Apr 6, 2014

Life is a Book

Life is a Book

"This book catalogues the lovely art collection of a museum in Munich." — at Washington Square Park.
Image Credit: Lisa Helfrich

Apr 5, 2014

Jesus Was A Slacker

Jesus was not considered Dean's List material in his home country of Palestine. He irked the professors of his day with his youthful sarcasm and basically failed his exam and was kicked out of the synagogue (Luke 4:28-29). He picked up the pieces and eventually became known as a great orator -- giving first rate parables only a Literature professor could love. That's courage.
image source: funny jesus

Apr 1, 2014

Why The Scarecrow is Boss


How Can You Talk If You Haven't A Brain?
In the original novels by L. Frank Baum, even though the Scarecrow lacks a brain, he is named Ruler of Oz! Take that Dorothy, and your little dog too. In the classic 1939 MGM movie he gets an honorary degree from the Wizard, and in the 1978 Michael Jackson version, his genius is in the song “You Can’t Win” where he reminds us “to refuel our brains.” I love a guy with no brains.

image source: pandawhale

Feb 15, 2014

Flappy Bird

    I played Flappy Bird for the first time last week and scored 14 points after a furious exercise of tapping.  Two ladies on the R train were playing Candy Crush. I was playing Flappy Bird. I flapped. I died. I looked up. The ladies were still playing Candy Crush. They were also chatting about the game. How it is so addictive, but they love it. The sweet spot for mobile gaming is that elusive combination of challenge and pleasure. Candy Crush has it. Flappy Bird had it. It's a difficult game. But kind of zany fun. Folks have rejected food and water in the hopes of finding respite for Flappy Bird's flight. Alas, it keeps flapping. Then you hit a pipe. Blam. You're dead.
    The rules are simple. You fly a round shaped bird creature between pairs of pipes without hitting anything. But then. Flap. You're dead. It's a subtle dexterity that can either spell "Game Over" or a successful pass through yet another Mario Brothers-esque pipe.
    The game's creator Dong Nguyen pulled the app from the Android and iOS app stores. He wrote on Twitter that he cannot take it anymore.
     People took umbrage. Riots in the streets! No, not really. But his decision did create a mini-quake on the Internet. Why shelve this massively addictive game? He was reported to be making $50,000 a day from advertisements. Rumors abound that he has had legal troubles, that he artificially generated customer reviews, and that his decision to pull the game was a brilliant marketing ploy. The resignation of Flappy Bird has spawned a quartet of successful imitations. If you want to it is possible to now flap a bird, or a bee, and there is even a Sesame Street version. Is the old adage true that imitation is the best form of flattery?
      Mr. Nguyen said on Twitter that the game ruined his simple life. It's the state of the Internet today. Fame brings unwanted attention. Success is one thing. Success is an admirable goal. Fame can be ugly. Mr. Nguyen probably doesn't want to deal with the incessant comments, questions, news reports, and interrogation. I am sure he has received thousands of questions like, "Will Flappy Bird improve my sex life?" and "What's your highest score?" For the record it's 250, but that is a rounded off number.
      Is Mr. Nguyen now happy? Will he release a new game? Will he and the Flappy Bird empire catapult to new heights of fame and recognition? He's probably chillin'. Lickin' his wounds. It's enough to ruin a simple man. And there is a really cool meme that showcases Flappy Bird as art.
Flappy Bird MMO

 Image Source: Kotaku

Feb 7, 2014

Little Girl Talks about Philosophy


I am not sure if this girl is being coached by an adult, but I thought this was a pretty cool video of a young person attempting philosophical questions.

Jan 18, 2014

"Completely Not Me" by Jenny Lewis

"Completely Not Me" by Jenny Lewis was the end credits for "Truth or Dare," the second episode of season three of Girls, the HBO TV show about young women who supposedly are struggling.

Jan 5, 2014

Repost: Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise Prank


My friend Frank Levy showed me this video and he said, "For a moment these people thought anything was possible." Filmed in a West Village Coffee shop, the makers of Carrie, the Stephen King pyromancer reboot, aim for a genuine shock effect. Frank suggested watching it a couple of times, each time focusing on each of the customers' reactions. Even the woman's dog is freaked. What would Baudrillard say about this? I don't know.

Jan 2, 2014

Greig's Best Movies of 2013

To add to the glut of "best of" 2013 lists compiled this time of year, here's my authoritative round-up (not!) of the best movies. In my humble opinion.

1.) Blue Jasmine
Cate Blanchett is tragically diaphanous in Woody Allen's newest cinematic addition.
2.) The Bling Ring
Sofia Copola shows us the beauty of the Los Angeles hills and a vicarious glimpse into the celebrity rich through the lens of the children who rob them.
3.) Mud
You may remember Tye Sheridan in The Tree of Life. He gets his chance to shine in this coming of age tale set in Louisiana.
4.) Lore
A Nazi family try to escape capture at the end of World War II in this drama directed by Cate Shortland.
5.) West of Memphis
Damien Echols, one of the falsely accused "West Memphis Three", gets his chance to tell his story in this revealing documentary directed by Amy Berg.
6.) Gravity
I spent more time looking at the spiraling Earth than the actors, but this movie is cosmic and terrifying.
7.) Her
Spike Jonze is one of my favorite directors. Her adds to my admiration. I've been waiting for a movie about computer love for a long time. It's finally here.
8.) The Spectacular Now
This understated movie ends differently then the novel it's based on, but I thought the two young actors were superb in their vulnerability.
9.) Stand Clear of the Closing Doors
Sam Fleischner allows us to follow a young autistic boy who runs away from his home in Far Rockaway to travel the New York City subway alone right before Hurricane Sandy crashes on shore.
10.) Prisoners
Two girls go missing and the result is an irrational rupture of both desperation to find the truth (Jake Gyllenhaal's performance of a local detective) and insane vigilante justice (Hugh Jackman, who plays the father of one of the missing girls).

Jan 1, 2014

Greig's Best Books Read in 2013

Taking my cue from Stephen King in the “Best of” issue of Entertainment Weekly and my High School librarian Margot Polley who every year lists her favorite books, I do the same for my favorite books read in 2013. Note I do not list books necessarily published in 2013, but books I read. This year I read a little bit of everything, so instead of listing books by categories, I decided to just list six memorable books that I thought were awesome. My criteria for selection was whether or not the book was fun to read. If you want to make your own list, go ahead. So here goes …

1. Big Brother by Lionel Shriver
The best novel I read this year. Shriver delivers in her latest diatribe-cum-novel on the healthy eating craze. Pandora Halfdanarson's brother Edison comes to live with her and he's 336 pounds -- a shock to the sister and her nuclear family. The novel glitters with cute tidbits like jabs on healthy eating -- none of the meals Pandora's health crazed husband cooks up are appealing. I love Shriver's nice touches like Pandora's line of talking dolls she sells online that say mean things for people you love. It's standard Shriver replete with an impressive vocabulary and insight into sibling relationships. 

2. Truffaut/Hitchcock by François Truffaut (an interview with Alfred Hitchcock)
The best cinema book I read. Two venerable directors talk about cinema in this classic interview conducted by the French New Wave director Truffaut and stringent auteur Hitchcock. Less on biography and more on form and execution, this book is a fascinating read for cinephiles. I personally love both Truffaut and Hitchcock and I came away with the conclusion that Truffaut makes moves born from his exacting emotional intuition and Hitchcock is the total opposite. Truffaut quizzes Hitchcock on each and every film he ever made and the result is a trip through film history and a rare chance to experience two great movie masters talk shop.  

The grossest book I ever read. I will never think about digestion the same ever again. I hear Mary Roach is famous for writing about taboo subjects like cadavers and stuff, and so I wanted to read her. Do you know why a dog throws up his food? He enjoyed the meal. Did you know that food, as it goes from your mouth to your stomach, is called a bolus? The book is chock full of AMAZING facts about eating and everything that goes with, from the mouth to the rectum. Mary Roach is funny and informative and she has the most clever footnotes ever contrived by an author. The book is not a list of facts about the digestive system. It's more of a series of encounters with scientists who are trying to innovate on everything from saliva to taste buds. 

The best philosophy book I read this year was written by a journalist. Holt asks everyone who will listen the question, "Why is there something rather than nothing?" This simple question is actually a doozy. Why does the universe exist at all? The universe could just as easily never have existed. I remember in College my Metaphysics professor spent weeks discussing it and I got a dose of it in reading Heidegger. This book does not require philosophical expertise and I think it is a good way to get into philosophy. 

5. The End of Alice by A.M. Homes
Every year I gobble up books written by the same author and this year the winner was A.M. Homes. The End of Alice is about Chappy, a murderer pedophile in Sing Sing who has an epistolary romance with an unnamed teenage girl who is obsessed with a young boy (who likes to collect his scabs and eat 'em). The novel reminds me of Joyce Carol Oates's fictional Dahmeresque novel Zombie. Homes wrote a postscript to the novel called Appendix A: An Elaboration on the Novel The End of Alice that I have yet to read.


6. The Last Pictures by Trevor Paglen
There are a certain class of artificial satellites flung into Earth's orbit that are far enough away to stay within Earth's gravitational field but will never either fall back to earth or drift off into inter-stellar space. They are, say, stuck. Paglen conceived and implemented a way to preserve human memory indefinitely, even after we are all gone. Attaching a small silicon disk etched with curated black and white photographs, Paglen aims to to eternally archive humanity's sojourn on the blue planet. The idea is inspired by NASA's "Golden Record" project for the Voyager spacecraft, but less humanistic. The idea is that even after humans are extinct there will still be these "last pictures," a small testament to our shenanigans. Most of the photographs, like a bunch of wasps affixed with what looks like a jet pack, are only meaningful once you read the liner notes, but I like how Paglen tries to capture us in our foibles and shortcomings.

Dec 13, 2013

On Looking Back at My First Blog Post

Portrait of an Articulated Skeleton on a Bentwood Chair
   Forgetting that what I post on a blog is read by people, today someone (a student, no less) found my blog online and read my first post. It is an obscurely written poem about Prague and Dvořák. I do like the first line of the poem, "Dvořák strums his fingers on the dashboard, a melodic lilt to the tune of lips," but the rest of the poem is arduous.
   When I was in my early twenties I think I tried to imitate Arthur Rimbaud's symbolic poetry which ended up in dozens of cryptic poems I wrote during that time. I must say, I was better at free association than I am now. I used poetry as an early form of therapy. Not a bad idea, but poetry based on the mental states of the poet does not mature with age. Now, I am more tight lipped with words. HA HA HA. I don't write as much poetry. It's sad isn't it? I am not sure why I abandoned poetry. I have notes about poems, and I even collected a few of my best poems in a notebook. The student was less interested in the poetry, and more interested in the fact that there is a picture of me talking on a yellow telephone. "Were you really talking on the phone?" he asked, incredulous that anyone in today's cell phone fixated world would actually use a pay phone. I listened to an intense conversation today about cell phones. Wow. I like my cell phones, but apparently it is a very important accessory for a lot of people. I overheard a student say to another, "Yeah, I bought an iPhone, but it does not do everything I want." True that. 
   Back to blogging: I've been blogging since 2001. It doesn't surprise me that I have maintained a blog for over a decade, since I have been continually recording my thoughts in analog form since at least 1992. Don't worry. I won't upload my twelve year old self's thoughts to this blog, but it is nice to know I have a record of my thoughts through the decades. My twelve year old self liked lists. I made lists for everything. Lists for matchbox cars and MAD magazines. It was rather obsessive of me. Come to think of it I still like lists. Some things do not change. It's a learned behavior I have managed to keep. I have a to-do list, a list of books read, a list of movies watched, and a list of fragments of thoughts. I think it is common for people to keep lists. The selection of websites that make list making a hobby attests to our fascination with making lists cataloging our every whim. Goodreads is good for book lists, imdb is good for movie lists. I have an app called Delicious Library for making a catalog of all the books I own. It's nifty.        
   There is even an app to list your random thoughts. Thoughtback is good for making a list of random thoughts that will then successively come back to you as messages on your desktop. The app promises "to program your mind, one thought at a time." It's rather disconcerting. I thought it would re-inspire me to investigate thoughts I have, but I cannot help but be embarrassed when a thought I wrote weeks ago pops up on my desktop. Who cares if I wrote, "Capitalism has no ethical structure," or, "I should write a short story about artificial intelligent zombies."   
   On a different note: I'm going to New Orleans next week. It has become an annual ritual since I moved to New York. I intend to do everything there that I do not do in New York: eat raw oysters, go to gritty bars, hang out with friends I have not seen for a year, and see the family for Christmas. I have a newphew I have not yet met. My aunt is hosting Christmas dinner and I will get to visit my old hometown of Mandeville (and by extension Madisonville). I have anxiety about going home, but it is mainly because I deal with anxiety all the time anyway. 
   Speaking of anxiety, tomorrow morning I am serving on a summary jury for the County of Kings, but I am not going to say anything more about that topic. *shutting my playboy mouth*
     
     

Nov 20, 2013

Paper in Tree With Unseen Star on the Horizon

I saw a star in the sky at dusk in Brooklyn. The photograph does not do the image justice. Sometimes, what I see with my own eyes is sufficient. Art has failed me.
#splenax

Nov 11, 2013

Veteran's Day Parade

Kids dressed up as soldiers prepare to march in the New York City Veteran's Day Parade on Fifth Avenue

Oct 30, 2013

How To Toast Bread


Bryce Chartwell shows the people how to toast bread.


A friend sent me this video. His media studies professor used it as an example of narcissism. If I had to make toast for Bryce Chartwell I would be afraid to mess up the toast! What if I don't do it the right way? This video makes me want to eat toast in the opposite way: over a rough fire, scarf it down, and get my shirt dirty. If it is satire, this video is hilarious. I think it's satire and a good example of consumerism. We don't just want toast. We want the perfect toast. And we are satisfied with the illusion that spreading the butter in an East to West direction and making sure the butter is only one micron thick will achieve satisfaction beyond the basic needs of food and shelter into the meta-realm of desire where toast takes on an entirely different meaning. It ain't toast anymore. It reminds me of people who order specially bottled water at restaurants to feel like the water, in all of its neat packaging is more than just water, it is beyond water. Of course the structure of desire is such that we are never satisfied. We want more. And more. Capitalism takes advantage of our desire and runs with it. Long live the toast. The toast is dead. 

Oct 10, 2013

Prosecco

I drank a bottle of Prosecco in the late afternoon. The light had just begin to disintegrate. On my computer lay a MP4 of Malcolm X, a movie I had intended to watch. To my chagrin I had never watched it and vowed to see it through during a time of inactivity. It is my goal to immerse myself in cinema. It's been a recent habit of mine to sit in a cinema as often as I can gather the strength to take the D train to Midtown. Sunset Park is lackluster in cinemas. Bay Ridge only plays the shallow greats. Cobble Hill has a decent cinema but I don't take the F train. It's easier to ride into Manhattan, with its jaundiced eyes, and beleaguered denizens. Humanity looks brow beaten on the subway. I sort of feel shameful taking the D train to see a movie during rush hour. Shouldn't I feel just as brow beaten, just as defeated after a long days of work. Maybe these people, these sour brow beaten folks have more money in their pockets than me. They have mouths to feed. Rent to pay. I've paid my rent. I am going to see a movie. I wish they could come with me and rejoice in the pleasures of the visual screen. It's a screed I preach. I say. To them. To the woman with the holes in her hosiery, to the overtly masculine boy who keeps picking at his knickers. To the guy, a prince, so fairly laden, he only knows how to asks for something, never
to empathize. It's a guilty pleasure. I don't know why I feel so guilty. Today. I counted them. I saw eighty-six movies at the same cinema. That's not counting the other movies at other cinemas. I feel like Susan Sontag. Or something. Malcolm X. They soaked in information; then they launched onto the world. I feel like I am still a chrysalis in its shell, damned, but I do not know why.

Sep 15, 2013

Nietzsche Thinking Intensely (Quotable Nietzsche)


Nietzsche Thinking Intensly (image: Flickr/SPDP)
I read "23 Signs You're Secretly an Introvert" in the Huffington Post, and #5 on the list "You've been called 'too intense'" caught my attention. It was accompanied by a nifty drawing of Nietzsche surrounded by a spray of his most quotable quotes in hard to read scribble-scratch. I like Nietzsche so I copied out the quotes, which took some time because the handwriting is atrocious, with the appropriate citations. Nietzsche is very quotable which is why in Germany they revere him like the English revere Shakespeare. If anyone knows who created the Nietzsche graphic let me know.

"It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book."
Twilight of the Idols, Or, How to Philosophize with a Hammer, "Skirmishes of an Untimely Man," Aphorism 51, (1888)

"Is life not a thousand times too short to bore ourselves?"
Beyond Good and Evil, Aphorism 227, (1886)

"Faith: not wanting to know what is true."
The Antichrist, Aphorism 52, (1895)

"In every real man a child is hidden that wants to play.”
Thus Spoke Zarathustra, "On Little Old and Young Women," (1883)

"In music the passions enjoy themselves."
Beyond Good and Evil, Aphorism 106, (1886)

"Idleness is the parent of psychology."
Twilight of the Idols, Or, How to Philosophize with a Hammer, "Apothegms and Darts," Aphorism 1, (1888)

"All credibility, all good conscience, all evidence of truth, come only from the senses."
Beyond Good and Evil, Aphorism 134, (1886)

"It is always consoling to think of suicide: in that way one gets through many a bad night."
Beyond Good and Evil. ch. 4, Aphorism 157, (1886)

"Madness is rare in individuals, but in groups, parties, nations and ages it is the rule."
Beyond Good and Evil, "Apothegms and Interludes," Aphorism 156, (1886)

"One should die proudly when it is no longer possible to live proudly."
Twilight of the Idols, Or, How to Philosophize with a Hammer, "Skirmishes in War with the Age," Aphorism 36, (1888)

"Plato was a bore."*
*I am unable to find the exact source for this quote. Plenty sources cite Nietzsche but none refer to a text.*

"I love those who don't know how to live for today."*
*Again, plenty of sources cite Nietzsche but without giving credit to a text. I did find in Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883) a slightly similar quote: "I love those that know not how to live except as downgoers, for they are the overgoers."

"For art to exist, for any sort of aesthetic activity to exist, a certain physiological precondition is indispensable: intoxication."
Twilight of the Idols, Or, How to Philosophize with a Hammer, "Roving Expeditions of an Inopportune Philosopher," Aphorism 8, (1888)

"Art is the proper task of life."
The Will to Power, "The Will to Power as Art," Section IV, (1901)

"I cannot believe in a God who wants to be praised at all times."
This quote seems to be a paraphrase of an idea from Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883)

"Fear is the mother of  all morality." 
Beyond Good and Evil, Aphorism 201, (1886)

"Before the effect believes in different causes than one does after the effect."
The Gay Science, "Cause and Effect," Aphorism 217, (1882)

"If you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you."
Beyond Good and Evil, Aphorism 146 (1886).

"Is man one of God's blunders? Is God one of man's blunders?"
Twilight of the Idols Or, How to Philosophize with a Hammer, "Maxims and Arrows," Aphorism 7, (1888)

Aug 7, 2013

Friedrich Nietzsche on the Abyss

"Beyond Good and Evil", Aphorism 146 (1886).


Decided to rewatch Abyss, the 1989 sci-fi water drama based on a Michael Chricton novel of the same name, and was pleasantly surprised to see it begins with an apt quote from Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil. I don't remember that tidbit when I saw it over twenty years ago. Despite the usual Hollywood spectacle hijinks one expects from studio blockbusters, I have always remembered this movie as not just rather impressive with the special effects (for its time) but also a visually poetic film and one of the better close encounter with the third kind kind of movie (of course not to beat Close Encounters of the Third Kind). 

Jul 13, 2013

"Blah Blah Blah" Supercut by Alex Brown


Creator: Alex Brown
A supercut of movie Blahs. (...and 1 from TV)
Hollywood scriptwriting at it's best. Try to guess all the movies.
All the clips used in this video fall under fair use for parody.

Jun 22, 2013

Guy On Facebook Tries to Defend Paula Deen (Fucked Up)

Here is Paul Deen's apology for using the N word and the defense some guy on Facebook wrote. 


Ummm... I don't agree with using racial, homophobic, or sexist or any other derogatory slurs. That said I also don't believe in publicly crucifying someone for mistakes that they have chosen to own up to. In thespectrum of things and myself coming from a white southern background, I do hate the defense that someone grew up in a different era but my great grandmother used terminology for ethnic people that in today's social climate would have had her slain as a bigot in the court of public opinion and I can attest to her being one of the most open minded and kind hearted people ever. Everyone needs to quit casting stones and focus on their own problems and furthermore the word offends me far less than the way that certain African American Civil rights groups constantly search and scour for individuals and scenarios to keep segregation alive on a mass social level by labeling them racist with little to no investigation into the truth of the matter.
Jason M. Havard, Facebook Comment, June 22, 2013


WTF? Notice how Jason's defense goes from "please 

leave Paul Deen alone" to blaming Civil Rights Groups 

for segregation (did I read that correctly?). 

Jun 16, 2013

To Swim Or Not To Swim?

  
Floating pool in the Bronx but I ain't swimming here.
When people ask me what's my favorite sport I'm prone to say swimming, partly because, in truth, I have no favorite sport, and it's the closest thing to a sport I've actually put in more than a half-ass effort, not counting my brief stint at Junior Tee-Ball and Little Boy Soccer at NOAH -- not named for the old testament ship builder, but an acronym for North of Airline Highway. My Uncle thought this was funny.
   So swimming it is. Every year, around this time, I make a pact with myself to go swimming. I have never really kept the promise. Last year I swam one time at the city pool -- but it was the last weekend of the season before they were shutting down Adult Lap Swim. People take Adult Lap Swim very seriously in this city. Every day during normal opening hours they close the pool down and open it only for those serious about swimming laps. They have those silly lifesaver looking dividers and everything.
   I got a card last year to prove that I had done it at least once. The head lifeguard was not amused. "You know we only have a couple days of Adult Swim left, right?" Yeah, I told him. He shrugged and filled me out a card anyway. On the books I am an official lap swimmer at the Sunset Park public pool.
   This year I am making the same pact but I am going to swim at the public pool in Gowanus. I figure a change of venue might put some spring in my leap or something like that. I vow that my pact to swim this Summer will actually work for me since I am viscerally disgusted at what appears to be a belly growing out from my midriff. I know I should not be so body conscious. I have always been a fairly skinny person but I must have inherited my mother's genes. Not that she's fat. Far from it. We used to joke with her that she was always trying to lose a few pounds but now, in my early thirties I can see what she meant. Losing three pounds is damn near impossible.
   Damn I need to lay off the Peruvian rotisserie chicken.
   When I am actually in the water I enjoy swimming. It's the prep work I disdain. Getting dressed, putting on the goggles, doing all that business. My only successful stint at swimming, unless you count the lessons I took to learn to swim and the many hours I spent as a child swimming at the neighborhood pool (yes I was a sexy stud in Speedos back then), was when I was in college. There was a fine indoor facility blocks from the Philosophy department and I loved to do blocks there after dinner. I was motivated, in part, by my environment. A few people in my dorm loved to swim and it was a fun way to take a break from the rather insular nature of studying Kant and Hegel. It was amazing how as an undergraduate we made those trips to the swimming pool quite fun, even though my bike was stolen a few times, but that was common, everyone stole bikes, so the easiest thing to do was to just steal another person's back. It was a kind of fucked up version of pay it forward. And I remember having many interesting conversations in the locker room about the existence of God. I know you would think locker rooms are bereft of conversation and more of a towel slapping hee-haw we're men and we're naked kinda place. But lemme tell you, a bunch of naked men in one room -- they're bound to get philosophical.
    Anywho.
    Beyond that time of childhood and college swimming, the only nautical exercise I have had are the numerous times spent at the beach and if you count the many restful evenings with a glass of Chianti in a filled-up bathtub.
    So this year I am starting on June 27th (that's when the outdoor swim season starts in New York) at the Douglass-Degraw public pool. I still need to buy goggles. I have my swim trunks! Yeah! Last year I didn't buy any goggles for that one-time-only swim and my eyes paid the price. I'm really a wimp though. I still get scared of jumping in and because of my early memories of the drain at the far end of the pool (in the deep end) I still get anxious goose pimples. I am also dreadfully afraid that I will swim out of my lane and haphazardly swim diagonally into whichever crazy direction I should not go.
    It'll be an easy go at first in the slow lane. The fast experts hate people who choose the fast lane so I will respect the fast experts and stick to the slow lane. I really wish I could sneak in a bottle of wine but I might end up dead.
    I think this year will be a success.
    If I can just tell myself that swimming is good. And oh. I need to buy some earwax because golly I can still remember that Summer I got a terrific earache from pretending I was a dolphin. I did too many flips and stayed underwater too much and my ears suffered and I got this terrible ear infection that pretty much has made me hard of hearing. It's quite an occupational hazard. When I am teaching I never know what questions people are asking so I've learned to read lips. And forget about it if I am in a crowded restaurant and you're trying to tell me an affecting story. It's embarrassing really so I really need to pick up earwax from Duane Reade.
    My first lap will be splendid. I will swim and swim and swim. It'll be exhausting. I'm woefully out of shape. Yesterday I ran to catch the B63 bus and Jesus H. Christ I felt like I had done a triathlon. It'll be good though. I am sensing this Summer will be wet and wild.
    Do you think I'll make it?
    If I could figure out a way to read the New York Times on my mobile app while swimming that'll be an incentive. And oh. Does anyone know where there is a safe and clean place to swim in the Hudson?


May 28, 2013

Greig's Uncanny Moment Grading Papers

It's slightly unsettling to grade students' final exams and to read their answers to the essay questions. Some of the students have their own voice and I can tell they understand the question through their own mastery of the concepts. Stellar work, I say, and then there are the students who just don't get the question correct, but what gets me every time is reading a student's answer that has an uncanny resemblance to my lecture vocabulary and style. It's creepy. I can tell they understand the concepts but they're using my style of delivering the answer. It's not exactly copying. Nor is it their own words -- well, sorta -- it's their own rehashing of what they remember I said in class. Rather impressive. I am sure I wrote like that when I was an undergraduate. We really hung onto what are profs said. I really don't remember anything my teachers said about philosophy. I remember the slips of the tongue and non sequitors. "Nouns and verbs and shit," said one prof answering a kid's query about what the paper should contain. Sensible answer, I thought. Or one teacher in College told us we could choose any color we wanted to write on the board as long as we used its liquour name. Green chalk was Chartreuse. That's all I remember. I drink the stuff with relish when I have the dough. It's divine.  

May 15, 2013

Things I Probably Shouldn't Have Said (And Other Faux Pas)

Things I Shouldn't Have Said (And Other Faux Pas) is a book of 13 essays about my journey from New Orleans to NYC. Most of the essays were originally written for this blog, Stones of Erasmus, which I then took out, mishmashed, and turned it into a story about my journey from New Orleans to New York, mixed in with anecdotes about things I shouldn't have said in subway cars, yeshivas, Catholic high schools, my college classroom -- you get the gist. Check it out. I made it into a Kindle Book Here.

Ersatz Existential Daily Post

Today I poured a cup of coffee into a plastic, reusable cup. I sighed. As the world sighs. I sat at my formica dining room table, listening to the sound of faint music from the bottom floor rising up like a tribal beat, a haunting sound, then quiet. My cup dry. My cup doth not runneth over. The refrigerator hums. I sit in my pea green apartment and I am one with the universe. It's the best thing going for I must have some sense of transcendence. Right? It bothers me that I must be so existential in the morning. Damn coffee cup. Damn emptiness. I eschew you. Spit you out. There. That's better. Good day, mates.

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