2013.05 minutiae

  • It seems like one day I woke up and everyone was using the word "trigger" and its adjectival friend "triggery."  Look at this link, but warning, it may be triggery!  I couldn't watch that movie — too many triggers!  Like we're all Manchurian Candidates just waiting for the signal to drop into a haunted trance.  That said, it does tend to be the case that words catch on when they designate a concept that people recognize but never had a single word for before.  And I have to concede that when I was watching a show in which someone sounded a gong, and it instantly dredged up the sick feeling of being back in meditation camp to such an extent that I was like "nooo make it stop," it was kind of triggery.

  • On a happier note, the food at meditation camp was sometimes so bland (e.g., brown rice with steamed unseasoned broccoli) that in an attempt to give it some sort of flavor I added the only available condiment, which was sriracha sauce.  It was the first time I had tried it.  Now I have a bottle in the fridge that gets pretty regular use.

  • When I was a kid, the part of the "Puff the Magic Dragon" special in which Puff rips Jackie Paper's soul out and throws away the rectangle of paper that remains freaked me the fuck out.

  • One evening I stepped outside and saw two raccoons mating on the sidewalk in front of my neighbor's house.  Well okay then.

  • On Solano Avenue Lizzie and I passed this car:

    It's heartening to see that authorities are realizing that in our car-dependent society blind motorists can derive great benefit from the services of a driving-eye dog.

  • Lizzie and I watched some episodes of the 1985 version of The Twilight Zone, which I watched occasionally during its first run.  I loved the ways different set designers tried to signal that this was the future.  The one with triangular mirrors was pretty good, but I think my favorite was the one in which the family had a framed picture of a planet on the wall.

  • The '85 Twilight Zone also exemplified something I tried to convey to the younglings when I took that apocalypse class back in 2006: in the '80s everyone thought about nuclear war all the time and sort of expected that at any point some international crisis might flare up and by the end of the week the missiles would be flying.  It's interesting how the prospect of nuclear war is woven into the background of so many of these stories in a way that seemed completely natural back in 1985 but is now very noticeable.

  • I was working on a scene that started with just a couple of seconds of a character watching a TV show — I needed something that would instantly convey "he's watching something unexpectedly stupid" to the audience.  Thirty years ago the standard answer would have been The Three Stooges, but that reference was dusty even back then; nowadays it would convey "he's watching something a century old for some reason."  I asked Lizzie for a modern equivalent and she suggested Two and a Half Men.  I replied that she might consider that show stupid, but that what I needed was something that functioned in the public mind as a byword for stupidity — and that was when I realized that, fuck, I'm doing semiotics for a living, aren't I?

  • Hunter Walker on a New York City Council proposal to open municipal elections to anyone who pays taxes in the city: "New York would be, by far, the largest city in the nation that allows non-citizens to vote."

    New York is the largest city in the nation to do anything it does.

  • (Which Talking Points Memo reporter is secretly working for the Soviets? Find out in my new thriller, Hunter Walker Soldier Spy)

  • On multiple occasions I have come home and found a pair of eight-year-old girls swordfighting on the sidewalk in front of my house.  The swords look pretty fake, but the medieval armor they wear is surprisingly realistic.  (Though I think actual knights took off their capes before wading into battle.)

  • In the late '90s suddenly almost every product started listing the company URL on its packaging.  Almost, but not all: when I moved back out to California I saw that the cartons of eggs at the Berkeley Bowl bore a picture of a laughing bearded man throwing his hat into the air and holding a sign reading, "THE HECK WITH THE TELE.COM BUSINESS I'M AN EGG FARMER".  The cartons still have that picture.  Except now there's a URL next to it.

  • I seriously couldn't believe that they would call it "Super Bowl L" rather than "Super Bowl 50".  I still suspect they'll switch before it actually happens.

  • I dropped the SD card with my music on it as I was getting out of the car, and, bink, it disappeared.  I thought it might have gotten under the floor mat somehow, so I took the floor mat out of the car.  No memory chip there — it turned out to have fallen under the seat.  What I did find was the pocketknife I lost five years ago.  Gosh.

  • If you're not following Stochastic Planet, now is a great time to start: I've seen the entire June queue and it's the best month yet by a significant margin.

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