Monday, April 12, 2010

Return of the mack

* Got back from Denver last night. Natch, I'm too pooped for a post more substantial than bullet points, or the equivalent. I hemorrhaged so much money into travel expenses that I didn't buy many books this year, but our combined haul is pretty good. First up I'm reading Post Moxie by Julia Story, just out from Sarabande. I've been telling people my new poems are inspired by Bluets (Maggie Nelson) and City of Moths (Sam Starkweather) but I now realize Post Moxie, which I read in manuscript form a couple years ago, predated those texts as an inspiration. You can read three of my new poems, thusly inspired, here. (Thanks to Hannah Miet for the comment!) More are coming to a Denver Quarterly near you.

* I learned a new word: janky. This from the mouth of Katie Caron, a visual artist (ceramics and installation) we spent some time with in CO. Judging from context alone, "janky" seemed to mean a little rough around the edges, or slightly crappy in execution. Urban Dictionary provides a less nuanced or at least more emphatic definition, more like "crappy, period."

* I also learned the origin and actual meaning of the phrase "Oh, the humanity!" which, if you think about it, makes no sense. You probably know that it comes from the radio broadcast during the Hindenburg disaster. Here's the little-known fact, as reported by John: The zeppelin came crashing down into the ground crew, which was called the Humanity. A bit of transcript from the broadcast: "And oh, it's…burning, oh, four or five hundred feet into the sky. It's a terrific crash, ladies and gentlemen. The smoke and the flames now and the frame is crashing to the ground, not quite to the mooring mast. Oh, the humanity and all the passengers screaming around here." (I assume he read this in a book, because I can't find a reliable reference online. I did find this slightly different account: "Herbert Morrison's famous words should be understood in the context of the broadcast, in which he had repeatedly referred to the large team of people on the field, engaged in landing the airship, as a 'mass of humanity.' He used the phrase when it became clear that the burning wreckage was going to settle onto the ground, and that the people underneath would probably not have time to escape it. It is not clear from the recording whether his actual words were 'Oh, the humanity' or 'all the humanity.'") Either way, I put this up there, in terms of stuff your teachers unwittingly lied about, with how your blood's not really blue. Also, how everyone thinks "Wherefore art thou, Romeo" means "Where are you, Romeo?"

* Allen has been requesting a post about Apple. But I don't think I have anything new to add. It's already been said that the high price point of Apple products, for "Mac people," is "a feature, not a bug." I've never understood the claims that what you're paying for is better design, since I find Macs frustratingly difficult to use, and pretty generic-looking from the outside, like "designer" toasters from Target. Also, I've used Dells for decades and never had a virus of any significant consequence. I don't like gadgets, I'm not a gamer, and I have better ways to waste my money (by which I mean, more fun for me). What else is there to say? Yo Big A: How about some FAQs or talking points?

30 comments:

  1. Yeah, I learned "janky" from friends a few years ago, though it fell somewhere in between slightly and completely crappy as I understood it.

    Good meeting you in person, and your book was waiting for me when I got home!

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  2. what about a mac is difficult? as an example, when we got a new wireless router at our apartment, it took about 5 minutes to have it up and running on my mac, but my roommates with pc's had to negotiate a labyrinthine series of menus and controls that were completely bewildering to me. then we called apple and they explained how to set it up for windows.

    i don't know, to me it just seems obvious that macs are easier to use. but i've been using them for 16 years, so maybe it's just a question of what you grew up with. like, to me, english is a lot easier to speak than german, but i didn't start speaking german until age 14 (and then quit at ~20).

    as for generic-looking, what could be more generic than this black rectangle of a dell i'm typing on now?

    i don't know anyone who considers the high price "a feature". maybe there are people like that, but certainly not all mac people.

    anyone who doesn't know that "wherefore" means "why" should be shot.

    i'm in a good mood today.

    did you know that the actor playing the reporter in orson welles's "war of the worlds" broadcast modeled his performance specifically on the hindenburg announcer?

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  3. I agree that whatever you're used to seems easier. I don't think either platform is easier at some basic level. Probably neither is truly intuitive. Also, I don't think PCs look good or not-generic -- I'm just saying I don't think Macs really look better than PCs just because they come in white and have rounded corners.

    I don't think anyone who buys Macs is literally, consciously happy that they cost more. I just mean the brand/exclusivity have the benefit of signaling something to the world. When you pull your Mac out at the coffee shop you're saying something different about yourself than the guy with a Dell. You're saying, "I'm a man of discriminating tastes, many of you will recognize immediately."

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  4. personally i think it's kind of embarrassing to have a laptop in a coffee shop at all. on the rare occasions i do that, it's probably out of necessity--i'm not interested in showing off. it's actually the opposite: i'm worried about people looking over my shoulder and getting "all up in my business", if that's the phrase i'm looking for.

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  5. It's kind of embarrassing to even be in a coffee shop. What is this, the 90s? Are they playing Screaming Trees?

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  6. Embarassing? To be in a coffee shop? (Confused cat expression.)

    Unless you're talking about the formica coffee chains, in which case, well yeah... I still hang sometimes at one or another of the small local funky ones near where I live (funky in the good sense), though *not* with a computer.

    I was at AWP, swimming in the sea of people ("Oh the humanity" no fooling), I've posted about it in my blog, here.

    I've heard the recording of the Hindenberg crash broadcast I don't know how many times over the years, and it's always sounded to me like "Oh the humanity." That explanation that the ground crew was called The Humanity sounds bizarre. I've always taken it to be something that the announcer just said spontaneously, in the heat of feeling as he saw an overpowering event.

    The Wikipedia article (so take it for what it's worth) says that the announcer's broadcast was initially recorded at a slightly slower speed than broadcast recordings were normally played during those years, so when the recording is played at normal playing speed, his voice sounds slightly higher and slightly more hurried than it does when it's played at the original recorded speed.

    Regarding Matt's comment above, about the actor in the War of the Worlds broadcast -- I seem to remember vaguely also hearing that the actor modeled his performance on the Hindenberg crash broadcast. It would make sense -- the War of the Worlds broadcast was done in 1938, about a year after the Hindenberg crash, so the Hindenberg crash broadcast would have been relatively fresh and large in the memories of listeners.

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  7. i think she was kidding, lyle. i'm embarrassed to be anywhere most of the time. which is definitely exacerbated when cheesy music is involved.

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  8. Yeah, I was kidding. But if I weren't, I'd find 90s-style coffee shops more embarrassing than the kind with formica tabletops.

    I feel that we all must concede that "Oh the humanity" doesn't make any sense the way it's always used. We simply must.

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  9. "humanity" just means "people", right? so it's like, "oh, the poor people who are dying or are about to die, which is all of us really, in the grand scheme of things, oh!"

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  10. That's totally not how people say it. Come on man! They say it in a head-shaking, judgmental way, like "Isn't humanity awful." "What lows we have sunk to." Your interp is more in line w/ the broadcaster's meaning, yes, but it's become another thing entirely.

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  11. hmm, you know, honestly, i didn't know that's how people use it now. news to me! it's probably the same people who think "wherefore" means "where".

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  12. They have much overlap on the Venn diagram, yes.

    I hear it used that way in movies/on TV a lot. I'm pretty sure it's in Heathers -- I think someone says it after the two football players get killed but it's set up to look like a double suicide between gay lovers.

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  13. heathers--now there's a great screenplay. did you know that a lot of the 80s lingo ("what's your damage") was really just the invention of the screenwriter?

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  14. I am in love with those new poems. And, a question- will you have copies of Thanks For Sending The Engine at the Brookline signing as well, along with The French Exit?

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  15. I won't, sadly -- I'm all out of copies of TFSTE. But most of the poems from that chapbook are in the second section of The French Exit.

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  16. Didn't you also recently learn the word neo-benshi?

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  17. I'm surprised you didn't immediately Wikipedia that shit!

    I believe it refers to live voiceovers for movies. A Japanese practice that has been appropriated by CA poets of late.

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  18. like woody allen's What's Up, Tiger Lily?

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  19. I think it has to be live, though? I haven't seen that one.

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  20. oh it's great--it was his first movie, 1966.

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  21. I thought about it, but Wikipedia is not as much fun to talk to as you.

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  22. "janky" i first heard while working at a playstation game company in the '90's. Gameplay-wise, It was a major term of disapprobation. ie prince of persia 1 + 2= not janky. prince of persia 3D = janky as fuck. the game i was working on ("monkey hero")? ended up janky.

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  23. oh and i also greatly enjoyed meeting you in person!

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  24. Yeah, I actually got that you were kidding, about the coffee house stuff... Most of the 90's coffeehouses in my neighborhood (of which there were something like three per block at one time) have up and gone. Many fewer now, and most of those are strictly 21st century (i.e. Antiques Road Show Revival etc.).

    "Oh the humanity" doesn't seem to me to make sense in any kind of usage, except maybe as some kind of early 1960's proto-R&B song refrain. E.g., "Oh, oh, oh, oh the humanity... and now you're gone."

    Okay, I didn't say a good early 1960's proto-r&b song refrain...

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  25. Yeah, at a basic level, "humanity" doesn't take a "the."

    What the hell? There is a little white square in the middle of my screen that says "0%" and it won't go away.

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