Spring Break Music

Columbia’s on Spring Break this week.

  • Django Reinhardt, The Best of Django Reinhardt

  • Sugar, File Under Easy Listening

  • Talking Heads, Popular Favorites, disc 2

Random: The Internet is Funny

I leave for PCA tomorrow, to present my flash project, which I’m calling internet art. Try it out and enjoy:

Random: the Internet is Funny

Now a working link!

More Music

I’m alternating between the CDs in the stereo, and streaming The Current.

  • Andy M. Stewart, By the Hush

  • Blink 182, Buddha

  • The Verve Pipe, The Freshmen

  • Various, Soundtrack to the Motion Picture Rushmore

I wonder if The Verve Pipe and The Verve are mortal enemies?

Addendum: turns out the Verve Pipe CD, part of Jenny’s CD collection, is actually a single.


Things I know only because I was in nerd bowl:

  • Guiteau shot Garfield (helpful mnemonic: Garfield played the Guitar, thought Guiteau).

  • The Autobiography of Gertrude Stein was written by Alice B. Toklas.

  • Marijuana is the United States’ biggest cash crop.

A crossword clue I got yesterday because I enjoy Monty Python’s Flying Circus:

  • 5-letter word for “Deciduous conifer”: LARCH

New Interfaces

We talked about Chapter 2 of Manovich in my Writing for New Media class Tuesday, and we tried to brainstorm some new interface metaphors for applications or operating systems. Other than the spatial metaphor, ala Matteo Ricci, we didn’t have a lot of luck trying to suggest new interfaces. It’s hard to get to the innovation side of the “consistency-innovation” combo.

So I thought I’d brainstorm some of my daily interactions that could yield interesting metaphors:

  • Walking the dog. When you walk your dog, your dog is out and about, it visits the places it’s interested in, leaves notes (minor and substantial), and greets other dogs. Translation: what about a web-browsing interface that allowed/kept track of current connections ala the “logged in” panel in drupal? However, it would use some sort of pop-up to allow you and the other users to interact immediately. The virtual “sniff.”
  • An audio tour, as at a museum. You could use a popup window that narrates (audibly) pages as you browse. This could also be understood as the virtual director’s commentary.
  • Library stacks. A mighty AI engine would be used to categorize websites as you view them. While their links would come into play, the sites in “stacks” next to one another would be by whatever organizing principle you wanted to see. Similar to the division of search results on Clusty. An adjustable range would allow for a minimum of one website on each side, up to many websites. Perhaps you could even click a button to close the current website and just display the surrounding stack. Here’s what I’m imagining:

    View image in big pop-up

Music Music Music

A weird mix this week:

  • The Moody Blues, Strange Times
  • Alice in Chains, Jar of Flies
  • They Might Be Giants, Apollo 18


So this came in the OED daily email on 3 March (read the extended entry for the full definition):

cooler SECOND EDITION 1989

({sm}ku{lm}l{schwa}(r)) [f. as prec. + -ER. Cf. KEELER.]

1. Anything that cools or makes cool.

1575 LANEHAM Lett. (1871) 53 But whoo so was found so hot in desyre, with the wreast of a Cok was sure of a coolar. 1686 GOAD Celest. Bodies I. ii. 6 Wind is a Dryer, even as Frost a Cooler. 1797 HOLCROFT Stolberg’s Trav. (ed. 2) IV. xcii. 235 They do not use ice as a cooler, but snow.

. . .

3. A cooling medicine or agent; a refrigerant.

1621 BURTON Anat. Mel. II. ii. II. (1651) That the liver be outwardly anointed with some coolers that it be not over~heated. 1671 SALMON Sign. Med. III. xxii. Citruls, the seeds are great coolers in Feavers. 1744 BERKELEY Siris §7 An admirable febrifuge, at once the safest cooler and cordial. 1766 PENNANT Zool., Goat (1812) I. 46 In..cases, where coolers and restoratives are necessary.

Since I’m teaching from Writing About Cool this semester, I thought I’d play with these a bit this morning.

Having read The Professor and the Madman, I’m aware that OED sought, for their examples, the earliest use of each word available. So it becomes marginally reasonable to say 1575 is the year “cooler” emerged as a noun. Using one of my favorite techniques from the book, let’s see what else was going on in 1575…

The music industry was already consolidating.
Jan 22, English queen Elizabeth I granted Thomas Tallis and William Byrd a music press monopoly. (link)


I’m not sure what this has to do with “cooler,” but I find it odd that the dumb didn’t have rights to progeniture, which I take to mean the right to have children. Perhaps you’d use a cooler to enforce that restriction (as defn 3 or 4)?
Lasso, a Spanish lawyer, concluded that those who learn to speak are no longer dumb and should have rights to progeniture.(link)


From a confusing entry on Answers.com, it seems a whole tribe of celts won the world Chess championship. I include this link mostly because I got a cool circular irish chess set for Christmas this year.
Boi and Leonardo da Cutri (link)


How does someone decide to make a “history of the world” list, and why include this? The battle served as a cooler in the arms race.
In Japan two armies meet. The side with guns wins for the first time, yet by mutual agreement, guns are outlawed 100 years later.(link)


The beginnings of psychology? The sixteenth century’s answer to Freud.
In his book Catalogue of Common Places, Johannes Thomas Freigius [b. (Switzerland), 1543, d. 1583] uses the term psychologia (“mind study”). He reintroduces the term in another book in 1579.(link)

Continue reading Cooler

Zombie Text list

zombie!I’m kicking around a class about zombies. Perhaps a J-term for 2007 or a proposed special-topics course. Here begins the list of things I might use.

  • Films: Dawn of the Dead (both), Shaun of the Dead, Night of the Living Dead, 28 Days Later, The Serpent and the Rainbow, Carnival of Souls, The Hills Have Eyes, Dead Alive, Evil Dead, The Beyond, Resident Evil
  • Films I haven’t seen yet: House of 1000 Corpses, Resident Evil Apocalypse, Cemetary Man
  • Comics: E.C. comics from the 50s, Dawn of the Dead (Niles’ adaptation), Lenore
  • Games: Resident Evil series, Stubbs the Zombie, Zombies!!! (the boardgame)
  • Books: The Serpent and the Rainbow, The Zombie Survival Guide

The big question is whether this would be a traditional cultural studies class, or whether I can find a heuretic method to engage with Zombies. On one hand, the appeal of teaching a cultural studies class that approaches Zombie texts from a variety of theoretical positions appeals to me. On the other, I find experimental classes most interesting and challenging. So, perhaps I can learn from Writing About Cool—look at many different aspects of zombie-ness to see what we can learn about writing about zombies. Another approach: zombies emerge as primary figures in horror with Night of the Living Dead; perhaps 1968 is the answer to the question of why zombies?

more zombies!

It has been a pet theory of mine that the emergence of “fast zombies” in 28 Days Later and Dawn of the Dead signifies a cultural response to the speed of the digital age. If Night of the Living Dead worried about our zombification, the new films use the trope of a (computer) virus to suggest that the numbing process is signficantly shorter than we’d first thought.

Music for March

  • The Allman Brothers Band, A Decade of Hits: 1969-1979

  • Cake, Prolonging the Magic

  • Hüsker Dü, Warehouse: Songs and Stories


My morning spam deleting session:

  1. delete all the spam entries; save the IP addresses in a separate email.

  2. open the IP banning window. ALT-TAB to email. Cut. ALT-TAB to blog. paste. click “add”. Repeat ten times.

As I drudged my way through step two this morning, Chris Cornell wailed out of my stereo: “I can tell you why people go insane. I can show you how you can do the same.”

I already know, Chris.


So I’ve been listening to Dylan quite a bit in the past two years (as opposed to before that, when I only had his acoustic greatest hits). As I cycle through the five albums I have, “Motorpsycho Nightmare” consistently pops up as a favorite. Here are some lyrics:

There stood Rita
Lookin’ just like Tony Perkins.
She said, “Would you like to take a shower?
I’ll show you up to the door.”
I said, “Oh, no! no!
I’ve been through this before.”
I knew I had to split
But I didn’t know how,
When she said,
“Would you like to take that shower, now?”

Well, I couldn’t leave
Unless the old man chased me out,
‘Cause I’d already promised
That I’d milk his cows.
I had to say something
To strike him very weird,
So I yelled out,
“I like Fidel Castro and his beard.”
Rita looked offended
But she got out of the way,
As he came charging down the stairs
Sayin’, “What’s that I heard you say?”

I said, “I like Fidel Castro,
I think you heard me right,”
And ducked as he swung
At me with all his might.
Rita mumbled something
‘Bout her mother on the hill,
As his fist hit the icebox,
He said he’s going to kill me
If I don’t get out the door
In two seconds flat,
“You unpatriotic,
Rotten doctor Commie rat.”

Well, he threw a Reader’s Digest
At my head and I did run,

It’s the mix of Americana that I like in this song. Evoking Psycho, the classic “farmer’s daughter and the traveling salesman” jokes, the fact that the farmer would be rabidly anti-communist, and that he throws a Reader’s Digest. He also says things like “ten thousand miles today I drove.”