Monday, October 23, 2006
An acceleration point, uncommon in English typography, is used to indicate an increase in the speed at which the reader reads text. The typographical character derives from the tailed script m (Mercury sign) from the Wingdings font.
Although rarely used in standard English, the acceleration point appears commonly in the Valley girl dialect found in southern California. In addition to commonly heard variations of words (such as "like," "duh," and "totally), speech will occasionally speed up, apropos of nothing. While the acceleration point is most commonly found in the Valley girl dialect, it has uses in standard English, as well. Speakers who are nervous tend to speak at a faster pace than normal, requiring an acceleration point in written text. Other speakers, such as auctioneers, who are known for speaking quickly, sometimes also require acceleration points.
The acceleration point was first conceived of by linguist Benjamin H. Chatterton, working out of Brigham Young University. Supervising a team of undergraduates, he isolated the times in which the acceleration point appears in common speech and devised the appearance of the mark. While it has yet to be approved by any linguistic governing body, a paper on the subject is forthcoming.
edit: wikipedia seems to have bought it, for the time being. the permanent link can be found here. please, tell your friends. see if you can find more articles to link to this one. the more publicity we can get for the acceleration point, the better.
Friday, October 20, 2006
I have a lot of images that I associate strongly with various songs. Sarah Slean's marvelous LP Blue Parade immediately conjures up an image of a rainy winter in Portland to me. Sufjan Stevens' "Come on! Feel the Illinoise!" (from the eponymous album) makes me feel that I'm in love every time I hear it. Okkervil River's entire Black Sheep Boy Appendix EP brings to mind an image of a dark room with a misshapen creature huddled in it. At one point in high school, I tried to illustrate every song from Radiohead's Amnesiac LP. Really good music does this to me. The only trouble with this is that when I hear music that has an image attached to it, I tend to close my eyes in an effort to shut everything else out. I just want to enjoy my music and the image I've chosen to associate with it. This isn't such a bad thing when I'm at home or at the library listening to my music. The problem comes from the back that I just got an iPod (and I need to take the time here to mention how awesome dimmi is for getting it for me at zero cost), so I'm frequently listening to music as I walk around. Songs like "Sæglópur," then, cause me to shut my eyes as I'm walking through concourses of people on campus. I generally only make it a couple of seconds before I realize what I'm doing and open my eyes, sometimes microns away from running into someone.
Sigur Rós ought to put some sort of warning on their CDs cautioning people like myself against listening to their music while walking anywhere.
Monday, October 16, 2006
I decided to be a rabid, anti-war bleeding heart liberal today.
Allow me to explain.
In my Japanese literature class, we started a unit on WWII era Japan today. We were discussing a story titled "Blind Chinese Soldiers" (a short excerpt of which you can read here) by renowned author Hirabayashi Taiko and how it related to the politics and society of 1940s Japan. It's a terribly interesting story - I highly recommend reading it if you get the chance. In the course of the discussion, however, we got on the topic of the atomic bomb and Hiroshima. My professor, having anticipated this coming up, brought a film titled Hadashi no Gen (Barefoot Gen) on that very subject. It portrays the bombing of Hiroshima in an anime format, which has a more powerful effect than you might think. Similar to Art Spiegelman's Maus, the abstraction of the characters involved provides the reader a window into their lives. A photorealistic depiction of a character means that only one person in the world can be that character. An abstract portrayal of a character opens the doors; any one of thousands of people could realistically be represented. (I'm trying to succinctly summarize Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art and not doing such a great job. Read the book - you'll enjoy it.)
The point I'm making here is that despite the cartoonish quality of the film, the depiction of the effects of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima was horrifying. Absolutely horrifying. The class was absolutely silent for a while afterward. It was intense. I didn't talk to anyone until I'd sat in the library, calmed down, and listened to Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Under the Sea. I just felt so strongly against war. I actually thought to myself as I watched the film, "How on earth could we have dropped two bombs on Japan?"
That said, I feel a strong need in my life to be an anti-war nut. Feel free to respond as you will.
(my apologies for the slew of links. it's like i'm channeling bawb or something.)
Friday, October 13, 2006
No plot spoilers for you here (as I haven't read the book myself). I'm just writing to tell you all that if you haven't read the Lemony Snicket series yet, you really should. I've had Book the Thirteenth, titled The End, in my clutches for the past few hours, and the fact that I've only been able to read a few short chapters so far has been killing me.
Interestingly enough, this is the only book in the series to have fourteen chapters. The fourteenth chapter actually comprises its own book, titled, curiously enough, Chapter Fourteen. (The subtitle of the book is "Book the Last," which I find amusing.) I'm really excited.
Seriously, friends, you should read this. Reading Lemony Snicket will give you insights into my writing style that might not make sense otherwise. For instance, if you ever wondered why I title (or, rather, used to title) all of my posts in the format of "post the ______th", you needn't wonder any further.
I'm not even kidding. Go find the book. Go find the series. Read them. You won't be disappointed.
Friday, October 06, 2006
For years, autumn has been my favorite season. While walking on campus today, I looked up from the damp, worm-ridden sidewalk to see two rows of golden trees, their leaves flopping - not fluttering - to the ground, soaked with the rain from the night before. It was absolutely beautiful, and in keeping with recent tradition, I wanted to know what made it so.
So I explored.
I grabbed the first piece of paper I could find (the Business Day section of today's New York Times, as pictured above) and started scrawling down any thoughts and feelings that came into my head. After a few minutes of writing, I found that it was the evanescent feeling that I enjoyed so particularly. Everything feels as though it's slowly falling apart. I love the feeling of disshevelment that pervades the outdoors. The trees are in a state of decollatage - not quite undressed for the winter, but still not quite fully clothed. Discarded leaves are strewn on the grass and sidewalk. There's no sense in cleaning them up; tomorrow, a fresh blanket of red and gold will be laid on the ground. Prints of fallen leaves graffiti the sidewalk. Footprints and tire tracks do the same to the manicured lawns. Even the sky looks untidy, as though a five year-old in the heavens were fingerpainting in gray.
People look untidy, too. The falling rain makes one want to bundle up, but not in anything pretty. Who wants to have their beautiful winter coat soaked and ruined in the rain and mud? Instead, everyone wears a nondescript hoodie, content to be warm, dry, and blend in. Beautiful, trim fashion is sacrificed for function. The drizzle of rain has its way with perfectly parted and set hair, giving everyone an equally frumpy appearance. Hair dissheveled, clothes baggy, faces wet, we all look exactly the same. Winter is on its way, planning to restore order with snowfall. Sidewalks will be delineated from lawns with straight, white edges. Everything will be a perfectly orderly white.
Me, I'm going to revel in transience while I can.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Feel your chest until you find the spot where your rib cage meets your sternum. I'm serious here. You're not going to understand exactly what I'm feeling - which is my goal here - unless you take an active role in reading this essay. Go on, don't be bashful. There should be a small soft spot just below the bone. I'm feeling a near-constant pressure there of late - it abates temporarily, but vestiges of it still cling to me, refusing to leave me alone. It's an internal pressure, mind you; it feels as though something is squeezing me from within rather than pressing from without, where it could easily be brushed away.
I feel it in my throat, too. I find myself taking deep breaths a lot (they sound like wistful sighs; in fact, they are neither) in an effort to sate the discomfort in both my throat and chest. Breathing deeply briefly sooths the chest pressure while the air reaches high enough that my throat doesn't have the lump in it for a bit.
Yes, the grim spectre of melancholy has raised its hoary head in my life again. Don't just blow past that phrase, either. I spent a good twenty minutes making sure that was exactly what I wanted to say. I looked up melancholy in the thesaurus, scoured all of its synonyms, and finally looked it up in the OED until I settled on it. (I also intentionally spelled "spectre" in its British form.) Word choice is important to me. Please take note.
I had a really fun time last night, in case brooklyn is reading this. I really did. I've been busy, sure, but I was productive and even got a chance to relax, which doesn't happen terrifically often anymore. I was even having a good morning, listening to the Decemberists' The Crane Wife (especially "The Island," which hasn't left my head since I bought it yesterday morning). Around 1.30, however, I started to feel restless. I couldn't focus on anything. I just had a tremendous rush of energy and felt frustrated that I couldn't do anything with it. Curiously, the rush failed me some 45 minutes later when I completely crashed during one of my classes. I made it through the next few hours in an exhausted torpor, wishing only for a nap. (Instead, I watched the NL playoffs. Man, the Mets lok good.)
This lasted until about 6.30, when it all broke loose. While I wasn't quite happy, I was cheerful enough up until then. Almost instantly, melancholy swept over me like a morose tidal wave. (This is another case where my word choice is important. Take note.) I was surprised at how sudden and complete it was; Pepto-Bismol has nothing on emotion. Boy howdy. I just stood there, a bag of used paper towels and fast-food wrappers in hand, feeling like I wanted to cry (which I never do, no joke) for hours - and nothing had even happened. It was amazing.
It's at times like these where I wish I had someone to love. And before some of you reading this get up in arms saying you love me and worry about me, I want you to understand that I'm not talking about you. I know you love me. I appreciate it. I really do. That's just not what I'm talking about. I need someone in love with me - someone who can come and hold me when life gets impossibly hard. I need someone who can come and rub my still-aching back and wipe away my non-existent tears. I need someone who will be there for me and only me, as selfish as that sounds.
The problem with this is that I'm in love with everyone at the same time, which only adds to my frustration. (How can you not be frustrated like that? It's bad enough when only one object of your fancy doesn't return your affection; try a thousand of them at once.) I know I want someone to love, but I don't know who, or even that it's such a good idea for me at the moment, still having been freshly wounded. To make matters worse, I know exactly the woman I'd like to have comfort me and hold me, but she only exists as a construct of my mind. I've met 90% of her. (The lacking 10% turned out to be a critical difference.)
"go to sleep now, little ugly. go to sleep now, you little fool."
P.S.: I promise I'll start writing about cheerful things soon. This was such a startling insight into the world of melancholy that I couldn't resist writing about it. My apologies.
Monday, October 02, 2006
If you know me personally, you can imagine the reaction this evoked in me, but in case you don't, I'll go ahead and describe it to you. I looked down from the row of books I was previously scanning to see two shelves of thin, forest green books, slightly tattered from use, but otherwise in good condition. My initial excitement upon realizing the books were all about Soviet Russia grew steadily as my eyes travelled from the first volume to the the sixtieth. My mouth fell open as I saw the five volumes of indices at the end of the second shelf. I felt a flutter in my heart - not unlike the flutter I feel when I see an attractive woman. These were sexy books, and I was completely enrapt. The feeling only intensified when I saw a bibliography of Lenin's speeches from 1905-1924. Oh man. It was incredible.
I'm going to quit blogging and get to work reading the whole thing right now. Oh boy oh boy.