The Unswung Bat

Friday, April 28, 2006
How to Fall Asleep

Tell yourself, whatever you do, not to move. There's a little clock in your head, and your problem is, it's still ticking. Like one of those self-winding watches, every time you budge, to turn or rearrange your sheets, it resets. Shuffle, click. Try to keep that in mind. You will find reasons to move. You might feel hungry the minute you lie down, and decide to ignore your appetite, try to get to sleep anyway, only to hear your stomach growling louder, agitating against this tiny famine and refusing to let you sleep till you eat something. Unless this happens very regularly, it's hard to plan for, and will often force you out of bed. Afterwards, you might have left the kitchen sink dripping, and think you'll be kept awake all night by the gentle tapping. God forbid a car alarm should—
       —Go off! Disrupting your whole patterned being, it puts a huge dent in the flow of your night. Those sirens sounding outside put you in a frenzy, even though you keep still: your mind clenches into a red ball of surprise, your body tells itself to react and not to, to be angry and not to. You practically have to move, if only to swat at your pillow till you cool down. But moving will fracture the unity around you. You move, and instead of sitting stock still, everything in your room shifts in relation to everything else, exploding from a flat picture into a bristle of separate shapes and corellated vectors. That isn't what you want. That's day and movement. Ideally, everything blurs together as night mills on. So don't pay attention to any single thing. This can be very hard. Is your furnace noisy? Do your pipes hiss? Does your lover, shamelessly asleep, breathe loudly next to you? Think of these as noises without causes or names, and so not really noises: features of your ears, purely sensory, not sonic, phenomena; artifacts of perception. Extend this. Your window glowers with star light, probably, or street light, or moon light. Again, this is a scene painted on the inner surface of your corneas. Nothing is beyond it, nothing is even in it. It's one thing, in you. There are neither streetlights, nor heavenly bodies, nor anything else that creates that light—certainly not a dim market square, paved in heavy cobbles thinly lined with spiky grass, with hedges of banana crates and chipped empty tables, a bench or two on the sides, and bookstores and butchershops facing in. That doesn't exist. In a reversal of the normal relationship between human beings and the universe, the world is because you see it. You are the god of your own unravelling. And your fallen angel is an itch between your shoulderblades, agitating, threatening to pry apart the harmonious aggregate you're balling together. The traitor, needling you in the trough of your spine, insists on special recognition, on treatment as a unique circumstance, requiring specific action, not caring that your design demands that everything settle into one block with no gaps. If you can think your way around the itch, good. But make sure the cure is not worse than the disease. Kundalini yoga may overcome the physical sensation, but risks focusing your mind when you need it to diffuse and bleed blackly into watery night. Therefore, Kundalini yoga is counterindicated, as are timed breathing, visualization techniques, and any mental game or recitation. Passivity, of mind and body, is crucial. Don't even react when the mattress seem to knurl your back or prod against your joints, or when your nostrils and mouth are dry. Move like a skeleton: only in the feathery moss between your ribs, and the roots knobbing through your pelvis or displacing the occasional vertebra. Some myths say the world grew from the body of a dead giant. Others say it's somebody's dream. Combine these. Combine whatever you can. When you stop sorting everything into different corners, and tune nothing out but hear nothing either, and feel no comfort or discomfort, and neglect the senses of time and place, then, unmoved, these things settle on you, a weight of thought-matter, a hazy solid with no edges or margins, lacking internal division, having only the recognizable quality of weight, multiplying, forcing you down, contributing to your stillness, pressing your mind out of its daily shapes, holding your body in a pose of exhaustion, until the space between your being and this weight is so small that it almost disappears, until your refusal to distinguish, your absorbing the world into yourself, so that all you suffer or do takes place within you, ends finally with you smothered by the undifferentiated mass you have taken in, with you joining that unthing in your unspace, swallowing yourself down till there are no legs or arms or chest or shoulders, nothing but head or mind, or the smallest piece of you that exists, and that held between your own teeth.



Thursday, April 27, 2006
Other "Peeps'" Work
You go girl.

I've been wanting to post that picture for a while, but it took me until now to find anyone who'd host a 700kb animated gif. U of T won't touch it. How do I know the stick figure in this animotronic internetpicture to the right is a girl? Simple:

1. She is clearly an anime RPG hero (Japanese words, crazy blasting and martial arts powers, superimposed portraits in polygonal frames, speed lines even when she is standing still). Therefore,

2. She is a girl.

Cases in point, all from actual anime RPGs: 1 2 3 4 5 and 6

See? Girl.

Speaking of which, if you've never read Moorish Girl then I decry your Moorish Girl-reading ability. If you have, then I guess you can consider said abilities recried, or if you prefer, retroactively cried so as to negate the original decrying. She also pointed me to for the first time, and has a list of literary magazines as long as the hour hand of the Clock of Szeged, which is to say, 5 cubits (plus 3 centicubits). If her magazine list were the diameter of a bell, that bell would be the Bell of Heroes, and it would weigh 8537 kilos, and I'm sure that makes everything clear.

If you've never read Dawn's blog, then that condition can be easily treated by reading Dawn's blog, plus massive doses of Chloramphenicol.

Scholarly writing makes André hungry for confusion treats. I'm sick of using "this" as an adjective and always ensuring that "it" corresponds to a noun. Times like this, when I'm bogged down with Englishly correctness, I wish I could rap.

Grammar and clarity own my pages so if you were shown my pages you'd be blown away by my prosperity of expression, overcoming your professorly discretion to show you how verbal misdirection is a rarity in my pages, forcing you to atone for condoning your TA's rages doubting the sincerity of my decision to assassinate errors in every stage of revision, so spare yourself my derision by not airing your disrespect 'til you dare to inspect the lines I'm sharing.

Hey, cool, I can rhyme! It just takes me five minutes and the rhymes are all jumbled, so I s'pose I'll never be the next Bunny Rabbit. S'alright.

Thursday, April 20, 2006
In Case You Wondered

This is my state of mind, recorded in the margins of my research essay notes.

Gent: Sir, you don't have any legs.

Sir: Ahh! Thank you, gent. (Falls down).

Edifying! Did you ever wonder what I scribble on the sides of my pages when I'm not fully engaged in studious, studiary, studying? Well, I don't care if you didn't, now you know.

This concludes my theatrical interlude, as my essay is headed this way, and it looks both quarrelous and ornery.

I don't hate deadlines, I like deadlines, they just have such a malicious dislike for me that I avoid them whenever possible.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Sitting on the Dock of the Bay

Fishin' for sympathy about his girlfriend man in the next computer booth has said "you know what I mean?" no less than 30 times in the past 3 hours. The half-interested girl he's miserably chatting up seems to take his side or at least nod along, which is easy enough when he gives it so monotonously. He should maybe join the Bush Administration. I think the core of their governing strategy, it might lie in the brainkilling but you have to listen drone, too. Carp their way into whereever they're going—Iran, pants, what have you.

While I was typing this note, he said it 3 more times. His middle-eastern accent makes the phrase sound vivid, tired, and resonant as in a hollow, which it is.

Anyway, here is something else.

Dust Jackets

Hang it all Otis Redding, you said:
You missed the hike across-country,
last chance to wander on your feet
pulling up grass pages leafing in the wind as you go
to scatter on your last shoreline. And we're not doing it again.
Those grasses don't grow back, and anyway, we're out of ground.

For want of something firm, grasshopper legs flail in empty space
or maybe water,
futilely: our backs do the work of legs now, after the ocean stretched out to snatch us.
Or maybe we crept down the beach thinking we'd float face-up and stare, at
stars or sun or seagulls shitting overhead, sky sliding and rocking in the swash.

Us sinuating on the waterskin, with waves hugging us like dolls.
And us pageless covers (our senses fallen out),
instead bracketing sometimes the ocean, sometimes the air,
muck and sunshine and water and the stray other cover that slips into our binding and holds.

All this float, a static suspension, or dynamic too huge and tiny to take apart, piece together, distinguish?
Everything is too big and too small, letters without pages without books without shelves--
Water, stars, space, waves, silt in the wash that is memory, of grass and rock, dissolving into the endless pool--
A country is a book: did we live there?
A bay is a reservoir of pages (wasting time). Is this a landless waste?

Ridges in the water
raised by kicking legs, maybe just splashing fingers, flexing spines,
psychic comic lines radiate from everywhere a person floats,
clashing into spray and meaningless patterns:
The great static foreground, oceantop surface of body movement waterjumps communicating,
falling flat and coming back for more.


hung out to dry,

Sunday, April 16, 2006
Two Choices

Bob Lefsetz writes a fine letter. In case you were wondering, that link I posted constitutes 90% of what you will find on the website. The rest is done by email and internet broadcast. I've been getting his mini-newsletters/rants for about a month now, after some RTA prof told me about him when I was researching the music business for a CanCon essay.

I gave his mail gadget my Gmail address, because I don't care how many people know it. Rather than additional spam, the email bot has delivered me nothing but amusing, highly well-written and opinionated notes about the present, future and history of music in North America. Plus info about a bunch of great bands and even entire music services I'd never heard of. Well, a fair amount of it is just plain rants about the music business, but in interesting writing, and I actually wanted both of those things.

Eh, take a look if it sounds like your cuppatea.

Byron, when will you have the emails again? Whenever I need to contact you I can just knock on your door, but I'm in prolonged suspense now about your unrevealed Stupendulous Email Contrabulance. It sits on a table in my mind, under a blanket, with a spotlight on in, softly humming. I have two guesses about what it is. The first involves aliases, the second involves an indentured gnome and extensive screening and hand-copying.

Which will it be?

Saturday, April 08, 2006
Closing Statement

A full transcript of the defence's closing statement at the trial of Norman DeJesus for the rape and murder of Lisa Thibaudeau.

(Long, so behind an lj-cut)

What the hell is wrong with people? Have you seen this article about the trial? How about this one? Good god.

He was convicted, however.

Friday, April 07, 2006
Still waiting to find out.

(Pestery, ain't I?)

Thursday, April 06, 2006
Holy Smokes!

The kitchen just exploded in front of my face. This happened in reality, it did, just a moment ago. Happened with a loud electrical pop, an arching line of fire that lept four whole feet, from the sink to the fridge, and in the arm's length between that fridge and my nose, a white sparking firework went off—bang!—sending crackling streamers to the floor, like what you see on tv shows when a power line comes down. It seemed a hot lightbulb or a small bomb had detonated from out of thin air.

Somewhere in the instants just after the bang, the conflagration seized the entire room, which echoed and reiterated the pop and flash and obliterated itself in a shower of incandescent destruction. All around me, except the outlines of linoleum directly below the soles of my feet, was ashy ruin.

And then the sparks faded and the kitchen was intact and as white as it ever was. Dazzled, my arm still outstretched to reach for the box of tea on top of the fridge, I was left with nothing to show for my fantastic vision except a yoghurt container in the sink bottom slightly warped by heat, and a dent in the sink's steel basin that inexplicably followed the ridge of the yoghurt container's base.

I was relieved to come up with a more scientific explanation (we wired our own ground circuit to surge through the cold water pipe into the earth) than "ball lightning." Cold water pipes are supposed to be safe things to do this with because they go straight into the ground, but I think at some point our pipes must cross or contact, and we therefore should rethink our electrical strategy.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Screw Grant

Holy Hell, someone done hitted ma' blog with uh ugly-stick. For a whole day and a half, my page layout was catastrophically tampered with. The carblog was smeared all over the left margin like a messy traffic accident, floating DIVs and IMGs, rather than pulling their weight, rested complacently on their own private blocks of space. And those unsightly and embarrassing purple Visited links came back. Plus, all my pictures were gone! But I know what happened, and who's to blame.

The webspace that U of T supplies me, and where most of my pictures and layout files are, went down. And why was that? Because of Hugh Grant, that's why. How do I know this? There's a theory behind that, that's been circulating among the scientists for years now, not really so much a "theory" as a fundamental paradigm overarching this whole "internet" phenomenon. The inviolable rule is this:

Whenever something bad happens inside the internets, Hugh Grant did it.

Remember this principle. Its simple appearance conceals a staggering level of complexity that has the foremost researchers of Hugh-Grant-is-a-jackass grappling with deep and far-reaching implications.

And as for me, I'm putting the Armadillo of Shame on lookout duty until I'm absolutely sure that smirking, meddlesome limey is out of commission. Fuckin' Hugh Grant.

Oh, and sign my guestbook and read this post, even though I call you lazy in it (I say it with love). In exchange, you will live forever (in guestbook-signature form).

Monday, April 03, 2006
A Funny Thing Happened

Alright, listen close 'cause there's a life lesson at the end of this tale of woe and wonder. Not really, though, but the moral of the story tells you the right time to punch Chad Kroeger in the larynx.

I was walking home a coupla nights ago, up my quiet, residential Jackman street past the elementary school. It was early evening, kind of peaceful, warm, some middle-school kids were playing baseball in the schoolyard. Nice.

This crowd of people is coming down the street in my direction—'bout six shaggy guys a few years older than me. Well, four of 'em are shaggified, doing the long hair, ratty jacket thing, excellent, and two are clean and shiny army guys in spotless uniforms and with those funny hats that're like a cross between a sea captain's hat and a beret. Whatever. They're not taking up the whole sidewalk or anything. We pass, they're talking to each other, I'm, I dunno, walking, not particularly entranced by any of this, but it's a pretty night.

Then when they're about twenty feet behind me, one of the army guys turns around and shouts back "Fine! Be that way! Just 'cause we're not fucking Nickelback doesn't mean you have to like not look at us!" Wow. And the man sounded genuinely insulted, too. Let me emphasize that, though I wasn't staring directly at him or his pals, I wasn't giving them what I believe in showbiz is called "the cold shoulder." I was too surprised to say anything back, and it's not like they stopped walking and stood there, snapping their fingers west-side-story-style and awaiting a rejoinder.

So here is the lesson: when passing uniformed army guys in the company of "civvies," which makes them more sensitive, always make firm eye contact with each one, in sequence, as though staring down a group of wolves in the backwoods, even though you are just passing them normally on the sidewalk. This shows that you respect their killing power.

Also, somewhat less likely to come up but just as importantly, do the same for any members of the band Nickelback. Only, in this case it is not their killing power that you are recognizing, but rather their thrilling power. And if Chad Kroeger's there, actually punch him in the throat. He likes that.

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