Friday, October 28, 2005

Eastwood & I

Yesterday, I stepped out of the Diversey station, to find that the mayor of Carmel By the Sea was camped out in a newsstand, dressed as a Depression-era newsboy, surrounded by guys dressed as, most likely, gangsters or G-men or somesuch. These in turn were surrounded by camera men, and grips, and honey wagon wranglers or whatever, interspersed with lots of cops and pseudo-cops in day-glo vests and sort of ordinary people dressed in ordinary people clothes, all asking each other What's going on? and Is that somebody famous, or just a guy with sunglasses on? as I walked through the crowd, waving away the autograph seekers.

I nodded to Clint. He squinted back.

We're like that, Clint & I. Like that.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


I am so in the right church for me. Why is this message not on every channel of the evening news, on every opinion program as the clear message of the Christian Church?

Rev. John Thomas, President of the United Church of Christ

There is in each of our souls, and in the soul of the United Church of Christ, an older brother who undermines our faithfulness as surely as the storm surge overwhelmed New Orleans’ levees. It is the older brother, at least as I interpret the parable, who grimly works on his father’s farm, never lifting his eyes to the anguish of a younger brother in the far country. It is the older brother who long ago dismissed the prodigal brother, who never stands eagerly waiting with his father, eyeing with hope the far horizon. It is the older brother who would never dream of going in search of that brother for fear of being tainted by the impurities of that alien and ambiguous far off place. It is the older brother who resents the celebration of his brother’s restoration to home. It is the older brother who never asked for his own party, who never understood the call to a vocation of gratitude for gifts already received.

Yes, there are those whose faith leads them convictions different from my own. Such diversity has been and continues to be honored in our church. We know there are those in our church who struggle out of their own sense of biblical integrity over the church’s welcome and affirmation of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons. But when I receive emails and letters from UCC members railing against such a welcome, angry that God’s gracious love is lavished on the unworthy, bitter that the church’s attention is being directed to the lost rather than to those who have faithfully tended the farm, then I sense the voice of the older brother in our midst. When I hear from UCC members and congregations who have assumed the role of arbiter over who has earned the embrace of the waiting parent, divine or otherwise, then I sense the voice of the older brother in our midst. When I receive emails and letters from UCC members and pastors furious because we have dared to speak on the way our political and economic institutions affect the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable among us, who demand to know why we mingle our faith with politics or economics, who wonder why we should sully ourselves in the pig styes of the far country, who admonish me and us to return to our proper work of managing the family farm, then I sense the voice of the older brother. When I receive emails and letters complaining that my witness against the war in Iraq is inappropriate because it places me or our church, as it did a couple of weeks ago in Washington, on stage with personalities that make us uncomfortable - and admittedly it was a colorful collection of characters! - and when those letters speak of no discomfort at the deception and death woven through the imperial project in Iraq and elsewhere, than I sense the voice of the older brother in our midst, calling us to the safe irrelevancy of the farm. When I receive, as I did yesterday, a message from a UCC member complaining about our Neighbors in Need promotion because it calls for a form of universal health care, and then goes on to question why we would consider health care a right, equating it to having a car or a cell phone, then I sense the voice of the older brother in our midst.

There is an opportunity being exposed by the challenges of these days in our life. It is the opportunity to invite our own members to a larger imagination, to a more gracious vision, to a time of rejoicing that there might just be a lost and lonely soul coming home to an embrace rather than a judgment, to a gospel understanding that grace is not something to be doled out as if it might run out, but to be spread and shared as if it will never run out.


I just signed up to write a novel in November, which is National Novel Writing Month. (NaNoWriMo)

30 days to complete 50,000 words.

This means that my output has to increase by approximately four times my average speed on the previous novel. And this time, I'm starting out flat footed, without the notebooks full of observations I had built up for the first novel.*

It's a little like signing up to run a marathon without having done the practice runs. Very scary, likely to be painful, and nigh impossible to complete.

*Admittedly, I could, if I were feeling soft, pick up the characters I used in the previous novel for a sequel. But that feels like cheating.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Why do People Believe in God?

Why do People Believe in God? (Guardian article) via Kottke

File Under: Future Research

Interesting research, but why not take the psychological/theistic view (some people perceive God, others do not; see also color blindness), rather than the sociological view (more evangelical groups maintain deeper belief in God)? Is it possible to believe more, or does one either believe or not? Can one have a firmer belief at some times, or is it like believing that there's a chair in the corner? Does more intense practice of religious ritual indicate greater belief, or are the two independent?

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Paul Laffoley

Paul Laffoley, who did the lovely cover for my friends over at Generation Hex, is what my Grandma used to call "quite a pistol".*

Interview with Paranoia Magazine

But he [Laffoley's father] had this quirky thing of not believing in gravity. And giving me a constant headache about that one. He would say if I showed any interest in gravity, I was becoming a dupe of the system. He could see indications I was beginning to believe in it.

Also featuring HP Lovecraft and the 130-year old Harvard Business School professor.

Essay on how Gaudi cursed the World Trade Center, with various anecdotes on 20th century architecture.

Index of things from the Kent Gallery

*I might add that several of the Generation Hex kids qualify for pistolhood themselves.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Little Rascals Latter Days

Their biographies here. Many of them are still alive, which seemed odd at first, because I remember watching the Little Rascals movies as something from the dawn of talking pictures. As it turns out, that was only the early 1930's. Which is 70+ years ago, but only twice as long ago as the 1970's are from here. It's weird how time changes as you pass through it.

"No, the big one with the scope"

So funny I fell off my chair laughing.

Timmy, Hand Momma her Gun

One day I came across a well footnoted story of a female bus driver in Spain who, late at night, would pick up drunk men, pull the bus over, kill them, remove their ears and sew them to the bottoms of the bus seats. True, it's sick, but you have to appreciate the quirky touches. Did she use a needle and thread, or was a Bedazzler involved? Ears sewn to seats, was there a pun involved that I wasn't getting? A lesser murderer would have just shot their victims in the head and left them for dead, but it takes vision to make it into the Journal of Abnormal Psychology and this particular bus driver had it in spades.

She reminded me of Chastity Blevins.

Boka Tasting

Met Sergio Carlei at a tasting of his wines last night at Boka, organized by Rebecca. Also got to sample the great little dark chocolate pistachios Annastacia makes (available in a full range of Pantone colors, no less).

Sergio divides wines into two camps: "interesting vs. boring".

About his shiraz/viognier: "It's like swapping partners. Lots of fun. Maybe the young ladies don't like it so much, but with's OK. It's something different."

Among his interesting wines were the Tre Bianchi sauvignon blanc/semillon/chardonnay, which had a crisp, sparkly chracter, unlike the typical grapefruit/pinapple flavor usually found with Australian wines of this type. In general, he's a big fan of subtlety, with less heavily extracted wines (or at least wines unsupplemented by concentrate). I don't know if this is a sharp marketing choice, but it certainly gets him points for originality.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Daily Photo Project

Every so often, it's worth the time to check in on web classics, like Jonathan Keller's Daily Photo Project, where he takes a picture of himself every morning and posts it on the web. It's a slow-motion time lapse effect; he looks almost, but not exactly alike, day to day, but over several years time, his appearance changes--not as much as mine has, but still noticeably. He also lists some other obsessive/time lapse photo projects.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

October Country

Moon over Foster Beach

Some photoshopping done on the second one. Color balance is closer on the fieldhouse and beach in #2, and image of the moon looks more like last night's, but #1 gives better color match to the moon as it was at the time of the photograph.

Margate Park by night, looking up Argyle.

A Little Neurophilosophy

What is it like to be a bat? is one of the classic articles on the subject of neurophilosophy, a subject that deals with questions of whether the brain and the mind are the same thing (whether one reduces to the other), and whether it's possible to figure this out by some method.

It was this question, combined with a heavy dose of cyberpunk literature, that led me to spend several years of my youth on working toward a degree in neuroscience. In some ways, it was a tremendous waste of time and effort, but at least I found out the answers to my questions. At least, as good of answers as it is possible to get at this juncture.

Windows Looking In

This mural is the visual high point of the commute up the Red Line El. Periodically, the boy's face is covered with signs, but these always vanish, or are moved to less expressive parts of the mural. I love the way that the boy's eyes seem to be looking in through a window at the trains passing by, as if the El were just a model of itself.

I also think of the replica of a Nagel painting that used to be up in the RA's room in Lewis dorm my freshman year, which was carefully left un-painted-over for many years, against the rules, in recognition of the quality of the artwork. Then, one spring break, the students returned to find that it had been painted over. An uproar ensued. A collection was taken up to perform the delicate act of restoration, or to pay a talented art major to repaint the wall. In the end, though, I think the money went to buy the end of year keg.

Chinese Poem

Last night out running
Orange full moon low over
Lake Michigan it
Matches streetlights just coming on
Matches half-turned maple leaves
On trees on ground
On air half-turned between tree and ground
Moving airplane stars the only ones out
In early indigo sky
Matches indigo water with moving city stars
Matches indigo watchers
On beach on benches
On long evening run half-turned
Between orange full moon and home
It seems OK, it seems OK
A little cold, just as it is.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Rupert, Rupert, Rupert

Rupert Everett gives a deliciously nasty interview to Newsweek. "We're totally lost."

Where do you live now?

You have to live somewhere. Where do you sleep at night?
Tonight in New York. Tomorrow the world. I moved away from New York when Baby Doc got in the second time.

Baby Doc?
Bush. You don’t know who Baby Doc is?

Yeah, he was the dictator in Haiti.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Dominic Purcell Sighting

Saw Dominic Purcell today at the Virgin Megastore on Mich Ave. Unlike most other actors when you see them in real life, he looks exactly like he does on screen, although understandably less depressed, not being on death row and all.

Going where you're not supposed to go.

Ninjalicious, founder of, and a major player in the Urban Exploration subculture, has died of cancer . Hundreds of messages have been left describing his effect on people out on the web. It's an example of how one person's heartfelt interest can be, how it touches others in small, unexpected ways.

Someone proposed an appropriate epitaph:

Explore in peace, Ninj.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Gretchen Worden found her job in life, as curator of the Mutter Museum. In this obituary/review of the museum, the NYT mentions that the museum has just opened a new room named for her. From the article:

Ms. Worden used humor and charm to ease viewers past the initial gawking or revulsion the museum's collection might trigger. There was a serious message behind her sometimes madcap affect: that the human body is not to be feared or loathed, even when horrifically damaged or monstrously distorted. "While these bodies may be ugly," she wrote in her book of the museum's mute inhabitants,
"there is a terrifying beauty in the spirits of those forced to endure these afflictions."
NYT (link via boingboing)

Surgical museums are examples of the sublime, in which beauty and terror sit side by side. The accumulation of deformity and disease becomes lovely by the act of cataloguing it, and comparing the infinite variety of the human form; the more so because these relics were gathered in the service of healing and better knowledge.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


For the past few weeks, I've spent as little time cooking as possible, until yesterday, when I made the grilled vegetables in herbal marinade and long grain rice. This resulted in a general inventory of my cabinets and fridge and whatnot.

As a result, I've filled up my tupperware with soups, salads, fruit compote, turkey meatballs, boiled eggs, three kinds of iced tea, double chocolate muffins, and a mess of stir-fry.

Now, I just need to get ten people over here to help me eat all the food.