Another LJ-style post   
06:18pm 18/03/2012
  Or a placeholder for one, at least. What a weekend!  
This post seems most appropriate for LJ   
01:24am 03/03/2012
  Today I got health insurance. I got the paperwork for refinancing the mortgage in the mail. Had a concert and initial ideas meeting with director, designer and potential actor for the play eben and I are going to make out of our UGB material. Alexis is in Colorado about to present a paper at a conference. I have to get up early tomorrow and get to Bushwick (somehow - damn you, MTA) for the first on-stage rehearsal of the What Dance, in which I will both get to dance and deliver a monologue.

This seems to be what adult life is like.
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02:23am 02/01/2012
  I let myself remember 2011. The resulting word salad: Oh boyCollapse )
My proudest accomplishment this year is securing Alexis' Newark apartment and then fixing her bed. My second proudest is probably my erotic homestuck fanfiction. My third proudest is that I am a bizarre agglomeration of needs, interests and aesthetic abnormalities and if anything that whole three-color jelly drink of wanton charm has just intensified this year. The worst thing was that I gave up trying to understand myself - in those terms - and instead gave myself permission to do anything in the hopes that something would stick. I hurt a lot of people this year and made some very bad mistakes. My resolution for next year is not to do that again.

I ended this year feeling beat down - broke as fuck, no wiser about my life than I was last year, hurtling towards 30 - and I was lying awake in bed tonight looking at the ceiling and I gave myself permission to remember all of this stuff. The extraordinary density of the last year and change, which in other moods I remember as mostly consisting of staring at computers. The sheer number of places I've been and things I've done. The baffling, sustaining strength of the relationship I find myself in.

I have to go to sleep, and get this out while it's still manageable. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
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01:22am 09/12/2011
  In light of the dearth, I have put a listing of my ten most-listened-to albums of the year up on the tumblr. Hie ye thence if you care. Two of them even came out this year! A whole two. Geez.  
Oh crap   
02:39pm 08/12/2011
  Guys it's best-of list season and I forgot to listen to any music this year!!!!

Seriously, I can't think of anything at all that came out this year that I really liked. Any recommendations? Or just reminders?
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04:13pm 04/12/2011
  I am, or was, or am, a big fan of the Firesign Theater, who were or are or were a comedy group who got their start in the early 70s on LA radio. The albums they produced during their heyday were part sketch comedy, part Surrealism (like, hardcore capital-S stuff), part drug narrative, and featured some pretty incisive social commentary squirreled away here and there. And catchphrases. Lots and lots of catchphrases. Picture long-form monty python skits except filtered through that particularly Angeleno kind of urban nightmare madness and without nearly as many jokes.

They've done a lot of different things since then - musical comedy, period parody, live shows - but the records they made during the last part of their career in the late 90s did a decent job of recapturing the feel of their old work, broader and saner though it was. There were a lot of winking references to their old material, and that was fine, except that by the last album they produced before trailing off in a cloud of live sets and best-ofs there was hardly anything but, and one felt that one was wading hip-deep through a sea of half-remembered catchphrases. The atmosphere so created was insular enough to make the listener feel starved of oxygen, and it began to feel - like many things do, if they are allowed to persist for long enough - like fanfiction.

There is nothing wrong with fanfiction in and of itself. There is an awful lot of it that passes to and fro in the real world without notice, characters meekly living on long after the demise of their creators. Almost all superhero comics. Sherlock Holmes and James Bond. Muppets and Star Trek. Reboots and reimaginings of all stripes roam the pop-culture landscape, and when it's done well, we don't complain, but we know the signs when it's done poorly. (See TVTropes for endless, endless examples. I could probably write another post about the traits that set me off particularly.) One of the many things that marks bad fanfiction out is the unseemly way it can hump the leg of original canon, throwing in so many referents that it becomes impossible for a non-fan to navigate. When this happens in the real world with adaptations, it's regrettable; when it's self-inflicted, when the authors themselves begin to write like fans, it's tragic.

Now, I'm not saying this applies to Homestuck. Sure, there have been exactly zero conversations since Act 6 started that don't in some way reference or retell previous jokes, but that's part of the post-scratch conceit, right? And cycles and repetition and memetic mutation have always been a big part of the comic, and the stuff is brilliant and hilarious as usual. It's just the sheer referential weight in recent weeks is beginning to set off warning bells in the back of my head.

I trust Hussie. I do. But worries.
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Picture posties   
02:42am 30/11/2011
  So much easier on tumblr, I tell you what. Check them out at

Here are some bonuses for the LJ crowd, though:

Towards a classification system for british comedians   
06:13pm 27/11/2011
  I like comedy. I like British comedy particularly. I have spent a lot of time thinking about the various ways stand-up and British stand-up in particular work. And, once I have spent a lot of time thinking about something, I often find that writing it down is the only way to stop thinking about it. That is why this thing exists.

There are a number of essential attributes that define and distinguish comics. Among the most important: style, identity, strengths, context. I will treat these individually.


Most stand-up can be broadly broken down into a combination of essential styles. The styles that I have observed are as follows:

-Observational. The "have you ever noticed" or "am I right?" school of comedy. Airline food and toasters. A baseline approach which tends to be populist and popular. Draws the ire of more intellectual comics. Examples: Jerry Seinfeld, Michael MacIntyre.

-Improvisational. Includes both "Whose Line"-style theater games and the kind of comic who will spend most of his or her set talking to audience members and building running gags out of their occupations, appearance and sundry foibles. A mark of skill and difficult to do well but can lack depth. Examples: Ross Noble, Paul Merton.

-Personal. Comedy that relies on characteristics of the performer, whether it be race, national origin, history, gender, sexual orientation, how drunk they are, or any number of other quirks or qualities. Most comedians do this to some extent; it's an easy way to start one's career, as the only thing an audience is likely to remember about a new comedian is distinguishing personal characteristics, and an easy way to finish one, as a comedian that has been around long enough will have their personality so etched in the minds of their audience that riffing on it will become difficult to avoid. Examples: many, many, many, ranging from Shappi Khorsandi to Rodney Dangerfield.

Some Personal styles have become so codified that they constitute styles in and of themselves: "Drunk" (Dylan Moran, WC Fields), "Camp" (Julian Clary, Frankie Howard), "Angry" (Lewis Black), etc.

-Storyteller. Comedians who have mastered the long anecdote. Often, but not always, paired with "Personal". Examples: Garrison Keillor, Bill Cosby.

-Character/Catchphrase. Endemic to sketch comedy, for obvious reasons, but also found in stand-ups who do large parts of their performances in-character. Includes purveyors of funny voices. Can be very successful but also very limiting, and when catchphrase-heavy can create backlash. Examples: Al Murray, Reggie Watts

-Impressionist. Just what it says on the tin - one of the classic comedy tropes. Also relies heavily on catchphrases and can be dangerous in that regard, but a performer who is very skilled in this doesn't even have to be particularly funny to be successful. Examples: tellingly, I have several people in mind but can't remember their names.

-Musical. Jokes in song form. Ranges from comics who could make their livings as musicians to comics who realized that a guitar is a useful prop to fiddle with when their momentum is ebbing. Comics for whom music is their primary mode of expression include Tim Minchin and Bill Bailey.

-Surreal. Purple monkey dishwasher. Care must be taken to distinguish 'silly', which follows in the best traditions of Monty Python, from 'random', which is the rock-bottom standard of teenage internet humor; this style is deadly in the wrong hands, sublime in others. Examples: Noel Fielding, Eddie Izzard.

-Punchlines. The telling of actual jokes - one-liners, particularly. Once a standard form of stand-up, this has become increasingly rare, because it is very very hard to do well. On the plus side, that means that people who still try to do it tend to know what they're doing. Examples: Mitch Hedberg, Jimmy Carr.

-Satirical. Comics who draw their primary source material from cultural or political events of the day. Can easily merge into "Confrontational" or "Personal", if the comic simply becomes known for having a particular set of political beliefs. An easy way to be lazy, also, as the world often writes the material for you. Pure satirists, who are not beholden to any particular agenda beyond truth and justice, are rare and to be treasured. Examples: Ian Hislop, Peter Cook.

-Wit. Panel-show habitues. A form almost entirely forgotten in American comedy, characterized by quickness, dryness, irony, and anecdotes about other wits. Examples: Sandi Toksvig, Stephen Fry.

-Prop. Wielders of giant foam-rubber telephones. The lowest of the low. Examples: Gallagher, Carrot Top.

-Confrontational. Some comics want their audiences to love them; some want their audiences to fear them. A comedian who lectures, harangues, or insults his or her audience, or endeavors to make them as uncomfortable as possible. Subcategories include:

-Dark/Edgy. A comic who trades in sick or taboo humor. Ranges from admirable to despicable depending upon which social boundaries are being violated. Examples: Frankie Boyle, Chris Morris.

-Experimental. If you are not sure whether you are watching standup, performance art, or someone having a genuine mental breakdown on stage, this is what is happening. Examples: Stewart Lee, Johnny Vegas.

-Pedagogical. Someone has a point to make and they may or may not be paying a lot of attention to being funny about it. Examples: Bill Hicks, Lenny Bruce.

-Insult. The classic court jester approach. Examples: Don Rickles, Simon Amstell.


Most comedians can be described using a combination of these terms. Jeff Foxworthy, for example: Punchline/Personal. This leaves out an important piece of information about Foxworthy, though, without which we don't have anything close to a complete picture. This is where "Identity" comes in. In addition to the style in which they perform, it is important to note those characteristics of the comic which form their public face and which they themselves are in the habit of referencing. Even comics who are as far away from the classic Personal style as one can imagine will often talk about aspects of themselves which inform their approach.

Examples include: smart/dumb, posh/northern (yankee/redneck), urban/rural, white/POC, gay/straight, male/female, nerd/jock, fat/thin, tall/short, benevolent/manevolent, etc.

So, an entry for Sandi Toksvig in this style would look like this:

Sandi Toksvig
Short, Posh, Lesbian, Danish


We can add depth to this description by answering this question: what makes this comedian funny? Are they particularly good with wordplay? Do they have excellent timing? Are they just funny to look at?

Some classic comedic attributes:

-Timing. A comic who knows just where to drop a pause, and can shepherd an audience from funny to not-funny to funny again through repetition. Examples: Stewart Lee, Frankie Boyle.

-Wordplay. A comic who is not afraid to use puns. Examples: Milton Jones, Spike Milligan.

-Speed. The perfect comeback, no waiting. Examples: Paul Merton, Phill Jupitus.

-Caustic. Baroque put-downs. Examples: Simon Amstell, Charlie Brooker

-Catchphrase. A comic with a knack for memorable turns of phrase. Examples: Patton "Failure Pile" Oswalt, Adam "Lorra Lorra" Buxton.

-Volume. Shouting is inherently funny, at least when these people do it. Examples: Charlie Brooker, Lewis Black.

-Inherently Funny. Some people just look funny, or sound funny, or walk funny, and turn it to their advantage. Examples: Dara O Briain, Ryan Stiles.

-Lovable. Some comedians are successful because hating them would be like kicking a puppy. Examples: Bill Bailey, Alan Davies.

-Genre-savvy. The ability to go meta. Examples: Stewart Lee, Frankie Boyle.

-Physical Comedy, Funny Faces/Voices, etc.

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list. Strengths should be suggested by the performances of the comics under consideration.


A comic described using all three of the above categories might look something like this:

Angus Deayton
Posh, White, Smug
Cadence, Timing

Which tells us almost everything we need to know about Deayton as a performer, but leaves out certain important details which, in this case, largely define how he will be remembered (to wit: the prostitutes, the cocaine, his tendency to get fired for upsetting people, and his career-long John Cleese impression.) To fully understand many comics, a certain level of cultural context is required. This should include feuds, grudges, public perception, ab indication of where the performer is in their career, and which formats they favor.

A complete entry into the canon might go like this:

Phill Jupitus
Fat, Nerd, Indie
Speed, Funny Voices, Inherently Funny, Caustic
Panel Show, Radio 4, B-List


Jimmy Carr
Poker-Faced, Evil
Speed, Timing, Caustic
Panel Show, Standup, A-List
-Reputation as sellout
-Reputation for using sexist/homophobic material


Charlie Brooker
Angry, Ugly, Left-Wing
Catchphrase, Caustic, Volume
Panel Show, Commentary, Radio 4, A-List
-Writes newspaper column
-Notable twitter presence

And so on.

Feel free to join in in the comments if you got a comic you want to classify or if you feel the need to correct/refine any of this. I will probably just start listing people in this space.
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The view from my window   
03:05pm 27/11/2011
  I woke up this morning in my girlfriend’s apartment. I made some bacon and eggs and then went off to the store to buy milk. The closest place to buy groceries is the rite-aid down on Broad street. The park is buried in a carpet of fallen leaves, but it’s warm enough that the old men and women are still out on the street in their deck chairs and wheelchairs and Rascals, out in front of the inpatient care center and the projects and the section 8 apartments. Black and spanish people waiting for the buses. A traffic sign just says “Do Not” - the mural on the side of Integrity House is as bright as ever, though, mysteriously free of the graffiti that tracks up the wall next door. “Protect our Children” in neon pinks and blues and yellows. Next door, the Newark School of the Arts, a squat brick box. Looming over it all the shuttered old bank, the towers of the disused churches. Fall, fall, fall.

This is the charter school neighborhood. The rite-aid is huge, disorganized, always full of half-unpacked boxes of goods and massive grab-bag tables. I walk out through the parking lot full of busted cars and feel like I belong here, which is stupid. I lived in this kind of neighborhood til I was, what, five? And thereafter mostly went walking through them, a tourist on the downward slope, then back home to live among the upwardly mobile. It occurs to me that what I am looking for when I do this is autumn. The best reason to stay alive is to end up out of teeth in holy Spokane or holy Newark. The privilege of growing up safe: decay is at a sufficient remove that it looks romantic/poetic/comfortable. But also the soft resonance of my earliest memories, playing with brown kids and busting my teeth on the sidewalk. I want to be old. I want the tiredness I have always felt to belong in me.

I have other windows on the world. Tumblr is one. Through that I see fierce arguments about privilege and praise and condemnation for social movements and the opponents of social movements, and fierce joy over fictional characters, spasms of love and enthusiasm and community over a new pairing that has come into vogue. College freshmen I’ve never met are anxious about if they’re ever going to get laid. In Texas a girl draws ironic plastic cute deco pornography. Youth and revolution, angst and sadness and frustration, people trapped in the endless dance of new beginnings because there’s no place in the culture for them to grow old, and novelty upon novelty. I keep spring in a box on my lap and twitch the lace as the schoolgirls go past.

I treat with beginning and ending because I’m bad at continuing. Brahma and Shiva dance; Vishnu has gone out for a smoke. And, lacking empathy, I tot up the joys and pains of people on little scoreboards in my head, like this one. Feelings are real as long as they have a place to live in my framework.

Be mindful, be considerate. Art isn’t everything. It gets me up, though, makes me put the kettle on. Makes me go outside and look at things that make me strange and tight and thankful, thankful, thankful for the life I’ve been given. And at the end of the walk, I come back home, and my reminder, the string around my finger that says continuity has its charms, is at her desk drinking her coffee and reading ancient Chinese poetry. My fiendish disputant, destroyer of essentialisms and challenger of frames of reference, my companion and guide through the winter of the heart.
03:12am 26/11/2011
  The problem with reading a book which does a really good job of depicting the life of someone with no fixed identity is that it is difficult to remember who I am afterwards

Literature hangover
Hey dear hearts and gentle peopl   
09:49pm 12/11/2011
  I am running an H Duck retrospective over at . Posting a song a day for a while with commentary. If that is the sort of thing you'd be interested in looking and or listening at, head on over. I am not sure why I am doing it but onlookers would make it slightly less pointless!  
357 to base   
01:53am 04/11/2011
  I am thinking of AA Express Locksmiths mobile car-popper #357, who was a good bassist and a good friend, whose real name I can no longer recall, and who is, right now, appreciating the passing of Cory Smoot in a way that few others could. You and I recline and reflect under the same stars tonight, sir. I salute you.

A potentially apropos poem for lost friends and LJ comment zombies:

We went out camping on the violet road
And we met my wife, or what was my wife,
Or the thing that I meant when I said the word wife.

And being as I was wise in the ways
Of the hungry ghost and the dream that stays,
and the hundred different traps that are made in the brain

Well I cast her out to wail at the edge
Just beyond the corona of the campfire’s glow.
We heard it all night and it kept us awake but that’s how the desert is crossed.

We went out fishing on the violet road
Because Sam had a friend that he made in a dream
And he was real sad that she couldn’t wake up.

So we went and we stood in the silver stream
Running slow over rocks that cracked and hissed
Under low clouds of blown-out photograph green

And we waited for his favorite little fish to swim by,
And lord with her smile and her luminous skin
Better him than me, for he fell right in,
Better him than me, for there was no him,
Better him than me, for there was no him, when we left, when we left, when we woke.
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Merry fall larks whoops snow dump   
02:37pm 30/10/2011
  A fragrant selection of sunday morning pleonasms:

Sudden late october snowstorm yesterday has given way to sun already. Fall feels more real than summer to me, partially because I can sleep long enough for my brain to wake up a little, partially because the outside reminds you that it is a place with edges and corners rather than a swirling miasma of humid objects, ranked by dampness and permeability. Things are beginning to make sense again; the real things go in the real pocket, and the abstract things go in the abstract pocket, and I wear them in the waistcoat of perceived time, moving athwart the momentum of things like a mudskipper on a clouded stream. This is what sense looks like from where I'm standing.

There is an emergent theme of notional lesbian domesticity in some Homestuck fanworks. People, and I include myself in people, enjoy thinking about the kind of house Rose and Kanaya might live in when they grow up. The male geek attitude towards lesbianism, he said, generalizing madly, is salacious only up to a point: the same instinct which prompts grown men to cast themselves as girl children playing with ponies leads them to imagine a world mannered, poised, delicate, unmolested by farts and priapic crudity, wherein there is a fire waiting at the hearth and mom and mom are looking over planning permission documents, drinking tea, scraping the garden mud from their boots. Mom and mom have a business of trowels and upholstery and are equidistant (equally distant, soi-disant) but never cold. The fire is low, the towels unceasingly fluffy. Bring in more wood. The bark is slippery under your girlchild fingers.

Summer is about dreaming, fall is about praxis, the pivot point where a tree becomes warm air and ashes. Shapes emerge, as the year is butchered; old growths grown calcified are shriven, knots unknotted, and fat cut from bone, which is not a pleasant process but man there's something brilliant in hearing her voice naked. Here is me in bed with a tree. "Keep peeling the onion and all you'll have left are your tears", she almost says, second thoughts getting in the way, her other voice, their narratives branching and intertwining - but I can follow them forever, in both directions at once, into the earth, into the sky. Her leaves are beautiful but it's the branches I love, clothed in patchwork misdirection, naked in strength. I'm raw against her sharpness and I breathe in the buried sap the memory of spring.
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I'm not going to services this year   
06:31pm 08/10/2011
  Or fasting. Not sure why. The idea of reflecting on your mistakes is a good one, but I've been doing that pretty hard anyway. I sang avinu malkeinu while drunk-biking through gowanus, and that will have to do.  
Journals for bleating, tumblrs for declaiming   
03:40am 05/10/2011
  I suppose I should stretch out in this space while I still have a chance. Tonight I am thinking about friendship, or the distinction between doing something with someone because you enjoy the activity vs. enjoying doing something with someone because they're them. There are ways in which a person is trainable, but it's not universal; that is, there are things that one will learn to appreciate beyond the period of time in which they're doing them just because the person they're doing them with is also doing them, and things which one won't. And then there are things which are tainted with the minor, niggling frustration associated with doing them even though one would really rather not do them except that the person with whom you're doing them wants to do them and that's great. My goal has always been to hew towards greater flexibility in this regard, with the idea that the more things I learn to appreciate, the happier I will be as a person. Then; to what extent does one's moral standing influence this? Is it possible to happily do things with one friend that another friend would find intrinsically detestable? Yeppers. Where is the center? Who eventually is the person doing all the fun activities, beyond the sum of the tidal influences of the persons around him?

Old questions. When one is asking questions like this it is probably best to sit in a quiet room and to attempt to rid oneself of all outside influences for a short period of time, quieting one's breathing until the long-dormant innermost core of oneself unfolds, and the whisper of the real you - the properly individuated you - can at last be heard, and it turns out that it wants to play video games.

(In the morning of the pale cave, I stride out into the blue field, flexing feet long and limber as isopods, attenuated gray pads sliding past the grass, the sun beating down on the tips of my semi-conical headpiece. The wind blows tones across my exposed bone flutes.)

My secret whispery self has actually been telling me to play bass and write down nonsense of late, which makes for a useful and exciting change. Hope it lasts! Hope it lasts more than friendships, at least. (Nota bene: my friendships tend to last for ages and ages because I need to see the way things turn out.) Journal is for bleating, and these days I am feeling the need for radical honesty, along with aching gums and a general desire for General Bean Curd, and radical honesty is murder on everything.

(Sweep of long, long legs through the grass. The more popular inhabitants of the pale cave have bone flutes that blow at proper intervals, but mine make a flatted fifth. i stay inside on windy days, usually, but there is more than I can stand beating at the inside of me today, and more than I can stand hovering unspoken in the crowded space around me, and it is more than I can stand to carom between the carpeted walls anymore, and so I am going for a walk, honking discordantly as I go.

Full five fathoms of blue grass. I walk down the hill until the hill itself curls under and I am in the nearest uncanny valley, where gravity curves sideways and the straightest paths are on the underside of the rim. I walk at 20 degrees off Z-axis for a time, stopping to pick yellow flowers that grow on the wall beneath me, when I hear faintly the baleful, reedy tritone that belongs to Dubbuk, standing somewhere unsheltered nearby. The most astonishing bit of luck. My blood quickens in its sponge as I turn, clambering over the lip into a more reasonable geometry.

She is standing underneath a sun tree, a pitiful thing whose outermost tendrils barely scrape the undersurface of the passing clouds. She appears to be writing in her journal. I must approach carefully if I am to remain unseen - these damnable blowholes! - and I cup my hands around my head to stop the noise as I swish forward, moving with the grasses' grain. By the time she looks up, I am upon her.

"Hi," I say.)
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12:40am 04/10/2011
  I wrote some story stuff. I will be reblogging text-based tumblr posts here until I shut down this journal in december.

some wordsCollapse )
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05:34am 30/09/2011
  I am basically posting at now.  
No times at all, just the new york times   
04:49am 28/09/2011
  Thoughts on 1 year in new york, and 10 years of this journal.Collapse )  
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03:38am 23/08/2011
  I have a machine that allows me, when I think of someone in the middle of the night, to create a tiny disturbance in the air around me, which echoes, and somewhere nearby becomes electricity, and then becomes light, and travels under the ocean, and then becomes electricity again, and then a disturbance in the air again, until finally it is caught by a machine on the other side of the world, and somebody knows that I'm thinking about them.

I think it's probably possible to do something similar without the machine.
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Different flavors of 5 AM   
05:30am 13/08/2011
  5 AM is the time I realize that it's really important for me to go listen to Liz Phair for a while.

seriously this song doesn't have any business being this good