Monday, June 18, 2007

Thursday, June 14, 2007

best opening line ever

I thought of like the best opening line ever for this funny noirish detective thing I'm working on.

Too bad the goodness of the opening line outstrips pretty much everything else.

Maybe I should try working on the characters and the plot. Before just writing from the first line and letting it amble on its own.

Oh plot and character-driven fiction, how you elude me :D

I'm not revealing the opening line, but it's so awesome and nerdy.

Severn poem revision

After visiting Keats' house in Rome, I wrote a bunch of material, that sort of clustered into two poems that I remember. I worked around with them but still found them unsatisfactory. I think I was putting too much in there; too many significant details in a way that didn't really cohere. Or I was saying things that sounded deep and significant but...without my own conviction that it accurately represented the situation behind it?

Oh, I don't know. It was a bit didactic in places. Anyway, I needed some stuff to show for workshop and more recently I'd been working around with the Severn poem again, and I made it way, way simpler. And hell, there are still three stanzas which each have a somewhat distinct content I think. Whoops, four.

I played around with the line breaks...I was pretty much writing iambs unintentionally. I got it so that in the first stanza there's five, then there's four, then three, then two, though all are iambic, and it's a matter of breaking the lines in ways that amuses me and/or that I think is meaningful or interesting. (i.e productive secondary associations, that thematically fit, not just arbitrary ones.)

In one version of the poem there was all this language about false and fakery and such, and the repetition of that made it seem like... I don't know, that that was a theme. Like... I was calling Keats fake or something? I dunno. It didn't really make sense in terms of the thrust of the poem, and that wasn't something I felt as true anyway, so I revised it to not have it be that way.

I don't like the line breaks in the last stanza, I kind of like them long. Maybe I'll change it back, but I sort of like my 5 4 3 2 thing, and the line breaks kinda work, in their own way... I guess since they are basically just two blunt sentences, I want to have them just spill out and rest there, instead of coming out all choppily.

I should try to rework that Shelley poem, maybe along similar lines (e.g. scrapping a lot of it and making it a lot simpler). I dunno, I don't think I've ever really workshopped that with people.

Oh yeah, and I have to check Severn's biography. >_>

Monday, June 11, 2007


I need to make friends with an organic chemist or something. Because I want to be able to smell certain chemicals in isolation, so that I can identify them by smell later. Like I want to know the difference between putrescine and cadaverine. And I want to know if I am a super-smeller type person who can smell that one chemical that some people can't smell.

I don't know if I can actually physiologically smell better than average, or if I just notice/care about smells more. Like certain smells bug me to the point of being infuriating, even if they are not terribly strong in the air, and even if they are not "objectively" unpleasant (like not actually something that makes you want to retch; it's more the presence of the smell, as something distracting or that doesn't "belong" there.

Like we once had a house-guest who smelled up the bathroom. I don't mean he stunk or anything, it's just that his smell was around there so thick, and it was maddening. I took an animal pleasure in spreading my own effluvia (down the usual drains, mind you, not painted on the wall or something), hoping that they would do something to combat his odor.

And once, at a clothing swap, I tried on a shirt that smelled of I don't know what exactly. Partially some kind of strong laundry soap, partly mildew, partly unpleasant mystery. I bunched the shirt up into a cloth donut, in order to get it on as quickly as possible. And I had to force myself to put it over my head. It was like I was having a collar of foreign stench forced around me, and my body fought it instinctively.

I wonder if that is at all what it's like to get on a flea collar.)

I'd like to smell as well as a dog, but then maybe it would be too distracting. I mean, dogs can't help but smell shit all the time. They seem to be having fun with it, though.

It would be worth it.

I also wonder if the reason they seem to "enjoy" smelling shit, other dogs' asses, roadkill, etc., is not because these things actually smell "good" to them per se, but just because they can understand so much from them that it's a source of interest and insight, and not just "Boy, that smells."

Like looking at roadkill is not aesthetically a "pleasant" experience, but if you were some sort of rodent biologist, and by looking at the roadkill you could discern stuff about the species, sex, stage of life, health, etc., you might spend some time looking at it with interest, rather than just passing it by with disgust.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Slime Mold

"Slime moulds (or Slime molds), are protists that normally take the form of amoebae, but under certain conditions, such as those harmful to the organisms, change into globular sluglike beings, for mobility, which then develop fruiting bodies that release spores, superficially similar to the sporangia of fungi. They should not be confused with true moulds, which are actually fungi. Although cosmopolitan in distribution, they are usually small and rarely noticed. There are several different groups. Slime moulds can be found in damp and dark forest floors. Slime moulds tend to grow on rotted wood after rainfall. Slime moulds generally move only about 1 millimetre per hour, although some can reach 2 centimeters per minute."

"Most notable are the plasmodial slime moulds or myxogastrids (also known as acellular or true slime moulds), where the feeding stage takes the form of a giant amoeba with thousands of nuclei, called a plasmodium. It is not divided by cell membranes, but rather is enclosed by a single outer one, and is thus like a single large cell. Most are smaller than a few centimetres, but the very largest reach areas of up to two square metres."

"In the early 16th century. the Dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch depicted an estimated 22 species of slime mould in The Garden of Earthly Delights."

"It has been observed that they can find their way through mazes by spreading out and choosing the shortest path, an interesting example of information processing without a nervous system."

"In 2006, researchers at the University of Southampton and the University of Kobe reported that they had built a six-legged robot whose movement was remotely controlled by a Physarum slime mould. The mould directed the robot into a dark corner most similar to its natural habitat."

Thanks, Wikipedia!

I need to figure out how to tell these things apart from fungus, or discarded pieces of pink gum (which evidently they can sometimes resemble). The one in the picture I included (from google) looks like melted ice cream. I'm digging the artful pink border.

Friday, June 08, 2007

cat dog

I had a dream, as I sometimes do, in which I thought, "I should make this into a short [or long] story! That would be really good!" And it feels good, in the dream. Then I wake up and go, "Huh?" Either the inspiration is just lost or it actually wasn't that good of an idea to begin with, I don't know. Maybe both; I'm sort of the opinion that there are no bad ideas, just bad writers. There are tricky ideas, but every time you think a premise is inherently doomed as Good Writing material, someone shows you it's not the case.

Anyway, the story was something about... a narrator (who owns a really humongous dog, I think in the dream it was "160 pounds," despite being 4 months old) encounters a woman in a park or something. With a cat on a leash. That she insists is some sort of breed of dog, despite the fact that it's very definitely a cat.

I dunno, it could be funny.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Tip-Of-The-Tongue Phenomenon

"The tip-of-the-tongue (TOT) phenomenon is the feeling of knowing something that cannot be immediately recalled. TOT is a near-universal experience in memory recollection involving difficulties retrieving a well-known word or familiar name. Despite the word-finding failure, people have the feeling that the word to be remembered (the blocked word) is figuratively on one's "tip of the tongue." It is felt that the blocked word is on the verge of imminent discovery. Inaccessibility and imminence are two key features of an operational definition of TOTs."

Mentioned by Anton Chekhov in his 1885 short story, "A Horsey Name," but mentioned a lot earlier by Aristotle.

"Cognitive psychologist Bennett Schwartz examined fifty-one languages and found that forty-five of them include expressions using the word tongue to describe the TOT state. Some languages use multiple metaphors. In Korean, the metaphor "sparkling at the end of the tongue" is used, as well as "caught in the mouth and throat." French speakers use the "tongue" metaphor and the expression "memory hole". In some languages, eg. Danish, and possibly others as well, tongue is often replaced by lip, "I got it(word) right on my lips", the concept remaining identical, and having an obvious relation to the tongue. The results of the language survey suggest that the use of the "tongue" metaphor is not idiomatic to English but instead a commonality of the TOT phenomenon... TOTs occur most frequently for names of people, but for common words as well."

Thanks, Wikipedia! *salutes*

We Must Destroy The Whales

Points of Argument:

* They take up too much space in the ocean
* They are intelligent and have a language. Could be plotting against us.
* Related point: have proportionately tiny eyes. Not trustworthy.
* Will provide valuable whale oil, ambergris, baleen, whalebone, etc. (until we run out).
* May inspire people to read Moby Dick, which is considered a classic work of literature.
* Would provide jobs in whale-killing, harpoon-manufacturing, flensing industries
* Would leave more fish for us
* Their absence would leave ecological niches available, thus spurring the evolution of new animals, which would potentially be more interesting than whales (and which might not possess sufficient intelligence and language to be dangerous)

Subargument: What About Dolphins?

* Are technically whales, and it would therefore be dishonest and contrary to our original purpose to spare them
* Are intelligent, have language, etc., could also be plotting against us
* They engage in "free love," which could set a bad example.

* Contain less blubber
* Don't take up as much space in the ocean
* Have been known to save drowning humans
* Dolphin-swimming a lucrative tourist industry
* Can do that thing with their tail where they rise up out of the water and swim backwards and forwards
* "Flipper" a cultural icon
* They engage in "free love," which could set a good example.