Design of the times

I did it! I beat my deadline by a week!

I can’t be bothered linking yesterday’s post. It wasn’t anything worth linking. I did, however, set myself a task. I said that, since knowledge was everywhere, I was gonna get me some of it. I proclaimed that by next Wednesday I’d come back having learned something. Whether this was picking up a new skill, or just forcing myself to watch a documentary. I took the path of least resistance and watched a documentary. I say “least resistance”, but it took work to push myself into not just zoning out on my own. I’d played some Magic out of habit and was basically just refreshing my Facebook feed/Reddit. We all have those loops where we look up the same handful of sites, right? Much as I figured I wasn’t getting anything done, pushing against the default isn’t a walk in the park (unless your desired task was a park stroll). I probably did the Facebook/Reddit/Magic loop at least 3 times while trying to decide how to attain learning.

I watched an episode of Abstract: The Art of Design on Netflix. Sure, that may be a leisure activity for some, but for me it wasn’t. I have very little visual acuity. I love words and sounds, but it’s rare that visual components spark my synapses in quite the same manner. In order to push my boundaries a little, I opted to watch an episode on graphic design. It’s something I’ve rarely looked into. Of course it’s interesting, but without much acquired vocabulary it often goes over my head. I figured if anyone could translate for me, it’d be a Netflix doco made for general consumption.

I lucked out. The graphic design episode featured a designed named Pala Scher, who seems to be a longtime fixture in the New York scene. Why was that lucky? Because typography in particular was her specialty. WORDS! One of my two favourite things! It was literally visual language, and her style was totally captivating.

What did I learn though? The doc focused more on her legacy and work than necessarily technique. Still, I think I took soft inspiration from seeing the range of concepts she evoked. Typography is always something I’ve passively consumed. The way she used words was truly an artform. Sometimes it’d be sparse and minimalist, with a subdued aesthetic. Then other pieces would be utterly crammed with words. Words jammed into almost every inch of a poster, framing the subject by the use of negative space. They’d vary in font, colour, shape, size. Y’know, the usual stuff designers do with words. But I swear it was impressive. She often negated formal structure in lieu of style, with words disregarding ease of reading in favour of visual metaphor.

If this doesn’t mean much, one piece really stood out. She’d taken a self portrait she’d drawn, then chronologically overlaid different stages she’d gone through. Her face, for instance, had lines listing illnesses she had at different ages, free flowing at all different angles. She’d written her various hairstyles through the years, flowing down in waves like strands. I’m doing a terrible job at describing it. Just look for yourselves.

Look, it might be a stretch saying I really learned anything valuable, but I was quite taken by the way she interpreted the world. Lots of out of the box thinking, dynamic visuals and bucking conventions. I noticed that as I was watching all these stylistic choices, my brain was translating them to audio effects, the main design work I’ve done. I’d look at certain angles and consider how that’d be represented in EQ. A representation of “R”s of different sizes brought to mind speed, and how that could be varied within a sentence itself. Shadows made me think of multi-tracking, and colours corresponded in my head to pitches. I don’t know why this was all happening in my brain, but it was curious that I was completely sober. I do wonder what kind of inspiration has been planted, and if that’s something I can harness. Y’know, I could always watch another episode…

Oh, maybe I learned that learning isn’t so bad?

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“Compelling” was not a word I used

I had a terrible idea, which is usually my clarion call for doing something. I was like, hey, why not test this whole stream of consciousness thing and just write unique words for half an hour? An exercise that would be wholly unreadable and without true purpose. Also this entry will be a long, long, long. So guess what I’m about to do? My only rule is no Proper Nouns allowed. Superstar DJs, here we go:

  • rattle
  • cage
  • underneath
  • swell
  • swollen
  • swallow
  • bird
  • hyphen
  • undercut
  • uppercut
  • blow
  • bow
  • break
  • bend
  • wreath
  • wrath
  • ramp
  • root
  • toggle
  • cattle
  • gaggle
  • mangle
  • mandible
  • double
  • dearth
  • remorse
  • risk
  • rank
  • case
  • bucket
  • sand
  • shore
  • sure
  • settle
  • wreckage
  • undeniable
  • indomitable
  • wrench
  • spanner
  • span
  • spend
  • lazy
  • litigious
  • gratuitous
  • camping
  • quest
  • journey
  • jumble
  • boggle
  • board
  • bard
  • dragon
  • dry
  • burst
  • bellow
  • bring
  • coagulate
  • connive
  • surreptitious
  • supper
  • suspend
  • abeyance
  • formative
  • formal
  • feud
  • few
  • fecundity
  • transgressive
  • digress
  • tigress
  • meander
  • spill
  • sacrilege
  • liege
  • legion
  • vermillion
  • lion
  • lined
  • lucrative
  • frost
  • peas
  • peer
  • seer
  • hump
  • mound
  • firm
  • secrete
  • secret
  • scandal
  • ferret
  • butter
  • butler
  • pore
  • pour
  • poor
  • pride
  • caramel
  • cocaine
  • widget
  • feeling
  • wavering
  • wand
  • tool
  • wrist
  • fellow
  • rejoinder
  • antagonise
  • goat
  • gorilla
  • gremlin
  • perambulate
  • permeate
  • delete
  • delineate
  • split
  • scramble
  • sonorous
  • chorus
  • cord
  • implicate
  • supercilious
  • conflagrate
  • immolate
  • burn
  • catch
  • lightning
  • lightening
  • like
  • let
  • emperor
  • facilitate
  • knub
  • knob
  • noble
  • bless
  • bliss
  • blather
  • lord
  • hoard
  • hoar
  • boar
  • brindle
  • bridge
  • bride
  • bondage
  • mantle
  • throne
  • thrive
  • survival
  • mix
  • trail
  • cobble
  • cobbler
  • cobalt
  • shake
  • subterranean
  • somonolence
  • solemn
  • shatter
  • cyclical
  • simulacrum
  • cymbal
  • symbolic
  • catharsis
  • haematoma
  • arterial
  • vein
  • vine
  • heat
  • hearth
  • heart
  • pineapple
  • broadcast
  • written
  • signal
  • significance
  • concordance
  • coherence
  • nascent
  • brittle
  • doubt
  • inherent
  • horn
  • bottle
  • bray
  • bey
  • pantaloon
  • trouser
  • knickerbockers
  • eel
  • truck
  • hose
  • hoes
  • soil
  • syrup
  • fight
  • rebel
  • rebound
  • ribald
  • melatonin
  • consumptive
  • cautious
  • caterpillar
  • outfit
  • wrangle
  • convalescent
  • lycanthropy
  • lich
  • libidinous
  • lyre
  • liar
  • fib
  • flub
  • phlegm
  • concert
  • consternation
  • sternum
  • seemingly
  • qi
  • cheetah
  • carrot
  • illness
  • terminal
  • tarmac
  • baggage
  • bagel
  • teak
  • tremble
  • treble
  • quake
  • doctor
  • sanity
  • reify
  • fallacy
  • phallus
  • chalice
  • cherry
  • pluck
  • oyster
  • pry
  • clamber
  • chamber
  • pot
  • preamble
  • double
  • demonstrable
  • monstrous
  • demonic
  • deity
  • dally
  • ditty
  • city
  • teatotaller
  • rollercoaster
  • bump
  • butt
  • rump
  • end
  • entire
  • forest
  • copse
  • corpse
  • course
  • charisma
  • chair
  • cheer
  • jeer
  • geriatric
  • centennial
  • systemic
  • systematic
  • automatic
  • autumnal
  • nary
  • near
  • far
  • whenever
  • wherever
  • hip
  • claw
  • clueless
  • inquisitive
  • innovate
  • venture
  • dependence
  • deepen
  • broach
  • brooch
  • brood
  • bracken
  • fauna
  • flora
  • floor
  • pelvis
  • pearl
  • prick
  • pity
  • year
  • yard
  • yonic
  • sapphic
  • sapphire
  • saffron
  • frond
  • friendly
  • castle
  • mental
  • menial
  • mend
  • asunder
  • sounding
  • reflect
  • resounding
  • sheet
  • cross
  • crystal
  • metamorphic
  • lava
  • feral
  • refuse
  • rifle
  • raffle
  • mufti
  • miniscule
  • implore
  • embers
  • shivering
  • anchor
  • ankh
  • pork
  • plate
  • critter
  • axe
  • hew
  • realistic
  • spawn
  • hydraulic
  • robot
  • spike
  • armour
  • amorous
  • crow
  • creak
  • sporadic
  • sickle
  • honey
  • trial
  • bank
  • support
  • sale
  • smile
  • wretched
  • point
  • stab
  • stew
  • store
  • soar
  • sample
  • chore
  • chew
  • jangle
  • stand
  • portal
  • primp
  • simian
  • shoe
  • eschew
  • shrimp
  • waggle
  • wave
  • curious
  • curio
  • oracle
  • treacle
  • treat
  • trot
  • rotten
  • rankle
  • apostle
  • postulate
  • presumptive
  • assuption
  • amused
  • bemused
  • behoove
  • chatter
  • chitter
  • phonic
  • phobia
  • anarchy
  • lawn
  • larynx
  • baroque
  • imported
  • pastry
  • caffeine
  • straggler
  • beyond
  • thorny

Did we accomplish anything here? I’m sure there’s some kind of insight into how my mind works, trends, etc. Ultimately, I managed to kill half an hour, which is always an accomplishment in my book. Any eagle eyed readers notice repeated words?

I’m sure as hell not reading it.

It looks to be, as they say en Francais, “definistration”

The world is a layered place. By age 32, I think I’ve come to terms with that.

It’s mostly good. If things were too simple, they’d get boring. I’m a total lover of multi-faceted, complex things, but I also really dig single use utensils and niche words. We all contain multitudes, right? One of my favourite things about the English language is just how many words there are, while simultaneously, I appreciate other languages’ ability to craft meaningful but convoluted signifiers of an experience. Schadenfreude being a prime example. What I’m proposing, is that English needs more evocative and specific words to really level up. Without further adieu, valid elements of the human condition that could do with their own monikers:

  • The simultaneous tension and excitement of sharing media that resonates deeply with you, with someone you care about. You know, like watching a film that’s always meant something to you with a prospective partner. What if they hate it? What if you realise in retrospect that it’s super flawed and hasn’t aged well? What does that reflexively say about you? Will they feel differently about you if they don’t like it?
  • The joint relief and concern when nobody takes the seat next to you on transit. Hey, it’s awesome that you don’t have to share space. It’s way more relaxing that way. At the same time, is it because you look weird? Or unapproachable? Do you have a gross habit or smell you haven’t yet noticed?
  • When you desperately, desperately wanna get messy and leave the house on a Friday night, but there’s nothing happening that fits your desires.
  • When you have a free night with nothing to do, but you don’t wanna dip into your rainy day activities backlog in case you won’t have any left the next time you have a night with nothing to do.
  • When something during sex sends you over the edge, but you’re not ready to reverse engineer why, because you’re afraid of going down a weeeeird rabbit hole.
  • When you’re given a gift you don’t want from someone with good intentions, and you’re trying to work out how long you need to hold onto it before you can throw it out.
  • When something tastes odd, but you can’t stop yourself from eating more.
  • When you realise that what you’re currently saying won’t land well, but you can’t do the mental gymnastics in time to change your sentence, so you just say it anyway.
  • When you can’t stop listening to a certain song on repeat, then one day you just don’t like it anymore.
  • When you’re dreading doing something, then it turns out better than you’d expected and after it’s over you’re still waiting for the axe to drop.
  • When an actor you despise is great in a film and you don’t know how to process it.
  • When you want something to be better than it is, so you create internal reasons why it was, even though deep down you know it wasn’t.
  • When you spend hours trying to remember something on principle, when you know you could look it up on the internet and figure it out in a matter of minutes.
  • When you stalk your exes online for reassurance that they’re doing well.
  • When you’re on a first date with someone you know from online, and you feel like you have to ask questions you already know the answer to because it would feel weird admitting that you’ve both stalked each other’s profiles.
  • When you connected deeply with someone at a party and talked for hours, but forgot to ask each other’s names.

Hell, I’d settle for an adequate way to describe a partner’s ex who you’re both still very close with.

If Voorhees joined Lord of the Rings, it’d be a jolly good fellowship

Ever wanted to know what it’s like to be my Facebook friend?

I’ve been prolific with absurd puns/half baked jokes today (especially the one about pie). Frankly, I’ve probably spent most of my day doing it. This is what my feed looks like right now:

  • At Jason’s birthday does everyone sing “Voorhees a jolly good fellow”?
  • If there’s One Thing in this world that I know it’s by Finger Eleven.
  • If you’re a long-haired domesticated bovid that likes burning lettuce pies, are you a pieromaineyak?
  • Are there any puddings that are better dancers than tapioca?
  • Considering the amount of tuna I eat, is my mercury always in retrograde?
  • If you’re straight, is your mercury in heterograde?
  • If you live downtown, is your mercury in metrograde?
  • If you eat a high fat, low carb diet, is your mercury in ketograde?
  • If you live in Volgograd, is your mercury in Stalingrad?
  • Wait, if you’re a Russian dude called Peter, is your mercury in Pietrograde?
  • If all these puns are upsetting your stomach, is your mercury in peptograde?
  • If I stole all these puns from somebody else, would my mercury be in kleptograde?
  • Has anyone considered remaking Maria Full of Grace with Chloë Grace Moretz in the starring role?
  • I’m fine being late to the party, but being late to dinner peturbs me.
  • If Nicolas Cage started a rap career, would he have a ghostwriter?
  • If he was performing live, would his list of demands be his Ghostrider?
  • If he created a barbershop group would it be called Not The Bees Sharps?
  • If I ever hated the environment I’d get business cards printed with “Leon: The Professional”.

By this point, I’m practically sick from staring at screens. A co-worker’s appendix burst, so for the past week her work has been shared out amongst the three surviving team members. She might be patient zero, but seeing as it’s Thursday of the second extra workload week, my patience might be at zero. Halloween starts in earnest (though likely Scared Straight, if any of them) tomorrow and I managed to finish my costume last night. Tomorrow couldn’t come soon enough. I’m ready to let go and blow off all my steam.

I wonder if Jason’s up to anything tomorrow…

I killed it. Someone get me a starting gun

If I started a sports league for anxious people I’d totally commence the proceedings by saying “worriers, come out to play-ay”.

If I started a cocktail competition I’d totally commence the proceedings by saying “let the games be gin!”

If I started an assassin training school I’d call it “Murder she rote”.

If I started to learn Finnish I’d Finnish what I started.

I’m finished.

I dunno. It’s been a long, active day. I got up, went for a run, then helped a friend move. I think I’ve deserved feeling tired. Let’s just see what comes with it.

Oh, maybe ten minutes ago I saw the best thing. A church up the end of the street was having a car wash fundraiser. Hyped white folks yelling at passing cars to get a $5 car wash. Biggie’s “Hypnotise” playing in the background. A couple of people were losing their shit to it. Another few gormless individuals holding signs, but kind of bopping their heads to the tune. It was such a bizarre scene. Kind of adorable. I got the sense they rarely let loose and it was nifty to see it happen. At the same time, It Was A Scene. Such a mixture of folks, smooshed together with varying energies. Still, all united under Biggie.

From the corrections department, I want to issue a broad apology to the Chinese/Polynesian place that’s down the road from me. I was not sober when I went there last time. I was sober when I went there last night. This time I ordered over the phone, they told me there’d be a 20 minute wait, so I got there 20 minutes later and picked up my food. It was a very normal, mediocre Chinese takeout experience. The gawky white dude wasn’t there, but the overly friendly guy was. There was also a kindly old Asian woman in the kitchen who smiled and waved. It was very pleasant. The food was still as generic as I expected, but very affordable. No complaints. I discovered that when I thought I’d ordered sweet and sour pork and found a bunch of deep fried bones in it, turns out I’d ordered spare ribs. Quite reasonable. It’s a wonder what a little perspective can do.

It may still be a drug front. I’m not willing to budge on that yet.

TIFF last night. Nekrotronic was a riot of a Midnight Madness film. YMMV and manage your expectations, etc, but it was a heap of fun. First off, surprise Monica Bellucci (who I just realised I’ve been pronouncing “Monica Belushi” my entire life), who hammed it up brilliantly as the villain. The whole plot was pretty contrived and I really don’t want to ruin anything. It was a neat lark. While the general plot was nothing original whatsoever, that’s a far cry from saying the film was unoriginal. Lots of great lines and explosively cheesy action. It looked and sounded great. It wore its influences on every scene. A big ol’ mashup of every action movie trope you could expect. Can something be entirely predictable and filled with unexpected sharp turns? If the answer is yes, Nekrotronic is your answer. If it gets a wide release and you want to see the epitome of a popcorn flick, get into it.

Speaking of getting into it, I’ve got to get into the shower. I’ve got a comedy show to catch.

So in the words of Jesus, “It Is Finished.”

All the subtlety of wax to the head

I make a fair amount of puns.

That’s news to nobody who’s been here before. It’s more than a daily occurrence and you’d be hard pressed to find any entries without them. Even (especially) the title. The thing is, they’re often shoehorned in. It’s not hard to make a pun, but it is hard making a good pun. I recently appreciated this article a friend sent me on the topic. Towards the end, they mention a couple of loose personal rules people have:

“The four types of bad pun, according to him, are those that suffer from bad timing, are too obvious, have no second meaning or are too earnest.”

I found myself furiously nodding in agreement. It was like someone was reaching through the page and speaking right to my face. I’m not saying I don’t make puns that suffer from the aforementioned trappings, but that they’re often throwaway or meaningless to me. My Facebook is a graveyard of cute wordplay. I don’t make a habit of jotting down decent ones anywhere, but it feels like they live in on my heart, if not my memory. Sometimes though, the bones of a good pun rest in pieces within me. It’s like I can sense how they should come together, but they’re missing a crucial adhesive. Part of it is my construction method. So often I’ll hear or think of a word and it’ll spark something. Maybe my brain will begin absent mindedly collating homophones, homonyms, etc. Then I’ll start reverse engineering ways to bring them into being as puns. My favourite kind of puns have a certain subtlety to them. Maybe they’ll rely on an esoteric double meaning. Some work better verbally than written (as the link talks about above, the hyphenated puns in writing look like you didn’t try hard enough).

I rarely compose puns of this magnitude. Instead I end up producing clumsy clusterfucks that rely on a contrived set up. Hell, it’s fun sometimes seeing just how out of the way I can go in order to make it work. Mostly though, it’s not clever. People might think it is, but really wouldn’t work without the convoluted foundations you put in place. I’ll give an example:

When you’re killed by a candle, is that a fatallowty?

I desperately want this to be a good pun, but I know in my heart it isn’t. If you’re requiring the audience to do too much legwork to arrive at the punchline, you haven’t structured your pun correctly. Most importantly, “tallow” isn’t a super common word. Expecting people to know that a) tallow is rendered animal fat and b) that it’s sometimes used to make candles is pretty unfair. By merely giving them the category of “candles”, their immediate thoughts would go to wax. Secondly, it doesn’t sound like it looks when it’s spelled. You can hyphenate it into “fa-tallow-ty”, but then people are gonna assume it’s a fa la la kind of sound. As its written, most people will probably opt for a pronunciation that starts with fat as opposed to fey.

Is there a solution that makes it work? I guess there’s the option of forcing it to be even more convoluted. Want to ensure people use the correct pronunciation? Make them.

When you’re killed by a whimsical candle, is that a feytallowty?

So now we’ve locked in the right pronunciation of the first syllable, but “tallow” is still a hard sell. Okay, here goes an exercise in inelegance (like repeating the sound “in” so close together as part of that sentence?).

When you’re killed by a whimsical animal fat candle, is that a feytallowty?

Here’s the thing. At that point it’s in a flaky half measures limbo. It’s all or nothing time. We’re gonna force the audience into our perspective no matter how shitty and amateur it looks. Let’s make this clumsy as a stubbed toe. Here goes everything:

When you’re immolated to death by your shirt catching alight on a whimsical animal fat candle, is that a feytallowtee?

It has a rhythm and a cadence. It’s certainly not even close to a good pun. Does it work? Almost. I wish there was some way to imply flame in the pun itself. Try as I might, it’s not coming to me.

I guess my hopes will remain extingwished.

What’s this about? Some kind of words myth?

How do you pronounce the word “pronunciation”?

English is tricky and it doesn’t get any easier when you only half read words. I don’t know when I stopped saying “pronoun-ciation”, but I do know it was after being called on it. I remember being dismayed that “Kayne West” was opening for U2 before I’d heard anyone say his name (circa 2006). To this day, I consider it a pretty cool alternate spelling of Kane. You can’t tell me nothing otherwise. “Omnious” also got corrected on the back of a call out. In my head it kind of made sense. Like some kind of all pervasive evil. I don’t know how “ous” as a suffix brought “omni” into ill repute, but until my friend gave me shit about it, I thought it more often than I said it. I literally just realised the connection between “ominous” and the word “omen”, a lesson that only came a decade and a half too late. Just think of the face I could’ve saved.

How many people pronounced “Hermione” right first time? Did Rowling give any kind of pronunciation guide in the story? Surely she couldn’t have known it’d become such a global phenomenon and get umpteen movies. How would people have known if not for that? It’s all sorts of unintuitive. I went with “her-me-own”, but I’d say “her-my-own” would be defensible too. It sure doesn’t look like a four syllable name. Then again, it’s a world of magic and the supernatural. A polysyllabic central character was hardly the most outlandish thing in the series. May I remind you once again that they wasted a time travel device on a chimera?

I raised the question on Facebook and friends chimed in with their unintuitive pronunciations (A.K.A. We’re All Idiots Or Maybe English Is Just Difficult). The military was highlighted as having particularly tricky titles. In full honesty, I’m gonna try to spell a word before looking it up. Ready? Colonel. Did I spell it right? YUS. FINALLY. I don’t know how many times I’ve spelled it “coronel” or “colenel”. It’s especially damning considering it’s pronounced “kernel”. The whole “lef-tenant” (lieutenant) thing still doesn’t make sense to me. Not to mention “sergeant”. The “a” is in the last syllable. Shouldn’t it be “sargent”? Definitely not “seargent”, which sounds like someone piloting a BBQ grill. Also while we’re there. Why BBQ? One of those “B”s is right, but mind your “Bar”s and “queue”s good “ser”.

Wait, “cue-oos”? Who the what now? Where do we draw the line?

Really though, I’m kind of in love with English being such a backwards bastardly language. So many contradictory rules and single serving usages that are unintuitive and lend themselves profusely to nimbly worded loops and shit. Even poems don’t need to rhyme, and when you want them to, you can manipulate tenses for the best sounding schemes. I’ve mentioned it before, but a former French flatmate once told me how much larger the English dictionary is than the French. I’m not in favour of things being needlessly convoluted for the sake of it, but boy howdy I do enjoy how expansive this language is. How it lends itself to neologisms and reformation, to updating and expanding. Now that’s not limited to English. Language in general is a living thing and I think that’s kind of beautiful. English, however, is the language I know best. I’ve been speaking it for ~30 years at this point and I’m still learning more about it day by day.

That’s either important or impotent, or both simultaneously.