it's where the hearth is
I have seen the future, and it is squishy.

Now & Then (a Log)

Thursday, October 31, 2002
 
Kittenful Indeed

Left some little lumpkins for Leuschke the other day, and he's finally responded. Perhaps because my constructions were too obtuse, and because I submitted each snippet separately and the context wasn't apparent, he didn't attempt to solve the mystery but looked outward instead. Here is how I should have submitted it to his aptly named "Say Anything" box:
chills like bright Della punts.
contortion or an option?
sleep kit.
Can you figure out what I was trying to say, and thus the source of these ramblings? If you enjoy partaking in such folly, try saying it aloud several times, stressing different syllables with each iteration. Email me (address in the sidebar) and I'll tell you if you're right!

Oh, and BOO to YOU! [insert sinister yet oddly compelling laugh here]


Tuesday, October 29, 2002
 
Living at the End of the World

Sure, everyone feels anxious sometimes. But for those whose sense of impending doom overwhelms them, there is often little else to turn to save the solace to be found in creating things. Such is the tale told by the remarkable coffee table book The End is Near: Visions of Apocalypse, Millennium and Utopia. Cataloging the exhibition of the same name (curated by the American Visionary Art Museum), Visions of the Apocalypse gives print space to outsider artists who focus on themes of apocalyptic destruction, and even closes with a tasty reprint of the Book of Revelation.

One of the artists represented therein, Paul Laffoley, believes (thanks to M.U.F.O.N., the book's bio implies) that a metal chip found in his brain is an alien nanotechnological laboratory. This mysterious chip is the source of his inspiration. From his 1967 painting Mind Physics - The Burning of Samsara:

MIND PHYSICS WHICH STEMS FROM THE THEORETICAL BASIS OF PHYSICAL RESEARCH PORTENDS THE HISTORICAL END OF A LOGICAL DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE FORMS OF HUMAN KNOWLEDGE: ART, PHILOSOPHY, SCIENCE, RELIGION WILL BE NO LONGER RELATED BY LOGICAL IMPLICATION OF SIMILAR CONCEPTS BUT THEY WILL BE THE SAME PRACTICE AND CONCEPT. MAGIC WILL ABSORB THE HISTORY OF EXTERNAL TECHNOLOGY SO THAT MAN WILL HAVE NO INTERFACE BETWEEN WILL AND ACHIEVEMENT BUT THE HUMAN NATURE: THEN BOREDOM WILL BE ENGINEERED.
More on Mr. Laffoley here (including pics of his intricately constructed painting The Orgone Motor and the interesting bio from the book), and more on this intriguing book later.


Sunday, October 27, 2002
 
Game Neverending Was Just That

Yesterday I finally got a cable modem. I'd been considering it for a while, and then my interest in playing the GNE via a faster connection tipped the decision into "favorable" territory. For the most part the installation process went smoothly; the only glitch came when I found that the install disk didn't work. Fortunately, a technical support specialist was able to talk me through a back-door install in 10 minutes, thus saving the day.

Or did he? The rest of the day, I'm sad to say, was given to a lengthy and intense GNE session. I've never played a massively multiplayer online thingy before, and this one is so intelligently conceived that I'm hooked. The game isn't even fully functional yet (it's still in alpha) but I can't bring myself to stop playing. So what is my high-speed Internet connection, really? A blessing or a curse? I'm beginning to suspect the latter.


Friday, October 25, 2002
 
Score One for Knowledge

Thank the gods! Arts & Letters Daily is back, having been saved by these guys.


Wednesday, October 23, 2002
 
This and That

I fixed the issue with the gray bar to the right; programmer-types (you know, the ones who have their monitor resolution set so high that items on the screen are just barely visible) were telling me that it got huge when they expanded their browser windows. (Away, huge gray bar!)

Here's a little something for everyone's inner programmer, as well as an amusing account of the wacked-out calls gamely fielded by NASA's public affairs office (both via SciTech Daily).


Tuesday, October 22, 2002
 
Disney Ambivalence, Part 2

One of Disneyís scarier recent initiatives is the creation of Celebration, an entire town devoted to the Disney lifestyle. The idea for Celebration came from Uncle Walt's dream of building an Experimental Prototypical Community of Tomorrow, which eventually became a theme park (EPCOT Center) instead. In the '90s, the Disney people turned Walt's utopian, Space Age dreams into a community bearing the well-intentioned tenets of New Urbanism as well as the problems that often come with trying something new and different.

My one glimpse of Celebration came when I was working as programs coordinator at the museum, where we happily took advantage of the fact that the Disney Institute was flying in Alloy Orchestra for a performance to stage one of our own. The caveat was that I would have to transport the band to and from Celebration, where the group was workshopping and performing.

What struck me most -- and I'm not sure why this came as a surprise -- is that Disney had managed to inject the artificiality of its parks (which work well for the parks, mind you) into a residential community. In Celebration, the design of every home, townhouse, and apartment building strictly adheres to one of the six approved town styles. The inclusion of different styles, instead of cultivating a diverse yet unified appearance, was stifling, as the styles played off each other in a disturbingly fluid manner. In the downtown area, the exterior of the theater where Alloy was to perform was awash in garish hot pink, a striking contrast to its minimalist design, and a successful attempt to bring the more overt qualities of the Disney brand to the heart of the town.

Soon after Celebration's opening, a husband-and-wife journalist team, and cultural theorist Andrew Ross (whom a friend in college was fond of calling "the annoying Andrew Ross"), moved briefly to the community to breath it in, live in it, and write books about it. A nice analysis of the books (and in turn, the town) can be found here; a more personal and equally good account of the author of that article's visit to the town is here.


 
The Reader and the Text

It's not fiction, but Ray's latest entry is itself an example of the "writerly" quality he explicates within. Writerly as compared, in an admittedly extreme example, to Lucky (a hard copy of which I perused at my friend's house last night, and found -- much to my dismay -- I couldn't put down; I finally threw it forcibly onto the couch in an effort to exorcise it from my increasingly soulless soul), with its overt and tantalizing readerliness.

Ray's may not be the easiest weblog read of the day -- requiring, as it does, a certain amount of mental stamina -- but the rewards greatly outweigh the effort (the effort being its own reward, sometimes). A side benefit is the pleasure found in watching him taunt his prey with a well-chosen word or phrase and finally skewering said prey with a damning argument too cogent to refute. (I'm terrified of him, personally.)

In fiction, I like to see the writerly and readerly bound interestingly into one text; I want to escape, but I also want to be challenged during the journey, as I was with Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. (Of course, when life stresses me out, I'm also prone to taking in purely escapist reads; hence my recent devouring of Kushiel's Dart.)

Disney Ambivalence, Part 2 is coming soon...


Sunday, October 20, 2002
 
Disney Ambivalence, Part 1

Cory links to The Sound of Magic, a site collecting and sharing music from the various Disney theme parks. Pity they don't catalog much of the older stuff; one of my most salient childhood memories involves the now defunct If You Had Wings ride in Tommorowland at Disney World, which I lived just over an hour away from.

Back when rides required tickets of varying degrees of expense my sister and I would make a beeline for "If You Had Wings," one of the scant free rides in the park. (I was also quite fond of the People Mover -- probably the most boring ride ever conceived -- simply because it was free.)

The theme song for "If You Had Wings," sung by a choir of celestial yet corporate sounding voices (the ride was sponsored by Eastern Airlines, and after that airline's demise, by Delta) became something of a standard for my sister and me, and we probably drove my parents nuts on the ride home with our attempts to recreate it.

I canít say Iím entirely fond of what Disney has come to stand for, but having visited Disney World nearly every year during my formative years I canít help but feel nostalgic about the park. The best site Iíve found to stoke the flames of nostalgia is Yesterland, which lovingly pays homage the rides of yore.

Listen to the ďIf You Had WingsĒ theme song (and read the wacky lyrics!) here.


This is the work of Abbi Ball, and is licensed under a Creative Commons License.