Monday, March 23, 2009


um: hey video editors, please think twice before using the "Impact" typeface, is all we're saying

Sunday, March 15, 2009

time flies like an arrow

fruit flies like a banana

Stan Apps, at whatever his blog is called today, has a post about reading text backwards.

which post brings to mind an Anecdote:
When I first moved to Chicago (the first time) (in 1996), I went to the Loop to what was then Marshall Fields to look at the Christmas display and not knowing that the window displays would tell a narrative, I started on the wrong end and worked my way backwards. The window display that year was based on A Christmas Carol, and so the story went something like:
A repentant man buys a goose, then grows increasingly cynical.

(I did this in subsequent years; all Christmas stories backwards are depressing, which is to say more accurate, except for The Nutcracker, which evades explanation in either direction.)

I am also reminded of sitting in a movie theater, which I would have spelled "theatre" at the time, with my friends, waiting for Arachnophobia (‽) to start and talking about running movies in reverse (Kurt Vonnegut does this in Slaughterhouse Five, but we didn't know that): my friend said, "Jaws is about a shark that keeps throwing up people until they open the beach."

This is great!
But is it too great? It seems stolen from something he would have seen on HBO, which I did not have. Googling it now, I find references to it in basically these exact words, though not many, so maybe it is true that we were all funnier a long time ago. Reading old Outlook archives seems to confirm this.

n.b. The picture above of Stan Apps holding a sword is one that I found looking through an Outlook archive. He is not holding a sword because he is about to cut some Gordian Knot of Poetry by reading it backwards; but he is holding it hilariously because this is around 1994, a time when everything was hilarious.

W/R/T poetry, though
Other than liiike Philip Larkin, who for some reason I find hard to get enough of, I don't read much poetry, unless it's in the NYer and it's short enough (sorry, @Erato!) and is hopefully about someone who used to be a dog, but if a poem does manage to get itself read, I usually forget I'm supposed to be paying attention and when I get to the end, I definitely read it backwards (but it's cool: I think we all know that Leonhard Euler figured out the Seven Bridges of Königsberg problem by starting at the end and working backwards), based on my misunderstanding of the way "poetry" works, viz--:

(1) a good poem is one that has a real sockdolager at the end
(2) find the sockdolager, and you will "unlock" the "key" to the poem (note: these are metaphors)
(3) then you can go back and reread it with "what you were supposed to have gleaned from it" the first time through in mind

It is all defensive and tricky, but there is one hole you can shoot your "photon" into and then it explodes (it is possible I read that narrow fellow in the grass thing too many times in school).

For: reading bottom to top will increasingly be the practice as we all start going through old email threads in our Outlook Archives to see how funny we used to be and to try to figure out what happened (I was really funny over email in 2000.) (i.e., before the events of 9/11) (but after Kurt Cobain died! Strange!)

All of this to say:
if you sometimes find yourself missing the Silver Age of the Internet when everyone was funnier (before they "bought the goose") (see what I did there?), and regret specifically the deletion of the entire tmftml blog at popfactor ("popfactor"!) and more specifically regret that the Elizabeth Skurnick "Ballad Of The Love-Scorned Anywoman" post is gone: fear not, it is also here on her own blog.

Note: even though it is poetry that is not about a dog, it should be read forward, due to the sockdolager.

Monday, March 09, 2009


On, which I'm going to call in my head startiiiiiiiiiing now, Chip has put up some tracks from the Little P-Slope Band that Could, The Sacred Monkeys of Bali. In particular, may I direct you to the first track, Bob Ross.

As you'll recall, the choice to change the song's focus from Werner Herzog stunt double Bill Alexander to Doug Henning stunt double Bob Ross has long been regarded as the point at which the band jumped the shark (source: SMOB: An Oral History, With the Emphasis on Oral, Just Kidding, there wasn't actually much Oral) due to the band's attempt to access a more "mainstream" demographic, to say nothing of the loss of the "Rootin' Teuton" line).

STILL: worth a listen if only to speculate on what might have been.

Sunday, March 01, 2009