Friday, February 26, 2010

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Words I have googled in the past week, either for spelling or definition

what what
a la carte
red herring
fraternal twins


None of these are new words to me. I just like to check things sometimes, just to confirm what I already know or suspect. Or get corrected. Sometimes I'm wrong, and I'd rather be right.


When reading a book where people are having a long conversation, uninterrupted dialogue without any description of what the characters are doing physically, do you invent physical actions for the characters, like walking across a room, sitting down, leaning on a table, etc., or do you just read the dialogue and picture the characters standing still the whole time (if it's not otherwise noted)?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Visa ad with Pixies soundtrack

But still I think we may have in store for us a flowering and perfection of
trousers. Trousers are still not quite trousers enough. The way they now are,
they signify mere silliness. They are essentially too reticent, too embarrassed.
O womenfolk, listen, you must: If you really want to impress us men, be more
saucy, brazen, and complete in your trouserish, trouserly, and trouserful
demands! Sweet ladies! Surely on the streets and in the city squares they will
trouser around one day quite differently.

Robert Walser, “Trousers” (1911)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

So I was listening to this Radiolab podcast, an interview with Brian Greene. Apparently, if the universe is indeed infinite, there could be an infinite number of duplicate "Earths" and infinite near-duplicates somewhere out in the universe. If you flip a coin five times in a row, you'll have a certain pattern, like heads-heads-tails-tails-tails. Flip it five more times and you'll probably come up with a different pattern. But flip long enough and eventually you'll have flipped all possible combinations. Then, of course, the next set of five you flip is guaranteed to repeat one of the patterns you've done already. And if you live forever and flip infinitely, you'll flip each possible combination an infinite number of times. Well, the Earth has a finite number of atoms that make it up. An unfathomably large number, of course, but a finite one. So, there are a finite number of ways that this number of atoms can be arranged. A very very very large but finite number. So if you go out into the universe and look for planets, each one is going to be different from Earth in some way, right? Right. But if you go out long enough, you'll have exhausted all possible combinations of the way a planet's atoms can be arranged. Then, see, you'll inevitably find a planet that is an exact duplicate of a planet you've already visited, such as Earth. Keep going and eventually you'll come upon another Earth duplicate, and yet another, and another—remember, we're talking about ∞ here!—and another, and another.... So, yeah, an infinite number of Earth clones. Plus an infinite number of almost-clones, where everything on Earth is exactly the same, but maybe some wine glass on some table in some restaurant is sitting two inches to the left of its counterpart's position on our Earth. So basically, everything in the universe is infinitely duplicated elsewhere in the universe. There are infinite "you"s out there.

As weird as this sounds—and I'd have to say it must be the weirdest thing I've ever heard—what's weirder is that it ACTUALLY MAKES SENSE. I can't stop thinking about it. I can't stop thinking about how out there somewhere, there are an infinite number of Matts typing a sentence identical to this one, on an identical computer, in an identical apartment, in an identical New York, on an identical speck of dust known to its inhabitants as "Earth".

Friday, February 12, 2010

My thoughts on the nominations for Best Picture

1. Avatar

Haven't seen it.

2. The Blind Side

Haven't seen it.

3. District 9

Haven't seen it.

4. An Education

Haven't seen it.

5. The Hurt Locker

Haven't seen it.

6. Inglourious Basterds

Haven't seen it.

7. Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire

Haven't seen it.

8. A Serious Man

Great movie.

9. Up

Haven't seen it.

10. Up in the Air

Haven't seen it.


Well, there you have it, my thoughts on the nominations for Best Picture.
The list of 600+ page books I am currently reading just got a little longer.

Gravity's Rainbow, started 2005
Tristram Shandy, started 2005
Infinite Jest, started 2008
Alexander Hamilton (biography), started 2009
Lonesome Dove, started 2010

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Monday, February 8, 2010


Speaking of poems I like, check out my friend and yours Dorothea Lasky in The New Yorker.

Some more poems I like

Why not.

"Rufus the Obscure" —Finding his poems online seems to be not easy. Fortunately there are six of them here.

"The Facility Finder" —When I saw that he dedicated his book to Kenneth Koch, I was all set to like him. And I was not disappointed.

"The Bunny Gives Us a Lesson in Eternity" —These little commentaries I'm doing aren't adding much to the poems are they.

By the way, unlike some people, I'm never able to just remember a poem that I read somewhere. If you asked me, "What's a good poem in a magazine you read recently," I wouldn't be able to think of anything, even though I know there are some. My brain just doesn't work that way. I need multiple choice. So my point is, all these poems I'm linking to, I had to look up by searching for the author's name. That's the only way I can do it. Here's two more.

"Sea-Glass Rations" —She has as good a knack as anyone for saying things that seem simultaneously nonsensical and true. I would like to call this poem kaleidoscopic, and I will, and I did.

"Aubade 11/18" — I just figured out what to do when reading Coconut: use the "zoom out" on your browser. Do it twice maybe. It will bring the text down to an attractive size.

Friday, February 5, 2010

I don't know how many novels I'm reading right now. I'm completely out of control. I just started this one. It's funny and I can tell I like it right away. It came out in 1959. The naturalness and ease and intelligence of the humor is something that seems to be rare now.

Recently I started sleeping with stacks of books on my bed. Right now there are five small stacks on my bed, though I will move one to my chair when I go to bed, leaving four on the bed. I've found that it's much easier to fall asleep if I don't make too big a deal out of my bedtime routine. Ideally I would just flop down on the bed the minute I start to nod off while sitting at my computer or watching TV. But teeth must be brushed, alarms must be set, etc., so there is some routine left but not as extensive as it used to be. Leaving all the books on the bed simulates what would happen if I were to do as I ideally would like to, which as I just said is to fall asleep on the bed without a preparatory routine. Also, I leave my lamp on now. I've always left the TV on, with the sound muted. And I turn on my radio to WQXR very softly, which I set on the chair next to my bed along with my phone (which doubles as my main alarm), a stack of books, a roll of paper towels (in case I see a bug and need a ready weapon, though I haven't seen one in many months thank god), and the TV remote. This chair by my bed is actually the chair I'm sitting on now. It's my only chair, and right now it's not by my bed but in front of my computer. The difference is only about two feet.

And to think—I used to try to sleep without any light at all. That didn't last long.


I just started listening to Radiolab, the WNYC show. It's a cool science show with slick editing and really cool music and sounds.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Common Pornographer's Poem

I hope at least one of these books features people having sex on a chair that was made in the seventies. With some sweet-ass Helvetica floating nearby.

(Not dissing them; I want to read them both. Just thought this was funny.)

, originally uploaded by majawalk.