Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 -- Auld Lang Syne

And The Last Odd Little Word Synchronicity of 2010 (#9)

Yesterday at work I was reading something and when I got to the word 'coat', somebody yakking over the office partition said 'coat'. I was engaged in trying to finish a task and did not write it down right away. You can guess what happened -- I forgot about it until now, 41 minutes before the year ends, and I can't recall the details any more.

Last Iridescent Cloud Photo of 2010

These were shot just a few hours ago today. And doesn't this one resemble a tongue of flame? As of a purifying fire... what a wonderful note to end the year on!

Yet Another Rainbow Cloud

Posting all of this year's rainbow cloud photos...

Another Iridescent Cloud

of five colors.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Secret Language Of The Earth (Pt. 4)

The stain that remained when a puddle dried up, displays the ethereal grace of a jellyfish.

An absence of water, imitating the wateriest of all living things.

Totally Unrelated Addendum:

These are my neighbors Anne Marie, William and Josh. I first saw them several weeks ago while stopped at a red light on Spring Street on my way home from work (no, it wasn't raining then -- I just hadn't washed my car in a long time and the window was spotty).

Two nights ago I saw them again, at the very same spot (and no, I still hadn't washed my car -- but the window was somewhat cleaner due to the recent rains). And when I parked my car and walked into the lobby, they were there, too. Turns out we live in the same building.

Worm Rescue Update: Yesterday morning I rescued two worms. I followed my usual procedure, which is to scrape away the top layer of soil to expose the moist earth beneath (although these last few days it really wasn't necessary), place the worm in the depression and cover it lightly with grass, so as to hide it from birds.

I wasn't sure if that was enough, though, and it bothered me. I checked online under 'worm rescue', but the search didn't turn up any specific tips, so I went to the County Library website to ask a librarian via instant chat. Happily, according to the librarian's research, it turns out I've been doing the right thing all along. In fact, I've been doing more than most worm-rescuers, if the YouTube videos are any indication; most people seem to simply place the worms on the soil and leave them there. I even saw someone letting a child literally throw a worm into the grass...

Number of worms rescued so far: 22

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What Elizabeth Taylor And Alien Invaders (May) Have In Common

This is the path that leads to my favorite thrift shop. Also, it's the (imagined)scene of the oddest and most vivid piece of false memory I ever experienced (although I have had other vividly realistic virtual experiences, when these occurred I was continuously conscious and fully aware of what was going on; therefore I do not consider them false memories).

Rancho Los Amigos is a rehabilitative hospital run by the County of Los Angeles. I happen to work a stone's throw from it, so I often go across the road and down this covered walkway to visit the hospital thrift shop where I've picked up many a knick-knack as well as some secondhand items of clothing. And almost every time, I encounter outpatients in wheelchairs along the way.

Once, while on my way to the thrift shop as usual, I saw Elizabeth Taylor coming toward me from the opposite direction. Yes, Elizabeth Taylor, the movie star. She of the lavender eyes; the oft-married icon of old-time Hollywood glamour; true friend to Michael Jackson to the end of his days. THAT Elizabeth Taylor. In a wheelchair.

She was alone as she rolled toward me, no bodyguards, attorneys or fawning attendants to stand between her and her public, and acknowledging little ol' cotton-pickin' me with a pleasant smile as she came. To my everlasting regret, I, the jaded(or considerate) veteran of life on the (distant)fringes of Hollywood, pretended the encounter was nothing extraordinary and did not slow my pace. Far be it from me to act like a bumpkin and crowd a legendary star by acting all awed and asking for an autograph!

So I continued to walk toward the thrift shop without looking back, and presumably Elizabeth Taylor continued to roll her way to the gold-plated and diamond-encrusted platinum limousine waiting in the parking lot just behind me, to whisk her off to her Olympian home grounds in Bell Aire or whatever exclusive neighborhood old movie stars with physical challenges roll around in these days...

Now, I'm fully aware that this encounter did not really take place. It is, as I stated, clearly a piece of false memory. Aside from the weird incongruity of the situation, I have no memory at all of when it occurred or of anything I did before or after the described scene. It's a stand-alone 'meme', unconnected to any others -- I think that's pretty telling.

I also have no idea why my mind would manufacture a false memory of seeing Elizabeth Taylor in a wheelchair on my way to a thrift shop that sells donated goods (granted, it is rather amusingly strange -- wacky, even; maybe my subconscious was in a mischievous mood). I've never been a big fan of Elizabeth Taylor, so it's certainly not a wish-fulfilling fantasy. Perhaps it's a snippet from an ordinary dream that somehow became lodged in my waking memory -- the sheer surreality of it certainly is dreamlike.

On the other hand, it still feels so real that had it been some other, less spectacular celeb -- a more 'realistic' and approachable personage, in other words -- instead of an impossibly lofty star like Elizabeth Taylor, I might well be convinced I really did see him/her in real life. If it had been Jack Elam (the scruffy, wall-eyed veteran of many westerns) for example, instead of Elizabeth Taylor, the illusion would have been more convincing. That is, of course, if I didn't know Jack Elam was long deceased, may he rest in peace (or on the other hand, I might have come away convinced I had seen Jack's wheel chair-bound ghost in broad daylight!). Or Walter 'Mr. Chekhov' Koenig -- I absolutely would believe he went to Rancho Los Amigos to walk again after some accident. Keith Szarabajka, vampire hunter Holz from TV's 'Angel'? Sure, I can see him at the Rancho, why not. Mark Blankfield from the old 'Fridays' comedy show on ABC? Absolutely -- especially since I actually did see him once in a waiting room at the Kaiser Permanente hospital on Sunset Boulevard (did I really see him, though?).

[Just now, just for a moment I thought I'd actually seen Mark Blankfield not among the patients at Kaiser, but instead at the downtown court building, among the prospective jurors assembled there; but I believe I know why this little mental mix-up happened -- the last time I reported there for jury duty, someone at the office said Brad Pitt had recently come in for jury duty, too -- my brain momentarily mixed up the two 'Middle-Aged White Male Actor' memes -- see how easily it can happen? Wow!]

I wonder if this sort of thing is common...

1. When our friends tell us that they spotted so-and-so from such-and-such movie at the Book Soup or driving down La Cienega, did they really see them?

2. What are we to think when someone says in all sincerity that one night many years ago, while they were driving down a lonely, dark road, their car was buzzed by a UFO?

3. Or that they saw the scary old lady who lives down the lane conversing with a black dog with flaming eyes and human hands? 'Witches' have been burned for less.

4. Or that they got snatched by little gray aliens who probed their privates aboard a flying saucer?

5. And what about prophets and visionaries who start entire cults and religions on the basis of personal revelations, and persuade people to engage in actions that damage their lives and those of others?

A Mighty Breath

Take a deep breath, hold for 17 minutes, exhale.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

My Doorway

to the outside world (with revised and relocated Altar of Frivolity).


This is a lizard's tail. It dates back a bunch of years to when I was living in the bottom half of a house with my cat, Blood. Blood was an indoor cat, but now and then I'd let him out(only when I went out with him, though) to run and explore a little.

There was an overgrown grassy strip next to the house, and Blood liked to play amongst the tall weeds there. On one occasion I saw him acting stealthy, intently watching something in the grass. He was clearly in hunting mode. When he suddenly dashed in I went in after him and found him occupied with something, something small that he was worrying with his paws.

I managed to get him away from it and took a close look -- and it turned out to be the severed tail of a lizard. A pretty good-sized lizard, judging from the size of the tail. It was still squirming a little, so obviously Blood had just pounced on its owner, who detached the tail and ran away to safety, leaving the appendage to distract his attacker.

I brought it home and placed it in a small container and filled it with alcohol to sterilize it. I left it there for several days to give the alcohol a chance to permeate it and replace the original fluids -- I guess it was a kind of makeshift embalming process. After several days I took it out and buried it in some salt, and left it there for a long time -- a few weeks, I think.

When I finally took it out, it was completely dessicated and hard as a rock. It had shrunk slightly, but otherwise it had kept its shape well. In effect, I had made a small mummy.

I felt a little sorry for the lizard who lost his tail, but at least he escaped with his life by sacrificing it, which is a pretty good trade. And some time later, I actually saw a big lizard sunning himself amidst the grass in the same spot -- so it was probably the very same lizard, and he was none the worse for the experience.

Addendum: Oh, and it's raining again. I thought there was supposed to be no more rain for a while..? (Not that I mind; I love wet weather)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Magic Hour

무지개, 지렁이와 니쳬

After five days of rain, including nearly four days of more-or-less continuous drizzle (which is pretty amazing for Los Angeles -- I have jokingly said in the past that walking through my downtown neighborhood makes me think I'm living in 'Blade Runner', but for a few wet, gray days it actually did look kind of postpunk-dystopian), the weather finally cleared up late yesterday. And then it rained again some more after that, but it was just a light misty rain and it looks like there isn't any more rain planned for a while.

When a co-worker informed me that there was a rainbow in the sky, the afternoon was already lapsing into evening. Even so, when I ran outside with my camera, thanks to the rain-washed air and the clear sky the lowering sun was illuminating the world with a beautiful golden glow. Combined with the clean scent of the wet grass and the cool, ionized air, the light imbued the setting with a strangely nostalgic, otherworldly quality -- melancholy yet somehow exciting and expectant at the same time. It made me think of the wistful, fairyland-like landscapes of Watteau's paintings, lit by the golden sun of Claude Lorrain (these photos, however, remind me of old Dutch landscapes -- especially the second one).

I couldn't get the whole rainbow in the frame, so I took partial shots and later did the mosaic thing again. I found that if I didn't try so hard to match everything up and just let the incidental details end up wherever they might, the resulting composite image actually became more interesting.

Worm Rescue Update: After so much wet weather, it stands to reason that there would be lotsa worms out and about where they shouldn't be. And sure enough, yesterday I repatriated 4 worms -- 2 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon. I think one of the morning worms was an adolescent, because it was a good deal smaller than the others but bigger than the baby one from a couple months ago.

One thing -- at one point I was in a bit of a hurry to get back inside and I didn't stop to save this one worm I passed in the parking lot.

I feel a little bad about it, maybe a tad disappointed with myself, but I'm not exactly wracked with guilt and remorse, either. To exercise magnanimity and compassion, and also to be randomly callous or destructive, just because one has the power to do such things and not be affected -- it's the prerogative of a superior being who acts on his own will and recognizes no other rules. Hmm, I sound kind of Nietzschean...

[Note to self: start using 'Nietzsche's Worm' as a satirical label for someone who is prone to philosophizing grandly about matters of trivial consequence]

I suppose if there were a nuclear holocaust or some such cataclysm, and some superhuman being were to look down and decide that some of us would be saved but not others, he might feel similarly as I did about not being able to -- or not wanting to bother to -- save everyone.

Number of worms rescued so far: 20

Sunday, December 19, 2010

And Some More... Old Art


Painted on a mask about 3.5 inches in height, this is the closest I've come to painting a miniature.

Edit: It occurs to me that at this pre-Fall stage the Serpent still had limbs... Oh, well.

Friday, December 17, 2010

What Causes Clouds To Form?

I had the good fortune to observe these long, thin clouds directly above two tall, pointy trees, nearly mirroring them in form. This is a rare, double instance of an already rarely-seen phenomenon -- the formation of clouds of this form over certain types of trees. It has long puzzled climatologists, but a tentative explanation has been put forward in recent years.

It is hypothesized that the conical shape of these trees is conducive to the creation of rising eddies or vortices of air, much like the small whirlpools that form when water drains out of a bathtub, only reversed in direction, and which upon reaching a critical height begin to draw in moist air with their spin and thereby act as 'seeds' of clouds.

This process accounts for the elongate shape of the clouds as well; the cloud is simply manifesting in visible form the invisible vortex of air. The angle of the clouds with respect to the trees is easily explained as a result of high-altitude winds tilting the vortices.

As for the objection that the sighting of the clouds over certain trees is simply an accidental juxtaposition of viewing angles and that the trees and the clouds have nothing to do with each other, the possibility of such juxtapositions happening by sheer accident again and again is so remote that it may safely be ignored.

Apollo's Arrow

Another grandiose title^

Yet Another 'Just Because' Photo

Just an impressive bunched-up mass of clouds. Beautiful, and yet a little scary -- it looks almost solid, like a strange, amorphous creature poised to come down and engulf us...

Another Parallel

I was going over some old photos when I noticed an image of a cloud that bore a striking resemblance to the 'homunculus organ' part of the Vaguely Alchemical Piece (September 3rd entry).

Sunday, December 12, 2010

As Below, So Above

The clouds were dancing! Looks like a wild, Dionysian procession. That second 'figure' actually reminded me of the dancing 'sorcerer' from the Trois Frères cave in mirror image:

How intriguing that a 15,000-year old magic ritual depicted in a dim cave in neolithic Europe, should be echoed in the open skies over Southern California in the 21th century --

On the other hand, this IS Southern California we're talking about^.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Rainbow Cloud

In East Asia this would probably be referred to as a 'five-colored cloud'. I don't know why it has to be five colors, but that's the traditional term. Maybe there were thought to be five primary colors..? Or maybe it was one color each for the traditional five elements (fire, water, wood, metal, earth)? Or for the five notes of the pentatonic scale? Maybe the five basic flavors (sweet, salty, sour, bitter, hot/spicy). Or the Five Relationships of Confucianism/五倫 (sovereign and subject, parent and child, husband and wife, elder sibling and younger sibling, and friend to friend -- I hope I got 'em right). There are probably many other groups of five. Of course, it could just be that the number five was imbued with a generic mystical significance. Anyway, Asians have always loved to group things in numbered units:

Addendum: I just noticed that the 'fossil' fish I made many years ago bears a strange resemblance to this photograph of a skeletal cloud-dragon from the Nov. 8th post (I did crop the original images for clarity):

Worm Rescue Update: It rained last night, and this morning I rescued 5 worms! The two in the photo below were found near each other in the middle of a huge parking lot. I don't know what made them crawl so far out from their homes, but I do know now that having a pair of earthworms squirming and writhing in your hand tickles like crazy. I remember it also tickled when this snail kept kissing my fingertip. Maybe it was trying to decide if my finger was something edible or not:

And the next photo shows another of the lucky quintet, whom I found vainly trying to crawl to safety, all covered in debris and getting dried out on the porous cement of the sidewalk, poor thing:

Number of worms rescued so far: 16

Friday, December 3, 2010

D'Un Rêve


a fish

who lived in a dream

longed to see more

So he swam on

till he got to the edge

A harpoon

bright with a wakeful tip

found him and killed him

Eons passed

and the fish, now a fossil

still longed

In an imminence I found them,

fossil and harpoon

And so now both are here,

dream and dream-waker