hereticalphysicist
Friday, June 17, 2005
  Re: Joyce

I picked up A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man at the library and just started reading it. I needn't have worried about not understanding it, because every other person who has checked out the book before me has underlined the important passages for me and included helpful comments. I've identified three different Joyce fans by their handwriting who have deigned to guide my way through the book. I will call them Blue Pen Beatrice, Black Pen Beatrice, and Pencil Beatrice.

"Lavender and cream and pink roses were beautiful to think of. Perhaps a wild rose might be like those colours and he remembered the song about the wild rose blossoms on the little green place. But you could not have a green rose. But perhaps somewhere in the world you could."--James Joyce as Stephen Dedalus, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
"O, yes. Leave it to the 21st century. We'll get you any-thing you wish."--Blue Pen Beatrice

Or take the following passage.

"But he was not sick there. He thought that he was sick in his heart if you could be sick in that place."

Now, Black Pen Beatrice underlined the words in the second sentence starting with "he was sick..." until the end of the sentence. Lest I be confused that anything in that sentence was significant, Blue Pen Beatrice, the Frommers of James Joyce, apparently, placed a tiny blue X next to Black Pen Beatrice's underline and underlined the first sentence instead.

Now we come to page 17 in the Everyman's Library edition. Page 17 is a veritable James Joyce round table. At the top of the page, Blue Pen Beatrice exclaims, "Chapel is required 3 times/week at Calvin College. Jesus, what a downer." Yes, a downer. At the bottom of the page, which she (although I believe my Beatrices are actually men, for some reason) has heavily underlined and even circled ("It was lovely to be tired"), Blue Pen Beatrice finally writes, "Claritas," and underlines it. Now, Black Pen Beatrice underlines the phrase "cold and dark" at the bottom of the page and writes, "again? The boy is forever cold. He can find no warmth either externaly [sic] nor internaly [sic], no warmth of love or emotions." Enter Pencil Beatrice, who suggests to Black Pen Beatrice, "(peeing his bed)."

Wait! There's another guide, hereby known as Sparkly Red Pen Beatrice, whose handwriting looks suspiciously like mine! And what does she have to add? "You are all assholes."

Exeunt until page 19, where Blue Pen Beatrice leaves us with some parting thoughts, "Have you ever counted sheep to get to sleep--black sheep with no moonlight?" 

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Monday, June 13, 2005
  Oh man, oh man, oh man, I hope I'm the first blogger to say this

If the sparkly glove don't fit, you must acquit. 

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Wednesday, June 08, 2005
  Suck my Caw! Caw!

Another sleepless night has driven me to mania, and I have waking dreams of driving to Wal-Mart in Oxnard to buy a BB gun. I don't know if there is a Wal-Mart in Oxnard, but I claim poetic license and say there is, for the birth of my vengeance will be in Oxnard. I will drive home along the golden coast and form a redoubt from the covers on my bed. I will poke a hole in the screen of my bedroom window and wait until morning when I will have dreamt of opening fire on the crow who lives in the tree across the alley. I have a dream, and it is pumping that lice bag full of lead. No, titanium. Do they make titanium BBs?

Animal lovers will object to my depiction of, nay, desire for, violence toward this particular animal. They will say that crows play important roles in the ecosystem, such as pecking clean Farmer Jeb's corn field (nature's own farm subsidies) or foreshadowing. But listen, Birkendorks! It's like the freaking Jersey shore out there. It's an Exxon Valdez refuge camp meets Wildwood, slicked back black feathers and machismo displays of bravado--the Marlboro man does Tristan and Isolde. The crow's timing is flawless. Caw! Caw! Caw! Caw! A pause. Caw! Caw! Caw! Caw! A pause. Caw! Caw! Caw! Caw! A pause. Caw! Caw! Caw! Caw! A pause. Caw! Caw! Caw! Caw! A pause. Caw! Caw! Caw! Caw! A pause. Caw! Caw! Caw! Caw! That was annoying to type and hopefully annoying to read, so imagine what it's like waking up to the stridulous screech of the fowl pachuco. I want to scream, to heckle, "Don't quit your day job!" But it is his day job, from the crack of dawn to the cracking of my sanity, the constant appeal for a mate. Sometimes I hear a response. What do you think the crows say to each other? "Baby, I'm going to stick my beak so far down your gullet, I'll be able to count the number of rocks you've eaten since breakfast!" "But you never remember to Caw! Caw!" Yeah, I really put no effort into that line. Be sympathetic for long have I been aurally raped by a carrion krake. 

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Sunday, June 05, 2005
  School Daze

Today I went into the Six Pack Shop to buy beer. At the counter was a crazy townie, raving about the high cost of tuition and you wouldn't believe how much cheaper school was in his day. The clerk was nodding politely. When I brought my beer to the counter, the clerk waited a minute to see if the townie would go away on his own. When he didn't and remained in front of the counter gesticulating wildly, the clerk turned to me and said, "How are you doing today?" Except I couldn't hear him because of the townie. He waited another 10 seconds, then repeated the question. I answered, "Oh, pretty good," and we both acted like we were conversing privately, even though the townie was still there and the clerk hadn't heard what I said. Finally, the townie wandered out the door, still frantically bemoaning the state of education today. We both clutched our bellies and had a good laugh after that.

Recent Media
City of God, St. Augustine. I wrote a short story called "Madame Bovine's Revenge" in the last three pages of this book on the way back from San Francisco on Memorial Day. I'll put it up when I edit it some more.
Madame de Mauves, Henry James. Hey, when you've read one Henry James book you've read them all. Am I right?
Life and Leisure in Ancient Rome, J.P.V.D. Balsdon. Look at all those initials! He's got to be smart.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch, written and directed by John Cameron Mitchell (2001). Hedwig used to be Hansel until a botched sex change operation and travels from diner to diner telling her story in song. The music is actually pretty good, even though it has a "Rent"-like quality to it. I enjoyed this movie in every way possible, and that's not just because I like man-on-man action. The person to whom I would recommend this movie is Reader Al, because she is a "Caberet" fan. And everyone likes drag queens.
Dubliners, James Joyce. Joyce snobs make me so fucking nervous to read him. They all talk about how you can't read Ulysses without a companion book to walk you through the allusions, then insist that they don't use the companion book. I had a Joyce fan in my home once. He took a long look at my vast stacks of books lining the walls, then sniffed, "Got any Joyce?" So I picked up this one. It's not like the best thing I've ever read. It's good. Very good. I'm not blown away by it. I get it. Perhaps they're just addicted to the intellectual rush you get from completing a really hard, huge piece of literature. You know, like when you read Infinite Jest and you think it's your favorite book in the world, because you'd hate to think you just spent the last three months reading something you didn't like instead of making friends. 

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The story of how I became a very, very bad physicist. But not really.

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