Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I Look Upon You as a Gem of the Old Rock.

On Friday, we had a tiny peek into the enigmatic Katie E. Lynch's unique world.  But there is something that many, if not all, people do not know about her. This something I had heard long ago and it returned to me as I noticed that she became increasingly favorable towards all manner of seeds.

She is directly related to the legendary American Nurseryman Johnny Appleseed.

I believe she is his great-grandniece by a few generations. They share some distinct similarities in their attitudes and approaches to the world with their love for seeds being just the starting point. Other parallels include:

-Both Johnny Appleseed and Katie E. Lynch understand the value in used clothing. 

Appleseed wore the equivalent of resale clothing in his time, but he always reserved the best bits for his friends. Katie does the exact same thing. She rarely buys anything new and is quick to give her favorite pieces away. She finds amazing treasures here and here.

-They are both aware of the value of life - great and small. 

This is a story from the annals of the legend of Johnny Appleseed.

One cool autumnal night, while lying by his camp-fire in the woods, he observed that the mosquitoes flew in the blaze and were burnt. Johnny, who wore on his head a tin utensil which answered both as a cap and a mush pot, filled it with water and quenched the fire, and afterwards remarked, “God forbid that I should build a fire for my comfort, that should be the means of destroying any of His creatures.”

Katie E. Lynch has rescued the tiniest of creatures and feels pain at any discomfort wrought upon the smallest of beings. One notable occasion was when an orchid was delivered from the swamps of the Okefenokee to our house, bringing with it a displaced Anole ten digits long --- 1234567890.

What does an Anole look like?


He was immediately christened Roger Anole and bathed in warm light and swaddled in leaves and twigs and served the finest aphids, which he refused to acknowledge by going on hunger strike with the effectiveness of John and Yoko in their hotel and the misanthropy of Marlon Brando in The Wild Ones. Roger Anole died holding onto false ideals, much to our chagrin.

-Finally, Johnny Appleseed and his scion, Katie E. Lynch are both strict vegetarians, which goes hand-in-hand with their sensitivity to the living. I am convinced that Johnny Appleseed would totally be a raw power vegan if he were alive today.

Here's Your Primitive Christian!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Hibernian Homme: Pulled into Beauty.

Man is Men was not born in a vacuum. There have been many points of light illuminating the vision of this blog and all have their own unique virtues.

But there is a particular aesthete that was particularly inspirational to me in starting this blog and that man is  Dan Monteforte with his incredible blog - Hibernian Homme.

Relentlessly beautiful, thunderous in sincerity, Hibernian Homme helps you regain that part of your soul that you always felt was slightly out of reach, such as his recent expedition into Places of Unknown Beauty here and here.

Part sartorialist, part design savant, Hibernian Homme hones his eye on every situation and finds the happiness that is to to had as the venerable Katie E. Lynch and I can attest to.

Eritrea? Really, Hibernian Homme. You really are a tastemaker, not unlike the previously-mentioned Arthur Quiller-Couch.

Friday, August 27, 2010

You Will Eat Life Itself.

I have the diet of a human being.

In all my years of living, I've been used to opening the cupboards and refrigerator to find the norms of society - flour, butter, eggs, pasta, rice, sugar, and so on and so forth.

However, for fourteen months there has been a sea change in my kitchen since the ever-so-lovely and beautiful Katie E. Lynch has transformed into a raw food power vegan.

Where once we lived in tandem, sharing the same food, our kitchen has now experienced a quantum shift, where two separate dimensions exist on top of each other. One is my run-of-the-mill cooked world and the other is a world of exotic names and substances that I have never heard of and can be quite frightening at times.

And, now, to share with you the new reality of the raw power vegan that exists in our kitchen:

Keep in mind that these things are not sitting on the shelves collecting dust, but are actually in heavy rotation as the intriguing Katie E. Lynch develops permutation of foods never before been tasted.(Really!)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Touching the Hem Never Works Out Right.

Admiration is a tricky fiddle to play. 

I have seen a ton of celebrities from afar. But I have only approached a few.

With terrible results.

These two Eugenes have given me equal short shrift, making me re-question my interaction with the world. 

Eugene Hutz
Eugene Mirman

Both encounters were painful incidents that were preceded by myself talking myself into stepping outside my own comfort zone and initiating a conversation with both men.

Similarities in both engagements were:

1. Despite their reputations as entertainers, there was an extreme lack of smiling.
2. There was very little eye contact.
3. The animal in the situation was unclear. Were they cornered creatures or was I an escaped beast?

These were not just celebrities that I happened upon and were fascinated by the novel nature of their celebrity. It must be said that these men have produced work that I have loved and have pondered.

But these interactions left me irritated and, consequently, put me in a state of revision towards my feelings for them.

As I mulled over their rude actions, I gradually realized the source of the nature of their coldness. It was an unbalanced relationship.

Relationships succeed when both parties give and take.

A non-celebrity confronting a celebrity is always on the taking side of the relationship with no giving to balance it out.

As a fan, I knew far too much about both these men that they had not personally given me. I made the mistake of only talking about the very things that made them both famous, placing us squarely in that imbalanced situation.

I should have just talked about something else, like Ray Harryhausen or the incredible Tsar Bomb. (hmmm...maybe not. They're both ex-Soviets.)

There is one celebrity I know, though, that transcends all this.

You guessed it.

Andrew W.K. - Honorary Plebe

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What Little Sense I Once Possessed

Two friends arrived from Ohio with tales of their upcoming country band, Ding Dang Dong.

Although they seem united in the nature of the band, they were divided in their view on the meaning of the name. One felt it racist, while the other felt it captured the regional sensibilities of certain parts of America quite well. 

I felt the name is a perfect example of literary nonsense.

Literary nonsense is a form of writing that injects meaning through illogicality into a piece of poetry or prose.

We don't know what Ding, Dang, Dong means. Yet, somehow, we do. 

Another notable piece of dongery is by famous nonsense purveyor, Edward Lear, as follows:

"The Dong With A Luminous Nose"

When awful darkness and silence reign
Over the great Gromboolian plain,
Through the long, long wintry nights;--
When the angry breakers roar
As they beat on the rocky shore;--
When Storm-clouds brood on the towering heights
Of the Hills of the Chankly Bore:--

Then, through the vast and gloomy dark,
There moves what seems a fiery spark,
A lonely spark with silvery rays
Piercing the coal-black night,--
A Meteor strange and bright:--
Hither and thither the vision strays,
A single lurid light.

Slowly it wanders,--pauses,--creeeps,--
Anon it sparkles,--flashes and leaps;
And ever as onward it gleaming goes
A light on the Bong-tree stems it throws.
And those who watch at that midnight hour
From Hall or Terrace, or lofty Tower,
Cry, as the wild light passes along,--
'The Dong!--the Dong!
'The wandering Dong through the forest goes!
'The Dong! the Dong!
'The Dong with a luminous Nose!'

Long years ago
The Dong was happy and gay,
Till he fell in love with a Jumbly Girl
Who came to those shores one day,
For the Jumblies came in a sieve, they did,--
Landing at eve near the Zemmery Fidd
Where the Oblong Oysters grow,
And the rocks are smooth and gray.
And all the woods and the valleys rang
With the Chorus they daily and nightly sang,--
'Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue
And they went to sea in a sieve.'

Happily, happily passed those days!
While the cheerful Jumblies staid;
They danced in circlets all night long,
To the plaintive pipe of the lively Dong,
In moonlight, shine, or shade.
For day and night he was always there
By the side of the Jumbly Girl so fair,
With her sky-blue hands, and her sea-green hair.
Till the morning came of that hateful day
When the Jumblies sailed in their sieve away,
And the Dong was left on the cruel shore
Gazing--gazing for evermore,--
Ever keeping his weary eyes on
That pea-green sail on the far horizon,--
Singing the Jumbly Chorus still
As he sate all day on the grassy hill,--
'Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue
And they went to sea in a sieve.'

But when the sun was low in the West,
The Dong arose and said;--
--'What little sense I once possessed
'Has quite gone out of my head!'--
And since that day he wanders still
By lake or forest, marsh and hill,
Singing--'O somewhere, in valley or plain
'Might I find my Jumbly Girl again!
'For ever I'll seek by lake and shore
'Till I find my Jumbly Girl once more!'

Playing a pipe with silvery squeaks,
Since then his Jumbly Girl he seeks,
And because by night he could not see,
He gathered the bark of the Twangum Tree
On the flowery plain that grows.
And he wove him a wondrous Nose,--
A Nose as strange as a Nose could be!
Of vast proportions and painted red,
And tied with cords to the back of his head.
--In a hollow rounded space it ended
With a luminous Lamp within suspended,
All fenced about
With a bandage stout
To prevent the wind from blowing it out;--
And with holes all round to send the light,
In gleaming rays on the dismal night.

And now each night, and all night long,
Over those plains still roams the Dong;
And above the wall of the Chimp and Snipe
You may hear the sqeak of his plaintive pipe
While ever he seeks, but seeks in vain
To meet with his Jumbly Girl again;
Lonely and wild--all night he goes,--
The Dong with a luminous Nose!
And all who watch at the midnight hour,
From Hall or Terrace, or lofty Tower,
Cry, as they trace the Meteor bright,
Moving along through the dreary night,--
'This is the hour when forth he goes,
'The Dong with a luminous Nose!
'Yonder--over the plain he goes,
'He goes!
'He goes;
'The Dong with a luminous Nose!'

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I'm A Mean Beast and Cut it Very Fine

Before Video Week took over everyone's life at Man is Men, there was a discussion that addressed the inability of a certain E.R. Eddison to "Murder his Darlings" in his deranged epic The Worm Ouroboros. 

To "Murder" one's "Darlings" is a sentiment echoed down through the century in the craft of writing in regards to an element of one's work that one may be too emotionally attached and, consequently, cannot make a proper editorial decision about whether or not the element enhances or detracts from the larger work.

Fellow Blogger of Writing Kristen Lamb writes a astute analysis of the concept here.

However, when one turns their eye to the phrase "Murder Your Darlings," one may wonder who came up with such a poetic decree for the unwashed hordes of sentimental scribblers.

It is this man. 

His name was Arthur Quiller-Couch and he set the tempo and tone for literary tastes during the first part of the 20th Century. 
Just as Anna Wintour was a taste maker in the world of fashion through Vogue magazine, Quiller-Couch   acted as the arbiter of literary trends with his mundane-sounding Oxford Book of English Verse 1250-1900.  

He preferred to be called "Q." His office was called the Q-bicle. This is his tombstone.

Perhaps you, like me, have felt that Arthur Quiller-Couch has had no deep effects on your life. But, Q has been worked into the DNA of a book that has had a larger part in my life than I ever realized --Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows. 

Grahame was so affected by Quiller-Couch's character that he fashioned his sensualist character, Ratty, after him.

The past century has not been good to the aesthetic of Grahame's The Wind in the Willows. After Disney got their sanitizing gloves on the piece, they transformed it into a very American cartoon, draining it of all the details that made it a unique piece that reflected the air of the day. Capitalization reaching a capitulation point with the invention of a roller-coaster?!

In my estimation, the only way to experience The Wind in the Willows (aside from reading it) is through the absurd stentorian tones of Carry-On alumni Kenneth Williams as follows:

I'm a Mean Beast and Cut it Very Fine.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Behind The Canine Foie Gras Cannery

I think we betrayed our American nature and were duly snubbed.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Underworld: Party Like it's 1929

Director Josef Von Sternberg was as fanatical about mood and scene as an art form then as Wes or Paul Thomas Anderson are today.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Gift of Glam From 1934.

The Most Amazing Scene in all Pre-Code Filmdom, if not Filmdom period.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Mickle Charms of the Chateau Challain

The ravishing Katie E. Lynch and I 
wind through mottled streets 
to crunch to a castle.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Worm Ouroboros - Your Suggestions Shall Be Swiftly Ignored.

Imagine, if you will, that through some loophole with NAFTA, you inherit all 43 of the original Eggs from the House of Faberge - opulent, luxurious, and unique.

But, upon leaving them in the care of your babysitter/landscaper, you return to find them all  broken as they had accidentally been put in the wash.

One would normally be sympathetic to any rage that you may, at this point, find yourself expressing. But, instead of insuppressible anger, you actually find yourself in awe of the creation of your babysitter/landscaper, who in a fit of panicked action, took every shard of every broken egg and constructed one colossal Faberge-ish Uber-Egg. 

As a whole construct, it makes no sense. It is a cobbled-together masterpiece made from fragments of exacting beauty and skill, yet it has become an outsider-art opus made with elements of exacting artisanal technique.

If you feel this concept is impossible or exciting or exhausting, then I present to you:

This is one of the first examples of high fantasy. Released in 1926,  it predated Tolkien's epic The Fellowship of the Ring by 32 years and I have never read anything like it. Its characters are complex and interesting. It is both serious and well-wrought with its archaic Old English Prose and its vivid scenes, filled with lucid emotion. 

"Night came down on the hills. A great wind moaning out of the hueless west tore the clouds as a ragged garment, revealing the lonely moon that fled naked betwixt them."

But these virtuous writing traits are carried on a structure that is so ridiculous that you wonder if, once Eddison started writing, he ever looked back. 

Set in another "Middle-Earth" (only this one is on the planet Mercury), the story opens with a man lounging on a divan in a Lotus Room with his lover. That night he is swept away by a magic chariot led by a small bird to the foreign planet in order to observe the epic struggles between six kingdoms. This introduction puts the viewpoint squarely in this man's focus. But, after the introduction, he disappears from the story - NEVER TO BE HEARD OF AGAIN.

The kingdoms are all of full grown men, who are powerful and Nietzschean, yet Eddison labels their races as the Goblins, the Ghouls, and the Pixys..e.t.c. 

Eddison had odd names for his characters as well, such as La Fireez and Fax Fay Faz. These were names he invented as a child that he just could not let go of, completely ignoring the current urgings from the writing community to "Murder Your Darlings." (More on that later.)

As if navigating the odd inventions of Eddison weren't enough, he outlined some oddly presumptuous rules at the beginning of the book on the proper pronunciations of the names.

"Corinius rhymes with Flaminius"

"The e in Carce is long, like that in Phryne"

But, reading it is a unique experience. It's like watching a car crash where the passengers are thrown from their windows only to engage in synchronized aerial acrobatics, landing deftly on oversized puffballs with drinks in hand.
Second to the left is Goldry Bluzco, who I believe shares his name with my plumber.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ideas are the Prey; Prompts are the Bait; I am the Hunter.

Write prompts are funny things.

The product of the mind that emerges from focusing on a write prompt is usually far different from the actual nature of the prompt. For instance, one may see a torn stage curtain, which may remind one of an embarrassing incident at a family picnic, which may induce feelings of buried shame, which may make one recall the survival instincts one acquired to avoid such feelings of shame, which may lead one to ultimately write about the uneven life of an agoraphobic publicity agent.

This leads me to talk about my very good friend, the amazing Kyle Dunkley.

Before he left to live across the sea and after he quit the Circus, he handed me a gift.

In recognition of my aspirations and efforts to become a writer, he gave me a box of write prompts. Objects not valuable in their monetary worth, but potentially great in their literary worth.

Nobody knew how to turn off the consciousness and lurk around in the sub-conscious like Kyle and, together, we plumbed the depths of nonsense and the ridiculous for hours on end. Now with the Great Wide Blue between us, this box would have to fill his place.

Here is what lay inside:


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

In the Car with Shiva the Destroyer.

Speaking of the formulative aspects of the Nineteen Eighties, I feel that I would be remiss after eleven posts to not at least signal my unhealthy obsession with nuclear weapons at that time. It was not long after my obsession with mythological warlords controlling the fate of all humanity turned into an obsession with actual warlords controlling the fate of all humanity.

I've long since purged this from my system (it lasted until 2001 for reasons one might probably assume), but I used to have to guess at this whenever I visited a new city:

nuclear war,nuclear bomb,shiva,paranoia,apocalypse,cold war

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Oh, Ray. I Hardly Knew Ye.

It was 1981 and I was 7 years old.

As an impressionable child, there were certain aspects of the world that had privileged positions of my attention. In the world of film, I was certainly a fan of the Lucas/Spielberg vein of movies such as Star Wars and Indiana Jones. But the movies that really got my juices churning were the movies that employed master animator Ray Harryhausen. 

Harryhausen's animated creatures had a jerky feel to them and they seemed to take a little too long to blink, which gave me an eerie feeling to watch them. But they were analog and organic in their construction and this is why I feel that they made a distinct stamp on my childhood. 

Harryhausen is famously known for  films like Mighty Joe Young, Jason and the Argonauts, and the Sinbad series. 

I really had no idea who he was in 1981, but I did know that I went to bed every night thinking about Clash of the Titans, which turned out to be his last feature film.

On a trip back to my mother's home in England, not far from here, at a community Bible study, I met a woman that I would never forget. She was beautiful, fifteen years older than me, and interested in taking me to meet the man who built all the puppets for Clash of the Titans,(probably because I had my Clash of the Titans filter on and was willing to talk about it to whoever would listen). She worked for him and had free access to him and all the models. Ray Harryhausen!!!

If, at the time,  I had to construct the way to spend a perfect day in England, it would probably be crafted exactly as she was proposing, to me and my mother. My mind was on fire. I felt that I truly was the Messiah after all. The Chosen One. Dreams do come true for everyone. 

However, it was not to be. My mother had other engagements and she was not about to let her seven-year old son be whisked away by some twenty-something strumpet with seductive promises of mythological puppetry. Of....course, I....... under......stand.......... 

I do believe I blacked out for the next two weeks at the crushing loss of opportunity that occurred. 

Harryhausen had crushed dreams as well. Here's the lost footage from War of the Worlds, a movie he was desperate to make that never came to fruition:

Monday, August 9, 2010

Let the Sleepers Awake.

Have you ever had an experience so unexpected that you forgot what your own name was?

I'm talking about seeing someone where you normally wouldn't or having normal predictable daily occurrences disrupted by a "black swan."

For a spit-second, until you get a grasp on reality, you feel like all things possible are about to happen in your very immediate future.  Then, when you finally realize what is happening, the world reverts to back to normal and your view of the world snaps back into place. I have a feeling that, when this happens, one gets unwillingly thrust back into their sub-conscious.

This latency of perception is amazingly addressed in "Scanner," the incredible house of books and mirrors built by Matej Kren for the Museum of Modern Art in Bologna. (Thanks to Source!)

There are pictures at least ten times more incredible than this one at the M.A.M.B.O website.

Here is another one from the Prague Library called "Idiom."

Remember this next time you find yourself slipping into Homicidal Somnambulism.

Friday, August 6, 2010

How the Victorians Wasted Their Time.

I know that most of you are going to see Step Up 3D, but before you head out the door to rake in what may seem like a radically new visual experience. Allow me to present to you that which started it all:
The Stereoscope. 
Or, as ours is awkwardly labelled, "The Perfecscope." Invented in 1838, 3-D viewing through the stereoscope was THE most exciting thing going in the world of visual media. These are some stereoscopic cards we picked up at the incredible East Village junk shop called Obscura. All the scenes are from the very end of the 1800s. There is no thematic arc to these shots; they just try to fit in the whole story scene by scene.