Hapless

Mar. 14th, 2012 09:36 am
randy_byers: (2010-08-15)
So I was thinking the other day that I'm hapless when it comes to certain things, and then I got to thinking about what "hapless" means. OED says it's a lack of "hap" or good luck. But for me "hapless" has a connotation of "helpless" as well. To be hapless is to be incapable. So there's an undercurrent of meaning here: "The only way I can be successful is if I'm lucky, and I'm not lucky." In other words, I can't make this happen, so I need hap. It's a passive trait. "Get happy" is a contradiction in terms.
randy_byers: (2010-08-15)
Thanks to some assistance from [livejournal.com profile] wrdnrd I got Google Analytics installed on my blog at the beginning of the month. Amongst other things it has reassured me that people are actually looking at the blog, but one of the cool features of Google Analytics is it shows you what search terms people have used in their search engines to find your pages. Most of the search terms are very straightforward, but some of them are weird and wonderful. My favorites so far:

"buy ice in morocco"
"dreamland matinee"
"dreamland online siren rogue set"
"ice factory in mexico"
"in potiche is laurent pujol gay?" [Answer: Duh! Peach ascot!]
"le voyage dans la lune recolorisé"
"science design the sky"
"umbrella factory movie"
"science sky design"

I'm really curious what the science/sky/design queries were after. Some of the others, I just like the poetry of them, or the fact that a query in French can find my blog.
randy_byers: (2010-08-15)
'Francine Porad of Seattle, Washington and past President of the Haiku Society of America says, "There are some people who believe any reference to human beings in a haiku turns the poem into a senryu. I disagree. In my opinion there should be no separation, is no separation between human nature and the world of nature." '

-- Elizabeth St Jacques, "Haiku or Senryu? How To Tell the Difference"

(I'd never heard of senryu before today. Now I wonder if there is a past President of the Senryu Society of America. Google doesn't think so, alas.)

QOTD

Oct. 20th, 2010 08:24 am
randy_byers: (2010-08-15)
"Internesia, n.: The growing tendency to forget exactly where in Cyberspace you saw a particular bit of information." -- Dave Birch

(Via Dave Locke on trufen.)

QOTD

Aug. 23rd, 2010 08:22 am
randy_byers: (bumble bee man)
'Borage, incidentally, is said to be part of a complex piece of Cockney rhyming slang: "thyme and borage" - "thyme" punning on "time", borage rhymes with "porridge", hence the slang word for a prison term... '

-- Nic Farey on Facebook (comment on a post by Gary Mattingly with pictures of mullein and borage)
randy_byers: (2010-08-15)
Okay, I've often wondered about the name Shagrat in Lord of the Rings. Now I've seen it argued that the name Halfast is in fact Tolkien's donnish pun on half-assed, but I have a hard time believing he meant to imply "rat-fucker" by Shagrat. Is there another meaning of "shag" that he was playing on? In the US there's the usage in the phrase "shagging flies," which means catching fly balls in baseball batting practice. I see that "shag" means "to chase after" in that sense. Is that the sense Tolkien was using here? Rat-chaser?
randy_byers: (beer)
Brouwers Cafe announcement on Facebook: "We were approached to do a 4 square swarm party tonight. If we reach 50 4 square logins by 6, we'll extend happy hour drink prices until 7."

Come again? The happy hour part I understood, but not much else.
randy_byers: (2009-05-10)
Now that I know that "listless" derives from a Middle English word, "list," that meant "appetite, craving; desire, longing; inclination," it strikes me that in this original sense the Buddhists would consider listlessness an ideal state.

Listless

Jun. 1st, 2010 11:00 am
randy_byers: (2009-05-10)
"Listless" is an odd word, isn't it? What's the etymology? I like the idea that one is lacking a list, therefore lacking the focus to do anything.

In any event, that was my mood over the long weekend, although I actually got quite a bit done nevertheless. I worked all three days on my piece for the next Chunga, and I finished a draft. Problem is I still don't really know what the piece is about or what I'm trying to accomplish with it. I'm attempting to take the attitude that it is a process of discovery rather than a lack of anything interesting to say. It needs more work, but I hope not too much more, lazy bugger that I am.

The soggy weather was one reason for the lack of list, so I didn't get to work in the garden as much as I wanted to, although I did manage to mow the lawn in the rain. However, I've been meaning to mention that I recently bought a plant mostly for its name: bloody dock. It's actually a very pretty plant, which, I've just discovered from Jessica Amanda Salmonson's page on it, is edible. Hm. The nursery didn't say anything about that and treated it as an ornamental.

I watched Mamoru Oshii's anime Angel's Egg (Tenshi no tamago, 1985) twice over the weekend. It really is as strange as its reputation -- surrealist or symbolist, nearly wordless, non-narrative or at least non-linear narrative. Here's a good description I found at that link: 'Told with minimal dialogue and maximum Christian imagery, Angel's Egg shows a little girl living out her life in a gloomy, gothic, abandoned city. After she symbolically gives birth to the titular egg, she meets a Christ-like figure (complete with cross) who accompanies her to an ending that is beautiful, transcendental, and entirely depressing.' I found it kind of annoying the first time, less so the second time. There's one "speech" that seemed like the worst kind of pseudo-philosophical posturing (you know, like maybe we're all somebody else's memory, whoa), and the artwork is kind of a mixed bag. It's redolent of the Euro-comics style of Heavy Metal (the magazine), for better and worse. Still, there's something compelling about the imagery and the sense of dream logic it captures and the questions it raises. Why are the fish shadows of coelacanths? Why is the bird skeleton of an archaeopteryx?

And that's my little list of what I did this weekend. Sort of. I left out some interesting communications and a couple of whiskey sours.
randy_byers: (2009-05-10)
On Sunday I watched Porco Rosso for a third time, after watching The Sky Crawlers for a second time. (A good pairing in that they both center on aerial dogfights in an alternate history.) This time I watched Porco Rosso with the English dub, which features Michael Keaton as Porco. Previously I had watched it with the French dub, which features Jean Reno as Porco. The film felt less mysterious this time, although just as visually beautiful, and I wondered how much of it had to do with being able to understand what the voices were saying (and thus not straining after the meaning) and how much was a difference between the translation that the dub uses and the translation the English subtitles use.

I lean toward the latter, but on slim evidence. The one place where I know the translations were significantly different comes during the phone conversation Porco has with Gina when he tells her he's taking his plane to Milan for repairs despite the fact that the Italians have an arrest warrant out for him. Gina orders him not to go. In the dub he says, "Sorry, I've got to fly." In the subtitles he says, "A pig's gotta fly." To me the latter is infinitely wittier and more ironic, playing off of "When pigs fly." Now, I have no idea which is the more accurate translation of the Japanese script, but my sense was that the dub is far less resonant and eloquent than the subtitles. Another example, now that I think of it, is when the mechanic, Piccolo, basically tells Porco to stop lecturing him. In the dub, he says something like, "I'm a god of engineering!" In the subtitles he says, "You're preaching Buddhism to Buddha." The subtitles have an aphoristic quality that the dub is completely lacking.

Over and over again I got the feeling that the dub was spelling things out that are left ambiguous or figurative in the subtitles. I suppose I should watch it again with both the English dub and the English subtitles playing at the same time, because it's possible I'm letting my anti-Disney bias sway my perception. The dub was done for Disney's release of the movie. I'm not sure who did the subtitles.

Rat City

Apr. 12th, 2010 04:13 pm
randy_byers: (2009-05-10)
One of the things I learned this weekend (I can't remember who told me, but maybe the waiter at TS McHugh's) is that Rat City is a name for White Center, which is where the Rat City Roller Girls started out. White Center is a little working class town outside of Seattle that has a bit of a (no doubt classist) low rent reputation. The only reason I've ever gone there was because Victor's grandparents lived there, and I visited them with him a few times. I had never heard it called Rat City before, and the Wikipedia entry on the name is fascinating. It's short enough that I'll just quote the whole thing here:

Rat City is a colloquialism for the area of White Center, Washington, a small, low income suburb of West Seattle. White Center garnered a poor reputation due to its high crime rates and small homes. An alternate scenario for the moniker is that the name refers to the "rink rats" who roller skated at the Southgate Skate Center (which still stands). Rat city is also known as mice city There are a couple theories as to how "Rat City" got its name. Some people assume there was once a prolific rat problem in the 1940s, but RAT might have also been an acronym for Restricted Alcohol Territory, which Seattle was designated as during WWII. Unincorporated areas such as White Center were a draw for servicemen in part because of less stringent liquor regulations. Additionally, a military Relocation and Training (RAT) Center was located in the area during that period.

Somewhat incoherent even by Wikipedia standards ("Rat city is also known as mice city"?), but I love the indeterminacy and sheer weirdness of some of the derivations. If you google "Restricted Alcohol Territory", you mostly get references to this Wikipedia article. Even HistoryLink.org seems to be paraphrasing this article. Very strange. Google finds no references to Restricted Alcohol Territory that aren't an explanation of how White Center got its nickname. Smells fishy to me.
randy_byers: (2009-05-10)
Meanwhile on a discussion list a British emigre mentioned a phrase he heard from his mother when he was growing up, "san fairy ann," which meant that something was insignificant or meaningless, and he says it took him years to figure out it was from the French, "ça ne fait rien," probably brought back by his father after WWII. And if san fairy ann, there's no reason to fuss about it. Ça m'est egal. Saw met a gal.

PC

Feb. 12th, 2010 08:27 am
randy_byers: (2009-05-10)
I never knew that "ortho" meant "correct". Thus "orthodoxy" means "correct belief". So "politically correct" could be understood as another way to say "orthodox", which is probably pretty close to how it was used in the Marxist-Leninist context, before it became a libertarian pejorative.
randy_byers: (shiffman)
Whalezy deals and sealzy deals
And little shoxy doysters
A squidelly doysters too
Wouldn't you?


Via Lee Gold on trufen
randy_byers: (2009-05-10)
... AGW -- anthropogenic global warning ...

(From Marc Ambinder's takedown of Sarah Palin's "Boycott Copenhagen" Op-Ed in the Washington Post.)
randy_byers: (2009-05-10)
Cliff Mass has a blog post about the threat of flooding in the Green River and a couple of different approaches to trying to forecast the threat. What I found interesting about this post was a new term to me -- the lovely "atmospheric rivers," which is another term for what is popularly called a pineapple express in these parts -- and a color-coded satellite view or representation of what a pineapple express looks like. "Most of our local flooding events are associated with narrow plumes of warm, moist air coming out of the subtropics -- known as atmospheric rivers or pineapple expresses in the literature."

Here's another use of the term referring to the recent storms in California: Atmospheric River Slams Northern California.
randy_byers: (2009-05-10)
I recently ran across the word "ferverent" on the intertubes. I looked it up in the online OED, which doesn't know of it, but if you Google it, you get a 63,000 hits (along with the query of whether you meant "fervent"). From what I can tell, it means the same thing as "fervent," but perhaps with added fever. (It seems to be associated with the word "prayer" a lot, too.)

Anyway, it was a new one on me. My initial thought was that it was a typo.
randy_byers: (2009-05-10)
So what does "make a fist of it" mean? I see this idiom in British English.
randy_byers: (powers expdt)
Years before Wells popularized the term "Scientific Romance," Bulwer-Lytton devised a narrative that he described as "perhaps a romance, but such a romance as a Scientific amateur might compose."

-- David Seed, Introduction to the Wesleyan University Press edition of Bulwer-Lytton's The Coming Race

QOTD

Sep. 18th, 2009 09:44 am
randy_byers: (blonde venus)
[Rated] PG: for thematic elements, some sensuality, brief language and incidental smoking.

"Brief language" is a new one on me. Which language has the fewest words?

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