The term mayhem is the violently depriving another of the use of such of his members as may render him less able, in fighting, either to defend himself or annoy his adversary. And, therefore, the cutting off, or disabling, or weakening, a man's hand or finger, or striking out his eye or foretooth, or depriving him of those parts, the loss of which, in animals, abates their courage, are held to be mayhem. But the cutting off his ear or nose, or the like, are not held to be mayhem at common law, because they do not weaken, but only disfigure him.

(blackstone's commentaries on the laws of england, 1765)


a job for joe, also. woot!

i hadn't much to contribute to the magazine meeting, so i copied a bit of the gibberish in the november issue proofs:

exorem ipsum dollor sit at
consec teur
adipis sing elit
no nummy
nim euismod

turns out it was The Corporation's version of lorem ipsum. am i the last person to have heard of this? it's very exciting, especially compared with issue proofs.

Lorem Ipsum, or Lipsum for short, is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book.


Richard McClintock, a Latin professor at Hampden-Sydney college in Virginia, looked up one of the more obscure Latin words, consectetur, from a Lipsum passage, and going through the cites of the word in classical literature, discovered the undoubtable source. Lipsum comes from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of "de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum" (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC.

1914 translation of Section 1.10.32 by H. Rackham:

But I must explain to you how all this mistaken idea of denouncing pleasure and praising pain was born and I will give you a complete account of the system, and expound the actual teachings of the great explorer of the truth, the master-builder of human happiness. No one rejects, dislikes, or avoids pleasure itself, because it is pleasure, but because those who do not know how to pursue pleasure rationally encounter consequences that are extremely painful. Nor again is there anyone who loves or pursues or desires to obtain pain of itself, because it is pain, but because occasionally circumstances occur in which toil and pain can procure him some great pleasure. To take a trivial example, which of us ever undertakes laborious physical exercise, except to obtain some advantage from it? But who has any right to find fault with a man who chooses to enjoy a pleasure that has no annoying consequences, or one who avoids a pain that produces no resultant pleasure?

again with the sort of luck that makes me nervous. we've signed a lease on a one bedroom apartment that's five blocks / two avenues from my office, ten blocks from central park, two avenues from rockefeller center, a stone's throw from sarah and judd, and $250 below the rent we were afraid we'd pay. for neighbors we've an art gallery, a foo-foo pet store that shelters and fosters adoptions for homeless kittens, and a new age candle store that burns incense all day. clearly the apartment is haunted or cursed, but who would care at this point? the apparent catch is that we can't move in until 10 september, as the building manager is renovating the place. wait, that's good too.

so i'm going to come out in favor of apartment brokers. they can be bloodsucking weasels, but ours knocked off a sizable portion of the rent to absorb her fee. rah-rah-roo.


utterly reasonable weather, satisfying busy work, the news that i can end my internship early and move out here without rushing - clearly something awful is going to happen. i'd like to believe in unadulterated good fortune, but i've read too many books. beyond that, new york seems, even more than san francisco, to be a giveth / taketh away city.

thinking in the shower this morning about how i'll miss the ugly-ass clawfoot tub in our old place. in a terrible fit of something, the previous tenant painted it fifty-two different colors, most notably on the toes. it was big and comfy, though, and the lip was large enough that the cat could sit and swipe at my feet through the bath foam. and the cranky old green pantry, impossible to open, the amateur yellow living room that a generous friend called 'tuscan farmhouse-ish'...i've visited a lot of places, but i've only nested in two. i'm tempted to take an extra year in manhattan to justify another big settling-in. i guess we'll see if i can swing this office thing for so long, if i can keep the poetry going and tell myself that i needed more time for kick-ass drafts. it could work, but i haven't been back home since i started toying with leaving for good. nostalgia, she can be a gym sock of quarters to the head.


i could vomit in disbelief - They made an offer, i accepted, i have a job. again, the moral leg work was already behind me, and boy did i want to scratch the itch to move. if you please, forgive the physical descriptors. i register all stress with twitches and rumbles.


ITEM! The Corporation has been making noises about creating a permanent position for me. i'm not worried about jinxing myself by discussing it - in fact, i'd welcome some, nay any sort of resolution. at this point i would, in fact, sell out: it's so darn nice to be in a city with lots of friendly locals, so darn nice to buy food with cash. also, with apologies to jeng and enjelani, i confess that i love wearing nylons.

ITEM! so we're trying to move to the city. joe has become the unofficial brooklyn broker, and i in turn pimp the upper east side. we were both infatuated with lofts in war-torn williamsburg, but who has the furniture to fill those things? who has the cash to ship furniture from san francisco to even sort of fill those things?

ITEM! we need a $15 couch.

ITEM! screw you, hugh hefner, and your crazy fabulous library -


don't read the pilot's wife. okay, if you're trapped under something heavy and it's the only thing within arm's reach. but otherwise.

we're attempting to make big plans. more on that soon.


charlotte bronte? kind of a bitch.
In the afternoon; Miss Ellen Lister was trigonometrically oecumenical about her French lessons. She nearly killed me between the violence of the irritation her horrid willfulness excited and the labour it took to subdue it to a moderate appearance of calmness.


I came back
Abyme to the last degree, for Miss L[ister] and Miss M[arriot]t had been boring me with their vulgar familiar trash all the time we were out. If those girls knew how I loathe their company, they would not seek mine so much as they do.

("All this day I have been in a dream," untitled manuscript)

menial jobs are crap, and sure, i hate children too...but damn, baby.


movie cinquains: the summer blockbusters (?)

bruce almighty

i wept
for jennifer
aniston, for the state
of cinematic comedy,
for us.

28 days later...

's dead
hip, reanimated
younger sibling. british 'zombies'
please us.

pirates of the caribbean: the curse of the black pearl

no plot,
humor, johnny depp as
hunter thompson as a pirate:

terminator 3: rise of the machines

it's true,
i preferred this
to the matrix sequel.
sci fi should be perfect or, as
here, camp.

charlie's angels: full throttle

pokemon, with
a mild concussion and
a bad case of the hiccups, at


a.s. byatt smacked j.k. rowling and her admirers with the op ed kid glove today. i just finished harry potter and the order of the phoenix, so i'm feeling a bit defensive - but the thought of a rebuttal makes me giggle.
Ms. Rowling's magic world has no place for the numinous. It is written for people whose imaginative lives are confined to TV cartoons, and the exaggerated (more exciting, not threatening) mirror-worlds of soaps, reality TV and celebrity gossip. Its values, and everything in it, are, as Gatsby said of his own world when the light had gone out of his dream, "only personal." Nobody is trying to save or destroy anything beyond Harry Potter and his friends and family.


A surprising number of people - including many students of literature - will tell you they haven't really lived in a book since they were children. Sadly, being taught literature often destroys the life of the books. But in the days before dumbing down and cultural studies no one reviewed Enid Blyton or Georgette Heyer - as they do not now review the great Terry Pratchett, whose wit is metaphysical, who creates an energetic and lively secondary world, who has a multifarious genius for strong parody as opposed to derivative manipulation of past motifs, who deals with death with startling originality. Who writes amazing sentences.


It's become respectable to read and discuss what Roland Barthes called "consumable" books. There is nothing wrong with this, but it has little to do with the shiver of awe we feel looking through Keats's "magic casements, opening on the foam / Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn."

(a.s. byatt, "harry potter and the childish adult," nyt 07.07.03)

honestly, though? byatt is a bit snotty. loath as i am to harp on the old mediocre-lit-as-a-stepping-stone string - especially in the case of readers who should be old enough to know better - the fantasy genre is a byzantine niche. terry pratchett (better than rowling, not a real 'fairy story' maestro) doesn't leap from the shelf, it's true - i found him when he collaborated with my beloved neil gaiman (sandman &c) on good omens, and i found gaiman on a schoolmate's recommendation after she caught me reading robert jordan ('the wheel of time'). jordan makes the harry potter books look like the faerie queene; i'd love to hear byatt's take on him.

[to be continued]