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“At least I have chicken”

While doing dissertation work last week I had a chance to read through parts of John L. Casti and Werner DePauli’s Gödel: A Life of Logic (Cambridge: Perseus, 2000). It is a good introduction to the man and his work; it is written for an educated but non-specialist audience.

This entry is dedicated to Leeroy Jenkins.

For the most part I do not care about other peoples’ drug habits. Smoke it, snort it, lick it, drink it, shoot it, swallow it ... pick your poison. On the other hand I believe in strict anti-doping penalties in competitive sports; I would be happy with one-strike-you’re-out, I think. I can understand the lure of banned substances, especially in such sports as football, baseball, and track & field ... but curling?

Just join the ministry, the Beer Church Ministry, that is, instead.

Macaulay Culkin, who testified in the Michael Jackson “trial,” pleaded guilty to some drug possession charges. I do not know why this is news or news-worthy, but it does amuse me a bit. Culkin annoyed me greatly when he was a child star, but the more recent Saved!, in which he starred with Jena Malone and Mandy Moore, was rather entertaining and well-done.

I killed a spider today.

Before I put my glasses on I was sitting at my desk talking on the phone. The wall a few feet away was not quite in focus. I could see a round dark dot perhaps five milimeters in diameter. Once I got off the phone I leaned closer; then I could see the fragile legs. I left the spider alone and took a shower. I returned, made breakfast, and sat down at my desk to eat/drink/type.

I decided to become a murderer.

I arose from my desk, took my bowl to the sink, picked out one facial tissue, and smothered, smooshed, and smashed the poor arachnid. I dumped its shriveled and broken body in a casket of Kleenex into my garbage bag and returned to my desk.

My Earl Grey was still hot.

Salon’s recent article on Steve Ditko (Spider-Man co-creator with Stan Lee) is definitely worth reading. This year we lost Will Eisner (January 3), but the world of comics and of graphic storytelling in a broader (and at times more literary-snooty) sense is doing well. Along the way I found Shortpacked, a “webcomic about toys” by David Willis—once upon a time I used to read It’s Walky. These days Sluggy Freelance and Ozy and Millie are the only ones I will deal with on a day-to-day basis. Too many webcomics, too little time.

Last night was Julia Styles’ birthday party at Café Montmartre, and it was a nice opportunity to get out of the apartment, in which I had more or less secluded myself (with the exception of Star Wars, brunch, a trip to the department, turning in Jürgen’s keys, and helping with the hostel computer) for the past week or so. Matt Greenberg showed up; I had not seen him since one of the last times I was at Montmartre (for a GSC event). Darin’s birthday party is this Friday at the Terrace.

Last Friday was the LUG meeting, and while turnout was small, we had some good discussions. My goal was to go from 7-8 and then come home and work. Perhaps 7-9. Alas, I got home around 1am instead after talking with Ken for far too long. Some random wedding reception type event must have been going on, because a bunch of folks, mostly of the late-teen-early-20s type were dressed in formal wear and leaving the Union; perhaps it was, instead, a prom or such, though the little girl in a bridesmaid dress hinted at the former. Curiouser and curiouser ... and completely unimportant.

On Tuesday the 31st I turned in Jürgen’s keys and checked out his apartment with his landlord, Marvin Hellenbrand. The apartment was on West Main, the landlord’s office on South Bassett, which is where I was to meet him around 2pm. He was late, I was early, things worked out smoothly in the end.

I walked back by taking Bassett to Dayton and then Johnson, and walking past the Saxony on my way to the Petersen building to get a new student ID number (the old ones were, as is well-known, based on one’s SSN, which is beyond insecure and stupid)—I had taken my time over the years to get mine replaced. Obviously. Between the Francis and Johnson Street addresses/buildings belonging to the Saxony there sat Cigar Man, a figure from my past. I had been wondering only a day or two earlier whether or not he was around, for I had been updating old webpages, on one of which he was mentioned. Cigar Man was still there, sitting on a chair, wearing shorts, a too-tight t-shirt, calf-socks and loafers, and sporting an ever balder head ... and smoking.

He had graduated to a pipe.

It is truly time for me to leave Madison.

I arrived at the Petersen building, got my number changed in short order, and walked to Union South, where I could have a new ID card made (for free if I turned in my old one, which I did). I chatted with the lady making the cards for a while ... about identity theft, credit cards, using a SSN as an ID number, etc. Then I caught the 80 back to Park Street and walked down State. The weather had become summer-esque, warm and humid: one walks outside and is fine, but once one returns to the confines of a closed space, air conditioning or not, sweat and sweating are the unavoidable consequences.

I spent much of the rest of the week alone in my apartment and I avoided all television shows and movies until my dissertation chapter was complete. Complete must be qualified. I turned in the chapter to my advisor on Monday, and I qualified its quality by explaining how I was not satisfied with sub-chapter 4. When I completed the chapter I had misgivings, feelings of discontent and a lack of satisfaction, but I could not pinpoint the why ... or how to fix it. Monday morning I awoke and knew how to fix sub-chapter 4, on rationality. Tuesday morning I realized how to fix (that is: rewrite/revise) the rest of the chapter, including the rationality section. That having been said, it is 23,000 words or so of introductory-goodness ... it touches upon the main topics and provides a rather cohesive and complete literature review, even if its not what I would like it to be. I will return to it later, but before that, I will write another subchapter: 2.1 (analogy and philosophical discourse, before Kant and the third Critique). Then, perhaps, I can return to the first chapter; the plan, however, is to complete the philosophy chapter before the end of August, that is, before going to Germany.

When I finished the chapter I decided to watch something brainless, and I had to choose between comedy and action. Action won, and I watched Bad Boys 2, a Michael Bay monstrosity from 2003 that is, at times, really really funny. It also treats its audience with contempt, spelling out every little detail because obviously the viewers are too stupid to think for themselves. It was very formulaic, but amusing.

While writing last week I took occasional solitaire breaks. I also went through a variety of songs on a handful of playlists. Even though I have had the song for a while, for some reason I had never listened to Poe and Mark Danielewski’s “Hello Pretty”—it now has a semi-permanent place on my playlist.

On the one hand it is a simple piece of auditory erotica; the lyrics are full of obvious double entendres and crude metaphors. When obsessed by the world of our academic research, however, we scholars-to-be see our work in everything, and here is no exception ... not because of analogy and metaphor and aesthetics, but because in general it relates to my academic and philosophical interests. The song, both in its lyrics and as it is performed (basically spoken-word with some female vocals in the background), is of and for the senses. The end of the song invokes the Unheimlich—at the end a female voice says “Das nicht zu Hause sein” (which is always mis-translated and/or understood in the English trasnslations for the song lyrics provided online)—and suddenly the drive out of town and out of the home (“Known to some as Mullholland”) and its role as a metaphor for a sexual experience is more fitting. In the final spoken portion language becomes central (“Syllables soon melting into groans or moans, finding purchase in new words, or old words, or made-up words”) and there is a contrast between hers and his, hers a more primal romanticism (“hers for all I know gone to black forests and wolves”) and his more mundane, vulgar, and apollonian (“mine banging back to the familiar form”). The fragility of the whole matter, though, is what interests me, for it reminds me of the aesthetic and the anlogic (and/or points I am making with regard to them in my work), and his final words are: “Too bad dark languages rarely survive ...”

The song text is a literature student’s fantasy.

In addition to “Hey Pretty” and other music (particularly excerpts from the soundtrack to The Royal Tenenbaums), I have baked quite a few batches of cornbread the past few days. It is quick to make, and soon one no longer needs a formal recipe, for it becomes 1 cup milk, a little more flour, a little less corn meal, one egg, and a 1/4 cup each of sugar and oil. Add a couple teaspoons and baking powder and you are good to go. That is the point at which one can experiment a bit. I have switched to whole wheat flour and brown sugar, and I tend to add cinnamon, cayenne pepper, nutmeg, and ground cloves, as well as coffee and/or vanilla. The result is dense, moist, and rich.

—June 8 2005