tell me how all this, and love too, will ruin us.

tell me we'll never get used to it

Singapore Jim

OK.

There’s this place, it’s over a famous bridge in some famous woods. It is the only outpost of any kind for miles around. Let’s just say it’s an ancient-looking bar/inn, and local legend has it that it was shipped over in pieces from Britain centuries ago. Who knows if this is true. It’s besides the point.

This place has darts, a wall-to-wall fireplace, beef stew. It is usually smothered in fog. Melancholy strains of Will Oldham drift through the speakers. It is basically a bar that was built exclusively for me. It also has this lone bartender, this fellow I have had a smoldering crush on for…a long time. Long enough that it has ebbed and flowed due to prohibitive fluctuations in gas prices and bridge tolls.

But I have this rule (as a former bartender) that I don’t hit on bartenders. So what this amounts to is that I sporadically find a reason to drag my friends there and then we sit in the corner and whisper about him. My boss has offered me a raise if only I would ask him out. It’s become that obnoxious.

I mean, we have had encounters. Once I was doing some boring Tuesday night grocery shopping at my grocery store and lo, behind me, in line, there he was. On my side of the bridge! In my grocery store! On a Tuesday! Unacceptable. I had always assumed he never left the forest boundaries, doomed to ceaselessly haunt the moors when not tending bar. Upon spotting him, naturally, I pulled my hair over my face like a deranged Cousin It and turned back around (I was having a bad Everything day). Another time (clearly my grocery disguise had fooled him) he let me watch part of a 49ers game in the bar’s tiny kitchen with him. He tried to out-football-lingo me and I got haughty (haughtiness is my next alluring quality after hair-in-face disguises) and was like, “Son, please. I teach a class on sports literature, I will run circles around you on this.” He gave me a maybe-approving eyebrow raise.

Anyways, we have picked up bits and pieces about him over the years. Usually because I make my friend Ian chat him up (Ian is a chatter), but Ian is not a reliable narrator. For instance, even though this guy is clearly like, an Irish Riverdance cast-off (complete with vague lilting accent), Ian insists he told him he was raised in Singapore, and was picked on horribly as a child. “I think he’s pretty lonely,” Ian unconvincingly tried to convince me. Also, he supposedly lives on a boat and makes his own whiskey (which: swoon). So, lonely, whiskey-distilling sailor Singapore Jim has become a long-running inside joke, a mythic chimera of a man.

Then, sometime this evening between the minutes of 11:52pm-11:59pm, I googled the name of the bar/inn under the auspices of seeing if it was open for the holidays. His name popped up. His full name! Precious, google-able information. It was at this point I learned something that threw me more than Singapore, more than the boat distillery.

His middle name is Björk.

The plot thickens.

How to Celebrate/Survive the Holiday Season

  1. Decorate your lonely little tree branch. Wonder if you will ever feel adult enough to buy a tree.
  2. Drink hot toddies in front of a fireplace. In a bar full of bros that is blasting Skrillex. Don’t make eye contact.
  3. Gain hours of sadistic amusement by dressing your roommate’s bunny, Colonel Somesuch Fluffbutt, in a Santa suit.
  4. Invite everyone over for your annual Metal Martha Holiday Cookie Decorating Party. Interpretive frosting ensues.

Stepping up my annual pumpkin carving party game with haunted graveyard pie and party mascot Count Bunnicula.

screenshot for Legend of Silence, the fictional game featured in Mike Meginnis’ “Navigators”

Their game was Legend of Silence, or LoS. LoS was different from their other games; whereas in Metroid or Zelda the player character became more powerful as he explored, the heroine of LoS was diminished by every artifact she found. The manual still called them Power Ups, but this was, father and son agreed, misleading: they should be called Power Downs, or Nerfs, or Torments, because this was what they did. The goal of the game was to lose everything so that one could enter Nirvana, where the final boss lay in wait, enjoying all the ill-gotten fruits of not being and not knowing.

-From “Navigators" by Mike Meginnis*
*(the best and most heartbreaking story about video games and video game maps I have read)

screenshot for Legend of Silence, the fictional game featured in Mike Meginnis’ “Navigators”

Their game was Legend of Silence, or LoS. LoS was different from their other games; whereas in Metroid or Zelda the player character became more powerful as he explored, the heroine of LoS was diminished by every artifact she found. The manual still called them Power Ups, but this was, father and son agreed, misleading: they should be called Power Downs, or Nerfs, or Torments, because this was what they did. The goal of the game was to lose everything so that one could enter Nirvana, where the final boss lay in wait, enjoying all the ill-gotten fruits of not being and not knowing.

-From “Navigators" by Mike Meginnis*

*(the best and most heartbreaking story about video games and video game maps I have read)

What I Did This Weekend

  • Attempted to spy on Werner Herzog at the Museum of Jurassic Technology, where he allegedly takes his afternoon tea
  • Attempted to break into a haunted dollhouse museum
  • Had a “sound bath” at the Integratron, built on instructions from Venusians in the Joshua Tree desert in 1953
  • Drank too many alcoholic sno cones dubbed “In Yo Face”
  • Took an aerial tram 20,000 feet into the San Jacinto mountains, where I bought a bedazzled, disembodied visor that attaches to one’s sunglasses
Allah-Las

—Busman's Holiday

Allah-Las :: Busman’s Holiday

If you are not listening to this on your back porch in the dark while drinking a grapefruit soda and thinking about how you’ll be watching a meteor shower in the Joshua Tree desert tomorrow night, well. Sorry.

Edward Hopper, Room in New York, 1932

We see a man and a woman in a crowded apartment through the confining frame of a brownstone windowsill. Despite the cramped quarters, the couple remain aloof from each other; there is more than a round table separating these two. The man leans forward, not toward the woman but the newspaper that slants before him. The woman faces away from the man, leaning against an upright piano. The position of her knees and elbow makes it clear she doesn’t intend to play the instrument. Instead she picks at the keyboard with a single finger, producing the consolations of sound to fill the conversational void. The rectangular panels of the door repeat those of the three framed pictures on the wall, a repetition that becomes the visual equivalent of dull familiarity. The isolation is so enervating that the people seem to have lost their faces in masks of shadow. Hopper confounds the voyeur’s crime: our stolen glimpse into other people’s lives wasn’t worth stealing. What we witness is too impersonal to be private, too inert to be engaging. At their most intimate, people are disappointingly themselves.
-from “Edward Hopper and the Geometry of Despair” by Geoffrey Bent

Edward Hopper, Room in New York, 1932

We see a man and a woman in a crowded apartment through the confining frame of a brownstone windowsill. Despite the cramped quarters, the couple remain aloof from each other; there is more than a round table separating these two. The man leans forward, not toward the woman but the newspaper that slants before him. The woman faces away from the man, leaning against an upright piano. The position of her knees and elbow makes it clear she doesn’t intend to play the instrument. Instead she picks at the keyboard with a single finger, producing the consolations of sound to fill the conversational void. The rectangular panels of the door repeat those of the three framed pictures on the wall, a repetition that becomes the visual equivalent of dull familiarity. The isolation is so enervating that the people seem to have lost their faces in masks of shadow. Hopper confounds the voyeur’s crime: our stolen glimpse into other people’s lives wasn’t worth stealing. What we witness is too impersonal to be private, too inert to be engaging. At their most intimate, people are disappointingly themselves.

-from “Edward Hopper and the Geometry of Despair” by Geoffrey Bent

Things I Will Make You If You Understand Without Having to Speak That Every Time Search and Destroy Comes on the Radio in the Car You Must Roll Down the Windows, Turn it All the Way Up, and Bang Your Fists on the Steering Wheel While Howling the Lyrics

Things I Will Make You If You Understand Without Having to Speak That Every Time Search and Destroy Comes on the Radio in the Car You Must Roll Down the Windows, Turn it All the Way Up, and Bang Your Fists on the Steering Wheel While Howling the Lyrics

A banner day for teaching:

1) Best American 2012 series arrived

2) Student baked literary-inspired cake for the class (mood invention cake, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)

previously in literary analysis cakes