Mar 222013

In Boston after numerous train ADVENTURES. First I wandered the horrific maze that is NY Penn Station — you’re never quite sure if the people lying down are homeless/sleeping or the ones who gave up on finding their platform and just lay down to die. Then I had the wrong time in my head, so I went up to the Amtrak counter to pick up my ticket for the 12:35 train. The agent handed me *a* ticket for the 12:35 train instead of informing me that my reservation was for the 2:00 train. None of the people who looked at my ticket noticed that it was in fact the ticket of one Keith Mitchell (and hey, Keith, I’m sorry about whatever inconvenience you went through; it wasn’t my fault). So I rode the wrong train with some other dude’s ticket. Ooops. I still got here and the Boston ticket agent I talked to straightened out my reservation. Yay!

Anyway, now I’m here, gonna go get coffee with A shortly.

Having all sorts of uncomfortable thoughts about how I need to change what I’m doing overall in life. I need to be working and it is increasingly clear that NYC has no work for me. I like it there and don’t want to move. But I also want to move. Being alive is hard.

Mar 182013

Hey, Boston. I know it has been too long. I’m taking a train up there this Thursday, though, and I’ll be with Jason all weekend. I’d love to also hang out with other people, so if anyone has time, feel free to ping me.

I know we’re going to an armor museum on Saturday, so there’s that.

Mar 162013

Is it romantic to call me your muse?* My first instinct was no, because it smacks of you needing me, obligating me to… I don’t know, do muse things. How shall I muse? So that’s covered below in the conversation I had on twitter the other day, more thoughts after the tweetboxen:

Is it romantic to be creatively inspired by me? Yes, that can be romantic. “I was thinking of you when I made this” is sweet and lovely (I mean, so long as ‘this’ isn’t a map to my house painted in blood).

I suspect the difference has something to do with objectification. “Be my muse” demands of me; it casts me in a role without lines, and if I stray too far and your art suffers, that’s my fault. “I’m inspired by you” exalts me while you create; it leaves me free to be myself, and the responsibility for your work is still yours. Is that a reasonable difference in construction, or am I getting my hackles up over semantics? I still refuse to put “muse” on my resume.

Anyway, next time I talk about romance, it will likely involve Casablanca and the horrific concept of deserving the girl no matter who she loves. So we have that to look forward to!



* Take it as given that the ‘you’ here is a perfectly spherical human of uniform density in a vacuum; ie, I’m merely pondering concepts.

Mar 122013

Yesterday Steve and I finally got to the Como Conservatory, and there’s a batch of pictures up on flickr. (This might be better titled the palmening, as I think only one of the pictures is a fern, but fuck it, fernining sounds cooler.)

2013-03-11 13.53.332013-03-11 14.13.262013-03-11 13.47.59

One of the things that struck me was how fascinating all the plant structures were. Ferns, rhizomes, bromeliads, spice trees — everything was “cool,” but I kept squee-ing about how alien, bizarre, creepy, or fucked-up various bits looked to me. It made me think fondly of good science-fiction, and I’d like to address this remark to that genre as though it were a single entity with consciousness: USE PLANTS MORE. I want more triffids, more Dog King. Give me fucked-up plants! Give me really good reasons to stare at leaves when I walk through the woods, hoping to catch them twitch.

Mar 022013

February is over, so I updated my page of stuff I’ve read, and here’s my thoughts on The Incrementalists, free of summary, spoilers, or character names.

First off, this is a great book if you’re into keeping neurotic lists as though you were going to make character trading cards. There’s a strong secret history concept to it, and the way the secret society works involves ‘switches’, sense-memory triggers that can be used to influence people. (My switches would probably be miso soup, lilacs, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera, and big friendly dogs.) This group uses their influence to do good things, which is refreshing considering all the stories out there that use bad emotional triggers for dark reasons. Triggering bad memories isn’t necessarily stronger, but it is easier, and therefore seems a bit lazy.

There’s a lot of love-story going on, and I often denounce the fact that it seems like all the songs and stories are about love, but here I’m not complaining. Everyone involved in the central love affair has agency (even when they’ve been manipulated). There’s no love-interest-as-a-reward crap, and the payoff of the romance is strong and thoughtful. There’s a scene with coffee in bed that is the loveliest, realest moment between lovers I’ve read all year. The sweet fragility of what they’re feeling makes the reader yearn for a new romance, but the narrative still deals with the awkwardness and hard parts; their love is magical without being trite. Contrasting that NRE is a whole cast of well-drawn characters. One uses love as a tool instead of appreciating it, in a dark reflection of how the Incrementalists as a whole use emotions. Another is thwarted in love, and turns it to bitterness and then problem-solving momentum. Yet another character has this pleasant sort of French love for all his comrades.

The setting is Las Vegas (a town I thought I hated until I spent a fantastic weekend there) and there’s a love-letter-to-a-city aspect that works nicely. I like when a book really makes the setting an integral feature rather than just grudgingly sketching a place and then letting it fade to the background. When the plot, setting, and characters are skillfully interwoven, the story gets so much deeper in my head.

Anyway, I’m just in love with this book, and I think a lot of other people will be too.