Compendium Hermetica
And yet, it moves.


I was going to write about some of the changes going on in my life. Thanks to Google, however, I was able to find the best...comic...ever.

If you aren't familiar with some of the media personalities in Louisville, KY in the early 80's, you won't get most of the jokes. Hell, if you don't remember the Louisville sewer explosion, you won't even get the origin story. Regardless, I really enjoyed this in my youth. Now, I can't tell if I'm enjoying it, or the nostalgia. I'll read until I find the story-line where the captain saves Louisville from a flood of pot by throwing bales of the stuff into the LG&E smokestacks, thus smoking up the River City.

More than anything else, the strip reflects a deep knowledge, and a deep love, of place. Mr. Rosa knew the ridiculous public art in Jefferson Square Mall and took the time to mock it in an appropraite manner in an appropriate medium: having it destoryed by a weather/news chopper in a super-hero comic. Perfect - absolutely perfect.

posted by Brian | 11:20:00 PM link |

The truly odd thing about this article is not that Sony / Erikson engages in a somewhat decptive merketing ploy, but that a consumer advocate believes there is such a thing as "honest buzz."

posted by Brian | 9:37:00 AM link |


When the soldiers call into question the judgement of the masters of war: see here for details. Meanwhile, back at the palace...

posted by Brian | 1:14:00 PM link |


A bit about this weekend - we celebrated the birthdays of these two gentlemen:

Happy Birthday Friends

posted by Brian | 11:22:00 PM link |

Funny, none of the networks picked up on this item.

posted by Brian | 9:00:00 PM link |

In a blatant contradiction to what I wrote earlier this morning, I just had to take a few minutes to commemorate this event: The Iron Lady loses her head. We can only assume that somewhere, the bronze visage of Jebediah Springfield is laughing.

posted by Brian | 11:43:00 AM link |

Oh Dear. A busy week. One that fills Sunday evening with a sharp awareness of time, the hinge of week that is midnight, and sleeplessness. I may not have much time to get back to this page for several days. When I do, I intend to tell you of my beautiful weekend. Also, I should be able to provide updates on the important chganges coming my way. I actually started this project with that very idea in mind - a mental map of transition.

Until I can get back, I must recommend This American Life - the best radio show on NPR these days. Check out the show's site here. Look for the show on Superpowers - a personal favorite. Enjoy.

posted by Brian | 9:23:00 AM link |


I am of several minds on this link:
1) self-loathing - it's a Real Player Link.
2) concern - NPR's long trend of picking someone from an "indie" music scene to spotlight comes at a time when they are becoming more and more conservative in other areas
3) delight - the song actually captures the authentic joy of discovering how simply things come apart

posted by Brian | 1:54:00 PM link |


For those of you whose most wished-for super power is "Keen Design Sense" (or the less popular, "proportial type-face sensibility of the spider"), here is a lovely site that provides an introduction to all things typographic.

posted by Brian | 6:13:00 PM link |


This is just the funniest thing I've seen in a looooong time. Bands without irony. Via the ever-popular Metafilter.

posted by Brian | 6:29:00 PM link |


This, while very offensive, comes as no suprise to anyone. We are quickly closing the distance between our own country and the states whe characterize as "rogue" or members of an axis of evil. As we thrash more and more violently in our war on terror, the more closely we resemble the states we denounce (or in the case of Saudi Arabia and Israel, states we refuse to denounce). This balance in untennable. The center cannot hold.

posted by Brian | 11:14:00 PM link |

Fine actor Leo McKern answers the last call of She Who Must Be Obeyed.

posted by Brian | 11:44:00 AM link |


My original intent for this link was to discuss how fed up I am with this cyclical and (increasingly cynical) occurence. Unfortunately, I cannot get over this fact:"The average MLB salary now stands at over $2 million a season." This makes the upshot of the article even more offensive. I am incensed at the players who oppose any salary cap. I am livid with the owners who plead poverty when while building palatial ball parks on the taxpayer's dime.

To hell with them. support your local AAA team, but give MLB a miss for the rest of the year as well as the next.

Oh for the days of the Denver Zephyrs.

posted by Brian | 11:31:00 PM link |


I do not know Mr. Christopher Caldwell. From what I have read, he seems a very sharp political observer prone to the occasional witless and offensive remark. This column does nothing to break with either trend.

This article begins to point toward something our current administration would rather not discuss: the fact Bush the Younger does indeed owe his success and even his presidency to a corrupt corporate culture. The President may have a MBA, but I suspect it remains in the box in mint condition (to be traded later for comic books at the next neo-con con). After reaping Gentleman C’s at Yale, he ran an average small business – one that, like many others, would have failed save for the timely intervention of friends of another Texas oil-man: James Baker III (ole Jimmy Three-Sticks as he was known 'round the rotunda). In the form of an unusual contract with Bahrain (unusual in as much as W’s company had never drilled or explored for oil outside of the US), Bush the Younger was on the map again. He then frequently relied on the kindness of strangers who grew increasingly strange. Forget Harken trades – let’s find out more about his dealings with the Saudis.

Bush the Younger could have coasted along quite nicely relying on sweetheart deals such as the one above to keep him among the drinking class for life. Why ruin it with something as taxing as public service – or rather – running for public office? Simple – Return on Investment. People who so willingly made awful deals in deference to the scion did have the foresight to realize that some benefit would return eventually. When he ran and won against a popular Anne Richards (while I do not particularly like Ann Richards, I do feel some sympathy for a woman who must regret the “Where was George” Speech at the Democratic Convention) the business plan solidified. “Let’s turn the CEO in the Chief Executive.”

And they succeeded. His investors, or rather, campaign donors, financed a so-so campaign against a candidate whose sheer lack of character and identity made Bush the Younger’s façade seem attractive. Imagine Bill Clinton, without the intelligence and about a third of the charm (the scion shares his father’s aloofness despite the folksy affectations – nicknames, pretzels). Once in the great Aeron Chair of the Board Room of State, the unabashedly pro-business Bush 2 (Electric Boogaloo) began working on gutting environmental protections, the tax structure (making a tax cut retroactive!!!), the inheritance tax, and the UN. The secret energy policy documents and the procedures behind them indicate, not surprisingly, a great amount of input on the part of BushCo investors. While politicians, especially at this level, must remember their base, this is payment of dividends. In addition, Bush, like before, is borrowing against that stock to ensure re-election through a campaign chest that has exceeded $3 Million (to be deployed against Senator Daschle, one presumes) .

Isn’t it unfortunate that this is the best president that money can buy? The image that I have taken away from last week is comic: Bush (l’enfant formidable,as the democrats have realized, of the plutocracy) addressing Wall Street while standing against a background with the words “Corporate Responsibility” written over and over again. It evokes Orwell in so many ways that I begin to chuckle – the doublespeak, the perfect composition for the five-minute-hate, the steady separation of signifier and signified. But he is unaware of the black humor. Ultimately, this is just a bad joke – one that is even more offensive than Mr. Caldwell’s retro and unwarrented jab at Asian pronunciation of English.

posted by Brian | 9:54:00 PM link |

A longer piece coming later, but I couldn't resist linking to this list of 45 Goals of the Communist Party as of 1961. Chock full of irony, particularly for free trade neo-cons and the self-discrediting FBI (number 35).

posted by Brian | 8:34:00 PM link |

I always had higher expectations of this particular artifact. Please notice that the character who outlasted all the rest only occupies 15 of 64 pages (a huge comic book by today's standards). Note also the definite lack of flight in his abilities. Finally, he seems, like the Tick, to be a regional hero; he answers to the Governor and hangs out in "Roadhouses." Check out the last page for a the Stardust Section to catch up on your celebrity facts from 1938. Great Link found on Metafilter.

posted by Brian | 9:31:00 AM link |


We continue to slouch towards Bethlehem under our current administration.

posted by Brian | 11:21:00 PM link |


Charming productivity killers. These are the first flash games that I would consider soothing. Except for Snowcraft.

posted by Brian | 11:41:00 PM link |


I sometimes tire of hearing the Texans (newly arrived) complain of the lack of good Mexican food, when they really mean to complain about the lack of bland fajitas. A list for those who believe Le Pakcage Total does encompass all of Mexican food.

posted by Brian | 11:45:00 PM link |


Your chocolate is in my peanut butter; your peanut butter is in my chocolate. Two great tastes in one website.

posted by Brian | 5:54:00 PM link |


This review comes courtesy of Arts and Letters Daily. It of course continues a recent trend: learned book reviewers selecting a usage guide against which they may grind their descriptive (or synchronic) axes. I agree with Mr. Griffiths in general, though I do have one objection. He characterizes the descriptive linguists as intellectuals paralyzed by their constant exploration of "careworn verbiage" and "arrant nonsense" for the sake of relativism.

I agree that following the paths by which words come to us can yield the richest readings. I agree that poor diction, confused constructions, and risible malapropisms permeate common usage. The easy rhythms and casual vigilance of spoken language allow more trespasses than I care to count (considering only those that I commit). I also appreciate the close readings provided by Mr. Griffiths; he has great perception and, most pleasantly, writes with evident joy about the marvels of language that compose our linguistic inheritance.

But if we follow a strictly prescriptive approach, we would not have Shakespeare standing beside Joan Didion as ghosts in the words and phrases we use. Language would not have changed and language would not provide instances of frisson when the two stand so close. Ultimately, Mr. Griffiths (and I) would have nothing about which to complain.

Finally, the perils of prescription bring us perilously close to a return of the New Criticism. I cannot imagine Mr. Giriffiths performing such a relentless reading of an entire novel. Also, we must remember that the opposite of the vague and paralyzed relativist is the self crowned hierophant.

By no means does my criticism of synchronic considerations push me into the descriptive camp. We should fight the dilution of our language - point out the constant stream of malapropisms that issues from our leader(s) - and insist on a concise language of public discourse that admits ambiguity, but not vagueness. That insistence must come from individuals. We should all have journals of topia - books of days in which copy out masterful turns of phrase, aphorisms, and even egregious abuses. While we desperately need a political memory that can encompass at least our own century, we also need a linguistic memory of a duration sufficient to remind us that "impact" as a transitive verb, is used by business men who want their speech to swagger while avoiding the affect/effect question.

posted by Brian | 11:51:00 PM link |

As promised - or threatened ...

A friend of mine and I held a rather long running debate on whether Forrest Gump was a good movie. I found it preachy and designed to hit on certain emotionally weighted historical moments (thus I fell squarely in the "bad movie" camp). This tale told by an idiot does two things simultaneously – it praises a simple, good hearted person who cannot help but be true to himself while indicating that only a idiot could successfully navigate the last half of the twentieth century. I contend that the former makes the movie sentimental schlock, and until quite recently, the latter had no proof of concept in “real life.”

Why did I not enjoy Forrest Gump? Firstly, because it lacks finesse. The ruling image of the film – the visual metaphor of the feather borne of the wind – has the subtlety of a bludgeon. That simply describes its deployment throughout the film. When you examine this symbol, things really do grow more only slightly more complicated. The symbol comprises the feather borne of the wind (signifier) , and Forrest’s own life(signified). Secondly, I will concede a bias here: though I fully acknowledge that history, like language and culture, precedes us and resists attempts at change by individuals, I think the image of a life borne of history, with no will of its own, is offensive.

Forrest has no agency. He gives it up as he floats from moment to moment. Not that we have much more real choice in the matter in our own live. The lack of examination, the implicit recommendation that you’ll fare better without critical faculties. It then deploys its naïve hero against a backdrop of history – Elvis, Nixon, Apple Computers – always faring so well in his simple manner.

Opposed to Forrest, we find Jenny opposed in intellect, character, and fate. She is the sweet girl next door who apparently grew up to be a complicated young woman, through you would never know it from the characterization provided by the film. She moves through history by taking what the film seems to characterize as the low-road. She is promiscuous and politically suspect – both indicated by her involvement with the Black Panthers. With the exercise of volition, agency, and her mind, however, she meets the quintessential fate for the late twentieth century - AIDS.

This movie obsessively concerns itself with being historical, or rather, by invoking history for its authority. The movie then uses that authority to discuss the last half century as a period of time where its better to be stupid than smart, pliant than willful. Perhaps it is this film that most accurately portends the ascendancy of George W. Bush. The presidency is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get.

posted by Brian | 12:35:00 AM link |


Coming later - I carry a work place debate into print as we decide whether this is a good moving or not. This discussion of a 1994 film was provoked by deciding whether one should go see movies that are obviosuly manufactured to win Oscars - in this case, Road to Perdition.

posted by Brian | 10:30:00 AM link |


Like we needed this? It seems like everyone is talking about the latest Chinese ex-pat. Here are photos and yet another.

posted by Brian | 8:16:00 PM link |

Summer is here with a vengeance. We draw the curtains, turn on the fans and close everything up tight. The afternoon sunlight takes on a sepia tone as it passes through the curtains. It is the tone which signals antiquity when we see it in movies or television. In my imagination William Faulkner's entire oeuvre takes place in this light. It also takes place at about this temperature - currently 89 and rising.

Time to make some iced tea.

posted by Brian | 4:10:00 PM link |

I have this theory that, by the time the federal government feels compelled to intervene in a situation, something has gone terribly wrong.

posted by Brian | 3:04:00 PM link |
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