piece of legislation to pass since it is not controversial. How politicians must love being able to introduce such bans. We now live in the Land of the Smoke Free and the Home of the Nicotine Crave. Great. But what about all those dangerous fumes we inhale everyday from car exhausts? Another extreme health hazard that we cannot avoid, certainly as harmful to the human body as cigarette smoke inhalation is. So, if we are going to ban smoking in bars, surely we should also ban cars from driving on the road. You know it makes sense.
Preston Sturges is the only certifiably great American artist of demonstratable genius. His movie Sullivan's Travels is the kind of film which can no longer be made. Partly because it stars the incomparably gorgeous Veronica Lake, but also because scriptwriters are not that funny anymore. Case in point: last night I listened to the film's DVD commentary for the first time - supplied by Christopher Guest, he of Waiting For Guffman and Best In Show infamy.
Rather than making interesting and illuminating comment on what we were watching, he tried to be.... urbanely funny about it. Total failure. Complete washout. There wasn't a stifled yawn in the house.
So my advice to Christopher Guest is shut up, just watch the film and try to learn something, maybe your own films might improve.
stephenb 13:30 - [Link] - Comments ()
Getting Through The Day

You see them everyday walking along the street, those people who live in their own private fantasy worlds, wearing inappropriate clothes for everyday practicality. Bored of the reality of their own lives, they trudge through this humdrum daily existence, wrapped in their daydream, dressed as though they were characters in some Arthurian Romance, Western Frontier Town, Japanese Animated film, Gothic mystery, or Star Trek mission. The truth is that they work at Starbucks and spend all their money on extensive nasal piercing, leather pants, and CDs and comics which they horde in messy, movie poster plastered bedrooms. In their own fevered imaginations, they would rather pretend that they are some sword-wielding superhero, a ravishing vampire, a beautiful alien, than be who they really are. It is an escape, an admission that the truth of their lives is too tedious to contemplate. It is also rather banal, very sad, and a social problem. Fortunately, it is a problem I do not share, since, unlike them, I really am from the planet Mars.
But the problem with Mars is that it is completely non-smoking. There are absolutely no cigarettes at all for sale on Mars. No matter how boring it is here on Earth, not being able to smoke at home would be much worse.
I suppose I could buy several cartons of cigarettes to take with me should I ever go back home, but I would probably smoke them all before I left the Earth's atmosphere. Exiting the Earth's atmosphere is especially nerve-wracking, and when I am very nervous is when I do most of my smoking. And in zero gravity the ash would get all over the place wouldn't it, even if I nailed the ashtray to my control panel. So, I am stuck here.
Sometimes I wonder how I get through your Earth days.

If it wasn't for your women...

stephenb 10:05 - [Link] - Comments ()
may 09, 2003
Friday? Why do we name our days after these ridiculous Norse mythic figures? Freya - what kind of name is that for a woman anyway? Or is it Frigga? Does anyone really know?
So let's get rid of this archaic faith-based naming system.
I suggest we entirely rename the days of the week after celebrated American and British authors.
For example:
Monday could be renamed Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Day.
Now that obviously won't fit on the small space on your calendar or daily planner, so we have to shorten it to Henwadlongsday.
Hence: "God, I really hate Henwadlongsdays!"
Or how about:
"Thank God it's Evewaughday!"
"Did you see the arts section of this weeks Williashakespeareday New York Times?"
"It's Shrove Ernhemingwaday next week."
And so on.
stephenb 12:00 - [Link] - Comments ()
may 08, 2003
La Mer

There and back, the waves break on the shore, releasing and then reclaiming, undecided, eventually exchanging a piece of sea glass for a slice of cliff side. Bleached deep sea diver bones entangled in long abandoned oxygen lines; giant squids taking it easy in hammocks formed by deep water eddies; sunken pirate ships entombed in a coral reef coffin; a lonely octopus lost in trailing seaweed; dead men's chests full of unread manuscripts; and Winslow Homer's paint brush that fell overboard many years ago. This is the salty tarantella of the ocean.
But if you ask me, the sea is highly overrated. It is so self-consciously self-aggrandizing. Just a little bit too "look at me I'm poetical". It is a bit of a drama queen. And it smells too!

stephenb 15:44 - [Link] - Comments ()
Economic Think Tank

It amazes me that people get very argumentative and bent out of shape about child labor. Starting work so early in life will enable these kids to assemble massive pension funds and social security dividends for when they retire. According to my calculations, the average five-year-old machine operator toiling in the average sweatshop for seventy years should be able to claim a sum of retirement money equaling the entire GNP of Bhudistaniphur.
And there are other rewards also - after working like a rabid, mangy dog for his whole life in cramped quarters, our crippled and blinded sweatshop employee can finally return to his hovel, secure in the knowledge that he has devoted his entire life to manufacturing nasty, tasteless, cheap polyester clothes so that idiotic Western kids can look cheesy in suburban discotheques.

So get stitching all you Third World orphans, and remember, every penny earned is a $000.01 voluntary pre-tax saving!!

stephenb 12:51 - [Link] - Comments ()
Chain Letter Response

FWD: >>>* Congratulations!!!  Your wish will now come true in your age minutes. Now follow this can be very rewarding!!!!
If you send this to 10 more people, other than the 5 that you already have to send to, something major that you've been wanting
will happen.
Message: This is scary! The phone will ring right after you do this!

Okay, there you go: I will have $10,000 please. Thanks

stephenb 12:46 - [Link] - Comments ()
Surveillance Photoshop

Below, well, it's a picture of my pretty face pasted on to a cheap pulp detective novel. An anonymous hand points a revolver towards my attractive companion and me. How do we escape from this life-threatening predicament? Simple: I will distract the gunman with a witty and intelligent post on this very blog, and while he is reading, my charming companion will change the picture again - probably tomorrow or the next day.
Meanwhile, it's all rather nail-biting isn't it?

stephenb 10:13 - [Link] - Comments ()
may 07, 2003
Lives I Would Like To Have Led - Part One

CIA Bureau Chief in Saigon 1950s Sitting around in front of the fan, drinking iced coffee all day, spicy liqueurs all night, my favorite girls dripping off my arm, neglecting my duties as the panama hat slowly slips further over my eyes as the years pass by. At the age of sixty-eight, I am assassinated by a revolutionary insurgent and buried as a hero back home. I reckon that would have been a good life.

The Last of the Mohicans' Friend A kindly word here and there, an understanding nod from time to time, and a comforting arm when required. Then, when he dies, I write a biography and several volumes of memoirs, and I am also invited on the Colonial America equivalent of all the best talk shows. Perhaps I even get my own show!

stephenb 17:15 - [Link] - Comments ()
My favorite thing: when someone believes something to be stupid because they do not understand it. I love these people, flapping their arms, frowning, and gritting their teeth with their chins extended.
There was an aging hippy on the subway platform this morning, shambling, bearded and grizzled, who could not grasp which particular train he should board to reach his destination. A knotted, threadbare Tibetan sack was slung over his shoulder, festooned with slogan bearing badges, and his sandals had seen better days. He demanded that we "Feed The World", although he himself could not figure out how to get from A to B on the subway map.
Here was a man who thinks that George Bush is personally responsible for ninety percent of the world's toothaches, and has the cheek to call the President of the United States a moron.
The Boston subway map is actually a model of coherent layout and design. Different colored lines represent alternate routes, and the connecting stations in-between are clearly marked. This man, however, stared up at it uncomprehendingly, hands on hips, slackened jaw, furiously shaking his head from side to side as though it were an indecipherable hieroglyph. Occasionally, he would turn around with a manic grin spread across his face, expecting his fellow travelers would be equally bamboozled, but they either boarded their trains or read their newspapers and waited.
After I had finished being amused by him, I walked over and asked if I could be of assistance. He gave me the address of the two cross streets where he wanted to go. I asked him why he was searching for a specific geographical location on a map that only displayed subway stations. He just shrugged his shoulders, returning his attention to the map, reminding me of the small boy in the cartoon, straining to push open the door marked "pull".

stephenb 09:53 - [Link] - Comments ()
may 06, 2003
Experimental music has been conducting the same "experiment" for the past fifty years. We already know what the results of the experiments are, so why keep experimenting - especially since the results of the experiments are not very good.
So face the facts, you experimental musicians, the experiments have been a failure and your CDs should really be filed under New Age.
So why not just pack it in.
stephenb 10:44 - [Link] - Comments ()
I found a site devoted to Romance novel artwork, and could not resist making myself a cover star: not that you would ever catch me wearing a kilt in real life - but what the hell - when windswept damsels need to have someone to worship on their knees I become a very adaptable dresser.
Anyway, the picture below was taken from a book called Love Me Forever
And I know you will:
stephenb 09:42 - [Link] - Comments ()
may 05, 2003
A Frank Exchange of Franks

Let's face it, every home has an old Frank that they don't talk to anymore. Unwanted Franks are found sitting in the corner, silently reading the paper in their slippers, smoking a pipe. All Franks have a moustache and coke-bottle glasses, but look closely and you will find many subtle differences between Franks: this one wears a brown cardigan and smokes Jolly Sailor Shag tobacco, that one packs his pipe with Kensington Regal Fine Flake and favors a gray cardigan. So why evict your old Frank when he can be easily recycled? Finding another Frank owner who will do a swap deal for a slightly different model is a relatively simple matter.
However, when swapping Franks it is important that both parties are absolutely frank about the state of their Franks. Nobody wants to be burdened with a new old Frank who is a carbon copy of their old old Frank.
So, when advertising in the want ads, describe clearly and specifically the exact condition, cardigan color, tobacco preference, and your Frank's newspaper of choice. And why not toss his old armchair into the bargain?
Your Frank probably will not even realize he has moved!
Remember, a house is not a home without a Frank, but everybody needs a change now and then.

stephenb 12:55 - [Link] - Comments ()
Time, thy name is Woman

Curious how the personification of Time is always depicted as an Old Man with gray beard and robe. Surely, Time is more accurately portrayed as a young woman preparing to go out for the evening, ceaselessly applying a layer of lipstick that never dries, forever undecided on a choice of shoes, casting rejected black dresses onto the spinning hands of a constantly revolving cuckoo clock. Only such a moment as that can give a true picture of the utterly remorseless void of never ending eternity.

However, speaking of woman:
I discovered over the weekend that there is an old film version of Rosamond Lehmann's great novel The Weather In The Streets, but that it is practically unavailable in any format. Hugely disappointing for me. I don't understand why the BBC do not do dramatizations of Lehmann's books, they are absolutely ideal for that purpose. Especially Invitation To A Waltz which every young woman should read.
So if you are a young woman, visit virago books, and type Rosamond Lehmann into the search engine.
stephenb 11:00 - [Link] - Comments ()
Genus Lunaticae

As I set forth one morning, I met a crazy woman on the path. Actually, it was yesterday in the subway station.
She was dressed normally, nails done, hair in place; but when she spoke, the Mad March Hare seemed like a positive vector of sanity by comparison.
For some reason, as I stood there innocently waiting for the train, of all the equally silent figures on the platform, she must have decided that I would make the most suitable recipient for her torrents of mania.
She began - logically enough I suppose - with a few short sentences about Australia winning the Americas Cup in the 1980s, which, according to her,
created an opportunity for Australian pharmaceutical companies to corner the beauty products market: a bad thing in her world, since "The English sent all their criminals to Australia and the criminals mated with the Aborigines so Australians are all really black, you can see it in their foreheads."
That was as sane as her conversation got: historically inaccurate and racist.
I could make neither head nor tail of the diatribe that followed, but it contained references to million-eyed spiders, the Pope, Satan, an octopus that turns itself into a floating coral reef, and more Satan and Pope cross-pollination. Apparently she read all about it in National Geographic.
"Spend a lot of time at the dentist, do you?" I asked her.
Then she started swearing at me, screaming that I would find out one day:
the Pope is Satan... blah blah, more about God showing us what evil is by giving us the Octopus and the million-eyed spider which eats the...
Charming woman.

stephenb 10:10 - [Link] - Comments ()
may 02, 2003
In fact, so pleased am I with the photoshoppe above that I might use it as the basis for another blog.
It will be called
Eighteenth Century Blog
Welcome To Dick And Jane Austen's Diary

Dick is horse-whipping the local peasantry. See Dick whip. Whip, Dick, whip.
stephenb 16:27 - [Link] - Comments ()
I must, again, remark about how pleased I am with the photoshoppe assignment above. I look like I have just stepped out of a Jane Austen novel: the clothing and sideburns suit me quite admirably, as would saying things like: "Madame, your eloquent epistle of this morning, undoubtedly written in your own hand and scented with gardenia the like of which I recognise as exclusive to your private boudoir, which arrived at my door this very fore noon, conveyed as it was by your dutiful sister, and containing as it did your personal recollections of certain moments unremembered by myself, to whit, the formation of an alliance between the most secret contents of your undergarments and that proud beam which emanates from my own goodly trousers, might I be permitted to quote..."
stephenb 11:39 - [Link] - Comments ()
Cirque du Mer
otherwise known as
Sea Saltimbanco
A mermaid riding a seahorse bareback?
The drowning clowning red-nosed men in penguin suits?
The death-defying Captain Ahab?
Deep Sea Diver Strongman?
The Amazing Flying Grace?
Can't think of anymore right now.

stephenb 11:18 - [Link] - Comments ()
Odd thing about The New Yorker is that when the cartoons are poor, the rest of the magazine is also poor. This weeks issue - May 5th - is a poor one. There is not one single article of interest and not one funny cartoon. The cover is supposed to be one of those ubiquitous Japanese anime characters playing baseball. Yawn.
The back cover is an advert for Chanel featuring a $7,000 what is it - a ring or an earring. I can't tell - made of 18K white gold with an amethyst and tsavorite.
Frankly, the magazine is unjustifiably full of itself, which is strange, because it basically amounts to a newsletter from a roundtable of balding, bow-tied guys in glasses and silk socks eating Waldorf salads, kow-towing to their female editor.
Bring back Donald Barthelme, I say.
Unfortunately he is dead, which is usually the problem when institutions go downhill.
stephenb 10:58 - [Link] - Comments ()
may 01, 2003
Photoshoppe Open For Business Again
So the above picture, well, that is my visage inlaid on the gentleman's head. The people I have polled so far (Abby) don't think it looks like me at all, but I think you can spot my unmistakably cute chipmunk cheeks in there. The lady has been given a discount department store makeover: cheap lipstick that isn't really her color, and a little tacky blue eye-shadow; very nice and suitable for a night at the local barn dance. She is wearing the identifiable Stephenhead skull and crossed bones symbol in the form of a necklace, and he has been give a lapel pin featuring the same.
Regular readers will understand that I would make a pretty good 17th century landowner, riding crop in my hand and domestic servant on the end of my boot. And so here is the visual proof.
stephenb 13:43 - [Link] - Comments ()