Friday, April 1, 2011

emma bee bernstein

Retrospective Slideshow Part 1

Retrospective Slideshow Part 2

Slideshow curated by Antonia Pocock for "Emma Bee Bernstein -- Masquerade: A Retrospective"; exhibition at DOVA Temporary, University of Chicago, February 2010.

But who are the Dutch?

Pink Submarine courtesy of The Bunny Hop

Yesterday was a better day.  I am hoping today will follow suit, but I've been too busy putting out small domestic fires around The Manor to have the time for even a rapid assessment. 

A submarine and five sub satellites surfaced in the moat, and we are waiting for what I suppose might be First Contact, except that we're fairly sure it's Captain Haddock and the Miniature Badminton Team dropping by to stock up on supplies. 

Then the rugrat, Buddy the Kitten, managed to chew through what turned out to be an important data cable.  I know it was a data cable because it sported a green tag labeled "data cable." Sven Feingold (whom we recently discovered was the biological father of Marlinspike Hall's Cabana Boy -- which brings on a host of migraine-inspiring genetic issues... but let's leave that for another time, shall we?) -- Sven Feingold, working tirelessly on a new section of the labyrinth in preparation for ManorFest 2011, happened to be leaving La Bonne et Belle Bianca Castafiore's Very Private Apartments as I was lecturing the Bit O'Fuzz about his propensity for chewing electronics, and after a brief search in the left cargo pocket of his faded denim overalls, triumphantly pulled out four condoms, a feather duster, and a neatly bundled bit of cable, complete with the sweet green tag. 

Sugar-free banana-flavored yellow glow-in-the-dark condoms.

He's something of a Boy Scout, is Sven.

Fred and I spent a harrowing afternoon in Captain Haddock's vessel, The Schvitz, back in 2005 -- quite the feat in an area designed for single occupancy.  We made a quick run from The Moat to Le Havre, across The Channel.  We made it back to the manor in under a half-hour -- our introduction to his patented Corkscrew Technology™ that transforms the distance between large-mouthed rivers into... well, private little connecting Chunnels. 

The Captain's sub was built by Pierre Poulin of Québec and is slightly larger than his Guinness World Record model, weighing in at roughly 1500 pounds (sans Haddock).  If Fred and I could cram ourselves in there, the Miniature Badminton Team could've wedged themselves inside, no problem.  Even so, the guys have chosen to do their underwater traveling in pairs, comfortably nestled in tiny quilted goose down-lined living units that closely resemble conjoined oven mitts.  The Australian National University was *this* close to trashing their slightly defective Serafina units (the world's smallest autonomous subs, roughly 40 centimeters in length, with pink plastic hulls, and 5 size-C battery powered propulsion systems, complete with seven cute little propellers) when Haddock swooped in and purchased them for a song.  The renovations probably cost more than than the total purchase price for the five underwater crafts, originally destined for the offshore oil industry.

Did you know that a Dutchman built the first submersible in the early years of the 1600s?  Can anyone tell me who the Dutch really are?  Bonus points for pointing out the vast Dutch homeland, with a 100-word essay explaining its primary physical attributes on a contemporary, topographically-detailed globe.  Remember:  "Globes are... symbols of wisdom and you can often find them on the desks of great scholars."

Anyway.  (I wonder how long I can blame this blogging catastrophe on my penchant for ketamine?)

While waiting for The Team's laundry and List of Needed Sundries and while Buddy the Kitten is taking a well-deserved nap, I'm trying to get my head together.  If the ketamine treatments have anything to do with my improved sleep, I am already grateful.  I just need to remember how to wake up, as I usually go from a half-awake state to slight somnolence and back again in 40-minute cycles.  Now I am stringing 4, 5, and even 6 hours together without waking, time enough for well developed dreams and some restoration of spirit.

Tuesday, I thought that my hands might hurt a bit less than usual, and was trying to convince myself and every stray medical professional we came across that the infusions were, indeed, working, and that I must be close to the discovery of my personal magic number -- the lowest, most effective dose of ketamine.  Yesterday, I knew that was a bunch of hooey, but as I had already been strutting and crowing about it, tried to let the topic die a natural death.  If only Fred were a disinterested party, because the first words out of his mouth upon seeing my bright and cheerful visage yesterday morning were:  "Are your hands still better?"

So it just completely sucks that I woke this morning, after a sleep that actually qualifies as "restorative," to find my entire right hand a deep, dank purple and frosty enough to put the chilling properties of ice to shame.  Movement seems entirely normal but my perception of that movement is fucked.  My fingers feel *thick* and uncooperative, much like my right leg!

I will not have too much trouble hiding it, as there aren't many moments in the day when my right hand attracts any natural sort of attention.  The hope is that this is a passing change.

When I say the hand is cold?  I mean the hand is COLD -- "cold" capitalized, bolded, italicized, underlined, and colored arctic blue.  It burns like a mo'fo and demands an unduly large measure of my consciousness -- it's hard to ignore.

The only good thing may be that holding it cupped in my relatively balmy left hand actually feels nice.  Usually, my freezing body parts don't tolerate touch, even if logic says that the touch ought to be pleasant.  Hence, people are always annoying me with offers of luxurious socks, cashmere leg warmers, delicate fuzzy blankets, microwave-warmed bags of rice or beans or whatever... none of which can I put up with when put in contact with my body.

But warmth feels marvelous to this right hand.

To be obnoxious -- it's a calling! -- I only seem to tolerate the warmth that comes from my own left hand.

To say that I am tired of the weirdness of this syndrome is a masterful understatement.

So... I'm gonna sit here and hold my own damned hand until Haddock and The Team pop their respective hatches, then whip up some lunch for everyone.  It's hard to figure the right amount of food when the athletically talented but physically challenged miniature badminton team drops in.  I mean, they had a pre-dawn intense practice session, then made an undersea journey of considerable length (and depth)... plus they skipped breakfast, the rascals.  Factor into the equation that The Captain's appetite is famously voracious, and that Bianca has invited Sven to join us at The Captain's Table -- Sven who has mentioned several times, eyes all a-twinkle, how famished he is this morning.

We are letting most of the Domestic Staff have the weekend off.  No weekend guests are scheduled for occupancy.  Abbot Truffatore has been called to Rome (we hope it's nothing serious) and the grounds are really too wet for much earth-moving.  We're weary from running around Tête de Hergé and, since Fred has resigned from the Board of Directors to the Militant Lesbian Existential Feminist Congregation, his schedule is lighter than normal.

So I'm thinking comfort foods, comfort cooking -- baking breads, making one-pot wonders, that sort of thing.  I'm thinking spooning naps, with kittens for needed softness.  I'm thinking maybe a haircut, maybe some light cleaning in the larger ballrooms and salons.  I'm thinking a short but tasteful memorial service for Tobacco Road basketball. 

And I am ignoring my colder-than-a-witch's-tit hand and the likelihood of its lack of cooperation.

A witch's tit (or witch's teat, to use the older spelling) supposedly left a marking that witch hunters and courts would look for on the body of an accused person. Supposedly, witches would suckle their familiars, and sometimes the Devil himself, from this "unholy" body part. To find these marks, as well as insensitive spots on the skin called devil's marks--caused by the Devil's claws or teeth--the suspects were stripped, shaven, then closely examined for any blemishes, moles, or even scars that could be labeled as diabolical. To find marks invisible to the eye, the examiner would poke the victim inch by inch with a blunt needle (called a bodkin) until they found a spot that didn't feel pain or bled. Discovery of these marks or spots--one supposes they would be considered cold since they were a sign of communion with the Devil--would be "proof" of the person's dealings with Scratch, so they would be shown in full court before the execution.

From The Chive:
Amazing ice sculptures before winter’s end

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wednesday CatCam: Buddy's Growing, Marmy Mourns, and Dobby Does What Dobby Does

i have failed to mention the enactment of a new law here at elle est belle la seine la seine elle est belle:  please watch these precious, precious (oh, shut up!) cat videos with the sound OFF, or, failing that, promise to never, ever mention the juvenile anthropomorphic mindless nattering that tends to serve as a soundtrack.  also... never, ever speak of, describe, or reproduce the ersatz porky sausage links attached to the beefy ends of what may or may not be human arms. that's a foreshortening distortion that is, well, frightening. 

okay? okay!

sign here:  _________________________
name of first-born child OR VIN number of your red sports car:  __________________________
VISA card number and 3-digit security code:  ___________________________

The Feline Remnant continues to show signs of sadness and trauma.   We've yet to see both Marmy Fluffy Butt and Dobby the Wonder Runt behaving normally on the same day.  

And yes, Marmy continues to want to murder the kitten, making at least one violent pass at the Fluff Puff per day.  Of course, given that the Fluff Puff lives on, her dedication to his assassination is suspect.

Dobby functions perfectly, of course, in his role as Big Brother -- he willingly models the behavior we are wanting to see in Buddy, and has yet to show any aggression, fatigue, or boredom in his dealings.  Of course, what he says in private might be a whole 'nother kettle of fish.

Marmy has taken to lying on the scrap of rug that her brother, Dobby's Uncle Kitty Big Balls (a.k.a. Little Boy), occupied in his last days.  Dobby has even taken to curling up there some mornings.  They are both putting on weight, a function of stealing kitten kibble.

Dobby, and this truly touches my heart, still calls for Sammy at night, and then will come to me with i-don't-understand written all over his wizened old young face.  That's when a distracting belly rub comes in handy!

This last video, and you have probably figured out that I am bored this evening... This last video is going to serve as a reminder to The Dobster of Those Few Days When He Was Larger Than Buddy. 


uploaded by user jayrandall22011 to YouTube on 14 Feb 2011

The boys' Mother, herself a twin, blogs at Twin Mama Rama.

The temptation to put words in their mouths, at first overwhelming, fades the longer that this linguist watches and listens.

About:Com, under a banner ad for Strattera, sums things up this way:

One of the popular myths about mulitples is that they share a secret language, a form of communication known only to them. Terms such as idioglossia, autonomous language or cryptophasia describe the phenomenon of twin language, a fascinating concept that has intrigued researchers and parents alike. However, it's actually very rare for twins to develop a true "language," and usually only in cases of extreme isolation.
In trailblazing fashion, the author reduces the phenomenon to "incorrect" mimicry.  As opposed to your correct mimicry.  But that goes without saying.  Actually, I've read that -- at least in older twins -- cryptophasia is more about reinforcing the language of their other, their other self, their twin.  Not a secret language, not an out-and-out mimicry of more mature speakers.

This video, though, despite being an example of such an abstracted form of "secret" conversation, is hardly secret at all.  It's so close to being understandable -- from that mimicry point of view -- that it's a bouffonnerie of a linguistic striptease. 

*** ((( ***  (((  ***  (((  ***  (((  ***  (((  *** ((( *** ((( *** ((( *** ((( *** (((

Je divague... je dis vague... jeudi vague...

We're never satisfied with language as accretion.  Instead, we (adults) play at finding worth only at genesis --

George Bernard Shaw offered a reward to the inventor of new set of characters, independent of any extant alphabets, that successfully represented every sound in the English language. In 1958, as a provision of his will, a committee selected a submission;  Four years later, Penguin books published an edition of Shaw’s Androcles and the Lion with English text in traditional font on the left hand page and the Shaw phonetic alphabet on the facing right hand page:

I've always enjoyed Raynor's Ragbag and his take on Poul Anderson's uncleftish beholding *:

one of my sixteern recurring fantasies involves a world where, in 1066 harold the second was able to defeat william “the bastard” and those pesky normans had to retreat back to france and bake baguettes with their salty tears. there’s grade-a babes in this fantasy too, but let’s not get into that now.

at any rate, in a world where english never got jiggy with norman french nor any other romance language, how would our mother tongue sound? fortunately for you and i, we don’t need to strain too hard with this thought experiment because sci-fi author poul anderson has done all the work for us. in his short piece “uncleftish beholding,” he rewrites the first few principles of atomic theory using only words of germanic origin. it is—to say the least—a trip. it starts like this:

For most of its being, mankind did not know what things are made of, but could only guess. With the growth of worldken, we began to learn, and today we have a beholding of stuff and work that watching bears out, both in the workstead and in daily life.

The underlying kinds of stuff are the *firststuffs*, which link together in sundry ways to give rise to the rest. Formerly we knew of ninety-two firststuffs, from waterstuff, the lightest and barest, to ymirstuff, the heaviest. Now we have made more, such as aegirstuff and helstuff…

* Uncleftish Beholding (1989) is a short text written by Poul Anderson. It is written using almost exclusively words of Germanic origin, and was intended to illustrate what the English language might look like if it had not received its considerable number of loanwords from other languages, particularly Latin, Greek and French.

The text is about basic atomic theory and relies on a number of word coinings, many of which have analogues in modern German. The title "uncleftish beholding" calques "atomic theory".

Me? I don't mess much with accretion; No, I bury you in attribution...  Still, I don't doubt that it's all just a bunch of da!

On the serious side of academics, there is true excitement to be had in things like the "discovery" of the Koro language, for instance. I guess it's best said to be a heretofore "undescribed" language. Here is an interview of two of the National Geographic fellows from the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages, Dr. Greg Anderson and Dr. K. David Harrison, who "discovered" Koro in northeastern India.

Honey, Catching Flies

The short version:  My hands may be a little bit less painful but not remarkably so, and not so clearly as a result of the third ketamine treatment (@115 mg) that I'm willing to sing hosanna in attribution, in "agreeably positive connotation."

The longer short version:  This "subanesthetic" experience was unpleasant.  The only redeeming moments came in conversations I may (or may not) have had with Fred, again The Sentinel at the foot of the bed.  I confirmed with him today that we had a lightening-fast, telegraphic conversation about Stéphane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt.*  He guessed that I was speaking of Reinhardt by my mumbling something about "stride guitar" -- which, of course, is not the preferred terminology.  [That would be "parallel harmony."]
He laughed today at my experience under ketamine -- me high as a kite, inventing guitar terminology from barely understood piano language, and him, so correctly discerning, so remarkably inferring that we made some serious, actual conversational headway about European jazz in the 1930s.

Of course, in the very next instant -- an instant in K-time being anywhere from a nanosecond to two hours in length -- though, in width, it's longer -- anyway, in that next instant, I was perplexed by the screw-top to a Diet Coke.

I did not sleep and pray that next time I do, that next time being iin two weeks, as I begin another cycle of three infusions, the dosages going ever higher until I find "my" dose -- the least effective dose.  Hmm. The lowest dose that is effective.

I cannot stop my body from... doing things.  I found it incredibly helpful to remove each extremity, as much as was possible while wired up and attached to monitors and pumps, from any extraneous touch.  I held my arms carefully in the air, my fingers configured into what must have looked like a tantric claw in my effort to escape those currents of air that only I could feel, and *did* feel, as pain.  Worse, though, are cords, wires, plugs, tubing... dear God, if doctors and nurses honestly understand this, why do they not know that the wire from, say, the pulse-ox thingy attached to a finger becomes an instrument of torture in a person with allodynia?

Also... lanyards holding hospital ID badges, and stethoscopes hanging around *your* neck that hit *my* leg when *you* attempt to adjust a blood pressure cuff on my *left* upper arm by leaning across the bed from the *right* side...

Yeah, I know, I am done with the *x* effect.  Sorry!

Everyone, once again, was remarkably proficient and kind.  The promises of relief are now being tempered with words of vague doubt, with caveats, emptor and otherwise.  My case is "severe."  My case is "rare."

I listen to the woman on my left, in Bed Five.  She does not know why she is there.  She does not know what drug she is about to receive, and even when they tell her, she does not know.  I listen to her being asked to sign an informed consent form.

I listen to the man on my right, in Bed Seven.  He is an old pro and does little beyond cracking wise and snoring.  The doctor stops by to see him and jokingly rips him a new one for having gone to the emergency room for pain meds.  Fred rolls his eyes.  I roll mine.

I have "a moment" when the same doctor visits me and says my informed consent form is now "out of date," and would I please sign a new one.  I tell him I've never signed one before and he briefly loses the capacity to speak.

It's true.  The doctor who interviewed me in the clinic deferred that bit of paperwork, claiming he wanted it done "at the last minute," when they were sure they could get a line in (plus other bits of verbal melodrama, including blithe references to my particular "risks").

I signed it.

The rest of my hallucinatory experience was a kaleidoscope of sepia (yes, I saw in sepia, sometimes without opening my eyes), being trapped in monolithic ice bergs (a recurring nightmare), and hilarity that I wish I could have shared with Fred -- or even the Lady in Bed Five.

Because her whimpering broke my heart, over and over again.

I started crying and I remember an aide repeatedly asking "What's wrong, honey?"
[As I think my hands were extended in the air like spastic crabs and my feet were twitching to some bluegrass that only I could hear, I'm pretty sure she was worried...]
But instead of explaining how the Lady in Bed Five, who didn't know what was happening to her, was breaking my heart, I kept saying:

"I hurt."

Not exactly a news flash.

So the Lady in Bed Five was up and out of there a good twenty minutes before I regaled Fred with stories of how far away the floor was as he valiantly tried to load me in the wheelchair so we could beat rush hour traffic (yes, we have rush hour in Tête de Hergé -- we are just rushing toward something different, differently).

One regains normalcy very quickly -- within minutes of turning off the drug, actually.  Physically, there are a few problems, at least for me -- headache, nausea, dizziness -- but nothing to a magnitude that merits much complaint.

I am always hungry, in spite of the nausea.  And, as Fred rushes me a little, I have ended up in dire need of a restroom once we hit the highway, where there is, alas, no restroom.  Then I get a wee bit crabby.

Yes, so it is fine, afterwards.  You can, I believe, choose to remember everything that happened, or you can forget it.  Your choice, really.

The bottom line to everything.

My difficult times come in the evening, when I realize that my pain is no better, and is even sometimes worse, by virtue of what I put my body through.  And the day after, I am so exhausted that I do little beyond sleep.

Why am I doing this again?
Because there is nothing else.

Next week, I see the doctor and dread it.  He is something of a cult figure there.  Let's just say, when other patients blog about their treatments at this place, you can read their bated breath at his mention.   He smiled.  He didn't smile.  He was in a good mood, a terrible mood, an indiscernible mood.  I could give a royal shit... I want to know my magic number.  I want him to crank up that damned dose, give me some of this famous pain relief. 

Or maybe I'll stroke ego, as needed.  Honey, catching flies.

[Oh, the port?  Still unusable!  It boggles my mind the number of people who kindly pulled together on my behalf so this stupid port could be installed in my chest, "immediately" -- just so Dr. CultPersonality might be appeased.  The infection is better, but the rate of healing seems to be a tad slow.]

I'm sorry for being Depressed instead of Grateful, Bitchy instead of Hopeful.  I vacillate.  Grateful and Hopeful don't inspire many blog posts but I assure you that they are among my favorite emotional dwarfs.

* tip of the hat to Tully

Monday, March 28, 2011

"Tired and Bored With Myself..."

I've been up almost all night again, despite various efforts to trick myself into resting. 

The list of possible causes is a tired, overused list.  I disappoint myself -- I neither resolve these recurring issues nor put them aside as something manageable like "my lot in life" or "the hand I was dealt."

Very Springsteen, very Dancing in the Dark (Well, there is no reason I shouldn't flatter myself a bit.  Whose blog is it, anyway?):

I get up in the evening
and I ain't got nothing to say
I come home in the morning
I go to bed feeling the same way
I ain't nothing but tired
Man I'm just tired and bored with myself
Hey there baby, I could use just a little help

You can't start a fire
You can't start a fire without a spark
This gun's for hire
even if we're just dancing in the dark

Message keeps getting clearer
radio's on and I'm moving 'round the place
I check my look in the mirror
I wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face
Man I ain't getting nowhere
I'm just living in a dump like this
There's something happening somewhere
baby I just know that there is

You can't start a fire
you can't start a fire without a spark
This gun's for hire
even if we're just dancing in the dark

You sit around getting older
there's a joke here somewhere and it's on me
I'll shake this world off my shoulders
come on baby this laugh's on me

Stay on the streets of this town
and they'll be carving you up alright
They say you gotta stay hungry
hey baby I'm just about starving tonight
I'm dying for some action
I'm sick of sitting 'round here trying to write this book
I need a love reaction
come on now baby gimme just one look

You can't start a fire sitting 'round crying over a broken heart
This gun's for hire
Even if we're just dancing in the dark
You can't start a fire worrying about your little world falling apart
This gun's for hire
Even if we're just dancing in the dark
Even if we're just dancing in the dark
Even if we're just dancing in the dark
Even if we're just dancing in the dark
Hey baby

Well, I need to carefully shower (the incisions to the port are red and angry), dress in brightly colored soft organic cotton clothing, put on a smile, try to trim my nails, charge my mp3 player, and head on out for Subanesthetic Ketamine Treatment Number 3. I am thinking that this time the dose ought to be over 100 mg. I pray for some sign that the stuff is working.

In the interim, the plan is to fake it until I make it.
In this mean time, we are dancing in the dark.

Geraldine Ferraro

 "Liberty Leading The People - 1984"/This 'Liberty' Reprint Was Inspired By The 1830 Masterpiece By Delacroix 'Liberty Leading The People'." Issued by the Montana Citizens For Liberty

(August 26, 1935 – March 26, 2011)

What I remember from the 1984 Vice Presidential Debate, beyond wanting to have simultaneous physical access to Poppy Bush and to a rotten tomato, was Ferraro's sang-froid in the face of condescension, the slight smile, the hint of a curl to the lip.

Vastly better than overripe fruit.  Still, when Bush the Braggadocious -- a real Guy's Guy -- said into an open mic at the end of the debate that he had "kicked a little ass," I daydreamed a good dozen rotten eggs, airborne.

The YouTube clip below, according to its annoyingly chirpy Fox presenters, captured the "historic" first in-person meeting of Ferraro and Sarah Palin following the 2010 midterm election results.

I appreciate, still, and maybe even more in these days of dumbing-down and groupthink, Ferraro's intelligence, political acumen, and gracious spirit. It is strikingly clear that these two women speak from very different foundations -- the one seeing politics as public service, the other lost in a gossipy view of politics as cults of personality.

***As I was searching for the transcript of that first televised encounter between Palin and Ferraro, the "Statement of Purpose" for something called The Fox Nation filled up the right margin of the computer page.

Ever diligent in my efforts to understand the alien species, I read it.

(I think) I threw up.
A little bit.
In my mouth.

[Recent archaeological efforts hypothesize that the origin of ITUALBIMM actually PREDATES its popularization by Christine Taylor in the motion picture "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story."]

Get your sublingual Zofran ready.

The Fox Nation was created for people who believe in the United States of America and its ideals, as expressed in the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Emancipation Proclamation. It is a community that believes in the American Dream: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. One that believes being an American is an honor, as well as a great responsibility – and a wonderful adventure.

This is a place for people who believe we live in a great country, a welcoming refuge for legal immigrants who want to contribute their talents and abilities to make our way of life even greater. We believe we should enjoy the company and support of each other, delighting in the creativity, ingenuity, and work ethic of one and all, while observing the rules of civility and mutual respect and, most importantly, strengthening our diverse society by striving for unity.

The Fox Nation is committed to the core principles of tolerance, open debate, civil discourse, and fair and balanced coverage of the news. It is for those opposed to intolerance, excessive government control of our lives, and attempts to monopolize opinion or suppress freedom of thought, expression, and worship.

We invite all Americans who share these values to join us here at Fox Nation.

The Fox Nation Team

As usual, when I come across stuff like this, the jarring effect of such words being punked by the actual antics of their professors actually does make me nauseous.

Thinking I'd be refreshed by some discernment, I returned to the Fox video clips of Palin perched beside Ferraro, and scrolled down to the comment section to savor the intelligent contributions of thoughtful activist readers:

First comment:

She was from the old liberal school of JFK and I respect this. Today's liberal communistic social anti- American foundation is just that and should be addressed as such. No better than J I H A D. She was schooled with the same technique though in which liberals force others to do what they want instead of using freedom as an independence and choice for all.
Second comment:

Geraldine was wrong in her politics, but may have been a decent person. Most on the left now are also liars, which makes them evil. President Sarah Palin will be the one to break the final glass ceiling. Hopefully some day, phrases like ‘glass ceiling’ and ‘woman’s work’ will only be known from history books.
And the last that I was able to read before my eyes died:

Walter Mondale commented that she was an advocate for social justice. That my friends is anti American. And the media including Fox is telling us how great she was? I ain't buying it.