Wetmachine Blog: General

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Micro-Atrios Post to Say I’m Still Here and just you wait, because shit is fucked up & bullshit.

As I’ve mentioned earlier once or twice, one of my favorite bloggers is Atrios of Eschacton (you can google him up as easily as I can put in the links). He blogs about politics and economics, mostly, with some cultural analysis and commentary on urban planning and transportation from time to time. I like that many of his post are what I call dog-bark yelps; one of his typical blog titles (followed by a link to some distressing news about the state of our nation (USA) is “Shit is fucked up and bullshit.”

I have a lot I want to blog about. So much that I get in my own way and trip over myself and end up posting nothing for distressingly long hiati (hiatuses). I have bunch of things half0-written & queued up, but I think my next post will be about some of the remarkably subtle and insightful things my friend Geraldine Brooks said the other night in an informal talk about the American Civil War in general, and her novel March in particular. I’ve been reading and thinking a lot about the Civil War lately, and about how it was the result of 76 years of putting off until tomorrow dealing with the fact that slavery was incompatible with the ideals on which the country was founded.

In 2012, the whole world is, it seems to me, in a situation akin to that of the nation of the United States of America was in 1858 or so. There is a great reckoning to come. Where slavery was the great obvious problem to be resolved in the Civil War, the issues now before us are pan-human economic justice and survival of the planet Earth as a habitable place for all of us. The probability of a happy resolution of both of these issues will be apparent by how the SOPA/PIPA abomination fares in the U.S. Congress, and whether the XL pipeline is built. These will be crucial indicators –which is not to say determinants–of where we are and whither we are tending.  In the USA it became tragically apparent that the solution of the problem of slavery (and with it the preservation of the Union) could not be solved without war, war and death on a scale barely conceivable at the time and still hard to comprehend today, 150 years later. But something vastly worse awaits us if we keep putting off until tomorrow the problems that now confront us.

Shit is still so fucked up and bullshit. Damnit, Atrios, you are so right on the money.  Anyway, this is a place-holder diary entry to say happy 2012, and may we all be happy and prosper until the Mayan calendar ends and methane plumes erupt from beneath the arctic seas and the permafost melts to a depth of 20 metres and earth becomes Venus.  I’ll try to post more soon. I expect my tone will become increasingly abolitionist and strident as time passes, but let’s hope that it all works out.   Leave  a comment! Let’s get 2012 of to a nice, friendly, low energy start!

 

 

 

Also posted in "A Republic, if you can keep it", I Fear These Things, Memology, My Thoughts Exactly | 3 Comments (Comments closed)

My David Mitchell Cloud Atlas Problem

Picture of a Russian nesting doll

The Structure of Cloud Atlas

I see that the Wachowski brothers are making a movie from David Mitchell’s metafictiony novel Cloud Atlas. From PurpleRevolver:

Based on David Mitchell’s best-selling novel, Cloud Atlas is an epic story of humankind in which the actions and consequences of our lives impact one another throughout the past, present and future.

One soul is shaped from a murderer into a saviour and a single act of kindness ripples out for centuries to inspire a revolution.

The independently financed film will be co-directed and written by the directors/writers of the hugely successful Matrix trilogy, Andy and Lana Wachowski and Perfume director Tom Tykwer.

The guys who made the Matrix movies, which are all about Philip K. Dick-type reality-within-reality-within-reality self-referential story-systems, taking on Cloud Atlas seems to me perhaps a pretty good match (so long as there are no techno-orgy scenes). But the prospect still makes me a bit antsy. (Even setting aside the elephant-in-the room Keanu question.) Will they find the emotional heart to the heart of the story, or go for the whiz-bang-slo-mo-bullet-dodging effects?

Mitchell’s book, which I enjoyed, is structured like a matryoska doll. It’s got six or seven narratives, each written in a different style, that enclose each other like parens in a Lisp program. The first (and last) story is in an archaic faux Daniel Defoe style; it gets interrupted midway through, where the next story, an epistolary novelette told in letters written by a jaded modernist English composer and leech living in Belgium between WW1 and WW2 begins; that tale gets cut in the middle & succeeded by the first half of hard-boiled Raymond Chandler-style noir detective story. There’s also a far-future science fiction tale, a surreal Kafkaesque fable and one told in a kind of pidgin.

There are hundreds of reviews of Cloud Atlas out there on the net that will tell you all you want or don’t want to know about the near-virtuosic literary technique Mitchell employs (or shows off) in the service of his tale.

Below the fold, my David Mitchell Cloud Atlas problem. Read More »

Also posted in Memology, My Thoughts Exactly, Writing | 2 Comments (Comments closed)

Thoughts on an Old Fire Truck of North Caldwell: Time, Ambition, Rust

 

My friend and childhood friend Ande sent me a while ago a snapshot of an ancient fire truck rusting in a snow-covered field of weeds.

Photo by Janet Jessel

The hood has been removed and the left front wheel as well; the black blob of the engine sits above the chassis, naked. There is a windshield but no cab: a convertible fire engine! (Who would have designed or bought such a thing? Didn’t they have fires to fight during rainstorms (snowstorms!) back in whatever far-away times this machine was used?) The truck itself is still red, though faded. The town’s name and fire department emblem are still clearly readable on the door. All equipment has been stripped save the hose on a roller, which looks to be scarcely thicker than a garden hose. (Were fires tiny back in those days?) Behind the truck you can see a fence, and beyond the fence some trees and a power line. The photo was taken by Janet Jessel, the sister of Ande’s late first wife Judy, whom I never met.

The photo doesn’t show the back of the truck so you can’t see if there is a platform where firemen could have stood holding on to a rail en route to a fire like they do in old movies. (Note I said ‘firemen’, not gender-neutral ‘firefighters’. There were no women on the North Caldwell, NJ, Fire Department when this truck was in service, I can assure you of that.) Yet I know that that platform is there. For when I was a lad of fifteen I stood on that platform en route to a brush fire on Mountain Avenue. It was April 6th, 1968, two days after the Murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. That was my first fire as a volunteer firefighter. My most recent fire was two weeks ago. Read More »

Also posted in Firefighting, My Thoughts Exactly, Writing | 5 Comments (Comments closed)

He wakes up, only to jump into deadly cage!

Blog Tour de Force Cage Match

Hope I don't get my lights punched out

For a bunch of reasons, most of them bogus, I haven’t been around this here blog too much lately–as all 7 of my regular readers know.  Please expect some more posting soon, but meanwhile, just wanted to give you a heads up about a so-called cage match that I’ll be jousting in next week.

It’s a simple contest: on each of  five days in a row starting Monday, a pair of authors will put up blog posts on their own sites about the cage match. Whichever of the two authors gets the most comments on their blog wins that day’s match. On the sixth day, the two highest vote getters go against each other in a championship. Every visitor who makes a relevant comment wins a free ebook from that site. One grand prize winner will get a Kindle preloaded with 12 ebooks.

My match with be on Wednesday, April 20th, where I’ll be going against Kimberly Kinrade, whose debut work of fiction, “Bits of You & Pieces of Me“, is a kaleidoscopic collection of stories, poems and fragments informed by a deep emotional melange of loss, betrayal and hope. Anybody with a heart will relate to it.

Most of the other writers taking part in this promotion are using an amped-up Mohamad Ali -type patter talking about how they’re going to win their competition. That’s fun enough, but not really my style. I do hope you’ll stop by Tuesday Wednesday and leave a comment; I’d appreciate it. If you comment you’ll get a coupon for a free ebook, and some lucky person will get one of my signed (paper) books & copies of all three of my ebooks. Check out the BlogTourdeForce website for more on the other books and authors. Hope to see you Wednesday.

UPDATE: in an earlier draft I said my cage match bout on April 20th would be on Tuesday. But it’s Wednesday. One of these days I’m going to learn to read a calendar. Really.

Also posted in My Thoughts Exactly, Writing | 3 Comments (Comments closed)

Heinäsirkka, heinäsirkka, mene täältä hiiteen — an economical reposting

I don’t think I can say it any better than I did last year, so without further ado, our best Wetmechanical salute to brave St. Urho, who drove the grasshoppers from Finland, the land of my (some of) my fathers. And mothers.

Grasshopper, Grasshopper, buzz off why don’t ya?

That special time of year, when St. Urhu’s day elides into the name-day of St. Padraic, is again upon us. Longtime readers know that here at Wetmachine we have a special place in our hearts for this great Finno-Irish-American festival–mainly on account of I started this site and I’m a Finno-Irish American, of which there ain’t too damn many offer dere, as my late Grandfather “Pop” used to say.

Ode to Saint Urho

Ooksie kooksi coolama vee – Santia Urho is ta poy for me!

He sase out ta hoppers as pig as pirds – Neffer peefor haff I hurd tose words!

He reely tolt tose pugs of kreen – Braffest Finn I effer seen!

Some celebrate for St. Pat unt hiss nakes – Putt Urho poyka kot what it takes.

He kot tall and trong from feelia sour – Unt ate kala moyakka effery hour.

Tat’s why tat kuy could sase toes peetles – What krew as thick as chack bine neetles.

So let’s give a cheer in hower pest vay – On Sixteenth March, St. Urho’s Tay!

P.S. The Irish, sure, will take care o’ temselves on the morrow; of that I’ve do doubt.

Also posted in My Thoughts Exactly | Tagged , , | Comments closed

Forty Years of thought provocation

Wetmachine friend Matthew Saroff has had a string of great (if depressing) blog posts recently. This one on the truly horrifying statistics on (non) job creation over the last decade & how they relate to monopolization and the nature of the corporation is particularly compelling.

Also posted in My Thoughts Exactly | Tagged | 2 Comments (Comments closed)

Roman Polanski, you pig, I hope you enjoy your mashed potatoes

The title I wanted to give this post was too long to fit in the header:

And for you, Roman Polanski, a big plate of mashed potatoes, right in the face, you pig. And may your sorry ass rot in jail until you die, and then may you burn in hell, with your apologists, forever. Alternative Title: “Mashed Potatoes”, the story of a tattoo. Or, how my daughter, at age 17, put in jail the man who began molesting her when she was seven and raped her when she was nine years old.

This glow-in-the-dark tattoo is on the left arm of my youngest daughter. It’s invisible under normal lighting, but under a black light in a darkened room it’s easy to read. It memorializes the day she sent her rapist to jail.

It says,


Justice will prevail

Love will overcome

And all the evil will fail

May 23, 2006


Read More »

Also posted in I Fear These Things, My Thoughts Exactly | Tagged | 9 Comments (Comments closed)

mail to wetmachine.com addresses

The servers that handle mail to wetmachine.com addresses have been scrod for going on two days now. The ISP estimates that normal email will be restored sometime middle-of-the-day today.

If you’ve sent me mail & it’s bounced, don’t worry, I’m still around. In the meantime, my handle at yahoo.com is jsundmanus.

Also posted in My Thoughts Exactly | Tagged , , | Comments closed

Awesom Newsom

Neutrino-class Wetmachiner David Newsom has his own blog. He’s a fine actor & photographer but a no-good bum, of course, because he now does most of his blogging on the above-linked site, instead of here at Wetmachine among us regular folks who might wear a tennis shoe or an occasional python boot, where he belongs. So why do I link to him at all, you ask?

Because of the photos, man. And the stories. The photos and the stories. Check ’em out. That is all.

Also posted in My Thoughts Exactly | Tagged , , | Comments closed

Firefighter Porn

The work of the fire teams on the scene is very damn impressive. Especially gratifying to see how fast Tower 1 gets deployed (my truck is also called Tower 1). But it’s the work of the dispatchers that makes this video so extraordinary. Holy cow, that is some phenomenal work under pressure. Scary video, happy ending. About 7 minutes long.

Also posted in My Thoughts Exactly | Tagged | Comments closed
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